Hello.

A re-introduction since its been a while.

My name is Ashley.

In the sum of a short introduction to those who do not know me – I am an endless ponderer. A searcher for meaning, understanding and truth. I sift. I mull over every detail and incident in my life to satisfy and insatiable appetite for understanding of my responsibility in the world. I am forever restless.

I am at the center of my own world. My experiences are filtered through me. However, my experiences and the way those affect me effect other people as well. My understanding and reaction to those experiences always provide a reaction or projection that can be positive or negative. Therefore, I try to reconcile them.

It would not be far-fetched to say that non-fiction has helped to heal me. I cannot comprise ironically, the words, to describe how healing it has been and how it has changed my views about my experiences and provided me with endless reflection. The process of confronting some of the insane situations that I have put myself through is nothing short of masochistic. It is not a joyful process to relive some of the events that have happened, especially once you begin recalling some of the details surrounding your life which help culminate the experience. Writing has taught me to like who I am and the choices that I have made. Digging through the past has served to educate in a way that in the present I was not attune to. In reliving these stories, I have become confident that the path that was chosen was the right one no matter how I felt about it at the time. I have been able to come to take accountability for my failures and short comings that have affected me and the people that surround me. It has helped me find peace and understanding with those that I have not had peace or understanding for. I have been able to find my voice for everything that I have ever wanted to say – I have been able to speak my truth.

Love and Light

I Can Make It Rain, Even When It’s Sunny

Maybe love is looking for someone to fill the holes we grow up building lives with holes in all our walls the walls could fall but here you were with spare bricks to save the day and we pray it’s not to late spare bricks could be dead weight – Anthony Raneri

By the title of my essay, most people would be wary of my claim. After all, I do not do a rain dance in front of my house to make it rain and nor do I have any control over the weather. Although, I have always thought that meteorology would be an easy job. I believe that my skill of being able to make it rain when it’s sunny has evolved over my lifetime and has included the help of many bad relationships. At twenty-six it is difficult to say that I have become such a skillful cynic. Now, it is the negative quality that I have been told that I possess, but I believe this supposed cynicism to actually be skepticism, therefore, it is a skill and not a negative virtue, because it has always proved to be of assistance.

At seventeen I began a relationship which just ended recently (about seven months ago). I believe this relationship is the origin of my skill of being skeptical, but again it always proved to be a good tool. My boyfriend at the time, John, also has many skills. John’s skills are lying musician, drug abuser, manipulator, self-absorbed, avid porn watcher, and provider. He is far more talented, skill-wise, than I. He was the first real relationship that I indulged in, gave everything, you know how it goes. I made many sacrifices, as many do in relationships, such as school, money, time, ego, self-esteem, love, and respect. This is just to name a few “minor”, sort of important things, that by their loss I gained my skill of skepticism.

At the heart of the matter, I was cheated on many times by John. Once (maybe more) with my best friend, Jennifer. The cheating with Jennifer is one of, what I call “the great ones.” I consider it great because it was the first time he cheated and the circumstances were obvious. Unbeknownst to me, John and Jennifer had previously met and they were apparently attracted to each other. One day Jennifer and I were in a cafeteria having lunch and she said, “So you’re dating Johnny?” The way her face looked as she asked this question is burned into my brain like one of those traumas you try and shove down so badly yet it still figures out how to burn you. I know this was the moment I didn’t trust her, because of my own insecurities I didn’t trust him. I told her, I was dating John and she said, “He’s cute, I used to know him.” I never repeated this to John.

You see, Jennifer was one of those girls that everyone called by her first and last name. I don’t know the logic or reasoning behind it, but I guess some people are just that great. They can’t just go by their first name. Jennifer Ponce DeLeon. The irony was she was my best friend and I thought she was cool and fun to be around. Jennifer and I were friends in high school and we became closer when her father committed suicide. The suicide was traumatic not only because of the death, but the manner in which her father carried it out. Her mother was planning on divorcing her father, only the father could not bear this impending reality. So, before his whole family arrived home one afternoon, he make shifted a gun out of a nail gun. He rigged it so that the gun would fire multiple times and he attached the gun to the back of the front door. His family arrived home and his dead body was the first thing the family saw. As her best friend, I tried to do everything I could for her. I invited her to come and stay with me and she spent all her extra time with John and me. I felt that I was doing the right thing, the best thing I knew how to do to comfort my best friend. It was only shortly after this that I began to feel something in my gut saying, “Ashley, something smells, and it smells bad.” I checked everywhere for this smell, was it me?

Turns out it was John and after confronting him many times about my suspicions, which he never validated (I told you he was more skilled than me) I saw a text message on his phone, from her, that said, “the last time I got tested for an STD was right before the last time we had sex.”

Well, I guess we can also say that this is where my anger problem kicked up. I freaked out. Did I now have an STD? My boyfriend had just given me a promise ring (so sweet, right?) and now he was sleeping with my STD-filled best friend! After confronting him and hours of badgering him, he finally admitted that he had been sleeping with her. It still cracks me up how even with evidence in hand, people still deny the truth. I left his house in Rancho Cucamonga and drove to my cousin Nate’s, where I was living, in Buena Park. While on the 57 freeway heading south I picked up my phone. I had to find out the truth. I did not have Jennifer’s number on my cell phone. I prayed and asked God to help me remember a measly ten digits. The first number that I dialed – was hers and she answered, Hello?” I don’t remember the words of the conversation, but I do remember I was not rude to her or mad at her. She told me John said to her that he and I were not together, that we were broken up. The shitty part about it is even if it were true that we were broken up, she shouldn’t have slept with him. Obviously, I broke up with him and stopped talking to Jennifer. So, after a visit to Planned Parenthood with a clean bill of health (thank god) and a month or so of restful nights of sleep, I decided that we should “work things out.” So we did.

