You Are Me, I Am You

I kiss the corners of your piercing blue eyes and my soul explodes as you reward me with your toothless smile. I will never take you for granted.  

I listen to your giggle as you play with your Gigi and I’m encompassed by warmth, enveloped with love, destroyed by happiness. How did I ever know love before you? 

I watch you sleep, closely examining the rise and fall of your chest, listening to your soft snore and dream induced murmurs. I would give a million of my lives to preserve yours. 

I see you see things for the first time. Your eyes light up and focus in, your brow furrows in that curious way, and you examine. You take everything in and I spend a significant amount of time wondering what you learn from it all. I will teach you everything I know, and then I will learn more so I can teach you more. 

I watch you play with your hands. I love those little fingers and palms so much. You twiddle your fingers around each other and examine every inch of their magnificent creation, almost as much as I do. I wonder what things they’ll create, what they’ll touch and feel, where they’ll explore. I’ll show you every beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. 

I see your head turn on a swivel when you hear my voice. I feel your heart slow when you’re upset and I wrap you up in my arms. I play with you, imitate you, watch you mimic me, and I have never loved anyone more. I see me in your eyes and I see you in mine. I hear my voice in yours when you yell just because you discovered you can. You are me, and I am you…

I will cherish you every moment. I will remember every second. I will embrace every day I get with you. You are not mine, but you are a piece of me. I do not own you, but I made you. You are my daughter, you are my life, and I will protect you and love you until the end of time. 

by Ashley King

© All Rights Reserved 2017

In Pursuit of Perfection 

Just a little bit thinner”, she said to the flesh that dared to stretch tightly over her bones. Razor sharp angles chiseled from years of practiced self loathing and starvation…

Just one more shot”, thought the boy who stared into the abyss that is amber colored poison. Dying to be a man, dying to gain the liquid courage this foul drink offered, courage to talk to the pretty girl. Dying to have a story to tell his buddies Monday morning in the locker room…

You’ll never be good enough. What the fuck is wrong with you?” she thought to herself. Another B+ on another exam that she studied 10 straight Adderall induced hours for. Her father’s voice rings in the back of her head… or is it hers?

Just a little bit faster” thought the kids. Running from death, running from life, running from existence itself. Striving for perfection, pretending not to care, stifled by the dichotomy of it all. Wanting to succeed, be better, be faster, be smarter, be… perfect. 

We stand at the precipice of our own sanity and every time, we jump. We hurl ourselves into oblivion in search of, well, we don’t actually know. We reach for a standard that was made by fuck knows who for god knows what purpose. There’s an invisible bar that’s been set and we will kill ourselves in an attempt to reach it. “Be better, faster, stronger, smarter, braver”. Be everything. Everything they said to be. Everything they want us to be. Everything that someone else was made to be, just not us. We are infinite. And yet, we stuff ourselves into manmade boxes. Boxes that stifle our uniqueness and limit our existence. And for what? 

The pursuit of “perfection”. 

by Ashley King

© All Rights Reserved 2017

Ask Me Anything Monday

This is a little fun exercise I used to do last year that fell into obscurity between working and being pregnant. Soooo, I’m giving it a shot again. If you’re interested, ask away 🙂 

Submit any questions, queries, or random wonderings you may have! 🙂 As always, it can be a personal question about me or my life or it can be completely random. And I promise to answer it as completely and honestly as I can! There are no rules or limitations. Let’s go! 
Much love,

Ashley King

© All Rights Reserved 2017

The Sting of Nostalgia

Every time I hear people talk about nostalgia, it’s always in a positive light. Remembering a good feeling, a close friend, a happy time. They get that slight smile on their face, that far away look in their eye, and you can see that they’ve gone somewhere else entirely in their mind. Reliving something only they can recall that intimately. It’s beautiful.

That is not how I experience nostalgia.

