Who I Am Now
What is your name and age today? If different from your birth name, how did your name change?
My name is still Tiffini Johnson, and I am 33 years old.
Are you single, married, divorced or widowed?
I was afraid you might ask that.
I am still single. Remember, I was engaged for awhile but never actually married.
What are you living your life for now? What are you top priorities?
My children. Really, they sum up my life. I truly believe that’s what God wants me to do, what He put me here for. When I am surrounded by or teaching my children, truly, I couldn’t care less how many bills are sitting on my kitchen table. Truly, all I care about is being present with them. They are the only two individuals I have ever known from whom I do not wish to hide. They are the only ones being vulnerable before doesn’t fill me with unadulterated terror. People say that parenthood is hard. I’ve experienced ups and downs. There have been temper tantrums a few times and, okay, pumping breastmilk and breastfeeding every two hours was a challenge. There have been days when I would have sworn I was dying as a result of sheer exhaustion. But is the work itself hard? I don’t find it difficult. I have grown and healed in so many ways since becoming a mother that all I feel is grateful for the opportunity to witness their lives. God knew, I didn’t, that being a mother would set off a chain of emotions and events deep inside me that would ultimately draw me closer to Him and heal. As a result, I happily make this journey of motherhood a priority.
After raising them to the very best of my abilities, advocacy is a high priority for me. A couple years ago, I was invited to speak in front of a very large group. I was very nervous about this particular event because I hadn’t done many speaking engagements at the time and all the ones I had done were on a much smaller scale. But I accepted the invitation. I started speaking and, as I looked at the faces of those in the audience, something happened to me. A goose-bump-like feeling traced my spine. It was as if a lightbulb went off that said, this is why. For the first time, I saw a piece of God’s dream. Mine had just been to write—-but His was ultimate healing, not only for me but for others, as well. There is comfort in unity.
How is your health?
Well, the short answer is it’s fine now. I mean, like anyone, I deal with a few lingering issues. Cancer in my thyroid led to the removal of said organ, and this means that I have what is called hyperthyroidism. This contributes to my inhumane levels of exhaustion and some other minor annoyances. But I take a daily pill and it keeps it pretty much in check. I also deal with a ridiculously severe form of anemia. I’ve been anemic my entire life. But no one ever did anything about it blood tests revealed that my iron was at a 6 and still dropping. That convinced the doctors to give me intravenous iron. So now, every three-five months, I go in for a three hour IV iron drip. As I said, I’ve been anemic my whole life. Every doctor I’ve ever seen has told me to take iron pills, which I would do, to no avail. My whole life, I pooh-poohed anemia. I thought, “big deal.” Let me promise you, it is a big deal. Without iron, rolling yourself out of the bed, even just to fall flat on the floor, takes entirely too much effort. It is insane. But the iron drip works like a wonder drug and, after being loopy for a day afterward from all the meds, I feel much better.
Do you have any pet peeves?
I don’t like curse words. It’s not nice and creates an environment of hostility, which never does anyone any good.
Other than that, no.
Describe your social life. Who are your friends? What do you do for fun?
I write for fun. And I volunteer to teach at church, for fun. I also take my girls places almost every day, for fun.
There are people at my church with whom I am friendly. I like to consider myself their friend. We chat when we see each other and communicate sometimes on Facebook. Facebook is about the extent of my social life. I don’t have anyone with whom I meet up for lunch, although my sister and I try to do things together at least once or twice a month.
What concerns you most about what is going on in the world?
It concerns me how little the average person knows about terrible injustices like human trafficking or even child abuse. We say we know it happens… kind of like we know who Assad is. But we don’t know enough details to light a fuse in our souls that might actually change the statistics. Whenever I read stories of atrocities like these taking place, I feel overwhelmed as my heart cracks into pieces over and over again. Children are innocent, unarmed and without the mental faculties to process the crimes being perpetrated upon them. Those crimes, though, are capable of not only changing but destroying these lives. Even the ones who triumph over it, as I like to think I have, are never, ever the same. This is more important than a budget or which political party lied about the other the most.
Do you have peace of mind?
I don’t fear for my physical safety anymore; that’s only been around for a five or six years, so that’s a good thing. And I don’t go to bed praying that I wake up in the morning. I don’t harm myself anymore. And I feel close to God now, which makes me feel comforted. Honestly, I’m not sure what “peace of mind” really is. Of course, I still have things I worry about. Sometimes I still question myself, and I still have to fight off feeling unworthy. Every once in awhile, I find myself comparing who I am to that “perfect” mom or “perfect” wife I see or know of. In the end, though, what I do know for sure is that life is beautiful. Every, single day. And that, whether I really have “peace of mind” or not, I wouldn’t change the way it is right now. Being alone has shaped me as much as anything else ever has, and, as much as it pains me to admit it, frankly, I feel safer alone. So I’m choosing not to worry about what I cannot change and instead focus on engraving the images of a beautiful world—kind strangers, the feel of the chilly Fall air hitting my nose, rumors of Santa Claus already, the brilliance of the leaves changing colors, the sound of my girls’ laughter—-in my treasure trove of memories and these things, these things give me peace of mind.
Oh, I don’t know.
I’m a storyteller. Loyal, stubborn, insomniac, teacher, mother. I’m faithful but I’m also a control freak; I don’t like stepping out of my comfort zone. I hate confrontations and will go way out of my way to avoid them. Music of any kind is a gift from God (even nature is melodic: the wind whistles through the trees, the crickets serenade the night, birds sing in the morning) that soothes my wearied heart. I love people. I feel great empathy and compassion with others, particularly those who are suffering traumatic events of any kind: I feel their heartache and have an intense need to comfort them. I’m a collage made up of many different pieces: I’m the little girl who read stories aloud to her classmates, I’m the teenager who wanted to race a horse barefoot, I’m the volunteer who thrived when she was giving, I’m the woman who struggles with trust issues, I’m the mother who savors every second of the day, I’m the servant who once asked God if He were proud of her, I’m the one who looks for beauty in the day so passionately because she knows it is the key to maintaining a sense of hope. I don’t care about justice as much as I care about healing. I’m a reader and I hope I’m a decent friend. I’m a chocolate and peach aficionado. I love all things groovy, like brightly colored bell bottoms and bandannas. I’m the terrible math student, and the writer. Ultimately, I’m just one more person on this planet trying to make sense of a wild, but rich, world.
When are you the saddest?
At night. It’s hardest to keep the memories away when I have spent hours writing about them. It’s hard not to feel lonely or wish to hear another adult’s voice in the room with me. I crave conversation because, although I have lots of words to write, I don’t speak very many. Nightmares happen at dark; which is one reason I still leave the bathroom light on most nights. It’s hard to go to sleep when there is still so much work to do, so many plans to make, but you can’t do it all because Hercules’s body gets tired.
How do you deal with stress, with things you cannot change?
I focus on one thing at a time, and I alienate whatever it is I can control, even if that is only my reaction to the event.
What plans or goals do you have for the future?
Goals are things which you expect to achieve. At this moment in time, the only goal I have is to continue teaching and raising my daughters, and to finish this emotionally draining and difficult book about human trafficking. And then to write another one, about something else.