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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Undercover Romantic

I’m an undercover romantic,

A safe keeper of memories,

It’s always the little things,

The little things that get the best of me.

I’ll never forget the night of the fire,

The true beginning of everything,

You simply opened your mouth,

And we talked well into the morning.

Every part of me was warming,

And every part of me felt home,

I distinctly remember wondering,

Where that comfort was coming from.

I watched you form your thoughts,

As the color of fire licked your lips,

You gave me your honesty,

And in return earned my respect.

There was something in your words,

That I just found so attractive,

It’s a rare day you find the truth,

Offered in the same way you give it.

A meeting of such like minds,

An offer of experience,

You carried yourself so humbly,

I thought you were fucking brilliant.

I didn’t want that night to end,

I would’ve stayed till the sky turned red,

But when I finally hugged you goodbye,

I somehow knew I’d remember it.

I woke up that next morning,

With your words echoing in my head,

I couldn’t shake the sound of your voice,

And this thing right behind it.

This strange sense of belonging but,

You were the last thing I was looking for,

And the timing of it couldn’t be worse,

I tried to tell myself it was nothing

but there was something I couldn’t ignore.

Just a feeling, a hint of longing,

As I found myself craving your presence,

And even when the days got busy,

I still made time for our conversations.

I fell in love with your mind first,

How you weaved your words together,

And I don’t think I had laughed that hard,

In what felt like a thousand forevers.

You asked me to get together,

And I was all about it,

We met at a park in the middle of summer,

And I knew that this was something special.

The way you smiled stopped me dead in my tracks,

And baking in that sun I was still so relaxed,

We went to get milkshakes because I didn’t want it to end,

And when we finally went home,

Your smile stayed in my head.

You’ve smiled at me so many times since,

And it still feels as warm as the first time I saw it.

I’ll never be more grateful for offered experience,

Because out of a talk came a forever I believe in.

by Ashley King

© All Rights Reserved 2017

Possible Again

I sat back today and watched him play with his kids, just wild and free, so full of love and life. It was like one of those perfect pictures that bullshit romance novels paint: Dad playing with the older kids in the yard, dogs running around enjoying the freedom, mom a few paces away holding the baby, feeling blessed, laughing wholeheartedly at the people she loves playing without a care in the world. It was perfect. And foreign.

It reminded me of a time when I still believed in white picket fences and happy endings. When families weren’t the people you were trying to become the exact opposite of. He reminds me of when I still believed in true love. When “forever” meant forever and wasn’t just a false promise used as a bandaid over another bullet hole. He makes me feel special again, like maybe people really can love each other for all that they are. He makes me think that fall evenings spent sitting on the front porch watching the kids play in the yard are possible. Like nights spent cuddled up on the couch actually talking to each other, not just existing in the same room, are real.

I’ve always had a habit of ignoring the warning signs. I’m not one of those women who can’t see them, I can always see them. But I would convince myself that I could work around them; when in my heart of hearts, I always knew when and how a relationship would fail.

I don’t have that here.

Everything is still so new and yet, I can’t see anyone else after him. I feel like I’ve finally come home after years of living in some alternate reality nightmare and all the sudden the world is an endless sea of possibility and happiness again. Everything makes sense again. It’s like I finally woke up and everything I once dreamed was possible actually is. Ask anyone who knows me well enough and they’ll tell you they’ve heard me say “Forever is a fucking lie we tell each other to hide from the pain that we know will always be inevitable.” And I said it because I believed it. I don’t know what that says about me… or the people who’ve supposedly “loved me” before, but I know that I believed it. That forever only meant “until this ends in a three ring shit show circus”, or “until I get bored and you get sick of who I am”, or at best, “until we fall apart because people can’t survive all the ups and downs of life together”.

