Time is the most powerful force in the Universe.

#tbt 2000 “Love or Lust”

Love vs Lust is a difficult thing for most people to differeciate between. Basically, a lot of relationships I have been in, I always have thought that I really cared about the person, but there are certain things that I would do to show them “I love them” but I wouldn’t consider doing anything for anyone that was crazy, unless I really felt I truly loved them. From what I have seen, such as my parents or other people, I think often to myself is this four-lettered word just a word? Or, does it really mean and symbolize something more? It’s difficult to tell because luckily I am not in either one of these situations. There are a lot of people that lust after people or are infatuated with another person for what they look like. A lot of people say, “she’s cute” or “he’s cute” but I think when someone says, “I like him/her” it means more. A person’s personality can change what you think or feel about them. I mean a lot of people think I’m crazy & outgoing, but that’s who I show because it makes people laugh. Different people can have different opinions on that & that may change how they feel whether it’s love, lust or just friendship.


Past As Present

I am here again
Reality fades out of focus
The past and present begin to blend
I am ruminating in the memory of what we had
The memory of what I wish we never had
Our lives could have been different
If we would have tried
But we remained the same

Burning scars unto one another with our words
Drowning in our actions
Forgetting all the hope
Forgetting all the promises
That were made to one another
Wrapped up in each other’s words
Tangled in our selfish love
On the verge of forever
But couldn’t mend broken hearts for the better

All your lies and confusion
Simply appeasing my delusion
Until I finally surrendered
A coward when finally it was too much
I escaped a life
So hurt, so unloved
The pain and suffering
Was too much

A new life now
Void of our existence
Do you ponder the memories
“Summer nights under the stars”
Wondering the same as me?

I am filled with regret
For hurting the one I had loved most
I was simply trying to love you
Yet for eight years I wasn’t allowed too close
Too close to see the cause of all your pain and sadness
The fault of all the madness

The pain I caused to you
Was merely a reflection of me
Which took time and distance to see

Please forgive me for the ruins I left behind
In the shadows of the darkness, I have yet to find
Please forgive me for the loss of innocence that made us blind
And keep us held hostage like the ties that bind
I am sorry I wasn’t there for you when things got bad
We were at once, the best friends we had ever had
I am sorry I didn’t have the courage to acknowledge my weakness
Instead, I claimed victory and reveled in your weakness

I am sorry

I hope for you a life filled with promise and peace
I hope for you a love that grows with you
Accepting you for all your imperfections
While relishing and delighting in your restless wonder
One who refuses to surrender
When you push her too far
Knowing she must self-sacrifice
To push you closer to who you truly are

Time has past
Past is time

You are a stranger to me now
Yet, inside of you dwells the heart I once loved so deeply
Inside of me are memories that have yet to fade
They burn in low slow light day by day
From a distance, I will send you my love
And hope that someday “you’ll forgive
Because I know you’ll never forget”

The time for amends is lost
Now there is only room for regret

If You Could Hear Me

I could not tell you the last time I spoke with you over the phone, but I do remember the last time I saw you. Do you remember the last time we saw each other? We were in Big Bear. I do not recall if it was for Christmas or grandpa’s birthday. Do you remember? It was winter. I do not remember what we did that day or even what we talked about. I do remember that we ate dinner as a family; you, me, Erik, dad and grandpa. After dinner, there was dessert; apple pie and vanilla ice cream. Despite your gastrointestinal issues concerning milk, you served yourself a generous helping of ice cream. We all joked that you would be farting all night and how you would be extra warm under your blankets because you would be hot boxing yourself with your farts. You laughed so much, you knew it was true. It happened many times before. We all laughed and laughed even more because your laugh was so contagious. Erik and I whined to grandpa, “Why did you buy ice cream? You shouldn’t have let Uncle Byron have any! He’s going to be farting all night.” He laughed. So that night, we all fell asleep to the smell of your farts.

I told that same story at your funeral. It’s how I remember you, I guess. Funny. Laughing. Smiling. For that, I am grateful.

The next morning, we packed the cooler with snow from impromptu home made ice packs. It was the last thing we did together. As we prepared to head to our separate destinations, we hugged. It was the last time we hugged. As dad, Erik and I were getting ready to pull out of the driveway, you scurried out of your car and walked up to the driver’s side of our car and dad rolled down the window. You wanted to give money to Erik and I for Christmas. Dad said we had enough. You were always so generous and giving. This is how I’ll remember you for the rest of my life.

