A Letter to my Self-Centered Addict Mother

Dear mom,

I wanted to write you a thank you letter. A letter detailing all the ways in which you made me the person I am today. I was going to thank you for disappearing on crack binges for 3-9 days at a time. It taught me that I could survive anything, that I could stand on my own, and function under immense amounts of pressure whilst being suffocated by fear, disappointment, and anger. I was going to thank you for having shitty taste in men  because they taught me just how much pain and abuse a person could survive. They taught me how to take a hell of a beating and always get back up. They taught me what sick men look like and what red flags to look out for. I was going to thank you for always disappointing me and proving me wrong when I told people “Fuck you, she’s going to get it this time. She’s not going to relapse.” I wanted to thank you for this because it taught me to never put my faith in something as volatile and unpredictable as other human beings. It taught me that we are all fallible (even our parents) and people will always let you down. I know people in their 50’s still struggling to learn this lesson. I was going to thank you for always leaving me to pick up your slack and care for your children. It taught me to mother, to nurture, to protect, and how to have compassion for others. Even when they lash out at me because of damage or pain someone else caused. I was going to thank you for giving me the opportunity to learn more about myself and my own abilities than most people will ever have the opportunity to, and all by the time I was 14.

I was going to thank you, but now I’m not. It took many years for me to realize that my past did not “make me”. It is nothing but a series of events that I overcame. No one goes through everything I did and comes out clean on the other side; but, I am a functioning, sane, healthy human being today. I have successful, loving relationships. I am a good daughter, employee, partner, and person. I help other people whenever I can and I have experience in such a vast array of areas that I’m able to help many, many different kinds of people in a large number of situations. Dealing with you did teach me not to help people who won’t help themselves. But no, you did not make me. I simply am and this person I was born as just inherently had all the qualities I needed to survive the cards I was dealt. You did not give me my strength or my apparent never-ending ability to survive. It was however that ability that made me able to function at 8, 11, 13 years old when you disappeared for days on end because you were stuck chasing the next high. You constantly disappointing me didn’t grant me my resiliency. I always had it; you were just a constant way to exercise it. You didn’t give me my compassion, although you like to say you did. I was born a kind, loving, and empathetic person and it was these gifts that made me able to soothe your children’s fears when they hadn’t seen you in days and were starting to get scared. It was that love that made me able to not lash out when my little sister took her fear and anger at you out on me. It was that empathy that told me when it was time to mother them and time to let them be alone because they needed space. It was my drive to survive that never allowed me to quit or give up.

The issue here lies in that dark place between all these good attributes I have and the damage you caused. I can survive anything but I’m not so good at turning the “survival mode” off. Because of this I have struggled to slow down and truly enjoy my life my entire life. My ex boyfriend’s often wondered why I never showed happiness when I said I was happy. See I learned that happiness is fragile and a weakness. I learned that if you truly love something you keep it close to the chest and never let anyone know about it, for then they can tear it away and use it to destroy you. This isn’t good for relationships as I’m sure you can imagine. I have trust issues (big surprise there!). I’ve kept almost everyone at bay my entire life thus far. Very few have truly known me and the ones who do don’t generally understand how I’m still alive and not a psychotic mess of a woman. Even you asked me once “How do you do it? How do you go through all of this and survive?” I hadn’t given it much thought before you asked me and the only thing I could think to say was “I don’t know. I just go to bed at night, wake up in the morning, grit my teeth, and do it.” It was a crude explanation, but it was true. I don’t have a special method or way, just a very high tolerance for pain. People give up so easily, as you often did when you relapsed or dove into another pot of self pity and Bacardi. Well I simply never had that luxury. As a child and preteen if I didn’t pick up where you left off D and J wouldn’t have gotten fed, they would’ve missed school, CYF would’ve gotten involved, and we would’ve been split up. So I had to keep it together. When I finally ended up on my own at 14 if I didn’t go to work the bills didn’t get paid, I couldn’t get high and pretend to have a normal life, and I couldn’t keep going to school so again, CYF wouldn’t take notice to a 14 year old with no parents and my life would’ve been taken away.

