I may be at war with my own body, but I’m raising my daughter to love hers

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Author's daughter, at the local library

“I want to be just like Mommy.”

The first time my daughter said that, it melted my heart and punched me in the gut. I am not the kind of mom who has all of her shit together. To be honest, I’m a single mama fighting back a mix of mental illness and more.

You see, I’m also fighting my body. To describe my body in a way readers might understand, I have to close my eyes; I’m far too used to seeing my body in a negative light. I have yet to give a successful description, however, because inevitably, my own words fall flat. …

A true story.

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He came to you like a Hollywood dream. As if the universe had finally conspired to give you the love of your fantasies. Everything you long gave up on was suddenly within your reach when this man went out of his way to find you.

To love you.

To hear your voice.

He was a writer, and everything you longed to be. You watched his ambition grow and you were moonstruck when it turned out that he wanted your help, your words, your writing.

His mission became your mission. In it, he planted secret messages for you. This post was for you, this song was for you. Everything had meaning and everything in the world conspired together to let you know that you were loved. …

Warning: Graphic discussion of family annihilation and toxic masculinity.

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Shanann and Chris Watts | Facebook

After watching American Murder: The Family Next Door more than once, I had questions. A lot of questions. For one thing, I didn’t feel like I was getting the whole story. If you’ve watched the Netflix documentary, you might know what I mean.

Call it women’s intuition, or simply the effects of having survived a few dysfunctional relationships myself, but I noticed several red flags that seemed to get glossed over in the film.

I took my interest in the tragic story over to Facebook, where a couple of friends echoed my concerns. As a result of those conversations, I spent an afternoon going down the rabbit hole of information about the 2018 murders of Shanann Watts and her two young daughters. …

Really, really wrong.

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Dakota Johnson and Ellen DeGeneres on The Ellen Show, 2019

This story is long overdue. Over a year ago, I wrote about some of the criticism Ellen DeGeneres got regarding her friendship with George W. Bush, and… I defended her.

Consider this my formal retraction — and one that’s been a long time coming.

I’m not afraid to be wrong. I don’t have a problem with admitting I was wrong, either. But I have been sitting on this story for a long time because the reality is so damn sad.

Did I believe in Ellen because I’m totally naive? As a person on the spectrum of autism, I do tend to struggle with the idea of manipulation, deception, and general hypocrisy. But I’d like to think I’ve learned how to be much wiser about people as I’ve gotten older. And for the most part, I think I have gotten better at recognizing toxic people. …

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Photo by Amy Shamblen on Unsplash

Thanksgiving is the worst holiday. At least, that’s what I used to think. A holiday that revolves around food is easily a minefield for anyone with body issues. A holiday that revolves around family isn’t much better for somebody surrounded by dysfunction.

Growing up, I used to beg my mom to let us do something different for “Turkey Day.” We were very poor and on welfare, but my mother pulled up all the stops to create holiday feasts for Thanksgiving and Christmas. We lived off condensed soup and chipped beef on toast for months before the holidays just so mom could cook and bake up an excessive storm. On the upside, she was good at it. …

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Hallmark Entertainment

Barely a year ago, I wrote about Hallmark’s disastrous decision to pull a Zola commercial which happened to feature two women getting married. They swiftly pulled the ad in response to Conservative outcry against the so-called “gay agenda,” and then promptly apologized for that choice in response to the resulting backlash.

Last December, Hallmark learned a difficult lesson — nobody can play both sides forever. As long as Hallmark considers their brand a family-friendly space, they’ve got to decide if they’re for all families or only some of them.

And last year, Hallmark declared that they would choose inclusion, despite the protest of many Conservative voices. I should note, though, that there have been queer characters in Hallmark movies before. …

Be honest about where you stand with someone before giving them your heart.

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Photo by Alexander Krivitskiy on Unsplash

A few days ago, I was surprised to get a message from someone I used to know. A guy I dated a few years back, who I admittedly fell quite hard for.

This guy and I — we had incredible chemistry. Being together felt magical.

But being apart? Well, it sort of felt like I didn’t exist. Or matter.

I was the one to end things, though, to be fair, he had made it pretty clear — through his actions — where I stood. And I still stayed too long. As much as I adored the man, his actions rarely lived up to his words and I was sick of feeling like he only reached out to me when he wasn’t getting attention from the people closest to him (we live a few hours away.) …

But maybe it’s not what you think.

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Photo by Soheb Zaidi on Unsplash

If there’s one thing I wish more people understood about poverty, it’s that growing up poor is terribly expensive. It’s funny. When I first began making “good” money by writing online, it felt like most people didn’t understand that the money I was making wasn’t all just sitting in a bank growing exponentially.

Some of it sat in the bank, of course, and some of it was saved for certain events, specific needs, or special occasions.

But over these past couple of years, most of my money has gone toward simply “catching up.” Honestly, I’m not sure why more people don’t talk about this. Maybe they’re ashamed. After all, talking about money at all is often seen as uncouth — as if you’re either a braggart for mentioning how much you’ve made, or a panhandler for admitting when it’s still not quite “enough.” …

If there’s hope for me, there’s hope for you

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Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

I don’t always make $10,000 a month on Medium, though of course, I wish that I did. While I may never be one of the tip-top earners here, I still think there’s hope for me to grow and earn more in the future. Besides, even when I don’t earn $10K, I feel incredibly fortunate to do something I love in the comfort of my home, and still make better money than I ever did working for somebody else.

Even so, writing is work. It’s hard work. It takes a lot to consistently publish money-making stories which translate into lots of member reading time while raising a kindergartener — especially in the middle of a viral pandemic. Like most folks, I get burned out. I get sick of social distancing, sick of politics, sick of social media, and sick of being tired. …

One of my biggest fears during pregnancy came true.

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Photo by Josh Applegate on Unsplash

Over the past eight months, I have been routinely amazed by my kid. The coronavirus pandemic changed her life. Preschool shut down. We quit going shopping, quit dining out. Her Frozen II birthday party was canceled. We didn’t get to go to the pool this summer or hang out with friends.

There’s a whole lot we quit doing, all to be safe, just in case. I never expected that to be easy for my daughter. I know it’s tough. It’s hard on me and we miss everything from leisurely Target trips to Saturdays spent at the library.

I keep waiting for her to have a meltdown because she misses the McDonald’s play place, or because we drive past the old “bounce house” every single day. The bounce house was one of our favorite hangouts — a place where I could work on my writing and she could play with other kids — but they had to close their doors months ago. …


Shannon Ashley

Single mama, full-time writer, ex-vangelical. It's not about being flawless, it's about being honest. Top Writer. https://onlyfans.com/shannon.ashley

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