But I don’t believe that now…

I actually believe I could sit back and watch the kids play and grow and evolve for the rest of time with him. I can see fitting into the crook of his body for every night of the rest of our lives. And that’s insane, isn’t it? Shouldn’t it be? It doesn’t feel like it is, or should be. I have always trusted my gut above anything and anyone else and everything I say now is coming from my gut, not some lust drunk, fantasy induced place in my head. I don’t see anyone else after him. I don’t have any “I wonder how long this will last” thoughts. I never wanted to believe in someone this much, ever again. I was completely unwilling to give one more person what I saw as being “too much power over me” ever again. I loudly refused to ever start over or try again.

Then he happened…

And now loving families, and crisp fall evenings, and white picket fences, and even happy endings, are all possible again. And I tell myself that I should be terrified…

But, I’m not.

by Ashley King
© All Rights Reserved 2017

It’s A Shame

I always admired your ability to set your mind to something and actually attain it. I’ve never seen someone turn such a low salary into so much. Self control. When it came to money, budgeting, working a job you hated, you were a master. You have this unbelievable ability to say “no” to yourself, especially for an ex-junkie. And I truly admired that, mostly because I’ve never been very good at it. 

You’d get this tunnel vision for what you wanted. Me, then the apartment, the promotion, the Army. Next came the new job, the mortgage, the house. One thing after the next; you set your mind to these things and you got them all. But your superpower had a catch. Among your many other character defects, you were never able to focus on more than one thing at a time. Remember, “tunnel vision”. 

And really, it’s a shame. Because now you have your nice, new job. You’re on your way to being a soldier. You close on your beautiful home tomorrow. You have a pink room for both your daughters, one of them being ours… But in attaining all of these things, you forgot about us. And so you will move to your new house alone. You will learn just how deafening silence can be. You will experience loneliness in all of its unique agony. And really, it’s a shame. Because I would have given you forever. Had you only been kind and respectful. Had you paid us just a little bit more attention. Had you just heard me everytime you asked me what I wanted and my answer was “emotional support”. Had you only noticed that the woman sitting next to you was slowly disappearing, her spirit decaying living a life of cohabitation. Partners aren’t supposed to just coexist; they’re supposed to live life together. And in trying to build that life, you forgot about the people you were doing it for. 

My heart breaks for you. I never would’ve wished this on you. Ever. My heart breaks for me. I never wanted this. I wanted our family. I wanted our life. I wanted the man I fell in love with. But you lost him somewhere. And when you lost him, you lost me. My heart breaks for our daughter; because she deserves so much better than us; and she’s not even getting “us”. I will always give her everything I have to give. But I wanted us to do that, together. 

Really, it’s a shame. 

And forever is a lie. 

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

Fuck The Rules

Since having my daughter I have discovered that there are more rules about how to raise your children than I ever thought possible. How to and to not feed them, when and what to feed them, how to “train” them to sleep, how to burp them, when to start the “cry it out” method (that’s if you’re not one of the “momsters” who think this is akin to child abuse). Everything in the world has been regulated, researched, and written within an inch of its life. It’s fucking ridiculous! So… my idea… is to fuck the rules..

Here is a non-comprehensive list of everything I do wrong as a mom; because, fuck the rules.  I mentioned “momsters” above; these are the women who are convinced they know everything about parenting, and have no problem telling you everything you’re doing wrong. They’re the people who deprive their children of syrup on their pancakes because “it’s messy”, the ones who get mad at kids for moving too much or making too much noise or you know, being kids. They are the all-seeing, all-knowing, helicopters moms of the blogosphere and world. They lie in wait, anticipating showering you with shame because you dared to be different or..*dun, dun, dun* an actual parent. Well momsters, this post is for you: take a Valium and a deep breath. I’m about to shit all over your world…

