Happy New Year!

Like last year, I have gone back and forth about writing this but this year it’s for different reasons.

I actually feel kind of bad writing this years recap and it’s mainly because 2018 wasn’t all that awful for me. I keep seeing a bunch of post about how terrible 2018 was and how 2019 will be better and I wonder if I missed something. I also know that due to moments I had in 2018, I have been hyper aware of the fact that, while my life may be difficult in some ways, there will always be someone somewhere who looks at my life and wishes they had it or something similar. So I’ve spent 2018 trying my best to be positive and grateful for what I have. It’s been an interesting ride for sure.

Did I do everything I wanted? Nope. Did I accomplish all the things I set out to? Of course not. Do I still have time? Sure.

An incomplete list of things I did not do in 2018:

Save money

Move out of my parents house

Eliminate debt (the exact opposite actually)

Avoid my two year car accident curse

Lose weight

Exercise more

Do those last two for a prolonged period of time

Meet Luke Kuechly, have him instantly fall in love and become Mrs. Luke Kuechly, after a whirlwind romance.

The reality is, these are things that have been on my yearly to do list for many many years (including the last one). But overall, despite not achieving them, I had a good year. I would just really like to be able to say that without feeling bad about it.

So, in looking forward, a few areas I plan to focus on and improve in 2019

Financial: I am the first to admit that I am terrible with money. I have a decent job with good benefits. I make enough money to at the very least support myself outside of my parents home. I could probably manage to support myself and my daughter as well if I cut back drastically and we ate a lot of ramen. I don’t want to do that and I am blessed with parents who aren’t forcing me to do that either. I will not apologize for this and in 2019 I want to stop feeling bad about that. When I talk to people about moving out, and I start to feel bad about not having done it already, I realize it is typically people who do not have kids, who left home for college and never moved back. Our stories are different and that’s okay. Being a mother literally dictates every decision I make. And moving out would immediately cause me to be a single mother providing 100% of the financial and emotional support to my child. Until I feel like that is the absolute best thing for us to do…we will continue to stay put even if others don’t understand the decision (and even if my child doesn’t understand it either). Also in the financial realm, I have been working on decreasing credit card debt (Italy was not nice to my credit cards and I have since handed them over so I can’t use them). I even managed a credit free Christmas which I’m proud of. So, I will continue to make double payments to eliminate credit card debt which will all work together to increase my financial stability. Ta-da!

Relationships: I would like to be a better friend. I jokingly but seriously warn people who appear to be trying to create a new friendship with me, that I am a terrible friend. It’s true, but I would like to improve them. I want to stop being late to things I’ve planned with friends or just forgetting altogether. I want to check on people who I haven’t talked to in a while or who I can tell something might be up. I want to see people in person a little more often (if financially possible) and not just get updates on social media. I want to, however, do this in a way that is not emotionally and spiritually draining for me. Being a good friend is hard work. Being present for people and available and listening and offering advice or not offering advice depending on the moment and knowing the right things to say and trying to lighten the mood and just being here…it’s hard. I try really hard not to judge people when they aren’t able to do all of those things for me because I know it’s difficult when we all have our own stuff going on. I realize though, because I have this new found guilt of not having an extremely difficult life and things for the most part are going well, that I then feel like I should do better and be better at all of these things for all of these people. I want to do better but I also want to allow myself grace if I don’t. So, I want to be a better friend. I want to continue to grow other relationships including with family, friends and the boyfriend who I’m pretty sure I bullied into being my boyfriend but now he’s stuck. I don’t think he minds though!

Spirituality: I think this is one area that I have struggled with the most this year. A few years back I was in this great place spiritually and then allowed a relationship to derail that. I don’t have much to say about this one except some work here is definitely needed.

