Can’t Lives On Won’t Street – Written by Cindy

As humans we are such social beings by nature and are wired to seek the company of others. We look for comfort, happiness and fulfillment.

When it comes time to picking our mate, there are only few people with whom we want to form relationships and share our lives. Sometimes our choices prove fruitful, but other times they fail us.

For Cindy her relationship took a turn for the worse and became her living nightmare. Yet one simple display of courage from her son changed everything.

Please take a moment to read Cindy’s journey from horror to happily ever after.

Heidi Allen – Positive People Army Founder 

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One of the best witticisms my darling Uncle imparted to me in my youth, before he left this earthly world, was a goofy phrase that he would say whenever I would state in sheer frustration that “I can’t do it!”. He would simply respond to that by saying “CAN’T LIVES ON WON’T STREET”.

Can’t lives on Won’t Street. An extremely powerful statement when you understand it and it sure packed a punch of realization whenever he would say it. A tough reminder that it’s not that you CAN’T do something, it’s that you WON’T do something. A reality check that you really CAN do ANYTHING…the only thing stopping you is YOU.

This impressive bon mot from my wise Uncle, managed to reverse my discouraged outlook on things several times over the years when I hit some personal lows (thanks Uncle G!).

One of those personal lows, is very hard to talk about. However, I know in sharing my story that it can hopefully help someone else and possibly give hope to those who might be in the same situation. Staying silent or hiding an ugly truth only enables it to continue, so I know it is important to tell my tale, as much as I wish I didn’t have to.

As a young woman, I got involved with an irrational abusive partner. I had never known serious abuse prior to this man, I didn’t grow up with it in my life, other than some old school “discipline” methods. So when I ended up in a horribly inflictive, physical and mentally abusive relationship, I found myself navigating through a blackness that I simply didn’t understand or know how to get away from.

I witnessed a few red flags while we dated, but I made excuses for his behavior. He was having a bad day or he came from a bad background or he was just a little too drunk and the list goes on. I found myself defending him to those closest to me. I should’ve ended it then, but I thought these were just some bad one-off moments and chose to focus on the “good side” of him.

We bought a house together and shortly after moving in, I found out that I was pregnant with his son. This is when his true colours really came out. It started with shoving & throwing me around then escalated to punching me in the face, threats, name-calling, intimidation and house-wrecking rages. I would try hiding from him, under beds or in closets, but that only saved me a couple of times.

It was awful.

Afterward, there was always the apology and promise that “it would never happen again”. It was a continuing cycle of abuse -apologize, abuse -apologize. This man was a product of generations of abusive behavior. His Father had abused his Mother. His Grandfather had abused his Grandmother. And so on. He didn’t like his own behavior yet continued to repeat the same abusive actions and continue the family tradition.

I was living in Hell and wanted badly to escape, but I was chained by my own mind. I would tell myself that “I CAN’T” leave for so many reasons. My CAN’T excuses immobilized me. Excuses like “I can’t, we have a child and a home together” “I can’t afford to leave” “I can’t because what would people think?” Etcetera.

So I stayed. Convinced myself that I could take it and tried to keep it a secret from others. Incident after incident happened, mostly behind closed doors, but unfortunately some that the neighbourhood, friends, family and the police were in on. It was so embarrassing when that happened. And no one understood why I stayed with him.

I knew why…fear. Of him, of being a single parent, of failure, of breaking up our family and more.

The chains of my own mind ensured my captivity. I had parked on CAN’T (WON’T) STREET and refused to leave. But finally, there was a day…a turning point…when the catalyst for change happened.

My ex was in a rage and had started coming at me, when my then 4-year-old son, stepped in-between us, stood in front of me facing his Dad and full of courage said “Stop! Don’t you hurt my Mommy! It’s like you have a tornado in your head or something!”.

My ex looked surprised and it did actually stop him in that moment. And it completely floored me. My 4-year-old son, so brave, full of the courage I should’ve had and ready to take on his Dad in order to protect me. It was a disturbing eye-opener to say the least.

