Posted in ASHLEY IN WONDERLAND, FUNERAL SERVICE, LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL, MENTAL HEALTH, relationships, writing

HAPPY NEW YEAR

We are so close to the end of the year, and that always seems hard to believe, doesn’t it? I mean, the Counting Crows even wrote the annually relevant jam, “A Long December” about what this confused, sort of gray feeling of wistfulness and closing is like. (Note to self: find time to listen to “A Long December” before January rolls around). But just like the song says – “There’s reason to believe that maybe this year will be better than the last.” – and I get that. I think we all do.

With a new beginning (which we all logically know is really just watching the ball drop on TV from Times Square and taping up a new desk calendar at work when we get back from holiday break) comes what we all need so desperately to keep us moving forward – the smallest glimmer of hope. Because hell, maybe this year really will be better than the last. Maybe it takes moving forward to realize that the year we are leaving behind wasn’t really so bad after all – or, in some cases, maybe it truly was an awful one, and we need to prepare ourselves to move on so that we can get some space to start to heal. No matter where you are at in your personal journey, by the time the last dregs of December are clouding the bottom of the glass, I think we can all agree that we are ready to ring in the New Year, if only just to see what might happen next.

Time is so incredibly sentimental and bittersweet. We hold on to it so dearly, using it to mark our good and our bad and our in betweens. I think that’s why I’ve always upheld a particular romanticism in regards to fresh starts and new beginnings. While it sometimes feels scary to enter uncharted territory, even if it is purely symbolic – it also feels so exciting. And that’s because of possibility. Because possibility exists, and because we, even at our darkest hours, exude hope for a better tomorrow – somewhere out there in the ether, the two mix together and become chance. “You never know” – one of the most powerful phrases in the history of language.

With the examination of time come and gone comes the natural reflection of what we have experienced in the duration. I think this reflection is wise, because I believe that we all have the responsibility to try to become a better version of ourselves every year. And reflection is how we do that – how we look back at what we have just survived, as a learning tool, as a way to honor the time spent, as a way to grow positively. We cannot learn if we do not reflect – even if reflecting is difficult and sometimes painful to do.

So, in that vein – I reckon it’s time that I mark down a little something about what 2017 meant to me. Painful as it may have been, sometimes.

Continue reading “HAPPY NEW YEAR”

Advertisements
Posted in disney, DISNEY WORLD, FUNERAL SERVICE, MENTAL HEALTH, writing

INSTAWHAM

I have a social media problem. Primarily instagram. I’m not afraid to admit it. What I AM afraid of, however, is the damage it is doing to me as a young woman and a human being. And while I am in this inbetween season of my life wherein I am trying to get a better and healthier grasp of my mental health, preparing for funeral board exams, and eventually finding a place in the funeral industry, I have promised to come clean and honest with every mental and emotional problem that I endure or suffer, in the event that me spilling my guts could possibly help someone else. There isn’t much that I can do right now, other than wait for life to open the next door. So here goes.

Continue reading “INSTAWHAM”

Posted in MENTAL HEALTH, writing

I ALWAYS KNOW WHERE THE BATHROOM IS

I always know where the bathroom is
In every building that I go
I always know where the bathroom is
Because that is where I’m safe, I know

I always know where the bathroom is
Flushed red chest and wild eyes
I always know where the bathroom is
Where I can pretend I’m not alive

I always know where the bathroom is
Sweat trickling to the cold tile floor
I always know where the bathroom is
Escape just behind the lock of a door

I always know where the bathroom is
Murmured conversation all around
I always know where the bathroom is
The place where I’m allowed to be upside down

I always know where the bathroom is
Hand to the wall, breathe in, breathe out
I always know where the bathroom is
Where my mind is free to shout

I always know where the bathroom is
A concerned friend texting from outside
I always know where the bathroom is
My head pressed between my thighs, “Oh, I’m fine!”

I always know where the bathroom is
You see, that’s where I stay
I always know where the bathroom is
There’s nothing else, game over, no other way.

Posted in ASHLEY IN WONDERLAND, LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL, turning 30, writing

Every stumble & each misfire

Oddly enough, I have been surprisingly calm about turning 30 – maybe even a little excited, dare I say? In all honesty, my calmness has been entirely shocking to me. Typically by the time September rolls around, I start to get that metallic, anxious taste at the back of my throat because I start thinking about aging and lost opportunities and all of the societal terrors that are ever so kindly imposed on women. In the week before my birthday, I am at my worst – crying, panicking, and most of all, in an endless cycle of self-loathing and self-criticizing. I have never handled birthdays well, no matter what the age – any mention or reference to aging has always been enough to make me clench my buttcheeks hard enough to suck an entire chair up my ass, legs and all – but somehow, when it comes to this one, I feel cool. Seriously. I feel pretty cool. This tells me that I’m either growing up or about to have an absolute mental breakdown – is there even really a difference between the two?