1. NEVER PROP THE BOTTLE

Lady, I can prop a bottle like a motherfuckin’ boss. Wanna know why? Because mama needs two hands and Bebe eats every 3 hours like she’s starving to death. I can hear the momsters now: “But you’ll drown your baby! She’ll die you monster!” Honey, let me tell you, if you’re child isn’t capable of turning her head to the side or spitting out a nipple with the same defiance she spits out her binkie, then that is Darwinism at work. I’m sure somewhere out there there’s some heartbreaking story about a mom who drowned her baby with a bottle but let’s be honest, it would be one of very few (and she probably “propped” with duct tape). I make sure to prop Bebe’s bottle with something soft, like a blanket, so if she turns her head even the slightest bit or tries to spit it out, it comes right out. The worst thing that happens is her shirt gets wet; and guess what? You can wash those. And I get to actually drink cup of coffee while it’s hot (shocker right?!).

2. NEVER GIVE BABY A BLANKET

Seriously? What is this, Auschwitz? I understand that your child can suffocate in a pile of blankets but it is possible to keep your child warm without that happening. Currently, Bebe sleeps in a rock and play because it’s still relatively flat but it’s angled enough to help her with her reflux and I’ve found a way to let her sleep with a blanket where it doesn’t end up piled on top of her perfect little face (sorry, mini mom gush). Before I put her in the rock and play I lay a small blanket down in the basket with a little bit hanging off the bottom edge. Then I place her in and fold the bit of blanket at the bottom up over her little body. It comes up to her nipples, keeps her warm, and doesn’t suffocate her. And guess what? Warm babies sleep longer bitches! Everybody wins!

3. CLEAN THE PACIFIER WITH…

The sheer amount of things sold for cleaning pacifiers is appalling. Pacifier spray, pacifier soap, pacifier wipes. Seriously? For generation upon generation my family has cleaned their pacifiers with two things: water and mouths. Where my germaphobes at? Are you dying yet? I bet you are you little hand sanitizer toting mother fucker, you. I watched my mom do it so many times… the binkie drops, she picks it up, pops it in her mouth, and then pops it in the baby’s. And you know what? Nothing bad has ever happened. Hell, probably builds up the immune system. Now don’t get me wrong; if i drop the nuk in a rest stop bathroom, I’m using soap. But the parents who go full throttle because it hit the counter in the kitchen or the carpet in the nursery need to fucking relax! I promise, your child will be okay. We ate dirt and drank out of garden hoses and we’re fine. Anymore these days the food we eat is giving us cancer and you’re worried about your baby’s binkie touching a floor that you clean more often than your underwear? Get your shit straight. Plus science says that exposure to the microbial environment benefits children in a multitude of ways including, but not limited to: reduced allergies, heightened immunity, and lowered occurences of eczema and asthma. Science wins. Period.

4. “SHHH… THE BABY’S SLEEPING!!”

NO! That’s a hard no. Do you know what happens when you make everyone tiptoe and whisper every time the baby’s sleeping? You end up with a baby who sleeps like shit. Yeah, good joke universe. I’ll be the first one to request everyone be a little quieter (i.e., not silent, but not screaming) when the baby has just fallen asleep and I’m trying to transfer her from my arms to her rock and play without waking her; but the rest of the time? It’s a normal noise level for my little one. I wanted to be able to do the dishes, listen to music, and walk normally when my child was sleeping so I did all those things while she was sleeping from the very beginning. From the day she came home we made the same amount of noise as we always had. As a result, my girl sleeps like a rock. As I typed that my mom rang the doorbell, causing her two golden retrievers to start barking like maniacs within 7 feet of my sleeping child’s head. She didn’t even flinch; and yes, her hearing is perfect. I’ve met children whose parents kept a silent household while they slept; and to this day, nap time and bedtime rule their households. They can’t have visitors, they can’t get chores done, they can’t talk at a normal level; their lives are controlled by an 8-20 pound tyrant with poor sleeping habits. My child is the light of my life but her sleep time is my free time and I’ll be goddamned if silence is a required part of that.

