Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The Counterfeit Experience of the Straight Spouse

The conversation has to continue as long as the wrong people keep bringing it up (April 2017, Ensign pg. 33).

The further I get from my experience in a mixed-orientation marriage, the more acute my understanding of how my experience, as the straight spouse, is/was marginalized.

Don't get me wrong! I'm the biggest cheerleader for the gay spouse, feeling trapped and unable to live authentically.  I'm the one banging on the other side of the closet door, begging, "Sweetheart, come on.  Stop doing this to yourself.  It's 2017 and despondency or depression or suicide is so unnecessary for THIS." 

But there's also the experiences of the men and women who are/were the straight spouse, like Ashley 1.0.  We aren't living authentically either.  And our suffering and scars aren't seeming too important. You may have read about how I super duper wanted to drive my mini-van off of Cedar mountain. 

And if you're just joining this conversation:  No.  It is not just about sex.  And regardless, sex is important and crucial.  But THE THING that it's about for us (straight spouse) and them (gay spouse) is the Intimacy.  Lemme know if you don't understand the difference between sex and intimacy, and I'll write another post just for you.  I'll even address it to you... "Dear Person Who Maybe Has Never Been Loved~"

I have some very visceral commentary on this; Hopefully, I can be articulate and, as always, my intent is to be affecting.

I'm getting ahead of myself (the visceral). Article by General Authority:

First off~

The title of the article is The War Goes On.

Nothing subtle about that.

War.

Goddamn Fucking Serious.

Death.
Blood.
Mourning.
Pain.
Fighting.
Good vs Evil.

You know, war.

And then, but of course, this dude- the General Authority- starts talking about Satan right off the bat, cuz ultimate bad guy.  And he's gotta bring up returning to Heavenly Father clean, which Satan makes so difficult!  And ya know, none of us are clean, none of us are sinless, as is pummeled into the heads of members of the church.  So by paragraph 3, dude is slathering on the guilt.

Don't get comfortable yet, 'cause here comes paragraph 4:

"Thankfully, God's plan triumphed over Satan's lies."       !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And in case you forgot, that meant Jesus made that sacrifice dying for our sins, because we're all pieces of shit.

(I'm walking you through the beginning of the article to prep you.  It's all build-up, people.) 

Then our dude goes into the ways Satan operates.

We get to point number 2, and the gospel of love can go fuck itself.

"Remember, counterfeits are not the same as opposites.The opposite of white is black, but a counterfeit for white might be off-white or gray. Counterfeits bear a resemblance to the real thing in order to deceive unsuspecting people. They are a twisted version of something good, and just like counterfeit money, they are worthless. Let me illustrate. One of Satan’s counterfeits for faith is superstition. His counterfeit for love is lust. He counterfeits the priesthood by introducing priestcraft, and he imitates God’s miracles by means of sorcery.

Marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God, but same-sex marriage is only a counterfeit. It brings neither posterity nor exaltation. Although his imitations deceive many people, they are not the real thing. They cannot bring lasting happiness. God warned us about counterfeits in the Doctrine and Covenants. He said, “That which doth not edify is not of God, and is darkness” (D&C 50:23)."

We already knew this, right? That this church felt this way...?  Or are you allowing yourself to be duped by happy stories of acceptance of a LGBTQ kid by a member of the church? 

Okay, so if you haven't buckled yourself in yet, secured any loose items, and put your arms and legs inside the ride, you should now. 

I'm gonna talk about the despair and anguish of the straight spouse... in no uncertain terms, like a big ol' gay dick smacking you across the face. 

Gay men and women, who marry the opposite sex for religion, do it because they are scared to death of the above rhetoric being their reality. 

Darkness. 
Grayness.
Imitation.
Being unhappy.
Worthless.
Counterfeit. 

These vulnerable, naïve homosexuals (no shame, just truth) who adhere to the dogma think that entering into a marriage with opposite sex will save them from these awful things.

But the straight spouse is even more unsuspecting that these things would ever be in their purview. 

Nor does the straight spouse understand that their own sexuality will be shoved into a closet. 

Usually, the SS does that of their own accord to...(ready for this?)...survive.  There was no way I could face what I was missing: being wanted, cherished for (in my case) my femineness which encompasses my body, soul, and mind, and the all important intimacy- the lack of being caressed, the void of hearing the soft spoken voice of someone who melts at the sight of you, the absence of a core connection that is discernible through mere eye contact and devours your heart. 

