I laugh to myself sometimes when I get told of the great example that my husband and I are, the great hope that we offer for #relationshipgoals and the appreciation for the pure and deep friendship that we have with each other...not because I don't appreciate it, believe it or see it but because It took us a long time to get here and we had to fight many battles to find each other. We met broken and bloody from battle after battle and we burned our lives to the ground and rebuilt them in each others arms. THIS IS A TRUE, MESSY AND POWERFUL LOVE STORY that has never been shared like this before. It is my prayer that our story will inspire you in your search for love whether it is in the person next to you or in the person unknown.
DISCLAIMER: As I share scenes from my love story that I have NEVER shared publicly before I just want to warn you that this is NOT a pretty love story. It has a lot of ugly and it gets WAY worse before it gets better. There were many hearts broken and many victims of my battles for love. There is nothing that you can say about me and my love story that I have not already said to myself. I know who I am, I know where I am and I know that the love that I have now is the truest and greatest love that I will ever hope to experience...you don't have to understand it or agree with it. It is mine and mine alone.
*no names will be shared and this is only ONE side, my side of the story.
Part 2 of a 4 part series...You can read PART 1 HERE:
My daughter is 6 years old today. She is in Kindergarten. I find myself obsessed with her innocence. I love that she is untouched by the struggle and trial that comes by being human in this great fallen state. She is pure and simple in the way she loves and in the way she understands. To be like a little child again.....to be untouched, to be so giving of our hearts, to be so simple in thought and purpose. I envy her and long for those simpler days. Oh to make my life more like that.....it truly is a life goal of my family.
This is me in Kindergarten. What would I tell this precious, simple heart and mind. What can I tell my daughter? How can I protect her from making the same mistakes that I did.....the truth is, I can't. At 22 I was facing my first divorce and I was like a little child. I was scared and weak and didn't know anything. I acted out and I cried and I threw tantrums. I didn't get it. 14 years ago THIS MONTH I was served with divorce papers. The day I turned 22 I was signing on the dotted line. Ending not only my marriage but shattering EVERYTHING that I believed in about marriage and obedience and faith.....shattering faith in all that I held dear. It wasn't just about the divorce. It was everything I had ever known blowing up in my face and being powerless to stop it.
As I was digging for pictures I found this that I had written a few short months before I got married.
Personal Mission Statement for Ashley Mitchell
March 15, 1999
To find love, happiness and truth I will do the following
LEAD a life centered around my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ
REMEMBER to make the very most of every single day, take baby steps.
REVERE the admirable characteristics in others and always be loyal.
RECOGNIZE my potential. Discover my talents. Earn everything I deserve.
HUMBLE myself, be teachable and know to use my weaknesses to help be become strong.
ENVISION myself becoming the person that I have always wanted to be.
Maybe there was a chance that I knew myself then better than I ever gave myself credit for... maybe I did know but I was just making excuses for me to be a complete and total jack-ass. Maybe I was justified....but probably not. I spent months after my divorce trying to pick up pieces, trying to make sense of everything that happened and to adjust to this new identity that has found me.
I didn't want to feel anything. I was introduced to things that made me feel better. That allowed me to escape and pretend that none of this was happening. I drank. He introduced me to this life and I was angry and I was losing......losing everything that I held dear......my life was empty! And I filled it with anything I could, but not with anything that I should.
I met a boy in 9th grade, and I had a crush on this boy's best friend. And they teased me and tortured me....I know I know, true love in 9th grade language.
After my divorce this boy that I met in the 9th grade found me again. And we fell in love. A different love than I had with my now ex-husband. We were FRIENDS. We were best friends. And we laughed and we had fun together and he introduced me to my first dirt bike ride and he introduced me to bands like 5 Foot Tuesday and 311. He was familiar and comfortable. It was easy and it felt good to love without the strings, without the expectations, without the pretending....we could just be. He gave me hope and reminded me that I believe in love. That I wanted love in my life and that I wanted family. I wanted to be myself...authentically and he allowed me to do that.....I felt free for the first time in years. He loved me. He would have married me had I been truly ready. He would have be a wonderful partner in my life. He would have done anything for me.....but I wasn't ready for him. I wasn't ready.
I wasn't in love enough.
He is married today to a beautiful woman, has beautiful children and is that amazing man that I always knew he would be.....He is always in my heart and I am so thankful for him and the lessons he taught me.
I wasn't deserving of him....and I hurt him. I did that, it was becoming my thing.
I didn't realize this then but I do know this now.....I do believe that there could have been several options for a "good match". I have known some really awesome men and I have known some really shitty men. I know that I could have picked one of the good ones and could have had a happy life. If I would have known anything of worth and love and commitment and sacrifice and "rowing together" then I could have made it work with one of the good guys....do I believe that my husband now was the ONLY one for me?? NO. I believe that there was a hand in us meeting the at the time that we did and I believe that we were both ready for all that was coming.....and of course the fact that I think he is a sexy beast and genuinely LOVE everything about him has helped in our relationship.
Timing is EVERYTHING in life and love!!!
I thought for a short season that my e.x-husband and I would be together again. We tried to date. How do you go back and "date" your ex-husband? How do you make it about something other than sex? How do you put it all aside, move past all that has happened and make it work? He was my fall back. We got into a bad habit of being the "in-between" for each other. We couldn't really let each other go although we knew that we would never make it work. There was too much water under the bridge or whatever....
I look through the relationships and the "ones that got away" in the years between my first and second marriage (part 3 coming next week) and I think to myself how odd it was that I was so lucky to have men interested in me. How odd that I had a chance to get married MORE than once and some women, some AMAZING, beautiful, talented and smart women never get that chance?
I was undeserving of that much love, that much attention. I had NO clue what to do with it, I was in pain that I refused to feel and I was in denial of the grief that I was feeling for the realities that I had discovered when I divorced. Everything I believed in was shattered.
Moving to 2003-2004. Enter new boyfriend. Enter ring. Enter wedding planning. Enter yet another relationship that I was going through the motions with to "prove" to everyone that I was ok, that I was capable of having a healthy relationship, that I wasn't Julia Roberts in Runaway Bride. He again was one of the good ones. He loved me, he was going to be able to provide for me and a family, he did all the things that I loved to do. We went to the lake everyday, we hiked in the red rock Southern Utah and more.
Two weeks before we were going to get married I hopped in the car and hit the road for California. Now in any other situation someone would have looked at this like a normal trip to visit my brother who was living in LA at the time. It was a normal trip to go and hang with my family and to blow off some pre-wedding stress...but this wasn't....this was me.
The morning of our wedding I called it off.
Family had traveled, deposits had been paid, flowers were ready, the dress had been altered, the gifts had been received.
After we had made the phone calls and put up the signs and sent the emails we took off to Zion National Park and spent the day together crying, talking, adjusting and facing realities.
WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?? over and over and over again......
I was more lost than ever, in more pain than ever.
A few short months later he drove me to Idaho where I had accepted a job. All my belongings were in the back of his truck. We drove 9 hours in silence. Knowing what was coming but not wanting to face it.
As he walked away from my new studio apartment in downtown Boise we made the empty promises that we would talk and figure it out and that we would stay in connected.
I knew when he drove away that I would never see him again. And I haven't.........
Part 3 will continue on Tuesday February 16, 2016.