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He has lines, and I wanted to cross them. I needed to be dirt under his nails, sweat from his pores. There’s something enticing about someone who wants you despite his own guilt, who knows he’ll fuck the whole thing up. A year of ‘look but don’t touch’ and I had to push him.

When he kissed me, there was no hesitance, no slow build. He tastes earthy, salty, but surprisingly sweet. His hands felt rough on my face, his body against mine brand new but achingly familiar, a sense of coming home. He lived a whole life before I even existed, with his own hopes and ideals and fuck-ups and bullshit. There’s something sexy about someone with scars and lines and baggage. Who has experience and prejudice and set opinions, a sharp contrast to my changeable ideals, my fluidity towards life.

Of course it was over almost immediately, not severed completely, because people can be addictive. There is no happy ending here, but also no expectations. I shattered the fantasy. We hurt each other. I’ve never wanted something so totally unattainable like this. It doesn’t exist in reality.

So sometimes we pretend.

Something I started thinking about at 4pm on a random boring Tuesday. The promises we make ourselves. No. Not promises. More like contracts. Long running scripts, fulfilling expectations.

I promised I’d never be loved, or wanted or sexualised ever again. I was 14.

I pledged I’d never suicide, after seeing it up close, in high definition. The most envious I’ve ever been was when I realised I’d have to live through what he did, and that I couldn’t make the same choice, could never cause a fraction of that pain. And that he wouldn’t know any of it.

When I was 10, I was given a horse. I clung to him. I was focused. I managed his care, his diet, my life revolved around him. He was my safe place and I knew I would always need to have horses. I will forever be grateful for that all encompassing passion and commitment, it saved me through my messy adolescence, but I’m not really there now. Horses don’t serve me the way they used to. Still I hang on. Because that’s what I do. I have horses.

I knew I’d never be ok again, after my ex left, and its dawned on me that I sub consciously hold myself to all these contracts, expectations that I set for myself. It’s hard letting go of all this. If I’m ok, does that mean I didn’t try hard enough? Does it mean I think Bailey not having the ideal is good enough?

Growing up, I assumed that I’d end up being a single mother, living in a unkempt house with a menagerie. It wasn’t what I wanted, it was just what I expected. So here I am. I have been a cyclebreaker in other, arguably more important ways, so it stands to reason I should be able to break this one too, if I so choose.

We really do create our own reality.

So, yeah. Still here.

I traipsed around this week. I found a new friend, she’s kinda like me, but then my total opposite, and we drove down south, down the coast a bit. Wandered around the forest. Lost the car keys at the beach. Smoked. Drank.

Fuck it.

I’m not this perfect mother but I keep it together ok. Sometimes I am this perfect mother, and I make vegetarian meals from scratch, we do yoga and read and have a house full of kids and I love every one of them, really. Being around children is so healing and simplistic and just…light. I know life means something, and I just have to find it. I’ve always been quiet, serious, and then not. By contrast, my son is just this eternally happy soul, bubbly and funny and he shines. But he’s me, and I worry. So much.

It’s this obsession that has lead me to the realisation that I should see someone, that being scared of the health system isn’t enough of a reason not to any more. I worry that something awful will happen to him, that he’ll become a drug addict, that something will go wrong on a week like this one, when he’s with his father and I’m not there to control every situation. I’ve dreamt of his funeral, of him growing up and talking about me in therapy. It’s a cruel irony that he slept through the night at two weeks old, this tiny baby, and has ever since, but I would check him four times a night.

I did take some painkillers, about half an hour ago, I think they make me run on a bit.

Anyway, yeah, I annoy myself with all this. I beat up on myself, get over it, at your age this is embarrassing, lose some fucking weight, whatever. If it was that easy don’t you think I would?

Sometimes I feel like, if I figured out exactly where it all went wrong, and how to fix it, time would kinda invert and roll back on itself, and I’d get a do-over.

I have to let it go, again and again.

Ash x

When I crash, it’s like this leaching hole of nothingness, and then frantic manic activity while I try to claw my way out. It’s cigarettes and beer and sedatives and sex. It’s sneaky and insidious and before I know it, I don’t want to get out of bed, the horses’ shoes are falling off and I don’t know what we’re going to have for dinner again. So much of this is internal, and well-hidden, but it’s seeping out, and people are actually noticing. I can’t hide behind ‘treatment’, or ‘just tired’ anymore, and I don’t want to be like this. No-one believes I’m mentally ill, just traumatised, but when does one melt into the other? Where is this blurred line?

Recovery is yoga, vegetarianism and writing. It’s light and warmth, friends and work. Quiet productivity. I just, I can’t keep this cycle going. I can’t get out of it either. It hurts. I got through cancer and separation and abuse and judgement, but this is fucking my life up. It doesn’t feel fair. Like I’ve said before, there’s no balance, there’s no ‘go through hell now and then things will level out’ trade-off.

