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

The First of the Lasts

I saw my son turn into a little man overnight. Snapping a photo yesterday of his last day of grade two it hit me out of nowhere. We have so many lasts that it gets missed. The last nap, the last cartoon, the last of holding a baby and singing it to sleep. I once took in the deep intoxicating smell of my small baby boy. That smell still lingers in distant memory never to be forgotten. Now he smells as a stinky boy preparing for the next leg into growing up.

I am growing older I saw that in the photo. My son came into my life as I was leaving adolescence in my dust. As the saying goes there is no manual to having children, we all wing it hoping for the best. I held my baby for the first time and the last time I held him tightly in my arms when he was four. Where did the time go? I dropped him off on his first day of kindergarten and this was the first of the last times. Yesterday he finished grade two onto the summer of learning fun and adventure. Will this be the last summer we play with reckless abandon. How will I know this will be the last time we do anything?

He no longer collects tiny metal cars, I looked inside his room. It no longer holds home to a little boy filled to the brim with imagination. It holds the image of growing older. Science books and homework thrown about. Clothes with loud labels surround the floor. Try as I might with each passing day the last of little boyhood is growing away from him. The bond as baby boy and mother is now growing into a bond of a mother and her young son. Different responsibilities overtaking the loud fun we once had. I can’t remember the last time we were tickle monsters of TravisVille.

Everyone says if you blink they grow up so fast. I blinked of course as all parents do. I am sad to see the years creep up ever so silently. Missing the markers of my sons childhood and held them for granted. If only I was wiser I would hold onto the last times like hostages until somebody else said time to let go. I’m not quite ready to let go just yet. I want to hold my eyes open wide in order to not miss what is left of my sons childhood. The parenting nature doesn’t work that way. I will blink again and before me will stand my adult son onto his next adventure.

With this I say hold onto your babies a minute longer as you don’t know if this time is the first of the lasts. Hold your breath with passing moment of time and hold those true to your hearts so that way you can appreciate the fleeting time of growing older.

Written by Ali Johnson

My son at three months of age.