Thursday, October 3, 2019

"You risk looking into my eyes..."

"I wanna gamble and fall in love with you." - Lacey Sturm

I remember when I first laid eyes on him. I thought he was the most beautiful man I had ever seen. I love telling this story because...well it's silly. I'm ridiculous. I was just dragged to a birthday party, got drunk, saw Matthew, and cried in my mom's boyfriend's car for an hour because I thought he'd never want to speak to me. (It probably wasn't actually an hour but time gets pretty messed up when you're drunk, lets be real.) The next day, one of us (probably me) found the other on Facebook, and then Matthew wouldn't stop texting me. Now that I was sober, I realized how dumb this all was. Why would this beautiful man bother with me? I had no idea. Why did he keep begging me to hang out? I had no idea. Eventually, I just hung out with him so that he'd realize that I'm lame and boring and then he'd leave me alone, I'd cry for two weeks, and life would carry on. Nope, that's not what happened. Clearly!

Our first date was too weird. No joke...I met pretty much his entire family in one day! I was like. "What is this?!" Then we watched "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II".....why I agreed to that is still a mystery to this day. Trying to hide my sobs during the entire movie was a nightmare! I have no idea why he would want to keep talking to someone who hid in her hoodie all night, but here we are! We've also been inseparable ever since. I honestly think the longest we've been apart is a week.

I remember the first time Matthew said, "I love you." I'm pretty sure I said something like, "Don't you go throwing those words around!" while he said, "I don't!" and I responded, "Okay. Well...I'm in LIKE with you." Yeah..I said that...But I knew I was in love with him before he even said it, I just would never have admitted it so soon! I just felt so safe with him, and the first time I fell asleep in his arms, I knew I was in love.

We started dating in 2013 and it's 2019 and I have no idea where the time has gone or what my life would look like if I never would have let myself fall in love. In the beginning of our relationship, I didn't want to, because I let Matthew in at a not so good time of my life. I remember a few conversations that went along the lines of, "I have enough problems, I don't need to add to them." I tried to push him away, but it wasn't possible. I fell in love so fast and I was scared. I didn't believe that I deserved to be loved. Before Matthew, I never wanted a relationship. I liked the idea, sure, just like anyone else, but the reality was: dating me came with baggage, and I'd die before letting anyone else help carry it. But for whatever reason, Matthew didn't care, and I guess I didn't care about his baggage either.

We've come along way since 2013, and I don't want to get into specifics because this blog is about me not Matthew. I'll just keep it simple: we helped each other heal. We grew together. We bettered ourselves, and it's my belief, that we showed everyone that we are capable of more than what is shown at face value. Neither of us were ever perfect, nor will we ever be, but together we did our best. Together we built a life for ourselves. Together we continue to grow and heal. We continue to love each other despite our faults and mistakes. We just fit.

Every time I look at Matthew I don't know how he could love me. This woman who he's watched become broken, so many times. This woman who acts out in fits of rage. This woman who cries herself to sleep. How could he love such a big ball of anxiety? I don't freaking know, but I'm thankful. I'm thankful for his love. I hope I'm a good enough wife to show him that. 

I may not know why he loves me, but I know why I love him. I love the way he smiles when he looks at me. The way he's so passionate about stupid video games, the way I am with films and books. I love how confident he is and how he doesn't let anyone bring his confidence down. How hardworking he is. I love his laugh. Oh Lord, how I love those hazel eyes. I love that stupid little smirk he does when he's being a smart ass. I love when he tries to scream metal in the car. How he spent forever listening to the "Harry Potter" books. I love that he accepts who I am and doesn't try to change my quirks. I love his quirk even if they drive me nuts. I even love when he loses things when they were just right in front of him. I love that he wants me to lay with him until he falls asleep even though I want to go watch something stupid on TV. The way he's so loud and passionate about what he believes in. His stupid nickname for me...I even love that. He supports me through everything. He encourages me to be the best woman I can be. I love that he never ran away every time I've lost myself. I could list a million other things, but most of all, I really love the man I've watched him become. 

