It Just Happened

It’s funny how you meet so many people in life, experience so many different interactions; and these interactions help shape what you know about others, and yourself. You slowly learn what you do and don’t like, what you want in a partner, and what you don’t. You learn what qualities matter to you; and those qualities, more often than not, become more or less important with time.

I used to make excuses for people who were dismissive of my feelings or my wants and needs. I used to settle for people who weren’t loyal because they were funny, or who were self centered, but occasionally sweet, because I thought that was enough, and maybe what I wanted. I glazed over things that were unacceptable because it wasn’t quite as broken as the situations I grew up in and I rationalized behavior that warranted immediate excommunication. I settled for less, over and over and over again. I didn’t really know better. So I stayed in relationships I had no business being in just because the thought of going through another shit show of a break up, or having to start over again after attempting to build a life with someone, was exhausting. I was tired of it long before most people my age had even started to discover it. The cost of living a sped up life I guess…

I’ve thought I was in love before, and once before I actually was. But in retrospect, those people were never meant to last a lifetime, no matter how hard they tried to suck one out of me. They were meant to teach me lessons; oftentimes very painful, but necessary lessons. Those lessons included things like what I wouldn’t settle for, what I valued most, what made me build resentments, and how much resentment was too much to get past. I learned where the limits of my forgiveness lie, where my own defects in relationships come out, what makes me happy, and what makes me “hate the way your breathing sounds” miserable. I learned what it felt like when my soul knew it was not meant for the person I was lying next to. And finally, after too much bullshit, I learned how to walk away with my self respect and dignity intact. But more important than all of those things: I learned what Itruly wanted, and needed,all along.

I wanted someone to laugh with, someone who respected me even when they didn’t like my opinions or my actions, someone who truly listened to the things I said, instead of just hearing them. I needed someone who accepted me for the good, the bad, the damaged, and all the in between. I needed someone who could live with knowing my past, without seeing me as some woman to save or a broken bird to be fixed. I needed someone who could support me when I was weak, but could also be vulnerable enough to apologize when they mess up and ask for help when they need it. I wanted someone who didn’t just give up when the going got tough because that was never an option for me and I have a hard time understanding people like that. I wanted someone who felt like home, someone I didn’t have to make excuses for, someone whose actions I didn’t have to hide from my loved ones. Someone who stands up for what they believe in, even when I don’t agree with them. I wanted to be a part of someone’s life, not their entire life. I wanted a partner, a teammate, an “other half” who treated me as their equal. And I drug my way through the assholes to get him. But I have him…

He’s not perfect, but he’s perfect for me. He makes mistakes, but he apologizes for them. I never saw him coming, but he’s exactly what I dreamt of. The timing wasn’t the best, the set up wasn’t great, but the reward has been beyond anything I believed existed anymore. It’s been my experience that when people, myself included, leave a relationship they always say “I’m never doing this again”. And then they go out, find someone who’s the exact opposite of the last one, and they put them on a pedestal that no one belongs on. They paint that person into a picture of what they want them to be, they call them perfect, ignore their flaws, and then act surprised when it all comes crashing down around them. I didn’t do that with him.

Something just happened. He popped up when I least expected it and I just watched. I sat back and let it unfold. I kept my hands out of the mix, I didn’t try to control or force anything, I didn’t try to accelerate the timeline or make him into something he wasn’t. I’m not one for doing that anyway, but I also didn’t make excuses for him. I didn’t need to. I didn’t need to apologize to myself for him because when it was necessary, he handled his shit himself. He carried himself like a man, and so I treat him like one. I respect him, immensely. And when I told him what I needed or couldn’t live with, he respected that and me. And when the time came, I just loved him. It was that simple, I found home in him and I’ve loved him everyday since.

It hasn’t always been a picture perfect fairytale, but I’m pretty sure everything that seems that way is a lie anyway. Love is messy and sometimes, uncomfortable. It shines a light on all the places we’re still broken and damaged. It brings out the best, and the worst, in us. It makes me fucking crazy sometimes because I haven’t exactly lived a life that’s taught me how to have a healthy relationship. But there’s no one on this planet I’d rather give it a shot with. I am so excited to continue to learn how to do this the right way; and for once in my life, I’m with someone who wants the same things as me. And it’s such a beautiful thing. Being with the wrong person will always inevitably lead to suffering. But being with the right person? That changes everything. And I’m so grateful for it, I’m so grateful for him… It’s that simple.

by Ashley King

© All Rights Reserved 2017

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Me too.

Incredible short poem that knocked the breath out of me for a second today.

Only See Your Good Side

Me too.

Me too:

slow erosion of confidence

over the decades.

A secret’s corrosive; it lies

in your stomach and burns.

And I’ve lied, compulsively,

to myself: it didn’t happen.

Better to lie than lie down

and let it take me.

I thought.

But they churn out

excuse after excuse

for abuse upon abuse

of trust

of power

while we:

shower off the shame

that should be theirs

and hold their names

(the ones we know)

beneath our tongues for years,

as if the bitter taste, held down

could help us swallow fear.

Me too.

And maybe you,

it’s hard to say but every single day

it’s done.

And every single day my lips are sealed

they’ve won.

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Why I Refuse to Pierce My Baby’s Ears

We’ve all seen it: a beautiful baby girl, in an equally adorable outfit, with miniature diamond studs in her ears. It’s cute, it’s a baby, what’s not to love? Most people will barely stop to notice the earrings; they’ve become so commonplace today. But if we stop to notice them, we can only come to one conclusion: her parent(s) got her ears pierced.