Health: Here’s the big one! I realized a month or two ago that I have never been physically healthy as an adult. That made me sad. What I mean by physically healthy is eating right, at a healthier weight, exercising regularly, not using food as a coping skill, able to walk up the stairs without dying, and overall just happy with myself and how I treat my body. I also realize I spend a lot of time wishing this would change but zero time actually doing anything to make things change. Prior to my birthday and the holidays I was getting things on track. A piece of chocolate cake and some snow basically derailed that. This year I want to obtain a healthy relationship with food and exercise that is not screwed up by a minor speed bump. I also want to look amazing in a bathing suit.

So I think that’s it. Pretty basic really. At the end of the day, I am not perfect, neither is my life, but I want to preserve and improve what I have created and I think the key to that for me is focusing on the positive and allowing grace for myself and others.

I hope whoever reads this is able to find and give happiness, grace and love in the new year!

Emotional Abuse: A Hip Hop Love Story

Gather round boys and girls. I’m about to tell you a little story.

Once upon a time, not so long ago, there lived a fabulous princess from the Bronx. This princess was no ordinary princess. While all the other princesses were busy being prim and proper and not making a sound while they waited to be saved by their prince, this princess chose a different route. She was loud, and obnoxious, and proud, and she was even super proud of her sexuality and body to the shock of many of the so called ladies and gentleman of the land. This princess lived her best life and made a name for herself. She went from lowly peasant stripper to chart topping female rapper. All was seemingly well in her world…but not for long. As they tend to do, the wannabe princes of the land came from far and wide. Not to win her affection, but to jump on her band wagon and boost their own growing success. Maybe the princess saw an opportunity and took it. Maybe she was blinded by what looked like love. Who knows. Eventually the princess found one colorful prince with a tendency toward mumbling and she settled down. Emphasis on the settled. They hastily got married. They had a baby. All was seemingly well in the land according to social media and new chart topping songs. Unfortunately, however, the prince decided to prove himself to be a fuck boy. He cheated and probably did all sorts of other unmentionable things because 99% of the time even when princes have fabulous princesses who have mothered their children and helped them gain even higher levels of success, they still want everything insight including skanky peasants who can’t bring anything to the table. Luckily, our princess was smart and dropped the no good fuck boy prince and went on to live happily ever after pulling a total Taylor Swift and making millions off the break up…THE END!!

NOT!!!

So, that’s definitely where the story should end. Cardi B dumped Offset and he should have acknowledged his loss and kept it moving. An apology in the moment. Continued to support his daughter and hopefully they can manage some civil co-parenting for the next 18 years. Maybe, if he truly meant it, he could have privately asked for forgiveness and a second chance and proven he has changed (after actually changing) and then if she chose to get back with him more power to her. If not. No is no and sucks to be you!

But nope. As many emotionally abusive and manipulative boys like to do…Offset is currently attempting to bully Cardi into taking him back. Hijacking her show, going on stage with other people and getting the audience to chant for Cardi to take him back, and I’m sure other abusive/manipulative tactics that I am unaware of because keeping track of this story honestly makes me sick to my stomach!

I write this as someone who has been in similar situations multiple times, just obviously not on the same scale. I used to think there was something special about me that made men regret letting me go and begging my forgiveness and for me to take them back. And I did. Multiple times. But you know what…they NEVER and I mean NEVER changed. A few days or a week does not a changed man make. Hell in some situations even years did not mean they had changed. What they had done, however, is continue to perfect their emotionally abusive tactics.

Emotional abuse is exactly what we are witnessing take place between Offset and Cardi. I don’t use those words lightly. I’m saying exactly what I mean. This is not love. I repeat. THIS IS NOT LOVE. THIS IS ABUSE. And so many people (male and female) or so use to this being their only definition of love that they are encouraging Cardi to take this no good asshole back.

Treating someone like shit is not love

Cheating is not love (that means physical and emotional cheating)

Lying is not love

Sneaking around is not love

Breaking someone’s trust is not love

Emotional abuse is not love

Doing these things repeatedly and asking for forgiveness and making false promises that you will change and then not changing is not love

Making someone feel bad for choosing themselves when you have treated them like garbage for any amount of time is not love

Stalking someone at their job (exactly what Offset did) is not love

Getting your friends (fans) to harass someone for you is not love.

