I hope you brought your umbrella
The New Normal
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I’m sad. Really, really sad. Desolate, even. After the weight of the relationship was lifted off of my shoulders with the realization I had a couple nights ago, I am left feeling drained, like my heart has been hollowed out and left to dry.

I realize I am not as over everything as I thought I was. Today I exclaimed “I don’t have to feel this way anymore! I don’t need to feel insecure and pathetic and desperate in a relationship anymore! I can be picky with who I date, and really take the time to find someone who appreciates me and cares about me.” However, I find myself still checking my phone every few minutes, hoping for a call or text seeking reconciliation. Every time we break up, I yearn to come home to find a letter from J, or a card, or any sign that he was thinking of me. This is in part because I have done it for him. I have written letters, drawn little cartoons, left cards… All so that he knew I still wanted him, that I was lost without him. If I’m being completely honest… I wanted to do it tonight. Perhaps this longing is partly due to my love of “A Streetcar Named Desire.” Having him stand outside my window, yelling “Ashleeeeeey! Hey, Ashley! Aaaaaashley!” with his anguish on his face is something I have often fantasized about. Just something, anything, to show that he still wants me as much as I want him.

I very nearly texted him when I got off of work tonight. I don’t want the last thing I said to him to be “Fuck you.” But… I also don’t want to open the floodgates. Even if I tell him to take care, to apologize for how I ended that conversation and tried to end this on a positive note, I know that I would be devastated when he ignored me, or if he responded with a goodbye instead of a “Wait… I want you to stay.” It is always how it happens. I end up feeling even lower than I did before I texted him. So I just can’t. I’ll just have to leave this as is. If he initiates conversation first, I hope I have the mental fortitude to say goodbye and let bygones be bygones. To not break down like I do every single time he walks back into my life. This is not a fairy tale, this is not Carrie and Mr. Big, this is Ashley and Jean, a tale of two lovers who were never meant to be.

And what a sad tale it is.

Ashley @ 6:08 AM
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So… After writing that short entry last night, and crying what felt like a sea of tears, I really thought about what I wanted, and tried to find a way to finally move on. I’m a tree draped in Spanish moss, but I’m the one clinging on to what is slowly killing me. Despite knowing that this is the relationship, I can never seem to let go. Every single time we fight and he tells me he doesn’t want me, we stop talking for a few days, then one of us caves. Generally me. I begin to worry that no one else will understand me like he does. I’ll never find someone that I can be completely myself around. I’ll never have such a close sexual relationship. But maybe… I can find someone who makes me a priority. Who doesn’t leave me desperately insecure with the relationship, and by extension, myself. Someone who will bring me to meet his parents, who won’t shy away from titles or dates that are deemed “too romantic” or from holding my hand in public. Who will bring me around his friends, and who I can bring around mine. Someone who I don’t have to hide from the people I love, because they (rightfully) despise him. Someone who will be mine, not everyone else’s first. Someone who won’t feed into my insecurities, but instead will build me up and help me realize I have nothing to worry about. That sounds like a far better option.

The other day, we were on the topic of regrets. He said he has none, because everything he chooses and has done has shaped who he is today. I asked if he regretted hurting people around him, or if he passed it off to predetermination because of past choices. He replied that he just doesn’t hurt people, it’s that easy. When I pointed out that he has hurt me, and asked if he regretted that, he said no. That was a slap in the face. Before that conversation, I could pass his actions off as something he didn’t realize affected me the way it is. Just plain ignorance. I was wrong. He knows when he hurts me, and I tell him each time he does it. Yet he isn’t fazed by it. I can’t wrap my head around not feeling any emotions at all when you hurt someone you say you care about. A total lack of empathy is alarming, but it sent up a red flag that I had to explore further.