Two years ago, on October 7, 2017, I married this man. We became "one flesh" (Ephesians 5:31), officially. It's I like to say. It will always be the best day of my life, simply because I got to marry this man. I could've gotten married in a potato sack in the middle of God knows where and I would've been happy. There's no man I would have rather chosen to spend the rest of my life with. There's no man I'd rather have holding my hand while I walk through this earth everyday than his. As long as I know that his face is the one I'll be waking up to every day, for the rest of my life, I think I'll be okay.

The future awaits us, my love, and I can't wait to see how much more we grow together.

I'm proud of us.

Friday, September 27, 2019

2 Corinthians and Satanism

"And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve." - 2 Corinthians 11: 14-15

I lived like this verse for over five years, and I feel God wanting me to speak about it. I started to feel it when I read the above verses, and then bits of Satan came stumbling into my face. Literally. At first I was getting freaked out. Is Satan angry? Is he after me? Trying to tempt me to come back? No. He wasn't, because everything started after I read these verses. It wasn't until, somehow, one of my Satanism shirts ended up in my clean laundry that I realized, "God wants me to speak." The peace I felt after, encouraged me to write about this time of my life.

Now, I didn't intend on this blog being "religious" or about my faith at all, but I'm just going to go with the flow. I won't apologize for another post about faith, because as I stated in my last post, this is just my life. 

Anyway, to the point. I was a Christian. Then, I was Satanist. And then, I became a Christian again, but how did this happen? How does one do a complete 180...twice? Well to the faithless, it's simple. I need to follow something to feel some kind of "wholeness". To the ones of faith, it's simple. God is good. He has a plan for everything. Once He calls you, there's no way you can ever fully run away. 

 To start an old Satanist friend of mine summed up my belief simply:
 “To truly love Satan you must love God, not only for the sake of honoring The Beloved but for the sake of unity.
There is no way to love Him while denying His Origin; Satan is a fragment of the will of God and exists through Him alone. He acts only through the grace of God. He is God and God is Him.
The idea that mankind’s sense of ‘morality’ is superior to God is nonsensical. It is as if to say that the rain is immoral and the storm unkind. God is existence. He is everything and He is nothing. Satan is a beautiful brush stroke in a magnificent painting, but without the whole there is no fragment.”

But how and why did I become a Satanist? I think about this often, because I can only come up with a theory of how this happened, and it all comes down to the place that still causes me nightmares. The place that told me my mental illnesses were my fault because I didn't love God enough. The place that told me it was my fault and sins that caused me to be sexually assaulted at a young age. The place that used my scars and my pain as a platform for money and for their gain. The place that disguised themselves as a healing place for the hurting. The place I call the cult.

Yes, I was in one. One disguised as a Christian residential facility, but truly it was a place of horror. When I left and went back to my home church, the God my church was speaking about was not the same god that I had spent more than half of a year hearing about inside the cult. I became confused. I fell flat on my face. I relapsed into bulimia and this is really when I truly begun to try and kill myself on a weekly basis. I didn't know anything anymore; who I was or what I believed. I tried to read everything I could about the God I once knew and loved. Then every time I binged and purged, the words, "You don't love God enough," kept coming into my head. I tried to love God as much as I could but it became an act of slavery and perfectionism. If I couldn't love God "perfectly" then I was going to keep binging and purging. That's what they told me right? I was stuck binging and purging because I "didn't love God enough", and then perfectionism got me into trouble. I was told constantly in the cult that I was letting demons and Satan into my life every time I self-harmed or acted on my eating disorder, so I decided to go where all Christian fear: I started reading all about Satan and demons. Let me tell you, there's nothing scary about it. The Bible is right. We should only fear God. Those movies you see all about Satan, Satanism, demons, possession, it's all fake news. I promise you, Satan and demons have better things to do then to come haunt you because you played with a piece of cardboard. The Satanic Bible is a book full of a grown man crying about how he hates religion, "creates" Atheism and calls it "Satanism", and has rituals full of incorrect Latin. I could list many more things that still make me giggle, but it's a long one. It's laughable really, what everyone is afraid of. I was a Satanist. Satan and demons weren't coming to hang with me, so they're not going to come hang out with you. I don't know what they're doing, but you can go have fun with an Ouija board and not get haunted - promise.

