An Open Letter To All The Men Who Have Failed Me

An Open Letter To All The Men Who Have Failed Me

Yesterday was Valentine’s Day, an annual reminder of all of love’s disappointments. A day that I spent recalling all of the ways you’ve failed to show up for me.

Every time one of you disappeared after I poured my pain on the floor for you to see, it opened the gaping wound in my heart just a little wider.

You knew my history. Or at least, you should have. If you’d paid any attention, you’d realize that I told you, many times in a number of ways, directly and indirectly.

But I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and say maybe you didn’t know. Or at least, you most likely don’t immediately remember some of the things I told you. You didn’t know about my first love who crushed my soul into a thousand shattered pieces in a myriad of ways, not the least of which was refusing to acknowledge or respond to no less than 8 emails I sent him over the course of 2 years, absolutely laying my soul bare.

And maybe you didn’t know about how my own father avoided talking to me for an entire year because he, “thought I was mad at him or something.”

And maybe you didn’t know about my best friend. How much I loved him. And that he abruptly blocked me from every possible way of contacting him and hasn’t spoken to me three years. Maybe you didn’t know that it was the most painful, sudden loss I’ve ever experienced or that it triggered a year long depression during which my health failed and my marriage fell apart.

Maybe you aren’t familiar with the sense of panic one feels when you know it’s about to happen again, after having already happened again and again and again. You tell yourself that the feeling of impending doom, it’s all in your head. They’re not going to do this to you AGAIN. They love you. They’d never want to hurt you. And then they do.

Maybe you aren’t familiar with the aching feeling the creeps up in your heart and starts to radiate outward into your whole upper body. The contraction in your chest. The tightness in your throat. The heaviness that sets in in your stomach. The numbness that takes over as you sit there in a haze asking yourself why. Why are you doing this to me? And why does this. Keep. HAPPENING?

“Was it something I said? Was it something I did?” I think of 30,000 ways that this is my fault. “Did I hurt your feelings? Maybe I shouldn’t have told you how I felt? I probably should have worded it differently. Maybe I just have shitty taste in humans? Maybe I love all the wrong people? Maybe there are no good people? Maybe I’m a masochist? Maybe I’m fucking delusional and you never cared about me the way I thought you did? Maybe you never cared about me at all? Why am I here again? What’s the point if it all? I don’t want to feel this anymore. Maybe I should just walk out in front of a car and put myself out of my misery because anything is better than this old and ever familiar pain.”

I choked back tears on my entire walk home, watching all the people meandering through the streets, juggling their bouquets of red roses, cliché symbols of affection meant for people who are certainly far more lovable and deserving than I.

I felt the ache trying to claw its way out of my chest and into my throat, the tightness therein keeping it trapped squarely half way between a sob and a gasp for air. Quite possibly, I felt the greatest pain I’ve ever felt in the entirety of my existence.

And yet somehow—while standing on the corner of Hope Street, teetering on the edge of losing faith in myself, along with everything I’ve ever believed in, just before I reached the stairs…I still managed to forgive you.

Sincerely,
All Women, Everywhere

For the women whose hearts continue rising from the ashes.

A Year Without Sex

A Year Without Sex

You don’t realize how much energy we, as human beings, put into sex – thinking about having it, thinking about how to get it, the actual pursuit of it, and then the glorious seven minutes of actually experiencing it – until you’re not chasing it anymore.

I stopped chasing it one year ago this week.

*Cue Record Scratch* Wait – But Why?

I didn’t consciously tell myself, “I’m not going to have sex for a year.” It was more so that after my divorce and subsequent reintroduction to human mating rituals after seven years of being in a long term relationship, I was confronted with the stark reality of what it was like to be back in the dating pool.

I was initially excited about the prospect of being able to date again, but when older, wiser, and with a much healthier perspective on myself and where I was in life. Then I realized that while I had grown tremendously, both emotionally and spiritually since the last time I dated, the vast majority of single people on planet earth were, unfortunately, mostly the same unconscious neanderthals they were when I was 26.

I wanted a real man. A conscious man. One that wasn’t afraid of depth, but more importantly, one that wasn’t afraid of me, my scars, my mess, or my insatiable desire to know and express myself as authentically as possible.

I realized I had no inclination to engage in sex without the kind of deep emotional intimacy that I knew was possible, and deep emotional intimacy is not something readily available on the market.

