Dear Dad (Thoughts on building a relationship with my dad in adulthood.)

Dear Dad,

I called you last week to vent about picking up my sons medication. You calmly talked me down from the cliff of despair. Being who you are I don’t know how you do it. Talk calmly to me when I feel like a mess of a human being. I’m not always a mess dad, but I feel like one sometimes because I’m learning to be a parent. Even though its water under the bridge I get sad sometimes because you are being more of a dad now than when I needed you the most.

I still get sad on Father’s Day when women share stories of times their fathers spent with them. Not that you didn’t spend the odd time with me. We had Taco Bell and the Monkey Forrest. We had the weird shop of your friends who sold interesting things like taro cards and a homey smell of sandalwood. There were times of listening to music which created my love for Rob Zombie and Smashing Pumpkins. The moments we had spent together were fine because it helped shape my interest. Some Fathers go fishing and camping trips but ours was outings. I think the main part of hearing stories of fathers who would do anything for their daughters is that it’s not our relationship. I don’t know if it ever will be. That’s ok though because in the last couple of years you have gained my respect.

Sometimes I struggle with your fear of my special needs child. You don’t say it out loud however some slight comments make me worried. Yes, your grandson has Autism and Juvenile Arthritis. Is it terrifying? Absolutely, I’m terrified of it too. My terrified is different because I feel like a failure when it comes to helping my child with disabilities. That’s why I try to call you because possibly, you would be able to treat me like a normal person. You see, when you’re a special needs parent your either treated like a superhero or your treated with apologies. What people forget to treat a special needs parent is with empathy and understanding that we love our kids but sometimes it’s a blurred line with doctors, medications, therapist, and school. I value you Dad, for putting words to my feelings, and I know I complain a fair bit when I get frustrated about the whole situation. Please don’t be scared of your grandson and please see the little boy that he is. He’s neurotypical and complex, but he is loving and intelligent. Creative and filled with brilliant ideas far beyond his time. You have only met him twice and you have not met your other grandson; but I think if you give them a chance to know them, you would see the parts of you in there too.

I know I was complicated much like my son, and that was terrifying for you. You were not ready for me when I was born. I get that because I had my oldest at nineteen and you were in your twenties. Here’s the thing even though I wasn’t ready I still try to be there for my kids. You did get better with my sisters and you learned to be a dad to them. I remember somebody once asked me how mad I felt that you learned to be a dad to someone else. Feeling mad is not how I would describe it. I do feel pride for you because you still grew as a person. You keep growing and I see the changes you have made in the last ten years. In ten years I have seen you as a lost person, and now I see you as a strong human being. Hearing you say that you found a new job or did something exciting makes me feel like you are finally where you need to be.

What I really want to say to you and I struggle to say it sometimes, I’m happier now knowing you than when I knew you as a kid. I’m not angry at you anymore because the dad I get now is a good dad who is trying. Giving a second chance wasn’t easy to do but I’m happy I didn’t walk away from you and we still found a way to communicate. Please don’t give up on me because I don’t want to give up on you.

I love you Dad,

Ali Johnson

I Could Pick Myself Apart (Emotional Breakdowns)

In the last two weeks of starting work again after being a stay at home mom for two years I felt like I failed my children. On Thursday night I found myself crying fountains, screaming at my partner on the phone, kids in tow, after feeding them McDonalds. I sat in my red Buick Century clutching the steering wheel my kids watching their mother break down. I had gotten off night shift, my sons babysitter had to cancel, running on no sleep for twenty-four hours… complete dumpster fire of emotion. Officially last Thursday ranked ten out of ten emotional and physical exhaustion of motherhood and marriage.

If someone was on the outside watching me I’m sure they said I was crazy, check me into the mental institution and call it a day. I had no self-control left in the evening. I wanted to be a good mom and wife and do it all. My mother-in-law kept saying she could watch the kids while I slept. My husband and I have been on the outs since going back. I was loading my plate with all the duties mother and wife related without taking time to breathe. My entire situation was a boiling pot waiting to spill over as I kept adding more life ingredients. Is that not what is expected of women today; to balance everything and give it all, with little to no complaints attached?