If you could hear me now, I would tell you that I miss you. That we all miss you. If you could hear me now, I would tell you that I understand why you left us. I would tell you, that as days pass I think about you still and wonder how different all of our lives would be if you were still here. If you could hear me, what would it change? You can’t come back.

We have a difficult time, in the family, talking about you. So much has changed now that you’re gone. If you could hear me, I would tell you that we love you so much – and that I strive each day to leave people with the same impressions you left me with. At your funeral, everyone had nothing but wonderful memories of you and how you made them feel. You were wonderful. Generous. Kind. You were so good – too good.

Next time we see each other, I’ll bring a bowl of vanilla ice cream.

If you can hear me, I love you.




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

Twenty-Six Year Old Man Child

I’ve been in college since I was eighteen. I am graduating, at twenty-six, in May with a Bachelors. I know the math is wrong considering the fact doctors are in college as long as me and they are doctors. Then again, math was never my strong suit. I suppose that is partially why I chose to pursue an English degree. The beauty about college — besides the knowledge, the parties, and the awesome loans — is that it is a time in our lives that we see the journey begin, but then also end. The stress and anxiety of beginning a college career is just as intense as the closing of a college career. Not only am I concerned with my never – forgiving GPA, I’m also thinking about money, loans, finding a job and growing up.

By my age, I suppose one could assume that I am in fact an adult. However, I am a twenty – six – year – old man child. I have not had to work while attending Chico State for the past two years. I have a two bedroom apartment and I live by myself. My rent is $730 a month and I have savings. I afford the finer things in life like,  tattoos when I want them, dinner with the girls and I have a phone that should run me at least a hundred bucks a month. How is this possible? Again with math. I have two wonderful parents that have supported me, their adult man- child, throughout my college career and I am on the wonderful payroll of the state. Therefore, I have no excuse for taking this long to complete my degree.

My college “dream” began in high school, like most others. I dreamed of moving to the east coast and going to Syracuse (only a California kid who has no scope of the world would dream to move to Syracuse). I wanted to study law and live a life pursuing education. I wanted to study all day at a library and talk about important philosophical things in a fancy coffee shop with my fancy, like – minded friends. Basically, my dream was to become a giant nerd. However, there was a slight set back – I didn’t possess the real want to do all of the things that were required to attend Syracuse. I also didn’t want to leave my family and I really wasn’t a fancy person. I instead applied to California State Fullerton. I got in. Then I didn’t go. Why? Because, I fell in love. Nice, right? My rejection of college caused a crack in my parent’s world. After causing heart break to my parents and foregoing their phone calls for just about a year, I decided to enroll in junior college. I took two classes and got a 2.0.

As a kid, my dad was the driving force in my academic career.  My dad would say, “For every A that you get I will give you twenty dollars.” Or, “You better do well in school because that is the only way to be successful in your life and not turn out like your mom.” Naturally I didn’t want to turn out like my mom, since her life was always contrasted, by my dad, with his accomplishments and easier life.

These conversations with my dad about my mom’s choices took place every other weekend in the car ride from wherever my dad picked my brother, Erik, and I up from, to his house. Erik and I would talk about all the stuff we didn’t like about living with my mom, she enforced rules and had her share of problems that affected us, but dad always took us to the movies and to the park and he never exposed us to any problems. That is how I learned about psychological issues that manifest themselves in the physical world. In these conversations, the contrast of him and my mom made us feel that if we repeated what our mother had done then we were fucked. For example, I remember thinking at eighteen that I was not only celebrating the fact that I was eighteen, but that I also didn’t turn out like my mom, who was eighteen when she gave birth to me. I, in a sense, my dad’s sense, had one up’d her. The idea of failure incapacitated both Erik and I. It has prevented us from trusting ourselves and having confidence in ourselves and thus makes us completely dependent on our dad; for help, guidance, and direction. The horrible part is that if we do not do what dad prescribes not only is our future in trouble but so are we, with dad. So there is fear established in failure and not just in our life but in our various relationships, we are somehow always made to feel as the guilty party. There is always that voice that says to me, “I must have done something wrong, so I deserve this.” As I have gotten older I have begun to learn fact from myth but in a sense the damage has been done. It is in my nature to second guess everything I do. It is in my nature to feel as if I messed up and failed. It is in my nature to need from someone. Brought to you impart by Dad Enterprises.

