Temporary 

Feelings can be a truly terrible thing. Only they are capable of making you think you’re suffocating when you’re not. That you can’t take one more step when you can. That things will never get better when in fact, they will. Our ability to feel is what makes us human; and it is what makes us volatile and unpredictable. They are why so many people stay in bad relationships out of fear, why people kill themselves, why so much damage has been caused by and to so many. They are the reason that everyone has a poison, whether it be drugs, sex, love, or any other thing that can be abused in an attempt to numb our existence just a little bit. 

They can make everything seem too loud, too big, too hard. Simply put, they’re extreme

But they are temporary. And they aren’t fact. A feeling is just your perception of any given person, situation, or circumstance; but the amount of power it holds over you depends on your state of mind for it’s survival. How you react to that is your choice. The ones who kill themselves break my heart the most. I’ve been in dark places before in my life, where I felt like suicide was the only answer. But I’m still here today. I’m here because someone told me “This too shall pass”, “Feelings aren’t facts”, and “Don’t quit five minutes before the miracle happens”. At the time, I didn’t believe a single fucking word of it. I had experienced so much pain in my short life that it was all just a bit too much; but their words were just enough to make me wait a few years. 

And today I am truly blessed. I have amazing friends and family. I have a beautiful daughter who fills my world with light. I have my life. The feelings are still there, sometimes they are still extreme, and some days I still feel suffocated by the weight of them. But today I recognize their impermanence; and I try to give that more weight than I give the feelings themselves. I actively practice acceptance and I make the conscious decision on a daily basis to just do the next right thing for the next right reason, regardless of how I feel at the time. I owe almost all of the love and beauty in my life to that practice. And I never would’ve learned it had I given in, let the feelings take control, and chosen a permanent solution to a temporary problem. So, if you feel like shit today, that’s okay. Own it, accept it; and know that tomorrow is another day that you don’t have to let be weighed down by the problems of tonight. 

Life is short. And too many people leave us too early. So embrace your feelings, however temporary they may be, and be fucking grateful for the fact that you’re alive to experience them…

by Ashley King

© All Rights Reserved 2017

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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 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

Addicts ARE People Too!

They deserve to die. It’ll teach them a lesson. They have to be held accountable for their actions. They’re all scum bags. They shouldn’t get medications for the withdrawal; let them suffer. Fuck them. Ew. They’re not real people.”

As many of you know, drugs (specifically heroin), are killing more people today than probably ever before. Statistics say that there isn’t one person who isn’t somehow connected to a drug addict, whether by blood or some other relation. The days of thinking drug addicts are dirty junkies living under the bridge with a needle in their arm are over. We (addicts) are your children, your waitress, your accountant, your school bus driver, your lawyer, your tattoo artist, your doctor. We come from amazing homes full of love where we want for nothing. We came from crack houses and lives riddled with abuse and poverty. We went to Ivy League schools. We dropped out in 9th grade. We’re hardened criminals. We’ve never been to jail or gotten so much as a parking ticket. 


We are everyone, everywhere. 

Addiction DOES NOT discriminate. 

Those sentences I wrote at the top are things I’ve heard or read in reference to addicts in the last week. There is still so much stigma attached to addiction that many people think we’re less-than-human and deserve to die. They think Suboxone and Methadone programs are an easy way out. They think that stopping an addict from dying by shooting them full of Narcan is preventing them from “dealing with the consequences of their actions”. I’ve never heard of anyone learning a lesson after they’ve died but hey, certain members of society think it’s possible. 

While this current trend of anger and resentment against the disease of addiction is understandable, it’s also alarming. It’s very easy to forget that that “piece of shit drug addict” is also a human being, someone’s baby, someone’s partner, someone’s parent. They’re another real person who feels pain, happiness, agony, sympathy, fear, and hopelessness. 