I’m not lacking in happy memories, I have many; but I think perhaps my mind has somehow been trained to only experience nostalgia about negative times in my life. I say this because what other people experience as nostalgia is not what I experience. I get the longing in my chest, the momentary dissociation from reality, the feeling of “being there” all over again; but it’s almost always about times that I’d rather not relive, times where I existed right on the edge of my own destruction. The strange part is that despite the common negative association I have with these memories, I still experience this sense of longing for those times because of the nostalgia. My mind attaches a certain fondness to them even though logically I know that those times in my life were fucking terrible. The heart knows no reason and it does strange things. I don’t think it’s the bad times that I miss so much as the feeling of being out of control, accountable to no one, free from all expectation and sense of responsibility, reckless with no intention of living to see 25. There’s a twisted sense of romanticism that people like me view self-destruction with. The appeal of destroying oneself before anyone else can, on your own terms, in your own way. I spent the first 22 years of my life trying to end myself in every way that a person can. Absolute emotional, mental, physical, psychological, and spiritual destruction. And I’m just damaged enough that sometimes my mind tries to trick me into thinking that those 22 years were when I was the most “free”. Delusion.

This is why nostalgia is a dangerous thing. Lately there’s been a pictures that’s been dancing through my mind, toying with my thoughts, digging up mixed emotions. It’s a still frame of the view out of my bedroom window in the first apartment that was ever officially mine. I lived there from 18 to 23 years of age. Of those 5 years, I spent 3 1/2 in active addiction, trapped in constant suffering, buried alive in the depths of my own self-destruction. And there was my bedroom window. I watched so many seasons come and go through that window. Always developing and changing at the same speed with which my life was passing me by. The brilliant, too bright, blue summer sky, mixed with leaves of green and the sounds of children playing in the alleyways. The unmistakable August heat and pleasant birdsong that slowly morphed into the auburn, orange, and yellow leaves of fall. The smell of burning wood and dying plants married with the developing crispness in the air. I always enjoyed that crispness at first; but I could never avoid knowing that it would be followed by the painfully shortened, grey days of winter. When the air bites at you like a rabid dog and doesn’t back down, no matter how many drugs you pump through your veins. I would watch the snow fall in the light of the street lamps at night, looking so beautiful and peaceful, in stark contrast with the utter disaster that my spirit and life had become. I always felt that the winter would be the death of me and just when I couldn’t take it for another second, I would wake up one morning to the sweet smell of spring in the air. A refreshing sense of newness that made even a broken, strung out woman think that maybe, just maybe, life could be good again some day. Those spring days gave me the slightest glimmer of hope, no matter how hard I had tried to drown it out under the weight of irrepressible anger and opiates. I would sit on my bed, staring out of that window, knowing that just beyond the invisible prison I had turned my “existence” into, there was another life, a better life, a better way. There was a chance, just there beyond my fingertips, that if I dared, I could reach out and grasp. It was whilst staring out of this one window that I waged wars on myself. Constant bloody battles inside my mind between resigning to dying as I was, and daring to fight for more; for anything other than the endless suffering that I had sentenced myself to in an attempt to control my own fate. It was agonizing, even at the time with plethora of chemicals I was using to dull myself out with.

And therein lies the trouble with remembering things by the seasons. I have not returned to that apartment, that window, that city, for many years; and yet, whenever the seasons change, I am transported to a place where I am 22 again and I’m sitting on a bed, drowning in suffering, watching the seasons change through my bedroom window. My mind becomes momentarily trapped in the nostalgia, trying to convince me that there’s something to miss, that there is any fondness to be felt for these times in my life. The cold winters remind me of waking up too early, too sick, from my body craving the medicine that was supposed to fix it. The beautiful spring reminds me of being trapped in the worst kind of prison man can condemn himself to, watching everything I couldn’t quite grasp pass right before my eyes. The summer creeps into my bones, tears them back to a time and a place where I tried to be happy, to escape my circumstances, thinking that a little sunshine could cleanse the filth that I had buried my soul in. And the autumn… the beautiful, burnt orange fall days; they remind me of the way that my spirit always maintained a constant ember buried deep inside itself. An ember that dared to glow in the midst of a bleak existence, begging to be stoked, brought to life by anything, including all of the wrong things I tried to make myself feel alive with. These memories are intricately laced deep within my subconscious. They’re tied to so many other things that I could never even begin to express them all in these words.

