Prompt 8 – Letting go of the blame

This week’s prompt covers What’s bothering me? Why?

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A breakup’s aftermath can be hard – especially in this day of social media where your business can be plastered everywhere. People can watch your life unfold over someone’s social media pages and make their own assumptions about how what’s happening for you. A matter that should be private and shared at your own pace becomes everyone’s news.

Last month I wrote about a recent breakup and how our paths no longer intertwined. My partner is an incredible person and someone I truly admire. I wish nothing but the best of things for them but I know that our timing was just not right and our particulars just weren’t good fit. We both fought long and hard to do our best but in the end we weren’t good for each other and it was just causing more stress and sadness than good. Ever since our firm and final break, I have felt more at peace and I’ve felt lighter. The different stress is gone and I can be happy and at ease. It affirms the decision was for the best.

When prompted to think about what bothers me right now, my ex-partner’s attitude and attempts to victimize themselves is at the top of the list. Social media continues to be a negative platform to let this attitude fester. It is full of so many quotes aimed at taking shots at the other person and allowing the poster to remove their own accountability. There are opportunities to victimize oneself instead of looking inside to figure out where things went wrong. Certainly, there are awful relationships out there and situations where people are done severely wrong but in many relationships it’s about not being the right match – and that has to be ok. But we cannot blame other people for our life and we cannot let other people define it. I still struggle with missing my old partner – I miss what we had and what we are capable of. It’s a shame that our live particulars couldn’t blend but that’s part of life. It’s an opportunity to learn.

Now a days people are so quick to victimize themselves or look out to get back at someone. I think we need to look deeper in the situation and try to learn from each one. We are all responsible for our own happiness and if your partner isn’t making you happy, no matter how hard you BOTH try it’s ok to walk away from that. There is someone better out there for you and there is someone better out there for your partner. Getting to that point of acceptance is the best thing for anyone going through a breakup. Appreciate the good from the relationship, the lessons learned, and hopeful the good memories along the way but also understand why you are no longer together – which includes your own contributions to the relationship as well. Acceptance finally gives you that welcome sense of exhalation. You come to realize what the past meant and what the future can hold. Everything is alright again. You feel like yourself again and you have so much good ahead.

Unfortunately, my ex-partner isn’t there yet and I still have to deal with the jabs and the self pity. Getting scrubbed from social media – guess I should have saved some of those great pictures they got of me. But that’s where they are and that doesn’t define me. I can look in the mirror and know I gave it my best. I miss my ex-partner but I will never regret making the right decision for me. Maybe our paths cross again but if they don’t I will forever appreciate our time. Hopefully they get to that point of acceptance too. We all deserve that.

❤ Ashlee

Reacting with Love

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Experiencing life in two genders can be such an incredible look at the way that we are socialized and how we are expected to act. Even the different mannerisms and cues that we each have become so different. Being someone who is trans but has very masculine tendencies these are things that I had considered when I finally began allowing my Ashlee side to live and get out there more. It can take a lot of mental thought to sit or stand a certain way that ‘Ashlee’ might do as opposed to what I have been socialized to do my whole life.

Recently, I found this hit me over the head on social media. Facebook’s new reactions have been a fun addition to the site. It can certainly cause uproar in some instances but for someone like me that really just uses facebook to keep up with people in my life it was a pretty simple addition. I have a facebook account for both my male and female accounts and on my Ashlee account I can’t hit that love button enough. Seeing other people happy is one of the things that makes me truly happy and knowing that someone is able to celebrate their wins on facebook is truly awesome, it doesn’t matter what it is. I think back to all the LOVES I’ve hit on my Ashlee page in the last week alone – a friend posts a selfie that she feels great about and you can see the confidence beaming from her: LOVE, a friend celebrates a new life change that has made her life free and wonderful: LOVE, a friend posts a loving picture with her child: LOVE, a friend NAILED a makeup look she has been working on: LOVE, a friend posts something proud of quitting smoking: LOVE, a friend posts an inspirational quote that really hit me: LOVE, a friend writes a blog that speaks to me: LOVE, a friend posts something where you can just see that she might need a little bit of love and support: LOVE – you’ve got this girl! Spreading the love is a wonderful thing – and from me it’s real. Each of those examples I listed – along with the many others I didn’t – are things that make me happy because I know that these things are making those people happy and that’s an awesome thing to celebrate and as Ashlee, it’s great to be able to do that and be real and spread that love and just send that message to the poster to say “this is fucking awesome.”

I had been on a run of LOVES on my Ashlee page and then logged over to my guy page. I scrolled through it a bit and found a beautiful picture of a friend of mine with his wife and young child and they looked absolutely adorable and so happy. I immediately hit the LOVE button….but then I remembered I wasn’t on my Ashlee page any longer…and then I changed the LOVE to a LIKE. I sat back and thought about the thought process that went into that. Just minutes ago I was loving posts left and right but the “change” in the person made me feel that I couldn’t show that same level of enthusiasm. I had to tone it down. It may be “just another like or love” to the poster and something that they wouldn’t think anything about otherwise, but I instantly felt a little bit of shame over it – like it wasn’t ok for me to LOVE this other guy’s picture. This is someone that I have been friends with for 20 years. Someone that works hard and has always been a great person – why wouldn’t I LOVE the fact that he has found a wonderful woman that he loves and has created a beautiful little family life? It’s just different for guys – and that’s kind of crappy.