Full of guilt, I knew that my son had already seen too much in his first 4 years, no matter how much I had tried to protect him from it all. It was then, that I decided to leave. Finally.

I needed to be as brave as my young son and leave his abusive father once and for all so that my boy could have a better life. I needed to ensure that he would not become the next generation of abuser and if I stayed then it was quite possible he could turn out to be.

Leaving was terrifying. It was fast and furious while my ex was out of the house. I packed my mini-van quickly with all that I could fit in to it and drove away without knowing where my son and I would go next. I had no real plan, it was just a spontaneous decision the day after my son had tried to protect me and I just went into action.

Ironically it was Mother’s Day.

I was in total fear about the unknown next steps and I only had $2,000.00 to my name. A secret fund that I had saved little by little, knowing that one day I would likely need it. And now that day had come. It wasn’t much to start a new life with but did cover the payment of the first and last month of rent and a $300 hydro deposit on a crappy, mouldy one bedroom basement apartment that I found after camping on a friend’s floor for 2 weeks.

So there I was. I did it. But now I was living as a single Mom of a 4-year-old boy, completely on my own, living in a disgusting dungeon apartment with nothing left and completely financially wiped out. So broke and so broken. I cried when I looked at my life but also smiled because at least we were free!

Free from the angry raging abuse! And I felt like there was a glimmer of renewed hope of a better future for me and my precious son! However, it turned out there was still more to deal with. Much more. And the next challenge was right around the corner….

Monkey See and Monkey Do. Kids see and hear everything it seems and are shaped by their surrounding environment. My son, prior to us leaving, had displayed a very bad temper just like his Dad’s. Now that it was just the two of us living in a dungeon, it got even worse. His temper tantrums were frequent and epic. His anger uncontrollable. He swung at me just like he had seen his Dad doing, ready to strike if he could. I’m sure part of it was the confusion for him of leaving his home and not understanding why he wasn’t seeing his Dad, and he just didn’t know how to express it other than lashing out at me.

My heart was broken in a million pieces seeing this! Of course, my own parental inexperience didn’t help either as I tried to manage his outbursts and angry behavior by reacting to him so I would yell back at him, make idle threats that I wouldn’t follow through on (like being grounded or throwing out toys). I tried bribing him (buy his good behavior). I tried time out, time in, 123 Magic, talking to him, reasoning with him, negotiating with him and even once I spanked him. None of these methods worked and in fact, only made his behavior even worse.

My stress level was super high and my son’s behavior was terrifying me. I was a single parent, working nights as a waitress, studying through the day for my real estate licence, trying to keep my head above water to pay rent and all else. And I had a now 5-year-old son whose behavior was very much out-of-control.

Family members complained to me about him and said he wasn’t welcome around their kids. He was having trouble at school. He had no respect for anyone, especially adults. I desperately searched for a solution but found nothing tangible…just regurgitated advice and well-intentioned parenting articles without concrete solutions.

Waitlists for therapy were several months away at best, and I didn’t have the time or money for a parenting class. It was so very frustrating because I felt that I needed real help and just couldn’t find it, access it or afford it!

In tears one night, after a bad temper tantrum had happened and my son was finally in bed for the evening, my emotionally distraught brain was a blurred mix of defeat and desperation. I knew I had to break this toxic cycle of abuse…he simply could not grow up to be the next generation of angry raging abuser…but how could I stop it?

I knew I needed to save him from a future where all he knew was that angry, abusive action was a solution…but I felt overcome by the thought that I CAN’T change his behavior. And then…

My Uncle’s words, CAN’T LIVES ON WON’T STREET. The reminder that there is always a way when you decide that it’s so! I just had to try something different than what I had been doing! I started writing down ideas. Slowly, they started to form into a game plan, a real tangible helping solution! I knew I wanted to incorporate THE GOLDEN RULE where you treat others as you wish to be treated, this being a very important aspect of this new idea.