I met a woman who saved my life because of your mistakes. She was actually your sponsor and when you disappeared again and I called her days later she came and got me and took me in. You’ve spent so much time since she became my “Mommy” being jealous that she had the more adoring name, that I spent more time with her, that I was closer to her. You were so preoccupied with trying to show that I was yours that you failed to recognize that she was exactly what I needed to heal from this world of shit without turning all the pain inwards and destroying myself. I’m sure it is incredibly painful to watch your child call another woman mommy but after all you’ve done and not done don’t you think you owed it to me to let me heal in whatever ways life offered me? This woman was and is the dose of unconditional love I needed. She was there when you were not. When I kicked, screamed, lied, and stole to push her away she pulled me in. When I had had my fill and couldn’t make one more adult decision at the tender age of 13 she swore to always fight for me and do what was best for me, even if it wasn’t what was best for her. And she kept that fucking promise. She refused child support from you that she really needed to raise me because she knew I would never trust her if she was getting paid to have me. She told me exactly how it was; no lies or games. She never sugarcoated or lied. She treated me as the mature child that I was. She let me exercise that freedom that I was used to when I needed to and gave me boundaries and rules where I needed them. When she asked how I was doing she actually listened to the answer without interruption and she didn’t follow it up by ignoring what I said and talking about her newest boyfriend. She talked to me about my life. Fuck, she taught me how to live it. She put me first, she protected me, she mothered me, she nurtured me, she valued me. That is why she is Mommy and you are mom.

Now I know you’re human and an addict. As an addict myself I now know how insidious this disease is. I could forgive you being an addict. What I have trouble with is all the times you should’ve protected me and failed to do so. YOU could’ve saved me a world of pain. Why couldn’t you defend me when your piece of shit husband was trying to convince me that I was stupid and useless and not worthy of the life I was given? Was that because of the drugs? Why did I get shipped off to Alabama away from my brother and sister because your husband was so abusive? Why did I have to leave when I was a good, loving child and he was a narcissist hell bent on breaking me because I wouldn’t roll over and die the way you did? Why didn’t you report me being molested until 6 months after you found out? I understand needing to be sure before you ruin another person’s life, but had you talked to me about it after I initially told you then the “absolute proof” you needed to report it would’ve been told to you a lot sooner than it was. I’ve heard you say it was all just too much to bear and you were in a lot of pain. I understand that. But how do you think your kids felt? WE’RE THE ONES IT HAPPENED TO! You’re supposed to protect US and deal with yourself later or at least at the same time but what you do not do is fall into a bottle or a crack pipe for 6 months while your kids get next to no therapy and everyone pretends like this horrible thing just didn’t happen. The kids are always supposed to come first. But you didn’t even try to talk to us about it outside of 2-3 times over that 6 month span and every time I’ve brought it up since you’ve always asked me not to talk about it because it hurts so much or you cry until it stops. I’m not a sociopath, I know it hurts you too. But you can’t put your own shit aside long enough to let your abused child talk to you about it? Jesus. I feel like the perfect sentence to describe our entire relationship is “What about me?” I mean really, who finds out their children were molested and then doesn’t ask about it again for months? If that were my child I would’ve gotten every single detail I could without further hurting my child as soon as possible. I would immediately report it and let the courts sort out the rest. Furthermore, who in their right mind starts writing their child’s abuser 13 years after the fact and doesn’t even let the child know? I walk in your house one day and there’s letters from that pedophile fuck on your table and you say nonchalantly “Oh yeah, I started writing David. He says he’s really happy you found a career and a man that you love. There’s a letter just for you if you want to look at it.” Now THAT is too much to bear! Did you even think about how much it would re-traumatize me to know my mother gave my molester personal information about my life without my knowledge or consent? Did you even stop for a second to say “Hmmm, it might not be normal to start a friendly correspondence with the man who permanently damaged my daughters and left one with severe PTSD”? You tried to tell me that it was a part of your amends process but being as I’ve been involved in a 12 step program for years I know that you aren’t supposed to make any amends if doing so will cause more harm than good. And I’m pretty sure once a man tries to fuck your kids anything you’ve done is forgiven. Plus none of that excuses the fact that you then tried to sideways guilt trip me into going to his next parole hearing and recanting everything so he didn’t have to spend the rest of his life in prison. You even said “He’s already been in for 15 years Ashley, That’s a really long time.” And when I said it was nothing in comparison to what he did to me you said, “He’s gotten three kinds of cancer and you know jail isn’t kind to child molesters.” The hint was in that sentence right there. “CHILD MOLESTERS.” When they do what he did they go down for a long time for a reason. They don’t deserve to live in our society. You were the one who told me if I testified when he wouldn’t plead guilty that he would never be able to hurt another little girl. And now you want to let him out because you feel bad?!?! Again, WHAT ABOUT YOUR KIDS? Had that guilt trip been successful I would’ve been coerced into undoing something that took everything my 8 year old mind had to do in the first place. When I told people that story I would’ve had to end it with “Oh yeah but I went to his parole hearing when I was 21 and recanted everything so he could get out because my mom felt bad.” Have you lost your fucking mind?! Out of all the things you’ve done I think that one takes the cake. It’s always been all about you and your men and how you feel. It will always be about you. I rarely speak to you now and when I do you always tell me about the new guy you’re with and how you want me to meet him. You always sing his praises. But you sang the rest of their praises too. And every time I’ve warned you about a new one because I have this sickly accurate intuition what do you do? Tell me all the reasons I’m wrong until I’m proven right and you come to me for pity. And I do feel bad for you. But I’m done with any men involved in your life.

