The first blog of what needs to be many more... What once was a tool for teaching can now be an outlet, and educate in a different emotional way... I've always said that I want to be truly open and honest, and it's always been well received. I've had strangers come up to me and ask, 'excuse me, are you Ashley? Feeling Joy?' When I reply yes, I've gotten the most beautiful responses... 'I've been following you for years, I love all of your posts...' One of them just yesterday here in Bali, incredible the connections we can make nowadays...
One girl told me my writing helped her through the death of her father. That was a big one for me. Every response like that keeps me going, truly touches my heart, keeps me inspired...
I want others to learn from my experience... The amount of feedback has always been beautiful to hear and read. I've been pretty open with my journey, and yet also admittedly closed up. Certain details I never disclosed. I didn't answer emails for months, and only just finally started posting again recently. I got lazy and uninspired, and rightfully so.
Talk about a year of new beginnings...
When Marco died, I told myself that I would take the next year to just BE. To wander, to get lost, in order to find myself again. To do whatever it is that I wanted to do, that I had never done before.
During his illness and his passing I was super strong in my practice. Waking up at sunrise every day, I would go to 6am yoga, get a juice on the way home at my local, and make it back before he even woke up... I had been resetting every morning, filling myself up in order to give of a full self. The fact is, I needed that, it's the only thing that got me through. I was strong through it and I've finally had a chance to breathe.
I AM raw. I am vulnerable. I have experienced deep pain.
The real challenge has come after the fact. The real pain has only just set in. This is when I need to be the most careful, gentle with myself. This is when my reactions have gotten crazy. I've been a mess, and I'm not proud of how I've handled myself. I've been absent-minded, indifferent, reactive.
Admitting that and truly recognising it has been one of the hardest things to do. It requires absolute detachment from ego.
Letting go of any attachment to the person I used to be is hard, but it is re-birthing in the truest sense. I'm not the person I was before I met Marco. I'm not the person I was even in caring for him, or in his passing. This person I've been living with inside of me actually scares me.
Knowing I'm in that space, I've been forced to recognise that I haven't attracted the best situations into my reality. When you're strong and moving from centre, abundance flows, as you attract other strong centred energies. After all, like attracts like.
You don't have love for yourself? Well, how do you expect others to love you?
It's a silly thing to ask really, because logically, of course not... The real question for me now is how can I love this person I've been confronted with, this sad volatile woman inside. The one who regrets the past. The one who acts out in bursts of anger. The woman who is scared, scarred, feels unloved and alone.
Sometimes I just don't care. About anything. Sometimes I care so much that it hurts even more when that love isn't reciprocated.
What actually breaks my heart the most is that I miss that person I used to be. The happy, bright, positive being that everyone would comment on, 'wow, you have such a beautiful outlook on life, how are you so positive?'
I did have an incredible outlook on life, and I fucking miss it. I miss ME.
I've come to the conclusion that I need to be very careful with who and what I surround myself with. I will have outbursts. I will cry. I used to sing screaming in the car. I need to surround myself with absolute support right now. With softness, with forgiveness, with unconditional love. I need to be able to let it out and not be afraid of being judged.
I need to be able to cry and not care that I look weak, and that means allowing myself the space to do so. Weakness has always been a big thing to me, because I've never really been weak. Physically, emotionally... Even through all the hospitalisation, I was strong. I cried but I kept doing what needed to be done, I asked questions all the time, I recorded all of the test results, I communicated with naturopaths, holistic doctors, friends. I kept up the work. Everyone around said I was a strong warrior woman, they were in awe that I could make it through. I carried that with me like a torch and clung to it as part of my identity.
Truth of the matter is, it no longer is my identity. I am no longer the caretaker. My time was filled with pouring love into another human being so much that I have completely forgotten what it was like to love myself. Once upon a time...
What I did day in and day out no longer needs to be done. The job was finished and my time was just... open.
How do I create a new identity for myself? Wish I could build a new one from scratch sometimes. Yet, it can't be, because there is no clean slate. Life is messy, and there are constant reminders of where I've been and what I've been through. There are pieces of him in me, I see pieces of him in other people. Every man I meet will always be compared to him. After 5 years of being with someone so closely, everything has just... changed. Also yet, it hasn't. Everything is still the same, he's just not there anymore.
This year is certainly to be one of rebirth, to say the absolute least. I will come out on the other side of this, truly strong, because the work will have been done. I have so far to go still, and admitting that is one of the biggest steps I've taken thus far.
I've scattered some of his ashes in small amounts on my way... Once at burning man at the temple... The same day David Bowie's daughter brought his ashes actually... Once in Yosemite, in the river which winds gracefully through the valley, nourishing the land... The very next day there was the first rain after a 4 year drought in the area... I still have a long road ahead, I still have him engrained deeply into my heart. This year I will truly move with him working through me, to honour him still.
I honour him by letting go.
I honour him by loving myself.
I will dive into myself, into my work, into what I truly believe in. I will do it because my heart depends on it. My mission has always been to give, to love, to share... It's my instinct, embedded deep into my bones. However I will only continue breaking my own heart if I continue to deplete my being. If I don't become strong and in love with myself once again, I will be giving from an empty shell, and that's not giving much at all...