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The Box

Published March 24, 2012 by Ashley

I haven’t kept up with this blog as I had planned to. School, work, on and on, have gotten in the way. Mostly, a boy named Chase  has gotten in the way. Chase is the nephew of my best friends. He is fourteen years old and dying of cancer. His hospice team arranged for him to go to the junior high prom. A local news station covered it and the video was posted to youtube.

One of my friends made an offhand comment that she would “love to see it go viral.” I decided to make that my mission… and it grew from there. I’ve been calling businesses, theme parks, schools, emailing churches, building blogs, twitter accounts, facebook…

It all went well until I decided to interview Chase and his father for CNN’s iReport. One meeting with Chase changed my life forever. I was paralyzed. My own presumption in thinking that I could have an impact. To think that I could ever make a difference. Getting Chase’s story to go viral vanished. Simply doing something to help my friends vanished. It was all about Chase. I was absorbed.

His father was hoping for a miracle cure. I latched onto the idea, determined to raise the hundreds of thousands of dollars needed… then I looked into the cure. I should have known, but it was bullshit. Utter bullshit. It is more likely to finish a patient off than to save them. My father in law told me that it was too late in any case. I refused to consider that. It is never too late. Surely Chase could live.

Now Chase is having hallucinations. The blog is getting some traffic. I have gotten some emails for Chase. I got a school to make him cards. His aunts are very pleased. They tell me that they are so grateful and that they will always remember this. I watch as their eyes hollow out daily. They look like they are dying with Chase. Their faces strain like they are fighting not to scream and their eyes are sunken and dull. Sometimes, looking into their eyes scares me. I’m not sure why. I think it is frightening to face that degree of grief.

And now I understand that grief better than I could have ever imagined before. I have held Chase’s hand. I hugged him and spoke with him. I love this child so much. I would die in his place. And I will never be the same again.

And now I know that nothing I do will ever be enough. It isn’t about his aunts anymore. It is about Chase. Nothing I can accomplish will ever be enough. I almost succeeding in getting him sent to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Now Chase is speaking to people who are not there. It is too late for Harry Potter. Too late for phony treatments. The only thing left to do is to watch Chase die.

He is not my relative, but I want to move into his house. He is afraid to sleep sometimes. I want to quit work and school and sit with him all night, singing to him. Making sure that he is not afraid. I want to be there for him. I want to see him again. He has so much trouble speaking now, but you can see him his eyes that he has so much to say. I want to sit on the edge of his bed and tell him, “Honey, I don’t care if it takes an hour for you to say one sentence. I’ll wait. Tell me everything you want to say. I’ll sit here forever if I have to. I’ll listen to every word.”

I can’t do any of this. It isn’t my place. I ask for news. I edit video footage. I update a blog and twitter and facebook and wait. I hope for news that Chase has slipped into a coma before he begins to suffer more. I wait for the phone call telling me that I was too late, just like with Chase’s trip to Florida. That everything is too late because Chase is dead.

Part of me feels so blessed to have had those few hours with Chase. Part of me is so glad that I have gotten to help him in any small way. And part of me wishes that I had never met him. That I had helped him from a distance, never getting a hug from him. Because Chase changed something inside of me forever. That comforting, distant place where you can safely store stories of suffering children. That little box that you can stick it into, to make it into an image or a story… that essential disconnect that prevents these stories from becoming flesh in your mind. Chase ripped that box out of me.

I will never be the same again.

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Marriage is the desired condition for any woman

Published February 4, 2012 by Ashley

I think that maybe when a simple question regarding a twenty dollar knee brace turns into a fight, there is a problem. I think that maybe this is even worse when one of you is at work and the other is attempting to write an essay. I think that maybe the worst sign of all is when one of you is encouraged to go outside and throw things.

Forest Gump was right. Sometimes there just aren’t enough fucking rocks. And sometimes the rocks you do find come perilously close to missing the tree you are aiming at and hitting a neighbor’s house instead. Sometimes, this potential civil suit combined with the knowledge that your indoor cat has jumped the fence again, requires the use of a sturdy tree branch. Sometimes, you just have to beat the shit out of that fucking tree. Sometimes, trees have to be shown who is boss.

And sometimes, your meds aren’t strong enough.

I am more than

Published January 31, 2012 by Ashley

This is my second post in only a day, but things here felt far too dark for me. This blog is not about self-pity or rehashing the past over and over. This blog is about me. The main thing I have struggled with is my identity. Others have defined me. So many others that I have absorbed their definition of me and made it my own. It is not. This is my attempt to reclaim myself. So here is a bit more about me.

I’m married. I work a full time job and take 14 credit hours at a local college. I love to sing, but my crippling stage fright will only allow me to do it in the car. I dance terribly. I’m always covered in bruises and I never know exactly how I got them. My family guess that they are the result of me randomly walking into door frames, side view mirrors, tripping on my own pants…

I love animals and I have the greatest cat in the world, a Maine Coon named Niko. I have a very strange family that I love very much. I read everything that I can get my hands on. I am a firm believer in reproductive rights, universal healthcare, and the separation of church and state. I become insanely passionate about these topics, to the point that none of those close to me will mention any of them.

I love having my nails painted and my hair done, but I can’t be bothered. I love yoga and bicycling. I can’t sit still long enough to watch a movie. I don’t think before I speak. I love sunshine and jokes. I want to be something. I want to break out of this mold that I have allowed myself to be placed into.

This blog won’t be an endless ramble of misery. I will write about my family, my job, my school…I will write about anything that could be informative or entertaining. I want to put my true self out there, out here. I want to share who I really am, not the woman that I was made into.

Hopefully, I can make some friends along the way.

-Ashley

Inspired by The Bloggess and The Traveling Red Dress

Published January 30, 2012 by Ashley

My name is Ashley. I’m 24 years old. I live in a tiny southern town where, stereotypically, every knows everyone else’s business. Today, I was reading about the Traveling Red Dress. I thought of Jenny Lawson’s (The Bloggess) courage in writing about her struggles. I’ve been called courageous by a lot of people, but I haven’t lived up to that title in years. This is my attempt to reclaim it.

I have had issues with mental health in the past.  I still deal with some of these issues today. Only this week, I was placed back on medication for anxiety. That is OK, but so many of us hide these sorts of illnesses. They do not make us less than. We should not be ashamed. I won’t be ashamed anymore.

I am a 24 year old “birth mother” or “first mother” who has fought eating disorders, PTSD, BDD, major depression, and anxiety. My child was conceived during a rape. I want to make clear that I love him no less, and that this did not influence my decision to choose adoption. However, I was fifteen years old and did not report the rape. My son’s biological father attempted to overturn the adoption. I fought for 18 months to keep my son safe with his parents.

To this day, that is my identity. The girl who gave her baby away. The girl who sold her baby. That whore who sold the baby. Stole the baby from his father. Ruined his life. On and on. After so long, I’m not even sure who I am anymore. I’ve become a caricature, even to myself.

I’m sick of running from that. I’m sick of being hurt by those comments. I know exactly what I did and I know why I did it. I have no shame.

This blog will likely chronicle a bit of my life today. I will tell stories about the things that I have gone through, in hopes that others will be helped. I will also try to rediscover who I am, outside of past diagnosis or accusations.

This blog will be my red dress…and if I happen to get my hands on one of the real Travelling Red Dresses, I will rock that dress. And post photos.