Let’s be honest, this isn’t a letter. You’re never going to read it. I’m not so sure I’m going to post it. It’s pretty fucking personal. But who knows? Maybe I should. Maybe it’ll help heal this wallowing pit of resentment I have towards you. This is enough damage for ten lifetimes and it’s not even 1/2 of it. And the sad part is, you trained me to worry about you so much more than myself that somewhere deep inside me I’m worried if I do post it and you somehow find it that this, my deep seeded feelings about things you did to me, will hurt YOUR feelings. THAT, ladies and gentlemen is the kind of damage that is done being raised by the most self-centered person I’ve ever met. I’ve endured all this shit, survived everything. And for what? To still be worried about hurting my mom’s feelings with the truth. Well she damn sure never worried about mine, so maybe I will post it.

But to you mom, none of the good in me ever came from you. I choose to believe that I was just born this way. No child learns in a day how to survive things like this, yet all I remember is always knowing how to. I am empathetic where you only consider yourself. I am compassionate and giving where you’re always out for #1. I am protective of all children and would bend the earth over backwards and fuck it to keep them safe where you’ll risk them to keep your bills paid or your bed warm. I am strong and resilient and a fucking survivor. And I earned the right to call myself those things by myself. You don’t get to claim my good parts as coming from you when so much of what you did threatened to destroy me. It’s sad that in thinking about you saying that I’m “just like you” I can remember hearing the ego in your voice because you truly believe you made me like this. You gave me life and I do love you but I learned at a very young age that you are something to protect myself from. I don’t know what horrible thing happened to you to make you this way. I know you experienced a situation like mine at a young age and have had your fair share of pain but I just don’t believe that that excuses all you’ve done. I’m going to be a mother myself some day and writing shit like this raw, hot mess of a ramble is just one way of healing myself so that I never expose that innocent life to anything like what I’ve been through. My children will never go through what I did. Maybe all of this isn’t on you but at some turn or another you could’ve prevented a lot of it. No one can predict their kids being abused but you do have a choice about what to do after you find out. I could let the waiting slide, but never having a full conversation about it or putting us in long term counseling? That’s just not okay. And putting your own emotions before your kids and not talking to us about it much so you could save yourself some pain while we wallowed in agony? Again, not okay. My kids will never experience that. So that is one thing you did for me. You taught me what not to be and what to protect my children from. So…thanks for that.

