Friday, February 24, 2017

Breaking News

"There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed." Ernest Hemingway said that or something like it, or at least that's what the internet claims.

And for a long time that's what I did here. This was fun and this was journaling my life but this was therapy, too. It's hard to explain but the sitting down and bleeding is where it's really at with writing; I write all day long some days, content marketing pieces and catalog blurbs and other people's bios, without feeling like I've written anything at all.

It's the emotional release. The letting the blood of your feelings drip onto (what is now virtual) paper, like how medieval physicians drained bad humors through blood letting. It doesn't actually help at all, but it allows me to feel like I've done something and relieves me of a few ounces of emotion.

The surprising part about this particular medium is that other people stop to look at the wound, and often share the scar they have from a similar one, or a story about how they're bandaged up in the same way right now, or sometimes they just say, "Well, you do bleed beautifully, though," or they email me and tell me their innermost fears and secrets and dreams and I think, "Oh my god, me too, me too, and we'll be okay."

Hemingway needed some of that in his own life probably.

And then, as with all good things, it got complicated. The blog got popular. Work nudged me to do it under my own name. Local people began recognizing me from my newspaper column. The kids got older. The stories I wanted to tell weren't always my own.

So I slipped into the funny girl role, my mask online and off, when I can muster the energy to show up at all. Just a little louder, a little sillier, a little "no, not at me, look over there" instead. The autopilot, non-authentic, neutral while over-the-top, less conflicted or confrontational me with a hint of self-deprecating darkness.

Boring as fuck. Sorry about her.

There's this thing about motherhood -- womanhood? -- life? I don't know since I'm all of those things. But this thing where you're constantly giving stuff up for the sake of others. Little things like the last cookie and big things like small dreams. I'm down with that, that's the work and that's the job, but there's a realization that I've given up my voice and some of my part in my own story and I don't really know that it's a necessary sacrifice.

So. Breaking news. I'm a human being. A seriously flawed one, from the evidence I've been gathering. I guess the fear is that my children or reputation will somehow be tarnished if I'm honest about the extent of that (let's pretend we don't have years where I've already revealed it for the sake of this conversation, okay?) or maybe no one will love me.

That's pretty dumb though. So I'm going to just get that out of the way now -- I suck at all kinds of stuff. Even more lately. Like, you'd think I'd just get better and better at everything but that's not the case at all. I mean, I don't think I've played it off like I'm the non-prison version of Martha Stewart or anything and I think I admit that I suck often enough for you to believe it, but I just want a full on disclaimer from this point on that anything I say or do should not reflect badly on anyone else.

Unless I specifically tell you that person is at fault/to be blamed. Then you do it without question because whose friend are you anyway?

Anyway. That was a long and convoluted intro to announce the separation of my marriage. And writing about it right now is a dick move because I haven't even told some of our closest friends and don't know which family members know.

I am unable to communicate, really. But I need to bleed. Please don't take it personally. I probably would, but I'm asking you not to.

After 19 years of being together, I am working on finding a new way in the world. It is utterly, hilariously, horrifically, exhaustingly, chaotically, mathematically impossible in a way that makes me laugh, cry, shrug, shriek, sob, scheme and sigh all day long. From SWAT teams showing up next door at 2am, to frozen pizzas melting onto the oven heating element, to flu and pink eye and co-pays and failed job interviews, learning the pool pump and investigating the water heater and remembering trash day and wondering how grills work. The other night I had a headache and stayed awake until 3am wondering if the cats would start eating me before the kids woke up if I died overnight.

I challenge the children to rap battles and dance offs in the kitchen and then go cry on the bathroom rug while praying to a God I'm really reluctant to believe in. I help with homework I don't understand at the exact same time I'm sending out my constantly revised resume, while the frozen pizza is melting onto the oven element. I burn all the food, all the time. I have way too many cats and I could not live without them. I bought myself gummy bears the other night and lost a crown on the third one in. I also lost 10 pounds, which should be great but my clothes don't fit and motherfuckers keep telling me to eat a sandwich.

Don't tell people to eat a sandwich, maybe just make them a sandwich.

My personal mantra went from "You are strong. You are smart. You are sweet" (all things I don't quite believe) to "Just keep swimming" to "You're not dying" (and sometimes that fact makes me mad).

I mourn my marriage and fear my future.


That's the crazy part. I have literally no reason to have any hope at all, and I'm still dumb enough to do it. It's amazing.

I'm so human and that's so wonderful, even in the moments I wish it would stop.  Life is an incredible mess, and I mean incredible in the good sense of the word. It's fine. It really is.

One day it will be.

So. That's where we are right now. I don't know where we're going. There's an excellent chance we might burn the house down while trying to get there. People may starve along the way. I could end up homeless, which would be an exciting plot twist as long as I had wifi. Our journey will be more Oregon Trail and less Eat. Pray. Love.

Eat. Pray. Love was some bullshit anyway.

But I might need to bleed all over the place while we work this out and I need the world to know that I need you right now even if I'm still laughing too loudly sometimes. Thank you in advance for loving me anyway.


Kim said...

Oh Ashley, I'm so very sorry to read your news. I think you are a truly amazing mom with two wonderful, smart, loving boys. I am hoping good things for all of you.

big mamabird said...

Shy commenter here to say hang in there baby and bleed all you need to, we can all relate and we love you anyway...

Caitlin said...

I always read your posts but don't always comment (I know you hate me, IT'S FINE) but just want to say that I'm pulling for you and that god don't I just love everything you write. Thinking of you all <3

Unknown said...