Look, I'm not really talking about marriage.  I'm talking about connection and romantic love.  I know that same-orientation marriages and relationships can suck ass and end a lot of the time.  But these same-orientation relationships not only have a probability to feel those indescribably amazing things, but they usually start there. 

So to address the malarkey of the referenced article-

Darkness... Gray... All the time.  Everyday.  And I was living the 'gospel'.  I got up in front of my congregation and bore some phat testimony.  That shit was legit. 

So... tell me.  Why the gray?

Was my marriage edifying?  My friendship with g'ex was, yes.  But the marriage?  Naw.  Trudging through knee-deep bog with no end in sight is not edifying.  It breaks you. 

The 'lasting happiness' part of the article?  Fuck me...  The 'lasting' sentiment would imply that there was a solid ground (firm foundation, as it were) to begin with. 

The worthless part.  Oh my god.  This one makes my head spin.

You Mormons out there... Hey, y'all realize that this General Authority dude is saying that LOVE is worthless, yeah?  You getting this?  GA's subtext:  LOVE IS WORTHLESS IF NO JESUS AND BIOLOGICAL BABIES. 

Obviously, my mind goes to the bona fide, irrefutable love that two properly matched humans can experience.  But, hey, you know what else couldn't be further from worthless?  Being desired. 

I've had one nighters... (reminder to keep arms and legs inside the ride... also, hi, mom).  I've been more desired by a man that I cannot remember the name of than in my 13 years of marriage with a man that I had children with, moved from state to state and out of the country with.  A former straight spouse I met a few years ago told me the first time she had sex with a straight man, she wept.  But... worthless experience. 

And lastly, let me bring you all around to the best, sweetest, juiciest part of the article- the counterfeit argument:  marriage or love is counterfeit if not within the parameters of the 'gospel'.  If I was giving a Ted Talk, this is where I'd pause, lower my head with furrowed brow, and walk to the other side of the stage pensively before looking back up at you and saying:

My marriage was counterfeit. 

My Mormon, temple union to a man who yearned for an intimate connection with another man was 100% counterfeit. 

Do you have any idea what it's like to live in a counterfeit way? 

If you do, I'm so sorry.  I've been there.  I deteriorated.  Breathing hurt.  Sometimes smiling made me feel nauseous. I was betraying my Self.  I was not an example to anyone of how to live.  My Jesus-approved marriage was toxic to me, my kids, and their dad. 

And I absolutely was suicidal at a point. 

Us heterosexual spouses in mixed-orientation marriages play a role of our own.  Our humanity is disparaged, trivialized as we are mere vehicles to the Celestial Kingdom.  And fuck that. 

Mormons, your leaders' hyperbole and your religion's teachings are irresponsible, self-serving, and...

deadly

...wholly, literally, in toto. 




















Wednesday, January 18, 2017

No Paid Ministry (or Hundred Grand Gross Annual)

And lo-
 
It came to pass that an employee of the Mormon church anonymously shone round about the Mormon/Exmormon community, and the employee said unto them (providing documentation) that the Higher-Ups (General Authorities, Quorum of the Twelve, and the First Presidency) of the church...


...be gittin' paid. 


Is this a big deal?

 
Yes. 


Behold-

"Inasmuch as there is no paid ministry in the Church, service opportunities are available to men, women, and children of all ages."- Elder Franklin D. Richards

"In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints there is no paid ministry, no professional clergy, as is common in other churches." -Elder Boyd K. Packer

"Over the years of my membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I have greatly appreciated the opportunities for service, for there is no paid ministry." -Elder Derek A. Cuthbert

"I explained also that our Church has no paid ministry and indicated that these were two reasons why we were able to build the buildings then under way, including the beautiful temple at Freiberg." -Elder Thomas S. Monson

"Because there is no paid ministry, almost every churchgoer has a responsibility." Mormon Newsroom

"We recognize how busy you are. Without a paid professional ministry, the responsibility for administering the Church depends on you consecrated members." Quinton Cook April 2012

"We have no professionally trained and salaried clergy in The
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints." Dallin Oaks April 2012



These men spoke these words while collecting an annual salary of roughly $100,000 (based on 2014 numbers, so give or take accordingly). 

