Me. Mine.

It was during high school, one afternoon, in an upstairs hallway.

I’d come to the conclusion I wanted to end the relationship.  We’d been together awhile (probably around a year) and while things were good at times, overall things were bad.  My boyfriend–my first real boyfriend–was clingy, demanding and manipulative.  He wanted to plan matching outfits every day.  He constantly compared our relationship, especially the physical aspect (really, the lack thereof), to his best friend.  If I was having a good day and he wasn’t, he went out of his way to ignore me until my day was shitty too.

So, I told him it was over.  He rested his head against the wall, silent.  I though the conversation went as well as it possibly could have…until he reared back and slammed his forehead into the glass of a picture frame hanging on the wall.  In disbelief, I backed toward a classroom door, hoping to escape quickly.

Locked.

Shock quickly turned to fear.

Luckily, other students were farther down the hallway and heard the commotion.  I hurried back to class and frantically told my teacher what happened; she rushed out to assist him.  My cousin came to check on me and I told him I was fine, he hadn’t hurt me.

The painful part came afterward, when I was asked to keep quiet about what happened.

My ex begged me not to tell anyone what happened.  He hoped to join the military and worried this would negatively impact his chances.  His mom and sister came to me with the same request.  I was horrified.  was supposed to protect him? He was upset, they said.  That behavior wasn’t like him; his future was at stake.

He.  Him.

My college boyfriend–my first real love–went home for the summer while I stayed in town and worked.  Toward the end of the summer, he told me he wanted to take me out to dinner–to talk to me about something–when he got back.  He was very mysterious, refusing to tell me what he wanted to talk about, and I thought for sure he was going to propose.  Turns out, he wanted to break up.  (Thank God I got him to tell me over the phone instead of in a restaurant.)

But after that, we were still cordial…until he got upset with me for not buying a computer from him.  See, he worked at a computer store and I came in one day and bought a brand new laptop–but not while he was on shift.  He could have used that commission, he said.  He thought I would have wanted to help him out.

He.  Him.

Too often, women are expected to take ownership for what men do.  Recently, the trial and conviction of Bill Cosby illuminates this disgusting facet of our society.  Why did she go to his hotel room?  What did she expect would happen?  Why is she coming forward now?  He’s an old man; he’ll die in prison because of this.  What about him, his legacy as a Black actor?

He.  Him.

It sickens me for a number of reasons, but mostly because it happened to me.  I completely understand the anger, the sadness, the frustration, and the guilt that comes with being made to feel like you have to take care of someone totally able to care for himself.

Women are socialized to care, to nurture, to feel.  We are expected to be firm, but kind.  We are taught to be nice. Even at our own expense.

This goes for everyone, but especially for women–we need to start taking care of ourselves.  It isn’t selfish to protect yourself from harm.  It isn’t mean to tell the truth.

Honestly, I hesitated to even write this post. What if my two exes, their friends and families, got upset with me? What if I hurt their feelings? What if I made them mad?

Then I realized–I can’t worry about them. I have to worry about me. One of my intentions this year is to speak my truth. I’m finally telling the truth I’ve felt obligated to keep quiet for so long.

Me. Mine.

You don’t owe anyone your self-esteem, your time, your money, or your silence–especially if they aren’t willing to positively invest in you.

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Best of 2017

So.  2017 was an…interesting year.  So much craziness went on in the world (including, but not limited to, somebody’s President acting a fool constantly) but plenty of good things happened too!

Here’s is my list of personal highlights from 2017 (in no particular order):

  1. Getting back into acting…kinda:  I completed recording for my first lead role in an audio drama!  I’m used to acting for stage and screen, so doing just vocal work was new to me, but it was a fantastic experience.  And y’all–this story is SO GOOD.  I can’t wait for you to hear it.  Please check out Who Killed Julie?, debuting later this year!
  2. #relationshipgoals:  My boyfriend and I celebrated one year together!  Wonderful can’t even describe this man.  He has been so supportive and understanding (given my rocky last relationship) and I can’t imagine my life with out him.
  3. International travels:  It was a bit late in the year, but I went to Ontario, Canada for a work trip in December.  I had never been to Canada before and was excited to get another stamp on my passport.  I’d love to go back for fun instead of work (preferably in the summer months).
  4. Mommy/daughter Costa Rican extravaganza:  I guess technically this falls under international travels too, but it was so awesome I had to give it a special shout out.  My mother and I took a trip to Costa Rica in October that was so wonderful.  Look for more details on our adventures in a FOUR PART series next month!
  5. Three decades of life:  This year, I turned 30!  Honestly, I feel like I acted like a 30-year-old long before my actual birthday, so it is nice to have my age match my maturity level.  🙂  I’ve come a long way from that girl who first boarded a plane at the age of 16, who thought she’d live and die in the great commonwealth of Kentucky.  I’ve learned a lot along the way and I can’t see what the good Lord has in store for me for the next 30 years.
  6. My squirrel friend’s wedding, my other squirrel friend’s baby, and just general squirrel friend shenanigans:  This year I was blessed to see my good friends make awesome moves in life.  One had a daughter, who is now a DRDIT (Drag Race Diva In Training).  One got married in a beautiful ceremony in upstate New York (which I was fortunate enough to be able to attend).  One finally freed herself from an abusive relationship.  And so many called, texted, Skyped, or just hung out with me.
  7. Girls Trip:  If you haven’t seen it, you must.  I’m not sure if I’ve ever laughed that hard in a movie theater.
  8. StellaMy brand new car!  You know, after seven years, I finally feel safe driving in these Wisconsin winters.  It’s amazing.
  9. Workin’ on my fitness:  2017 marked one full year since I started working with my personal trainer.  I’ve lost 20 lbs so far (and improved my eating too)!
  10. Fully realizing the awesomeness of Amazon Prime:  “Why yes, I did order a dish drainer online.  Couldn’t I have just gone to the store and bought one?  Absolutely!  But…why?”