Sincerely,

Your 1900th priority

It Is Enough…

I’ve been working too much. All I want to do is sit down with this here computer and write some awesome piece and yet, I’ve been staring at the screen for 20 minutes. My boyfriend said he would play a game of Call Of Duty before we head to the gym so I have time to write, which is awesome. Except I have writer’s block. I’ve talked about this before in The Writer’s Dilemma. Every time I get writer’s block I think of this ingenious quote by Maya Angelou…

 

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Because of this quote (and the ensuing thought process) I truly believe that we (or at least I) get writer’s block because I’m not using my creativity enough. I get bogged down in 50 hour work weeks, meetings (which I enjoy but do not use any creativity), and other various, mundane life things. “Adulting”, as some would say. Laundry, cooking, dishes, making the bed, cleaning the house (or my trashed car), and any other thing that doesn’t include me using the creative side of my brain. Okay cooking might, but that’s it. The rest just creates a traffic jam in the creative part of my spirit. When I write regularly I may not create masterpieces but I do keep that constant flow of energy going. I use this “gift” that I’ve been given to express myself and to share my feelings about certain subjects or my memories with the world. My mommy always said that I have a way of writing that allows the reader a glimpse into how I truly felt when I wrote the piece or when I experienced whatever it is that I’m writing about. When she used to read my work she always said she could actually feel the way I felt. She always called that a gift. I don’t look at it that way necessarily, mostly because I have issues with admitting that maybe I’m good at anything. I’m a realist. I know there are many, many writers in this world who are far better than I will ever be. However, I also recognize that that fact in no way makes my work any less mine. While I may never create a true masterpiece, I can still touch one person with my words. One person makes this worth it. If one women reads something I’ve written and it helps her leave an abusive relationship or opens her eyes to another method she can use to heal from some trauma she’s survived, then it is worth it. If one person having a shitty day reads one of my sarcastic posts and gets a giggle out of it, then it is worth it. If sharing my pain, or memories, or happiness helps another person share theirs and in turn lessens their burden, then it is worth it. So no, I’m not Edgar Allen Poe or Robert Frost or William Shakespeare, but I am Ashley. No one else can tell my story. No one else can speak in my voice. No one else can touch someone’s heart exactly the way I can. My writing is unique to me. That is a gift.

So on days like today when I think I have nothing to say, I write anyway. Because I do this for me and for the one person who reads it and feels something. That’s what I want to do with my life. Make people feel. Pure, raw, unadulterated emotion. I also like helping people and I do want to do that too but I can’t make anyone help themselves. That comes from within. I could give someone every bit of the best advice I have to give and it could do nothing. We can only help people who are willing to do it for themselves. Take for instance, my mommy. When I came to her I was a volatile, broken, hurt little girl and she taught me everything I needed to know to survive my life. Yet I didn’t use any of her wisdom until years later, when I was ready to. Much like some people do for others, she showed me my own strength, she taught me coping mechanisms, she taught me how to not lash out or bottle everything up. But I continued to for years. Her advice didn’t get better with my aging did it? No. It was just as good on Year 5 as it was on Day 1. My willingness to follow it was the only thing that changed. So, while I may write things that could potentially help an unimaginable amount of people like me, it won’t actually help but a few. The select few who are in a place of willingness. Who can see my words for what they are and use the advice or experience that is told through them to better their own lives. Who have suffered long enough and maybe need their eyes opened to a way out. A way that was always there, but was made clear through one of my stories. Or maybe one of these select few will read one of my posts about something I overcame and the words will shine a light on that dark place inside of themselves where they’ve stored their own strength. And they’ll use that strength to overcome whatever adversity they may be facing.

Now don’t get me wrong; I don’t believe that I’m some life saving, infinite wisdom having, young woman. I don’t think that I am powerful enough to do this for people. I swear I’m not just a narcissist with a keyboard. But I do believe words are that powerful. I believe that wielded the write way they can change everything, or maybe just one thing for one person. So when I sit down to write my only goal is to do so honestly, without pretense or fluff. I aim to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Writing was one of the tools mommy showed me to help me. For years I thought she gave it to me, but that’s untrue. The ability was always there, but would I have seen it had she not suggested it? She knew I needed somewhere to place all my pain. She knew I needed something to cope with 15 lifetimes worth of damage and bad memories. And she understood that at the time, I didn’t trust anyone else enough to let them see it. So in her infinite wisdom, she told me to write, even if I sucked at it. So I did, and I did suck at it, for a long time. Now, I don’t think I suck but like I said before, I damn sure know I’m not and will never be the best. All I can hope is that what I write does for someone what Maya Angelou’s quote did for me. Get them thinking, make them evaluate their beliefs, and maybe, just maybe, change something. It used to be that whenever I hit a roadblock in my writing I would just not write. I would wait for some grand inspiration to hit me. That waiting would turn into months or years of nothing. I’ve learned from this mistake. I know that this post is just a rambling mess. I know it won’t mean anything to anyone but me. But I also know that it will lessen the traffic jam in my head so that I will keep writing and inevitably write something of value again some day soon. It will make me feel as if I’ve taken advantage of this beautiful day and this amazing coffee and this brain that is mine and mine alone. For me, that is enough.