We spent the next seven years full of trust issues, jealousy, lying, self-pity, cheating and an avid use of porn on his part. Now, since this is my story, I never ever cheated on him. With seven years full of these issues, I learned how to adapt to the relationship. Everyone would always say to me, “I don’t know why you stay with him.” The truth is I learned how to be stupid. Not really, of course. I learned with my skepticism to know what was always going to be coming my way (this is why I don’t believe it to be a negative quality). As eight years approached, plus an engagement (yes, I know) I began to realize that if I stayed here, the rest of my life would never be anymore, or any better than it was because it had always been the same – bad. I knew that I deserved better because I gave him better. I know that real love, married love is about reciprocity and he would give that to me eventually because he would realize how he had shortchanged me for so long. Plus, he was a man now. He had just turned twenty-seven. But when beliefs didn’t come to fruition, when I still felt bad, when I would wake up in the middle of the night only to hear him on the computer watching porn I felt the only piece of dignity I managed to save was being killed off. I imagined the rest of my life with these problems only further compounded by children, a mortgage, marriage, and I realized this was going to be the rest of my life. I was choosing to legally bind myself to him and this life. It scared me. We sat down one afternoon in our apartment in our spare room that was used as his studio for his music his life. I was crying and I told him how bad I felt and how bad he made me feel with his actions. It was so tough to say these things because I really wanted to be with him, I wanted everything to work out. I loved him. He was the one that I had imagined the rest of my life being with. I had communicated with him so many times about the things he did that bothered me – things that killed off my dignity. Every time John would make promises to me that he would never keep, “I won’t watch porn so much babe, and I know that it makes you feel bad” or “If I smoke in the house I will make sure to open a window.” They were empty promises and I didn’t feel valued or understood as a person. He began to cry and he said, “I know. I know you’re tired. I know that I don’t make you happy and you do everything for me. I just keep taking advantage of you over and over again.” It was so terrible to watch something die and then call the time of death. It was a terrible time, we still lived together for a few months and tried to see what would happen, but the relationship was just done. There is no way to ever restore something so dead. So we broke up. He moved back home to Los Angeles to become a famous rock star and I chose to stay in Chico to finish college.

Even after all this transpired, I realized that I did not want to be the person who had lost faith in love and in people. Even though as a skeptic it is still my first instinct to question every person’s intention, to the best of my ability. Even with the loss of a bad relationship, my skill set remains the same. I am now dating someone else, who tells me on occasion that I am always so negative. The other day, upon looking through text messages on the current boyfriend’s phone, I found messages to his ex-girlfriend (did I mention that I love technology?) After we had an argument, he texted her and told her, “I will always love you. You don’t just spend a year and a half with someone and never talk to them again. We should move in together. You need a man like me to take care of you. I’m just stuck with my girlfriend right now. I really want to see you.” Luckily, she lives in San Diego and she didn’t seem to buy into his need of an ego pump. It is these types of instances that solidify my skepticism and more importantly the necessity of this skepticism. To clarify, we have been dating for a mere six months. And guess what? I’m still here. Do we see a pattern?

What have I learned? Not much apparently. It is difficult for me to not accept the faults of others because I know that I myself am not perfect. I am never quite sure of where to set the quitting line as I believe quitting is a tragedy, I come from a divorced home.

Unlike many kids who have some instant reaction to their parents divorcing, mine came a little later in life. I suppose if I retrace the steps I could blame my parents for my relentlessness in my relationships and the need for connection. My mom and dad had me young, she was 18 he was 21. My dad is a musician. Surprise! After having my brother, two and a half years after me, they separated. Now, it was not mentioned to my brother and me until much later in our lives, but they had separated due to cheating allegations. Where it gets hazy is that right after my mom and dad were separated, my mom was pregnant. She had my brother Collin, his birth certificate read Collin Acuna. However, Collin came out with blue eyes and blond hair. Did I mention that my dad is Spanish, Italian and Guatemalan? Obviously, the jig was up. My dad knew that Collin was not his biological kid. My parents now have a good relationship, they have both moved on and my mom admitted to me right before breaking up with John, that by trying to tell my dad that Collin was his kid was wrong and that she was just young and scared and didn’t know what to do. After Collin’s birth, my mom married again, to my first – yes first – stepdad. It was during this time that my foundation of my skepticism was truly laid. I used to check my mom’s pockets – looking for anything exciting, usually candy. She is a flight attendant so I began to collect ticket stubs that I found in her pockets. After a while of collecting, I took notice that most of the ticket stubs said that she was going to Idaho. This was also at the height of the technology boom and I knew how to work the computer better than my mom. So I began checking her emails. She had also been chatting online with a man in Idaho. I printed out the saved chats and the exchanged emails. I began to compile evidence for my case. I became so disillusioned with the material that I found that I began to lose respect for my mother. One day I decided that I was going to confront her. When I confronted her she did not look guilty of what I suspected. Instead, she looked furious and disappointed. After all, I was her child and merely fourteen. She told me that I was wrong and that she wasn’t cheating on my stepdad. I didn’t believe her. Then they divorced – apparently he had an alcohol problem. She then had a boyfriend move in that she met on the internet as well. Apparently, he was a pilot with American Airlines. Turns out after they became engaged he wasn’t who he really said that he was. He wasn’t a pilot and he wasn’t well off – like she had believed. They were close to marriage, but it was really about having a double income and a babysitter for us, now four kids. Then she met and married my second and current step dad – they have made it to seven years. I hold a lot of resentment against my mom for creating a very unstable childhood – whether it was the various men, moving us around, or just her job as a flight attendant that never kept her home.

It’s difficult to examine the relationship of my parents or those of my mom’s because I was merely a product of it and not a participant. We all know there are so many complexities to relationships, it is not even as simple as his side and her side, there is always more. As a person, the most difficult thing to attempt to do is to try and understand why people are the way they are. Our individual hearts, stories, and experiences are what make us who we are, and unless we ever possess the capacity to walk in someone else’s shoes, we will never be able to truly understand another person. I know that John, like my current boyfriend, are individually complex people just like me and everyone else in the world and I cannot expect to truly understand them or help “fix” them because I cannot even do that for myself. Whether it is issues of acceptance, love, respect, faith, truth those are things that one must work on alone. I do not believe that any person should be responsible for making someone feel “normal,” so to speak; you should possess that on your own with a strong foundation so that no one can take you down. As my grandmother used to say to my mother and now she reminds me, “Life is not for the weak, so if you want to make it through, you better be strong.”

I’ve been doing some searching to figure out why I am the type of person that stays in these repeated situations, the type I know are bad, yet (call it faith or delusion), I stay. Is this the strength that my Grandma meant? Is strength owned by sticking through difficult relationships? Or is strength owned by leaving a situation that begins to make you weak? Or maybe the strength she is speaking about is the kind that requires a membership to the gym.

Chances are a big thing for me. I know I don’t want to give chances, but I do. Although I’m beginning to believe that I must have an ad out somewhere that states, “She doesn’t give just one chance, like the other girls, she gives as many as you can exhaust!” The funny thing about chances is that they teach you a pattern of behavior to expect from someone. John cheated on me, lied to me about girls, more times than I have fingers or toes.

