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

Advertisements

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

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

The Problem Is…

We live in a world today where we’re all trying to be as numb as humanly possible. We shut off the very essence of life and then wonder why we feel like we’re dying. Emotion is life blood. It makes us real. It makes us us. True courage does not come from being heartless and numb. It is born of feeling your emotions without stifling them and having the balls to face them even when it’s not convenient, not comfortable, not fun. 

A life led with a numb heart is not a life at all. 

by Ashley Hebner

© All Rights Reserved 2016

DO NOT Touch The Belly!

Pregnancy. The gift of life. The duty and honor of raising a child. Something I believe to be one of the purest, most beautiful things that can happen to a woman. Feeling that baby kick inside your belly, knowing that you’re growing a life within you. That’s something that they just don’t make words for. Even the people around pregnant women tend to get smiles on their faces as they imagine beautiful newborns who smell just like “baby” and Johnson & Johnson shampoo. Pregnancy draws people in, making them curious with questions and leaving them wanting to be a part of something magical. Even if it’s just to ask a woman her due date or the gender of her baby, they can’t help but want to know. But why? I’m talking about complete strangers who are in no way effected by the gender of this woman’s baby or when it’s due. What makes them so curious? We are attracted to the beautiful, the innocent, the pure. We see something incredible and we can’t help but want to be a part of it. This is a magical thing.

But, what happens when the line is crossed? There’s really nothing wrong with asking a pregnant woman when she’s due (so long as you’re absolutely sure she’s actually pregnant). There’s nothing wrong with being curious about the gender of the baby. That does not however make it appropriate to reach out and touch that poor pregnant woman’s unsuspecting stomach. Yes ladies and gentlemen, that is the topic of this post. I realize this has been examined and discussed to death but I can’t help wanting to add my two cents. There’s something about a woman being pregnant that seems to make people think they have the right to touch a stranger. I have read multiple articles and discussion forums about this and to be honest, the comments seriously fucking worry me. You would be amazed how many people, even women, told the person complaining about it to “stop being selfish”, “stop being a bitch”, or to “stop robbing people of the joy of experiencing a baby kicking”. I’m sorry… maybe I missed something here, but that baby that’s kicking? IT’S INSIDE OF ANOTHER HUMAN BEING WHO HAS A VOICE TO EXPRESS WHETHER OR NOT SHE WANTS TO BE TOUCHED!!!!

I realize how excited people (even strangers) get when they see a woman carrying another life inside her. Especially other women who may have children of their own or perhaps aren’t able to have children at all. However, at the bare minimum, you should at least ask. Not only are you touching a complete stranger’s body, you are touching her child. Her literal flesh and blood. How would you feel if someone walked up to your child in the mall and just started rubbing his/her head? Probably a little freaked out, maybe enraged, or perhaps mama/papa bear protective? That’s because we are protective of our offspring. A pregnant woman (especially one who’s close to giving birth) is obviously more vulnerable than she normally would be. She can’t move as fast, fight as hard, or be as aggressive as she normally would be if she felt threatened. So when you touch her (which by the way, is threatening) you are showing aggressive behavior (whether innocent or not) to a person who is already in a vulnerable position. So, should she reach out and smack your hand or start rubbing your belly in return, you had it coming! People do this without even thinking twice and that is the problem, they don’t think! Or worse yet, they see nothing wrong with it. Judging by the number of uncomfortable reactions pregnant women say they’ve gotten when they rubbed a stranger’s stomach in return, I’m going to guess this isn’t too hard of a concept to understand. Pregnant or not, it is not okay to touch a woman anywhere that she didn’t give you direct permission to. It is in no way different from walking up to any woman in a shopping mall and rubbing her very not pregnant belly. A baby makes no difference to the level of inappropriateness. Sure the baby makes you want to touch the woman more, but it doesn’t give you any right to.

The fact that we live in a society that thinks pregnant women are being bitchy or too sensitive because they don’t want a stranger to touch their stomach, a body part that’s very close to their genitals and is inherently a sensitive region, is disgusting. The idea that pregnancy makes a woman public property literally makes me nauseous. The fact that men take part in this uninvited rubbing as well as women is a bit frightening. Even in my wildest imagination I can’t comprehend what it’s like to walk up to a complete stranger and touch not only their belly, but their baby, without any invitation or forewarning. I would simply never, ever do that. It’s just completely inappropriate, wildly disrespectful, and obviously invasive. Have some respect people. Smile sweetly, don’t reach your hand out, engage in a conversation that doesn’t involve questions like “Do internal ultrasounds hurt?”, and MAYBE that woman won’t become immediately defensive just because you walked within 3 feet of her. You never know someone’s history. Even if you completely ignore the fact that its inappropriate to start with you still have to consider that this woman may be a sexual abuse or rape survivor. For all you know that baby exists because she was raped and you just walked up and touched her without her permission. I realize that may be a harsh example but the sad truth is that it has absolutely happened to multiple people.

