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

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Promise, They Will Be Enough

[Will’s father came back into town, and then lied to Will about being around more and left. Phillip is trying to comfort him]

Will: Hey, you no what, you ain’t got to do nothing, Uncle Phil. You know, ain’t like I’m still five years old, you know? Ain’t like I’m gonna be sitting every night asking my mom ‘when’s daddy coming home?’ You know? Who needs him? Hey, he wasn’t there to teach me how to shoot my first basket, but I learned it, didn’t I? And I got pretty damn good at it too, didn’t I, Uncle Phil?

Phillip Banks: Yeah, you did.

Will: Got to do my first date without him, right? I learned how to ride, I learned how to shave, I learned how to fight without him. I had *fourteen* great birthdays without him; he never even sent me a damn card. The hell with him!

[pause]

Will: I didn’t need him then, I won’t need him now.

Phillip Banks: Will…

Will: No, you know what, Uncle Phil? I’m gonna get through college without him, I’m gonna get a great job without him, I’m gonna marry me a beautiful honey and I’m having a whole bunch of kids. I’m gonna be a better father than he ever was. And I sure as hell don’t need him for that, ’cause there ain’t a damn thing he can teach me about how to love my kids!

[long pause; he’s crying]

Will: How come he don’t want me, man?

Scene from Fresh Prince of Belair.

I remember watching the scene from Fresh Prince of Belair for the first time and felt so connected to what he was saying. I too had absent parents who treated me out of convenience instead of want. Lonely is the best way I can describe my feelings towards the missing people that were supposed to step up and do the right thing. Some people say absence makes the heart grow fonder, but when your parent is negligent it causes a certain degree of pain.

Every time my parents would choose to jump in and out of my life a rift grew. I questioned why they chose that time to step up when they wanted no part in anything else going on. One of my battles as a child was dealing with questions of why I was not good enough for them. I was smart, imaginative, and loved to learn. The older I got I started to feel guilty for being a burden to them. I always felt that I was the reason my mom was slightly crazy and my dad didn’t want me because I made my mother nuts. It didn’t matter how much I achieved I was never good enough for them.

Overtime as their absent parenting grew I felt raw anger towards them. Other children would state how great their parents were. How they loved them unconditionally. The one time that I rejected seeing my father I was guilt tripped by family members. They stated that if I didn’t love my dad I should say it directly. I was torn into pieces that day instead of being told my emotions are validated. Thirteen year old me made a promise that day that if I ever have children; I would love them until the day I take my last breath, and be better than what they were one hundred percent.

Two boys later I have kept my promise. I, no longer keep contact with my mother by ensuring she has no access to abuse my children. My promise is simple yet it allows my children to be loved. Unlike my mother I will allow my children to make mistakes and not treat them as a disappointment. I will make sure they have food in their bellies before myself. They will always have a safe space to live in and someone to care about their needs. My last promise is to tell them I love them with each passing day. To hold them when they are scared and cheer them on when they do great things.

I am not a perfect parent by any means. My parents made a choice to walk away from me, what I learned is that I will be better. I did learn something from them and that is my children are first before me. My love for them shows them they are enough. They will not go through life wondering how they failed me. Love and trust does not come easy for me, but my children will never have to struggle with feeling alone and unheard. I may have been unwanted but I will always want my boys.

Written by: Ali Johnson

30 weeks with my son Maximus.

myself, Travis, and Max

Mothers Day For Women With Abusive Mothers

Mothers days is a sore spot for those who have abusive mothers. The aggressive reminder of pain inflicted given from those whom thrive on it. It’s a great day for some; but with others who have dealt the blow of being unloved or smothered by woman unable to show true compassion beyond their narcissistic parenting, its considered a day of emotional turmoil. Every feeling, every question of why, every memory blurts through the heart like emotional vomit. The painful part of dealing with abusive mothers on mothers day is the silence one keeps inside their minds.

To the ladies balled up on your bathroom floor on Mothers Day: it’s going to be alright. Right now what you’re feeling it’s allowed to be angry and feel robbed. It’s alright to read on social media about all the great moms and feel that familiar twinge of heartbreak. Those tears you are crying right now will soon pass and you will get off that floor.

The ladies with children of their own on Mothers Day had the challenge to brave it out for their children. All day they put on the brave face as their children proudly show them the crafts they made. Once the night has come and the feelings become too much they simply allow the panic to set in. It brings the self-doubt that they too are failing just has someone failed them. To those moms who kept it together until the end, know this the cycle of abuse stops with you. Just because the woman who caused unspeakable pain does not define you as a mother. Cry it out, scream like no tomorrow, break a plate, at the end when you have nothing left for that woman to steal you get off that floor and be the warrior. You survived Mothers Day for one more year. That takes guts and strength that most do not know. If you survived this Mothers Day and keep on going I promise you they already lost.