So I, like a good daughter, obliged them – mostly my dad – and went back to college. But for the first time in my life it was up to me to succeed on my own terms and it didn’t go so well.

While in my relationship, I became my relationship. I had no identity outside of the relationship and cared about fostering nothing but the relationship. I was mental. I had begun dating John at seventeen and I thought he was my soul mate. However, we had more bumps in the road over the course of the first year of our relationship than the 405 freeway has potholes. Instead of going to California State Fullerton I decided I wanted to move in with my boyfriend and do nothing but be with my boyfriend. I thought that school would just take away time from John and me. Since I was eight years old I have served as a secondary mother to my siblings. So at seventeen, when I met John, he was my way out of that role. I felt that for the first time someone was going to take care of me, instead of me taking care of someone else. Yet, in losing the role of taking care of siblings I entered another role that I was comfortable in and that was the role I played with my dad, dependent.

At nineteen, I was working at Starbucks. I had been recognized and appreciated for my hard work, dedication, and loyalty and I loved being at work. I was able to adapt so easily and I enjoyed the fast-paced environment, especially around Christmas. But now not only was I financially taking care of myself, but I was also financially taking care of John. John at this time didn’t have a job, but he had a car that needed gas. So when I would get paid I would give him some money for gas. It was with my work, my money, my gas, and his car that he went to see my best-friend Jennifer. I had taken on a more serious friendship with Jennifer after her father committed suicide. She lived an hour away and had no car. So I would pick her up and bring her to our house where she would stay for the weekend and I would do my best to help her back to some semblance of happiness.  It was while I was at work, with my gas, and in his car that he slept with her and murdered my heart. I could begin twelve pages of ‘what-if’s’ now, but I did and still do feel like I set myself up to be cheated on. It’s times like these that I hear that voice tell me “I did this to myself. It was an unintended consequence.” Perhaps that is why I took him back. I tried over the course of the next few years to forgive, forget and let go but I couldn’t. The trust was shattered and I felt that it was my responsibility to make things go back to how they used to be before he cheated, but I couldn’t because it wasn’t up to me, if it was none of this would have happened in the first place.

So at 22, after martyrdom and waking the fuck up, I broke up with John.

Shortly after that, I started as the manager of the retail section of a local coffee shop; I set up the shop from the bare-bones and turned it into what it is today. Since the store wasn’t always busy, there were times when I would be called to help at the restaurant. During the time that I was working there, I developed a sort of mother-daughter relationship with the wife and co-owner of the coffee shop; Jean. She recognized my hard work and I think that she empathized with the stage in my life that I was in. Always proving to be a complex character, I was trying to find my identity in my work; roles and identities are two very different things that I have yet to find clarity and definition between the two.  I was at work a minimum of ten hours a day, seven days a week. Even when I didn’t have to be there, I was there.  Within months, added to my job was the responsibilities of office manager and floor manager of the restaurant. Again, I was busy but I enjoyed it. Within a year, I felt that I had found my place. Jean and I were close and I felt that this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I asked Jean one day, “Would it make a difference to you if I went to college?” She replied, “No. You’re perfect for this job and that can’t be taught.” I remember feeling satisfied with the answer because it made me feel like I hadn’t fucked up by choosing not to go to college and it also gave me the satisfaction of knowing that she recognized my skill and, therefore, I was an asset.

Cut to, Unemployment.