However, you know that is not funny? A broken Christian, trying to love God and believing wholeheartedly that she isn't loved back. So I ran. I ran away from God. I stopped going to church. I stopped talking to my friends whom I loved with all my heart. I stopped making beautiful music with them. I turned to food, pills, death, and research. I spent hours upon hours reading about Satanism, and I finally understood what I believed: I cannot love God enough, so I'll love the next "best" thing. That was Satan. Satanism isn't a "follow by the book" kind of belief system. You believe what you want about Satan, and you worship how you feel Satan wants to be worshiped. It's simple and complicated at the same time. So I'll tell you what I believed: 1) Satan didn't fall to "be" like God. He fell because he loved God too much and only wanted to worship God and didn't want anything to do with God's creation of humans. 2) Satan is still under God's control according to the Book of Job. That's it. That's what I believed. I still read the Bible. I still read Biblical texts. I just worshiped Satan. (And I won't tell you how, this won't be a "How to Worship Satan" manual.)

So how did I fit into that Bible verse? I slowly became a very self-righteous person. I was hateful, prideful, unemphatic, and extremely judgemental. Satanism gave me everything I wanted. Money, music, and recovery. As long as I gave to Satan, he gave back. Before I was a Satanist, I was broke, unable to work, and extremely unhappy. I couldn't even work enough to pay a car payment or to feed myself. Not long after I prayed my first prayer to Satan, I got into a bad car accident and ended up with a new car, with payments I could afford and with money left over for a new laptop to be able to go back to school. So I started going back to school. I was doing extremely well. I even stopped binging and purging. I started gaining weight back. I was "happy and healthy". I eventually moved away from Virginia with my (now) husband. I was able to work a full time job. I believed one hundred percent that I was a mental health advocate and if you were struggling you could come to me and I could help you. I sacrificed everything in me to get what I wanted. Making music again would be the last time.

Sounds almost splendid, right? Wrong. I won't sit here and lie and say I regret anything, because I don't. I regret the person I was, but I believe that God was there the whole time. Probably shaking His head at my nonsense, but watching. Letting me "enjoy" my free will, while He waited for me to return with open arms. I've already told that story though.

Being a Satanist made my patience and empathy lack. When I became a Christian in 2009, I grew into someone with an incredible amount of patience and empathy. I hurt when other people hurt, but by 2015, I no longer did. I was about two years into Satanism and virtually screaming at people that recovery was "simple" and to stop "coming to me crying and complaining" if they weren't going to do anything to help themselves. "Get a therapist," I always said. Frankly, people's problems annoyed me. If they didn't see how simple it was to find a therapist and get the help they needed then I thought they were stupid, craving attention, and didn't truly want to get better. I look back and I can't believe I ever thought this way. It wasn't that simple. It never was and never will be. Sometimes people just need to let it out to someone who's willing to listen. Offering advice for a therapist isn't a bad idea, and I still advise it, but telling someone I didn't want to hear from them anymore because they "clearly aren't trying", baffles me. I want to go back in time and smack my own self in the face. I walked around with a false sense of pride. I was "recovered". I was a "prime example" that people can get better. I pretended to be humbled by attention I received by talking about mental health, stigma, and how I was better. However, it fed my pride. When all of it fell quickly in 2018, I hated it...kind of. Looking back, it was refreshing, a cleansing if you will. It was a relief to not have to try so hard anymore.