Although they tried to steal your soul and break you into a million pieces abusive mothers lose out on love themselves. I know this day sucks a billion times over. It feels suffocating as if your head is being held under water and you are drowning in emotional turmoil. I know you might lash out on those you care about and feel guilty but you are not her. Mothers day is a very dark day for you and I; please I beg you take a moment to see the goddess in yourself, and find love that was stolen in your soul. At the end of the dark day that is Mothers Day I want you to look in the mirror and tell yourself you made it. You survived and that is what counts.

With Love to those ladies who survived the pain of the Mothers day,

Ali Johnson.

Be Confident

I almost made a massive mistake regarding my eldest son. Today I was seconds away from ruining his confidence based on his choices. My partner was the one to step in and make me realize there are things that I do as a mother that goes against teaching my son to be a confident human who can love himself.

I try to tell my children to love who they are despite what other people say. This is a core image I want them to hold for their entire lives. I try to teach my children to love their bodies and minds and encourage understanding that their bodies are temples. If they love their temples and treat it well good things will happen to them. I want them to love themselves wholesomely, so they can grow with the world and enter as brightly as they came into it.

My eldest son struggles some days with loving who he is because other people bully him for his personality and his disabilities. This year has been one big disaster of other boys trying to tear him down for whom he is. This year he not only had boys his age bully him but adults as well. School had become a mental prison to him. I have watched him come home in such a state that I tore into his teachers and started fighting back against his fellow peers. No child should through life being told he is a disappointment nor should have the words kill yourself said. No human should have this abuse placed on them.

His disabilities do no define my son if anything I applaud his strength in living with them. He refuses to let his disabilities hold him back. He is this amazing little man with a bold sense of the world. Despite struggling with autism and juvenile osteopathic arthritis, he courageously faces each day with a can do attitude. His issues do not lie with himself but from others. Others see his disabilities as inconveniencing and annoying. Instead of treating him with open mindedness and encouragement they meet him with discouraging opinions. My eyes have been opened this year to how vile and disgusting people can be to others and chose to target those different. My son is being activity bullied due to his differences by his teacher and peers alike. It is my job as his mother to fight for him and show him love for himself to combat those discouraging lack of values in others.

I lost sight of that image today, and I am so grateful my partner reminded me of why we teach him to be confident. As he picked out an outfit that had pink stripes, green shorts, and a fedora with gold flecks, he came to me beaming with pride of his new-found outfit. I looked at it and almost told him to put it back because I didn’t want others bullying him based on looks. My partner stopped me mid sentence and said doesn’t this make him look great. I stopped and re looked at my child, he had the biggest grin on his face. Pride filled his eyes, he was unique. Instead of making him put the outfit back and chose one to fit the norms of society I let him keep it. It doesn’t matter if anyone else dislikes it; as long as he is happy in his body, no one else can take away the pride that he feels.

I often forget the message that I try to convey to my sons. Love yourself and be prideful in your choices. It is not our place in the world to dash the hopes and dreams of tiny humans, instead it is our place to lead by example and show them the pathway to true self happiness.

My son on Canada Day 2018.

Written by Ali Johnson

*Disclaimer: I do not give permission for written work to be copied without permission of the author. Any work is to posted outside of website give credit to the writer of this article.

Focusing On Men’s Mental Health

I remember a time when I was arguing with my husband; in a moment of causing verbal pain, I yelled at him saying you don’t have to balance anything. The words lingered in the air like bait waiting for the fish to bite. Instead of firing back at me he just simply said I balance just like you, I’m just not as verbal about it. Taken back by that I had a deeper look into what men go through on a daily basis. We as society forget that men have to have balance in their lives just as women do.

We had a moment in our relationship where my partner was feeling depressed. He wouldn’t admit to it but it became noticeable. He was not eating nor sleeping well. One of the more noticeable signs was his anger at little things. He felt that he was burdened with copious amounts of responsibility with no hope to move forward. In his mind he was struggling to be the man that he was told to be. This is a common notion among men in our generation. Having the title ” be the man” creates a monster in helping men understand getting help is not a weakness.

Part of the problem of older generations is the toxic masculinity placed on young boys to suck up their feelings and just deal with it. So when depression and mental illness do arise people like my partner push down their struggles and refuse help. This is problematic for young men who will continue the cycle of trying to be manly with no support system to cope when these hidden illnesses come about. It creates a lack of understanding on what needs to be done to create better supports for fathers, children, and young men.