Memory is a twisted lover in that way. It’s impossible to reinvent and display with the same intensity with which it is felt. You simply can not perfectly capture or explain it. The way it can feel like the stroke of warm and welcome fingertips on exposed flesh; or the violence of a battering ram as it decimates the door it was never meant to break through. How it can sing a sweet lullaby that lulls you to sleep, convincing you that you’re safe and secure; or be the unforgettable sting that lives just on the edge of a razor blade. It is the beautiful bird’s song on a perfect spring day; and the sharp pain of winter sleet on an exposed and unsuspecting face. My memories are always stained with nostalgia, entangled in a violent embrace that could startle even the most steely nerves. I’ve never had the luxury of being able to recall something without also experiencing every bit of it all over again, to the core of my being. Memory does not demand nostalgia; but nostalgia can not exist without the memory to fuel it. For me, the two dance together infinitely. Sometimes it’s beautiful and wonderful, the kind of number that brings tears to the eyes of those blessed enough to witness it. And sometimes it’s tragic and sudden, catching me off guard, too painful to ever choose to watch, but impossible to ignore once it’s begun. Either way, when the nostalgia comes, there’s no silencing it. It’s there, clawing its way out of and back into the depths of my soul, the marrow of my bones, the dark recesses of my mind. It demands to be heard, felt, experienced, all over again. Sometimes this is a blessing: a beautiful reminder of the good times. But mostly, it’s just a curse: a part of me that is inoperable and terminal. It’s an affliction that I spent many years trying to escape. As David Jones once said, “It is both a blessing and a curse to feel everything so very deeply.”  

by Ashley King

© All Rights Reserved 2016

For My Daughter…

Being pregnant has brought up so much for me. Mostly, my childhood. Yeesh. I could spend hours thinking about the great multitude of things that I had to experience that my child absolutely will not. I learned many things growing up but most of them fall within two categories: what to do and what not to do. 

I will always put this little girl first. 

I will never invalidate her feelings. 

I will always show her respect, regardless of her age. 

I will never put her in a position to betray her own conscience, beliefs, or heart. 

I will create an environment where honesty is acceptable. 

I will never punish her for not reading my mind or for telling the truth. 

I will always protect her to the best of my ability. Completely and fiercely

I will never choose a man over her. 

I will teach her how a woman deserves to be treated. 

I will raise her to be worthy of other’s respect. 

I will teach her to be strong without being a bitch, how to be compassionate without being naive, how to be giving without becoming a doormat. 

I will explain to her all the things that were never explained to me. I won’t leave her just barely treading water in a sea of new experiences and questions. She’ll be taught about periods and boys (or girls) and sex. She’ll know what’s okay and what’s not. I will be someone she can always talk to (even if she refuses to.) She’ll be taught to follow her gut, because it will guide her long after she buries me. 

I will pass along the words of my mommy, my grandma, my friends. I will do my best to pass along my years of hard earned wisdom, to help her learn from my mistakes… and to take a step back and let her learn from her own. 

I will do her the favor of not always breaking her fall, for she has to hit her knees if she’s to learn how to get back up. But I will also be there to catch her when she needs it. 

I will not abandon her. 

I will never give her reason to question my love for her. I will challenge her to question her motives though, and the motives of those around her. 

I will protect her innocence. 

But I won’t let her walk into the world blind and unprepared. 

I will teach her that “No is a complete sentence”. It requires no explanations, no qualifiers, no fuss. I will teach her how to use this word to protect and defend herself. 

I will balance as much of her life and upbringing as I can. 

I promise her, and myself, that I will do all these things; but I’ll do them without being a control freak (most of the time). 

I will show her (and remind her) how deeply loved, immensely adored, and uniquely special she is.

I won’t take her shit. I won’t turn a blind eye. I will be her mother, not her friend (at least until she’s an adult anyway, at which point I’ll still be “mommy” whenever she needs). 