Some of you may be wheezing, mouth agape, while others are shrugging and not giving an eff. 

Go with me... It's not rocket science.  It's not any kinda science at all...

Let's talk about the amount, the $100,000+ a year, for two secs before I get to the heart, blood, and guts of my post. 

Look just at the Quorum of the Twelve and the First Presidency- among these 15 men are a:

-heart surgeon

-attorney/former BYU president

-former executive for 4 major international companies including positions of president and vice-president within the companies

-another former BYU president

-former president of BYU-Idaho

-attorney/partner/chief of executives of California Health Systems/vice-chair of Sutter Health (yeah, that was all one person)

-lawyer

-former vice-president of Morton Plant Health Systems

-former president/board of directors of Huntsman Chemical

-former COO of ICON Health and Fitness

-cardiologist

-former senior vice-president of Lufthansa

-former general manager of Deseret News


They are all retired from some seriously well-paying careers, granted some have been at the church game longer than others. 

They also don't have little children at home to feed any longer.  I'm a mother of 4 who works full-time as a retail manager and receives child support.  Total, I bring in half of what these guy do, just from their church pay. 

I don't need to continue along this trajectory.  You get it. 

But...

It's not the amount...

Or the fact that all the General Authorities receive this base income annually...

Or the fact that there are paid clergy in all kinds of religious organizations...

Nor is it relevant that these leaders have admitted to receiving a 'modest stipend'. 

It's saying "NO PAID MINISTRY". 

It's the lie. 

These men spoke the above words while receiving bi-weekly paychecks. 

This golden nugget of revelation unto us adds yet another layer to the big picture (or corner that the church as painted itself into). 

     Hi! I'm Mormon!  The founder of my church had at least 40 wives, some of which already had husbands so he married them in secret and some were teenagers- one as young as 14!  But we only like to acknowledge Joseph Smith's first wife, Emma! 
     The leaders of my church in the early days were racist and banned black members from several of the most coveted 'blessings' members can attain, but only until 1978! 
     Also, if you are gay and in a gay marriage, forget your child(ren) becoming a member of our church if they'd like to. They're welcome to attend activities and services; they sure might have friends who'd like to invite and fellowship them!  But they can only become a official members of my church when they are adults and disavow the lifestyle of their parents!  Because, ya know, it's about protecting families!
     My religious organization is exempt from paying taxes even though they heavily influence Utah politics and are quite vocal about the country's politics! 
    The head leadership of my church, which includes over 100 men, earn over $100,000 annually, even though leaders over the years have said often from the pulpit that our church has no paid clergy! 
   So yeah, they are racist, discriminatory, contradictory, speak devoutly of their polyandrous founder, but there must have been a good reason, because... my religion is based on the Gospel of Jesus Christ, a Gospel of Love! 

I'm at a loss, people.  I'm utterly lost as to how members continue to swallow this. 







Monday, November 9, 2015

What It's Really About (RE: The New LDS Policy on Gay Couples & Their Children)

Sin.

It's not that we don't get the point that you're trying to make about protecting the children- which of course we don't agree with.

It's not that we're making a mountain out of a mole hill, either.

It's that the church is reiterating, loud and clear, that these beautiful people who are just as good and kind and deserving of happiness as heterosexuals or otherwise and didn't 'choose' their sexuality anymore than I chose mine, are grievous sinners when they choose to live as their authentic selves.

Shouting from the rooftops. Gay marriage is a grievous sin. We're protecting the children from confusion.

Confusion from what? From the confusion that the church creates by deeming homosexuality a sin. The church creates the confusion. A loving couple wants to raise children of their own- love them, nurture them, champion them, guide them. And when the child realizes the church's rhetoric, harmful disgusting rhetoric about their loving parents, you're damn right it's going to cause confusion.

THIS, this is what is at the root of our outrage, our pain from this. You are conceding that the church deems the parents of these precious children grievous sinners.

Tolerance malarkey and pretense of acceptance.

So many members were confused and thought the leak of the excerpt of the handbook was a hoax, but then when that woman who compared the movie, Frozen, to  perpetuation of the gay agenda,  published a blog post defending the church's reasons, those confused members did a complete about-face (quoting another post I read).

Or maybe it was Christofferson's inadequate statement -adequate enough for you to be able to shelve this and sleep at night.