Continue reading “Every stumble & each misfire”

Posted in MENTAL HEALTH, writing

BEFORE/AFTER

I have been living with a pain in my neck and shoulders for the past few days that feels like some sort of stress-born entity has planted roots and taken up a permanent residence inside of me, tendrils coiling lovingly around the knobs of my spine. Very matter of factly did it move in, like I had no choice or say in it at all. I never even thought to fight it, never even thought I had the right to. I am and always was bound to be the corporeal home of this being – was always meant to carry this weight.

I lay in my bed and I study the world around me through the tiny screen that is my way out – I compare, I compare, I hate myself, I hate everything about who I am. How did all of these lucky people that I know get to become able, capable, confident? What exactly is it that happened to me to make me so hard on myself? I try to look back on my life and pinpoint it – was it a childhood trauma,  some deep, emotional disturbance? I don’t know. But every day feels like I’m tip-toeing closer to the edge of a cliff.

What happens next? What do I do? Who am I? I don’t know.

Agitated, agitated. I’m happiest alone, but I crave motion, company. Stillness makes me nervous. I don’t feel like myself anymore, I haven’t for years – I constantly think back to the “old me” and wish I could find her again, she was fun, she was free, she wasn’t afraid. Instead I feel restless, old, stuck, uneasy, caged – I can NEVER see the forest for the trees. Summer is hard for me – summer is always hard for me. I want to say that I am not okay, I want to scream it as loud as I can until someone hears me, but I can’t find my voice, and even if I somehow could, what would matter? What would change? Those who want to help me annoy me most. I’m too tired to talk, it takes too much energy to try to make anyone understand that I feel like I’m already gone.

I am aware that time is flying and I can feel it, sticky and hot, as it rushes by and sucks the breath out of me, but somehow I still seem to be exactly where I’ve always been, watching everyone else pass me by.

Always watching.

Jealousy and spite are getting the best of me, I am a bent and bowed creature, labored and wanting. I don’t want to work, I don’t want to fight, I don’t want to do anything at all. I feel dumb, sluggish, my once attractive features warped into a constant ugliness that is all that I can ever see or fixate on. If I could pick myself to death, skin clean from the bones, I would, and with a smile.

I have lost sight, I have lost hope, I am unfocused. I search for answers, I have no answers, there are no damn answers. I hurt and I hurt and I hold it because I can’t bear to share it, can’t stand the feeling of my guts hitting the floor as I pour them out.

 

Posted in LGBTQA, writing

ORLANDO

If there is anything that I can say with absolutely certainly about my early childhood, it is that homosexuality was no big deal. It was a concept that I quickly became familiar with, and I knew all that I needed to know about it: it was just something that some people were.

Though I became familiar with homosexuality at a very young age and knew and understood what it meant to be homosexual, it was just a part of my life that required no further explanation. I cannot stress that enough. I never had to ask my parents awkward questions, I never needed further help on the topic. As I saw it, some boys kissed boys. Some girls kissed girls. It seemed really simple. I just innately knew from a very early age that the gender of who I loved or was sexually active with didn’t matter, and honestly, it just seemed like a really stupid thing to get your panties in a bunch about.

I got to live in this beautiful bubble for awhile – where gay was gay and gay was totally okay – but by the time I reached middle school, the jig was up. I started to understand that being gay wasn’t so black and white – rather, it wasn’t a thing that you just could be with any semblance of ease. I felt like a fish out of water when I started to look around and see the behavior towards homosexuality – it was “disgusting, unnatural, perverse”. Even more confusing was when people were accused of being gay that weren’t – like the term “gay” was a bad thing? Something actually insulting to be called? In middle school, if you didn’t throw a football well enough, you were a “faggot” – even if you WEREN’T. It was sort of like how I learned that “fat” was an insult that could be hurled at anyone, and it was the worst thing – it would bring a twiggy, long legged girl to her knees with self doubt. I had always been fat and knew it was “bad”, so I accepted what was dealt to me – but I never could quite understand how being gay had similar connotations. This was the first time that I began to make gay friends, and I bonded with them in solidarity, and fought for them like a lioness defending her cubs. But the wool had been pulled back from my eyes – the naiveté of early childhood was gone.

Then I got a little older. High school. You can only imagine all I learned about “being gay” in those hallowed halls. Still, I was confused. Why was this a bad thing? Why were my friends hurt and abused because they were gay? The bullying dialed up to 11. The Southern Baptists told my friends matter of factly that there wasn’t a space in heaven for them if they didn’t change. I watched them cry as they turned from their churches out of fear and shame, watched them live in fear of their parents finding out who they truly were and what the cost of the truth would be. “Faggots” were targeted, chairs kicked out from under them, their lives a constant living hell. To this day, I thank God that we were the last generation before social media really became rampant – because I don’t think some of those jackals would have let some of my friends out of high school alive.