by Ashley Hebner

© All Rights Reserved 2016

Female=Object

Believe it or not, I actually have a spare minute to write as I got off of work a little early today! So what to write about? The only thing on my mind this afternoon involves by dear friend K. She’s a lovely woman who is mature well beyond her years, amazingly open-minded, very kind, loving and supportive. She’s damaged just like the rest of us, but also one of the most beautiful souls I know. Recently K and I went out to eat and were talking about all kinds of things (as we often do) and I brought up the Feminist Movement and how so much of what we see in the media and everyday life trains us to be the docile, obedient sex. How there is objectification and subliminal messaging in almost everything. How we’re valued based off of our physical appearance and society’s views of women are often times archaic and misogynistic. Her being the curious person that she is, she naturally wanted examples. I started off by showing her that “Like A Girl” commercial that aired during the 2015 Superbowl. That got her gears turning as she realized that the young women (10 and younger) when told to “run like a girl” ran as hard as they could. But when women who were around the same age as K and I were told to do the same thing, they ran with their arms out at their sides, flailing wildly, and their feet kicking up like they had no idea what they were doing. It shows that at some point, women start to believe that doing something “like a girl” means doing it in a less successful or much weaker way. It shows that our self worth and self esteem plummets after puberty. And it’s happening because of the different things we say and see on a daily basis that have become accepted as normal. I mentioned this is my post a few days ago, Feminine: The Worst Insult. How many times have you heard “You throw like a girl” or “You run like a girl”? Probably more times than you can count. This is where K and I began our conversation. I’ll include the video below so those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about can check it out.

 After showing her this we started talking about how in the 90’s being “supermodel stick figure skinny” was what was pushing in the media and what women were aiming for. It led to eating disorders skyrocketing across the globe. Now, in the 2000’s the “in thing” is to be “thick”. To have a “fat ass” and “big titties”. To twerk, jerk, and “dance like a stripper”. Yet again, we’re only valued based off of our physical attributes and our bodies are still being cut into marketable pieces and sold. We’re still letting other people tell us what is acceptable and beautiful and good. So now “skinny” women are being persecuted, as well as “fat” women. I then gave her a bunch of examples of commercials and celebrities that further perpetuate this problem. This problem where we push women to look “like” someone or something else; but never to be comfortable in their own skin. To do what society deems as the “right thing” for us. 10 year old girls are making videos of themselves twerking upside down against their bedroom doors and we don’t think there’s a problem?!?! So this got K thinking. When I dropped her off that night she said that she felt like I had opened her eyes to so many things that she was never going to be able to ignore again. That she was always going to recognize it in the media, her friends, her family. Since this conversation it has been truly amazing to watch this young woman become so aware of all these things happening around her. We’ve been together and heard a friend say “God she’s such a girl though” and immediately looked at each other and started laughing because we both instantly recognized it and then explained to our friend the not so funny message that she conveyed without even thinking about it  . K has even called me out on or two things that I let slip without second thought and I’m glad she did. I’m not perfect and these things have been taught to me and bred into me since I was a child. I’m happy to have someone else so close to me who’s just a little more enlightened than she was yesterday and can call me out on these things when I say them without thinking. Why? Because I refuse to remain a part of the problem. I refuse to further perpetuate the shame and shitty self-esteem that our culture has spoon fed us. I refuse to sit down and be quiet out of fear of sounding like “one of those girls” or “some crazy feminist who seems something in anything”. There is something in almost everything and that is why I write these posts, why I talk to my friends about it, why I kindly offer another view when I hear someone say something inherently sexist or misogynistic. Because nothing is going to change us unless we change us. That’s a fact.