You simply cannot liken this 'protection' to similar policy involving children of polygamy. Polygamy is a choice. Your sexuality is not.

And how many things can you really shelve in a lifetime? How many times can you just accept issues you can't reconcile in your heart and put on the back burner for when you 'get to see Heavenly Father'   and ask him all your unanswered questions. Is your faith really enough when it comes to equality? Decency?

Members had 'faith' for decades regarding the 'doctrine' on blacks and the priesthood. And then nearly 40 years after lifting the ban, the church issued a statement claiming it never really was doctrine, only racist, RACIST, men leading the church.

Talk to me more about faith.

Talk to me about prophets being the mouthpieces of God for decades of non-doctrinal injustice toward black members.

Talk to me more about this being the one true church.

The one true church which claims to have Jesus Christ at its head should have been ahead of the racism nightmare in this country, not a straggler.  The church should have been the Poster Child for equality from DAY ONE. 

When an organization is straggling behind everyone else when it comes to justice and equality, that's a culture. Not gospel.   Certainly not a Gospel of Love. 

And now, back to this.  Today.  The current issue. 

Your rhetoric about faith and not needing to understand all things is what's hurting us the most.  There isn't whole lot to understand here.  It's abhorrent. 

It's drawing a line in the sand. 




Wednesday, August 26, 2015

An Epiphany About My Epiphany to Leave Mormonism Part 2

So...

When my daughter told me that she vehemently wanted to have her name removed (which I have not done), I thought about her Mormon extended family members approaching me and saying, "Why would you allow that?"

And I thought about how I would answer.

"It's her decision."

"She wanted it and I couldn't deny her of that."

"Why wouldn't I allow it??"

And then I realized, as I contemplated possible responses, that I should be able to reply to my OWN reasons for wanting to be severed from the church.  And I do indeed feel as though I've severed myself from the organization, regardless of being on the records or not.

But WHAT could I say that wouldn't warrant the typical responses of, Ashley just didn't truly have a testimony OR Ashley doesn't understand the meaning of Joy (an actual thing that's been said to me) OR Ashley didn't do all the things she should have done.  

So I went back.  I thought very deeply about the time that I pulled away.

And I realized that I tried damn, fucking hard to stay.

Go back and read my previous post!

I say it ALL in my initial post of this blog, as well.  I was/did/said/believed everything.

I wanted desperately to be able to explain myself in a way that couldn't warrant any- ANY- dismissive response.  I needed it for me.  As a final rite of passage through my former identity as a LATTER-DAY SAINT.

And I discerned very easily that there wasn't one thing that I could have done more thoroughly, more acutely,  more intensely than I'd already done or had been doing.

I was so earnestly looking for a reason to stay.

And nothing ever felt good.

So, tell me, what can you say to that?  Can you truly write me off as a lost cause, as someone who maybe just didn't get it?

I was born 'in the covenant'.  I was baptized at 8.  I went to BYU looking for kinship.  I married worthily in the temple.  I scrapbooked!

And... as I referenced in the previous post... I, Pamela Ashley Wilkinson Neves, at the age of 35, after a  lifetime of being a truly good Mormon girl, felt... done.

There was nothing more to do.

There was nothing more to be done.

There was nothing that I did half-heatedly or incorrectly.

And I felt abandoned. And an aloneness that I'd never experienced before in my life.

It truly was like a death.





Saturday, August 22, 2015

An Epiphany About My Epiphany to Leave Mormonism Part 1

"Ashley left Mormonism cuz her husband was gay."

I just gotta think that people wanna simplify my excruciating journey away from the church in this way.  Or something similar.  Regardless of the pain of so many major events for me (the Prop 8 summer, my divorce, this talk by Boyd K. Packer, my bishop rolling his eyes at me when I needed help paying rent although I'd been a full tithe and fast offering payer for 20 years, to name a few).

I also gotta think that a lot of active members that I know have to try really hard to stay in the church.  Like I did for years.  And when I was trying really hard to stay in it, I would see friends who'd left and think, "They're not trying as hard as I am (hair flip)."

Ever since I've considered myself done with Mormonism (i.e., Ashley no longer believes nor participates) one of my greatest distresses has been that I haven't known quite how to articulate to still believing members why I left.  Not to convince them that they should leave or that I'm right and they're wrong, but to simply help them understand me. 

