Piece by piece..

puzzle-pieces

I was sitting in class the other day (clearly paying very good attention), and I was analysing my dating life, or for better words, the lack thereof.

Relationships and Ashley do no mix. ย I have been super single for a super long time, and as much as I enjoy my independence and time to myself, I am ready to share my life with another person. But if there’s one thing I’ve learnt in life, is that everything has its own process. Things happen when you least expect them too.

I am always so quick to blame the other person in my relationships for not working; they were too controlling, they weren’t understanding enough, they weren’t supportive of me.. blah blah blah..ย The most important thing about a relationship is knowing that you not only need to find someone who is willing to give a part of themselves to you, but you also need to be willing to give up parts of yourself. And that you are willing to take half the blame if it doesn’t go as planned. You need to be willing to hear two sides to every story, you need to be willing to not always put yourself first anymore and you need to be willing admit that your way of seeing things, maybe isn’t always the best way.

Personally, I find myself in the kind of relationships where one of us is always trying to ‘fix’ the other one. I claimed myself as the ‘rebound girl’ because I always find myself chasing after boys who just broke up with someone and of course the last thing these guys want at that moment is another girlfriend, but let me tell you, have I ever tried my darnest to convince them otherwise. ย Of course, in the end, I am always the one who is left feeling broken and betrayed.

I see relationships as puzzles. Each person is a puzzle with missing pieces. When you are in a relationship, you give your pieces to another person to try and make their puzzle whole. If only one person in the relationship is doing this, then in a result, only one person will end up as a whole. If you are equally contributing back and worth to giving and taking pieces of each other’s puzzles, that’s how a relationship and life with someone else is built.

I am the kind of person who loves to give pieces of my puzzle to everyone. I am constantly giving, but it’s rare that I ever find someone who is willing to give an equal amount to me. So at the end of relationships, I always find myself missing more puzzle pieces than I started with. I end up feeling resentful, hurt, broken and empty. Is that my ex-partners’ fault? No, I wouldn’t say so. I am in control of my life, and it should be my job to realise when I am giving more than I am receiving.

It’s important to realise that the point of some relationships may simply be to teach you a lesson, about yourself and about what you want in life. Despite the negative outcomes of my past relationships, I have learnt something from each of them. I think after healing from every breakup, I have learnt the most important thing of all. That you should never put the blame solely on one person; not only on yourself and not only on the other person. A relationship is two people. Two faults. Two lessons. And two hearts that are being hurt. I need to remember that even the most heartless of boys have hearts too. ๐Ÿ™‚

-A

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Wanderlust: Central America

#MentalHealthAwarenessDay

A little belated of Mental Health Awareness Day, I have been motivated to write a post (also to avoid studying for my many midterms). Though I am very open now about my struggles, people still get awkward when asking me about my past with self-injury. I think the awkwardness is due to the misunderstanding, or just to not knowing about self-injury in general.

**warning, this may be triggering for people who have or still do suffer from self-harm.

Self-injury, self-harm, self-abuse or cutting, is surprisingly extremely relevant in our society, and very under talked about and under taught in schools.  I think it’s a very important topic, that needs to have light shown on it.  I still remember the first time I learnt about it before I started doing it.  I saw it on one of my favourite TV shows.  I remember thinking about it as something only ’emos’ do, aka people who wore all black, with dyed black hair and lots of piercings. To give a little background, in elementary and high school, I was probably known as the stereotypical, blond, popular girl.  In saying this, I am not bragging because I always hated being known as: ‘being part of the popular, mean girl group’, and I know I was.  But the point of this background information is I was not a stereotypical ‘cutter’.  In fact, most days I didn’t even hide my cuts, almost as a cry out for help, but no one ever came to my aid.

I started out scratching my skin with a nail file, just surface wounds, that brought no blood.  As I got more depressed, as the pressure in my life built up and as surrounding circumstances got worse, my mental health decreased, and I started cutting with razor blades that I would steal from my Dad’s toolbox. The cuts started off small and shallow, but as I got more comfortable and as the cutting worked to numb my emotions, the cuts got longer and deeper to the stage that I would have to steri-strip my skin together like makeshift stitches. I still have minimal feeling on the top of my arm (where I did the majority of my cutting) due to nerve damage.  Once the cutting got increasingly noticeable on my arm, I moved to my legs and hips.