by Ashley Hebner

© All Rights Reserved 2016

Ramblings about “Step _____” and Bisquick

I never liked the term “Step ______”. I had horrible experiences with step dads and therefore associated “step” with bad. I have an awesome set of step siblings. A twin boy and girl. They just weren’t enough to break down the association that their horrible father so kindly gifted me with. So as I venture into this new phase of life with my partner’s daughter, I don’t consider myself her step mother. For one, I’m not married to her father. Two, I don’t want anything about our relationship to be bad and there’s my whole thing with associating “step” relationships with “bad” relationships. And three, I just want to be someone who cares for her. Should she grow up and some day choose to refer to me in that way, I will have no problem with it. But I believe the choice is hers. I won’t assume that title for myself. I know what it’s like to have a step parent forced on you and I won’t be part of doing that to this little girl. I will be whatever she needs me to be. And for now, that’s just another person who loves her and cares for her. That’s my thoughts on that matter.

Aside from that, I do so enjoy the little schedule we’re making with her. When it gets close to bed we get her in her jammies and relax on the couch with a blankie and watch some TV. She’s a total snuggle bug. Last night Mulan II was the movie of choice. Then we put her in her sleep sack and go into the big comfy chair in her room. She has a book called “Goodnight Moon” that was her daddy’s when he was a boy and we read it to her every night. Generally 2 or 3 times. So she babbles her little baby versions of the book and points out the kittens and socks as he reads it once and then I read it once. On some nights he reads it again after me. Then he lies her down and she’s out within 2 minutes. Then in the morning I always wake up to her sitting on my bed with her daddy, staring at me like I’m a zombie from Night Of the Living Dead (I think she’s a little scared of me when I’m asleep). I wake up and she almost instantly starts repeating “eats, eats!!” which is her way of saying she’s hungry. So this morning I crawl out of bed, eyes half open, and stumble into the kitchen to make some pancakes. I soon discovered that I had enough Aunt Jemima mix (my favorite) to make her little mini pancakes and maybe one more and then some of a Bisquick box left for Ryan. I HATE BISQUICK! It cooks weird, it tastes weird. I don’t like it. So I make her little mini pancakes and sit her down in her high chair to eat, make one more small one for me, and then mix up some Bisquick for Ryan. I don’t know what the fuck is wrong with that mix but the pancakes were weird. So weird he couldn’t even eat them (and he’ll eat anything). So needless to say, he ate Cinnamon Toast Eggo Waffles for breakfast.

Now they’re inside yelling at the TV together (which is adorable) as Ryan plays Call of Duty, I’m outside vaping and writing this and all is right with the world. I want to take her out and do something with her before we give her back to her mother today. Something fun and memorable. I can’t imagine how it must feel for Ryan to only see his daughter the entire weekend every other weekend and then for one day every “off” weekend. I’m going to miss her so much, so how must he feel? I hope her mother knows just how lucky she is to get to spend every day with this little girl. Whenever Ryan has Bug for the weekend she tells him that she misses their daughter terribly. How would she feel if he was the one who had her all the time and she only got a weekend here and there when he saw fit? I’m sure it would rip her heart out, much like it has his. Hopefully this new custody agreement will make (and keep) it more fair. It’s a hard thing and all we can do is ensure a smooth transition between two loving households. I can’t control what her mother does in her home but I can control how Bug is treated when she’s here; and that will always be with the utmost amount of love and care.