Tell me–what’s on your “Best of 2017” list?  What are you hoping to accomplish in 2018?

Movies, Flea Markets, and Parental Advice #100HappyDays

Day 54: Curriculum design makes me happy. I spent most of the day working on new stuff for work, and it was…kind of awesome. Most people wouldn’t be geeked to spend a whole day in front of Word documents and Excel spreadsheets, but putting together this new program to help people learn our software better makes this geeky gal pretty happy. 

Day 55: Movies make me happy. Especially when you can watch them in the comfort of your own home–DVDs from the library for the win! 

Day 56: Flea markets make me happy. Yes, you read that right:  flea markets. My daddy and I used to go to the flea market all the time when I was little; I loved seeing all the cool stuff for sale. So, when I found out a flea market was going on near my house I definitely wanted to check it out. I didn’t buy anything, but I did see some interesting stuff–I’d love to go to more flea markets now that the weather is nice. 

Day 57: Parental advice makes me happy. At least once a week, I call my parents to catch up…and also ask for advice (usually about basic adult stuff that I should probably know already, but don’t). Lucky for me, they are always willing to give it andddd it’s always great advice! Win-win!

Day 58: Being in a supportive relationship makes me happy.  My boyfriend is there for me whenever I need him, and I am so lucky (and happy) because of it. 

Rude Girl

Apparently, I’m rude.

I mean, I didn’t even curse!  No personal insults or attacks.  Not even an angry emoji or two. Just a single iMessage after multiple disappointments:

“I said before I want a friendship with someone who has time and energy to hang out with me.  I don’t think that is you. Best of luck in the future, but do not contact me again.”

In the words of Queen Bey “you must not know ’bout me” because, baby–I can show you rude if you really wanna see it. I purposefully waited a day before responding because my original response was hella rude.

He must have also conveniently forgotten that his rude behavior caused this reaction.  I mean, he was the one who:

  1. Disappeared for MONTHS after our first date–no phone call, text, telegram, smoke signal, NOTHING.
  2. Randomly popped back into my life expecting me to forget I hadn’t heard from him in literally five months.  He asked me if he could “make it up to me” which he did by…
  3. Continuously made sexual innuendos and constantly commented on my body, which made me extremely uncomfortable. (When I asked him to stop, he said he would “back off.” I didn’t ask you to back off, sir. I asked you to STOP.)
  4. Touched my hair without my permission.  Like, not just a pat–his hands were IN MY HAIR.  (To his credit, he stopped when I asked, but please don’t touch me without my permission. That is very, very rude.)
  5. Telling me he didn’t feel like making the drive to see me (after I drove to see him the last time we hung out) and making plans with me, but cancelling the day of because his “night kinda disappeared with a bunch of stuff.”  <~~~WTF does that even mean?

So, sir–if being up front about not wanting inconsistent people in my life is rude, then I don’t want to be polite.

Boy, bye. 

The (Not So Great) Compromise

Compromise:  “a concession to something derogatory or prejudicial.”

Dang, Merriam-Webster.  That’s a little harsh, don’t you think?  (Though I’m certain advocates for the Virginia Plan would side with you.)

I like the simple definition better:  “a way of reaching agreement in which each person or group gives up something that was wanted in order to end an argument or dispute.”

The key word in that definition?  Each.  Each person gives up something.  Not one, but each.

I met someone who by all accounts was exactly what I wanted.  Handsome.  Intelligent.  Successful.  Wonderful listener.  Socially conscious.  Empathetic.  Great teeth (don’t judge me, as everyone has their preferences and this is one of mine).  But there was a teeny, tiny catch…

He was into open dating.