Years after cheating on me, John decided to add to his reputation. I was on my way to meet John at a show he was playing in Upland. I was expecting to go to the show, but I was waiting for John to call me to tell me to leave my place. When he called he asked me to meet him at the venue. I thought that it was odd that he asked me to meet him there since he did not have a car so of course, he would need me to pick him up. Suddenly I had that old familiar scent in my nose. I knew that something was not right. On the way to the venue, I tried to call him to let him know where I was. The phone rang – voicemail. I called over and over with the same result. I was racing down the freeway, which is a task in Los Angeles, and I knew that I was only racing to face disappointment – again. I arrived at the venue and it was vacant. I waited to see if anyone would arrive – no one. I kept trying to get in touch with John now moving to text messages. Still nothing. Finally when I called for what seemed like the thousandth time he answered. Immediately I yelled, “Where are you? I have been calling you and texting you and you never answered.” He responded, “I’m at the venue.” Furiously I stated, “Really you’re here? Uh, because I’m sitting in the car, in a vacant parking lot at the venue and you are definitely not here.” Then the genius says, “Oh, uh, well actually I just had to leave to get water for the show.” I said, “Well why didn’t you answer my phone calls?” He told me, “I had to take my grandpa to the hospital for some tests.” After waiting for John to return from getting “water” for a half an hour, I left the venue to do some investigating. I decided to go to Grandpa Joe’s. Now, I realize this may come off a little crazy, but given his track record during my previous investigations there was no doubt in my mind he was lying to me. I arrived at grandpas, and to my surprise, grandpa was at home – alone. I asked, “Hey Grandpa Joe how was your doctor’s appointment today that John took you to?” He replies, “I didn’t go to the doctors today.” He even asked me where John was. I left Grandpa Joe’s feeling so disappointed and sad, yet I knew the whole time something smelled bad. I started the car and began driving back to the venue and I continued to call and call John and he still didn’t answer. Back at the venue, there were now a few cars in the lot, mostly the bands, faces that I recognized. I finally reach him on his phone and I say, “I went to your grandpa’s and talked to your grandpa and he told me that you didn’t take him anywhere today.” I plead with him “just be honest – just tell me the truth” he says nothing. Through my sobbing, I yell “you’re a liar.” I watch as he pulls up in a car that I do not recognize. He is dropped off a little down the street and I lose sight of the car. As he walks up to the venue – the sky is a burning red – and his mood delightful. I am still sitting in the car panicked. Sitting with nothing but my thoughts and wondering what the truth is and how will I know; wondering why did I trust him, why doesn’t he care about me, why is he so selfish after everything that I do for him – everything that he’s put me through. As he approaches the car I imagine that he is going to act like nothing happened. He waves to a few fellow friends and “fans” and as usual he looks effortlessly cool – tight black jeans, black vans, flannel shirt with the sleeves rolled up to show off all of his traditional style tattoos that cover his arms, his hair is freshly cut and styled and his smile cleverly highlights the gap between his two front teeth. When he approaches the car, he comes to my window. I roll it down. He says, “Are you going to get out of the car?” I, not caring if I make a scene say through my tears, “get in the car!” He reluctantly walks around the back of the car and opens the passenger side door. I sense he is doing this merely out of obligation and not out of love or contrition. He gets in the car and says, “What’s up?” I cry and yell at him questioning him and ask him what happened. He sticks to his story – lies, lies, lies.

I start the car angrily and begin to drive, not caring that he has a show he is supposed to be playing, I make a right hand turn out of the venue parking lot and I see the various band members watching in awe. As we are driving he finally he admits he lied. I am driving my car over the railroad tracks, sun is barely starting to set, still red, and my boyfriend of five years, at this point, tells me he was on a date with another girl – a girl in fact that he had met while he was living in Hawaii – she was on a cruise. He tells me, “We went to Chipotle on a date.” I asked, “Did you kiss her?” He responded, “I didn’t kiss her, but she kissed me on the cheek.” He told me that she was the one who dropped him off right in front of me.Never, in my life have I hit someone. I, passing over the train tracks, raise my left hand from the steering wheel and smack him across the face and begin to sob profusely. Through my sobs, I yell at him, “Why would you do this to me?!” I made him dial her on the cell phone. She picked up and he said “hello” in a reluctant tone. I grab the phone from his hand – “Hello?” She responded with a confused intolerant tone, “Hello, who is this?” I angrily responded, “this is John’s girlfriend of five years, I just want you to know that you were out with a guy who has a girlfriend and I’m doing you a favor because he’s an asshole.” I hung the phone up and continued to sob.

Now my problem with cheating isn’t that you’re cheating on me, but I feel that if you are going to the lengths to cheat you must not be happy with the person you are with. So why stay with them. Why wouldn’t he just leave me? Yet I don’t make a change, I do the same thing because guess what? I stayed, again.

The other incident that took place was during a period of time in which John and I were separated. After four years of dating, we had officially separated in the summer and remained as such for about a year. During this time, he began dating a girl named Brittney. Even though he was in a relationship we went to dinner one night and had a great time. The conversation was light and highlighted all the common interests that we shared. While we were dating I hated the music that he listened to, yet when we broke up it was the music that I clung too. He made fun of me for this. He told me, “I don’t get it. You hate the music I like when were together and the second we break up that music is your favorite.” The reality was I hated anything he liked because it meant that I was like him – it made me sick. He told me he missed me and we both found ourselves in a conversation that felt normal – healthy. He told me how he realized that he had made bad decisions, but that he really loved me and wanted to try to work things out with me. I was hesitant and told him I didn’t think it was a good idea for us to be together right now. He told me he didn’t really care for Brittney and it was just something for the meantime. I recall he liked that she would go and buy his weed for him. He never had to pay for his own weed. This in his eyes made her good. At the end of our meeting I mentioned to him that I was going to be attending Warped Tour (a punk/rock music festival) in a couple of days, he told me he was going to Florida to visit his sister.

I was at Warped Tour with my friend Andrea. Andrea and I were walking around the arena and out of nowhere John – wearing daisy dukes – grabbed me by the shoulder. He was with a girl. We had a quick conversation and he acted like the girl holding his hand was nothing – he didn’t introduce any of us. I saw this and assumed that it was Brittney. So I began to wrap my arm around the girl’s shoulder and tried to walk away with her and she shrugged me off. I said as she walked away from me that John was out with me just a few days ago telling me how much he loved me and that he wanted to work things out. She didn’t listen. She later paid a price for this. John and I got back together.

Now although, and it’s my worry that I’m coming off as “poor me,” the reality is that it’s not me emotionally that I’m so worried about, it’s the loss. The loss of the relationship, the history, and what seemed to be a future. What pains my emotions is the insincerity that comes with love. The problem with me and the people that I choose to be with is fear. Whether the fear is of abandonment, “forever” commitment, or even just being alone, they, like me, are fearful. It has developed as a theory of mine, which I’m sure you can turn a positive spin on, mine, of course, is grown from cynicism or negativity – you choose – but I believe that everyone is dysfunctional; I mean either mentally or emotionally dysfunctional – some would call these quirks. These dysfunctions act like magnets and they attract you to someone either with the same dysfunction or with one that with compliment yours and vice versa. The hope is to find someone that has one that will compliment yours that way you can lift each other up and foster growth. However, if you find someone with the same dysfunction you will likely do the exact opposite.