If you need a refresher on what love is go take a look at 1 Corinthians 13:4-5 as a starting place then work your way out from there. Religious or not, it’s a pretty good definition.

Now. I’m not saying Cardi is perfect. I’m sure she’s done her own mess. If Offset didn’t leave her when she did it, that’s on him. Just because he chose to stick around when she was not loving him correctly, does not mean she has to stick around when he does the same.

I write this out of a place of familiarity, sadness and fear having, as I said, experienced these same things in the past. I don’t use the word trauma lightly, but as time has gone on, I continue to realize how much my last relationship seriously impacted my mental, physical, spiritual and relational well being. Seeing Offset on stage trying to guilt trip Cardi into taking him back gave me flashbacks of the last time I ran into my ex. I couldn’t finish watching it. I’m impressed with how Cardi is handling the situation and asking her fans not to attack Offset. I’d be considering a restraining order at this point.

Anywho. I said all that to say this, if you are in a situation that is even remotely emotionally abusive. Get out. Run as fast and as far away as possible. Maybe they will change. Maybe they won’t. You are not required to stick around and see if they will. Despite what the internet may have you think about how a real woman should stick by her man while he is growing…a real man shouldn’t have to grow from an abusive jerk face into an actual man. You are not his mother. That is not your job. Know your worth. Double it. Add tax and then under absolutely no circumstances ever put yourself on sale for anyone ever again.

Also…this made me holler!

I Love Myself…Now What?

“You have to love yourself before anyone else can love you.”

First of all…this is absolute bullshit. Let’s just put that out there.

Oh yea, I’m in that kind of mood. You might as well strap yourself in and enjoy the ride because I honestly have no idea where this is headed.

Anywho, as I scrolled through Pinterest looking for quotes to summarize how I feel right now, I repeatedly came across some variation of the bullshit mentioned above. As someone who has spent a lot of time repairing herself after others have come in like a bull in a china shop, as someone who has tried every time to put those pieces back together into something soft, and beautiful and not jaded by the selfishness of this world, as someone who does in fact love them-self including their flaws and quirks and oddities and imperfections, as someone who knows the world is out to make her hard when she is meant to remain soft…as that person I CALL BULLSHIT ON YOUR LOVE YOURSELF QUOTE!!

Why? Because it’s simply not true. Every day people choose to love others who are broken and do not love themselves. Every day people choose to be in relationships with people who do not have it all together and do not love themselves. Every day babies are born, and have no idea what it means to exist let alone love yourself, yet anyone within an earshot or their cries has the natural inclination to love and protect and nurture that tiny human…who does not love them self. Ok. I know that’s extreme but hopefully you get my point. People who do not love them self receive love, in all forms, all the time.

I have decided that this is another one of those things that people say to single people when that person is being extra vulnerable and the other person doesn’t know what to say. They mean well, but it’s actually quite harmful. What you are saying is…you aren’t there yet, you aren’t ready, you don’t deserve it yet, you aren’t perfect. As someone who has been told they are perfect and amazing, yet still no one wants to actually be with them…it’s infuriating. So for the record, don’t call me perfect. I’m not. It will only make me want to throat punch you three times in a row.

So here’s the thing. I’ve done the work. I love me some me. Yea some days I annoy myself, I get on my nerves, I question myself and my worth, I feel broken, I feel stupid, I feel unworthy, some days I look in the mirror and see a goddess, some days I see a monster, but at the end of it all I love who I am, who I was, who I will be, where I am going, what I am doing, and the way I choose to be in this crazy world. I’ve got that part down. I love me despite it all…

So if I go off this crazy logic, it should be raining men right now!!! NOT! Alas, here I am, with no one to love. AND BEFORE YOU GO THERE yes, I have my daughter, I have my family, I have friends , I am beyond blessed…BUT WHY DOES THAT MEAN I CAN’T BE GRATEFUL FOR ALL OF THAT AND HAVE A MAN!

