One Mom’s Ramblings: Heartbreaking Lessons From Her Son’s School Project. 

As a mother, one of my main goals is to shield my kids from evil. This week, I realised that I might not be able to do it. At least not for long. And my heart sank. It sank because I got to think about the choices my husband and I have made and their effects on our sons. I got to especially think deeply about our choice to raise them in a different culture. A culture I have discovered, does not fully accept them. A culture that tends to emphasize that they belong somewhere else. That they are aliens, sometimes not just aliens, but “illegal” aliens. Outcasts. I felt hopeless.


heartbreaking lessons
It all started when my son brought home a project from school. He was to write about his culture, his origin. After scanning through the project, to say I was elated is an understatement!  I knew this was his chance  to shine. He was definitely going to score  an  A+. I knew I had lots to talk about; our rich culture, our heritage, our food, our peoples, our hospitality, name it. I even thought of how I would dramatise some concepts for him to understand very well.   I was going to illustrate how the “Bakiga”, my Ugandan tribe dances until there is no dust left on the ground! I smiled wickedly. I knew the teacher would be mesmerized by his project. I even thought of calling my mom (his grandma) back in Uganda to fill in the gaps.  I started bubbling with excitement, but it was short-lived……


“Mummy, I am Canadian. I want to write about Canada, my country of birth, my country of origin. I want to write about winter and snow and hockey, especially my experience watching that live hockey game at the  Vancouver Winter Olympics, 2010.  I want to talk about my roller skates and my visit to Whistler during winter seasons. I want to talk about snow fights with my friend Nyasha (one of his childhood  Canadian friends).” My son interjected. My efforts to redirect him to write about Uganda were fruitless.


My son wanted to write about his culture. A culture very different from mine. A culture I didn’t really understand although I lived in Canada for almost a decade.  A culture where young kids pick apples instead of mangoes. A culture where kids play in snow and build snow men and adorn heavy jackets and hoodies instead of roaming around naked almost all year round (often not out of choice).  A culture where humans eat grass and raw vegetables like herbivores,  and cheese instead of ‘kalo” and boiled yams. A culture where kids feel entitled to endless luxuries as opposed to where basic minimum requirements is a struggle. A culture where kids are pampered with toys (that change seasonally) as opposed to that where they strive to make their own balls and dolls from dry banana leaves.


But that is not really the point.  And I am not bashing this culture. I especially love the opportunities this culture presents or else we would not be here. Rather, I am troubled by the fact that regardless of how my son feels, and identifies himself (and rightly so), this culture might never fully accept him as  their own.  There are species that will let him know (if they haven’t already) that he does not belong here. And I find this very disturbing.  It is at this moment that I understood why many black friends of mine have for a long time dreaded being asked this question: “Where are you really really from?”.


You see, this question has never bothered me, at ALL. I proudly  declare that I am from Uganda and that I am Ugandan, regardless of other citizenships I hold. Despite the sad stories of Idd Amin and HIV/AIDS,  poverty-stricken  and malnourished images of kids constantly aired  on BBC, despite the current political turmoil with the country facing a possibility of having a president for life, I am proud of my country. My origin. Some of my fondest memories are surprisingly poverty related, like those days when, as a family of twelve we would sit on our mats in a circle, happily sharing not even a pound of meat, that we would get as a treat on those special days like Christmas. There are many things to celebrate about Uganda. However, I now realize that it was not about my friends not wanting to be associated with Uganda. It was the feeling of being singled out and told that they belonged somewhere because of their skin color. In retrospect, I can see why this question is actually very problematic.


My heart bleeds for my sons, and for other kids who grow up in a culture that is not “their own”. You see, our kids do not know much about Uganda. Although we have had intermittent  visits and try to live like “Ugandans” in our home, our kids do not identify themselves as Ugandans. In fact, one of my son’s dreams is to be Canada’s Usain Bolt.


And this is why my heart bleeds. I pictured my son at 18, being interrogated  from all corners as to where he was “really really from”. And maybe being told to leave and go back to where he belongs. And this breaks my heart. Because of this, I had a quick flash back to when I was teaching last year. After president Trump was elected, it was like students got a ticket to alienate the “illegal aliens”. Students would literally come to me numb. They did not know what to do. They were being bluntly told to pack their bags and leave. That they did not belong to the United States. Building a wall became a slogan in my class.  “Where do you want these students to go? This is their home. They are born and raised here.” I would confront the perpetrators   but my words seemed not to hold any substance for them. I pictured my son in this particular scene. Being told to go to his culture, a culture he  barely understands and probably not  able to speak the language. I know of immigrant families that jealously guard their heritage, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that their kids feel that they are from those cultures.



