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 Pregnant Woman’s Burden

Men and women experience pregnancy completely differently. This may seem like an obvious statement but ask any woman who has ever tried to explain “being tired” whilst pregnant to their partner and you’ll see what I mean… They don’t get it. I’m not sure they can get it. To them “tired” means a bad nights sleep; to the mama it means a profound form of exhaustion that’s equivalent to the 59th gate of hell. When they hear “hungry” they think of the hunger that comes with skipping lunch; meanwhile their wife just went from completely content to “need a 5 course meal or I will die” in 6.4 seconds. When they hear “I’m afraid something will go wrong” they think, “Everything is fine” and say as much. But I don’t think a person who has never carried a child could understand the fear, the obsession, the outright terror, and the painstaking attention spent on every minute bodily change that a pregnant woman goes through. What I’m about to write is just MY experience. But I know many women who’ve thought and felt the same as me. Maybe not all, but for those of you that can relate, you’ll get it. I need to write this here, because if I don’t put it somewhere, I may not make it to tomorrow without losing my mind.

I’ve wanted children for as long as I can remember. When I was 11 years old I told my mom that I was “put here to be a mom”. You can’t imagine the devastation I felt when at 17 I was told that I had Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), the leading cause of infertility in America. I spent the next 7-8 years getting a period every 9-18 months. I cringed when other women acted as if the absence of a period was a luxury to be had. My ex and I spent 2 years trying to conceive with no luck. I started to resent my body, hate it in fact. I wanted to will it to work. I wanted to curse it for failing to do “what all women should be able to do”. I felt like a failure; as a partner, as a woman, as a human being. I felt it to the core of my being with absolutely no compassion for myself. I openly admitted that if I was ever told I could not conceive that I would eat a bullet, because that would be a lesser pain than living in that reality. I also felt like a selfish bitch for being so disheartened when other women had spent their entire lives trying to get pregnant, had been told they were sterile, or had lost multiple babies. I knew if I ever did become pregnant that I would be at a much higher risk of miscarriage because of the PCOS and I knew I would obsess about it neurotically. I envied women who had kids without trying, I resented women who took their children for granted, and I wouldn’t walk anywhere near the baby section of any store for five fucking years. I cried, I prayed, I cursed the Gods. I thought it was impossible, tried to tell myself I could adopt, tried to make it something I could live with. All of this by 24 fucking years old. God forbid I had cut myself a break, right?

Then something crazy happened. My cycle went back to normal. I know that’s a lot of information, but this post isn’t for the faint of heart. For 10 months it was completely normal and the hope that I could be a mother someday, the same hope that had refused to die but instead remained hidden in the very bottom corner of my heart, started to blossom again. Every month I was the slightest bit late became a game of “You’re pregnant”, “No I’m not” between my partner and I. I just wasn’t willing to believe it was possible; at least not out loud. If it happened that was fine, a miracle really; but getting my hopes up all to have them dashed on the rocks of a negative pregnancy test? That was a pain I was unwilling to walk face first into. So I just assumed that month would come whenever it felt like, and it did. Then May 17th of 2016 happened. I was late and had all the usual symptoms of Aunt Flo being on her way; meaning my boobs hurt, I was bloated, I was eating way more, and was moody. My love was convinced I was pregnant, but he always was. Then all of the sudden my friends were too. Eventually I started to wonder myself. One day I noticed my ankles were swollen, on top of the rest of my symptoms, and I chose to buy the tests. Spending that money was immediately followed by constantly refusing to take them because “I didn’t have to pee” or “It wasn’t first thing in the morning”. Needless to say, my partner cracked and begged me to take one and said he would buy more if it was negative and my period still didn’t come. So I do the usual routine of peeing on the stick, saw that it said it had a “negative” symbol, and set it on the toilet bowl behind me. I got myself situated and turned around to grab it so I could show him and it wasn’t fucking negative anymore!

