Substandard Love

I'll love you when it's easy,
I'll kiss you when you're sweet,
I'm careless and convenient,
I'll support you when it suits me.

I'll kick you while you're down,
I'll never lift you up,
I'm fucking fantastic,
And you're never enough.

I'm all the ways you settle,
And nothing that you wished for,
But now my hooks are in you,
And I've pinned you to the floor.

Are you feeling trapped?
Baby that's my speciality.
I'll knock you down, wear you out,
Suffocate you, breathlessly.

Don't you know? I'm everything,
And you are just my hostage.
You used to have self respect?
Well baby, you just lost it.

Come taste my love,
It's nothing but substandard.
You swam onto my island,
Now you're fucking stranded.

You're welcome.

by Ashley King
© All Rights Reserved 2017

Dedicated to all the egotistical, narcissistic, one foot out the door, "I'm better than you", demeaning, condescending, douchebags of the world. We see you. And you suck 🙂

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Rape Culture Internalized

If we ask for trigger warnings, we’re too sensitive. If we don’t laugh at rape jokes, we’re too serious. If we get raped we’re either “asking for it”,  lying about it, or “lucky to get the attention”. And if we, as women, rape someone then it’s invalidated because we’re just too weak to ever rape anyone. Right?

Welcome to rape culture. The world of sick one liners and serial predators doing 6 months for violating a woman in a way that she’ll remember forever. We live in a day in age where a man can rape you behind a dumpster while you’re unconscious and instead of being described as a rapist, the media will call him “a promising athlete with a bright future”; and of course they’ll mention how that future “is ruined now”. You know whose future they didn’t mention? The fucking victim’s!

American facts are this: If you’re rich, you aren’t a rapist. If you’re a celebrity, you aren’t a rapist. If you’re a promising athlete, you aren’t a rapist. If you’re a woman, you aren’t a rapist. If you’re a husband or wife, you “can’t” be a rapist. If you’re a politician, a television star, a police officer, a judge, there’s no way you’re a rapist. If her skirt was short it wasn’t rape, if she was drunk it wasn’t rape, if she cried the whole time but didn’t say no, it wasn’t rape. If she said no halfway through, it wasn’t rape. If she comes forward after other victims have, she wasn’t raped. If she sleeps around, she can’t be raped. If he’s a boy, he can’t be raped. If you go to a prestigious school, you can’t be raped and you definitely aren’t a rapist. And as mentioned above, if she was unconscious but you’re white and privileged, it wasn’t rape. But if you’re black? Definitely rape. And no, I’m not being satirical or funny. I can show you case after case where judges, the media, and juries of our peers, treated the aforementioned statements as truth. Disgusting isn’t it?

We see it everyday and the sick part is that most of us are either numb to it or have heard it so much that we believe it. Have you ever wondered what a rape victim was wearing or how much she’d had to drink? Have you ever seen a survivor and thought she looked like “the type who would lie about it“? Do you agree that female students should be banned from wearing spaghetti straps while the quarterback is allowed to go shirtless? Do you believe that if women act in a certain way they can stop themselves from being raped? Do you think “it’s pointless” to make affirmative consent a part of our sexual education courses? Have you ever taken part in “slut shaming”?  If so then you are a part of rape culture. They fed you bullshit and you swallowed it, hook, line, and sinker. If that offends you then maybe you should ask yourself why, instead of getting offended about what a stranger said on the internet.

Why am I writing this? Let’s be honest, I’m all over the place, this isn’t my most polished piece, and the words aren’t intertwined in a powerful way that has the maximum amount of impact. But it’s important anyway. And it’s close to my heart. It is my heart because it is my story. I’ve been slut shamed and victim blamed. I’ve been cross examined in court by a man who didn’t believe me, despite the fact that I was 7 with damn near perfect recall. I’ve given depositions and I’ve had a rapist blame it on me. I’ve been objectified, sexualized, and silenced my whole fucking life. I’ve sat next to my male friends as they told rape jokes and made fun of women who require trigger warnings. I’ve had terrible things happen to me and thought “But what if no one believes me?” I’ve had my birth mother look at me and say “Well you know he only did it because of what you did”. “What I did” was nothing more than an excuse my mom’s boyfriend fed her for why he put his hands down my pants while I was sleeping. And for the record, I didn’t do “it”; a fact which I’d told her a year earlier when he’d said I had blown him and that’s what made him think it was okay. But I guess it was easier to continue to date and fuck the man if she chose not to believe me.

I’ve sat at a table of 10 women and contrary to popular statistics, listened as each one told their own sexual assault stories. Truth be told, I don’t know if I know one woman who hasn’t been sexually mistreated in one way or another; and that’s not even mentioning the countless men. And out of all of the ones I can think of, not one reported their rapist/abuser. Why is that? Mostly,they didn’t believe anyone would do anything about it and it was easier to live with without someone invalidating their trauma. Also, they didn’t want to be blamed or shamed for it. They didn’t want to be put through the judicial process all to have a judge put a 6 month sentence on their lifelong trauma. The world is a twisted place and I could go on for days but I truly don’t think that anything will change it until the people start to. And that can’t happen until we start recognizing all the ways our thinking has been slowly distorted over the years. Say these things to yourself over and over again if you have to: only rapists cause rape, men can and do get raped, a man or woman’s sexual history has nothing to do with their assaults, a rapist can be from any socioeconomic class, race, background, gender, or area; and the act of rape should offend you far more than the word itself. Do some research, educate yourself, and stop perpetuating rape culture. If you aren’t fighting against it or educating yourself about it then you just might be a part of the fucking problem.

Rape_Culture

by Ashley King

© All Rights Reserved 2017

Ask Me Anything Monday

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

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

Ashley King

© All Rights Reserved 2017

The Sting of Nostalgia

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

That is not how I experience nostalgia.

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

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

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

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

by Ashley King

© All Rights Reserved 2016

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

 

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