I know I could do well at life, on my terms, if I could get out of this. When I’m well, I’m dynamic, I get shit done, I’m bright. When I’m not ok, I systematically destroy that, like knocking down sandcastles at the beach. I fought SO HARD for what we have. I took on someone I love when I wanted to just give in, and say ‘you know what? Have the house. Fucking burn it down’. I fought myself and I fought him. I sold things and took out loans and I neglected myself so my son wouldn’t have to see any more pain.

On the surface, it was worth it.

Dig a little deeper, maybe not.

I love this. When I get what I want, I never want it again.

Ash x

ps – if you like me – #cometothepartycourtneylove I have a significant birthday coming up and I can live in hope 😉

Being single has blown me wide open. A couple of years ago I could never have imagined myself being deliberately, consciously alone, craving that time with myself rather than just as a default, in-between state. My relationships have gotten deeper, including with my son, as we’ve adjusted to life being how it is; feeling full instead of that man shaped space next to me.

It makes me smile when my friends and family crack one liners like ‘someone needs to make an honest woman out of you’, ‘you’re hell on men’, and the ever-popular ‘I can understand you being a commitment-phobe now, after everything’. I’m not alone. I’m not commitment phobic. I’m committed to my friends and my son and my life but mostly I’m committed to myself, and there’s something special about that. It makes me laugh when well-meaning relatives click their tongues and sympathise, ‘the right one will come along when you’re not looking for him’.

Maybe he will, and maybe he won’t. and I’ll be whole either way. I haven’t had an actual date in probably a year and occasionally I’d like to go on one, but then I just do something nice for myself instead. I have a market stall with my best friend now, and I love meeting people and getting to know customers – people reveal so much about themselves when there’s no expectations and no formality. It’s so cool, all these quirky amazing people from all walks of life. I love it.

I’m getting along better with Bailey’s dad, we’re not quite friends, but we’re communicating effectively. I want good things for him. We’re not looking like dragging each other through court now, and I know we could get into a massive argument tomorrow, throw goodwill out the window and try to destroy each other, but I don’t think it will happen. This feels like a genuine shift. I stood up for myself – without shouting, arguing or attacking. And it worked, I think. He can’t walk all over me and he respects me as the parent who sticks by Bailey no matter what, who finds solutions and doesn’t make him into someone he’s not. I respect him as Bailey’s father who loves him, and I leave them to their relationship, even though it’s not my ideal. That letting go is hard, but it has to happen, and I do it again and again.

There’s this sense of freedom and possibility that has come with being single for me, once I got through the (horrific, gut-wrenching, sickness inducing) pain of separation, that is. I’ve been able to get to know myself, be authentic and uncompromising. I think our education system would put my son through pain, so I pulled him out and he stays home. I lived at the beach for a year because I felt like it. I came back because I thought it was our best option. I sell hemp products because I believe that’s important. I didn’t have to debate with anyone about those decisions. I didn’t have to consider anyone’s feelings except mine and my now 7 year old son’s.

I’m not shunning the idea of a relationship, but I’m loving where I’m at, especially after how long it took me to get here. This has been the hardest, most worthwhile work of my life. When I have a bad day, I know it’s just a day, and I don’t need anyone to fix it for me. I had never experienced being able to soothe myself. I’ve always been with someone or pining over someone or had a fall-back person. This whole ‘love yourself and life is not bullshit’ thing actually holds some credibility, who knew?

Sunsets are just as beautiful alone.

Ash xx

Last night, I had the strangest dream (I sailed away to China, on a little rowboat to find ya). No, I dreamt I was dead, really dead, and I could see everything and know what happened, but then there was God, and I realised I’ve been wrong all these years, and oh fuck there is a God, and what happens now?

Even asleep, I knew I wouldn’t have done much differently anyway. Actually, a god-like figure in my life probably would have just given me someone else to fight with, to pull back from, to blame for my own shortcomings.

Anyway, I could also see everyone I love, and some I don’t, and what was going to happen in each persons life and how inevitable it all is. It was devastating watching people throw themselves on fires of drugs and dysfunction and burning nothingness, having no idea.

Hmm.

So, this morning, I got up, went to work. Didn’t feel like doing too much, so came home and felt shitty. Last week I blitzed the place, washed the horses, worked everyone, premade feeds, scrubbed waters. I have a feral pony here, supposed to be in work, I’m probably doing a quarter of what I should be.

This is recovery. This is coping.

Turns out it’s not all physical. My brain throws out the weirdest shit some days and I get these thoughts that go around and round, oh God, is there a way I can be made to do mainstream treatment, what if my car blows up, I have no money, blah blah blah. I got so used to living with anxiety for actual reasons that now my brain looks for them. Things are actually good! And getting better, and I’m so grateful.

Ash xx