Despite the fact that we served duck, steak and tons of celebrity clientele the economy came like hurricane Katrina and wiped out all of management excluding Jean. I remember that I had taken the first sick days – ever. I was with my mom and the phone rang, it was Jean, “Hey Ash. Listen, it has been really slow here and since you’ve been out I have been able to manage all the work you were doing without you. So there really is no need for your position anymore.” I responded, “Eh. I knew that you were going to do this to me. Sounds great. Bye.”  One of the things that I overlooked over while working there was the lack of ethics and integrity that they had. This same scenario that happened with me had happened three times prior with three other managers. I thought since I had the relationship with Jean that it actually meant that she wasn’t going to do the same thing to me that she had done to so many other people. But I proved to not be the exception. I know from the financial meetings I attended that we were in the red, as most businesses are when they first open, and she wanted to be in the black; so since the salaries were too high and instead of lowering our pay they just laid me and the kitchen manager off. I felt that I excelled at my job and that I had a sort of second family there – I had found my place and now I was removed. I look back now at that opportunity and I realize that it was bittersweet. The knowledge I gained was good, but they way that I got that knowledge an opportunity was not only because of my ambition, but it also came at the cost of other people’s jobs. In spite of how it all turned out I now realize it was all for the best. Even though I tried to avoid college it was really what I needed. This job was the final push and it ultimately led me back to school.

I went to the local junior college and talked to an advisor and they told me if I enrolled and took twelve classes I would be able to transfer to a university within a year. I was stunned. All of those random classes that I had taken here and there actually paid off and got me to a point where I could see myself completing this goal if I set it for myself. Naturally all the classes that needed to be completed were my core classes. But I was unemployed, collecting unemployment; I was eligible for financial aid and was living with my grandma. I had no responsibility and no promising direction.

The decision to go back to school came at twenty-three. I began to think about my future in terms of what it takes to survive not at twenty-three, but what it takes to survive for the rest of my life. I didn’t want to depend on anyone to take care of me. I had learned through working at the coffee shop that I was capable and if I set myself to do something I could make it happen. I wanted the satisfaction and the proof that I could do this for myself. Even though fifteen dollars an hour is amazing to a twenty-two-year-old with no responsibility, it is nothing when you have the responsibilities of children, a house, a car, phone, insurance etc.  I began to think not about what works now, what is easiest now or what will get me by now, but what I can do to secure an easier future.

I had always had a fear of struggling since I was a kid. I grew up in a poor home with my sometimes single mother trying to provide for four mouths. She didn’t go to college. She didn’t have the option after she started having kids. My dad, on the other hand, had us only on weekends and was able to work and finish his degree. I saw a difference in my mom’s life and my dad’s. I learned that if you go to school you make money. If you make money everything in life becomes less scary because you can afford food.

Since I was back in college my dad began his role of supporting and creating incentives. Within the year of attending college, I was back together with John and we were living together. John was, as always, playing music with his bands and working and doing the John thing. Our relationship was a little better, but only a year had passed and we each, individually still had our demons and our demons never got along. He saw no point in going to college. However, he did encourage me and he always said, “You go to college and then go to law school and make a bunch of money so that I can be an artist and keep playing music. You can support me.” At twenty-four the thought of taking care of a twenty-six-year-old man for the rest of my life was crazy, but I just kept going keeping in mind all the while that this was going to benefit me in the end.

As the fall approached, my last year of junior college, I began applying to different colleges. Chico State became my first choice because it was far enough away, but still within California. I wanted to get away from the problems that I had in Los Angeles – being a slave to sex appeal gets old. When I told John about moving to Chico his first concern was, “What am I going to do about my band?” I left that for him to figure out because I had a goal that was going to make my life, years from now, better. I felt that in the past and in the present I was constantly encouraging and supporting his goals and dreams and this was the first time that I was asking him to do something for me. He did support my hobbies and if those would have turned into goals I’m sure he would’ve done as much supporting as he felt comfortable doing; moving to Chico was not one of them. Although, he did move up here with me and he did help pay for a lot of it; I feel that he did what he could do under the stresses of our relationship. I did emphasize to him that two years in Chico guaranteed me a degree and he could not guarantee that in two years he would be some famous rock star making tons of money. My future was only secure going in the direction of college; not counting on my boyfriend’s dreams and career and his earnings to take care of me. I wasn’t even entitled to anything if he did get rich. That was his goal, his dreams, and his future. When I got accepted to Chico State I was so excited that I had been accepted, but also because I had accomplished something.

After a few months in Chico and despite our engagement, John couldn’t manage. His band had become difficult to maintain and he felt that he was supporting my dream more than he was supporting his own. There were continuous battles over being in Chico, porn, trust and trimmings of infidelity. We parted hesitantly. He moved back to Los Angeles. Since John and I were sharing the financial responsibilities, it was when he left that my parents told me that they would help me in any way financially to help sustain me and my goal of completing college. I recall my mom asking, “How much a month will it take to get rid of him?” I responded, “Four hundred dollars a month.” My mom said, “Honey, seriously that’s it? There is a check in the mail.”