At the heart of me, I want it to work out for me like it works out for other people and I am still fearful that it won’t, and perhaps that’s why I don’t let go to the ones that I find. I want to be with someone that alleviates my skepticism. Every time I chose to stay with John, or even my current boyfriend, it’s a fear of losing what I’ve worked for, but also because I believe that you should always try to see the best in people and work through things that you have committed yourself to – for better or worse. I still suffer the turmoil with my relationship with John. I know that I am one hundred percent responsible for me and, therefore, responsible for what happened in that relationship. I find it difficult to reconcile how things got so bad with John. Why did I deserve to be treated that way? How did I contribute to pushing someone away that I loved? And it bothers me that this may be who I am and it may be too late to be anything different. I’m just someone who wants to love and be loved yet when I get close to someone it is either they end up betraying me, or somehow I make them suffer and then they betray me. Because it seems to be, merely with these examples that I am always the same and that it always plays out the same.

But then again I have always preferred rainy days over sunny ones.

It may take a lifetime to make it up to you, if I could turn back clocks that’s exactly what I’d do we keep pretending that everything is fine we’ll take a break the fault was mine. – John Alaimo (yes, that John)

You Want Me To Do What?

Relationships are tough. They have always been, right? When things become complicated in a relationship we all know the best thing is, to complicate them more. That’s where pornography comes in. Take a good relationship – add porn usage and you have the potential for a whole heap of problems. Are you having enough sex? The right kind? Are you sexy enough? Tan enough? Have big enough boobs? Have a giant penis? Can you last all night? These questions are raised through the medium of pornography and they create false expectations about the body and about sex. Objectification becomes the importance; love is no longer the main factor.

Now, I am not saying that it is impossible to watch porn and be in a healthy loving relationship. However, like a majority of our society the consequences are not thought about prior to the action. I do believe there is a strong correlation between porn, expectations and normalcy. The game has changed. Expectations have changed. What was expected from sex prior to the pornography explosion was something that merely joined the union of two souls into one – love-making. Now, there is still a union of sorts mixed with a combination of the gymnastic skills you had back in seventh grade, the eating habits of a bird, and the willingness to be of service.

With the illustrations that we have of sex through pornography today, there is no longer mystery. I was recently asked, “How would you explain sex to an eight-year-old?” (Let me preface by saying that this was during stand-up comedy that I performed.) I answered, “I would make the kid watch porn because the reality is that that is what sex is now.” It’s filled with perfect hair, tanned bodies, tattoos above the ass, and of course perfectly fit bodies. It’s like still believing in Santa Claus when you know it’s fake. It’s delusional – unrealistic. So when we have people using pornography as an education tool – a point of reference that ultimately sets expectations that are not real and evades boundaries. In a sexual scenario, that’s embraced through the lens of pornography, it is particularly difficult as a woman to not begin to judge yourself. Being that I am not a guy I cannot speak for one, but I imagine there is some form of insecurity that forms as well.

Turn Me into Gold

Sex is supposed to be fun, intimate. Out of all the places in a relationship that get critical or complicated  one would like to think sex would be the one place that would maintain its sacristy and now we’ve allowed porn to turn all of us into commodities – part of porn’s money making machine adherence to capitalism in its truest form. As a person, if you are viewed as a commodity you become upgradable: plastic surgery – for the small breasted girl in you, vaginoplasty – to tighten you up, phalloplasty – for your small penis, anal bleaching – for the detail oriented person in you, exercise – for the fat that makes you unlike the billions in the world, and tanning – for the Charlie and the Chocolate factory fan in you thus increasing your personal value. Men appear to not be judged as critically because they are merely part of the scenery in porn; juxtapose this against the saying that “women’s bodies are just more beautiful” and men become interchangeable. In being a commodity, you can also become an old model or never even make it on the market because you’re not seen as valuable. God forbid you to get old – you might as well pack yourself up in a box along with your ShamWows. All this markets to the consumer is that you’re not good enough how you are; therefore you shouldn’t value yourself because no one else will. You are somehow subpar in contrast to the billions of other people in the world. Now in relationships people will often seek someone to make them feel of value or to make them feel happy with themselves, after all as long as you know someone loves you – you matter. With the infiltration of porn and its ability to make the common person feel inadequate or as if they are interchangeable, how would any person ever gain the confidence and assurance alone? Say goodbye to healthy individual’s and relationships.

 

Now, This Is Getting Uncomfortable

             Now I have seen a fair share of porn and I have to say that the way these women manipulate their bodies makes them part-time human contortionists in my book. I for one know that shaping your body in these ways can be extremely uncomfortable. Why is sex become about being uncomfortable? Both people are supposed to be enjoying themselves sharing and experiencing love – both being satisfied. When a woman’s legs are situated behind her head only one person is enjoying himself while the other is cramping up.  However, this is the expectation: women should be able to take it and enjoy it. Men on the other hand should be able to last all night. They should be able to satisfy their women first; all the while holding back from feeling any pleasure that would cause a sudden premature release and thus disappointment. The reality is that these ideas and expectations are all a part of the fantasy that porn sells us on, but when are we going to be smart enough to realize that there is a difference between fantasy that is bought and reality that is inescapable. To be the woman that a man wants isn’t just about putting your physical body into uncomfortable positions but also in uncomfortable costume. The cost of these costumes that transform you into a sexy woman is quite frankly — expensive. But men want to see a woman in lingerie. The problem with that is that it costs a fortune and it’s only on for five seconds (and its dry clean only!). One such occasion I found myself giving in to this idea of sexy costume idea and I ventured to purchase lingerie for my then boyfriend Eric. So I went to the classiest place I knew, Fredrick’s of Hollywood. After shopping I reached his house and greeted him at the side gate.

“Hey you! Guess what?” I told him eagerly.

“What?” He responded.

“I have a surprise for you!” I told him eagerly.

“Oh, really. What is it?” He asked inquisitively.

“Well let me into your room and once I have your surprise ready I’ll let you know and then you can come in.” I said excitedly.

So, I walked into the house and Eric let me into his room and I began pulling out my Fredrick’s of Hollywood expensive paraphernalia. As I sorted through the stockings, garter belt, panties and corset I realized I had no idea how to put this puzzle together. I took the challenge on. I undressed and put the corset on and that took me about five minutes because of the placement of the back clasp. Luckily for me my double jointed elbows finally came in handy for something other than scaring small children. After managing to get the corset on, I noticed from all of the commotion my body was getting really red and I was sweating profusely. I proceeded with the panties, as that’s a basic. I then put on the garter belt and the stockings. The point of the garter belt (yes, there is actually a utility purpose for a garter belt) is to hold up the stockings. So, attached to the garter belt are four hooks, two on the front and two on the back. The ones in the back took up most of my time. They are conveniently located right below your bottom in the center of the back of your thigh and there is no way to effectively view, thus affix, the hooks to the stocking. In the middle of affixing the second hook, there is a knock at the door.