I always thought I would cry, or maybe scream, or possibly just pass out where I stood. I did none of the above. I just stared at it, squinting at the little plus sign like it would disappear if I blinked. And my jaw dropped. I walked into the living room with my hand over my mouth. My love is a decent sized man, more bulk muscle than lean. I have never seen a big man jump up and run over to me as fast as he did. The light in his eyes when he saw my face and said “WELL?!?!” was a sight I’ll never forget. I showed him the test, he smiled this enormous smile, and proceeded to just hold me for a few minutes. The first thing I remember saying was “Is that thing real?! That says pregnant!” And that’s how it started. 1,047 words later and I am finally at what I really want to write about. Are you one of those people who ignores a post that says it will take more than 4-5 minutes to read? Because I am some days. So if you’ve made it this far, I want to thank you. Thank you for reading this. You’ll be one of the few to know what it’s really like to be pregnant, in my head. This is my life today…

Being pregnant is feeling like I can’t do one more thing in the day, like I will absolutely crumble if I have to go on… this generally occurs around 11am. That’s slowly getting better but I seriously doubt I will ever go back to “normal” again. Being pregnant is despising the fact that I work at an onsite office with only 1 porta potty, that I share with 10 other men, when I have to pee 15 times a day. I drive to Wawa Monday through Wednesday. Being pregnant is being gut level terrified that something will go wrong. It’s being worried that I don’t eat enough dark green vegetables, that I ate too much cheesecake last month, or don’t consume enough protein. I’ve never obsessed about every single thing I put in my mouth so much. “Is shellfish okay? Can I survive without caffeine? Is two cups of coffee too much? Will it really hurt if I eat Ramen just this once because I’m too tired to function?” This is my life now. If I forget my prenantals for two days in a row (which has happened all of once) then I feel like I’ve irreparably damaged my baby. I have found myself absolutely hysterical while driving down the road, in the middle of my workday, because I am so afraid that when I go to this doctor’s appointment tomorrow this baby won’t have a heartbeat. I cycle between having faith and believing everything is okay, and being convinced that something is wrong. I then have to talk myself out of believing that because I’m worried that the stress of believing that will hurt the baby. I’m a fucking lunatic. I am terrified of losing this child. It is my greatest fear every single day.

I have these nightmarish daydreams of waking up covered in blood because I’ve lost my baby. Every single time I pee I check it for that same blood and then think about what a mess I would be if I was a woman who spotted throughout my pregnancy. I fall asleep every night praying to every God there is and to every dead relative I have to keep this baby safe. I lie there and try to will the Gods to make this baby move. I swear I felt “him” at 13 weeks; which is possible, but also unlikely. I wish I could just feel that again though. It gave me peace. My friend Lauren says I’ll feel better once I can feel him move but I’m afraid I’ll never make it there. I’m 16 weeks and 7 days pregnant. Women without PCOS are at a 15-25% risk of miscarriage; with PCOS, it’s closer to 45-50%. At 17 weeks, without PCOS, a woman is at a 3% risk of miscarriage. Since I have Type 2 PCOS, meaning no insulin resistance and no obesity, I shouldn’t have quite as high of a risk of miscarriage as some women, especially since I’ve gotten past the first trimester. But you know what? My mind doesn’t give a single flying fuck. I am still plagued with this gut wrenching, hysteria inducing, uncontrollable fear that the world’s greatest gift to be given will be taken from me. I pray to reach the day where my baby is in my arms, where he is “real” and tangible, where these fears transform into a world of other fears about actually raising and protecting him. I constantly struggle with feeling like this pregnancy “isn’t real yet”, despite my ever growing belly and boobs. I’ve only had one ultrasound and that was 8 weeks ago to confirm the pregnancy. Now I have another appointment tomorrow. I have been counting down the days for the last month, becoming more insane by the day. I want nothing more than to hear his heartbeat, to see him move, to know he is real; to hear and see that he IS there and he’s alive. I want that more than I have ever wanted anything.

