Ashley and the Tale of 10,000 Questions

I think it’s safe to say once you go through a traumatic experience in your life, you tend to start questioning…. everything.  This is my life lately.

In the spirit of questioning, I’m sure some may question the validity of my saying “traumatic experience” — which is fine.  It’s subjective — and in my world, I would classify the events that happened in the beginning to middle 2016 as pretty traumatic. But to be fair, let’s provide a definition.

Traumatic: adjective — emotionally disturbing or distressing.  Synonyms: shocking. upsetting. heartbreaking. painful. stressful. damaging.

Yes. Yes. Yes, yes, and.. oh, yes. All of the above.

I’ve always tried to find the rainbows in every situation, no matter how difficult. But lately, I’ll admit.. it’s been tough.  I get sucked into the void of negativity, and even my attempts of being bright seem… lackluster. What’s the point? But then, there’s Ashley.. the automatic response of trying to see the sunshine and find precious gems in every question that resembles a “What’s the point?” cadence by following it up with a “C’mon.. there’s ALWAYS a point.. look around, look around at how lucky we are to be alive right now?”

I’m arguing with myself.

Regardless… I can’t help but find myself question everything.  What’s that about? Why has one life change suddenly disrupted the way I see things the way I always have?  I used to be so… well, I don’t even know what I used to be anymore.

“Who am I.. anyway? Am I my resume..?” And my heart aches.

I get it.. I know that things happen the way they are supposed to. I know there are lessons to learn in everything that happens in life.  Where is the lesson?  When will I understand?  I feel like.. all I’ve been doing lately.. is trying to make up the reasons to give myself some sort of.. comfort?  Is that the right word?  Why won’t you just say it?

I feel like I’m swimming in a sea of questions, with no hope of finding any answers.  Or do I even need answers? Should it all be left a mystery? Will I ever find relief in not ever getting a straight answer about anything?

Why now? Why this? Why didn’t you tell me sooner?  Why did you let it get this far? Or, did I let it get this far? What did I miss? When did it start? Did it ever exist? Was it all a dream turned into a never ending nightmare? Were we just living the story that everyone else assumed we would live?  Were you ever happy in the first place?  When did that happiness fade, and where was I? Why wasn’t I enough?

Am I not strong enough? Am I not pretty enough? Am I too fat? Is it my smile? Did I not love you or anyone else enough? Did I work too much? Did I set the bar too low? Or too high? Is it relative? What else could I have done? How could I have been better? Was I really that blind? Did I not do all I could do?

And then bringing it forward.. will this happen again?  How can I trust anyone, when the person I trusted for so long and with everything in me, broke my trust? What can I do to be better than before?  What did I miss when I spent so many years striving for perfection, to only end in failure? How can I love him better?  How can I be better for him, when he tries to be the best for me?  When you say you love me, do you mean it? How will I know that 15 years from now, you won’t do the same?  What if you get bored? What if you meet someone new that satisfies something that I was lacking, even though I was unaware? What if you lose interest?  What if you decide leaving home is what you would rather be doing than being stuck with me?

Will you come home?

Will you talk to me about everything, even if you don’t have the words or even if you think it will hurt me?  How else can we make it work.. I can’t fix what I don’t know is broken. Will you make me smile when I’m sad? Will you hold me when I feel like running away?  Will you just stay… for.. a while?

What if I’m not enough?

Will I ever be enough for anyone?

Will I be able to show Ella she is enough and more, and she should never question anything about herself, because she.is.enough?  Am I already failing her because somedays I just feel like I’m constantly coming up short?  Are my expectations of myself unreasonable?  Will she grow up to one day resent me for not trying hard enough?  Will she criticize the way I raised her, thinking and knowing that she could have done better?  Will she defy all odds and show us that despite everything, we can and will love because she came from both of us and she deserves better? Will she question everything like I do?  Will she receive the straight answers that I long for and know I’ll never get? Will she blame me for her father leaving because I wasn’t… enough?

I have to be and do better.

Everyday is another opportunity to turn it all around.

Breathe. Stop sinking. The questions are like seaweed latching onto my legs, trying to drag me down. Don’t be caught in the current. Head up. Breathe deep. Stop gasping.  You are going to be…

…okay?

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#TBT: Where have you been?

I was thinking of you earlier this morning — I realized it has been over 4 months since you heard from me.  I’m afraid you might not recognize me anymore.

