No One is Alone

Last week was a rough week. We’re struggling. It’s nothing new, but it feels new to say it here so very frequently. Maybe new isn’t the correct word. Maybe “uncomfortable” is the word I am looking for. I am used to handing out my struggles in snippets and side stories, not in full disclosure. This “Candid” blog thing is really different. I mean, I’ve written about my struggles before – that is not new at all. I guess sharing my struggles this frequently is uncomfortable, challenging in a different way.

I have to be honest with myself.

Really, “Candidly Ash” is probably just a message to myself to keep it real and in greater frequency than before.

Back to the struggling…

Friday night my husband and I sat on our bed. The covers have marker spots and spill spots from various children, despite incessant washing. I fingered at a new mark – mascara? Who knows. I said words to him about the futility of life. Running on an empty tank. It honestly reminded me a little bit of that song “Going the Distance” by Cake (follow the link to listen). In the song, a man is racing for a something he yearns for, except the race is actually over and no one is watching. Sometimes we race, not for an audience, but for ourselves and the people we love. No one sees it; no one commends us. On and on we go. That song by Cake is honestly a stellar piece of poetry in my opinion. Too bad they made it a song. Ha!

I’m digressing. Back to the talking to my husband.

Somewhere in the discussion, I talked about waiting for things to get better and that maybe I would just set a deadline and if things weren’t better by then….Well, maybe that would be the time to end it all. You know, suicide. It was silent then, as I buried my face apathetically into a pillow. I couldn’t even cry.

Then, he whispered, “Please don’t leave me.”

And I cried at the sound of his desperate words. I don’t have a date or deadline and I’m not leaving him anytime soon. No plans, no actions. Just thoughts.

Then, after our really solid crying, we moved onto the portion of the evening in which we distract ourselves with TV.

It’s probably my favorite part of the day, because we always watch *something* together. We aren’t really one of those couples who do separate things in the evening. Like we always come back from the ugliness of the day by staring at Netflix. Precious Netflix.

Of course, we decided that since it was the weekend a movie would be good and so we ended up watching a Denzel Washington movie that the XBOX was offering up for free. It was called “The Book of Eli”. I’m not really into spoiling movies for people so here is a one sentence synopsis. A man defends the last copy of the Bible post-apocalypse. Pretty interesting concept and Denzel is, as always, superb.

Later that night, at the 3:00 AM hour, I woke up and on a slight whim decided to read my Bible. I literally read for an hour, just randomly paging to different spots. After coming across multiple spots where the Bible lists genealogies (so annoying) I turned over to Job and read how God decided Satan could basically lambaste Job with suffering. In fact, God even partakes in the lambasting.

Job responds and his friends respond and there is a lot of dramatic monologue by various parties. Of course, Job’s script is the best and some day I vow to make a video just quoting Job, because its fabulously honest and ugly and beautiful. Honestly, it is hard for me to narrow down my favorite parts, but I’ll try.

I would rather be strangled – rather die than suffer like this. I hate my life and don’t want to go on living.

Job 7:15-16, NLT

Yeah, I’ve been there. I’ve felt that. I feel that.

I find it extremely comforting and ridiculously morbid that I enjoy reading other people’s suicidal thoughts. Yet, I think that is precisely  what I need and what other people need. It is why I write my own thoughts here.

No one is alone.

I may think I’m the only one running on fumes. I may not want to go on.

But I’m not the only one.



P.S. Songs enter my mind all of the freaking time. When I typed “No one is alone.” I thought of this song from “Into the Woods” and when I wrote “But I’m not the only one” I heard John Lennon singing “Imagine.” I think my brain is just a giant song database, honestly. Ha!


Broken Hearts

I play the violin. It frequently, if not always, sounds awful. I’m okay with this. It’s just something I enjoy learning and maybe someday, if I don’t quit, I will sound not half bad. I said these words to my best friend in a text. Then, I referenced that singing is not at all this way for me.

Singing is like a bad ex-boyfriend.

Those were the words I used and they described perfectly how I felt about singing. It has been a twisted, volatile love affair. At times, I have been abused by it and at times I’ve been the abuser.

It is easier not to sing.

I’ve put significant distance between myself and that relationship. No looking back has been my motto. Relapse is not allowed.

A Dream in the Night

The very night after I sent my friend that text, I slept fitfully. I awoke to a strangling feeling in my chest, my heart racing, sweating. A panic attack at 5:15 AM. Sometimes this happens and I have no idea why. Other times, I remember that I was dreaming something intensely. I remembered the dream this time.

A fictional ex-boyfriend was following me around while I waited tables at a restaurant. He was telling me how awful I was at this job. I floundered under the scrutiny and emotional distress, fleeing from the restaurant. Then, as can only happen in a dream, I was suddenly out in an open field, collapsed from running hard.

He came to me then – the ex-boyfriend. He was comforting and said he wanted me back. I should come with him and just tell the restaurant owner I was bad at the job. I didn’t need to quit. I just needed to communicate. The restaurant owner would find something for me, teach me, help me. The ex-boyfriend would stay with me, if I stayed with him.