In all honesty, I haven't really tried.  I mean, really really tried.

I know all the pat assumptions/responses/dismissives that I'd get. 

I've used a few analogies. A common one used in post-Mormon circles- my shelf broke.

This has to do with cognitive dissonance, shelving all those troublesome topics that we can't reconcile in our heart/with the teachings of the church, but we soldier on with Faith...until the shelf is so full that no amount of Faith will hold it up anymore, and it collapses. 

So I'd use that , but that distress would still be there.  I've had members say to me, "You'll come back.  When you're ready.  You will."  And that would make me slightly angry, because the subtext of a response like that is, You still believe deep down, and you didn't try hard enough to stay. 

Here's the thing:  I don't believe anymore.

And I did try.

And this is where I get to the point. 

THE POINT~

How many times do members have a 'trial of faith' on some level?  Minor trials of faith to a full-blown faith crisis?  On that broad spectrum, each member finds themselves somewhere one time or another.  It's not to say that members go back and forth between completely losing and regaining their faith, per se (although some do), but more commonly, asking innocently 'why' or 'how' to this or that... because we're human beings attempting to live a 'higher law' that we don't always understand. 

So we have these 'trials of faith', and what do we do?  We delve into the scriptures more.  We pray more.  We go to the temple with our questions.  We seek priesthood blessings.  We read our Ensign. We study our Sunday School lessons in advance.  We pay a full tithe, if we haven't already.  We make a more concerted effort to pay fast offerings.  We serve others. We bear our testimony so that we can hear ourselves saying that we still believe.  And sometimes, we just ignore.  

Check.
Check.
Check.
Check.
And check. 

Usually, we are sure to cross all the T's and dot all the I's before we hit Faith Crisis Status.

Instead of leaving for lack of trying, like so many active members want to believe about those who've left, I left because I did try.

And in that trying, I felt more and more depleted.

I felt less and less hope.

After weeks on end of doing all those things I listed above, and thinking outside of the box, trying new things, like asking my active friends, "Why do you stay? How do you stay? Help!"...    I was just empty.

It was like my faith was dead on the operating table, and the repeated, desperate defibrillation was in vain.

And then what?

I asked myself some goooood questions.

What did I miss? 
What's wrong with me? 
What did I do wrong? 

Nothing.

Nothing. Whatsoever.

And I looked around and all I could see was that Shelf.

The faith, and even hope, I'd had that was now dead couldn't divert my attention from my wobbly Shelf.

And I felt like an asshole.

How could I have so proactively denied blatant shit storms going on all around me within the church- the homosexuality issues being only one of them.

So.

Why the sudden need for me to say all this now?  My daughter had her name removed from the records of the church at the 4th Annual Mass Resignation last month.  And it got me to thinking.






Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Today...at BYU

I'm feeling pretty fantastic right now.  I just finished off a bottle of Cabernet that I opened a couple of nights ago. 

I should mention-  I moved to Salt Lake City. 

So, I'm in Salt Lake, and that means that I have some of Me Olde BYU friends to connect with. 

They are spread out all over the Spectrum (the Mormon/Not-Mormon-Anymore Spectrum). 

Today, I met with Ye Olde friend, Ben.  He's adjunct faculty at, yes, The BY. 

Yesterday, he had said, "Let's meet at the slab."  For a BYU theatre person, we know that means the slab of granite that resides on the 3rd floor of the Harris Fine Arts Center. 

I spent countless hours in the HFAC.  Countless.  When I didn't have classes elsewhere on campus, I was there.  Theatre classes, rehearsals, performances, watching plays, parties, naps, shooting the shit. 

And, of course, this is where I met Matt. 

You guys know, if you've read posts in this blog or ever ever ever talked to me, that I was happy with the divorce.  We both were.  Both very amicable and on the same page, as it were.  But, boy... the BAGGAGE. 

The last time I cried about all that in relation to Mormonism at all was probably 4 years ago. 

Today, I cried again. 

But, first, The Slab.  The first thing I said to Ben, when I met him at the Slab, was, "So many emotions being here." 

His response, "That was actually the first thing I was gonna ask you about." 

We went to his office and talked for a bit about just that. 