And this is what compounds this further. Our kids did not make a choice to be here, unlike us who made a conscious decision to leave our origin and come to settle here. While that does not make it justifiable, I can see how one can actually tell me to pack my bags and go back home. But how do you tell kids who are born and raised here to leave and go to where they belong?  This is their home. What kind of human beings are we becoming? These are basic fundamental rights!


And don’t be quick to judge these “evil racist ” Americans. We are equally guilty. I remember growing up, (even today), we had people from other countries. Save for the whites who are still seen as a superior species to blacks (even by the blacks themselves), people from other nationalities have also had their share of ridicule in Uganda. You can ask any one from Rwanda, Congo, Ethiopia, Sudan, or any other foreigner in Uganda for that matter. While we live with them, eat with them, intermarry, etc most of us have never fully accepted them. We keep pestering them of their origin and demanding that they go back to where they belong. We call them derogatory names. This is really sad.


I know its pure selfishness to realize that things are not right when they affect us personally. The fact that I envisioned my son living this life of explaining his origin makes me uncomfortable.   But it is never too late. I want to add my voice to that of  men and women of integrity who started this movement. People like Martin Luther King Jr. who never rested but looked for ways of fighting such injustices. We all have to be conscious to the fundamental need for love and acceptance. It is really not our business to probe others where they are “really really from”. Our task is to embrace humanity. This is especially sad when people in power, who are supposed to hold these fundamental human rights make remarks that incite  violence and division. This has to stop!  After all, at the end of the day, it really doesn’t matter. All these things we are fighting for, the territories we are jealously guarding will not really matter much. It is only a matter to time. They will be left to the dogs. Let us be mindful.


The Worst Advice To Give a Woman in an Unhealthy Relationship.

The question as to why women stay in toxic relationships has puzzled many for generations. While many plausible reasons have been given, there is one that is often neglected. And that is: “The advice victims receive from those closest to them“.


Could you be the reason your friend, your neighbour, your sister or your co-worker is stuck in an abusive relationship? That would be very sad.


For a very long time, every Tom, Dick and Harry have felt that they have the right to tell women what to do. This would not be a problem in itself if they knew what to say! No, it’s not usually the question of when to leave because most women have this great intuition that alerts them when things are not right. It may not even be because of the common reasons like lack of financial independence, society, love, fear of the unknown, kids or normalizing the abuse, reasons that usually hinder women. The reason could be the advice they get from us! And that is sad. If we are partly the reason women are stuck in abusive relationships, we have betrayed them and we should do better.


And what advice I am talking about? Surely you can’t be guilty. Everyone knows the way you detest abuse in all its forms.


Well, there is a word we are quick to utter when victims of abuse approach us for advice. The word “Gumma”, which means “be strong” followed by excuses we usually give to get men off the hook is what they get. But this is totally wrong. Who are we to tell these women to be strong?! Who are we to underplay women’s experiences, telling them that they can’t walk away from their abusive partners? Why are we quick to tell these vulnerable women to be strong and pray and hope for a miracle?  And guess what? Because they trust us, because they do not want to be labelled as weak, they resort to staying even when deep down, they know the relationship should be over.


The decision to stay committed to her vows or to walk away should be between God, and the woman herself. All she needs are facts to make the right decision. For those held by religious values, unless you clearly hear God speaking in thunder and lightning, I believe that His will for you is not to suffer under the hands of a man, a man who is supposed to love and nurture you.  Even the bible gives women the right to divorce especially if infidelity is involved! Who then are we to lead with gumma, when women die everyday in abusive relationships? For those not dead in the literal sense, the spirit is dead and that is just not the way we want women to live their lives.