And, well…I’m…not.

It’s fine if others want to have open relationships, but I’m just not that kinda gal.  Call me prissy, prudish, old-fashioned, unrealistic, whatever you want–it’s just not for me.  I’m the type of person who goes all in when I commit to something, so that’s what I want in return.  I’m also an only child, so sharing isn’t my strong suit (again, don’t judge me, as everyone has their flaws and this is one of mine).

So when he mentioned the subject with me, I listened to his rationale.  I heard him out. I let him explain what it all meant and how he practiced it. (All the while hearing my intuition screaming, “Girl!  What.  Are.  You.  Thinking?!?  This is not your lane!  Don’t go there!  This is not what you want!”)

And yet…I said I’d think about it.  I honestly considered being one of many, even though my heart disagreed.  This man was 80% what I needed him to be.  I could live without that 20%, right? No one’s perfect.  I was willing to compromise.  That’s what adults are supposed to do–compromise!  Each person gives up something for the greater good.

…But that wasn’t what was happening.  Each person wasn’t giving up something.  I was giving up something, and something I really, really  want:  Monogamy.  Faithfulness.  A one-and-only kind of love.

I don’t think that kind of love is impossible.  I’ve seen it happen and I know it can happen for me.  But it surely won’t if I keep doing this fake ass “compromising.”

I told him every man in my life (until recently) has let me down.  They abandoned me.  They decided that some one or something else was more important than me.  I do not want that any more.  I refuse to commit someone who is not willing to give everything, because that’s what I’m willing to give.  I will not be second best.

I deserve someone who will make me their one.  Their only.

So we decided it wasn’t going to work out.  He’s a great person; I won’t cross the street or cuss his ass out if I ever see him again.  He’s just not the one for me.

I was in my feelings a little bit after our decision to part ways and stumbled across this gem that reaffirmed I was taking the best action for my life.

Here’s to falling in love for the right reason and finding someone to share me…with me.

Ashley in Tinder-land

“But I don’t want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked.
“Oh, you can’t help that,” said the Cat: “we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”
“How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice.
“You must be,” said the Cat, “or you wouldn’t have come here.”

Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

I must be mad, y’all.  Sunday night, I did something I swore I’d never do again…

I got back on Tinder.

Now, my previous Tinder experiences have been lackluster at best.  (Yes, at BEST.)  Some of the men I’ve had the displeasure of meeting include:

…the one who asked me (before we’d ever met) if I liked to give head.

…the one who (after a pretty great date) disappeared for five months, then tried to come back into my life only to be too busy to spend time with me.

…the one who (again, before we’d ever met) called me damaged because I refused to cosign on his claim that he was the best thing that ever happened to me EVEN THOUGH I HAD NEVER MET HIM.  He claimed I was “choosing a Buick over a Bentley” (whatever that means).

…the one who sexually harassed me, then bashed Black women (a.k.a. women who look just like me) on Facebook.

…the one who had a girlfriend the entire time we were dating.  His girlfriend actually contacted me to find out the details of our relationship.

Y’all can see why Tinder-land wasn’t a place I wanted to stay for an extended period of time.

But because I’m optimistic–or a glutton for punishment, I’m not quite sure–I’ve decided to give it another try because I want to find love.  My last relationship was pretty terrible.  My Tinder experiences weren’t much better.  But through it all, I’ve learned a few things:

  • Distancing myself from toxic people is okay.  In fact, it is necessary for my personal sanity.
  • I don’t owe anyone anything.  A man doesn’t deserve a date, an explanation, or a minute of my time just because he decided to speak to me.
  • I shouldn’t settle for just anyone.  The man God has for me will be all I need him to be.
  • High standards yield high results. Holding myself to a higher standard (and expecting the same from the men I interact with) will help me weed out the ones who don’t deserve me.
  • Self-love is a prerequisite to a loving relationship.  In the words of one of my role models, RuPaul, “If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell are you gonna love somebody else?”
  • I am worthy of unconditional love.

So with all of those lessons learned, I’m ready to head back to Tinder-land.  Lewis Carroll said it better than I ever could:

“It’s no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then.”

Here we go…

Nothing Less

Life is too short to waste time on those that don’t deserve it. Every person you hold dear should improve your life and make you a better person in some way. If they aren’t bothered with making time for you, keeping promises, or caring about your feelings, keep it moving. They don’t want to invest in you, so why should you invest in them?

It can be hard to end those relationships and sever those ties, but it must be done. You deserve to be surrounded by people who care about you and want to make you a better person, not those who only care when it’s convenient or beneficial to them. You are worthy of dedication, love, and respect. 

Accept nothing less.