I'm unsure about what image I put out into the world in those five years while being a Satanist. I just know my actions and how I felt, and I know that God eventually lets everything have its purpose. He lets light come out of the darkness, and I think He was and still is doing that for me. Before I was a Satanist, I was ashamed of my mental health. I hid my scars. I wouldn't have ever spoken about the fact that I struggle with anxiety or my history with eating disorders. As a Satanist, I was unashamed, because I was so self-righteous. Now I can speak about my mental health from a place of gratefulness. God can make things right again. I can be unashamed now by admitting my imperfections because they aren't who I am. I know who I am, and it's not a person stamped with labels. 

I feel like my whole life has always been me hiding behind a mask. I was already a master manipulator by the age of twelve. Always lost. Always falling. Always hiding. And from what? Shame. But, I'm a work in progress. I only came back to God a year and a half ago. (At best. I'm not the greatest at math.) Whenever I start believing what the cult said about who God was, I remember what God told me when He called me again, "Be still and know that I am God." So I do. I listen. I read, and I read, and I read again. I read His beautiful word, and what I realized in the past two weeks, is this: I sought out to find God again in 2012 and I fell. I wasn't careful with the beautiful wisdom God offers us when we seek it. I finished Proverbs recently and wisdom is described as being "more precious than rubies." (Proverbs 3:15) I should have handled all the knowledge I gained about Satan as rubies figuratively instead of literally. 

My anxiety turned into a lot of anger, and a lot of that anger built up inside of me throughout the years. It came out in bursts, and sometimes it still comes out now. I can still be a very cruel person, but I'm trying to be better. Unfortunately, I took that anger and cruelty out on myself, but I'm healing so bare with me. I'm still trying to let the anger go instead of just misplacing it. Just the simple act of feeding myself again shows it. Food was fuel when I was a Satanist. Food was the enemy all the other times. It's interesting going back and looking at my journal from when I came back to God and seeing how He used every devotional to point to food and roar, "EAT ASHLEY EAT! I'VE GIVEN YOU THE GRACE TO EAT! NOW HEAL! FOOD IS NOT BAD!" (Acts 10:9-14)

My secret pride always interested me. How can someone who hates themselves be so prideful? It's simple: self-righteousness. Pride comes in so many different forms, and I used my voice on speaking up about myself as a way to prideful. If you mistreated me, I screamed at you or I screamed at someone who was in my way. I just cry a lot now, but hey, no one is perfect. Instead of someone saying something and it hitting my pride, it hits my heart. I get anxious. I suddenly don't know who I am, and I breakdown. "I must be truly awful. I always have been, right? That's why I have all these illnesses, right? That's what the cult told me. My family constantly tells me how awful I am. It must be true!" When I was stuck in my pride, you were insulting the very thing I was speaking out against: stigma. Now I'm trying to simply work out how to not let what people say get to me. I've gotten a tiny bit better. It honestly just depends on the day now and my level of anxiety. That's not my pride speaking, it's just fact. I have anxiety, I'm a very sensitive individual, and a lot of things can sound like criticism to me even if they aren't. One day a simple, "Hey Ashley, can you do this?" can turn into "Oh my goodness, I'm the worst human being on the planet! How did I not think of doing that on my own?! I'm a pathetic waste of human existence. I try so hard and I always fail!" On another day the same sentence can turn into a simple, "Sure, no problem." It honestly makes me feel like I'm insane because I don't know which way my brain is going to go, but as my good ol' psychiatrist said to me this week, "You're not crazy, you just have anxiety." And, well, sometimes you have to listen to the one who's the expert on brains, and that's not me.

