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

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