When I Googled “lack of empathy,” the first thing that came up is narcissistic personality disorder. P.L.F.B. has often mentioned her armchair diagnosis of this and sociopathic tendencies, and it finally clicked when I took the time to read about narcissism. I have been feeding his ego, as Bitsy has always said, no wonder he wanted me around when it best suited him. I won’t go further into this, as obviously I cannot diagnose him and don’t want to tie him to the stake for his past actions. What I will say is that it takes a damaged person to do what he has done to me repeatedly, especially since he knows exactly what to say and do to push me off the deep end. Of course, it also takes a damaged person to allow it to happen over and over again for over two years. In a PsychologyToday article, it says “Lack of empathy is one of the most striking features of people with narcissistic personality disorder. It’s a hallmark of the disorder in the same way that fear of abandonment is in borderline personality disorder.” Isn’t it funny to see both things laid out so plainly? My diagnosed disorder and his potential disorder just hanging out side by side in those two sentences. The deck of the article says “Don’t expect them to listen, validate, or support you.” Haha. Why didn’t someone tell me this years ago? I just thought that if I worked hard enough at proving how much I loved him, he would realize I was worthwhile and would do these things for me. So naive. My thought process was that by fighting to keep him at my side, it would show him how serious I am, how much I want him, and he’d naturally want to stay. Who would walk away from someone desperately throwing themselves at you? Well, probably many people. It’s the plight of the borderline person to desperately ask them to stay (those pesky abandonment issues), and it’s the ego of the narcissist that gets fed when it happens. Talk about a self-fulfilling prophecy. He gets off on my pathetic begging. When he relents, it feeds my need to not be left alone. No one wins in this scenario. Why do I keep going back to a person who knows how to bring me to my knees in despair, and does it whenever he feels like it?

Sooo. What is the big breakthrough? The realization that has taken a load off of my shoulders? First, I had to pinpoint what I was clinging to. I realized the image of J I had in my head is a version of him that no longer exists. When I picture him, I imagine him returning from Australia, surprising me, spending his first night back with me. I was first in his life. The look in his eyes was one I will always, always remember. In that moment, I knew that he cared so much about me. That he felt about me what I felt about him. His eyes held every emotion I had but could not articulate. And last night, I realized that I will never see that look again. I have been waiting a year and a half for it. I’m waiting for someone who is long gone. In his place is someone different, and that’s fine. People change. Feelings do too. Now I need to change. I need to let go of the hope that things will go back to what they were that summer and that fall. I need to let go of my expectations that he will treat me the way I treat him. It’s time to let go of my perverse need for him. He doesn’t feel the way I feel, and never will. The end. By constantly getting back together with him, I am only delaying the inevitable, and causing myself more harm. So this is it. No more hurting. No more insecurity. No more feelings of insignificance, feeling that I’m not good enough and never will be. If this was love, I would never feel those emotions. I would feel secure, happy, beautiful and like more than enough. I deserve those things. I deserve happiness.

It’s time to let go.

Ashley @ 6:55 PM
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Well. Since the last post I wrote about wishing that I hadn’t have woken up after my birthday, not much has changed. I took it a step further a couple weeks ago and actually attempted suicide. I swallowed between 70-100 extra strength Tylenol. I cleared my browser history, my bookmarks, and anything else I didn’t want anyone else seeing. I put Dan Mangan on repeat. I wrote a letter telling my friends and family that I love them. I texted a few of them too. Not saying “Goodbye cruel world” or anything dramatic like that, just that I loved them. It isn’t unusual for me to say that, as I tell at least four of my closest friends that I love them. But somehow Holly knew something was off. She delved into why I sent that, and what was going on. When I just wanted to lay in my bed and wait for liver failure, I started freaking out about what would happen if I ended up vomiting some of the pills. If that happened, what if there weren’t enough in my system to kill me? What if I just made major liver failure, then had to go through life without one? I’m fairly certain that suicide attempts don’t get someone on the donor list if they mess up their organs. So I broke down and told Holly what I had done, and that I was scared. She called an ambulance, and I was taken to the hospital. She met me there.

So, what led up to this event? It’s actually laughable. It’s the same thing that led to the last two serious suicide attempts, to countless self-inflicted cuts and for days of absolute mental anguish. Just a fight with a guy I’m in love with. Just the overwhelming, choking, drowning fear of abandonment. Just what my BPD has overblown for years. I found out that the only guy I’ve ever shown my true, full self to, the good and the bad, was cheating on me. Most people would look at that as poorly reflecting on the cheater. Not me. Nope. I turned that all inward. It’s my fault. I wasn’t skinny enough. I wasn’t funny enough. I wasn’t pretty enough. I wasn’t Christian enough (at all) or Egyptian enough or extroverted enough to keep him interested. I just was. not. enough.

Ashley @ 2:58 AM
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This past Saturday was my birthday, and with it, I was hoping some new wisdom or strength. Instead, as soon as I got home from an incredible night with my favourite people, I texted Jean, lamenting why he didn’t want me. When he confirmed for the millionth time that I am nothing to him, my drunken mess of a self downed a handful of muscle relaxants and pain killers. I hoped that even though there weren’t as many pills as I would have liked, the combination of them and the booze might stop my breathing enough to kill me. It wasn’t the most well thought out plan, but at the moment, I was too drunk to put thought into anything but ending my mounting sadness and loneliness. In the end, I only ended up waking up an hour later and puking my guts out for hours, until my entire body ached and my stomach felt like it was being torn from my insides, and I took a cab to the hospital to get my stomach pumped. I was too messed up to even realize what was happening.