Well, my back is on fire from bending over typing this so I think it’s time to tie it up. Thank you everyone who made it to the end of this and read my random ramblings about my blended family life. I hope everyone has a great day. Go home and hug your babies 🙂

by Ashley Hebner

© All Rights Reserved 2016

My Promises To You

So as most of you well know by now, my significant other has a daughter. We’ll call her Bug. So Bug is spending her first weekend with us after an agreement that stated she wouldn’t meet either of her parent’s significant other’s for 6 months. And I really can’t express how much I love this little girl already. I don’t have any children of my own yet so I can’t truly know how much I love her in comparison to how much a parent loves their own flesh and blood; but I can say I would do anything for her. She is this little ball of perfect innocence and I would NEVER let anything harm her. It’s crazy to me how quickly I can love this little girl and how much. Knowing I was driving home from work to her and my significant other yesterday put this enormous smile on my face and getting to hold her while I cooked her dinner and taught her how to say “‘sghetti” was amazing. I love her so much. However, I’m pretty sure her mother has spent all weekend sick to her stomach thinking I’m going to try to replace her…

Now, I am not a fan of this woman. She has hurt my partner, done mean, horrible things that include putting her own feelings before what’s best for her child, and she’s physically assaulted my partner while their daughter was in his arms. That is just not okay with me. However, I would never try to replace her; nor could I, even if I wanted to. No one can take away the bond she has with this little girl and I would never want to. She carried her for 10 months, dreamed a world’s worth of dreams for her, and brought her into this world. She has loved her, nurtured her, cried for her, and fought for her. She is her mother. And no one can ever take that away. I will always respect that. I would never even consider trying to take that away. 

I wish she knew that. As someone who has always wanted children I can’t even begin to imagine the fear she experienced when her ex husband and I got together and actually stayed together. I can’t imagine all the dreams of hers that our union solidified were gone. I can’t imagine her fear of being replaced or having another woman in her daughter’s life. But replacing her was never my intention and it never will be. I would never want someone to do that to me and my child and would therefore never do that to another woman or her child. However, that does not change the fact that I love my partner and I love their little girl. It’s an inevitable fact that I will be a part of Bug’s life. The biggest wish I have for her is that when she’s in our home, she knows she is loved immensely and safe. I am not her mother. But I am her daddy’s partner and I will always love and protect her as if she was my own. I will never speak an ill word about her mother to her. I will never make her feel less than. I will never confuse her by selfishly attempting to make her call me mommy. To her, I am “Ashy” and that’s the way it’s meant to be. If I was ever to be in her mother’s position I would hope my ex would choose a woman like me. Someone who would love and protect my daughter. Someone who would never try to replace me or poison my child towards me. Someone who would reinforce the good morals and good self esteem I plan to teach her. Someone who would respect our bond and never try to infringe upon it. Someone who would raise her in one of two loving families and  reinforce the fact that she is loved unconditionally by every single person in her life, blood related or otherwise. 

Being a part of this little girl’s life is a privilege and a blessing. I would never do anything that could in any way negatively impact her. I would never hurt her or taint her. I will always do what’s best for her; even if it’s not what’s best for myself, my partner, or my relationship with her father. She will always come first. Her little voice and her giggles bring joy to my life. Hearing her say my name makes everything else immediately stop as all my attention is turned to her. Hearing her cry feels like someone is ripping my heart from my chest and I know I would do anything to make it better. I never knew I could love someone else’s little girl so much; and yet, I do. This child is a blessing. A clean slate. A perfect being. I can only hope her blended families find a way to “blend” better so that she may know what it is to feel loved twice as much, protected twice as fiercely, and accepted by twice as many people. I will never take part in make her feel like she “has to choose”. I will never make her feel torn. I will always respect her mother for being her mother and bringing this precious little person into the world. I will always treat her the same way as I will treat my own children some day. I will never make her feel left out or different or “like a step child”. She will always be shown love, adoration, empathy, respect, and compassion. She will always be accepted and treated as an equal. She will be told how much she is enough, is smart, is beautiful, is kind, is loved, is family. She will always be treated as one of my own, just as my second mom always treated me as one of her own. I only hope I can add to her life and never take away from it, in any way. I love you Bug; these are my promises to you. 

  
by Ashley Hebner

© All Rights Reserved 2016

Catching Up & The Creepy Guy

It’s been a week or two since I’ve written consistently. Life has gotten VERY busy! Between working, celebrating 3 years clean, and not sleeping well I feel like I haven’t had any time! Normally I’ll wake up a little early, write a post, and then go to work. But, I’ve been sleeping like shit the last two weeks; so I’m not doing anything early. It’s been a struggle to get out of bed everyday and my significant other keeps waking up in the middle of the night to find me sitting straight up in bed, sleeping, whilst talking about completely random shit like “looking the cars up.” I know this happens when I’m not going into REM sleep properly, which is common for Fibromyalgia sufferers. But it still sucks. 