God is bringing my patience back as well, but again, slowly. There's been confirmation, and the Bible urges that confirmation be uttered before we know it's from God. Again, not always there, but tell me the last time you let your significant other take out the trash when he feels like it, and not when you asked him nicely a week ago! Yeah, that takes some patience! Still, the words from a friend echo when I'm feeling down: "You have such good patience. I don't know how you do it. No really, it's amazing." (or something along those lines. I've been up all night, I'll remember the exact wording after I publish this - watch! Well, you won't, but I will! And that will put a damper on my perfectionism!)

My empathy has come back, way more than I expected or probably wanted, but honestly, I'm grateful. I missed it. I missed feeling and caring about other people instead of pretending. I've always been a sensitive person, that's never stopped, but what did stop was crying for others. I only ever cried for myself. Now, even if I read about other's pain, I cry. I hate that there's so much pain in the world. I hate that I can do nothing to stop it. I cry because I will never be able to stop children from being hurt like I was. I cry out of fear of bringing my own child into this world; that they might suffer some kind of pain that other's have felt or could inherit from me. I cry because I can fix nothing, when I want to fix everything. I cry in fear because my future is now based on trusting God and I'm still trying to remember how to do that, and if I ever really did. Trust is a hard thing to do when you've been hurt over and over from such a young age; but "Be still," He said, and so I do.

"Clever Devil, Devil
How quickly they do sell their souls
For the feast and the promise of gold
But devil that won't be me." - MILCK

listen to "Devil, Devil by MILCK" here.

Friday, September 13, 2019

Suicide Prevention Month - My Story

"'He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.' He who was seated on the throne said, 'I am making everything new!'” - Revelation 21:4-5

 I think we all long for this moment, Christian or not. A moment where there is no more pain, sorrow, or suffering. Can you imagine? Some of us do. We think about it, plan for it, or even run right to it. I know that I have done all three. 
  It's not a secret that I've been through struggles. My body shows it; a canvas of scars I painted from years of inner torment. I don't have the pleasure to hide my past, like most. It's out there, on display for all to gaze and ponder at. My scars make me look like I'm constantly looking for attention every time I wear short-sleeves or dare to wear shorts. I feel like a harlot, with unwanted eyes and unwanted comments about my body. It's okay though, the conversations the scars can bring when someone is brave enough to ask, "How can I stop?" make taking off my hoodie worth it. These conversations can sometimes go a little something like this: I've been through hell and back, you want to hear about some of it? Okay, let me tell you. Well, today, I'll tell you some of my story, willingly, with my hoodie on. I guess it's up to you if you want to listen, and it's okay if you don't.

 (Pause here, the following could possibly trigger anyone struggling with an eating disorder, self-harm, or having suicidal thoughts. If you are struggling text the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741)

   I've dealt with mental illness, from a clinical standpoint, since I was sixteen years old, but I most likely started having symptoms when I was eleven years old. I started self-harming and having a terrible relationship with food when I was twelve years old due to trauma. (A story for another time, the ages probably don't make sense, but maybe someday I'll be brave enough to share.) When I was sixteen years old, I started starving myself to a point where my body started having some physical problems that had to be treated by doctors, and that's when the diagnosis's started happening. Long story short, I was diagnosed with Anorexia Nervosa, OCD, Depression, and my mother found out I self-harmed. (Sometime in 2010, I was diagnosed with GAD. In 2011, I will be diagnosed with PTSD. In 2016 I found out I never had Depression, it was a misdiagnosis and that I have only ever had Anxiety related illnesses. In 2016, I will be diagnosed with PTSD, Chronic Anxiety, and Panic Disorder. Right now I'm currently diagnosed with PTSD, Chronic Anxiety, OCD, and an Eating Disorder.) I find it odd looking back now that I never considered suicide at that age. I continuously harmed myself, but suicide, as far as I can remember, hadn't crossed my mind. 

