Struggle

Some days I struggle.

I carry this sense of impending doom around in my pocket like loose change or leftover lint. I feel a little left of center, a little off balance. Maybe I’m crooked. Maybe I’m damaged. Maybe there’s too many things that I’ve left unspoken, and the weight’s got me bent… but still unbroken.

So now some days I breathe anxiety for oxygen and use anger for strength.
Cause I can only fight as hard as I hate.
And sometimes that fire lightens the weight…
But sometimes it burns me instead.

I never fear the shoe dropping, I fucking expect it and although the years have caused that to lessen, I’ve still learned well how to hold my breath in. I’m a little cautious or completely reckless, balance has never been what I’m best at.

I’ve carried this guilt my entire life, accepting blame for shit that’s not mine.
I was raised to feel responsible, for everything; and it didn’t go away when I got old enough to see. See how broken that thinking is, and how wrong my mom was in the things she did. I was born pure and molded into an apology. Never taught to stand up or fight what people blamed on me. I spent my first 13 years mostly saying “Sorry”.

But evolution is inevitable and eventually the change came. I got a new mom, learned what I didn’t need to say. I stopped accepting blame and slowly dropped the weight. But some things in life, never truly go away.

So some days I wake up, with a belly full of lead, from all of the times that I bit another bullet. And on any given day my spine made of steel can curve into a question mark because not everything is healed. But most of the time, I stand up for myself, I don’t accept blame and take care of myself. I don’t make choices out of guilt, I don’t back down from what I’ve built. I’m accountable for my actions, and nothing fucking else.

by Ashley King
© All Rights Reserved 2017

Advertisements

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 🙂

Possible Again

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

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

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

I don’t have that here.

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

But I don’t believe that now…

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

Then he happened…

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

But, I’m not.

by Ashley King
© All Rights Reserved 2017

Catalyst 

If I stare at this page for a thousand weeks will I find the courage to write what I think? You were a surprise. Pleasant and sweet. But where I’m from, that’s a precursor to defeat. I’m damaged baby. 

I’m trying to tell you, I really dig you. But I’ve dug before and ended up 6 feet deep. People just don’t love like me. 

I’ve been a novelty, someone’s conquest, a fleeting love at the very best. People only want the “survivor” when she comes without the past. I used to mistake empty hands for love, falling for dogs who just wanted a home, but baby I’ve grown, and I know the difference, between being in love and being a bone. I’ve survived these lovers after feeding their hunger; but only fools don’t learn the danger, the danger that comes from falling under. 

I don’t need fixing, so please don’t try. I’ve spent a decade learning how to fly. I’m not a damsel in distress. I’m an inferno and I can have your back. But I’m not a fucking midnight snack. I don’t play games but I always win and looking at you is close to sin. The way you smile sets fire to my skin but baby, you fuckin’ scare me. 

I breathe easy when I’m with you, laugh loudly and speak so true. But the comfort I feel when I’m with you, makes me think of every thing that was ever too good to be true. I think you’re different, I really do. But you’ll have to forgive my fear of you. You’re a foreign concept, something new. 

Because you make me wonder if maybe it isn’t so bleak. Maybe love isn’t always a one way street. Maybe you can actually see me. And that baby, is what fuckin scares me. 

I’ve grown accustomed to damaged men. The kind that lie and bleed you dry and leave you questioning your own insides. I’ve known betrayal. And I’ve felt the sting of self doubt. Because I believed the words that poured from another man’s mouth. I guess you could say I’m normally guarded at best and somehow you’ve made me drop my defenses and the only experience I have to go on, says that this is fucking reckless. Yet you jar my senses. Like you packaged happy and left it at my doorstep. How the fuck did this fuckin’ happen?

I’ve broken every rule with you. 

So why doesn’t it feel like I’m drowning? Shouldn’t it? Why doesn’t this feel like a mistake? Should it? Why when I’m around you do I feel like I’m home? And why when I’m with you do I not feel alone? Maybe you’re different. Maybe I’m broken. Maybe we’re just two sides of the same damn token. Maybe this is how it’s supposed to be and years of damage blinded me. Maybe we can be good and healthy. Maybe comfort shouldn’t fucking alarm me. 

I know I’m going back and forth but for what it’s worth, this is a first. I told you I’ve always felt discomfort, and that’s not some line I just like to use. You’re something new that I’m not used to and I’m not quite sure what I should do. I want to touch you, really touch you. But if that happens, what will it do? Because I feel like you’re a catalyst; like the second you happen, everything will be different. 

by Ashley King

© All Rights Reserved 2017

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

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

Controlled No More

I’ve learned recently that narcissists are very concerned with their image, how the world perceives them, and the things attached to them… like their cars, homes, partners… 

I was a narcissist’s partner. I didn’t know he was a narcissist when I chose to be with him but I figured it out in time. Just like I figured out that he viewed me as an extension of him, a representation of him, something that was a part of him; but never just as my own unique, autonomous spirit. 