It seems to me that the common thread among those who hate addicts is that they also believe addiction is something you choose. I’ve argued this before and I’m sure I will for many posts to come. Does a person make the choice to take that first drug? Yes. Haven’t you? Have you ever smoked a joint in the locker room in middle or high school? Have you ever had a beer with friends? Maybe tried a little coke at a party? See that’s how “that first high” happens 90% of the time. It’s some young person just trying something for the first time. For those of us who have a predisposition to addiction that first high creates a phenomenon in our minds. It’s like we’ve finally found the answer to that hole in our souls. Many addicts report always feeling an emptiness inside them that they just couldn’t find an answer for. Drugs numb that aching hole. Some of us were looking for a reprieve from mental illnesses like depression, anxiety, or bipolar. Some of us were raised by addicts and saw this as the “normal thing to do”. Some of us were looking for a mental escape from abusive homes, bullying, loneliness, stress. Like I stated before, addiction does not discriminate. It happens to every shape, kind, class, and color of person. 

When we act as if addicts are just a cancer to society we dehumanize them. We turn them into the sick or rabid dog that needs to be dragged out back and shot. We turn them into objects, afflictions, things, “less-than-human”. And when we do this, when we strip away a hurting soul’s humanity, we also give away a piece of ours. 

I saw a police officer openly admit on Facebook that when they report to overdoses they would rather hang out and “tie their boots” than administer the Narcan that could save the addict’s life. Their reasoning was that so long as we use Narcan on addicts they are not truly “paying the consequences of their actions”. But I have to wonder, what has happened to us as people, if we’re okay with sitting back and watching someone die? Do some of us only become police officers to help the ones that we like or deem worthy? Do addicts somehow rate as being “less than” or subhuman? I have to wonder what kind of person would sit back and watch another human being die while that addict’s saving grace is literally in their hands. They may be addicts. They may have overdosed many times before and not learned their lesson BUT, that is not our call to make. 

There is no way of knowing if “this time” will be the “last time they use”. Maybe that last overdose will be the thing to push them to get clean. Maybe it will scare them just a little bit more last one. Maybe getting shot full of Narcan by that police officer who hates them will be the one thing that saves their life. Maybe they’ll catch a charge and be put in a jail or institution that gets them clean. Maybe someone saving them will actually save them. Who are we to take that away? Who are we to decide who gets to live and die?

We are not gods. If we were, addicts wouldn’t exist. 

It’s always been easy to judge those who don’t live the same way that we do; it’s the human condition. We can only ever see things from our own perspective. So for a healthy person or police officer it must be impossible to understand why a heroin addict uses. But, we have to consider the fact that all of us have things about us that other people don’t and maybe can’t understand. And we all have an addiction of some kind whether it’s heroin, sex, work, or cleaning. The difference is, no one is going to let you die because of the bad choices that you’ve made. So why should addicts die for theirs? If they die as a natural result of their addiction then that’s on them but someone sitting back and letting them die? Now that is less than human. 



Being mean and saying “let them all die” is not tough love. It’s not the hard choice. It’s the easy way out. It’s swiping the problem under the rug and pretending it will go away. Many of these people who condemn addiction do absolutely nothing to educate themselves or even better, the public at large. They don’t donate money or time to rehabs. They don’t try to reach out and help the next person. They’re just full of hate. 

I understand what it’s like firsthand to be the victim of someone else’s addiction. I know the darkness that that can breed inside of your heart. I know what it’s like to put your faith in someone who disappoints you time and time again. I however chose to blame the drug. The person is sick. I’ve seen people who truly did not want to use drugs ever again use them because they didn’t know any other way and their brains have been rewired to tell them that it’s the only choice. I’ve seen people who knew that they were going to go to jail or lose their children if they got high again and they used anyway, even in the face of those consequences. This is not some logical thing that you can categorize as good or evil, light or dark. It’s a disease. A disease that effects the best and the worst of us. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy and if you’ve read my other work you’ll understand how big of a statement that is for me.


All I’m trying to say here is that we need to stop letting the stigma attached to addiction push us towards being uncompassionate and hateful people. The drunk guy begging for change outside the gas station is no different than your 17 year old popping Percocet to get through the state volleyball championship. The junkie shooting dope under the bridge is no different than the highest powered CEO on Wall Street sneaking away from meetings to hit his crack pipe. We are no different than you. You are surrounded by us, served by us, married to us, parenting us. All we are is a collection of beautifully unique souls put in this place to accomplish something and the addict is just as much a part of that as the priest is. Stop letting the ignorance and fear and pain control you. Don’t let it turn you into a nasty person. Cause I’ll tell you something, I’d let a junkie into my home long before someone who watched another person die when they could’ve stopped it. THAT is in humane. THAT is cruel. And it is outright insane to think that we should have a say in who lives and dies. 