“Hey, are you okay in there it’s been like twenty minutes?” Eric asked.

“Ya, I’m fine, almost ready. Hey, can you do me a favor? Can you turn on the air conditioner? It’s really hot in here.” I replied.

I checked myself out in the mirror and I was lobster red; my whole body. This color was contrasted against my blue and black ensemble that only accented the redness. Since I was also sweating my legs began to itch incredibly bad under the stockings. This, of course, spurred a violent scratching session that subsequently ripped my twenty – six dollar stockings. I sat on his bed for a few minutes hoping the redness would diminish – it didn’t. Needless to say I wasn’t really feeling sexy, I was feeling tired. I finally let Eric in the room and he was happy about his surprise but laughed at me for how long it took me and how red I was. When things finally started progressing, I realized that there was more technique in putting on the panties than I was aware of. You are supposed to put them on over the garter belt. The situation became less about being sexy and more about the moment being funny.

Porn and it’s Sticky Situations

Porn is perfect for the selfish and for the lazy love maker. It makes it easier for a guy or girl to masturbate than to put the effort into having sex with your partner. Sex becomes a selfish, in its truest form, task. Again, it is about the release and not about a shared, loving experience. A previous boyfriend of mine was an avid porn watcher. I didn’t mind the porn as an activity, but the daily use was ridiculous. He was an addict in many fashions. It came to the point where I would wake up in the middle of the night to an empty – previously occupied – bed. I could hear the computer mouse clicking and see the bright fluorescent light from the screen, but all else was quiet. Like a search and rescue team I shout, “Joooooohn!” The light from the screen instantly fades. He came into the bedroom butt naked bearing an erection.  “Ya?”

“What are you doing?” I ask.

“Just looking at stuff on Craigslist.”

I knew he was lying. Knowing from your gut and knowing from the evidence isn’t that different, one just provides proof. So he climbs into bed next to me and goes to sleep. The next morning he is in the kitchen and I walk into the office – where John’s computer and a desk are set up. I step in something wet. It’s not a big spill, just a small spot. Now, I know I shouldn’t touch it – or smell it – but I do. When I touched it and smelt it I knew instantly what it was and couldn’t believe it was on my carpet. With my fingertips covered in the film, I walk into the living room carrying the inquisitive attitude of Olivia Benson with my hand cocked like Diana Ross from the Supremes.

“What is this?” I ask.

“What are you talking about?”

“This wet stuff that I stepped in on the floor in the bedroom. It smells like jizz.”

“What? I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

“Well there is something wet on the floor and you were in there so what is it?”

“It’s probably water.”

“Oh really. It’s water? It doesn’t smell like water.”

“It’s water, Ash.”

“Okay, well if its water than lick it.”

I held out my hand, open palm in his face. I wish for my story’s sake I could say that he licked it, but he didn’t. Now, the problem that is obvious from this situation is not the porn per se, but the selfishness that is tied to porn. I cannot say that we had a healthy relationship in any sense of the word, because as individuals neither of us was particularly healthy. This situation became my alarm clock every morning. It was through these particular months that my five senses were tested and heightened; I would lie in bed and listen to the various sounds to make out what was going on, I would carefully crawl on the floor from one room to the other to peer into the office to see what I could see. It wasn’t so much that I wanted to catch him, I just didn’t understand porn’s lure. On the times that I would try to talk to him about he would just reply, “I just like looking at porn.” I still didn’t understand. At the time we had been dating for about seven years or so and we were engaged and we weren’t really having sex. The reality was the reason that we were not having sex was because I hated him. I mean I loved him more than anything, but he had hurt me so badly in the past (cheating, lying, drug use etc) that I couldn’t have that intimacy with him even though I wanted it. I tried to understand the problem: not having sex. So now I felt like it was my fault that he was watching porn. I wasn’t having sex with him every day and he is a guy so he does need it every day right? So this was the repercussions of my lack of action. While that was not what I really believed, it was how it was made to seem. On the occasion that he would leave the house I would search the computer history files and look at the stuff that he was watching. Truth be told – if at any point I was sad or really angry about the action of watching porn, it wasn’t that I woke up to this every day, but it was the fact that the girls he was watching were the exact opposite of me; typically blonde hair (which he always said he hated), huge boobs, tan, and it was degrading. As we were approaching our demise it became clear to me that I was never going to be what he wanted. I have always been the type that doesn’t worry them self with the superficial exterior I am concerned with the type of person I am and it remains important to me to stay true to my beliefs and values. I felt that this wasn’t the type of person that I wanted to be legally bound to for the rest of my life because then not only would I be sacrificing myself esteem but I would also be compromising those values and beliefs.

 

“Oh, the Humanity”

            In 1964, our country established the 14th amendment a result of the Civil Rights Movement that desegregated African Americans and whites and alleviated racial tension. Yet in porn it is still okay to use derogatory racist and misogynistic terms to describe a white woman with a black man or vice versa. Porn instructs us in the way that power dynamics are to be established during sex. Men are supposed to dominate the woman and women are supposed to be subservient to the man allowing them to do whatever they want and the role of the woman is just to take it. Spanking and gagging is another part of porn that dehumanizes the one on the receiving end. Spanking directly suggests a division of power — think of your parent spanking you as punishment – I bet you never spanked your parents. Gagging in porn becomes an issue of literally gagging a woman (often to the point of tears and throwing up) with a penis simply for a man’s pleasure. Anal sex has become another trend in porn that has been showing up in sex. Shockingly, men that want to have anal sex think that women want too also. It appears that it has just showed up on the menu of sexual expectation. I was dating Tommy; a catch for me for sure, at least I thought. He was a law student at Loyala Marymont and we shared a kiss on the big screen at a Laker game. Match made in heaven right? Well, one afternoon after having lunch together he asked, “Well, do you want to go back to my house?”

I replied, “Well, sure. What did you have in mind?”

“I was thinking we could have anal sex.” He said assured I would accept his offer.

With great hesitancy I replied, “Um, sure I guess.” I had no idea why my mouth had betrayed me with its response. We drove to his house and I told him I was on my period. I thought that would kill any sexual desire – but like I said the game has changed.

He replied, “Not a big deal. We can go in the shower.”

I was entirely anxious. I was thinking how can I get out of this without just saying no?  I think about it now and wonder what that poor little insecure girl was doing. I would tell her “um, you say NO.” When we got to his place he instantly got naked and got into the shower and I stood at the sink fully clothed. He was serious and he thought I wanted to do this. What had I done that made him think I was that kind of girl? I was instantly in a moment of reflection. He liked watching porn while we were having sex. I never understood it. Wasn’t having sex and being in the moment good enough? Why would you want to be watching other people having sex while you’re having sex? Your reality is that fantasy that you’re watching on the computer screen. Isn’t it?