I seriously wish someone would cut the bullshit and just be honest and not try to spare my feelings. I wish someone would just be like look Ashley, here’s the issue, your awesome but your breath stinks, or sometimes you have psychotic breaks and turn into the devil and no one is actually telling you, or that super hard blink thing that you do it’s just to much. No one wants to deal with that. Whatever it is just let me know. But this “it’s not you it’s me”, “Jesus hasn’t sent the one yet,” “your just so amazing and it scares people”…all that that shit is for the birds.

I know this. I have an intense, burning desire to love and be loved. Some days it’s a little less intense because life chooses to dangle hope in my face like a carrot and I get tired of trying to reach it. I don’t know how many more times I have in me to try to bite that damn carrot. I’m sure I’ll keep trying though.

Choosing me is hard, every time, but I do it. I just hope one day someone else won’t find it so difficult. Hope, however, is a terribly painful thing to have.

Heartbreak is a Universal Language (my review of the Sam Smith concert)

I had the pleasure of seeing Sam Smith in concert on Friday thanks to my fellow blogger Malcolm. It was bittersweet as I’ve been his honorary last minute concert buddy a few times and now he’s moving so that will come to an end. I will have to actually plan in advance to attend a concert in DC and hope he lets me stay with him if it ever happens again!! But back to Sam Smith.

This was definitely one of my most favorite concerts I’ve ever attended. I will be honest and say I haven’t attended many. The few I have attended have been pretty varied though. County music, Christian music, hip hop, pop, Beyoncé and Daley and Sam Smith whom I’m really not sure what to classify them as. I saw someone post on Malcolm’s status the other day that “blue eyed R&B” is a thing. Part of me was offended by that but that’s another post. Back to Sam Smith.

Starting with the pretend final song and into the definitely planned encore of the show, I started having this surreal moment and also began writing this blog.

He pretended to end the show with “Too Good at Goodbyes.” This is my ultimate Sam Smith jam. When I first heard that song I could have sworn he sat down and talked to me one day and was like “hey Ashley, I want to write a song about you. How should it go?” It is no secret to anyone that I’ve had my fair share of failed relationships, heartbreak, almost relationships and things just not working out for one reason or another. After this last one and the few mini encounters with people since then, I’ve realized that my ability to pick up the pieces and move on has gotten better each time. Not only is my fallback game strong but my comeback game is pretty good too. So this song definitely speaks to me on a spiritual level.

I stood in a stadium with several hundred people who apparently felt the same way. (One of those people kept farting and I just feel the need to call them out publicly again because they were a terrible person.) We all sang our hearts out. Old, young, Black, White, LGBTQ+, heterosexual and everything in between. Every last one of us sang that song as if it was written for us. Sam even told us to sing it to our ex and we sang a little louder and with a little more passion.

That’s when it hit me. Heartbreak is a universal language. In that moment, everyone in that stadium was taken to a place where we remembered a time where we were mistreated, misused, hurt, and felt that dreaded feeling of “well damn, here we go again.” I stood there singing, and wondering, why? Why does everyone go through this? Why do we mistreat each other? Why do we hurt each other? Why do you pretend to love people then walk away so quickly? Why do we try to force things that clearly aren’t working? Why is it an absolute in life that you will be hurt by love? While I don’t know why I do know that music has a way of bringing us all together to heal from those experiences even if just for a moment.

So we all sang that song. Saying screw you and screw Love.

I’m never gonna let you close to me. Even though you mean the most to me. Cause every time I open up, it hurts. So I’m never gonna get to close to you. Even when I mean the most to you. In case you go and leave me in the dirt.

But every time you hurt me, the less that I cry. And every time you leave me the quicker these tears dry. And every time you walk out, the less I love you. Baby, we don’t stand a chance, it’s sad but it’s true…

I’m way to good at goodbyes

But it didn’t stop there. Sam pretended like the concert was over, waved goodbye and walked off stage. I thought to myself “that was a very crappy way to leave what was a pretty intimate concert. I’m not buying it.” Some people started to leave as well. I would like to point out that one of those people was the smelly culprit because there was no more farting during the final part of the show. And that’s what their stank behind gets because they missed an awesome ending.