New York City is a lot of things, but a place where people take the time to connect with one another, it is not. It isn’t just that, though – I’m a high-functioning intellectual individual. Intellectually stimulating conversation is easy to come by here. Everybody thinks they’re a sapiosexual. But I also have an extremely high emotional intelligence, and that is not something many people on the planet have, much less a steely place like New York City. The type of emotional and spiritual depth I require to feel satisfied is a rarity to find anywhere.

I stopped having sex because I became disillusioned with the inevitable disappointment of being starved for the kind of connection I needed by men who were too afraid to be vulnerable.

I decided that the Universe would find a way to bring me into the path of the right person, and I didn’t have to deal with an onslaught of frivolous Bumble and Tinder chats to find them. I wanted to be truly seen. I wanted to be felt. I wanted the deepest parts of myself to be known – but how can I show that to someone if I don’t even know it, myself?

I stopped going to bars. I stopped spending hours on dating apps. I stopped settling for surface level bullshit. I stopped seeking something from outside myself to fill a void within me. I quit. And instead, I took all of the energy I would have normally spent in the pursuit of sex and some “other” to validate my self-worth and existence, and put it to use in the pursuit of finding myself, my own inner-worth, and understanding how that changed the dynamic of the types of people I attracted into my life. Through that process, I became crystal clear about what I wanted out of an intimate relationship, what I valued, and most importantly – who I was and what I was worth.

The result was that I consciously chose to never be with another man who didn’t truly see me. Who couldn’t meet me on my level. Who couldn’t show up with intimacy and vulnerability that set my soul on fire – the same kind that I am capable of offering.

I would rather live the rest of my life alone than let one more person touch my body without touching my soul.

Your body is your temple. You don’t let just anyone inside. I finally grew spiritually mature enough to fully revere it with the respect it deserves.

The thought of having a one-night stand, or even sleeping with someone that I’ve only been on a couple of dates with used to be an afterthought, but it is utterly repulsive to me now. I’ve realized that sex feels like meaningless, barely-enjoyable, animalistic copulation without the spiritual component of genuine love and spiritual connection.

Most people on this planet completely miss the full breadth and depth of what sex can be. They connect on a purely physical level. The quality of sex is measured by the number of orgasms had, how many positions you tried, and how many orifices were penetrated.

Sex is not merely an avenue for physical pleasure and procreation, but rather, a doorway to the divine. A way to commune with our highest selves and the greater creative force of the universe, and I do not mean that metaphorically. Sex is a legitimate spiritual practice.

Followers of various sects of Eastern religions have practiced sex as a meditation for thousands of years. Sexual energy is considered to be the essence of our life force and maintaining a prolonged state of heightened sexual arousal can induce a state of heightened psychic awareness, bliss, and oneness with the Universe. Sex literally becomes a shared spiritual experience.

In yogic traditions, the energy that is responsible for this is called kundalini, or shakti. Kundalini awakenings can happen spontaneously or during meditation and result in all of the things I mentioned earlier. Ask me how I know!

I’ve experienced kundalini awakenings during meditation a handful of times. It feels like the universe is making love to you from the inside out.

Imagine connecting with your partner physically, emotionally, mentally, energetically, spiritually, and psychically in a state of total surrender while simultaneously experiencing the psychedelic highs of an LSD trip, merging so deeply that they intuitively know your every emotion and desire without you ever speaking a word, and your goal is not to orgasm, but rather, prolong that state as long as is humanly possible.

I think about what it would be like to experience that and – well, once you’ve had unicorn sex, everything else is just… vanilla.

The Success Trap

The Success Trap

Twice over the last two weeks, the topic of job satisfaction has come up with friends. In both instances, said friends were feeling unhappy with their jobs. Unchallenged, as it were; unsuccessful, as though they should be doing more.

In both cases, I reminded them that having a job like that frees up a lot of time and energy for things that are, ultimately, more important – like healing, self-improvement, and service.

I realized a while ago that material success is an ego trap. A shiny distraction from what really matters.

I fell into that trap early in my life. I felt like I needed to make something of myself, career-wise, in order to matter. To be seen as successful by others. To prove to myself that I’d made something of myself (by placing that designation in the hands of what other people thought of me and my life choices). I set out to become successful at everything I did. And boy, did I do things.