If that addict, any addict, was your child, your sibling, your best friend, or your parent, how differently would you treat them? Would you hope someone said those nasty things about them? Would you be okay with a cop letting them die? Would you view them in the same way you view other addicts? 

WE ARE ALL PEOPLE, so long as we don’t lose sight of that. When we start viewing our fellow human beings as nothing more than wastes of space and sacks of meat we have become savages. 


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

 

A Letter to my Self-Centered Addict Mother

Dear mom,

I wanted to write you a thank you letter. A letter detailing all the ways in which you made me the person I am today. I was going to thank you for disappearing on crack binges for 3-9 days at a time. It taught me that I could survive anything, that I could stand on my own, and function under immense amounts of pressure whilst being suffocated by fear, disappointment, and anger. I was going to thank you for having shitty taste in men  because they taught me just how much pain and abuse a person could survive. They taught me how to take a hell of a beating and always get back up. They taught me what sick men look like and what red flags to look out for. I was going to thank you for always disappointing me and proving me wrong when I told people “Fuck you, she’s going to get it this time. She’s not going to relapse.” I wanted to thank you for this because it taught me to never put my faith in something as volatile and unpredictable as other human beings. It taught me that we are all fallible (even our parents) and people will always let you down. I know people in their 50’s still struggling to learn this lesson. I was going to thank you for always leaving me to pick up your slack and care for your children. It taught me to mother, to nurture, to protect, and how to have compassion for others. Even when they lash out at me because of damage or pain someone else caused. I was going to thank you for giving me the opportunity to learn more about myself and my own abilities than most people will ever have the opportunity to, and all by the time I was 14.

I was going to thank you, but now I’m not. It took many years for me to realize that my past did not “make me”. It is nothing but a series of events that I overcame. No one goes through everything I did and comes out clean on the other side; but, I am a functioning, sane, healthy human being today. I have successful, loving relationships. I am a good daughter, employee, partner, and person. I help other people whenever I can and I have experience in such a vast array of areas that I’m able to help many, many different kinds of people in a large number of situations. Dealing with you did teach me not to help people who won’t help themselves. But no, you did not make me. I simply am and this person I was born as just inherently had all the qualities I needed to survive the cards I was dealt. You did not give me my strength or my apparent never-ending ability to survive. It was however that ability that made me able to function at 8, 11, 13 years old when you disappeared for days on end because you were stuck chasing the next high. You constantly disappointing me didn’t grant me my resiliency. I always had it; you were just a constant way to exercise it. You didn’t give me my compassion, although you like to say you did. I was born a kind, loving, and empathetic person and it was these gifts that made me able to soothe your children’s fears when they hadn’t seen you in days and were starting to get scared. It was that love that made me able to not lash out when my little sister took her fear and anger at you out on me. It was that empathy that told me when it was time to mother them and time to let them be alone because they needed space. It was my drive to survive that never allowed me to quit or give up.

The issue here lies in that dark place between all these good attributes I have and the damage you caused. I can survive anything but I’m not so good at turning the “survival mode” off. Because of this I have struggled to slow down and truly enjoy my life my entire life. My ex boyfriend’s often wondered why I never showed happiness when I said I was happy. See I learned that happiness is fragile and a weakness. I learned that if you truly love something you keep it close to the chest and never let anyone know about it, for then they can tear it away and use it to destroy you. This isn’t good for relationships as I’m sure you can imagine. I have trust issues (big surprise there!). I’ve kept almost everyone at bay my entire life thus far. Very few have truly known me and the ones who do don’t generally understand how I’m still alive and not a psychotic mess of a woman. Even you asked me once “How do you do it? How do you go through all of this and survive?” I hadn’t given it much thought before you asked me and the only thing I could think to say was “I don’t know. I just go to bed at night, wake up in the morning, grit my teeth, and do it.” It was a crude explanation, but it was true. I don’t have a special method or way, just a very high tolerance for pain. People give up so easily, as you often did when you relapsed or dove into another pot of self pity and Bacardi. Well I simply never had that luxury. As a child and preteen if I didn’t pick up where you left off D and J wouldn’t have gotten fed, they would’ve missed school, CYF would’ve gotten involved, and we would’ve been split up. So I had to keep it together. When I finally ended up on my own at 14 if I didn’t go to work the bills didn’t get paid, I couldn’t get high and pretend to have a normal life, and I couldn’t keep going to school so again, CYF wouldn’t take notice to a 14 year old with no parents and my life would’ve been taken away.