“Are you going to get in?” He said while pouring lube onto his penis and a look of intended seduction.

I caught myself out of my reflection and was immediately turned off; not just with him and this situation but the fact that I had put myself here with this person and I was now in this situation. I had officially become a person that was seduced by the ideas that are portrayed in porn – I wanted to be wanted sexually – but it wasn’t really what I wanted. I just went ahead with what I was told I was supposed to embody – sex. I was looking at myself in the mirror above the sink, I couldn’t do this, I didn’t want to and I really didn’t like him.

“I have to go to the car first to grab an extra tampon.” I said quickly so he didn’t have time to respond. My intention was to leave. I walked to the living room and I gathered my things quickly from the living room and ran out of the apartment. My anxiety continued as I reached the car. I got into the car and I thought “this isn’t right I shouldn’t just leave like this.”But I knew I had to in order to not only escape Tommy but also what I had become. I started the car and I left. I sent him a text message and said, “Hey, I’m sorry I just can’t do this.

Twenty minutes later he replied, “No problem. But you owe me a bottle of lube.”

There is no doubt that there are fetishes that people enjoy (even power dynamics) but it’s when the fetish becomes an expectation that it becomes a problem. If porn depicts people as objects then humanity does not become an issue.

Getting Turned On to Get Turned Off

            David Mura argues that “The addict to pornography desires to be blinded, to live in a dream. Those in the thrall of pornography try to eliminate from their consciousness the world outside pornography, and this includes everything from their family and friends or last Sunday’s sermon to the political situation in the Middle East. In engaging in such elimination, the viewer reduces himself. He becomes stupid.” The reality is that if we are engulfing ourselves in pornography how are we to pay attention to anything else that is going on around us? Furthermore, how are we to pay attention to our inner selves and consciously evaluate what it is that we are doing? The answer is that we can’t. When we thrive off of anything, or we are addicted to anything we develop a tunnel vision that prevents us from seeing anything else – including the consequences of our actions. Thus, if we are not evaluating and considering from a simple point – sex – how can we expect that we would be able to consider anything larger, grander and more poignant?

I’d Like to Solve the Puzzle: Hedonism

            There is no doubt that the pursuit of pleasure is a huge part of our existence in our society. However, an individual pursuit is a selfish pursuit that considers no one but the self. I am not saying that one is not entitled to that pursuit, but we should balance that with awareness to others. Sex within a relationship, even outside of one, is now not enough. It’s about the kind of sex you’re having, how much, the kind of skills you have between the sheets – sex has become a demand. Sex in a relationship is about wanting more; having more sex, putting a penis further down your throat, cramping yourself up for the pleasure of your partner and regular sex becomes boring sex. It complicates the relationship not just in the sense that one person may be viewing porn but the way that it tries to rear its head into our relationships intimacy. In our relationships, we should possess integrity, conscience and an empathic mindset that allows us to take into consideration the things we expect from others or from ourselves. We should question porn material that we watch and what it actually depicts to us and how ultimately it will affect us – individually, in a relationship and culturally. It is partially the allowance of self-indulgence that has turned our society into a “me society” where we expect our needs to be met before anyone else’s and how is that good for anyone?

 

Maybe I’m Just a Prude, but This is Real

Porn has become a virus to relationships. Sex has become the relationship. It makes me angry that the formula for a ‘good’ relationship is based off of sex. And since I refuse to accept that policy my relationships suffer. I will still keep believing that not everyone is so hung up on sex and wait to find a guy that actually has substance and something to offer besides cunningligus. In order to maintain some form of balance we must understand the difference between reality and fantasy and ultimately we should just keep it real. The idea of reality in this sense has to do simply with perception and the use of our sight. We are allowing ourselves to be tricked by society the salesman and then we are just blindly buying what they are telling us we need; no real thought or consideration or minimal critical thinking is happening. We are doing no examination of ourselves, no reflection of history is happening and noticing that pornography is, and has been, a slippery slope and we are accountable for this perversion of our society and our culture, and eventually our children. We must also maintain our individuality and know that our value and our worth is not contrived by society; rather it is our own culmination of beliefs, values and experiences. And that cannot be bought, yet it makes one invaluable. It’s real worth and real substance. What we must encourage and coddle is not our sexuality but our individuality. People argue that there is power in sex, but power is never equally distributed nor is it permanent. This balance will remind us that we are all people cut from the same cloth that we all have focuses of our bodies that we struggle with and that it is okay to not meet the expectations set by an industry that creates cookie cutter men and women.

Please, Bring Out the Worst in Me

Please, Bring Out The Worst In Me

“Please forgive me for my distance my pain is evident in my existence. Please forgive me for my distance the shame is manifest in my resistance to your love.”

-Fiona Apple

I am unhappy.

There is a disconnect between the person you see, and the way that my heart really feels.  I try to surround myself with people who tell me that I am okay, that I deserve better and that I matter. I go to therapy every week to talk about how bad I feel.

The irony behind this is I can fix it. But I don’t.

I have a fascination with the television show Intervention. The reason is because I always know, in the end, the user will relapse. I also wonder how in the world someone can get so low that they abuse themselves and forfeit any real opportunity of being happy. I also wonder how in the process of getting a spoon, putting the drugs in the spoon, then burning it, then filling a syringe, then tying your arm up and then finally injecting yourself; how is it that through this process, the time that it takes, do they not think “hey, maybe this isn’t a good idea. Maybe this is bad for me. Maybe I am better than this.” I never understood why that fascinated me. I do now. I am that person.

I don’t do drugs. I do horrible relationships.

I have a habit. I have a habit which they don’t have a support group for. My habit is finding my way into the most unhealthy, terrible, depressing, and saddest relationships ever. I always end up with the same types of guys. I choose to be with the guy who makes me cry and then in an instant runs out to hang out with their friends while I sit at home, alone, babysitting the dog, and “doing this to myself.” Later I am told by him, “Given the option of sitting here with you talking about your feelings and feeling depressed or going out with my friends and having a good time, I’d pick going out with my friends every single time.” The others sit dumbfounded and silent. Others promise, “I will never do it again.” Only to shortly thereafter do it again. In every relationship that I have been in, I have been made to feel like the failure; the one that is made to feel like I’m never, sane, normal, sexy, smart, nice, fun, and supportive. I never ever try.