Am I saying that you ignore these women and offer no help at all? Absolutely not! That would be witchcraft. If you are lucky and a woman confides in you, there are more emancipatory tools, other than “be strong”.  I have found these two to be most effective:

  1. Listen: Listening is the best therapy you can give. Usually, all a victim wants is a listening ear, and to feel validated. In most cases, the last thing a woman needs is your advice, although it might appear that she is asking for it.
  2. Ask Questions: There is nothing as liberating as asking a woman probing questions; questions that show you have been listening; questions that challenge her to think beyond the surface and dig deeper so that she comes up with her own solution. Women have answers within themselves. Questions such as:  “How are you feeling? What are your fears? For how long has this been going on? Do you see a pattern in all this? What would you want to do in the situation all factors constant? Have you considered XYZ? How have you been coping? Have you set safety boundaries before and let your partner know ? Does he know what you will do if those boundaries are broken? Are you willing to let this marriage go if things do not change? What other options do you have? ” will go along way. Such questions show women that you are not telling them what to do, but giving them a chance to make their own informed decisions. It is about choice.

Ex: Helping Women Deal With A Cheating Spouse.

Let us be more specific here: Instead of “gumma, all men cheat”, how can we help a woman dealing with a cheating spouse?

The key point  is to help this woman identify the type of cheater she is dealing with. Then, they should assess themselves and see if they have what it takes to stay committed to such a person. Women have to understand that there are three kinds of men:

  • Men with a moral compass who can never cheat. Yes, these men still exist.They are alive and well.
  • Those with a moral compass but go astray. When caught or out of their own initiative, they become remorseful and do everything possible to win back their spouse.
  • Narcissists with no morals who just want to take women on a rollercoaster. They never stop. Instead of being remorseful, they always find a way of blaming the victim and making her feel worse.

The irony is that  women have remained committed to all these types of men, regardless of their infidelities. All they need is to be able to make this decision on their own without being coerced or made to feel that they are “not women enough” if they walk away. I understand it is complex. Most of us genuinely believe that marriage is for “better for worse, till death do us part”. Regrettably, some women still think that abuse is normal because that is what they grew up seeing. It is such a complex paradox. But if we started from a place of only listening to the women, instead of giving advice; if we committed to asking questions instead of offering solutions, maybe, just maybe, would we liberate our women. Whether women are dealing with infidelity, violence, passive aggressiveness, name it, a woman should know that she is free to make  whatever decision without being chastised. Remember, something “small” could be the last straw that breaks the camel’s back for some women. This is the very reason we have no power to determine what is small or big for them. The reason we cannot lead with gumma. 

Nuggets of Wisdom For Women in Abusive Relationships. 

It All Starts With You!  Women have to understand that they can’t change anyone, not their partner,  not even their friends. People can treat you the way they want. Occasionally, friends can give you advice that is plain wrong and toxic (and sometimes in good faith). The only difference is your reaction.  It comes back to knowing who you are. Knowing that you are enough, that you deserve better will give you the confidence to give up your vows if you feel that you have given it your best. Not even those judgmental friends can stop you. That word gumma  will fall on deaf ears if women start understanding that relationships are about growing in love instead of tolerating toxic behaviors. But you have to first know your worth.


My work with Battered Women Support Services in Canada, more than anything made me realize that in most cases, the best scenario is to walk away from an abusive (physical, emotional, psychological) relationship. Most women are walking shadows because abuse kills the spirit. We owe it to ourselves, to our young generation, especially our daughters. What are we ever going to tell our young girls who see us being battered every day? That we put up with a spouse who had no respect for us in the name of keeping our marriages intact? How are these girls ever going to get the confidence to stand up to an abuser? And I get it. Sometimes the abuse becomes even worse after one leaves. Some women have been murdered after fleeing their abusive partners. But let me ask this question: “Wouldn’t you rather die trying than not trying at all?” It is even more dehumanizing when a woman has been trying to put up with all inequities, but their men wake up one day and walk out on them or murder them.


Fortunately, women today do not face most barriers women of past generations faced.  While I don’t think that it is healthy for women to live in fear anticipating that their relationships are going to crumble, I am very skeptical. I tell women to be very wise. And I do that myself. Enjoy your marriage, but live everyday knowing that you could potentially separate, if not by choice, nature can force you. If you want to have 10 kids like my mom that is your choice. If you want to give up your career to depend on your man because he wants you to be home with the kids, it’s your choice. If you want to cut ties with all friends because you found your true love, that is also your choice.  Yes, it is up to you to make these choices. However, always be mindful of how these choices impact your future.  While you can always start afresh,  being wise right off the bat, when things are still merry would make your fleeing much easier in the event that you had to.


