Time is the most powerful force in the Universe.

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.

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