just me

The idea was I didn’t want to look myself.

I wanted to look like those girls I saw in my fathers penthouse magazines. Perfect bleached hair and small features with mile long legs and big boobs. They had unrealistically set the bar for my beauty standards. I bleached my hair as blonde as I could get it, bought the longest hair extensions because my hair just wasn’t long enough, layered foundation on so strong you couldn’t see my acne scars and drank until I was, I thought, a better version of myself. I would look in the mirror after putting together my “masterpiece” and not recognize my own reflection, satisfied with my work.

me

. It may have taken a few hours of getting it right but by the time work rolled around, I left the house as my own version of Frankenstein.

It was a constant battle between accepting myself as the awkward, lonely and undesirable teen I had grown up as or instead forming a mission to reach perfection that I would chase forever.

I got spray tans to hide that I was so pale so it looked better in the black lights. I would shop in all the stores that had the most revealing clothing so I could lure customers in during my daily life, adorn a push up bra so tight it left marks on my skin for hours after taking it off.  As I yearned for what I believed would make me the most cash, I was losing the most important thing…. who I was. And to be honest, it was exhausting.

This charade of pretending, … it never lasts.

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Me now

Soon enough, It was no longer glamorous to look into the stage mirror and see past the heavy eyeliner the tired girl looking back at me. It quickly became boring and I realized how much fun it could be to be real. This fantasy I created for myself wore thin and suddenly I was yearning for something different…

The real girl who stood awkward in front the mirror when she was naked and without makeup, exposing the acne scars. The girl who laughed loudly at almost every joke and loved fiercely. She had an attitude and sass but that was okay. The girl  who teared up at tiny sentiments, who loved her friends, and endless dreaming. The girl who always wanted to cut her hair short and lost herself in joy when she went running.

932057259d53c037d453d9608c950188Sure I wasn’t elegant or tall, my boobs were small and I was awkward in my own skin, but that was me. 100% original, and that could never be replaced.

In some ways I have stripping to thank. It let me realize that I didn’t need to cover myself up to be what I wanted. It took so long but I realized I just had to accept who I am. And maybe instead of letting strangers convince me of who I was I should have started with my own reflection.

Maybe I  too, could be beautiful…

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Another 7 years

I haven’t written in so long, I suppose I’m going through “writers block”. 

I realize a lot of my posts have been about my father…and I’d love to come on here and say after 7 years apart, my father and I are finally spending thanksgiving together but I can’t…I’m sad but ready to accept the fact that we may have to go through another 7 years. And another. And another..

 I used think of going back in time, like maybe I wouldn’t have walked out on my family as I stared my dad in the eye like a huge fuck you, I shouldn’t have taken up stripping, I shouldn’t have started drinking, I shouldn’t have met him….so many I shouldn’t haves. But if I would sit here and ponder all these damn shouldn’t haves what could I possibly learn?

SFA. So it is just pointless. I went through it and I learned from it.

I have to admit it though, I regret it. I regret what I did to my dad. It fucking hurts every single day of my life and It probably will for the rest of my life and there is nothing I can do but perhaps accept it

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Although maybe…sometimes maybe, you just have to be hopeful for the next 7 years. Despite it all, I am still hopeful.

 

 

 

 

That Damn phone

He always acted like I was just there; no real reason except to have me around to satisfy his need for sex, supply him money and sit quietly. At least that’s how it felt sitting in the car beside him that day.

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Ken, my then boyfriend and first love, had the phone in his hand while he drove. It irked me to no end, why couldn’t he just for the love of God put the damn thing down? I was practically convinced it was glued to his hand because it didn’t matter what we were doing, he was on it.

I edged my way closer in the seat pretending to stretch my arms but instead i peaked over his shoulder to see just who was important enough to risk our lives over.

There it was on messenger, Emmy at the top followed by kens reply, “you want me to fuck you?”