I’m here to say that should not be the expectation for women today. That should not be the expectation for anyone. Despite that moment in life I feel like to many people try to do it all and then feel guilty when they hit the breaking point. I broke down, and at first I was so ashamed of the things I said and the actions I did. My emotions and exhaustion from trying to do everything without help got out of control. The best thing out of this situation is looking back at why it needed to happen. I’m not happy it took this point of breaking to be heard, but to know that I’m still human and I still have lots to learn about life.

Having time to look at the situation my children had food in their bellies that night. Did I spend the last twenty dollars in my bank, yes I did. They were fed and according to my eldest son he really wanted to go and have time with his mom. I have been working hard the last two weeks at my new job. My son just wanted some mom time because he missed the time we used to have. He didn’t care that it was fast food he was happy that I gave him my attention and time to listen to him. I got to hear all the wonderful things going on at school. Learning about his friends, and what he likes. He didn’t care his mom was in sweatpants or that I felt like he deserved a better mom. Both of my boys ate and had fun just having their mom love them.

In the car I had a massive fight on the phone with my husband. We don’t often fight, and we never fight in front of the kids. On Thursday I was to emotionally exhausted to follow those rules. My husband is a great guy and my best friend. For the last month he and I stopped working as a team that we are. He was tired from work, I was tired from work, we both had been co-parenting just not in sync with one another. That morning I had sent a mean text message belittling him as a parent and a partner. My irritations from work and my doubts as a wife and mother came out and I fully admit I used my husband as a verbal punching bag. Sending that text message was awful, I hurt him because I was hurting. Having that fight oddly brought us together. Even though our children saw it they also get to see their parents apologize to one another, and that shows them it’s ok to have an argument and how to work it out as a team. This argument allowed my husband and I to say what we thought and create a solution for a better future. We both had childhoods where adults fought but never found a way to move forward. Silver linings and all we just have to keep moving and understand we are still learning to love one another by forgiving and being compassionate when we are hurt.

My children saw me cry. I bawled my eyes out and had the best cry. Crying can be healthy. I am the person that hides in the bathroom so no one can see me cry. I have done this since childhood because I was never taught what emotions I could have. Only learning anger and silence and emotions like I had on Thursday were punishable. Growing up in emotionally abusive environments are hard to manage emotions that are out of control. I don’t handle emotional stress in healthy ways. I wait until my breaking point to deal with them. My children deserve different futures from me. Seeing their mom cry showed them it’s ok to feel emotions. It’s ok for them to be upset and express their frustrations. After calming down I explained to my children that mom was upset but it’s not their faults. I also apologized for their mom losing control and I loved them. Explaining to my children that sometimes mom feels upset and needs to find better ways of coping than to yell and scream. It is not their job to solve my problems. It is however my job to teach them it’s sometimes ok to not be ok. I explained to my children they didn’t do anything wrong and held them tightly. When we got home I took some time to listen even harder to their needs because tiny humans need love the most, and I need to break the cycle of the past.

With everything happening I’m here to say my emotional breakdown happened. It happens to so many people in today’s society. People are expected to pile a thousand of things on their plates without complaint. Despite that moment in life I feel like to many people try to do it all and then feel guilty when they hit the breaking point. I broke down, and at first I was so ashamed of the things I said and the actions I did. My emotions and exhaustion from trying to do everything without help got out of control. The best thing out of this situation is looking back at why it needed to happen. I’m not happy it took this point of breaking to be heard, but to know that I’m still human and I still have lots to learn about life.

Written by Ali Johnson

Posting on Social Media Parents of Custody Battles

I have been finding myself angered by people writing hate on their social media during custody battles. Myself, has had problems doing this in the past without understanding the true repercussions of my actions. Stopping my social media hate towards my ex partner and my eldest sons father, puts in context what posting hate about each other affects everyone. It is so simple to say who really cares about the writing and posting of other people. Key problems posting targets is your children, your relationship past and future, your friendships, and your overall mental health.

Every time my ex would come at me for court or custody I would go on my social media and post about how pissed off I was at him. I would write about how much I hate him and I couldn’t believe he would pull that bullshit. Going as far as attacking his now ex-wife on social media because I felt like she was pushing him to argue with me. Looking back on certain posts that popped up on Facebook memories, I am so disgusted with myself. Understandably I was upset with him but to write atrocities as I did, mind blown on reality I would never say what I said about him to my children. If my son read when he was older I could fully understand how upset he would feel. It doesn’t matter how angry you are at your partner unless you want to affect your children mental well-being don’t post hate about your ex spouse or partner.