5. NEVER SAY “NO”!!

I actually read an article that said to never tell your child “no” because it’s “too harsh for your little prince/princess”. Are you fucking kidding me?! Now I can understand using more explanatory sentences such as “Please don’t do that or you may hurt yourself”; BUT sometimes a child needs to hear a quick, concrete “NO”. There seems to be this new-age parenting belief that telling your child “no” will make them lose faith and confidence in you and that it makes them feel as if their lives are limited. This is bullshit! I’m sorry but we were told “no” quite often as children and it made us respect our parents; not to mention, it sometimes when executed in a swift and sudden manner, saved our lives. The parent is the authority figure and no means no; not “I’ll give you ____________ if you do what you should be doing anyway”, and not “No until you whine so much that I cave.” No. There’s no reason you can’t explain the reason for the no after the child has stopped the undesirable behavior; but trying to calmly explain why a child should stop something when they’re neck-deep in it rarely works out. Stop the behavior, then explain.

Building your child’s respect in you takes time and it isn’t always easy but this watered down version of parenting that has become the norm today is not making our children better, smarter, or more confident. In fact, research has shown that children now are more cocky but have less actual self-esteem because they’re constantly told how amazing they are when they haven’t actually earned it and they aren’t given enough opportunities to build themselves up. Helicopter parents have stopped their children from trying things (like monkey bars or contact sports) that they could work at and succeed in, thereby creating real confidence in themselves. And momsters everywhere are demanding other parents raise their children how they do, in whatever way the latest fad demands; and more times than not, the only purpose this serves is to create even more entitled, bravado filled, demanding little brats. Sometimes you have to give and take with your child to get them to listen with the least amount of friction, I get that. But if we’re constantly bribing our children do what they should be doing in the first place then all we’re teaching them is that 1. They’re the ones really in control and 2. They deserve rewards for doing what they’re supposed to instead of something that requires an actual effort. And then we wonder why they’re so entitled? Jesus! My generation has traded in good old-fashioned parenting for bartering, bribing, begging, and conceding. So to that, I say FUCK NO. The better way is not always the easiest way; but it is what’s best for our kids and that is our fucking job: to do what’s best for our kids! I choose to parent my child in the way that I see fit, the way that works for us, regardless of what that article on parenting.com says is best. I believe in keeping my child safe, healthy, and loved. I also love her being happy; but it is my job to be her parent, not her friend (at least until she’s adult). And sometimes being a parent means that your child is not always happy. But if you do a good job, at least you won’t raise a raging doucehbag. I leave you with this..

“If you’ve never pissed your child off, you’re probably not doing your job.”

ashley thingy 2

by Ashley King

© All Rights Reserved 2017

Grief is A Cunt

June 24th of 2016 I was sitting on the balcony of my love’s parent’s beach house and I got the call. The call that every person who has ever loved an addict dreads getting. It was my mom and she asked me if I was sitting. I know what that question means. I expected to hear that maybe an aunt I didn’t really know or someone I went to school with had died. That is not what came out of her mouth. When she told me it was you I just sat there for a minute. I asked her if she meant YOU you, praying that she was talking about some other Joey, any other Joey besides my little brother. Anyone but the man who had a one year old at home, who had gotten clean before and was happy, who just one year prior had talked me off a ledge when I was freaking out. But she was talking about you.

You were found dead on your best friend’s couch, overdosed on heroin. My heart broke for him having to find you like that because I know that nothing in the world will ever scrub that image from his mind. My heart broke for your mother who just lost her youngest child, her baby boy. My heart broke for your brother who you idolized, followed, modeled yourself after, because I know that on some level he will always blame himself.  My heart broke for your son. Your beautiful one year old son who’d just been so prematurely robbed of all the amazing qualities you had to teach and pass on to him. Now he will only hear the stories…of how his father was as loyal as they make them and would go to war for any of the people he loved, how you were sometimes impulsive and reckless and would go to jail if it meant defending one of your own. He’ll only get to hear about your laugh that could light up an entire room, your smile that could drag anyone out of a dark place, your wild nature but soft heart. There are so many things that made you who you were, some good, some bad, some in between; but they were you. And I know you would’ve been an amazing force in that little boy’s life.. had you not died. THAT breaks my fucking heart. I’ve cycled between being in denial, devastated, depressed, angry, enraged, accepting, and then devastated all over again.