I lost it. I lunged for the phone seeing only red but he reacted in record time, yanking the  phone away from me and turning the car off the street into a gas station where he parked.

“Are you fucking crazy!?” he yelled, ” What are you doing Ashley?”

“I knew you were cheating on me! I knew it! Let me out of this damn car!”

I flung the door open, struggling with my purse and slammed the car door with as much might as my 5’3 self could muster.

“Ashley! Don’t you walk away from me!” Ken yelled getting out of the car as well. “Its not at all what you think. We are just texting, joking around, I would never do that to you. What about when you go to the club and flirt with all those men, I don’t say a word about that.” It was always his argument. He secretly hated the fact I danced and constantly made sure I knew I was amounting to nothing.

His crafty way of somehow always making me feel insane did the trick as always and i believed his lie. I was also blinded by love.

But the suspicion remained in the back of my head and all my friends told me I should leave. So one night i dared to steal a glance into his precious phone. I had to know.
He was asleep but I had made sure to stay awake and it felt like a painfully long time until i was sure he was out cold. Sliding out of bed, I tiptoed to his bedside table where there his sacred device lay charging. Like a thief I took it off the table, my heart was admittedly racing until I got into the bathroom.

I knew the password already as i had managed to grab a glimpse of him putting it in time after time. Without hesitation i skipped to his messages. And there it all was… The girls, the lies, the games. And that girl Emmy was a strong player. I crumpled to the floor in tears. Why had i been so naive and stupid to believe i was enough for him… The serial cheater.

I stood up and in a rage i flew into his bedroom, turning every light on in the damn place.

“You Fucking liar!” I yelled and as if someone had attacked him, Ken jumped out of bed and went straight for the missing cell. That’s when I saw everything register on his face.

By then I couldn’t hold it in, I was bawling.

Like most things in my life I don’t cry gracefully, i heave and gasp for air like its my last breath and it drains my body of all it’s energy. I hardly fought him off as he wrapped his arms around me and pulled me into bed.

When i woke the next morning, red eyed and puffy, i was emotionally done, done with the lies, the wondering, the money he took and the way he put me down for just being who I was.

I could hardly look at him while i packed up my stuff. He paced while begging me to forgive him but it ended up just being noise to me, a fly that was caught in a sticky trap and was beating his wings annoyingly loud to be freed.

I left him that day. It was the first time i ever had a taste of heartbreak.

I feel completely empty. I know i have emotionally drained myself by allowing my thoughts to wander places they shouldnt. There just feels like something is missing, like a part of my life is a void. Maybe its someone instead of some thing….You know when you love someone so much but deep down you know that it will never work out? You know you will eventually have to accept this But when you try to walk away you cant bring yourself to. Love can be such a beautiful but dark place, one moment you feel like you are soaring, the next youre falling. If only things were so much simpler.

The Dancer House

When Kristy and I would travel, we would stay in “the Dancer house”. It was a place for outside strippers to stay while they worked. A lot of clubs offered a place for girls to sleep because part of the novelty was always having fresh faces. It kept things interesting for the men who would visit.

And it helped us make money.

It wasn’t exactly the safest place, and you could probably tell just by standing outside the house for more than 10 minutes that it was a drama den.

 Like that time this 40 something year old dancer had thrown a brick through the front window because she had sworn one of the dancers had locked her out. 
  

Girls are competitive but put strippers together under one roof while they’re competing to make money and you get a seedier version of Girls.

Anyway, One night Kristy and I were followed home from work. 

We had grabbed a taxi to split and on the way, something to eat. When we pulled into the back parking lot, we saw that we were the only ones home and the house was pitch black, save for the street lights. 

Once the taxi left, we got inside and not long after a large shadow appeared in the back door window. 

Kristy hadn’t even turned on the light when we heard a man yelling outside. Thankfully the window was glossed and out of habit i had locked the door as soon as we got in. The stranger started banging on the glass, yelling for us to “open up or he was going to break the door down”.

