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Still We Rise

Sometimes life punches you in the gut so fucking hard. Then, when you come up for air, you gasp but your cracked and broken ribs make it hard to take full breaths... But you keep walking, crawling if you have, you just don't stop, you can't. Because, my love, those ribs heal, and the blood, oh that blood dries. And darling, it may take awhile... But one day you, yes you, will take a full breath again, and you will rise.

Six and a half years ago I shaved my head. Literally buzz cut, #3. Off came inches of glorious brownish-blondish-reddish hair. I wore a hat for a week. I like it now.

Six years ago I paid thousands of dollars to wear a man's navy blue uniform and the most uncomfortable Oxford High Gloss Dress shoes for 20 weeks to earn the title of Police Officer. I threw up every single morning for the first four weeks. I lost 18 pounds. I like to claim it was my hard working out, but it was just my body saying, "Ashley, this was a fucking terrible idea."

One snowy morning at 4:45 am in January of 2017, in my baggy PT sweatpants, I threw up so hard and so long but there was nothing left. And Man, did I yell at the top of my lungs. And then calmly turned around, looked myself dead in the bloodshot eyes, through tears, in that mirror and said, "You need to be over this shit. You're done throwing up." And just like a perfectly directed Nexxium commercial, well, I stopped waking up and instantly vomiting. I count that as a win.

Moving on... I got knocked out cold. By my best friend in the academy. And she cried. It was a complete accident, but yeah, I was out. And of course as I'm sitting with an ice pack in a chair in the corner, the Sgt. comes in and says, "Craig, what happened?" And I just cried. Terrified that a few short weeks from graduation, I'd be forced out on medical and I'd have to go through all of this again.

I was fine. At least I have a cool story now.

5 and half years ago, I stood on a stage in that same God Awful men's navy blue polyester uniform with a hat way too big for my head and the largest smile possible on my face and I graduated. The best part, my extremely proud father got to salute me, I got to salute him, and as the bagpipes played the entire experience flashed before my eyes. I made it. And yes, it was not graceful, and for me, it wasn't easy. In fact it was one of the most challenging things I've ever done. Every day for five months, I busted my ass in physical training, running well over 100 miles in my time there, doing way too many squat thrusts and knee bends. Working until my muscles literally couldn't work anymore in our "Crucible" - the last three hour workout. I got called so many unique and awful names haha. I got punched, kicked, knocked out, pepper sprayed. I woke up sore every day covered in bruises.

But I woke up, put on that uniform and I "went to work". Graduating from and with the Mighty 88th Basic Police Class was one of the proudest days of my life so far. And that academy has proven to be one of the best experiences of my life. I met the most amazing people and I pushed myself farther than I ever thought I could go.

But, I guess we all get caught in the chaos of life. As soon as graduation happened, the life I had known for five months ended. And honestly, I wasn't where I thought I'd be. Like at all. I didn't yet have the job I worked so hard for, I didn't have a job period, a major relationship in my life had ended, and I was scraping pennies together. And oh Lord could it be worse. It could be so much worse...

But I still got a little lost. So, just like good-ole Forrest Gump I started walking. Literally, I'd roll out of bed, plug some music in, and walk. Every day. One day, I went 11 miles. 11 miles!! That's insane. And when I got home, I cried, and fell asleep. That had been a pretty commonplace for me.

But one day, July 24th, 2017, I walked until I couldn't anymore. Not because I was tired or sore. Even though I was tired and sore. I walked to the end. I walked to a place where I could see for miles, but couldn't get there. Not yet. Not like this.

That day, I looked at myself in the mirror, I looked at my brownish-blondish-reddish hair that's getting a little crazy as it finds its new shape and length, my deep blue eyes, my terribly sun burnt face..

And I said "You're done with this shit. You're going to take your life back."

This was a long overdue Ashley Craig message about not giving up.

This is to everyone who has cried so hard it literally hurts. To everyone whose ever felt so lost they don't know which end is up anymore. This is to everyone who has worked their fucking ass off and still are not what or where they want to be. This is to everyone who fights everyday to keep their head above water. This is to everyone who has thought of giving up, but didn't. This is to everyone and anyone who has walked 11 miles or more (kudos to you) having no destination in sight, just trying to find themselves again. I've been there, and I'm sure you have too.

This is to You.

This is to Me.

It's okay. All of this is okay. And so are we.

I don't know what's next for us. I don't know what tomorrow, or the next day, or the next looks like. But, I need you to trust me.

We Are Going to Make It.

Because You, yes you, are amazing, and brave, and strong, and beautiful. And this world needs you. I love you. I support you. I'm proud of you. And I'm walking through all of this with you. And I promise you, We are going to be okay. It may not be easy. But, it will be worth it.

Sometimes life punches you in the gut so fucking hard, then when you come up for air, you gasp but your cracked ribs make it hard to take full breaths... But you keep walking, even crawling, but you don't fucking stop. Because, my love, those ribs heal, and the blood, oh that blood dries. And darling, it may take awhile... But one day you will take a full breath again, and you will rise.

And You, my Friend, you will Rise.

Love Always,


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