My parents hated John. It was victoriously earned hate, though. Over the eight years of our relationship, there were periods of infidelity, the corrosion of trust and overall a lack of respect. My parents both saw the results of that first hand and through the deterioration of me. At the beginning of our relationship, when John was 19, my mom would say, “Well honey he is nineteen. He is young and he is a kid. He is going to do dumb stuff, but if he’s pulling this stuff in the next few years then he is always going to be like this.” This would get repeated to me throughout the years but as he got older it started to shift a bit, “Honey, this is ridiculous. The man is twenty-six and he’s pulling shit like this? You need to get out Ashley. Otherwise, this is going to be your life.” The relationship between my mom and John became more of a hostage negotiation situation. My dad, on the other hand, thought John was just a moron. But, was able to adapt to John because they had similar interests; both are musicians. So they always had something light and fun to bring them together. That was good and bad. I was happy that they got along because it gave me hope. After all, as evident thus far, I care about what my dad thinks. However, I can’t imagine that it was easy for my dad to spend time with someone that he knew I loved, but he knew all of the pain that I had gone through with this person, because of this person. When John was planning on proposing he took my parents to dinner to ask them for my hand. I found out that John was going to propose before he did because my mom called me up and said, “Ashley! What the hell is going on?” I, of course, had no idea what she was talking about. She told me that John had asked them if he could marry me and she said, “I have never seen your dad so angry. I had to talk to him the whole way home and he wouldn’t stop cussing.” It was evident to both of my parents that real love wasn’t reciprocated. I loved him more than he loved me and it was obvious. It wasn’t like he didn’t love me; he loved me as much as he was capable of, but that part of him was broken. The irony behind this situation is that I felt, in a lot of ways, I had failed in this relationship. I had failed to make someone happy; thus it made sense he couldn’t love me. My math is seriously off. I, with my parents help, progressed on despite the loss. I focused on the fact that I needed to complete something for myself for the first time in my life; instead of focusing and encouraging my boyfriend’s goals and dreams. I needed to think about me, the individual. My future. My well-being. So that is what I did.That was almost two years ago. I feel happier now and excited for what is to come. It’s kind of funny because I actually am going to miss going to classes and seeing people on campus and doing student oriented things. I worried that I’m going to have some sort of panic attack in the summer when I feel like I should be registering for classes when instead I’ll actually be working. I’m going to miss being a student. Graduating is definitely bittersweet. It’s good to have completed my goal and to be moving forward, but it’s sad because I’m going to miss college. And my friends. Without the help of my family, my experience in college would be completely different. The loss of John and the glorious double income could’ve sent me back home or even put off me completing college. The blessing of the unemployment payroll has served to help me complete college and it has me excited to reciprocate and pay for everyone else on unemployment when I finally get a job.

I admire students who are twenty-two and graduating. I feel that they have something figured out that I wish I did at their age. However, there are people like my twenty-four-year-old brother that will follow my footsteps and have the same regret or may never even make it into a college campus.

John did make it to a college campus and is happy that he did. Although he is twenty-nine this year he is where I was at 23, looking towards transferring and in spite of our history we are still very good friends. My mom is graduating this spring from the University of Phoenix and she is looking forward to moving onto a master’s program. She has also been happily married for the past eight years (hoping this one is a keeper – they have each other’s names tattooed on each other). My dad is the executive director at a medical auditing company and makes over six-figures a year.

I can’t say that I don’t have regrets about not completing my degree earlier. The reasons why it wasn’t completed earlier is what troubles me, however, I also wonder if I would’ve taken it as seriously as I do now if I was twenty-two trying to complete my degree. What I have learned from those around me, and what gives me hope is that it isn’t so much about where you are or where you have been, but it is about where you end up. Learning lessons the so-called ‘hard way’ isn’t really the case, we all learn the lessons that we need to learn to hopefully grow and not repeat them.  I hope that in time I will manifest my realization of roles and identities, failures and losses and dependence and independence. I know that there are many other people like me who have struggled with the same and even worse. I am lucky to be where I am and I am happy that through all of the hardship I still have hope inside of my heart. I have learned that being dependent upon people is literally just upsetting and disappointing and unhealthy. It has been the times that I have negotiated my own path that I have felt empowered and independent – and in those times I have succeeded.