I met a woman who saved my life because of your mistakes. She was actually your sponsor and when you disappeared again and I called her days later she came and got me and took me in. You’ve spent so much time since she became my “Mommy” being jealous that she had the more adoring name, that I spent more time with her, that I was closer to her. You were so preoccupied with trying to show that I was yours that you failed to recognize that she was exactly what I needed to heal from this world of shit without turning all the pain inwards and destroying myself. I’m sure it is incredibly painful to watch your child call another woman mommy but after all you’ve done and not done don’t you think you owed it to me to let me heal in whatever ways life offered me? This woman was and is the dose of unconditional love I needed. She was there when you were not. When I kicked, screamed, lied, and stole to push her away she pulled me in. When I had had my fill and couldn’t make one more adult decision at the tender age of 13 she swore to always fight for me and do what was best for me, even if it wasn’t what was best for her. And she kept that fucking promise. She refused child support from you that she really needed to raise me because she knew I would never trust her if she was getting paid to have me. She told me exactly how it was; no lies or games. She never sugarcoated or lied. She treated me as the mature child that I was. She let me exercise that freedom that I was used to when I needed to and gave me boundaries and rules where I needed them. When she asked how I was doing she actually listened to the answer without interruption and she didn’t follow it up by ignoring what I said and talking about her newest boyfriend. She talked to me about my life. Fuck, she taught me how to live it. She put me first, she protected me, she mothered me, she nurtured me, she valued me. That is why she is Mommy and you are mom.

Now I know you’re human and an addict. As an addict myself I now know how insidious this disease is. I could forgive you being an addict. What I have trouble with is all the times you should’ve protected me and failed to do so. YOU could’ve saved me a world of pain. Why couldn’t you defend me when your piece of shit husband was trying to convince me that I was stupid and useless and not worthy of the life I was given? Was that because of the drugs? Why did I get shipped off to Alabama away from my brother and sister because your husband was so abusive? Why did I have to leave when I was a good, loving child and he was a narcissist hell bent on breaking me because I wouldn’t roll over and die the way you did? Why didn’t you report me being molested until 6 months after you found out? I understand needing to be sure before you ruin another person’s life, but had you talked to me about it after I initially told you then the “absolute proof” you needed to report it would’ve been told to you a lot sooner than it was. I’ve heard you say it was all just too much to bear and you were in a lot of pain. I understand that. But how do you think your kids felt? WE’RE THE ONES IT HAPPENED TO! You’re supposed to protect US and deal with yourself later or at least at the same time but what you do not do is fall into a bottle or a crack pipe for 6 months while your kids get next to no therapy and everyone pretends like this horrible thing just didn’t happen. The kids are always supposed to come first. But you didn’t even try to talk to us about it outside of 2-3 times over that 6 month span and every time I’ve brought it up since you’ve always asked me not to talk about it because it hurts so much or you cry until it stops. I’m not a sociopath, I know it hurts you too. But you can’t put your own shit aside long enough to let your abused child talk to you about it? Jesus. I feel like the perfect sentence to describe our entire relationship is “What about me?” I mean really, who finds out their children were molested and then doesn’t ask about it again for months? If that were my child I would’ve gotten every single detail I could without further hurting my child as soon as possible. I would immediately report it and let the courts sort out the rest. Furthermore, who in their right mind starts writing their child’s abuser 13 years after the fact and doesn’t even let the child know? I walk in your house one day and there’s letters from that pedophile fuck on your table and you say nonchalantly “Oh yeah, I started writing David. He says he’s really happy you found a career and a man that you love. There’s a letter just for you if you want to look at it.” Now THAT is too much to bear! Did you even think about how much it would re-traumatize me to know my mother gave my molester personal information about my life without my knowledge or consent? Did you even stop for a second to say “Hmmm, it might not be normal to start a friendly correspondence with the man who permanently damaged my daughters and left one with severe PTSD”? You tried to tell me that it was a part of your amends process but being as I’ve been involved in a 12 step program for years I know that you aren’t supposed to make any amends if doing so will cause more harm than good. And I’m pretty sure once a man tries to fuck your kids anything you’ve done is forgiven. Plus none of that excuses the fact that you then tried to sideways guilt trip me into going to his next parole hearing and recanting everything so he didn’t have to spend the rest of his life in prison. You even said “He’s already been in for 15 years Ashley, That’s a really long time.” And when I said it was nothing in comparison to what he did to me you said, “He’s gotten three kinds of cancer and you know jail isn’t kind to child molesters.” The hint was in that sentence right there. “CHILD MOLESTERS.” When they do what he did they go down for a long time for a reason. They don’t deserve to live in our society. You were the one who told me if I testified when he wouldn’t plead guilty that he would never be able to hurt another little girl. And now you want to let him out because you feel bad?!?! Again, WHAT ABOUT YOUR KIDS? Had that guilt trip been successful I would’ve been coerced into undoing something that took everything my 8 year old mind had to do in the first place. When I told people that story I would’ve had to end it with “Oh yeah but I went to his parole hearing when I was 21 and recanted everything so he could get out because my mom felt bad.” Have you lost your fucking mind?! Out of all the things you’ve done I think that one takes the cake. It’s always been all about you and your men and how you feel. It will always be about you. I rarely speak to you now and when I do you always tell me about the new guy you’re with and how you want me to meet him. You always sing his praises. But you sang the rest of their praises too. And every time I’ve warned you about a new one because I have this sickly accurate intuition what do you do? Tell me all the reasons I’m wrong until I’m proven right and you come to me for pity. And I do feel bad for you. But I’m done with any men involved in your life.