Kristy grabbed a broom stick and a pan for me and as we both crouched down by the door, we held our “weapons” at the ready.  I remember Kristy telling me to make sure all the rest of windows and doors were locked. So through the house i manuevered in the dark checking the locks, a bead of sweat forming on my forehead.

When i got back into the kitchen Kristy was sitting at the kitchen table with her broom stick while the mans shadow remainded leaning up against the window. 

“While you were gone, He left to do a check i think of the other doors and windows and came back to try this door again,” kristy explained while i sat down beside her. Hearing That had sent a chill down my spine. “I already called the cops.” 

By the time they had arrived, the man had already gotten bored and left but it took a while for our hearts to come back to a normal pace. 

Kristy and i swore to eachother we would never go home alone after that. 

 

when she left

 I don’t know why but this post always seems to come out wrong. Im never satisfied with the way i tell it and I must have written it over about a dozen times by now. I feel like i just cant give it justice.

In short its the day i changed everything in my life. And broke my fathers heart.

To this day I am still living with the consequences of this decision. My father is a stubborn man. SO unfortunately, I hold the tiniest sliver of regret.

The day I left home, I didn’t have a plan. In fact it was a spur of the moment decision i made When I was 17. I had only $45 dollars in my pocket and 3 bags of my belongings. I did Have a place to stay for a short bit, in a friends basement apartment but I didn’t have a job or even working experience for that matter. And i would need one fast.

While I packed my bags my step-mother hovered over me with a Poisonous tongue but for once in my life I blocked out her hurtful words. I shoved past her out of my room, never even thinking twice about the fact that it would be the last time I would ever be able to see my childhood room again.

AT the bottom of the stairs stood my father. The crease in his forehead was sharp enough to cut stone and the look in his eyes was even worse. However, it wasn’t that he was angry, he looked exhausted and heartbroken which in my opinion hurts more.

“Ashley, tread carefully, “he said once I reached the bottom. “If you leave home, you will never be able to come back.”

I believed him with every fiber of my being and so I walked past him and stepped out my front door, turning my back on the man who had once been everything to me.

When I got to my new place, it felt suddenly so real. I knew I had to do this for me and I could never go back, no matter what

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me: now

.

I remember crying myself to sleep that night because finally, it was all over. 

just rumors

I used to be ashamed about my past as a Stripper.

When word got out I was dancing I heard a lot of things I didn’t even know about myself…

“oh that run away girl with daddy issues, I heard she started dancing just to spite him?”

“What a slut, look at the way she dresses. Shes always looking for attention from men. She’s not even pretty.”

“If you hang out with her you’ll get in trouble.”

“I heard she got a botched boob job…”

“She’s sleeping around with everyone! Talk about a slut. I think she even got knocked up and doesn’t know who the father is.”

These were among some of the poisonous tales I heard once I left home. I would bite my tongue, I was better than lashing out at rumors and letting them get to me, right? I knew who I was and that was the most important. So I turned my back to the naysayers and decided that I didn’t need it in my life.

But truth be told… it hurt.

I’m sensitive by nature which in fact made working in a strip club an impossible thing to get used to. You are constantly at the mercy of someone else’s rejection. And already for most of my life I felt rejected.

I needed to remind myself that no matter what you do in life someone will always have something bad to say about it. So why hide who you really are?.

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I tried not to let stripping define me. When I was recently introduced to a new friend of a friend she exclaimed, “Oh you’re Ashley the stripper!” I sighed, rolling my eyes.

Being in the sex industry made me realize that people aren’t exactly what you assume. I’ve met some really good girls that were dancing for the sheer fact that she had no other choice. That in itself is one of the most important lessons I learned.

Perhaps in a way writing this blog has helped me come closer to terms with who I am. I don’t think we ever really figure that out and that’s the beauty of life, you’re always discovering new things about yourself.

Even if they are just rumors …