As I conclude, I must emphasize that gumma is never the solution.  While history shows that women have (and can) endure a lot, you don’t have to. I hope that women will start to say no to unhealthy relationships. I do understand it is very difficult to be alone. Most times you do not know where to begin from, you have those memories you can’t erase, you still love the guy or you have kids and are you are afraid to raise them alone. It is tough. However, we can never realize how strong we are, how resilient we can be, how self sufficient we can be, until these traits are the only choices we have. Strong women always thrive.


The best help a woman can get is being empowered to tell their abuser that “I love you, I respect you, but I love myself more. I deserve to be treated better”. The next time you are going to tell a woman “be strong, gumma, fight on”, step back. You do not want to be the reason your friend is stuck in a toxic relationship.



7 Things I learned From My Mom—My Hero, About Love and Relationships

mom-2My mom is my hero in so many ways. The irony though is, I do not remember us ever openly discussing anything about love, marriage and relationships. Surprisingly though, most of my beliefs and views have been shaped by her.


Because those unspoken words are sometimes louder than the loudest gong. 

And, truth be told, I can't even come close to being my mom, because she is one super woman, with such grace. However, all I can say is that, from being a rebel to exuding some poise, for the most part, it is because of the way I interpret(ed) by mom's life. I am so grateful to have such a strong real woman I call mom in my life. 

Here we go…..

  1. Respect, Love and Compassion for Your Spouse:
    My mother’s respect for her husband was not the kind you would expect from a woman of her generation. She would not quietly take shit. Not even when she very well knew the bitter consequences of speaking out her mind.  Unsurprisingly, she for sure got into trouble for that on several occasions.  With that said however, my mom never forgot her husband’s place in a home. It was evident that she respected my dad and was committed to her companion. Even when we would be starving, my mom made sure that she first served my dad, and  safely kept his share, ignoring the fact that he was indulging in a nearby bar.

    My mother had love, respect and compassion for her husband. She would never rest, knowing that her husband was sleeping somewhere in the woods because he was overpowered by alcohol.  She would have to get him home at all costs. My dad always had clean clothes, even without providing the basic needs. Oh yes, my mom never expected any of us kids to talk back to our dad. Indeed, there are many lessons young people in marriage today can learn from her. 

  2. God Has To Be At The Center:
    My mom knew that relationships could be rocky. I recall countless times when things would be beyond her control and she would retreat to prayer. She knew that human beings—kids, spouses, friends etc are fickle. When everything else failed, there was someone to turn to, her Savior.  She was never without hope. She heavily drew strength from her faith in critical times, like when her marriage became extremely violent, grieving her children, living in extreme poverty etc. I never saw my mom hopeless.  I hope I can grow to demonstrate this love of Christ to my kids.

  3. Never Marry a Drunkard:
    Growing up with an alcoholic dad, I know firsthand the effects of alcoholism. Even today, those effects are alive and well in our lineage. As a result, even at a tender age, I decided that I was never going to get married to an alcoholic, even if it meant becoming a celibate. During my dating years, whenever I learned that my potential suitor would even touch a bottle of alcohol, I would literally run away, no matter how “tall, dark, broad-chested and handsome” he was! God was kind and gracious.  My prince charming, my shining armor fears the effects of alcohol, as much as I do.

  4. Never Stay in A Turbulent Relationship:
    My mother has been married to my dad for over 50 years. Her relationship, for the most part has been a turbulent one. And don’t be quick to judge my dad. If you are to ask me, my dad, is one of the most amazing men on this planet—handsome, great sense of humor, angelic eyes, very proud of his children, faithful to my mom, and I am sure he was a hunk in his good old days—well, even now 🙂  However, when alcohol comes into the equation, it alters everything. And he has for sure tried to quit several times, but for those of you who understand how addiction works, it takes more than trying. The best he has done is to tell his children to never ever taste alcohol. But as you can figure out, this message has not worked for all the children, a complex discussion we need to have another time. 