  It wasn't until I was eighteen that suicide became the "option". I remember that day: September 9th, 2009. Ten years ago, sitting on the floor in a fit of rage, after a terrible fight with my mother. I couldn't wait to get this "church thing" over with with my friend from high school, because that night was "the night". I had made previous plans to go to church with this friend. Church wasn't something that I ever did. I didn't know who Jesus was and I had never opened a Bible before. I had only heard of Jesus from a few Flyleaf songs. I had just made the plans so I could see my friend. I didn't know that this night would become life-altering. As I sat on my floor I remember saying, "Well, God if you're real and all, I guess I'll see you soon." I planned on killing myself after everyone went to bed.  But, I'm here, so plan = failed. Or not a fail? Because God saved me that night, because I'm annoying and I have to know everything. The pastor talked about salvation and I raised my hand in the middle of a sermon (sue me, it was my first time at church, I didn't know the rules), and I asked what that meant, the pastor told me he'd talk to me after the service, this ticked me off because patience was not my virtue. Afterwards, he directed me to his wife who explained it all to me and asked me if this was something I wanted to do. In my head I was like, "Well, duh, I'm about to go off myself, I want to go to the nice place because my life is already Hell and Jesus seems like a cool dude." But really I was like, "Sure." Once she started guiding me through the salvation prayer I felt a warmth that I cannot explain, so I won't try. I heard a male voice say, "It's going to be okay now." I looked around but I was only surrounded by my friend, the pastor's wife, and some other young women, and I started sobbing. I knew I had heard God, and I chose to live. 

  I don't want to sound "preachy", but this is my life. This is what happened. God saved me in 2009. I needed Him, and I fully believe that He kept me alive to be able to type this right now, but this isn't the end of my story. (No matter how much I wish that was my happy ending.)

  After that "honeymoon" period that I believe every Christian goes through, my mental health plummeted. In 2011 and going into 2012, I was dragged into a whole new darkness I couldn't get out of. It was different than before. I self-harmed every single day, and I didn't do it to just relieve my anxiety. I needed to do it. If I died, so be it. I couldn't care less. These are the scars that haunt me to this day. I was also diagnosed with Bulimia Nervosa. I binged and purged five times a day at max. I stole money for food. I spent my entire savings account on food. I shoplifted food, laxatives, and razor blades (to be honest I got ticked off when they started putting them in cases that can only be taken off at registers). I ended up in the psychiatric hospital at some point, in hopes that I would find some help and answers, but instead I realized it was really just a place to go for a really long sleep and a break from life. I was the patient in the ER getting stitches, yelling at nurses and doctors over repeated questions, that I didn't understand why they had to ask over and over again. Calling doctors stupid because they're asking me if I tried to kill myself with laxatives. "Yes doc, I tried to crap myself to death. Dumba**"  Or calling them stupid for asking me if I tried to kill myself while my arm is soaked in blood, and responding with, "Yes doc, I came in voluntarily because I wanted to die. You f**king idiot."  I'm the one who had to be pulled back by two adults from attempting to harm my sister after she wrote something ugly about me on the internet. I was overdosing on sedatives several times a month, but I just wouldn't die. I mixed alcohol and benzos and still wouldn't die. I felt like such a failure because no matter what I did, nothing would kill me. Even when the doctors told me, "If you don't stop binging and purging, you will die," that answer wasn't satisfying enough. I was a nightmare. A terrible human being to be around, I'm sure, and I'm also very sorry to anyone who had to be around me during this time. So deeply sorry.

  I did decide to try and get better though, in 2013. I stopped self-harming in 2012, but I couldn't let go of the eating disorder. It would take until about 2014/2015 to say that I was fully in recovery from it. I won't lie though, I'm not perfect. I've self-harmed since 2012, but does that mean I'm not in recovery? No, that just means I'm human. I relapsed into my eating disorder in 2018, does that make me awful? No, it makes me human. (I'm in recovery now though, so don't fret!)