But I’m not there yet. I’m here, typing to you in an attempt to not lose my fucking mind in the next 16 hours and 21 minutes until I am at the hospital, ready to be called in to find out the fate of this baby that I’ve done everything I could to protect. I am a breathing ball of fear and nerves and palpable insanity. I am a mother, for today at least…

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

 

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…

 

creativity.jpg

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

3 Years

Today I have 3 years clean. That’s means that I have not used drugs or alcohol in 1,095 days. I would never have made it here without my program and the people who love and support me. It’s incredible. Addicts can and do recover every day and I’m living proof of that. The hope is everywhere if you know where to look for it. I lead a productive, positive, happy life today and that was never possible while I was in active addiction. I am blessed to have lived to see this day. God knows many of my friends did not and many more will die while there is an answer out there. To any addict still struggling: I promise you it is possible to live clean and not be bored. You can be happy. You can live your life instead of just surviving it. To any family members of addicts: They can get help. But the road to recovery is different for everyone and the pain will have to become great enough for them to want to stop. You can’t make them. Pray for them. Love them. But don’t enable. It will not help them. You’ll just be robbing them of the rock bottom they may need to hit in order to bring them to a place where they’re finally done. 

I am truly grateful to be alive to see this day. I never expected to live this long and I was okay with thinking I was going to die for a long time. Today I fight for my life. I fight for my recovery. I fight to stay clean. I fight to be a better person than I was yesterday. I have integrity, am accountable and responsible, and live honestly today. I have come a long fucking way and been through a lot but I didn’t use. No matter what. 

  

In this life, the greatest things are typically gained one day at a time. 

 

Me, still getting high in 2009ish
 

And me with 3 years clean 🙂

by Ashley Hebner

© All Rights Reserved 2016 

Morning Mindfulness- Smoking & Gratitude

I think I can dare to say that I do believe this FM flare up is coming to an end. I’m still on edge and in pain but I’ve recently stopped fantasizing about peeling my skin off with a potato peeler. That’s improvement, right? As such, I think I’m getting better. This last week has led to a lot of things. The consideration of removing refined sugars from my diet because they’re horrible for all of us; and in my case, make the fibromyalgia much worse. Check out this (pretty awesome) video if you want to know more. It showed me so much and is important to our health. 

Also, I’m considering quitting smoking. Anyone who has followed me for long knows that smoking in and of itself, is one of my coping mechanisms for dealing with the pain. You know I enjoy it as well as I do; nonetheless, something changed this week. I was smoking so much (2 1/2+ packs a day) because of the pain, that my chest felt like it was on fire. So I go to my local vape shop, buy some juice for my dripper, and stater vaping again. Just to be clear, I don’t use those E-pens that still contain 400 cancer causing ingredients and are developed by the cigarette companies. I use an RDA (rebuidable drip atomizer), where I make my own coils, thread cotton through them and then drip juice on the cotton. The juice contains nothing but vegetable or coconut glycerin, natural flavoring, and nicotine. Yesterday I only smoked 9-10 cigarettes (because I was vaping more) and I’m about to smoke my first one for the day today. I’ll make another post about vaping at a later date, as there are many misconceptions. Back on topic…

If I’m being honest here, this want to smoke less or not at all is probably motivated by more than just my burning chest. As I mentioned in my post a few days ago, Flare Ups & Fuck Ups, my love’s daughter is about to start spending every other weekend with us. I just can’t help but feel a certain way when I think about coming back in the house, reeking like cigarettes, and leaning down to pick her up. This is not at all to say anything about the parents who do smoke! My family always did. But no one in either of her families does. So you can hopefully see my hesitance. The wheels are turning to say the least. My only solidified goal is to smoke much less (as of right now) though. We’ll see how it goes and I’ll keep y’all updated on my progress :). 