As I have come out to more people, those that know me well would talk about how I always had those traits that are considered “more female” – that I was caring and empathetic and that I was more “soft” than most guys – but that I was this football player so how could anyone really expect this? Some of these things that I almost felt like I had to tone down to not be considered weak were actually points of strength and points that I should be willing to embrace and own. What a freeing feeling that realization was! As I have become more comfortable with myself and gotten that reinforcement to just be me, I have been able to allow that soft side to show more and it’s amazing the positive impact that it seems to show in my male life as well.

I really started letting it loose in the workplace. I work with college students and have always had that jock image – but more recently I have used it to my benefit to get students to think differently. If I can have a caring and supportive mindset and allow someone to be soft, then anyone would. If I say it’s ok to cry or show some emotion then people – my male students especially – feel ok and safe to do so. What an awesome power! I’ve created this wonderful safe space for my students – a spot that they can let their guard down and where they can be their true selves and not worry about that macho bullshit that they might feel they have to let out otherwise. Not only has this space been created but they come back for more and know that they can count on me. I’ve always had that knack with students but this has allowed a whole new opportunity and allows me to better do my job to support students. In my personal life, it has been a tremendous benefit as well to support my friends and allow them to be open and real. Allowing friends that have been buttoned up for 20 years to come out with their own struggles and frustrations I have been able to offer true help and support much more than the “it’ll be ok, man. You’ll get through it” bullshit that most men deal with. My friends are thriving and getting the appropriate support that they likely wouldn’t be doing otherwise – and I am damn proud of that!

It’s funny to have a sneak peak into life as both male and female and see the noticeable differences. Here’s to hoping that we can do better as we move forward – to know that asking for help is not a sign of weakness, to empower ALL of our children, to teach consent and respect at an early age, to give all of our children their best opportunity to be the best person that they can be. But I do hope to continue to spread that goodness to all the people I can. To be more willing to talk about our feelings and not be ashamed of them. To know that there is a lot of wonderful in this world and the more that we can appreciate and build each other up the more wonderful it can be. I’m committed to continue to lead by example and hope that it can continue to blossom and that we can all just live our most authentic and true lives. It just feels better that way.

❤ Ashlee

When the paths are no longer intertwined

I read a quote recently that blew my mind…

“I think when you care for someone, you truly want what’s best for them. You smile when they laugh, celebrate their wins and suffer together through the losses. You adore the moments you share and give them enough space to be free. But part of wanting what’s best for another may involve accepting when your paths are no longer intertwined. It’s not to say that the moments you had aren’t real, but rather coming to terms with the inevitable truth that sometimes showing someone how much you love them means letting them go.”

Breakups can be excruciating. They can tear you down and make you feel lost. You can feel inadequate or like a failure. You may even feel like you will never find that true love. Did you miss your chance? Did “the one” get away? This quote challenged me to really think and re-examine the idea of “the one” and of soulmates. It also made me reflect back on a recent breakup and wonder about the role we played in each other’s lives. While it did not end how either of us would have hoped, we both learned tremendous lessons from the relationship. We were able to love on a different level and experience things better than ever. We had a dynamite love built on mutual love and respect. We clicked in every way possible and there was nothing I would rather do at the end of a long day than rub my partner’s feet and hear about their day.

in the end, particulars became too much. We lived nearly 3 hours away and opportunities to close those gaps were minimal. As things got tough and dragged on, the relationship continued to strain. A relationship that was once so promising was being run down by two tired people looking to try to keep that spark going.

The relationship went on far too long and it was nobodies fault. We both wanted so desperately to feel that love that was inside of us – and is still inside of us. But you can have the greatest chemistry in the world but if you don’t have the right timing….well, the timing can be a real asshole.

I loved this person more than I have ever loved anyone in my life. I truly believed they were my soulmate. Perhaps the idea of a soulmate is tough these days. Maybe there is that one perfect person out there for everyone and some are lucky enough to find it, but perhaps in this day an age that is harder to do. But what if we all have several people out there for us? The idea that there could be many people who we totally click with and that we all have several people that we may be better suited with. Regardless, it takes a lot of work. Love is hard. The more intimately you know someone the clearer their flaws become. You may love someone deeply but how do you respond when they are down on their luck, they’re out of money, or they are under pressure that you cannot understand? Love is pain and sacrifice, it’s seeing darkness in another but still choosing them every single day.

We all deserve that amazing, once in a lifetime kind of love. We deserve to be fulfilled and have a partner that we love and can bring out the best in us as we bring out the best in them. We cannot settle. And saying you cannot settle does not mean someone is a bad person or that you are better than them but it simply means that at this point they are not the person for you – and that’s ok.

Its a fine line to figure out where to go with love. How hard do you fight and give it everything you have vs leaving when it’s not feeling right? My partner and I fought so hard to keep our relationship going. There was no question that our relationship did not fail because of love but the particulars became too much to handle. I wouldn’t have changed it. We fought like hell to make it happen but it was just too much to overcome. We gave it the fight it deserved and I’m proud of that. This quote gives me a better feeling that we did the right thing and that we will both be better off for it. It may be hard to say goodbye but it can be the best thing for everyone involved. So much good ahead.

❤ Ashlee