  Suicide never left me, however. I don't know if it ever will. I hope so, I guess we'll see. Although, I never thought about it much from 2013 to early 2018, because I separated myself from everything I had become to know. I was a Satanist and became too "proud" to ever become a "statistic". I suppose it worked in my favor; I did stay alive. But I did consider it again, sometime in May of 2018, but then God saved me again. He's pretty good at that, isn't He? I gained everything I thought I wanted and needed. The most important thing I gained that became my "life" was music. I was in a band, doing what I loved to do. I was replaced, or kicked out, I guess I'll never know the true story, and I no longer care, but at that time my whole world came crashing down. I already started slowly relapsing into my eating disorder and then my only escape left me. I sunk deeper into my eating disorder for comfort. I watched myself become thinner than I had ever been. I didn't care that it pained my husband or worried my friends. I only cared after one day, when I went to go to sleep, and I was alone, and the weight of everything weighed down on me so hard that I considered swallowing an entire bottle of benzos. I was crying in my bed, (ugly crying, super ugly crying. The really embarrassing kind of crying that you hope no one in your life ever sees you do. Yeah, that kind.) And I yelled in my room, "WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO?!" And I heard a tender, calm voice say, "Be still and know that I am God." I stopped crying. I was stunned because I had not heard this voice in many many years. It was familiar, gentle, but it unnerved me. I was a Satanist. Why would I hear it? Maybe it was just in my head. I was obviously slowly going insane. But I went to sleep, the pills utterly forgotten. Then weird things started happening. Friends from the past, that I used to go to church with messaged me saying they were praying for me. I hadn't talked to them in years. Why would they pray for me? Because God wanted me to know that it was Him, and I'm a stubborn little brat, that's why. So I said, "Fine God, I give everything back to you. I'm yours. Let's do this."

  But suicide still haunts me. Why do I fall asleep so peacefully to images of myself dying? Why do I constantly think about killing myself but also not want to do it? Will it ever end? I know that I want to live. I know that I want to give life a real shot. I don't want to end up like Marilyn Monroe. So why? Why do I linger on it? Why do I long for it like a friend?

  This past year and a half I've lost so much. I've let go of people that were supposed to be there for me but that I've realized are actually not good for my heart. But it's deeply painful to lose people you love so much that are still living. Maybe that's why sometimes I want to die.Maybe the lingering of suicide is there because I miss the music and the loved ones I've lost. But also, maybe I chose to stay because I've gained so much more. I've gained new dreams. That emptiness I've felt for years that I thought Satan was filling, is being filled by the One who fills me with love. That girl who let others opinions or actions bother her so much, became a woman who doesn't care. Who will speak up without fear, because she knows her identity doesn't align with a stranger's opinion of her. She's now a woman who's confidence is growing. Who, yes, has PTSD, Chronic Anxiety, an Eating Disorder, but doesn't make them her identity. She doesn't let them kill her. She doesn't let them run for pills to overdose on, run for a sharp object to bleed with, or to find a heavy object to beat herself with. They are simply illnesses that are a part of her and not everything that she is. She is a Christian, and loves God and loves seeing everything He's doing within her. She's a wife, who loves her husband no matter his faults, like Christ loves her. She works hard for everything that she has because she's grateful and not proud. She tries her hardest to be the best she can be, but no longer reaches for unrealistic perfection because that perfection will kill her. She's simply thankful for another day she's alive and breathing, even on the bad days. She's growing, and that's all she wants to do is to grow. She's becoming a woman. She's letting go of that scared little eleven year old girl who has been trapped inside her for so long.

  And that's why I chose to live. Someday I want to be a loving and gentle mom. I want to be a more kind, caring, and loving wife. I want to love my hardest. I want lead by example to show anyone that needs to know: that you can start healing no matter where you start. I remember the girl I was, but I look towards that woman I want to become. I keep her in mind, no matter how many set backs I have. I hold her in my heart. I pray for her, because, to be honest, she probably needs all the prayers she can get. She is me after all.

"Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,  I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." - Philippians 3:12-14

Until next time,
Ashley <3  

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