We as society have to see a different ideal and better understanding of what men go through. Breaking the mould of toxic masculinity is a big step that starts with talking to younger generations about acceptance of feelings. The next big leap for helping men in mental health is breaking the stigma that men do not need mental support because they do not suffer like women do. The third big step in changing this is stop portraying men as bad parents and treating them as unintelligent. We as society need to support younger generations of males and give help to guide them instead of breaking them down. By giving support there would be changes in parenting, changes in suicide rates, changes in quality of life among males. Stronger futures can be made given the chance to pave the way for our sons, brothers, fathers, and boys only if we can end toxic masculinity within our mindsets.

Written by: Ali Johnson

The Art Of Apologizing

In life, we have to offer apologizes to those that we hurt.

I dislike having to apologize for when I’m wrong. It takes swallowing my pride and seeing my flaws to even utter the smallest I’m sorry. I used to say it because it was ingrained into me as a way to not get beat down. So now when I say sorry It needs to hold true value. Recently I noticed there are tons of people I need to apologize to and make better relationships. When I said sorry the first time I wasn’t properly using the word, I only said it to get out of trouble much like children do.

Apologizing is tough because it can go two ways; it can get accepted and your life together moves on, or it gets rejected and everything crashes and burns. There is an art to saying I’m sorry to make it critical in acceptance. The art form has to come from the heart and mind working together. If either one of them doesn’t mean the apology the canvas of that apology is wiped clean, but there is a second part to the apology form. The second part is stand behind every single word of the apology given. You cannot back pedal once you stated why you are sorry.

The best way to apologize is have a reason to utter the words I’m sorry. The beginning of the statement follows “I’m sorry for” enter the reasons here. If you say I’m sorry ensure your body language follows up with your reasons and words. This leads back to merit of apology. If your body does not sync with the rest of the thought and emotion it will become lost. Full honesty must be given forward to the other person wronged. As humans, we deserve respect and honesty with great patience to see human error.

Given the apology is out in the open for interpretation following through is key. In the words of my eight year old no take backs (seat belt, buckle clause). Disadvantaging the person who received the apology creates a destructive pattern of false honesty. In other words mean it, seal it, move on with it. Be a better person and do better for the person that was hurt.

Given that as humans we are flawed in nature we have a chance to correct or mistakes. Some of those mistakes can be corrected by saying I’m sorry for my actions. Ownership of fragility is not showing weakness but the giving the ability to move forward for a better future. It is well-known that humans are prideful, but we can also put our personal issues aside and work together. To ensure this notion we as humans have to receive the ability to accept flaws of others and ourselves.

Written by Ali Johnson

One bad day away

It takes one bad day to make a normal person to lose control of their life. One bad decision can bring on the domino effect of bad circumstances. I know this from first hand to never take granted what and who I have in my life. I was that person who had one bad day that lead to many more bad choices. Homeless at sixteen, emancipated at seventeen my life direction was complicated.

If someone had asked me in 2009 if I was going to live much longer my response would’ve been no. I was going in such a direction I thought I would lose my life. If it wasn’t to drinking it was being with the wrong person, so many choices I made was the wrong one. I used sex and drugs as a way to numb the pain I was in. I gave up on myself and lost faith in the goodwill of others. Anytime someone offered a glimpse of true help I would treat them as criminal.

Someone once asked me if I regret my actions to survive, my response to this is no. Living with regrets for things I did would not change my future. I see my past choices whether right or wrong shaped who I am today. I used to blame the actions of others on my misfortune it took well into my adult years to see that my choices based on bad days was defining my pathway. What I do now with past choices is to educate others on surviving with trauma and to teach people to have compassion towards others.

I talk to people who were like me I hear the same thought process leading to their choices it was one bad day. That bad day led to one bad choice. Those bad choices led to several others. In between the lines of the bad day and poor choices there is a thin line that shows a person in pain trying to survive. It shows me to not judge anyone because they too can be one bad day away from losing everything.

I don’t know what anyone is going through to lead them on their life path, what I can do is understand survival tactics and give an ear of compassion. I can be that person that allows my mind to remain open to others pain and accept that they to had one moment of weakness. It takes a few seconds to be a good person to understand all walks of life. This is the same give one part of goodness to ease one bad day. I believe that in those moments of living with our choices one small act of kindness can walk someone off the ledge and lead that person to staying alive for longer.

Written by: Ali Johnson