The Theatre Department (the professors, the students, the program) is what saved me from utter seething bitterness while I was at The Lord's University.  If you appreciate the Arts, in any way, you know what I mean.  Open-mindedness.  Safety.  Permission to be human.  Expectation to be human. 

So, as I sat chatting with Ben in his office, feeling things that were as tangible as my flesh- wonderful feelings of a past home and meaty rememberances of emptiness- I cried.  And these tears thanked me as they seeped out of my eyeballs.  "Ashley!  Thank you for releasing us!  You've kept us in for so long!" 

They were special tears.  Special Ashley's-Time-at-BYU-is-in-a-Separate-Compartment-From-Leaving-Mormonism-in-General tears. 

It felt kinda great.  And Ben kept apologizing that I was crying.  (You're so sweet, Ben!)

In other words, today, at BYU, I did some healing.  "Thank you, BYU!  Thank you, Universe!  Thank you, Angels!  Thank you, Oprah!  Thank you, Tom Cruise!"



I told Ben about that feeling you have when you know something's wrong- a pit in your stomach, like a nausea.  I told Ben that I had that feeling everyday of my marriage. 

I told Ben about how unhappy I was, as a person, at BYU and then later in life, feeling betrayed because, I followed the formula.  The formula for happiness.  T's:  crossed.  I's:  dotted.  Every goddamn one. 

I talked to Ben about all our mutual friends who were in BYU Theatre with us, who were hiding and closeted and TRYING.  SO.  FUCKING. HARD.  to be whateverrrrrrr it was The Church wanted them to be.  (you know...straight.)

I cried and cried and mother effing cried. 

I wasn't prepared for this.  I felt stupid at first.  But I was with one of the best possible people for this unplanned, unexpected, unpretty outburst to occur.  I was in a safe place, and this stuff needed to come out.

Ben said some amazing things that I don't know if are okay to repeat.  He IS adjunct at the BY...

I did some healing because of my visit to BYU and with Ben.  But it only scratched the surface. 

BYU was a huge chunk of my life.  My first time away from home.  A place I went looking for Identity.  A place that I needed to feel like I'd made it. 

And now, just having had a shot of Vodka, I go to bed to postpone digging deeper than the surface... for now.  I unearthed some shit, y'all. 








Monday, December 30, 2013

(NO TITLE) or 2013

I didn't post very much in 2013. My blogger is full of half-done, choppy, unpolished drafts which is quite indicative of how my year went. So to flush these thoughts from from my blogger and to do some mental housekeeping, I've created a post for the end of the year comprised of these 'partial posts'. 


January 3, 2013 on Divorce


(no title) 

The effects of divorce are like the ripples from a disturbance in the water. 


February 8, 2013 on Mormonism and Prop 8 


(no title) 

I remember back in '08 or '09, when I was still going to Relief Society on Sundays at the Mormon church, a friend of mine gave a lesson based on a recent talk by a general authority. 

In reality, her lesson was the talk. She spent most of the lesson time (roughly 40 minutes) reading right from it, because, to paraphrase her words, she just couldn't say it any better than than him. 

The gist of the lesson, I believe, was for those of us members who were not in favor of the Prop 8 festivities, which in essence was 'let's not forget who we are'.

Obviously, that was a hard one for me to sit through. 

I remember my friend, the giver of said lesson, was blushing and not looking up at us very much at all as we listened. 

She confessed to me later that she purposefully didn't look at me. 


February 10, 2013 on Ada and Baptism


(no title) 

I'm at church per Ada's request. 

She asked me to be present at her It's Great To Be 8 meeting for kids turning 8 this year and their parents. 

In the Mormon church, you are typically baptized at the age of 8. 

I was. 

My ex husband was. 

My boyfriend was. 

All 3 of my other kids were. 

My brother. My sister. The list goes on. 


June 19, 2013 on Work, Daughters, and Lack of Sleep


(no title)

I can't sleep. 

Having work dreams. Retail dreams. 

I have a new boss. I have the same job, just new boss. I feel like I'm auditioning for him. 

My stomach is in knots. 

Not just because of work, but tonight there was something nagging me, in the back of my mind. Then it surfaced... It was Hana. 

I haven't seen her in 3 days. My daughter. Then I thought about how 'normal' that has become. 

Then I thought about Emma...

Emma needs glasses. 

Emma is in Utah. 