I sat as Vice President of the Board for a nonprofit and helped scale it from a small organization taking in $75k a year in donations to half a million.

I started three businesses – one doing branding, graphic and web design; another one doing all of that, as well as messaging, SEO, UX/UI design, lead generation, content creation, scaling operations, pitching and funding, revenue models, and whatever the fuck else a client wanted to throw at me. I grew that second business 400% from year one to year two. (The third was simply adding readings to this little blog here.)

I gave keynote presentations on digital storytelling. Workshops on social media. Sat as a panelist on digital marketing. I gave seminars on digital fundraising for nonprofits. I did photo shoots with professional athletes and wrote and directed PSA commercials.

I ran a fashion tech startup and launched a national brand ambassador program. I coached young entrepreneurs on how to communicate their vision and make their business goals a reality.

I was…am…a very accomplished human by earth standards. I came. I saw. I did (really cool) shit. And at the age of 33, I realized that none of it mattered.

When I moved here, I knew I didn’t care what kind of job I had. I have a journalism degree from the top school in the country and had spent four years running my own consulting business and I was fully prepared to wait tables because I just didn’t care anymore about anything except finding myself and being of service to others.

I didn’t want to help people make more money or plan their next exit strategy. I wanted to help people feel comfortable in their own skin. I wasn’t going to make the world a better place by [insert stupid tech company mission here], because you can’t change something from the outside in. The way for me to make the greatest impact was by helping people heal from the inside out – and there’s no dollar signs attached to that because it’s invaluable.

Astrological Shit Storm On Approach

Astrological Shit Storm On Approach

Friday, July 27th, is a full moon in Aquarius that also happens to be a total lunar eclipse. This phenomena is known as a “blood moon.”

Astrologically speaking, lunar eclipses happen all the time. Just about every year, (1.5, on average with only slightly more partial eclipses than total eclipses). A total lunar eclipse as this one is (verses a penumbral or partial) occurs when the earth, moon and sun align, with the earth in between, casting a shadow across the face of an otherwise full moon, sometimes creating a reddish coloring.

This particular full blood moon is occurring one day into mercury retrograde with four other planets on reverse route, making for some particularly intense astro energy.

What Astrology Says

The astrological significance of such and alignment is that it gives us a glimpse into our “shadow self” as Jung termed it. During this time period, we are often called to look at the ugliest parts of ourselves and find understanding within them, along with acceptance and balance. It’s also a time to bring to the forefront of our consciousness a lot of beliefs that no longer serve us, and emotional wounds that need healing. Particularly with Mercury and so many other planets in retrograde, we’re going to be digging through our past and working through shit that we’ve been ignoring for a good long while.

A supermoon occurs when the moon’s orbit happens to be at it’s closest proximity to earth. The energy of a supermoon is often amplified, in the astrological sense, so given that the energy we have is that of a lunar eclipse, expect all of the themes included to be super intense. A full moon eclipse represents closure, culmination, and taking things to another level, and this one happens to be the closer in our most recent eclipse window, giving it some extra oomph.

What Tarot Symbolism Says

Not coincidentally, The Moon card in the Tarot carries very similar themes.

blood-moon-apocalypse

The Moon can often refer to psychological projection of fear and the shadow-self onto those around us. It deals with repressed emotions which result in blockages that create fear and anxiety. The Moon suggests a time of becoming aware of and purging these self-limiting emotions and beliefs which have remained hidden within your psyche for so long.

What Numerology Says

Now let’s look at the numerology present here.

The eclipse takes place on 7.27.2018 (depending on where you are in the world…).

7+2+7+2+0+1+8=27. 2+7= 9

The Moon card pictured above has the roman numerals 18 at the top.

1+8 = 9

Clearly the number 9 is a recurrent theme numerologically as well. And guess what 9 symbolizes?

Culmination, finality, and the completion of an era.. And in addition to that, it’s also a worldly number – hence the global scale. The 9 as the end of a cycle is a transformation period, preparing to start over again in the 1 cycle (as the next number up is 10, and 1+0=1, you’re back at the beginning again). Often times the 1 energy and the 9 energy have some overlap.

As you can see, each of the symbols we’ve discussed here all share common characteristics and themes.

Typically you’ll start to feel this energy ramping up as we approach the full moon, and it will peak on the day of. You may still feel it winding down a couple of days afterward.