I remember he immediately wanted me to get a job when we got together so we could get a place. It seemed totally normal, albeit fast, at the time. I started looking for waitressing jobs because it was easy, fast money. He was fine with any job but he started pushing me to try to find “better”, like an office job. I got two waitressing jobs in the next few months but eventually ended up in an office job. I was really good at it, so it worked out. Nothing wrong there, right?

He always hated my car. It was a 2004 Mazda Protege. I remember him constantly talking shit on it. When it finally gave out he gave me his old car and leased a new one for himself. This coincidentally happened right as I was about to leave him because we were fighting constantly. I didn’t stay with him because of the car; I had chosen to stay before he ever told me his idea. But I couldn’t help but wonder if he was giving it to me 1. So his girl wasn’t seen driving a “piece of shit” and 2. So I would feel like I had to stay with him because he gave me a car. Immediately after that I got pregnant though, and everything was great for awhile. No harm, no foul… right?

Next was my credit score. He did all these things because he was so concerned about me building better credit. I’d been on my own for a lot of years and had been fucked over a few times so I didn’t have the best score. He added to me to his credit card, only after telling me I couldn’t use it unless I was absolutely fucked though (not that I ever would’ve). Then the clutch went on my car (his old one) and instead of fixing it he decided that I needed to lease one so it could go towards my credit score and so I’d a nice four door for when the baby came. That’s a good thing too, right? 

Then he set up my car payment and car insurance through apps on his phone. I was putting up the money for everything but he was the one actually making the payment. It saved me the trouble, but it bothered me. All of our bills were already in his name and I just gave him the money every month. I felt like a fucking tenant. But he really wanted to “take care of it for us”, so I let him. But the car and insurance payments bothered me. I have always been very independent. I’ve always taken care of all of my own responsibilities. I told him this and he asked me to “please let him do this for me” and for me to “think of him as my lawyer who’s just looking out for my best interests.” So I let it go. Takes the stress off of me, right?

Then I got laid off and went on unemployment. You have to refile your claim biweekly when you’re on unemployment. He said he would do that for me too. I pointed out that that was ridiculous. This isn’t a car that he’s a co-signer on, it’s something that’s solely on me. But he said he would feel better if he just did it and that then I “wouldn’t have to worry about it and could just take care of the baby“. We had an argument over it and he ended up being the one to file it. But hey, I couldn’t possibly ever forget to do it then, right?

Then we broke up. And he threw every single thing that he ever fought to do for me in my face. And in retrospect, he always did. He always talked about how much he “did for our family”. All the things he achieved for us. And he did do a lot for our family. That’s an admirable thing. I will always be grateful to him for helping me better my credit score, get a reliable car, and making me more conscious of how I spend my money. Those are good things. But he wanted constant gratitude and validation for it. And any time we fought he acted as if it was him paying all of our bills himself and providing this life for us. He was making the payments but I was giving him 75% of my income towards them. I pulled my weight until I gave birth to our daughter and then she became my full time job. Then even when I was the only one caring for her 99% of the time he still felt the need to minimize it and act as if I wasn’t doing anything to “help him”. He would “suggest” his way of doing things (what had worked for his first daughter) weeks after I’d found the perfect way for our daughter, and when I didn’t take one suggestion or another because I’d already found my own way he’d accuse me of “acting like I knew everything” and “being close minded”. There were suggestions I did take when I needed them thou0h and it was like he needed me to constantly praise him for doing another thing for me or for us. I told him how proud of him I was all the time. I thanked him constantly for doing the things for me that I had told him I was more than capable of doing myself. But no, he had to do it; he just also had to receive constant admiration for it too. Somewhere in all of this I realized that it was all about control. Control of his responsibilities, my responsibilities, our life, me. 

I wonder if he ever saw me as the person I am or if I was always just a thing to be had. Something to check off of his five year plan. Girlfriend, apartment, nicer car, mortgage, house. Check, check, check. I loved him for who he was when his narcissism wasn’t running his life, our life. But he lost to his ego and I lost him. Then I walked away, because I had to. I am not a thing to be controlled or owned. I am a strong, resilient woman; made of fire and iron, compassion and love, empathy and scars, past and present, venom and fangs. I am so many fucking things and I just couldn’t fit into the box he wanted to keep me in. I couldn’t love someone who didn’t seem to love me for who I truly was. I couldn’t love someone who couldn’t truly see me. So I walked. And it hurt, it still does. I see him in my daughter’s face everyday and I’m reminded of all the good times. But the man I fell in love with is not the man he is anymore. And I didn’t sign up to spend my life with his body; I signed up to be with his spirit. And his spirit is being suffocated by his narcissism and ego. 


The second you control something you love is the second you destroy it. 

by Ashley King

© All Rights Reserved 2017