I look forward to creating a new chapter in my life that filled with deferred loan payments and paying for all of my own things, independence and dropping the title of the twenty-six-year-old man-child.

(Written 2012)


It was the middle of a hot August afternoon. You were at school that day. I was at home. In my usual productive non-trusting manner of you, I took my time alone and got on your computer. The first thing I did was logged into your email. You had obviously been the wiser to delete any internet history that I would’ve used against you like I had so many times before. As I logged in to your email, I saw that you created a dating profile. A tinge of relief came over me. I had invaded your privacy, but now I found something which justified my actions; at least to me. After requesting to have a new password sent to me, or you rather, I logged into your profile. I was in awe and surprised to see that the type of girl you were looking for on a superficial level was superficially exactly me. You wanted a girl who had tattoos, who was creative and was into the same type of music. All of those one-dimensional things applied to me; the difference was I was the character defined by eight years of your equivocal character.

I knew you.

You came home and I took to questioning you, but not in my typical “what the fuck” accusatory manner. Rather, I wanted, needed to understand what was going on with you; and me. We sat in our second bedroom, which had become completely yours; the second bedroom in which you slept when things became severely uncomfortable between us, a room in which you used to compartmentalize all of your joy; the music room, the porn room it was your room. We sat on the cream carpeted floor next to the closet and confessed and cried. You were honest about creating that profile. You were unhappy. You were unhappy with the recent move that benefited me, unhappy in trying to pursue your music away from your band at the time and unhappy with us. I felt that I had failed. After years of lying and cheating on your end, and trying and trying and trying, there was no escaping that I had become the person I never wanted to be in a situation I never wanted to be in with the person I loved the most.

You said to me, “I am just afraid that I will never be able to make you happy.”

We both cried.

At that moment, I knew that everything we had worked and tried for over the past 8 years was over. I was never going to entirely have you.

We left that conversation in a fashion that suggested we were going to try to still make things work. Classic, eh? The next morning you had received a few picture text messages from a so-called lesbian in lingerie. Of course, I saw them and, of course, I was hurt and, of course, she was lesbian and it didn’t mean anything. Hit rewind.
Later that week, we had a trip planned to go back to our hometown. We decided that we would stay separate of each other to allow us each time to visit with our respective friends and family. What that time would eventually come to mean to me, was a time to self- crucify.

That first night, I had made plans with an ex-boyfriend of mine. He was older, sensitive, caring and he was everything I wanted and needed at the time. His light counteracted the darkness I had grown so accustomed to with you. I used him for it. The worst part about going to see him was that I was upset about you. I felt hurt and betrayed and just lost. I went to him like a beaten dog and let him clean me up.

I showed up the next day to pick you up. It was time to drive back. I did not say a word to you about what had happened the night before. I acted as if everything was as we left it, like a bitch.

Just as we approached our turn to begin our journey back, you saw my neck. “What the fuck is that on your neck?” you exclaimed. I honestly did not know that there was anything incriminating since I was not 16. Even though I realized this was the repercussion of my intended actions, those actions were not done out of my want and desire, rather they felt necessary to end the cycle. Yet, I denied everything that you could throw at me. I lied. I kept from you like I had learned from you.

It was over.

You were my world and I had just got caught delivering and irreversible blow to that world. Everything that I had cried over and fought for, I self-sabotaged. I knew that even though I had been able to forgive you for the same actions, that you would never be able to do the same. As I look back on it now, many years later and I realize that I thought we never really loved each other. How could we? I always felt unloved. And I know that you did too. But, we did love each other the best that we knew how. I mean we were engaged. I had no real understanding of what we were doing to each other at the time, how instead of building each other up, we were best at tearing each other down.

For all of this, and all the pain that was caused, please know that I am sorry; that my actions were a reflection of how I felt about myself at the time and were heart-crushing projections that endangered you as a person. I truly hope for nothing but love and light to you and ultimately fulfillment.


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)

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