Hours later, I woke up in bed. I blinked and held back a sob. I was alive. It was the single biggest disappointment of my 24 years. Still alive, when I was so sick of living. I was alone, with no one to reach out to. PLFB is off with her boyfriend and couldn’t care less about what’s happening here, Guiness is no longer talking to me, Jean wants nothing to do with me, and I didn’t want to bother Holly with any more of my problems. My already aching body was racked with unrelenting tears that came from the core of my soul.

To be 24 and so full of self-loathing is asinine, especially when my life is so easy compared to millions of people. That guilt eats away at me too. Who am I to be so depressed? I’m not living in a slum in India. I’m not a sex worker in Thailand. I’m not a sick person in America with no health care. I’m a middle-class white girl with so much going for me, and I want more than anything for it to all end.

What am I going to do when I get back to school and have no one to talk to? Two more years of crushing loneliness. Living alone has been terrible and fantastic for the same reasons. It’s so nice to come home to a quiet apartment with no one to talk to, but it’s also awful to have no one to talk to when I need someone. I miss Brain and HBan so much. I miss the friendship we use to have.

I hate that my stupid drunken suicide attempt didn’t work. I also hate to think of the impact it would have had on my family and friends if it had worked out. I wish I could cut out all the empathy and guilt from my body, and just be a callous, cold person who didn’t give a shit about anyone but myself. Then I wouldn’t worry about anyone left behind in the wake of my passing. I could just focus on myself and my own issues, instead of worrying about making someone else sad. I am sad. And I feel too guilty to tell anyone about it.

It’s so hard to pretend nothing is wrong. I wish I didn’t wake up on Sunday. Now every waking moment is spent kicking myself for being such a failure I couldn’t get my death right twice now. I wish will was enough, because if it was, I would have been gone so long ago.

Ashley @ 3:54 AM
That awkward moment when:
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Your best friend chose her boyfriend over you, you realize that even after a year, you will never be loved back, your best guy friend decided you’re too “crazy” to talk to anymore, and you’re so fed up with yourself that you don’t reach out to anyone about feeling the way you do.

Stockpiled and ready to go. One last hoorah, then I just can’t do it.

Ashley @ 3:35 AM
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I give up.

It’s so hard to go through my day and pretend that I am fine with everything. Okay, so HBan doesn’t want me as a bridesmaid. Why does the end result mean that I have lost an entire group of friends? What happened between HBan and I has no bearing on anyone else, yet everyone is disappearing. Why has Holly walked away too? It’s so hard to feel as though two of three people who were my “best friends” are totally fine with walking away from a friendship that once meant so much. I don’t understand. I’ve tried to keep the friendships together, but they are in tatters. No one asks to see my new place. Now that I’ve moved out, it’s like I’ve moved across the world.

I feel completely alone. Everyone I know has moved forward without me, and are barely bothering to throw a backwards glance. All I want to do is buy a one-way ticket across the world, not tell anyone I’m leaving, and restart life. I suppose that’s a step forward from my old inclination to just end my life, right? Look, we’ve all moved forward.

When I fly to Florida in May for the cruise, perhaps I won’t get on the boat. Maybe I’ll stay in Florida, disappear into the crowd, and never be heard from again.

Ashley @ 6:55 AM
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I don’t know whether I am in love with J or I just want to sleep with him again. At home, when I’m in constant communication with him, I think that I love him. I want nothing more than to be his and have him be mine. But when I lay in my bed here in India, contemplating my heart, I wonder if it’s merely lust. I think about the fact that none of my friends like the way he treats me or any other girl, I remember how hurtful he is when he’s so cavalier with my emotions, and I realize that being with him would be so stupid. Then my insecurity comes out to play, the thoughts about not being attractive enough to ever be able to have him, and I want to give up.

Ashley @ 5:28 PM
Interesting thing to hear first thing this morning:
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“To have another night with you would most likely complete my soul.”


Ashley @ 5:10 PM
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Since childhood, I have denounced God, organized religion and even spirituality. Although I was raised in a Catholic household, and attended Catholic schools for eighteen years of my life, I knew very early on that I didn’t believe in any of it. I couldn’t fathom the thought of creationism, that we were plunked onto earth by some omnipotent being who lives in the clouds. I did not want to be a part of a religion that is stuck in the dark ages, one that frowns upon sex before marriage, homosexuality, and other realities of modern times. It upset my mom when I told her and started refusing to attend mass on Sundays, and it flabbergasted my teachers when they asked about it. I hated everything about organized religion, wasting an hour and a half of my weekend to listen to an old man indoctrinating people to follow the will of God OR ELSE FACE ETERNAL HELL FIRES. I hated listening to the same old thing year after year, and not seeing any changes at all that addressed society growing and evolving around us. I did enjoy learning about other religions that are followed around the world, but those classes spanned maybe five or six days of my entire kindergarten through grade 12 education.