I often find myself without energy to move forward. I get out of bed for obligations and that sometimes is a chore and needs convincing on my behalf. All of my motivation and energy goes into telling myself I am going to be okay and to trying to work things out with someone who I know doesn’t love me, despite what he says. The relationship becomes my job, my worry. I feel as if I’m constantly preparing for an earthquake – stocking up on supplies to lessen the blow of the storm when it does come. Because Lord knows it will. The controlling and anxious part of me is always on high alert. The physical and emotional parts of me are so sensitive that I am able to feel when things are not going as they should and that disappointment leads to an emotional punch.  When I found out John, my boyfriend of a year at the time, was sleeping with my then best friend Jennifer, I knew that he had been sleeping with her prior to the confirmation I received through an intercepted text message.

“Are you sure that you didn’t sleep with Jennifer? Because if you did you better get tested because she has slept with a lot of guys and I don’t want to get anything.”

“No, I didn’t sleep with her Ash,” he said annoyed “why would I do something like that, I love you.”

Cut to the text message I found a few days later

“When is the last time you got tested?” he asked her.

“Right before the last time we had sex.”

I saw it coming before it even came. So I was slightly prepared. But there was still a crack in my world and just two weeks later I decided to work things out with John. Eight more years passed with similar incidents. However, I did learn one little lesson with John and that was not to have best friends.

The amount of anger and sadness that is inside of my heart, at times is unbearable. And it doesn’t matter how much I convey that. It still doesn’t matter. Every single person that I have ever been with makes me feel like I am not warranted in my feelings in my emotions. “I’m crazy”.

I know what you’re thinking. “Why would she stay?”

I have no idea.

It makes no logical sense that I would stay in a situation that offers no resolve other than making me feel like the biggest piece of shit when quite frankly short of slitting the good ‘ole wrists and pouring out blood; I do a lot. Now this could turn into a horn tooter, but please understand that is not the point.

How can I allow someone into my life that utterly shapes how I feel as a human being and shape it for the worse? How can I let someone who has no goals, no drive, no knowledge of themselves affect me in such a way that my whole existence and sanity come to the point where they are challenged and I have to prove to myself, again, I am okay. The fore-mentioned boyfriend, Keenan, is twenty-three. Upon meeting him, almost a year ago, we appeared to have a connection; we finished each other sentences’, talked about how people weren’t honest and put up a façade for others so that they would be accepted. For the first time, it felt as though I had met someone who truly understood me. Movement happened as it does but after a few months in I found out that he had been searching the “casual encounters” on craigslist and replying to ads and sending pictures of his dick to random girls who were “looking for a good time”. Ironically, while I was sad and hurt I was more disappointed and disillusioned. All of a sudden everything I thought about this person was proved wrong. I was guilty of misjudging this person, misjudging what I thought I found.  Shortly after that, things progressively got a little more intense, especially when he was under the influence of alcohol. Name calling and violent outbursts became the norm.

“You’re just going to sit there and cry little baby?”

I say nothing and continue to sob. I think to myself, “He is just trying to get a reaction out of you Ashley.” Remember he told you, “You’re too good for me Ashley. I don’t understand why you are with me and I feel sometimes I have to knock you down just to make sense of why someone so good would be with someone like me.”

“You’re such a pussy, keep crying.”

I try to understand where his temperament comes from and not judge him. After all, he is a product of a family that pushed him for seventeen years to be a competitive hockey player only to subsequently cut his potential career short with a broken neck. All promise and then disappointment. Now at twenty-three he is trying to figure out what to do with his life and cope with the reality that he will never be able to do what he spent his whole life working towards. Turmoil. I can empathize with that, thus my allowance and my consequence. We are all always struggling to be the healthiest people that we can be but sometimes the sickness in us spreads blindly to the people we are closest to. I find it troubling to leave someone simply because they are wounded since we are all wounded anyway in our respective ways (thanks, Anthony).

My sickness stems from two places; within myself and with the person that I am with. I understand that something has to be wrong with me to stay with someone who treats me in this manner, and I am the one who is left to try and work things out. But it also comes from the other person, whether it is the things they say about me, do to me or the lack of any real love in them. A lack of real love for themselves. It is as if I choose to date paraplegics and then I get upset when they won’t go for a walk with me; they can’t. At times, I feel that I expecting something from someone who is, was and will always be incapable of loving because they just can’t or this is simply the best that they can love; 99 cent store love. I guess I have in my idealistic tendencies refused to accept that people “just don’t know how to love”. I am struggling with the realization of my choices in terms of mate selection. But how do you change something when you don’t know where the glitch is? I know I date sick people because I myself am sick. I have the Florence Nightingale effect. I try to make things easier, nicer and more comfortable for someone else and it is not reciprocated. And then I get hurt and upset and then I work things out. Meaning I adjust, adapt. Knowing this, what scares me so much is the fact that I am so sensitive to what the person I love says and thinks about me; that I choose to be with someone who is so reckless with their words and actions that in effect they murder my soul.

To be honest, I have no idea where this came from. This idea that love is supposed to be pain and suffering. That, if you are not struggling then you are not loving. And if you quit when the going gets tough then you are a quitter or a failure. I can think of where the idea of being fearful of failing comes from, my dad, but that was in terms of schooling never relationships.

My mom has been a flight attendant since I was two. Back then she worked for Eastern Airlines and was based out of New York. My dad, brother and I lived in LaVerne; a city on the eastern outskirts of Los Angeles County. My parents divorced at six because of cheating allegations on both ends, but mom ended up having the evidence that my dad needed, someone else’s kid. Over the course of my childhood and adolescence, my schools and locations changed as much as my mom’s husbands and boyfriends.

“Mom, I can’t believe you’re making us change schools again. How am I supposed to have any real friends?” I whined to her on the car ride to my new junior high school.

“One day you’ll thank me for this. Adaptation is something that is very important in life. One day you’re going to have a job and you are going to have to be able to adapt.” She replied in an angered tone as she pulled up to the school to drop me off.

There is a kernel of truth in what my mom said. But adapting became a personality trait, not just a skill. Over the course of the twelve years, I spent in school as a kid I change schools seven times. I feel as a kid it was even difficult for me to bond with her because I challenged everything that she did, in terms of decisions like moving us or selecting a new mate because I felt that she never really took into consideration what it was that she was putting us through. So with adaptation came no stability. The only things that ever created stability for me as a kid was outside influences. They never originated in the home. I was one of those kids who always had second families. In Chico, it was the Larson’s in Los Angeles it was the Navarro’s. My mom hated it. She ironically felt betrayed because it was evidence that she wasn’t a ‘good enough’ mom. The moving and the adaptation became difficult because I was constantly trying to find things to cling to outside of my family because I couldn’t count on my unstable family. My dad always had the same expectations of me so I found a stabilizing force in him that kept me lightly rooted. He was, and is, like an omnipresent god who doesn’t need to show his face because you know what the rules are you know what he wants and expects. He thought that my brother and I ate too much candy, much like my mom he would say. So, while we were shopping with him at the grocery store when we would be in the checkout line my brother and I knew not to ask if we could get a candy. If we were with my mom we would bug her to get it for us. I also knew never to challenge my dad. I as a kid and even now have never gotten into a verbal fight with him. However, as my brother and I have gotten older the relationship between my father and both my brother and I has become tense. Often times my brother and I will go weeks, months without talking to my dad just because the pressure and expectations and criticisms can really weigh you down. It may not be the healthiest form of stability, but it was all I had. My parents always left me to fend for myself and my three younger brothers. I kid, but seriously, I have been a mother since my brother Erik was born. Then there was Collin and then Kadin. It was my job to take care of their needs because my mom was busy flying around the world. Sure I had step-dads’ and babysitters, but they were transient. I felt it was my responsibility at the age of eight to give my brothers something that I knew they would never get from their parents, stability.