You hear it over and over again as you grow up, said in many different ways, but always relating back to the same concept.

Time flies.

When I was a kid, I would’ve thought, “FOUR MONTHS?! THAT’S FOREVER!” and in some ways, it is! But, in others ways, it feels like the past four months since we spoke was like a blink of an eye — like, I didn’t even comprehend that 4 months had gone by, it felt THAT fast.  And SO much has happened. So let’s recap the big things.

 

30.

This year was my golden year — I turned 30 on the 30th of December.  I had originally intended on doing a 30 for 30 project, doing something new and inspiring everyday for the 30 days leading up to my birthday, but that didn’t exactly work out as planned.  But, that’s okay (and life) — I’m actually thinking of incorporating the 30 for 30 in a different way during my 30th year.  Stay tuned.

As pumped as I was/am about being 30, I must admit that Birthday Fiesta Weekend was a roller coaster time for me.  I am so incredibly thankful for my brain trust, who travelled upwards of 4 hours just spend it with me.  I honestly don’t know what I’d do without you.

We drank. We laughed. We ate breakfast. We went to a casino for the first time, and I won my first (and only) hand of blackjack with 21. We doubled our money. We exchanged looks.  We smiled. We held hands. We danced by the boardwalk. We froze. We waited for a beautiful sunset, doubting it would ever happen, and when it actually did, we watched in amazement. We ate buffalo chicken dip for the first time and our whole lives changed. We drank. We drove. We cried. We played games. We slept in. We cried again. We drank more. We escaped. We listened to old school rap. We danced. We rang in the new year by a fire. We laughed. We crashed. We cried. We had amazing conversations. We ate more. We contemplated. We experienced. We smiled. My heart was complete.

2017.

The New Year came and went — it was all a blur amongst “Birthday Fiesta Weekend.”  In fact, January/February/March were a blur — there were so many HUGE changes that happened, its kinda crazy to think back on.  I got a job in Tampa. I moved myself and Ella out of our house and into a small apartment close to the highway.  We moved to a completely new town about 45 minutes away from all of our friends.  Ella started a completely new school. I despised the upwards of 3 hours I spent commuting to my job in Tampa because of the god-awful traffic. I went to a conference, met some really cool people who worked for a tech company that is headquartered in the new town I moved to. I applied for an open position. I interviewed. I got it. I LOVE IT. No more commute.  Ella had to start ANOTHER new school, this time close to our new home in our new town, near my even newer job.

New chapter. Turn the page.

It was a lot of change, all at once. But in traditional Ashley fashion, I’ve made it work, so far. I have no choice. Its just me and Ella Grey now. She’s looking to me to be strong, to be awesome. She’s my driving force to be better today than I was yesterday. She’s depending on me to be .. the best. She deserves the best.  She. Is. Everything.

 

Lakes, Sunsets and Love. Love. LOVE. 

With all the change, I must admit there are many new loves of my life.

First, I freaking love our new town — it’s the first place I’ve lived where I can actually see myself raising Ella.  It’s big enough, to where there’s always something going on or something to do — especially family friendly — but small enough to where I don’t have to worry about being here on my own in a scary big city, raising a little girl. Plus, my aunt and uncle live in the town too, so it’s nice to have family nearby. It reminds me a lot of Jacksonville, in the fact that there are a lot of young professionals who are working together to make it “cool.”  New, chic business are popping up left and right, all locally owned and operated, and I LOVE IT. Coffee is great, cute antique shoppes, and a really cool place that makes beignets! Did I mention there are a ton of lakes?  It’s nice to be near water again, even if we are in the middle of the state. 🙂 It’s a very active place — bike-friendly and running paths through the whole town.  Plus, photo-ops galore — and since I have the cutest daughter in the universe, it makes for really cute pictures.  🙂

We are officially closer to the west coast, which lead me to recently watching the sunset for the first time ever in my life.  I’m hooked.  It’s the most magical thing — watching the sun close on another day, paving the way for night — it’s breathtaking.  I try to make it over to watch it as much as I can.  With my partner in crime, of course.

And then.. there’s you.  There aren’t enough words, and even if there were, I still wouldn’t be able to tell you enough. You have brought me back to life. You remind me what it is like to feel again, and I feel so much. “Look around, at how lucky we are to be alive right now.” Thank you for the reminder.

 

So, now what?

I’m back. I’m here. I have 4 months worth of thoughts to share with you.

 

Let’s get to work.

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