    I can hear you asking:  "Why didn’t she leave"? The answer is really simple: She did not have many options considering the African society at the time compounded by other factors. She could not really do much with 10 children, no right to inherit land, no education, no home to go back to and of course, the entire stigma and shaming around divorce.  The good news though is, consciously or unconsciously, my mother gave us the tools she lacked. She empowered us so that if we ever had to call it quits, we would not face the barriers she faced.   

  5. Hassle and Support Yourself:
    As they say in the African culture, my mom “probably wore the pants”. Not that my dad was not around, or was not able, but alcohol twisted his thinking. We watched his promising career as an architect go down the drain. My mom did not sit and whine. She hassled. She did everything a mother could think of, and some more to provide for her kids (and hubby). She even ventured into businesses, some of which were against her religious beliefs, like the brewing business because she believed that a mom had to do what she needed to do.

    And God was gracious to her. He brought wonderful people in her life, who loved us and cared for us. We got amazing people to sponsor us in so many ways—food, school fees, handouts etc. If she knew of a place where any of her children could work in holidays or after school to raise some income to supplement school fees, she would not hesitate. From her, I started my venture into the business world. As a young girl of about 7 years, I recall harvesting wild greens and walking around the village selling them, venturing into a "gambling" card business— a hilarious escapade which taught me lessons earlier on in life etc.  All in all, I am thankful for a supportive and hardworking husband, but that does not give me a ticket to sit my ass down and relax.

  6. Have Each Other’s Backs as Family:
    My mom is the most disciplinarian woman I know. Even “simple” crimes like “picking corn” from the neighbor’s garden without permission because you were hungry, or crying that you did not want to share a bed with your sister would land you into BIG trouble. There was never getting away with anything. But we knew that our mom had our backs—at school, around our community, church etc.   You could do and say whatever you wanted, but our mom had our backs. Oh ya, we would dearly pay for our sins behind closed doors 🙂  but that boosted our confidence. It motivated us to try our best and not disappoint her. But as children, we fail.  Even today, she has not given up on us. We still drag her in the mud, but she stands with us. Never seen a love as strong as my mother’s love. I hope my kids (will) feel the same way.

  7. Importance of Education: 
    Even today, my mom probably  does not know how to read or write. I am sure she is not even able to read this tribute. Born from a polygamous family, with her dad having four wives and multiple children but with very limited resources, her chances of going to school were next to none. To make a bad situation even worse, she was a girl, and the last one of 12 siblings. Her best chance at life was being married off to my dad, a promising architect at around 19 years of age. God knows where she would be had she gone to school. She would probably be featured in the Guinness Book of Records! 

    But she understood the critical importance of education, especially for the girl child. She would consistently tell us that she was "blind" but wanted all her children to see. And she purposed to make that happen. While others were encouraging their girls to get married at a tender age, my mother had a different vision. She would spend days without food, she denied herself any luxury and hassled tirelessly  to provide for her kids and their educational needs. She single-handedly educated her five girls (and five boys). She cried and asked for help if she needed to. If you ask around our village, every one knows one Beatrice, aka "Bitureesi",  the woman who slaved for every rich family, to secure a livelihood for her children.  

    Where can you find such a great strong woman?! 

If there is any woman on this planet who deserves a medal, if there is a woman who deserves praise, it is my mom, my unsung hero. Even when her health is failing her, and age is catching up with her, I am so thankful to have someone like her to call mom. Mom, what a treasure you are to us! Because of you, I have a fruitful marriage, and I am not afraid to move on should things ever go sour. You are such a fearless tigress. I thank God for you every single day. 

Well, I could go on and on, because I can never say enough or give my mom the credit she deserves. Now, it is your turn. Tell me about your mother. Tell me about your unsung hero! Let us celebrate all those strong women who have made us who we are.  



Tell Me About Your Mom!

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Love Relationship Advice For Women From Oprah and Michelle: You Are Enough. 

 You are enough! Yes, that my friend is the most meaningful love relationship advice you will ever receive. This, right here is the difference between real women and ordinary women.

There is an incredible video  below from two inspiring ladies, which  is a must watch for all women. Just one minute before we get to it.....  

Over the years, I have seen women search for happiness  from love. Statements  like; "If only I could land my Mr. Right, my happiness would be complete. If only my spouse could do XYZ, I would be a super happy woman. If only my fiance could love me right, I would never be sad again", seem to be common among women. 

This is absurd and regrettable! Why? Because you are enough! 