The funny thing about relationships is they are never really what they seem. When I first meet someone everything seems harmless, yet once one bad thing happens it seems they never cease to stop happening. And then I find myself wondering how to get back to where we started. The reality is, it is impossible to ever go back to how things were once so many things have transpired. I have learned the more content I feel, the more there is to lose and the more there is to lose the more it hurts. After a while of this, I just stop having hope, I stop having expectations. Sure, it may be a defense mechanism, but where would we be without defense mechanisms? All of this is a daily battle that I fight, and I am not tired of loving and I’m not tired of living I am just tired of fighting. Tired of fighting for what I should innately get. For what I deserve.

My last relationship, John, was eight years and it consisted of porn, cheating, lying and tons of unhappiness. Most often times I could tell when John was lying. One of the biggest things that we argued about was weed. Not simply because of the function of weed but the factors surrounding the use. The use was necessary. Every day from the moment he woke up to the moment he went to bed. And always in public places. I also had concerns about the paraphernalia being in my car and the consequences that could happen if I were pulled over. It was also the consequences of the lack of weed. If he didn’t have it we were in trouble. His mood would drastically change. I would always say to him, “I feel like I don’t know who you really are. Because when you’re high, you’re fine. But when you aren’t high you turn into this completely different person.” He never had a response to this. He felt that this was just really who he was and I suppose in retrospect he just is a severe user. And so he is right. I felt if the drug had such an effect on him then who was he really? Embedded in all this, my problem with it, was the deceit. Even though it was something that was a problem in the early years of our relationship there was always promises made, “I’m going to stop. I’m going to cut back. I promise I won’t lie.” When John asked for my hand from my mom and dad they asked for specific things from him before they would give him the okay. “We want you to go to premarital counseling, personal counseling and you need to work on your drug habit.” Now, I realize that is a list of things that would subsequently change a person, but their concern was based on eight years of knowledge.

“Hey John, did you hear that a volcano just erupted today?”

“Where at?”

“Apparently right outside of our house.”

“What do you mean Ash?” He responded sarcastically.

“Well, you told me that you aren’t smoking anymore, but there is ash in my car. So it must’ve been the volcano that erupted. Then the ash flew from the peak of the volcano, down to the car, under the carport and through my windows that were rolled up. Because that is the only way that makes sense to me that there is ash in the car, because you aren’t smoking anymore, right?”

“I didn’t smoke in the car Ash. I told you I stopped smoking.”

I know my reaction sounds condescending, but it got so boring hearing lies all the time. And I always felt like “Damn! He must really think I’m stupid because who would believe that.” I began to respect him less and less. It got to the point that his dad told me “You should really stay away from my son. He’s a liar like his mother and he is never going to stop. I am living proof of that. You deserve a lot better Ash.”

Often times my checking account would be missing money because he would take money out to go and buy weed. It would be terrible at family events, funerals, concerts, doctors appointments there always needed to be time set aside for John to go and get high. I stayed and even said yes to a proposal. In every instance of that relationship, I felt like what was happening to me was somehow my responsibility and my failure to be whatever I needed to be in order to get the love I felt that I gave and deserved. I would always think to myself in those moments where you know you should end the relationship, “If only he could remember why he loved me and why he fell in love with me. If I could just get us back to that place then everything would work out.” I can’t escape my past because I live in the time portal. My house, my home, is a constant reminder of my past. It harbors all the acquired relics of a life once lived: beds once shared, couches that hold the tune of the song of proposal and whole and torn pictures that highlight the good times and the bad. Memories of both good and bad and with faithful promise to become something wonderful, something more. While I feel the hindrance of my environment, created with another, I cannot help but be protective of it and the perversion of the unworthy. The transient.

I find myself saying this to this day in my current relationship. Everything is always a struggle and my feeling is that I have to exhaust every option and every path before I can give up so I don’t feel like I failed. So I can look back at relationships and feel that I did everything in my power to make it the best that it could be in spite of how bad it always seems to turn out. There are things in my current relationship that have been done to me and said to me that I have never in my whole twenty-six years experienced. And the essences of those things are direct contradictions to what love is. Yet, I cannot give up on it. And I try to see past the derogatory words that are thrown at me and the expressions of violence to somehow find and regain what we at once had. As of this moment in the writing of this memoir, things are terrible in the relationship. I have committed the last eighteen weeks of weekly therapy, initially started because I was told profusely that I was crazy. In therapy, I hoped to discover that I was, in fact, crazy because then there would be a reason for my many failures in my personal relationships and the degree of those failures. The best part of my hope for being diagnosed as crazy was that I would be able to fix it because I can control my actions and then everything would somehow be better. Turns out I’m not crazy. People always assume that I’m codependent and that is why I stay in these situations or that I am afraid of being alone when in all reality I’m just afraid of failing. I am afraid of letting down the person that I choose to be with, in the sense they will leave the relationship thinking I’m the one that fucked everything up when in reality I feel like all I do is try. It just never seems to be good enough.

Had I known that certain things in my life would turn out the way they have I would’ve done them differently. I believe that in life the most difficult thing to accomplish is life. There never is the ability to go back and change the things that have happened or the things that at one time, at one moment, seemed like a good choice. The misconception is that if you are with someone, you are not lonely. When in reality it is only through being with someone that you know what being alone is and how it feels.

I try to imagine and tell myself that one day I am going to meet someone that will never make me question my worth as a person; someone who at the sight of me crying will feel a pain so deep in their heart that they will sit by me and see me through my sadness, not someone who walks out on me. But I also wonder if my heart will be a malleable then or if it will have turned to stone. Because then it really wouldn’t matter. I would have wasted all of my good heart on people who didn’t deserve it. But it really isn’t the need to be with someone. Really. It is that I made the choice to be with someone and come hell or high-water it is my responsibility to see that choice through. You can’t just give up because you get tired or because things get tough because that is when you’re pushing yourself to grow, that is when you are loving. You don’t know what pain is unless you are with someone who can make you feel the difference between what feels good and what hurts. When I am alone, I feel good.