I recently got told that a lot of my writing focuses on the negative and that I would probably benefit from writing about more positive things. I wasn’t exactly thrilled about this criticism for a couple a reasons. While it’s true that I write about “negative” things more often than “positive”, I do still write stuff that is positive; so I didn’t think it was an accurate assessment. When I expressed this he didn’t particularly hear me. Next to that, I probably would benefit from writing more positive posts, but I happen to think even some of my more negative ones have positivity laced into them. I write about addiction, abuse, and chronic pain, among other difficult topics. I write about these things because they’re what inspires me, what I know. I can’t choose my inspiration, it just happens. Nonetheless, those things aren’t “positive”. However, my conclusion within these posts often times is. When I wrote My LAST High I was obviously thinking about the last time I ever used drugs (not positive); but I also concluded the post with all of the good ways my life has changed today and how much I love it. When I wrote This Is Your Relationship on Drugs, well, that wasn’t as positive. But it’s about the way that drugs hurt our relationships and how you can’t really have a “successful relationship” while you’re using. That’s not supposed to be positive! Then you have posts like I’m Just A Painting, this one is a themed poem about some of the things that have made me what I am today. It is not all positive but I end it on a positive, empowering note by saying that I have the choice who effects my life and wellbeing (who paints on my canvass) today.
Here’s the thing, what he said didn’t actually bother me. We could all use some more positivity in our lives. What bothered me had to deal with me, and me alone. I spent years being forced to paint on a fake smile, act like everything was okay, and not talk to anyone about what I was experiencing. I’ve spent the majority of my life not healing from the things that I’ve gone through because I had to pretend they didn’t exist. Writing was one way that I always privately dealt with it once I hit my teen years. Slowly over the years I shared a little of this writing with loved ones that I really trusted and many of them encouraged me to share my experience and opinions with others because they thought I could help people. So, in an effort to learn how to really live and enjoy my life, I started this blog. Which now serves the dual purpose of helping me and sometimes (when I’m really blessed) helping the people who read it. It means a lot to me. I have talked about and further healed from certain things (by writing about them here) that I couldn’t even look at for years. That is important to me. So when he said that I should write more positive things it kind of felt like another person telling me to keep the pain down, quiet, and invisible. To paint on a smile and give the world what is considered “pretty” and “perfect”. Here’s the thing, that’s not at all what he meant. And I know it. But my experience paints my perception and I’m very protective of the things that matter to me; writing being a big one.
So if there’s anyone else on here who wonders why I always write about these topics, here’s why. It’s not because it’s what’s “hot” or “trending” right now. It’s not because I want your pity (because I absolutely don’t). It’s not because I’m a pessimist. I’m a realist, to my core. And that is what my writing reflects. It’s because this is how I deal with life. This is how I’ve gone through years of shit, whether that be addiction, abuse, or something else, and came out sane and functioning on the other side. Most of the people I’ve met with histories like mine are (understandably) either severely emotionally unstable, riddled with anger and resentment, or have totally gone off the deep end. They have yet to make it to the other side; that’s not to say they won’t, but they haven’t yet. God knows I understand it’s a long road. This is just my way of walking it and while I’m not completely healed or totally okay, I am happy and healing and sane. I don’t use my history as an excuse to act fucked up, although sometimes it does lead me to. And when it does, I promptly apologize and explain what happened. I don’t use this to get attention or pity or stats. It’s just how I like to express myself about anything I damn well please :). It’s that simple. I’m not a negative person, I’ve just had a lot of negative experiences. I’d like to think however that the way I write about them isn’t outright depressing or negative. I think I’ve managed to be pretty empowering in my messages to myself and others. My only goal is to tell it exactly like it is/was. It may be raw, real, or uncut; sometimes it might be outright brutal to read. But it’s the truth. That is what I want my writing to project. The absolute truth, regardless of whether or not it’s negative. I’ll grow from it either way.
I don’t write about many of the good things in my life because I’ve always been taught that they need protecting. If you don’t know what and who I value then you can’t take it/them away. You can’t ruin it for me. This is obviously another side effect of growing up the way I did. I have 3-4 really happy, positive drafts that I’ve been working on for awhile now and they will be posted soon. But I’m not as practiced at writing about the good so it takes me a little. I have to constantly stop myself from hiding what I’m supposed to be writing about. I over-edit, question everything, and think that somehow, if I post it, something will go wrong. That’s my shit. So like anything else I’m dealing with it and finding a way to make it work. Until then, I’ll write about whatever I know and whatever inspires me. That’s all I can do.
by Ashley Hebner
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