After tons of screaming, yelling and clapping, the band returned and Sam ascended some stairs. Clearly this was a planned encore and I’m not mad at him.

In a very Romeo and Juliette-ish manner, Sam at the top of the stairs and one of his amazing background singers at the bottom of the stage sang “Palace” to each other. And my theory continued. We all sang together of the pain of heartbreak and trying but this time we were all reminded that while it may suck sometimes, the real thing is worth it even if it doesn’t last. We sang this song about fighting for love, with just as much passion as we did when we said screw love. Because we’ve all known a love that helped us grow and become who we are today, even if they aren’t around to see it.

Yeah I know just what you’re saying and I regret ever complaining about this heart and all it’s breaking. It was beauty we were making.

And I know we’ll both move on. You’ll forgive what I did wrong. They will love the better you but I still own the ghost of you.

I’m gonna miss you. I’m still there. Sometimes I wish we never built this palace but real love is never a waste of time.

At this point I was about done with Sam and his mess. I’ve heard these songs a thousand times before including multiple times that day as I prepared for the concert. For some reason though, in this order, in this arena, with these people (minus the fart master) it was having an effect on my and my eyes were getting irritated.

And then he hit me with the icing on the cake and I wanted to cry, and scream, and laugh, and have a full on moment in the middle of the aisle.

Why am I so emotional? No it’s not a good look, gain some self control. And deep down I know this never works, but you can lay with me so it doesn’t hurt.

Oh won’t you you stay with me? Cause you’re all I need. This ain’t love, it’s clear to see but darling, stay with me.

Maybe it’s my own personal stuff coming out. Maybe it’s where my life has wound up. Maybe it’s being single, and thirty, with an achey womb and a ticking biological clock. Maybe it was because I was about to start my period and would have probably gotten emotional at a Plies concert. I don’t know. All I know is, at this point, maybe that’s all we are looking for. Someone to stick around. Preferably because they love you and want to be with you and want a commitment and long term relationship with rings, and dogs, and kids, and happiness and all those things that we are told we are supposed to have by now. But when it doesn’t happen. When it feels like it may never happen. When you start to question if there is just something so wrong with you that no one will ever want to do those things with you or at least not for a long time…sometimes it’s nice to just have someone who stays. Someone to lay with so it doesn’t hurt. If it turns into something more fantastic.

If it doesn’t…well…we can appreciate it for what it was and then turn up the Sam Smith really loud and wallow in our heartbreak with the millions of people around the world doing the same.

I Stopped Eating Meat…Kind of

Exactly 31 days ago I stopped eating meat…kind of. I must be honest. I had one meat dish a week and for the first three weeks those were some sort of fish dish. This week I had chicken for the first time. But other than that it has been 28 days without any meat at all and here are a few things I have learned/noticed and things no one tells you when I stop eating meat, just in case you were wondering.

1. It wasn’t as difficult as I expected in some ways. I figured I would have killed someone for a chicken nugget by now but I’ve been alright. There has not been any murder due to meat deprivation…yet. There have been times though that I have been really upset at vegetables.

2. A meatless diet makes you gassy. Like seriously flatulent. Not even silent but deadly just full on loud and disastrous! I had to google this to make sure I wasn’t dying. I wasn’t, I just smelt like it.

3. Probably common sense, but I did not realize how limited the non meat options are at fast food restaurants. Essentially you have French fries and salads and that’s not easy to eat driving down the highway.

4. Your family won’t immediately jump on board. I started this partially because my daughter said she wanted to but then she bailed on me until about 2 days ago. My parents are still very much judgmental carnivores.

5. Bread and cheese become the most logical substitute for meat. Which as we all know isn’t the most healthy of options. I have not seen any weight loss, which I’m not sure was actually a goal. If it was, this would definitely be the reason.

6. Family reunions are tough but under absolutely no circumstances should you bring black bean burgers or veggie dogs to a black family reunion as an alternative. Just lay low and only eat sides. Also, pretend you don’t see the ham hock in the greens.

