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Alleyways & The Ali Way

Updated: Jan 12, 2021

As I was contemplating how to start this blog post, I quickly went to the Google home page and searched "facts about alleyways". A generalized definition about pathways and architecture appeared, but that wasn't exactly what I was looking for. I turned my attention to the news section and searched, "alleyway" in an attempt to find something more suitable for my thought process.

The first news article that populated was written by Fran Way from Oxford Mail (@OxMailFranW) titled, Teenage Boy Robbed in Wood Farm Alley. The article describes a teenage boy being pushed into an alleyway to be robbed for some petty cash and his iPhone by two Asian teens. Kids robbing kids over cash and a phone wasn't in my top ideas of hidden activity in an alleyway, but hidden activity in an alleyway is immediately what I think of when I think about alleyways.

In my mind, they bring to mind darkness, crime, and chaos. They remind me of the unfortunate homeless, the left behind, the forgotten. Alleyways signify death, decay, despair. On the surface, we have nothing in common. I have a home of my own. I'm not forgotten. According to my background, I'm not a criminal. I don't wander in dark streets alone. You get the picture. So why am I choosing to talk about alleyways, and why even make this a focal point in the blog? Good question. Let's talk about it.

In the summer of 2020, I found myself spiraling mentally out of control. One negative thought turned into thousands of negative thoughts one after another like a vortex of failure and disappointment. I couldn't abandon them. I couldn't escape them no matter how hard I'd tried. My rapid-fire thoughts became its own kind of alleyway full of darkness, thoughts of suicide and an impossibility to wrestle out of the death grip. More than anything, I wanted my brain to shut the F up and let me get back to my "normal" life, whatever that meant.

That alleyway lead me to a crossroad where my therapist and I decided that it was time to get some serious help. I voluntarily admitted myself into a mental health hospital for 4 days, where I was secluded from the outside world. Nobody could call me, unless they had the number to the hospital. There weren't any obligations to write seemingly positive posts on my IG. I wasn't expected to go to work where at the time, the stress was unmanageable. There was freedom to turn down a different pathway, and it was one of the best decisions of my life without question.

I learned that coloring is good for the soul. Meditation isn't some hippy-dippy therapy move to roll my eyes at and walk away from. Friends, good friends are necessary for life and survival. Work is an evitable part of life as an adult, but there are boundaries to be put in place when I'm giving too much of myself at the expense of my sanity. I learned that seeming positive isn't the same thing as actually being positive. I learned to say yes when I wanted to, and no when I didn't. And that saying no is okay and even necessary at times. I learned to speak up for myself in a way that was healthy and constructive instead of defensive and argumentative. It taught me how to have order in the midst of chaos. It taught me how to live simultaneously with deep hurts and deep love.

I'm not sure if you've experienced the emotional turmoil that I've described, or if you have felt you've walked down a dark alleyway that turns into a labyrinth of pain and disillusionment that I've experienced in life. Maybe you feel as though you've been pushed into an alleyway full of darkness and chaos without any sight of hope or light at the end of the tunnel. And just when you think it can't get any worse, someone steals all that's left of you - cash and an iPhone. Believe me when I say that I'm sitting with you in your pain. Depression has a way of telling us there's no way out, and anxiety begs us to believe that asking for help is like asking to be ridiculed or rejected. I know that feeling, because I've been there. I understand deep hurt. because I have been deeply hurt. But what if I told you there's a better way? It's a new kind of alleyway. It's the way I've chosen to view pain, loss and heartbreak. I call it The Ali Way.

The Ali Way seeks to find hope and forgiveness through all of the hardships. The Ali Way views pain as a way to extend compassion only capable by having experienced difficult and impossible things. The Ali Way looks to a higher being for purpose in life. The Ali Way is a better way to process loss. The Ali Way inspires creative outlets, candid coffee dates and being vulnerable even when it hurts. The Ali Way seeks to ask for help when needed and doesn't apologize for asking. The Ali Way upholds and maintains healthy boundaries. The Ali Way is my way, a new way, a better way of life. And this life my friends, is a beautiful life.

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