We as adults cry for people to stop bullying one another. So why as adults lack the ability to take our advice? Relationships and custody are emotionally charged there is not a plausible way to deny it. Every emotion is like a wave during this period for any ending it is a grief period. When kids are involved, posting on social media about their parents is unacceptable because it shows bullying is acceptable. That’s not the intention to bully the other person due to the hurt they have caused: between the lines it is still trying to hurt someone else to feel better about yourself. Due to it being highly public posting about another persons failures is trying to get the mob mentality to dislike the other person. Remember as a child and you couldn’t be friends with the weird kid who had a bunch of rumours on them, by posting hate and only one side of the story that person will become alienated by other people because there are three sides to every story. Who knows if that person posting about their custody battle is telling the full truth or only the truth that makes them look good to others. Victimizing people by one story is easy to do in our society today. All it takes is one social media post and people go crazy without questioning the full spectrum.

All that aside future employers can look up your Facebook and see all the drama that was posted. Was bashing another person worth losing a potential job? This is not worth losing more than what is already lost. I know when I see these posts about parents hating one another and I think to myself these people have no problem throwing other people under the bus to benefit themselves. A future employer would see that as selfish behaviour and shows lack of self-control. Employers want to hire good people capable of behaving like adults. No one wants to hire the playground bully.

Social media is a lawless place anyone can take what you post and turn it around to make it what they need to. Posting has no guarantees others will understand the intention of the poster. Social media has no safety net to stop it from entering into your real life. With everything said on this post the person who is hurt the most from hate on social media is the person who writes the post. Posting negative outlooks about anyone is unacceptable because it affects everyone and yourself. If you need a place to vent about your relationship issues regarding your children find a different outlet than social media. Be the bigger person and move forward without negative repercussions to your life.

Written by Ali Johnson

The Seven-Year Rut

There is a moment in every relationship that happens. It is the when do I walk away moment. It happens so suddenly you feel winded, uncertain as to how it got so far. I am the kind of person that wants to run when things get tough. This is largely due to my fight or flight mechanism being so high after waves of abusive people I once held so close to me. Somewhere deep down I hold the feeling everyone walks away eventually I should be the first one to do it before it starts to hurt.

I’m the kind of person that sees trouble before it happens. I used to try to stick it out until nothing was left of me but missing pieces. Before I met my partner I would only hold short relationships to protect my self from being hurt by someone else; here we are seven long years later with two kids, and I find my flight mode activated once again. The last two years have been long with finical issues and health issues thrown into our ring. Try as we might the boxing gloves eventually become frayed and worn. Breathless as we stand in the corner trying to figure out who won that match. The bell rings, and we go for another round in boxing ring of life. Holding seven years with another person: walking away seems impossible to do. I used to think love should never hurt, I see now that sometimes love needs to hurt in order to grow as a human being.

I don’t mean abusive love. The love that should hurt sometimes is the mindset of is this other person worth it. The case of my life partner I understand fully he is worth it. Right now we are two opposing forces with the same idea to get ahead. We just lack the communication to stop our score card of who did what first. We both know what buttons to push on the other side with no fear of how the other will deal with it. I’m the kind of woman that gets angry when they are scared. My partner is the kind of man who will quietly rationalize every word spoke building the next plan. At night, we lay in bed as two people wanting each other but fearing of touch that can bring closeness. In the stillness of words unspoken I can be certain that we just need each other to understand our differences.

I don’t know what will happen tomorrow. If we will still love one another, or we will finally draw the white flag of surrender. Relationships take work that never stops. One thing I have learned in seven years of not running away is that our love needs respect when things are not rainbows and kittens. Me; being the headstrong woman who never wants help and him being the strong guy unaffected by small mindedness, need to balance one another and hold on for one more moment. I hope by not running in twenty years we as partners will look back at this moment and see the growth that we have. I currently look down at my promise ring and see not an object of beauty but the promise to stay even when we ourselves are coming up ugly.

For now, I will put up my running shoes and wear my bare feet into our future. I know our gloves will not stay dusty in our mental head space. I can only ask for myself to not give in even when that is the only thing I have learned to do. As two people in the vast universe it is up to us to say when or say go. Winded and slightly defeated I feel it in my heart and gut mine and his love is worth it. We will start with the corner pieces and work our way in to build the final picture.

Written by Ali Johnson