I resented being forced to listen to the bullshit for so long that I rejected any form of spirituality. No praying, no meditating, no reflections, although I did continue learning (instructing myself) about various religions, especially the ones that seemed especially outlandish, such as Kabbalah and Scientology. I was also angry about being coerced into following many Muslim “rules” when I dated A. My biggest point of contention with religion was that it seemed to me that the ideals and beliefs of religious people were always thrust upon people who didn’t want to hear it. I also disagreed completely with the notion of a deity, someone who has determined how my life will turn out without me having any say in it at all. I believe that I make my own fate, and I refuse to accept that anyone else has any determination over it.

Since I turned 21 and started traveling, I began doing a lot of introspection and self-reflection. It started me on a path of pursuing knowledge about meditation and religions that were focused less on the concept of God and more on the concept of being a good person, of being a positive spirit and caring for the world, and being grateful for what you have. I have been reading a lot about Eastern religions, especially Buddhism. I love the idea of the entire thing, doing good and receiving good, taking pleasure from simple things, the whole “middle road” ideal of moderation, everything about it. Hinduism is also interesting me, the thought of dharma, karma and going through life and death in cycles until the soul reaches liberation, and freedom from the pain and suffering that life on earth delivers… It’s all fantastic.

I am leaving in eight days for India, where I will be traveling around for five weeks. The first few weeks will be with university, staying at an ashram (an orphanage where the kids live their entire lives there and don’t get adopted out), as well as staying at a university out there for a week or so. After the school portion, I will be going around India on my own, first to Corbett national park for a safari to see wild animals, then up to Dharamsala to see His Holiness the Dalai Lama teach about Buddhism to the public, then flying to Goa to do some scuba diving (I can’t go to a new place and not enter a new ocean for the first time!). I am so stoked that this is all falling together finally, for weeks I have been stressed and panicked after my original travel plans fell through. Now, I am even more excited than I was before. The opportunity to see the Dalai Lama, diving in a new ocean and spotting wild elephants and tigers, it will all be amazing.

In preparation for this course, I have been taking a couple International Community Development courses, and have had the privilege of listening to some very enlightening guest speakers. Yesterday, I had my first smudge ceremony with a Medicine Trail Coordinator who works with the Iniskim Centre at my university. It is a cleansing ceremony performed by natives communities, but it dates back to ancient Greece. Basically, he combined a few different traditional medicinal plants (including sage, cedar, sweet grass and tobacco) in a special shell bowl, said a prayer, and lit it. He then went around the circle to each of us, and fanned the smoke with a blessed eagle feather, and we each “bathed” ourselves in the smoke, focusing on our eyes, ears, mouths and hearts, cleansing them. I was very grateful to be a part of it, since I have never experienced anything like that. I love seeing and partaking in new things, and this was no exception.

We also did a meditation in an attempt to find our “spirit animal.” Now, I am the world’s biggest skeptic, and a lot of the new age crap is (to me) exactly that, crap. That being said, I will try anything once. (Well, almost anything. I’m sorry, but I will never be convinced that crystals have any power to them. They are simply pretty gems and rocks that sparkle and are nice to look at. I also don’t support exorcisms, or ghosts or demonic possessions or anything of the sort. But, I digress…) Anyway, in this meditation, we were guided to visualize ourselves somewhere, and what came to us was reflective of our spirit animal. Some of us were even supposed to see exactly the animal that was our totem, the one that would guide us through our lives.

Well, I ended up in P.E.I., on the beach among the swaying grass that made concentric circles in the sand. I saw a bird, one that not only had the ability to fly and walk on land, but could also swim. It made sense to me, since I am never happy with one thing, I never want to choose between earth, water and sky. Then it came to me. A simple loon. (Insert jokes about me being “loony” and how apt having a loon as a spirit animal is. Ha. Ha.) It took a while to build to that realization, because I wanted my animal to be a whale. I wanted to choose it, and decided on a whale because I love how serene they are, how they glide through their environment effortlessly, but that’s not how spirit animals work. You don’t choose it, it comes to you.

Let me provide a few examples of what having a loon as a spirit animal means:
– “When a Loon shows up as a totem
it is calling you to pay attention to your dreams.
They will be of greater importance.