7. Tofu is meh. It’s just a thing. It does the job. Black bean burgers are pretty good though but you can’t eat burgers every day, black bean or not.

8. I have been craving a roast beef sandwich for a few weeks. I couldn’t tell you the last time that I actually had a roast beef sandwich.

9. Meat makes your skin break out. Not eating meat clears it up. Or at least this might be true. My mom told me it was all in my head but I don’t normally get acne except for my monthly period pimple. Throughout this process I noticed an increase in acne. I then realized I was getting one or two, painful bumps once a week. I didn’t pay that much mind until this week. On Tuesday I had wings (not even going to lie, they were good) and then on Wednesday I had two new bumps. Coincidence…I think not. I also have weird blotchy skin on my back and was mildly hopeful it might clear up. I went to the dermatologist a while back and the antibiotic cream they prescribed didn’t work. The next step was two months of daily antibiotic pills which seemed like a yeast infection and pregnancy waiting to happen so I declined. Throughout the month I started to feel like things were clearing up but didn’t want to say anything. The other day my daughter randomly said “your back is clearing up” so I’m not crazy!

10. I am actually capable of doing something that is totally internally motivated without much pomp and circumstance to encourage me. I tried to only tell people when absolutely necessary and to not make a big deal out of it. Other then my daughter, I didn’t ask anyone to join in. I only didn’t really set a goal. I figured I’d give it a go, see what happens and reassess at the 30 day mark.

So here we are, 30 days in. I thought at this point I would probably decide to go back to some meat consumption while being mindful, but honestly number 9 is a huge motivator for me to at the very least keep up what I’ve been doing if not cut it out all together. Next stop, return to meal prep. Which should be a lot easier since…well…vegetables. Who knows…that roast beef sandwich still sounds really good.

Happy Thursday beautiful people!

I am tired…and it hurts

(You asked when I was going to write another blog post. I didn’t think it would be this one. But here we are)

I apologize in advance if this post seems random and all over the place. That’s where my mind and my soul are at today and I can only write what I feel and what I know in this moment.

It’s amazing how everything you know to be true and safe in this world can be turned up side down with a simple phone call.

I’ve had an intense last 10 hours and I’m still trying to figure out where I have landed amongst it all. I can say that the blog I was prepared to write at 9:30 this morning, is drastically different than the one I am writing now. I’m glad in a way, but that still would have probably been an epic blog. Maybe another day just for fun.

But today, in an effort to ground myself, calm myself, and find some peace amongst the chaos, I will instead write what I know to be true.

A list of things I must remind myself are true about myself and this world:

1. I am a good person. I deserve love. I deserve to be loved. I deserve to not be hurt. I deserve honesty. I deserve the truth. I deserve peace. I deserve a title. I deserve someone who wants to be with me and has nothing holding them back from doing so. I deserve this even if I show up in someone’s life randomly and unexpected. I deserve for that not to matter because even if it’s not the best time I deserve for it to be known that I’m an opportunity and a chance that should not be let go of lightly. I deserve to be wanted. To be wanted fiercely.

2. Even if no one in this world ever wants to give that to me, I still deserve it. Even if every man always feels there is something better. If they don’t feel a sense of urgency. If they are tied down or tied up with someone or something else. If they don’t see it. If they don’t feel it. If they don’t want it. If they are all scared. If they are all stupid. If they are all intimidated. Even if it never happens. I still deserve number one and all the amazing things about life and love that I did not list.

3. People are inherently good. Few people are evil. Some people suck. Most people are hurting and the things that they do are because of that pain. A lot of people do not know how to handle pain. The only way they know how to deal with it is to inflict it on others. It’s not an excuse. It just is what it is. Deep down, people are good. They probably want all the things I listed in number one and they deserve them too. When they don’t get them, that is when they become cruel.

4. I am loved by family and friends. They know me, they get me, they hear me, and they remind of who I am when I start to forget. They are the absolute best and I am blessed beyond measure to have them all.