Another lurking reading who has enjoyed your writing and voice for many years (I think I found you from a Babycenter board???) who wishes you and your family - especially those wicked smart and funny boys - much peace and strength right now. Definitely, just keep swimming.

Megan said...

When I first began reading this post, I thought you were about to say that you're going to stop writing. And I was selfishly sad.

But then, my jaw dropped and my heart sank, and it's as if I could feel your feelings. I am so sorry your family is going through this. I wish you all peace and strength.

Fidgetym said...

Chaws are in your corner. Keep fighting baby, and we'll keep rubbing your shoulders and handing you water,
By the way,fucking gut-wrenching beautiful writing. <3

Judy Soltis said...

My heart is hurting for you and your precious boys. I can't pretend to know how this feels, but I can tell you that I will keep you in my thoughts and hope that you can wake up each morning and just keep breathing. If you ever make it to South Carolina, you've got a friend here.... and I have cats, so you'd feel right at home. Sending love and hugs to you and your boys.

Melanie said...

I don't always comment like I should, but just know that we are all here for you. And we are excited about your new journey even when it looks scary. Or funny.

housefulofboys said...

Long time reader, not much of a commenter (sorry!). I have not been divorced but I have been through gut-wrenching, existence-threatening life events, that I feared for my sanity and my children's futures. I'm old now and on the other side, and here to tell you (that which I know you already know) - there is another side, there is a happy future. Take sleeping pills if you need to, and just keep going. You'll get there. Best thoughts to you and your family. e.

jenn said...

I've been reading for years but rarely comment. I'm so sorry to hear you're going through this. We are here for you, so vent away. No judgment, just support and love. You ARE strong, smart, and sweet, You have an amazing relationship with your beautiful boys. It will be ok, but it will also be weird and rough at first. You've got this.

short and sharp said...

You're fantastic. You're amazing. This is one of the hardest times and look at you, still writing, still rap might not feel it but you've got this!

kateebee said...

When stuff happens and people ask "How are you doing?", the reply is "I will be great! Thank you".
Which really means, right now might kinda suck and if I talk about it I'll cry. So I will focus on the what will be and that is I will be great. I've got goals. Thank you for giving the chance to speak this affirmation out loud.

We have altered the "when one door closes another door opens" to

When one door closes it could be a door, window, crack in the wall or loose floorboard that takes its place.
Find the opening, pry it wider. Dig with your spoon until you get out of that room and into a new one.
And if you need another hand with a spoon, please ask.
We are here for each other.

(you can also use the spoon for ice cream)

Kerrie said...

Thinking of you xx

Lisa @ Lisa Moves said...

delurking to say I'm sorry to hear that, bleed all over the keyboard if you need to, and hugs to you.

Unknown said...

I am SO lucky to have you all. Really and truly. Julia, I REMEMBER THAT EMAIL. I probably remember all of the emails, even the ones I don't answer. It blows me away every single time that anyone cares ever. Kateebee, I like that so much I copied and pasted it to my notepad for further pondering, I can't address every comment because I can barely even dress, little less address, but I know so many of you from so far back and it honestly means so much to me. <3

Every single time I start to lose my faith in people, amazing people appear in my path and I need to do a better job at remembering that you're all here all the time.

Renee said...

I'm here for you, any way I can be. If you need a road trip, come see D.C. with your boys! we have plenty of room for you all.

Unknown said...

I'm so sorry Ashley. Stay strong <3

Rachel said...

Loooooong time reader/lurker (sorry) here to give my support and wish you and your family only the best. I can't try to be in your shoes or offer any advice but you are certainly in my thoughts... one day, one hour, one minute at a time. <3

Aniiksa said...

First-time commenter here (like so many others, it seems!) to say ... actually, I don't know what to say at all - I just wanted to say SOMETHING. So, erm, I guess I'll say that I send my love and thoughts your way from over here in the UK, and I'll tell you that I think you're an astonishing human being anyway, and other sappy things ... and if you need to vent, then you vent. If anyone here judges you for being you, then they shouldn't be here at all.

Anonymous said...

I almost never comment (sorry, I'm lazy AND shy) but I've been following you a long time and I love you (not in a creepy way) and I'll be here.

Karen Smith said...

I've been reading your blog for years and never commented. I'd apologise but I rarely comment on any blog so you can't take it personally. And you know what? Everyone on this earth is imperfect and mostly doesn't know what the hell they're doing. (I often remind myself that in 100 years, all new people.)
I can relate. I can empathise. I can tell you that it will get better but intellectually you know that and frankly, it's a mute point right now. Just get through one day at a time, sometimes one hour. Itty bitty steps, eating the elephant one bite at a time. Eventually, the treasure hunt for yourself will be worth it. You have only one life so live it your way. And keep the blood flowing as you're touching more lives than you know.

Anonymous said...

I got separated when my kids were 3 and 18 months. I could not agree with K.Smith more. I went from just bulldozing through days with every bit of grit I have to actually loving being liberated. Wish you luck.

Barbara said...

I am so sorry I am late to commenting, I have no excuse except that I read blogs on a tablet and I cannot sign into Google with it because the password is too long and complicated. So that now I am finally on my laptop, please accept all my condolences. I am sorry life is hard right now, you and your stories have brought me great joy over the years, I've been a reader since little kid used to climb and find Sharpies everywhere.

I wish I had words of wisdom to offer you.