I had personally experienced the yelling, threats and hitting from my abusive partner and hated it. So why was I using these same methods at times, to try to teach my son better behavior? Methods I have seen so many other parents also use because it’s all they know. I realized that this plan was also going to help me be a better parent, not just improve my son’s actions! I also wanted him to be involved so that he understood the lesson better and he felt like he was a part of the decision that affected him. Because as Dr. Suess wrote in Horton Hears a Who, “a person is a person, no matter how small”, and he needed to be respected as much as I did. As well, I knew that the power of play is a very important teacher so my solution had to be FUN! Serious but fun!

I spent hours that night brainstorming, jotting down thoughts and ideas on how to do this parenting thing better and then finally out of a night of effort and believing that I CAN find a better solution….

The Red Card Blue Card Game was born! And It felt like such a brilliant solution! I was so excited to try it!

I created the game from all of the reading and research I had previously done while searching for a solution. I used tried and true expert methods but the delivery of them was different now! I made it easy to use, colourful and simple to understand. Then I explained to my son, that we would be playing this game every single day.

To my utter amazement, this game WORKED!! My son loved it!

Within 3 weeks, his behavior had drastically transformed and he was behaving respectfully and NO ANGRY TANTRUMS! I was blown away by how effective this game was! Parenting him completely turned around and became really easy! Whenever he started acting out, I simply reminded him that it would earn him a Red Card and it would stop any unruly behavior immediately!

The best part was, that I could keep my cool, as I was in control again. No more yelling. No more idle threats. The game allowed me to remain consistent in my parenting method and allowed for a follow through on what I said, so that my son learned to respect my requests. And using my cool head, was leading by the right example and showed him how to keep his cool as well. This game was my miracle! And my son’s miracle! And finally, the cycle breaker I had dreamed of!

My son learned that peaceful action was possible as a resolution. He learned to respect others. He learned that being polite and helpful was a better way to live. He became that boy that the teachers always praised for being such a good kid and an example to others. He grew into an easy-to-live with teenager who handled situations with grace and wisdom, no matter how stressful. And now, I am so proud to say, that he is a grown man, who is gentle and kind and patient and caring. It’s not that he doesn’t get presented with trying situations in his life that test his anger, but when he does, he certainly knows how to handle them in the best way possible. He is now the kind of person in the world, that the world needs more of!

This is my success story and one that I am mighty proud of! It’s not one of financial success or world-wide recognition success, but one of actually making a real difference because I feel like I broke the cycle of angry abuse within one family tree anyway!

It’s only a drop in the bucket sadly but a true testament that change IS possible! If you believe it, you can achieve it!

In reflection, from where we are now to where we once were and where we could’ve ended up…is incredible really. Those rough few years happened many years ago, a bad memory that I really don’t like to rehash at all but it’s important for others who feel the same hopelessness that I did.

Years later after realizing the long-term success of my idea, when my son was 17, I published The Red Card Blue Card Game to share with others. Parenting can sure be challenging sometimes and I’m assuming there are many other parents who could use a real solution! Now they have a great option to use!

I also recognized the important value in The Red Card Blue Card Game as a great preemptive tool to address the issue of bullying and improve the incidence of poor mental health by assisting in the support of better family relationship health. Less yelling, hitting and threats will lead to improved self-esteem for many of our young ones. And it was important for me to make it affordable and easy to obtain, especially for any single parents who financially struggle, just like I had. The Golden Rule Tool for peaceful parenting and effective behavior management should be available to anyone who needs it!

I know, from first-hand experience, that it is possible to be better to each other and for each other. Sometimes we just need someone to show us the way. I hope sharing my story can show someone else the way now too. Do not be held back by your perceived limits. Always believe in yourself, your abilities, your dreams, your inner courage and take action because when you do…you CAN and WILL be unstoppable.

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If you would like more information on the card game please follow the link Red Card Blue Card 

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If you loved this story you will also love A Plague Of Joy

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