As I left high school, I left with one truth: in the eyes of the great majority, it was somehow not okay to be gay. And if you were gay, you either un-gayed yourself and un-gayed yourself quick, according to the Southern Baptists – or you hide your “shame” for the rest of your life.

Well … I sure as hell wasn’t going to stand for that.

As it always does, and as none of us truly believe it will, life goes on after high school, and what we were afraid of then becomes the catalyst to who we will inevitably become – whether we choose to stay afraid, or if we use what we suffered as a launching pad to our personal evolution. At this time in my life, I was pretty clear on hatred towards gays. My gay friends, previously proud and bold and jubilant, ran back into the closet and slammed the door with the force of a thousand suns.

And throughout all this time, I was just there – I was there when they hid their true selves in public, and I was there when, as we grew up and away from high school a little bit, they tiptoed, absolutely terrified, back out of the closet. I was there for them, because they were there for me. After all, I had always been different: fat, mental problems, a little dramatic, weird as hell, way too damn much eyeliner – and the gay community embraced me with open arms. I quickly and happily blended in to the gay clubs where we all sought refuge from the real world with a relieved glee. Many, many happy nights spent drinking and dancing, covered in glitter, light up the memories of my early twenties like so many stars now.

(Funny thing, though – you always wanted to get out of the parking lot and into the club as quickly as you could – you could just never be sure who was watching, and how safe you’d be. This is around the time that I learned about hate crimes.)

There’s a secondary part of this story, too. While I’ve always designated myself to ally – defender and militant supporter of the LGBTQA community – the truth is that I’ve always grown up knowing that I liked both boys and girls. And not just that. I liked trans girls and boys, too. I have never have labeled my sexuality for the same reasons that, as a child, I just couldn’t understand the big deal about all of this – and also because I just didn’t really know where the hell I fit in. And though I tended to crush mostly on boys and slept mostly with boys – but simultaneously liked girls, trans people, and basically anyone who interested me – I just thought that, at most, I was straight with a dash of extracurricular interest. Maybe bisexual – but even then, I didn’t feel like that fit. I couldn’t claim that, because there was more to it, a wider berth.

As I grew older, really, only in the last year or so, and my knowledge of queer culture deepened, and I realized what I am: pansexual. “One who can love sexuality in many forms. Like bisexuality, but even more fluid, a pansexual person can love not only the traditional male and female genders, but also transgendered, androgynous, and gender fluid people.”

FINALLY. Something that makes sense.

So when I think about what happened in Orlando over the weekend, I can’t help but feel sickened. Sickened because I know what it’s like to want to be with your friends in a safe place. Sickened because I’ve watched my gay friends be broken and abused for who they are. Sickened that some assholes right now are coming out to say that these people that were senselessly slaughtered deserved this because they aren’t right with Jesus. Sickened because this has been my community all along and I was too ignorant to realized it.

I thought earnestly about what I could do to help – the answer is not much. There is just no way to plug the gaping hole left in the LGBTQA community, or our nation. But what I can do is claim this as MY community now, and fight LOUDER & HARDER – fight tooth & nail for our rights to safety and freedom. I am a part of the LGBTQA community, formally and proudly. MY community was attacked. I am not okay with that. And while kind, no amount of thoughts & prayers will fix what has been broken. We have got to take a look around, every single one of us, and find the common denominator in these issues.

And then we have to fight like hell to stop it.

So here’s what you can do. If you are a straight ally, start talking about why what happens hurts and disgusts you. Start talking to anyone who will listen. Hell, even a retweet will do – don’t ignore this because you think you aren’t involved, or because this isn’t your community. This is not just about gay people, but your brothers and sisters in humanity. Fight for them.

If you are a girl who likes girls but also likes boys and also likes trans people but don’t know where you fit in – you fit in right here with the rest of us. You are a part of this, and don’t you dare feel any differently. Fight for them.

And finally, to those who oppose homosexuality for religious reasons, I won’t and could never change your minds, and I respect that: but I do beg you to be civil, gracious, and generous. Stop telling people they are going to hell. Stop making Christians look like terrorists themselves. Stop being cruel. Stop turning away from people that are different than you. And most of all, get down on your knees and thank God that it wasn’t your church that was attacked – because it could easily have swung that way (and has been before in the past) – and rise above your egos. FIGHT FOR THEM.

If a kid like me could figure out the truth about homosexuality at the age of six – IT’S NO BIG DEAL – then I think we should all be able to grasp it. Support it or not, whatever, do your thing – but remember this: who other people sleep with is really no damn big deal. And one should not have to DIE or even ever feel one second of fear in order to assauge the insecurities of a sick and twisted man who let his ignorance and fear breed hate.

To those that were lost in Orlando last weekend, eternal love flows as your community weeps for you, and you will never be forgotten.