This month is dedicated to devastation. December 23rd marked the 6 month anniversary of your death and I’m stuck in the dreaded place of “what if?”. I sit in these meetings, the same meetings we went to together, and I feel like someone’s gutted me every time I hear the chairperson ask “Is this anyone’s first time at a meeting?”, “Is this anyone’s first time at this meeting?” I can’t wrap my head around why you can’t magically pop up in the back and say, “My name is Joey and I’m an addict.” I would kill to hear those words coming out of your mouth again. But you just had to have “one more”. And now you’re just fucking gone. No magic, no wishing, and no amount of praying in this world will ever bring you back. Your absence has just left this giant fucking hole in the lives of those who loved you. Your death had me staring at that last sentence trying to figure out if “love” or “loved” was the proper way to write it. “Loved” because you’re gone, “love” because the care people have for you didn’t die with you. I just left it the way it is because I couldn’t decide.

I’ve told myself that you’re not in pain or struggling anymore, I’ve tried to reason with the grief that everything happens for a reason, I’ve written about you, talked to you as I was falling asleep, replayed so many memories through my head in an attempt to celebrate your life instead of mourn your death. But you know what? It doesn’t fucking work. Grief doesn’t give a fuck that you’re not suffering anymore. Talking to you at night doesn’t magically give you the ability to talk back. Looking at your prayer card on my mirror every morning is not the fucking same as you being here. Death is unforgiving. I had only known I was pregnant for a month when you died and I was still in that place of not telling anyone because I was so afraid of losing her and god knows you weren’t always easy to track down. My brother died without ever knowing that I was blessed with the one thing I always wanted. You’ll never meet my baby or get to hold her. You’ll never sit back with me and watch our kids play together. You’ll never hear her laugh or get to make fun of me trying to make costumes for some school play some day. I’ll never get to punch you for busting my balls about being a stay at home mom or a housewife. There’s so much that you’re not going to see, that we’ll never get to share now, and I’m angry. I’m fucking angry because you got so close. You got that time clean two summers ago and you were happy. You had learned enough that you were actually able to help me instead of me helping you. I remember how amazed I was at how much you had grown in the months you’d been clean. You were living your life far away from the world of active addiction and you had this light in you that could actually match all the darkness you always seemed to carry with you. But that darkness won in the end, I guess. We all have it, that darkness; but you were always so sensitive to it. It just dug its way into you on so many different occasions, pushing you over the edge at the worst possible time. You would do good for a short while, but you always were your own worst enemy. You’d get so close to your life getting better and you’d hit the self destruct button because you didn’t know any other way. It was brutal to watch, enraging to try to talk you out of, and heartbreaking to see how badly it hurt you even though you always did it to yourself. You were never perfect but you never pretended to be. You owned your flaws, even if sometimes a little too much.

I never thought you would die.

You were my invincible little brother.

And you fucking died. And I can’t do anything to change it.

I handle hard things well but I can’t seem to find a way to swallow this one.

You’re supposed to fucking be here! To raise your son, to talk shit with me, to meet my beautiful daughter, to go fishing and rafting and swimming. You always had this light inside you and the world just isn’t quite as bright without you in it. I know that’s cliché and you’d kick me in the face if you were here to hear it, but it’s actually true with you. You’re supposed to be here, laughing and learning, loving and living. When people say that life isn’t fair they always forget to mention that sometimes it’s just outright fucking cruel.

by Ashley Hebner

© All Rights Reserved 2016