In closing, I just want to thank all my readers! It has been absolutely lovely to get so many comments full of positive feedback and opinions from others! I thank the readers in each comment for taking the time to read my post. I know this may seem like some typical thing that anyone who wants readers would do but it’s not, for me. I am truly grateful for the people who have read this blog (some from the very beginning) and who take the time to comment and encourage me. This has been an incredible journey and I plan to continue with it as it has now become a necessary part of my happiness. You guys have made this such a beautiful process for me and for that, I am truly grateful! Much love!

by Ashley Hebner

© All Rights Reserved 2016

The Playlist Game

THE RULES

  1. Put your favorite playlist on shuffle and list the first 10 songs that play (no skipsies!)
  2. Quote your favorite lyrics or verse from the song. 
  3. Tag more people! 🙂

I nominate fightorflightsCarla Louise, and Simon. Anyone else who wants to do this can though!

    MY SONGS 

    1. Worthy by Jacob Banks

    “The air is warm, my heart is cold,

    And I’ll never know how it feels

    The air is warm, my heart is cold. 

    And I’ll never know how it feels,

    To have a heart of gold.”

        2. Chasing Pavements by Machine Gun Kelly

    “Motherfuckas gettin paid, I’m just tryna get saved

    7 years of living crooked: I’m just tryna get straight

    All the crack in my city even though these streets paved

    Makes me wonder if I should let all my life dreams wait or should I just keep chasin’ pavements?”

        3. Dark Paradise by Lana Del Rey

    “Every time I close my eyes, It’s like a dark paradise.”

        4. Remember The Name by Fort Minor

    “This is ten percent luck, twenty percent skill. 

    Fifteen percent concentrated power of will. 

    Five percent pleasure, fifty percent pain. 

    And a hundred percent reason to remember the name!”

        5. Revolution by Diplo

    “So don’t let them steal your light. Don’t let them break your stride. There is light on the other side and you’ll see all the raindrops falling behind. It’s a revolution. And we’ll make it out tonight. It’s a revolution!”

        6. Morphine by ZZ Ward

    “‘Cause I’ve been down to the bottom of the barrel,

    I’ve been to the bottom of the lick,

    I’ve been to the bottom with the devil,

    Yeah, I’ve been through the fire, so I just can’t feel the pain,

    I keep it drippin’ like morphine.”

        7. Alpha Omega by Machine Gun Kelly

    “Knew I was trouble since I was eleven, Ripped up my jeans and I bought me a leather. My friends saw me as a King like Coretta. My dad saw his son as a nuisance, a rebel, and My music sounds like the devil. Turn that shit off or get out of my temple. Right after that he’d go back to his Kettle One vodka. And drink it all up till he’s mental. I have no issue, I am official. Let them come at me I practice Jiu Jitsu. Only fear two things with three letters dawg, That’s G-O-D, God and my fucking initials. Doctors called up to the news to report to them what they discovered. Said I’m the first of a species that they call a real muthafucka.”

        8. Moments by Tove Lo

    “I’m not the prettiest you’ve ever seen. But I have my moments, I have my moments. Not the flawless one, I’ve never been. But I have my moments, I have my moments. I can get a little drunk, I get into all the don’ts. But on good days I am charming as fuck. I can get a little drunk, I get into all the don’ts. But on good days I am charming as fuck.”

        9. If I Could Be Her by ZZ Ward

    “She’s got the perfect little car. I drive a Chevy with the paint peeling off. She’s got her daddy’s credit card. I play for dollars down on Diamond Boulevard. If I had her heels on I would never do you wrong. She treats you like a patient with the lies she’s got you on. Turn the lights off, Cause I’m all yours. Cover you in my curves, I’d give ya what you deserve. We could get lost, Get the lines crossed. Run ya like a fever. Woah if I could be her.”

        10. Coming Down by Halsey

    “I found God. I found him in a lover. When his hair falls in his face. And his hands so cold they shake. I found the Devil. I found him in a lover. And his lips like tangerines. And his color coded speak.”