My Friend, Ashley


OK, for about a week I’ve been in a slump.  

And kind of down in the dumps.

Try to write, but I get stumped.

With a case of the grumps.  

Which leaves me feeling like a big ole lump.

What a chump.  

For the last few nights, I have trudged down to that peaceful writing room in the basement so that I can sit in front of the computer and beat myself up for not having anything worth saying, not being able to say it the right way, not being able to…be able.  Or just be.  At 11 p.m., I clomp back up the stairs and put myself to bed, feeling like I missed my chance.  

The feeling of foreboding grows. Because on days when I don’t write, my brain gets mean.  It turns on me.  

I start to question myself.  I conclude that no one gives a shit anyway and if I just slink off to silence it won’t make a rat fart of difference.  I slide, in everything.  

The internal negative messages ramp up.  Constant judging.  I’m brushing my teeth and think, “Jeez, when’s the last time you plucked your eyebrows, Sasquatch?”  I help Vivi get dressed and think, “I bet other mothers don’t send their kid to school in socks they don’t like.”  When Carlos babbles something to me, my mind snarls, “There’s something you’re missing here and if you really loved this child you would fix it and he would talk just like every other kid in his class.”  I leave 15 minutes late–of course, because I’m a lazy slob.  My car makes a funny sound and that’s my fault, too.  I’m being too honest right now and that’s probably a mistake, right?  

After I drop Carlos off at his school (where he cries and doesn’t want me to go but I do anyway–I need to be a heartless mother so I can get to work late and mess up more things there, son!) I sit in the car waiting for a gap in the traffic.  A woman walks by with a cute turquoise purse.  She waves and gives me a bright smile but my first thought is, “It’s the wrong season for that color purse.  It’s still winter…for two more days.”  


Judging judging judging.  I instantly feel guilty for judging someone else so I bring the verdict down on myself.  “Or MAYBE she likes the color and it makes her happy and she gives herself permission to be delighted because she’s not as fucking rule-bound as you are!”  

And I burst into tears.  

(I sure do cry a lot in my car.  It’s like the only place I have privacy some times.  Is that wrong, too?  Probably.)

That’s when I finally say something to the voice in my head that has been hounding me all morning:  “Shut it.  That’s my friend Ashley that you’re talking about and you’re not allowed to talk to her that way.”  

The shit I say to myself about myself on a daily basis–would I EVER let someone else talk like that to a friend?  

So I’m going to be nice to my friend Ashley today.  I’m going to tell her that she’s doing tough things but she is tougher.  I’m going to tell her that she matters.  That she is allowed to be whatever she is this day, this minute, this life.  She’s OK and I’m proud of her.  

And now I’m thinking that I probably shouldn’t have spewed all this nonsense out there, but my friend Ashley told me it was a good idea.  Sometimes she’s brave.  

33 thoughts on “My Friend, Ashley

  1. onetreenotaforest

    Thank your friend Ashley for me. She was talking to me today. I really needed this. Please don’t stop writing ! Even when you think you are a stumped chump, your words reach our souls.

  2. Susan Allen

    Great post today, Ashley! Don’t we all have times like this in our lives??!!! It’s good to know we are in good company and that we should be nicer to ourselves when we are down in the dumps and seem to be doing everything the wrong way. Thank you for this gift today!

  3. Amanda Harris

    Your friend Ashley (who also is my friend Ashley, what a coincidence!) is brave, wise, smart, funny, a wonderful mother, partner and friend, and more competent in more ways than I can list. And wow, did I ever need a reminder today about saying “shut it” to my built-in critic!

  4. Cynthia @ Flotsam of the Mind

    If it helps, I’ve been meaning to tell you that I love the days when you post your blog early in the morning. I lie in bed for a few minutes after my alarm goes off, reading stuff on my phone and waking up. I’m always happiest when your blog already is in my feed a few minutes before 7 a.m., and I always read it first. I give a shit.