Aside from that, work has been good. Still learning a bunch of new things and trying to be as useful as possible with what I’ve learned thus far. Just a few minutes ago an incredibly creepy guy came into the office, never gave me his name, and was asking what we do here and if we’re hiring. He made my skin crawl. He randomly told me he got fired from his last job because “some woman” alleged he sexually harassed her. He said “woman are just like that”. Then he looked at me and it must’ve occurred to him at that moment that I am also a woman and might find that offensive. He then corrected himself and said “Uh, uh, well maybe not all women.” He was asking me all these questions about what exactly we do here, where I’m from, what my name is, etc. He was generally just “off”. So much so that I texted my boss and let him know (because of course this is the one day I’m in the office completely alone). I even attached a picture of the guy to the message because he creeped me out that bad. I truly believe he had bad intentions but when my boss called he started backing away and stood in a defensive posture. Then I had to call the magisterial court to pay a ticket one of our drivers got and the guy left very quickly. Before all of this he had asked for an application, sat down with the clipboard and pen, put his glasses on and then blurted out that he “wasn’t good at this stuff” and asked if he could take it home. The entire reason he came here was because he “wanted a job”!!! Maybe he didn’t want me to know his name? I don’t know. Either way, I was looking around for something that could be used as a weapon. 

I TRUST MY GUT. 

I’m sure to some of the people reading this I may seem like some paranoid, damaged woman but at the end of the day, we’re given intuition for a reason. There have been many, many times where I felt the same way about someone as I felt about this strange man and it was proven to be true. When I was 14, I told my mom that the stray guy my mom and ex step dad started working with was a rapist and I didn’t like him. She told me not to “say stuff like that.” A week later he disappeared and a week after that we found out he was wanted in the rapes of a 4 year old and 5 year old. That ex step dad I mentioned? He also gave me the creeps; 2 years later he stuck his hands down my pants while I was sleeping. Some of my friend’s boyfriends have given me a bad vibe and then they would turn out to be woman beaters or cheating assholes. It’s always something and it is always right. 

I have also ignored these vibes before. I’ve thought, “I’m just being paranoid. I need to relax. A history of trauma can skew your perception of people; you know this Ashley. I’m sure he’s a good guy, don’t be sexist or judgemental”. That’s  just to name a few. And then whatever person I ignored the vibe about would end up hurting me or someone I cared about. The days of ignoring this hyper sensitive intuition I’ve been given are long past. This thing I have is a gift… And a curse. 

I’ve avoided many bad situations but I also know things I don’t want to. I know almost every single time someone lies to me. We all lie. Everyone does. But I can see it. I can feel it. Generally it almost sounds like their voice changes; even though the pitch change that occurs during a lie is undetectable to the human ear. Regardless, I sense it all the time; in my friends, my family, the cashier at Target who says she’s having a good day. Sometimes, ignorance would be nice. All people have motives behind their lies and generally I can sense that too. Whether the motive is to fit in, stand out, hide something, hurt someone, whatever, I can almost always feel it. I’ve had to watch my friends not trust me enough yet to tell me the truth. I’ve seen them hide things so they won’t disappoint me. I’ve seen my mom lie to me to protect me. I’ve seen deep seeded pain in a stranger’s eyes and have just wanted to help them. But I can’t; I can’t even bring it up  without seeming like a psychopath. So I see these things all day long and all I can do is try to protect myself and my friends, be incredibly understanding of human nature and what makes people lie, and just live my life. I’d rather know than not, but it isn’t always a fun things. It’s made me a very non-judgemental person. When you can sense things like that no situation is just black and white. The emotions and intent of the person involved can change everything. You see things you don’t want to, things that save you, things that hurt you, etc. and all you can do is just accept them and move on. 

by Ashley Hebner

© All Rights Reserved 2016