I will give her fair rules and the consequences will always be the same; not changing by the day leaving her not knowing what to expect. 

I will be loving, consistent, kind, patient, and understanding.

I will always accept her truth. 

I will never make her feel like she has to hide herself from me. 

I will teach her how to love herself. 

Raise her to have a strong backbone. 

I will show her how to define herself; so that she never allows the world, a man, an experience, to define her.

I will raise her to believe in herself, enough so that she challenges even me when she believes in something. 

I will be her mother, her confidante, her shoulder to cry on, the ear that listens to her, connected to a heart that will never judge her. 

I will give her everything I can that I never got, or got so late. I will live up to the mother that my mommy has been. 

I will raise her to be a good woman and a good person. 

I will give her the best of me that exists within the deepest pits of my bare soul. 

I will treat her as my daughter, the love of my life, my flesh and blood, the greatest gift I’ve ever been blessed with. 

by Ashley Hebner

© All Rights Reserved 2016

Afternoon Kicks 

Feeling this life that’s cradled inside me, is the closest to heaven that I’ll ever be. Her squirms and her punches, she kicks and she lunges. I never could’ve imagined being this lucky. This life inside me is nothing short of a blessing. 

I never thought I would get to have kids and then she surprised me, so unexpected. Now I’ve been blessed to feel her movements, and nothing so little has ever felt so big. It’s truly mind blowing that this is my kid. 

I wait for it each day, for her to wake up, and with each little kick, I fall more in love. She’s literally a part of me and part of me can’t grasp that, cause years ago I truly believed, that I would never really have this. 

I remember being bitter, jealous of other moms. It always seemed they took for granted, this gift I prayed to love. But the timing wasn’t right, I took a “not yet” as a “no”, and now my heart bleeds for those who will never get to know. I remember that pain all too well; and on some nights, it creeps in still. It tells me I’ll lose her, that she isn’t mine to keep, so I hold my belly and pray to God, to keep her healthy. However, part of me honestly believes, that this gift wouldn’t be given, to then be retrieved. So I talk to her and sing to her and revel in her kicks, praying every single day, that she survives until she lives. 

I love you Bebe. 

by Ashley Hebner 

© All Rights Reserved 2016

2016 Liebster Blog Award

So I am actually a few days behind on writing this here post because work and life have been so completely insane but, here goes nothing! So, the lovely Jessica nominated me for the 2016 Liebster Blog Award; so from me to you Jessica, THANK YOU! Naturally I was like “Awesome!….. what the fuck is that?” I followed the link back to her page and quickly learned what it is. Liebster is German for the word “beloved” and the award is given to newer bloggers with under 200 followers who have awesome blogs that are…you guessed it, beloved! So, that’s pretty damn cool 🙂

Now this award here has a couple of rules so I will post them below…

leibster.png

Now, I’ve thanked Jessica for nominating me. I’m also going to take a hint from her and go to the people’s blogs I want to nominate and let them know personally because let’s be honest, that is so much easier than trying to tag 11 people in this post. Plus, I have to do some reading and deciding on the topic of who I want to nominate… I’m coming for you my fellow bloggers 😉 Moving forward…

 ~THE QUESTIONS JESSICA ASKED OF ME~

   1. What is your go-to comfort food?

Okay this is a hard one for me. I was raised Southern, therefore I have quite a few comfort foods. But for this question I’m going to have to go with tacos, Lupi’s cheesesteaks, and Rosemary bread with seasoned olive oil. I have a bipolar palate.

2. Is there a favorite plant or flower that makes you stop and appreciate its beauty? What is it? If not, what does spark that reaction in you?

I am absolutely obsessed with Willow Trees. Every time I pass a decent sized one with it’s beautiful, low hanging branches swaying in the wind it always makes me pause, even if it’s just for a moment. One day I would love to get married underneath one.

weeping_willow.jpg

  3. What makes you feel connected with the world when you feel out-of-place?

My family has a tradition of telling each other to “just walk outside and put your bare feet in the grass/sand/dirt”. We believe that grounding ourselves with nature is the easiest way to become grounded within ourselves. Oftentimes though I can’t stop long enough to do this so when that isn’t an option I drive and listen to music. That’s like church for me, it makes it easier to slow down and breathe most days.