Let’s be honest, this isn’t a letter. You’re never going to read it. I’m not so sure I’m going to post it. It’s pretty fucking personal. But who knows? Maybe I should. Maybe it’ll help heal this wallowing pit of resentment I have towards you. This is enough damage for ten lifetimes and it’s not even 1/2 of it. And the sad part is, you trained me to worry about you so much more than myself that somewhere deep inside me I’m worried if I do post it and you somehow find it that this, my deep seeded feelings about things you did to me, will hurt YOUR feelings. THAT, ladies and gentlemen is the kind of damage that is done being raised by the most self-centered person I’ve ever met. I’ve endured all this shit, survived everything. And for what? To still be worried about hurting my mom’s feelings with the truth. Well she damn sure never worried about mine, so maybe I will post it.

But to you mom, none of the good in me ever came from you. I choose to believe that I was just born this way. No child learns in a day how to survive things like this, yet all I remember is always knowing how to. I am empathetic where you only consider yourself. I am compassionate and giving where you’re always out for #1. I am protective of all children and would bend the earth over backwards and fuck it to keep them safe where you’ll risk them to keep your bills paid or your bed warm. I am strong and resilient and a fucking survivor. And I earned the right to call myself those things by myself. You don’t get to claim my good parts as coming from you when so much of what you did threatened to destroy me. It’s sad that in thinking about you saying that I’m “just like you” I can remember hearing the ego in your voice because you truly believe you made me like this. You gave me life and I do love you but I learned at a very young age that you are something to protect myself from. I don’t know what horrible thing happened to you to make you this way. I know you experienced a situation like mine at a young age and have had your fair share of pain but I just don’t believe that that excuses all you’ve done. I’m going to be a mother myself some day and writing shit like this raw, hot mess of a ramble is just one way of healing myself so that I never expose that innocent life to anything like what I’ve been through. My children will never go through what I did. Maybe all of this isn’t on you but at some turn or another you could’ve prevented a lot of it. No one can predict their kids being abused but you do have a choice about what to do after you find out. I could let the waiting slide, but never having a full conversation about it or putting us in long term counseling? That’s just not okay. And putting your own emotions before your kids and not talking to us about it much so you could save yourself some pain while we wallowed in agony? Again, not okay. My kids will never experience that. So that is one thing you did for me. You taught me what not to be and what to protect my children from. So…thanks for that.

Sincerely,

Your 1900th priority

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

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