Think before you act. A pregnant belly is not a “Touch Me” sign. A woman’s body is not your playground. If you’re one of the people who thinks this isn’t a big deal then I challenge you to think about how you would feel if I walked up to you in front of a bunch of strangers and started rubbing your belly whilst smiling at you or maybe talking to your stomach, not your face. Some people would say “It’s different, I’m not pregnant”; to which I would reply “So it’s not okay for me to touch your stomach, a part of you that’s not exactly sexual but you can touch someone else’s child?” A stomach is hardly as grave a faux pas as a child, a human being, right? If you wouldn’t walk up and touch a woman who isn’t pregnant and you wouldn’t touch someone else’s child then don’t touch the belly!

I apologize for the rant but this really disturbs me. It’s not okay and the fact that women are attacked for saying what they are and are not okay with happening to their own bodies just shows another one of the big problems in our society today. It’s just another example of how women are expected to smile sweetly and not object to something that makes them feel violated and uncomfortable. It’s another way that our wants, our needs, and our rights (like to personal space), are not respected. Well, let me be the first to say, should a stranger ever touch my stomach without asking or after I’ve already asked them not to, I can and will punch them directly in the face, promptly.

by Ashley Hebner

© All Rights Reserved 2016

Innocence

At what point in life does innocence die?

The first time we hurt or the first time we cry?

Is it the gradual death of a million forced smiles,

that all eventually build up in their time?

Or is this loss just a thing that occurs,

Another part of life,

with no need for concern?

If that’s the case why can most of us tell,

when someone has crossed into the next realm?

What is it we see, that highlights the difference between innocence and aging?

Is it something under the surface that slowly changes?

Do we recognize that the illusions are fading?

Is it the damage that we’ve all taken,

or the inevitable consequence that comes with aging?

Is wisdom worth this innocence breaking?

And what is the opposite of this innocence?

It isn’t guilt,

just a loss of ignorance.

We become aware,

of all our surroundings.

The good, the bad, the ever outstanding.

Innocence is innocent because it’s ignorant,

with facts come pain,

and recognition of stimulus.

It’s not necessarily always a bad thing,

but once it’s acknowledged, it can’t be unseen.

That’s why that light disappears from our eyes,

To make enough room for the rest of our lives.

I don’t think innocence can be maintained,

Life’s too violent not to taint. 

by Ashley Hebner

© All Rights Reserved 2016

Scars

Are they ropey and purple pink,

healing to white or buried deep?

Do you have scars that people can see?

Or do you wear your wounds somewhere underneath?

It’s an absolute fact that everyone is wounded,

we live in a world where everything gets broken.

We all have our secrets, our battles, our scars,

we just wear them differently and that’s what makes them ours.

I remember as a kid I was obsessed with scars,

this physical flaw that showed you survived.

I guess I viewed them as notches in your belt,

things overcame, achievements in life.

I saw a beauty in the battle wound,

an imperfection that proved you overcame,

so I decided to make my own scars,

for all my different kinds of pain.

And as the razorblade became my friend,

making scars became intimate,

this kind of pain eased all the rest,

and I was in control of it.  

But the people around me discovered my habit,

they knew my cuts were just a temporary bandage,

just a thing I used to catch my breath,

to numb the pain in a world of havoc.

I remember once, my mommy said,

“You’re going to regret those scars someday”, 

she was mad I wouldn’t use ointment,

because I wanted the scars to stay.

I looked her dead in the eye,

and said “No I won’t, these are my story in my skin”,

they showed everything that I survived,

and I still remember what each one meant.

Now I’ve grown and I’m 25,

and I still don’t regret these faded white scars,

they show every fucking thing,

I ever survived, in spite of the odds.

It’s a rare thing that my mommy’s wrong,

but her love obscured the method to my madness,

cutting is obviously an unhealthy drug,

but I needed to show that I survived the damage.

Maybe I did it in a twisted way,

and it would break my heart to see my child that way,

but in that pit of my own pain,

it was the guiding light to the next better day.

It was a single breath,

in a world of suffocation,

the necessary medicine,

for a dying patient.

And your goddamn right I romanticize it,

because I gave me what therapy didn’t.

Now it’s been 10 years since I picked up a blade,

and I know I never will again,

but in that time where I needed something,

it was what I used to survive and maintain.

Not every cutter is trying to die,

some just need a little help to breathe,

something to relieve the building pressure,

and give their mind some sanity.

I don’t condone it though it served it’s purpose,

but in my growing I’ve changed my motives,

I longer wish to show that I lived,

now I just live the life I was given.

But I remember you to never forget,

everyone has their scars and baggage.

by Ashley Hebner

© All Rights Reserved 2016