Don't get me wrong. Love is very important. Having someone to share your life with is a beautiful thing. I personally feel blessed to have my husband, whom I share my life with. 

But let me be explicit here: 

Our quest for happiness as women will never end until we realize that it is not to be found in a man but rather inside of us. You  are enough! You have to belief this fact. That is the best love relationship advice you will ever hear.  

This belief that women are worthless without men has led women to especially stay in dead and violent marriages because they think they need a man to survive. If you are in a sham marriage/relationship— where you are detached and it is clear that your spouse doesn't give a hoot, this is a wake up call for you.


I'm not talking about being pompous and taking your spouse as a nobody. I am not talking about women emancipation where women have lost it. That is not what real women do. I do believe in a healthy, loving, relationship where women are a complete package, with an overflowing cup who go into the relationship to bring the best out of their partner. Real women do not take their relationships for granted. However, they know that even without that spouse, that partner, they can still survive.

Most women I know stay in toxic relationships especially for children. And the love relationship advice they receive from society of  "guma', i.e be strong doesn't help much. 

"How will you raise those kids alone? Don't they need a father figure? Do you think you can survive on your own?"Questions such as these keep many women double guessing themselves. 

That is hogwash. Real women always thrive. It can be difficult, depending of women's experiences... but YOU are enough. You will always be okay. 

This is my take about love and  relationships. 

You see, an environment  where love is not modeled for kids, simply teaches them to accept less from their own future relationships and most likely take after their own parents. I speak with authority in this regard. I have lived this experience. I wouldn't want my kids raised in a house without that love and care,  where the parents have no real affection and passion for each other, but they are always after each other's throats, because of fear of being alone.  I'd rather show them a fulfilling and joyful life as a single person or a good marriage. Ya, it is either of the two. That is the solid love relationship advice you will ever need. 

And, I can never put it better than Oprah and Michelle Obama. Yes, you are worthy, and you are enough. Whether you are single, married, divorced, name it. Do not settle for less. 


This Amazing video is a must watch. Let me know your thoughts. 


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Real Women and Shared Responsibility in A Healthy Love Relationship

Congratulations! You have finally landed someone—a boyfriend, hubby, partner, name it! You are truly in love. But "love" is not ENOUGH. Real women know the true recipe  of a healthy love relationship— not being used, or taken for granted is one of the main ingredients. This article therefore focuses on this shared responsibility in healthy relationships. 


 While it is unrealistic to expect partners to play equal roles in healthy love relationships, the problem today is that in many relationships, the sole responsibility is  left to the woman. This is more so in marriage. For most husbands, once they provide for the family, they take the back seat and assume that they have fulfilled their duty.  Yet again, real women understand that there is more to marriage than money. While a bigger check has its place in a healthy love relationship, many men give it too much emphasis. Moreover, even for those men whose wives bring in a bigger check, they expect the wife to do the bulk of the work. That is absurd.  Why must the bulk of the relationship fall on the wife—kids, house chores, well being of spouse, name it. A healthy marriage relationship, like any love relationship  must be two ways, where both partners draw from each other’s strengths to enrich a relationship.

Healthy Love RelationshipSadly, most men are just too bloody lazy to think about other aspects of the relationships, beyond the financial aspect. They might know that something is not right, and needs some immediate attention but they keep hoping that problems will magically go away. They rely on false hope. At worst, they leave the bulk of the work to be done by the lady in lives. They expect the woman to work through it, even when it is clear that the man ought to take the upper hand.

And guess what, when women do what they know best, like complain, the relationship gets worse because they are considered as nags.

Unfortunately, by the time men wake up, it is usually too late. Men might think that they are getting away with such stuff, but that never happens. Real women have their limits. They unswervingly disconnect emotionally and that always comes back to haunt the relationship. In a healthy love relationship, no one should feel used.

Here are some questions for you:
Is the man in your life a real man that strives to make things work and finds ways of resolving issues? Is he work in progress like all real men, or he is an egocentric maniac who thinks that women are created for his service? If you have not commitment yourself to such a man, it is probably time to take a step back and reconsider what you are getting yourself into. If you are already in a committed  marriage relationship, it is time to find ways of setting your limits, before it is too late. And if your gut tells you that yours is not a healthy love relationship,  it probably is not. Seek help.