   4. If you have children, what have you learned about yourself through raising them? If you don’t have children, have you been personally affected by a child and how?

I raised my little brother and sister along with a few other children who had absent parents over the years. They taught me to be mature, responsible, caring, tolerant, patient, and forgiving. They taught me what happens when a parent doesn’t put their own child first; the pain and lifelong damage that can cause is very hard to watch. They taught me how to be a mother. Something that will come in handy now that I’m 10 weeks pregnant with a child of my own. Words can’t describe how long I’ve waited to have a child and how much fear I had about my ability to conceive (I have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome). But now that my one greatest wish has come true all I can do is pray that I make it to full term and that my child is healthy. All of the lessons these other children taught me, in combination with the many things having my own child will teach me, are what I will use to be the best parent I possibly can be.

   5. Do you think you could handle being a special needs parent? Why?

I think it would be naïve to pretend that I can completely answer this question without having been in the situation myself. I have friends who are parents to special needs children and while it is incredibly rewarding and their children are amazing, it is also challenging and exhausting. I know that I have enough love in my heart, strength in my spirit, and openness in my mind to treat and raise a special needs child the way they deserve to be. One of my favorite little boys in the entire world has ASD and I absolutely adore him. However, that doesn’t change the fact that I already know how much his parents and many other parents struggle with the ups and downs of raising a SN child. So yes, I do think I could do it but I won’t pretend to know all of the hurdles that would be thrown at me. I won’t pretend that I would do it perfectly because NO PARENT of ANY child “does it perfectly. They just do it to the best of their ability and that is something I can say I would do.

   6. Who is someone in your life that you’ve lost that resulted in a total change in you? How did you change? Note: The loss can be due to death but doesn’t have to be.

I’ve lost so many people, in so many different ways, that this is a difficult question to answer. I could go with my grandfather, my first love, my last love, my best friends throughout the years, the 30 some odd people I’ve known personally who’ve died because of addiction in the last 10 years. So many options and each one played their part is shaping different pieces of me. So I’m not going to pick one. I’ll pick pieces of each. Losing my grandfather was my first real loss. He was the first one that hurt so bad I was sure I had broken in half. I went off the deep end and did a lot of drugs for awhile. I had already been taught in life that no one stays but he was a big hurt piece. We never saw it coming. Next was my first love. I absolutely adored him. He fucked my best friend in the entire world in my house, in my bed, where I gave them permission to hang out and party with a bunch of our other friends while I went to Vermont for 4 days. Why was I away? Because my mom and step dad had gotten locked up on the same day and left me with a house that was $3,000 in debt when I was 14 years old. Needless to say, I needed a break. What I got was heartbreak. I never really let anyone in after him for about 6 years until my ex and I got together. We had known each other since we were 15 and 17 and he was the only person who bothered to tell me that my first love had cheated on me as soon as he found out. All of my other friends knew because they were at the party when it happened and no one told me. But Gunner did. Gunner and I got together and stayed together for 4 years or so; through his PTSD, my active addiction, and so many struggles. We survived it all and when we finally reached the place of peace that we had aimed for the entire time… well, there was so much damage that we didn’t have the ability to maintain a healthy relationship anymore. We wanted to save the friendship above everything else, including the relationship, so we cut off the arm to save the body. We are still friends to this day, but that was an earth shattering, life altering pain like I had never known. It took me a great deal of time to heal and on some days it still stings like it’s fresh. I imagine it’s like that whenever you’ve truly loved someone. None the less, he taught me how much a relationship can survive and what things will break it in the end, no matter how much you love someone. That relationship forever changed me in more ways than I could ever write here. Last, but most certainly not least, all those I’ve lost to the disease of addiction. Each one was too soon, each one broke my heart, and each one is another reason that I stay clean. I will live the life they never got to see. I will stay clean to honor the lives they lost.