Lovers Reunited

Maybe it meant nothing, but I think it’s no coincidence that my dream was about a fictional ex-boyfriend. I think my mind was probably trying to deal with the wording I had used to describe singing. Greatly disturbed, I tried many things to comfort myself. After an hour, nothing had helped so I climbed into a bath, turned on soft music and began to read from Thomas Moore, who seemingly always has an answer.

Sure enough, like a sacred echo, he was talking about how we assign values to things – things from our soul. For instance, he shared about a woman entering therapy who wanted to get rid of her dependence. He questioned her about the topic. What does dependency look like to you? How do you feel when you are dependent?

After a lengthy conversation, he shrugged his shoulders at the woman and shared about intimacy. A man’s wife always brought him lunch when he had forgotten it. Sometimes she even brought it before he knew he had forgotten it. Each time, they would hug or kiss and affirm their love for one another.

Then, he shared that the man was dependent on the woman, but perhaps it was not the worst thing in the world. The woman sitting acrossed from him who wanted to get rid of dependence? She was dumbfounded saying, “That’s dependence?!?!” She learned much over the next few years. Once she began to reframe dependence as something besides an enemy, she was able to learn. Instead of getting rid of dependence, she learned when it was appropriate and meaningful.

This is how we can care for ourselves. Perhaps the dark things, the bad things that follow us, are only pointing us to where are souls need care.

Oh yes, Thomas Moore nailed it on the head. Perhaps this vicious ex-boyfriend haunting me, the one I refer to as singing? Perhaps it isn’t vicious at all. Perhaps it simply wants reconciliation, to be reunited.

I’m just not certain that I’m ready to take it’s hand again. For now, I’ll listen though. I will be open to what it is saying. Perhaps I can learn to love it again after all.





5 Imaginary Lives

One of my (new-to-me) writers shares that she plays a game when she’s lacking inspiration. She images 5 alternate lives for herself. Then, she goes and does one thing in each of those areas and helps her feel more like herself. How is it that pretending to be someone else makes her feel more at home in herself?

I have no idea. It makes no sense to me, but I am almost certain that she is smarter than me; if not smarter, then she is definitely wiser. She has *published* work.

I’m taking a stab at this and I wonder how amusing my 5 imaginary lives are going to be. So here we go.

In one of my imaginary lives, I am a great writer of literary fantasy with multiple published series. Additionally, I am single and hot, because that makes sense, right? I mean, this is a fantasy, right?

Dude, do I fantasize about being single? Hmm. Yes, but not in the usual sense. To me singleness represents a world where alone time is mine anytime I want it. As a mom, a wife too, that is my real fantasy. *Please, God, let me pee in peace. I swear I won’t curse while changing diapers!*

Imaginary life number two. I’m Josh Groban’s long lost love. We meet, date, get engaged and start touring together, because in this imaginary life I am DEFINITELY as good a singer as Joshy.

Imaginary life number three, I live in Africa and have a home where I raise tons of orphans. There is no struggle, because all medical care and financial needs are met by my various generous donors. I am single in this experience as well.

I’m starting to be scared by my secret desire to either be single or engaged to Josh Groban. Also, I have no interest in being married to Joshy. Not sure why, really. Apparently, my imaginary self is commitment phobic.

Imaginary Life number four. I am Oprah’s REAL best friend. Enough said. I am not afraid of this commitment.

Imaginary Life number five is an interesting one. I am a pastor’s wife. Dude, even my imaginary self is inhibited by gender roles. Damn her! I have many children and am revered church-wide for my awesome mothering, wife-ing. Maybe I am even in charge of the women’s ministry and I make it so awesome that I become famous in all the best church circles.

Eww. I don’t like that last one. Rather, I judge that last one, but seriously, it sounds awesome to be lauded for just being a woman. Interestingly, I feel that there is very little that is laud-worthy in my mothering, wife-ing right now.

Alas, this silly exercise has relieved some of the anxiousness I am feeling pre-period. It also shows me the things that deep down I am wanting, craving. Here’s the breakdown:

  1. Imaginary Life 1 – I want to write. I want to write fiction. Hmmm, interesting. I don’t do much of that. Maybe I’ll try after I post this.
  2. Imaginary Life 2 – I want to sing. I even want to sing with people. How astounding! Normally, I don’t like people that much. Ha! Yet, I know this is true.
  3. Imaginary Life 3 – My mothering/parenting isn’t constricted by finances or medical needs.
  4. Imaginary Life 4 – Obviously, Oprah can make imaginary lives 1-4 happen. Oprah is like the scapegoat for dreaming. Don’t know what to dream? Dream that Oprah is your best friend and then anything you want subsequently will be handed to you. Because I’m sure Oprah is that enabling. **Massive eye roll** Even Gayle has worked for her spot in the light.
  5. Imaginary Life 5 – I want someone to notice, to see – me. To see all of the little things and actually think they are freaking amazing. Wouldn’t it be nice to be extolled for sweeping, scrubbing dishes and pee stains, human or otherwise? Yes, yes I think so.

So what’s your imaginary life and what does it *mean*?