5. Even though I have number four, it does not make number one any less valid. Wanting the love of another human being who is not required to love me due to being family and who is more than a friend, this is not a weakness. This is human. I am human. I am not weak. But…

6. I am tired. I am tired of not having number one. I am tired of having to be strong and pretend like being 30 and single is not hard. I am tired of catching glimpses of it only for it to be yanked away. I am tired of feeling stupid. I am tired of not knowing how these things work. I am tired of crying. I am tired of wondering what is wrong with me. I am tired of hearing “there is nothing wrong with you.” I am tired of not being wanted. I am tired of not being enough. I am tired of being too much. I am tired of being punished for some unknown crime or sin. I am tired of being given this same lesson and apparently not learning it. I am tired of this cruel joke. I am tired and…

7. It hurts. It hurts a lot. A physical, emotional, spiritual pain. It takes its toll. It makes me not want to try anymore. It makes me want to give up and close off my heart for good. It makes me want to scream. It makes me want to be someone who I am not because apparently being me is not working. It makes me want to cry. It hurts. If you’ve never experienced this pain I pray you never do. If you have, then I pray you would not purposefully cause others to feel it. It hurts. And I’m tired of feeling it.

A list of things that I’m not sure if they are true or not but that I hope they aren’t but with every day like this I struggle not to see it as proof that they are:

1. I am flawed, or broken, or inherently incapable of being loved or wanted or even liked in a way that leads to lasting commitment.

2. It’s just not meant for me. I’m not sure how people do it. I’m not sure how they date and get people to want them and want to be with them. I’m not sure how they get people to fall in love with them and want to treat them right. I’m not sure how they get someone, who may not be in a place where they were looking for a relationship, to see them or spend time with them and be like you know what forget that. This is what I want. So maybe it’s not meant for me. Maybe I will never be that for someone. Maybe letting go of that dream will cause these things to be less painful.

A list of things that I have learned:

1. To be a little more selfish. Not in a cruel and evil way but in a way that allows my happiness to be important as well. To say what I want without fear and to speak up when I am not pleased.

2. To say no without fear. That not wanting to do something will not always result in a massive argument. That it’s okay to be too tired or just not want to do something.

3. To be unapologetically myself. That everyone is not going to hate that. That everyone is not going to want to change that. That it’s ok.

4. That it is possible to know peace, and security in a potential relationship. That things don’t need to be rushed. To enjoy time spent with people for what it is and not always worry about why it is not something else. My only fear here is that it felt so good to feel this way and it was taken away so quickly that I will struggle if there is a next time. I hope there is a next time. I pray I won’t struggle.

5. That I am the skip bo queen.

And that’s what’s going on in my head and my heart. I am still tired and it still hurts, but, honestly, I don’t know. I was hoping something would come to me after I typed but, but it didn’t. Clearly.

Pinterest, however, didn’t fail me when my brain did. So I’ll leave you with this because despite it all…this is what I will continue to do…even if for now I need to rest.

I have become that person…but how?

I spent a lot of time with friends yesterday. A group of friends for brunch and then another friend stopped by to chat for a bit. That’s what adults do right? Eat brunch and chat? How did I get here?

Those two conversations were filled with lots of catching up and discussion of future plans as most conversations are. I’ve had similar conversations with all of these people multiple times because while I love them all dearly and am super close to them all I don’t see them frequently because of life and adulting. And that’s fine. We all are doing it and no one gets mad about it. I appreciate that about my friends.

At some point during both conversations though I realized, I have become that person. What person you ask? Well if your just a little patient I’ll tell!