   7. If Earth was due to explode in 1 week would you seek out a new planet or hang out and explode with Earth? Why?

I would seek out another planet simply because finally, for once in my life, I have too much to lose to give it up so easily.

   8. Name a special memory you have that’s tied to the weather or a season.

Being with my ex and friends so many times, all around a bonfire, in the heart of fall. The smell of fire, leaves, and burning wood all around us. The dark night, bright stars, and their flame lit faces, all laughing and screaming so happily. I miss having bonfires. I would love to do it with the people in my life today.

campfire

   9. Do you verbally communicate as well as you write? Why or why not?

Hahahaha no. I do speak pretty well these days but I’ll always express myself more honestly in my writing. Honesty=better. I tend to be shut off when speaking to people in person. I’m a bit defensive and careful about who I tell my stuff to because I have ridiculous trust issues.

   10. What is your favorite animal and why?

Snakes. I just love them. They’re pure instinct and I respect that. They’re fast, powerful, and unable to be manipulated. They just are what they are. They grow to know their owner’s scent and won’t bite if trained and cared for properly. That is as long as we’re talking about snakes that are normally owned like Pythons and Boas. If you decide to raise Cobras or Vipers then getting bit will always be a very likely possibility as they’re more aggressive and less tamable by nature. I love all snakes though and at one point owned quite a few. Now however, my significant other absolutely HATES them so I don’t get to have them anymore 😦

   11. What would need to change in your life in order for you to truly live out your dreams?

So many of my dreams have already come true. As far as the ones that haven’t, most of them require money I haven’t made yet. It’s a fucking shame how many things come back to money.

Whoo! That was a lot more than it seemed like when I started this post and now I still have to give you 11 random facts about myself (as if I haven’t spent forever writing about myself already) and then ask 11 questions of the people I will nominate. I guess we’ll do the 11 facts first. Here goes nothing…

11 FACTS ABOUT MYSELF

  1. I was born in Florida but have lived all over the East Coast and Kansas.
  2. I have 22 piercings and 19 tattoos.
  3. I have 4 sisters and 5 brothers.
  4. I switched schools more than 19 times between grades 1 and 10.
  5. I am a tattoo artist and a body piercer. I absolutely LOVE it.
  6. Writing has literally saved my life and my sanity on more than 1 occasion.
  7. I drive stick shift and get massively bored while driving automatic cars.
  8. I graduated from an online charter school because I couldn’t stop moving long enough to get established in any one school.
  9. I’m a survivor, of so many things and that’s an essential part of who I am.
  10. I fucking despise sauerkraut. The smell alone will make me projectile vomit.
  11. I didn’t see The Goonies until I was 22 years old.

What questions to ask the people I nominate? Hmmm… there’s so many things I could ask! I think I’m just going to wing it.

THE NOMINEE’S 11 QUESTIONS!!

  1. What do you think is the most important quality/spiritual principle to live your life with? For example, honesty, humor, forgiveness, etc.
  2. What really pisses you off? Makes your skin crawl, ears steam, head explode?
  3. Why do you think we (humans) are put on this earth? Are we here by accident or to achieve some greater purpose?
  4. Why do you write? What motivates you, inspires, you, or keeps you going?
  5. Describe one memory from your life that to this day you think of and replaying in your head often. It can be anything and can reoccur for any reason, it just has to be honest.
  6. What makes you feel at peace?
  7. What is one of the greatest struggles you’ve ever overcome? Describe.
  8. What’s your poison? (Everyone has one.)
  9. What kind of person are you really? No sugarcoating, no fluff, who are you really when no one is watching?
  10. What kind of person do you want to be?
  11. Write a song lyric that really resonates with you and tell us why 🙂

I’m excited to go nominate everyone for this award and I hope ya’ll enjoyed this post. A huge kudos goes out to anyone who made it through allll of that and actually survived to the end. I know she’s a long one! I can’t wait to read all your responses (a lovely pasttime for my vacation at the beach). Thank you all for reading and for participating! Support your fellow bloggers!!

by Ashley Hebner

© All Rights Reserved 2016