For those with a Loon totem,
imagination and dreaming abilities are powerful.
Images and visions will be very lifelike
and you must separate the real from the unreal.
Loon will help you seeing the truth.

The Loon awakens the imagination
and reminds us that all hopes, dreams and wishes
can become realities.”

-“With loon as a totem, the imagination and dreaming abilities (while awake or asleep) are powerful. Images and visions will always be very life-like, and the individual may have difficulty separating the real from the unreal.”

– “Communication, Serenity”

– “Loon: Symbolizes peace, tranquility, and generosity. Loyalty and leadership. Brave and courageous. ”

If you know me, you know that I put a lot of merit into dreams, and always have incredibly vivid ones. Dreams can stay with me for days or weeks, and sometimes things in my dreams end up happening in waking life. I have a dream diary, I have a dream catcher from Holly to help ward off the bad dreams that I am sometimes plagued with, and my friends know well how important dreams are to me. I learned all of this after seeing the loon, and it amazed me how fitting it was as my totem animal. I am constantly striving for serenity within my mind, heart and life (though I struggle with it), but the dream aspect of it? Spooky.

Anyway, I have prattled on for 1400 words. I’ll end it here today. Namaste!

Ashley @ 5:52 PM
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For the past few weeks, I have been riddled with anxiety and stress. A lot of it had to do with my impending trip to India, but I have recently realized, it also had a lot to do with a certain influence in my life.

Since January, I have been nursing feelings for Guinness. Feelings of desire, lust, hope, all of it. I wanted him for my own for five months. He has been saying for months that he has wanted to break up with her, and even last week, he told me that he wished he never got back together with her. For once, I thought that meant he wanted to be with me. He kissed me, he has been sending explicit text messages, and he said all the right things. When I asked him where we were headed, he said “I’ll put it to you this way. I was pretty sure I was gonna break up with her, now I’m 50/50 and have zero plans to lead anyone on. Basically, what we’ve been doing is fun, but if you’re banking on something more soon, it’s not realistic at tis point. I don’t think you can blame me for that thought process…” I asked him if I was ever a consideration for him, or if I was making that all up in my head. He replied “Well, the term ‘girlfriend’ did not play a role.”

Being told that what has been happening was just “fun” really hurt. It was really upsetting to be told so blatantly that I was being used for purely sexual reasons, and that he had no feelings for me the way I did for him. Fuck. He never bothered to hear my side of things, find out what my feelings were, nothing. I ended up nearly crying on the phone, telling him not to worry about it. I wanted to spare his feelings, though for the life of me, I can’t figure out why. I guess I just wanted to preserve our friendship, and not push him away like I did with Carbis. I was kicking myself, because if I had just kept my stupid mouth shut, it would have been just fine and we would have kept floating along pleasantly. (It’s like deja vu, seriously. I kicked myself for asking Carbis where we were headed, because the same thing happened.) Since then, I have been walking on egg shells talking to him, desperately trying to figure out a way to convince him not to be weird and to make things go back to the way they were before.

Tonight, I had a conversation with an old friend, as well as with HBan and Brain. It gave me a lot of perspective, and HBan is great at getting the point across as plainly as she can. Brain told me not to bring Guinness around, and HBan told me that I should cut off contact with him. I lamented that I scared him away, and she said “No, you didn’t. You didn’t scare him away, because he was never yours. He was never really there.” We discussed how I had met with an old friend Rick (Badger’s sister’s husband) earlier in the evening, and how he told me that if I ever needed anything, if I had no one to turn to or even if I just wanted to talk, he was there for me. HBan said “For someone who isn’t family, and who isn’t a best friend that you see every day, it’s amazing for him to offer that. He obviously really cares for you. You have surrounded yourself with people who love you deeply, and who aren’t going anywhere. It’s okay if you don’t have Guinness in your life anymore, because we are all here, we all love you and we aren’t going anywhere.” It was amazing to hear. She’s right. I have phenomenal people in my life, yet I work so hard at trying to keep the ones that treat me like shit. What backward thinking! Thank you, HBan, for making me realize that my energies should be going to letting the people in my life know how much I appreciate them, rather than hurting my heart desperately trying to keep poisonous people on the fringes.

My problem is that the more someone I like pushes me away, the more I want to fix the problem and make them like me back. I love the thrill of the chase, but I don’t like being chased back. The challenge keeps me interested, leaves me wanting more. I can’t stand the nice guys that treat me well, I want the ones that treat me like shit. My bad. I concede that I am making poor choices, and my new goal is to focus more on those I love and love me back, rather than those who only want to have their cake and eat it too.

Ashley @ 4:47 AM