  5. Miss K

    I think Ashley is a brave and wonderful woman for sharing all that, knowing somewhere, deep down that others, just like her, needed to hear it and be reminded to be nice to themselves…so easy to forget. Thank you for sharing

  6. Tracy Hunter

    Are we related? I WORE WHITE JEANS on this past ‘sloppy Friday’ and it is NOT AFTER EASTER YET, but I am a lazy slob who spends so many hours at work just trying to be average that I can’t even get my laundry done (washed, much less pressed!) which left me with no choice (well, not really, but the choice was fuzzy pajamas with hippo heads on them). However, the world kept spinning, my mother is still speaking to me, and one of the gals at work (a Yankee – she may not know the rules) told me I looked cute.

    I refer to the problem as “heaping on” (you know, like at Thanksgiving when you just keep heaping more stuff on your plate). When something is wrong, I like to “heap on” and make EVERYTHING I do wrong, and thus starts the tailspin, the downward spiral, the dark days.

    Ashley is brave. And Ashley already knows to STOP “heaping on” because she is actually handling her current plate-full just fine – with style, and grace, and, most importantly to the rest of us, humor.

  7. Tracy Hunter

    Paper plates at Thanksgiving? Now who is clutching pearls at whom? In a house full of too much stuff (minimalism is for people with no style and no nostalgia), valuable real estate (shelf space) is being occupied by my great-grandmother’s china (and hand tatted table cloth) JUST for use at Thanksgiving.

  8. Kevin

    I enjoyed your post today and can relate to the problems of finding anything to write about. And since I’m a man I never wear anything in fashion or stylish so I’m not rule bound by the seasons!

  9. Gay (BIG) Garrett

    Put the whip down…now. You cannot go forward until you drop it. Give yourself the love that we feel for you that you have given to us. You are our gift.

    1. Brett

      Well, Well, Well. You have read my mind. This describes the last couple weeks for me. I have questioned ever single decision.. (wonder if other kid’s mom’s buy Coke and sugared cereal…I bet that other kid’s mom’s car is much cleaner than mine… I bet if i was a GOOD mom..i wouldn’t let my 7 year old watch so much TV. Why haven’t we planned an educational trip to the Museum? Are we going to take the boys to Disney World?? They’re almost grown. We REALLY should start going to Church..What about volunteer work?? Why don’t we go to Children’s Hospital’s and visit sick children… and ON and ON and ON.) Reality is.. i’m a sloth. My biggest decision on some days is watching CRIMINAL MINDS OR CSI MIAMI. Oh and can you please pass the Pork Rinds? I have my husbands over sized clothes on, and no bra since Sunday. I’m tired, but pretty sure i haven’t done anything. Bored because i’m boring at the moment. SO.. be SURE that your spewing of nonsense has filled my day with a sense of humanity. I am a Mother, a Wife, a housekeeper, cook, chauffeur, therapist, tutor, office assistant and overall lover of all animals. And that’s good enough for today. And i’m a FUCKING authoritarian on POWER RANGERS.

      1. Baddest Mother Ever

        How perfect is this timing???? I am sitting her vegging in front of some Transformers movie and it makes ZERO sense to me!!!!

        I love you and I think we will all feel a little better when spring sets in.

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  11. peggy vincent

    I feel better now or do I feel worse?? Better for knowing that I’m not alone and worse for beating up on a perfectly wonderful woman that does know she’s fabulous but let’s that thinking shit get the best of her on days when she really needs a hug! I’m going to be nicer to my friend too:)

  12. lindalouise0626

    My friend Ashley once stood up for me when she recognized that my sister was a bully; It was glaring but I had grown so used to it I shrugged it off. She also gave me WEEKS of rest and comfort after surgery. Don’t you go laughing it off – this is her generous spirit showing. So please be gentle with my friend Ashley. She might struggle against it for a bit, but then I bet she’ll lean in. She’s a dear one.


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