In discussing some of my personal goals, the usual, weight loss, saving money, moving out (yep…I’m 30 years old and still live with my parents. That’s a blog for another day) came up. I’ve recently started to pick up on peoples responses to my saying I’m going to do these things. Let’s just say they aren’t good. Sometimes it’s met with laughter (thanks Dad), sometimes it’s met with harsh reminders (I thought you were on a diet) that only really serve to annoy me and trigger my stubbornness (thanks Mom), most times it’s met with slight side eye, sighs of “that’s great” with the undertone of “we’ve had this conversation plenty of times but yet here you still are” and encouragement with a hint of “there’s really no reason why you haven’t already done this you’re just lazy/content and used to this lifestyle” (thanks friends, family, coworkers, strangers). And I admit, since these are areas I am not happy with in my life, I probably read more into people’s slight shifts in tone, side eyes, eye rolls, and comments than they actually mean. And I put some of the stuff I’ve been already thinking into their comments too.

But, the realization that I have become that person, officially hit me after brunch, when my friend Michael stopped by and I told him my plan to move out and then my thoughts about potential life style changes for health purposes and both comments got a sarcastic slow clap with a “we’ll see.” A lot of people would be pissed at Michael for this response. I, however, have known Michael for going on 20 years (how did we get so old) and while he may be a self proclaimed ass hole, his intentions (towards me at least) are never to hurt or harm. We could all use a level headed, blunt, call it what it is friend…even if it bruises our ego a bit because on the flip side, Michael has always celebrated any of my successes with the fierceness of a loving brother.

So, what have my friends responses for several weeks/months/years and at brunch and Michael’s slow clap helped me to realize…I have become that person. Dear God lady what person?!?! I’ve become the person that no one actually takes serious when they set goals. The person that sets these goals and is super excited about them but somewhere down the line, and usually very quickly, falls off. It would not surprise me if my family secretly takes bets on how long I will keep up any dieting or healthy living practices. And I know for certain they do not believe me or even entertain my talks about moving out anymore. It’s as if everyone is just waiting to see if it happens but no one is holding their breath because they know the possibility of them dying in the process is high.

But how did I get here?

I’m not sure I’ve ever been a highly goal oriented person. I’ve always felt like most people have known since they were 6 what they wanted to do with their life. I literally decided I wanted to be a counselor one day while on campus my senior year of undergrad talking to a friend. I had about 3 months to get my application turned in take the necessary tests to apply. Then in grad school I felt everyone knew what population they wanted to work with. I have stumbled through the last five years finally finding a population that I absolutely love but even then had to step away from in order to be effective and not lose my own mind. Once a month, usually right before I start my period when I feel bloated and disgusting I go to bed and say “ok this is it. I’m going to get my life together.” Then I start my period, refuse to do anything that week because life is hard enough when your vagina is dying so I have all intentions of doing something when it’s over. My period ends, the bloating goes away, and while my body is far from perfect I usually catch a glimpse in the mirror before I shower one day and say “you know what, you good Ashley! If someone can’t love all of this then they don’t deserve you” and the cycle begins again. I can justify a lot of things and I ultimately refuse to shame myself for being human and doing things that humans need to do like eat, and rest, and enjoy life so as not to go crazy…but then I can justify doing these to excess which is where the problem begins.

It’s almost as if that slow clap Michael did made me connect all the dots and realize that while he’s the only person who did it outright, everyone else is probably doing it in their mind. My response to him was something along the lines of “don’t doubt me” to which he responded with something far less enlightening but similar too “I don’t doubt you can do it. I’m just waiting for it to happen.”

I know a few things about myself. One of which is that I can be really stubborn and strong willed and there is a certain level and type of negativity that I use as a driving force. It’s what caused me to give birth without an epidural, because everyone said I wouldn’t. It’s what caused me to go to college and grad school and find a career that I love, because I was afraid of becoming a teen mom statistic or being what I knew people were betting I would be…a failure.

But sometimes that backfires. And there is a moment where those negative comments become my way of fighting the system and my stubbornness becomes “oh I’ll show you that I absolutely do not have to do these things.” That’s usually surrounds any negative responses to my weight gain/loss or my still living at home.

So yes, I have become that person. I’m aware. I apologize to the people who are sick of hearing me talk about these things without seeing any action. I thank you for loving me all the same and not giving up. I’ve decided to make no promises and to also stop talking about it. Thank you Michael for that slow clap and gentle chuckle of supportive pessimism.

We shall see what happens!!