Cutting is not a suicide attempt. Cutting is not something only ’emos’ do. Cutting is also not the only form of self-harm. There is also: burning, punching something to cause self-injury, picking at  the skin, hitting yourself to cause injury etc.  After my cutting scars started to draw unwanted attention to myself, I starting picking my skin and scabs.  Though self-injury itself is not a mental illness, it can definitely be a sign of a mental health problem.  For me, self-harm was a way of expressing all the hurt and pain I was feeling on the inside and putting it on the outside. I wasn’t able to express in words how I was feeling, so I expressed my negative pain and emotions on my skin. I emotionally felt numb, and cutting made me ‘feel’ something again.

Self-injury can be a way for people to help cope with depression, anxiety, loss, trauma, violence or other difficult situations.

I no longer suffer from or feel the need to self-harm.  I find that blogging and writing help me get my emotions out. I also have an amazing support system of friends who help me get through bad days.

Cutting is something that people should not be embarrassed about or have to hide.  I wear my scars with pride to show the hell I survived through. Do I wish I didn’t have the scars? Sure, but that doesn’t mean that I’m embarrassed by what I went through because I’m proud of the battle I fought and the strength I’ve built!

Please know that if you are suffering, you are not alone. There are so many options out there to help you. Many anonymous help sites and help lines you can call.
You are loved and your presence makes a difference in the world whether you notice it or not.

Please feel free to ask me any questions or message me if you need to talk. I am a great listener!

Love always,

-Ash

For further information or more clarity on this topic go to:
http://www.cmha.ca/mental-health/understanding-mental-illness/self-injury/

Interview with an 11th Grader

**Happy Tuesday everyone. I was recently asked by one of my past students if she could interview me for her grade 11 English class. ย I thought her questions were awesome and decided to share them and my responses to them with you all!
I hope you’re all having a great week!

-A

1. What are your aspirations in life? And Why?

Since I was young, my aspiration in life has always been to make a positive difference in the world. I wanted to somehow make at least one personโ€™s life better. I honestly donโ€™t know why this has always been my goal, I think since a young age I saw how being kind to someone made me feel so much better than being rude. I always liked when I knew I was able to make someoneโ€™s day better.

2. What is the importance of family to you?

The concept of family has always been very important to me. Unfortunately, from a young age I grew up without a close relationship with my mom, but I was lucky enough to grow up very close to my sister and dad.

3. As a child what were your goals? Have you met any from that period of time?

I think; as I have gotten older my goals have changed. When I was younger, my goals were more egocentric and short term, for example, I want to get a good grade on the next math test. Now my goals are a lot more long term and altruistic, for example, I really want to go and volunteer in Cambodia next year. I am lucky enough to have accomplished a lot of my goals I had made for myself, like dance professionally abroad and travel to certain places in the world, but now I set goals that not only benefit myself, but also benefit others.

4. Has there been any challenges in your life, that had a major impact on you? Have you overcome any? If so how?

Through high school, I suffered from high-functioning depression and self-injury, but I always had a mindset that I wasnโ€™t allowed to asked for help or show weakness because people would view me differently. After graduating, I developed an eating disorder, which I suffered from in silence for far too long. Overcoming these things has made me an incredibly strong person. I use these past experiences as motivation to help youth understand that mental illness is not a weakness. I want to help people know that they are not alone and that it is perfectly fine to ask for help.

5. Do you set daily goals for yourself? If so what are they?

I like to set weekly goals for myself. I am a very active person, so making time to go to the gym and eating properly are very important to me. Also since my life is so crazy busy, trying to balance school, multiple jobs, and extra activities, I always try to listen to what my mind is telling me. If I start to feel overwhelmed, I will take a step back and analyze the things that I need to do first and then go from there. I noย longer have a problem admitting that I sometimes need extra help, or need to take personal time for myself.

6. What helps you stay positive when you are at your worst?

I think looking back on where I have come from to where I am now, helps me stay positive and stay on track. Surrounding myself with positive people, taking personal time to recharge and asking for help when I need it, are all things that help me stay positive and healthy.

7. Is there a person who has a major influence in your life? If so, how have they impacted you?

Though I donโ€™t have a very close relationship with my mom, she has always been a huge motivation in my life. When I was younger I remember seeing a light in her that many people see in me. Since her light no longer shines every day, I try to shine mine extra bright for her.

8. What keeps you inspired to stay positive, and motivated every day?

The people around me help me stay on track and remain positive. I know I have many younger girls that I teach and work with that look up to me and they are a constant reminder of how my positivity can inspire and help other people around me. Sometimes simply telling my story and being open about my past struggles are enough to make a difference.