Let me be clear: I hold absolutely nothing against parents who choose to pierce their children’s ears. I write this today only to express why I, as a parent and a body piercer, won’t be making that same decision.

As a body piercer and tattoo artist, I’ve stuck more needles in people than I could ever count. The youngest person I will pierce (with parental permission and the correct releases) is a 13 year old; and even then, I will only do certain piercings. I also won’t tattoo anyone under 13; and frankly, at that age, if it’s something stupid or inflammatory that I’m 99% sure they’ll regret, I still won’t do it regardless of parental consent. That’s within my rights as the artist; and as an artist I feel that it’s my responsibility to properly guide my clients towards work they’ll love forever (as much as I can anyway) and to steer them away from bad choices. Other than this level of discretion, I love body modification in all it’s various, beautiful forms.

Because of this people close to me have asked me multiples times, “When are you going to pierce your baby’s ears?!” And my answer is always the same, “I’m not.”

My reasoning is simple: it’s her body. Why should I put holes in it without her permission? Because it’s cute? Because “She’s so young she won’t be able to pull them out“? That may very well be true, but who am I to say that she’ll want her ears pierced by the time she’s 13? And if she doesn’t then she’ll be left with scars after years of having her ears pierced when she didn’t choose them. The scars will be tiny, superficial at best; but they’re only one minute part of the problem I have with piercing an infant’s ears. Besides the scarring there’s also the initial pain and fear this practice causes an already emotionally fragile infant in a new world; followed shortly by the risk of infection, keloid formation, lobe tearing, and the choking hazard of the earring itself. Even the American Academy of Pediatrics says a child’s ears shouldn’t be pierced until they can care for them themselves and they don’t recommend ear piercings with a gun (the most common way of doing it) at all because ear piercing guns can’t be sterilized. That’s more than enough for me.

Her being my child doesn’t make her mine to do with as I choose, not in that way. If she needed a surgery to save her life that required me to choose something for her body that would leave a scar, then I would make that choice in a heartbeat. But something cosmetic, that’s done for the sake of being cute whilst having some serious physical risks? That I will not do. And that’s my choice as her parent. Should she want to get her ears pierced later in life then I’ll do it for her, or bring her somewhere to have it done. But it will be her choice for her body.

We live in this day and age where everything is about the outside appearance. And really, what other reason is there to pierce your child’s ears besides it being cute? There isn’t one unless you’re doing it for cultural reasons such as they do in India or Spain. Many parents choose to do it for various reasons; and again, I have no qualms with them. But just like they chose to pierce their baby’s ears, I refuse to pierce my baby’s ears. At least until the day when she asks me to do it herself.

by Ashley King

© All Rights Reserved 2017

Unpopular Opinions

I’m sure you’ve all seen the recent trend on Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit: “Post Your Unpopular Opinion”. I’ll admit, I’ve participated. Firstly, because I enjoy seeing what people consider to be “unpopular” and secondly, I’m a fan of educated debate (where you can find it anyway). However, in reading many of these threads, I found a somewhat recurring theme. Many of the things that people consider “unpopular”, in my opinion, shouldn’t be. Shall I provide examples? You know I’m going to anyway so…

Unpopular opinions circa 2017:

1. We need feminism

2. Men shouldn’t regulate women’s bodies

3. I’m pro-choice

4. Children need mothers more than fathers

5. Let the refugees in

The list goes on…. I’d really like to avoid the politics and arguments behind those 5 points specifically and focus more on the common theme among them. They all come back to treating people fairly and equally and respecting their rights as individuals. Why is it that these subjects aren’t popular opinions? Why do we feel as if we should have a say in what other people are allowed to do when it doesn’t personally effect us? The word autonomy does exist for a reason. Why do we treat people who are a different gender, religion, or race as less than? The word equality also exists for a reason. The common theme among these opinions makes me wonder… Where did our humanity go? Where did our kindness go? When did we lose our compassion for others?

Most of the time, when we hear the details of a personal story firsthand of something we might usually fight, such as a family of refugees being allowed into our country, we have sympathy for it. Because we’re hearing it firsthand, it’s in our faces, it’s made real. It’s easy to say “Fuck the refugees! Don’t let them in!” when you’re not staring a starving child from a war torn country in the face. It’s easy to say that abortion is never okay when it’s not your 16 year old. It’s easy to say men and women shouldn’t be equal when you’re the one who’s had the upper hand your entire life. And it’s easy to say mothers are more important when you’ve never grown up without a father. It’s easy to have an opinion about something that doesn’t effect you or your life personally.

Our compassion and capacity for critical thought are two major things that separate us from animals. Without these we become subhuman. We become cruel. We cause damage. We become opinionated; and in this world, our opinions are screamed at the top of our lungs until they start to effect public perception and legal policies. We have the ability to have a drastic and irreversible impact on other people’s lives and we exercise this ability with no thought for those people it may effect. That right there, is what I believe should be unpopular. I am of the opinion that when laws are passed, the people effected should have a say; they should be allowed to offer an opposing viewpoint. What we do and say in that regard should be challenged, looked at, drafted, opposed, and done again. We need to pay attention and be careful. Because these opinions we hold, these laws we support, these people we condemn, it’s all real. It’s not just a Facebook argument this week, it’s not just what’s trending, it is life. It’s our wellbeing and the wellbeing of those around us. These things do have an effect, they causes casualties, they change lives. We have a responsibility to be decent, compassionate, and good people. That is a key point in being a member of any community. So why does it seem that most of the community has forgotten that?

by Ashley King

© All Rights Reserved 2017