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

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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 🙂

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

An R.I.P Poem

I can’t find a reason why this should’ve happened. What can grow from of all this damage? What did you need that you didn’t quite have yet? How could you do this? Betray your family. The one thing you’re known for is your loyalty, an undying need to protect those you call family.
 I think some days the anger was all you had left. Your soul so stained, tainted, depressed. But there was always a light regardless of your darkness, I just think you were blind to the beauty you harnessed. Your heart was gold, but the world is cruel kid. You found your vices and threw out the blueprints. You never were the type to follow a plan, you’d say “fuck it”, start buckin, and be your own man. But was the price of your life worth that lack of a plan? I know if love could cure an addict, you’d still be out here, goin’ at it and none of us would feel this pain that’s left in the wake of your absence. 

I remember that day by the water, we were so young and free. Completely unaware of how it’d turn out to be. What would we have done if we knew this was next to come? I never knew you’d die, using a needle as a gun. 

R.I.P. Joseph Shultz 

June 2, 1992-June 23, 2016
by Ashley King

© All Rights Reserved 2017

In Pursuit of Perfection 

Just a little bit thinner”, she said to the flesh that dared to stretch tightly over her bones. Razor sharp angles chiseled from years of practiced self loathing and starvation…

Just one more shot”, thought the boy who stared into the abyss that is amber colored poison. Dying to be a man, dying to gain the liquid courage this foul drink offered, courage to talk to the pretty girl. Dying to have a story to tell his buddies Monday morning in the locker room…

You’ll never be good enough. What the fuck is wrong with you?” she thought to herself. Another B+ on another exam that she studied 10 straight Adderall induced hours for. Her father’s voice rings in the back of her head… or is it hers?

Just a little bit faster” thought the kids. Running from death, running from life, running from existence itself. Striving for perfection, pretending not to care, stifled by the dichotomy of it all. Wanting to succeed, be better, be faster, be smarter, be… perfect. 

We stand at the precipice of our own sanity and every time, we jump. We hurl ourselves into oblivion in search of, well, we don’t actually know. We reach for a standard that was made by fuck knows who for god knows what purpose. There’s an invisible bar that’s been set and we will kill ourselves in an attempt to reach it. “Be better, faster, stronger, smarter, braver”. Be everything. Everything they said to be. Everything they want us to be. Everything that someone else was made to be, just not us. We are infinite. And yet, we stuff ourselves into manmade boxes. Boxes that stifle our uniqueness and limit our existence. And for what? 

The pursuit of “perfection”. 

by Ashley King

© All Rights Reserved 2017

Pedestals 

I remember when we first met,

we could talk late into the night.

You made me smile so much,

I swore I was high on life.

You made me so fucking happy,

In a way I didn’t think could happen. 

You start to get negative,

when all your past loves caused damage.

But you were incredible,

and I thought “This is it.”,

I thought you were the reason,

for all the years of bullshit.

But time wore it’s way into us,

And you started treating me poorly,

and I found myself forgetting,

all the things that made me happy.

You asked me why I stayed with you,

time and time again.

And I told you that I loved you

and didnt want it to end.

But somewhere in the mix,

I somehow failed to see,

that the man that I once loved,

existed only in my memory.

I was living in the present,

but hoping for the past,

and the more I wanted the old you,

the more it didn’t last.

You would get so fucking nasty,

condescending and mean,

You’d accuse me of shit, belittling,

when only you were guilty.

When the last fight would end,

You would beg for my forgiveness,

I just wanted real change,

But eventually I’d always give it.

I only wanted the simple things,

kindness, love, and respect. 

But the longer we lasted,

the more you seemed to lose it.

Over time I grew angry,

Chock full of resentment,

You said so many things,

no longer repentant.

Your ego grew and grew,

and my loving man withered,

and the sadness that you caused me,

turned into something bitter.

Where once you were humble,

you became cold and cruel,

You used to value my opinion,

then you deemed me the fool. 

You lost your respect in me,

by no fault of my own. 

And once we had our daughter,

She was all that kept us whole. 

In the end, I only wanted you to love me. 

But I guess that was too hard,

from so far above me. 

Pedestals make even the best of us look ugly. 

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