Emma... tall and beautiful and... well, that's about all I can say for sure right now. 

I haven't been eating. 

How can I eat when I have a new boss and daughters floating around in the ether and... oh yeah, I applied for grad school. 


July 17, 2013 on Being Unfriended


(no title)

It happened again. 

Yeah. 

Was a BFF during adolescence. 

S'okay. 

But here's the thing- I haven't been blogging that much lately.  That's usually been the culprit. 

But I HAVE been posting lots on FB about Love, Equality, and Acceptance. 

Too bad she didn't see it that way. 

Well, okay, to be fair, I have no clue why we're not FB friends anymore.  I haven't asked her.  I guess because I don't care enough.  Haven't seen her since I was 15.  


September 7, 2013 on Men


(no title)

On trying to get to know a man for the first time: Men seem so interested until you show them your personal power.  Bless all their little hearts. There is an epidemic of massive insecurity among men.  

On unhappily married men:  Men who don't love their wives still make babies with them. Surprise, surprise, their misery continues. Then, they will usually start looking elsewhere for love...typically while still married. 


September 16, 2013 on Luxuries


(no title)

Right now, I'm sitting on a couch. I love it. I did not have a couch in my apartment till last week. 8 months. No couch. Can I tell you how luxurious I feel at this moment? 

The thing is- couches are a luxury. You don't know this until you go without one for 8 months and realize, 'Huh. A couch is not a necessity. I'm grateful for the half gallon of milk in the fridge and the 1/4 tank of gas in my car.' Necessities. 

I'm grateful for this couch. Thank you Gina and Jerry. 

I'm grateful to have all my kids live with me again. 

I'm grateful for my job. 

My car. 
 
Milk. 


September 16, 2013 (yep, the same day as the last one) on Identity


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Who am I? 

I thought I was on the fast track to this epiphany. 

I'm lying in my redundant king-sized bed with my 8 year old daughter next to me. 

Before Ada drifted to sleep in a Benadryl-induced slumber, I taught her that no one can ever make you happy- not a boyfriend or husband... At best they can only ADD to your joy. You MUST be happy and content on your own first. 

I married Matt with the hope of finding completeness. That's what I had understood to be the idea due to my upbringing. 

How can two incomplete people make two complete people? I know what you're thinking... 'Well, you're like puzzle pieces, Ashley. That's how.' 

What I found to be truer was we were like 2 half-baked cakes. Two half-baked cakes do not a baked cake make. 


November 3, 2013 on Being a Mom


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I've never enjoyed motherhood as much as I do now...having been a mother for 15 and a half years. 

Why? 

I was a lost girl when I started out. And the journey of finding myself and my womanhood was exceptionally stunted. I look back on that past life, and I see a girl in her 20's who was narcissistic and depressed. 

I also see little ones. Precious, perfect, angelic, indescribably astounding little human beings that were mine. Who did and said the most wonderful, cute, adorable things. 

But I was in a fog. 

Now half my little ones are teenagers and there's a 3rd one on his way to middle school next year. The fourth still cuddles with me and her stuffed animals. 

Regardless, I'm 38 and starting to figure things out. 


December 28, 2013 on Providing


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Earlier this year, I was standing in a food line at a local Baptist church. And, of course, I had the thought, Hmmm, if I'd stayed active in the Mormon church, I wouldn't have to stand in a food line... I could just sit across from my Bishop in his office and hand him copies of my bills... 

But whenever I have that thought, I quickly remember my last Bishop rolling his eyes when I asked for rent help for the 3rd or 4th month in a row. And yet, my single-mom friend who lived literally down the street from me, who did not work and got to be a full-time mom, was told by her bishop that he would provide her with anything and everything she needed. 

And there I was working two jobs... 

It was just the rent. I could pay for everything else... The utilities, the internet, food (made too much money for food stamps), endless toiletries, car insurance... You get it. 

Not gonna lie- I had regular lunch dates with a friend I consider a soul mate. $6 lunch specials at our fave Mexican spot in Cedar. Weekly. There were weeks when looking forward to that planned lunch date with her helped me survive. Unequivocally. 

In a way, since that time, I've come full circle. I make twice what I did then, working just as hard as I was before. And gladly, I do not need a bishop or a food line. Guess what else... Through my job, I can now provide health insurance for myself and my children. 

My hero? 

Me.