Here’s your training wheels: 

Whatever comes up for you during this time period is doing so to be processed and released. Don’t fight it. It’s trying to help you find clarity and closure.

Allow yourself to feel your feels, but try to do so without attaching a narrative to it. In other words, separate your thoughts from your emotions. Don’t try to analyze what you’re feeling, just let it float in and out. If you can observe your emotions from a place of neutrality without attaching self-destructive thought patterns to it, you’ll be able to allow the flow of processing occur more smoothly.

Make time and space for yourself to process your emotions. Cozy up in bed, turn on some music that matches your mood and let it all out. You’ll feel better when it’s all said and done.

The Oxygen Mask Analogy

The Oxygen Mask Analogy

God knows I love a good fixer upper project. I’m the queen of the come up, and I’ll turn another man’s trash into treasure all day err’ day. My steps kids joked that Thrift Shop was my theme song. I have an entire Facebook album of shit I bought from Goodwill and upcycled. I decorated my entire wedding with stuff from Goodwill, and then at least half of my house.

This excellent, innovative ability to see untapped potential, revitalize and make use out of broken or unwanted things takes a turn for the worst in other parts of my personality, when I try to revitalize and make use out of broken people.

“But Ashley, isn’t that what a healer does?”

Helping people heal becomes problematic when you’re using it to avoid healing yourself.

That can look like a number of things. For me, it manifests as, “I’m the strong one. I don’t need help. I can take on your problems as well as my own, and we’re going to focus on yours first because mine aren’t dire.”

But there’s plenty of people in the world whose problems are more dire than your own, and you’re always going to be able to find one. The storage closet of projects not-yet-started in my basement proved that. In this analogy, it means you’re always going to be prioritizing other people’s dire problems ahead of your own, and that means you never actually fully focus on your own healing.

To use the oxygen mask analogy – it’s not just the equivalent of putting on someone else’s mask before your own. It’s trying to put oxygen masks on everyone else on the entire fucking plane before you put on your own. YOU’RE GOING TO DIE before you get to row seven.

You don’t realize you’re doing it and before you know it, you’re crying yourself to sleep at night, breaking down in the shower, your hair is falling out and your immune system crashes because you’ve been under a tremendous amount of emotional stress that’s built up over all the years you’ve gleefully ignored it while helping everyone else. You wake up one day and you’re entire fucking life fell apart while you were busy fixing other people’s problems. I’m speaking from personal experience here, obviously.

There will always be another project, so you’d might as well make yourself one.

Take it from me. I finally put on my oxygen mask. I can save a whole plane now instead of being that idiot who thinks that martyring myself sounds like a glorious way to die.

Vulnerability, Intimacy, and Deepening Relationships

Vulnerability, Intimacy, and Deepening Relationships

I‘ve had a pretty magical couple of weeks. I’ve mentioned that I’ve been lucky enough to connect with a handful of really special, amazing, powerfully spiritual women since I’ve moved here. A couple of months ago, I decided that I should start connecting those people, so three of us met up in Brooklyn for a weekend brunch and the energy was amazing. I think everyone involved would agree that we all left feeling energized and amazing. So much so that we decided we needed to do it again, and make it bigger.

So last weekend, the three of us got together again and this time, yet another spiritual friend of mine who was in town for the weekend came, and the energy was even stronger. The four of us CLICKED like we’ve known each other our whole lives.

“I’m so happy knowing you. I can’t remember the last time I felt so alive and seen,” one of them recently texted to our now ongoing, daily group text.

Isn’t that what any of us really wants? To be truly seen as we are and accepted? To stop carrying around the weight of hiding ourselves? To let go of the fear of being rejected for who we are?

The farmer’s market in the park next to my apartment opened today and one of the vendors I recognized as a woman who lived across the street from me. She used to own the only metaphysical shop in Jersey City but closed it shortly after I moved here. We struck up a conversation and I mentioned that I’d moved here from cross-country and she told me that she’d done the same.

“It’s really hard to make deep connections with people here,” she said. And that’s true. It’s something that I became acutely aware of after moving here.

New York is a great place, but at the same time, it’s incredibly surface-level. Perhaps the pace of life is so fast that people don’t take the time to slow down and savor their relationships, or take them to a deeper level. And perhaps that’s why so many people here are so incredibly dissatisfied inside. So many connections, but so little depth to any of them. So many chances to be seen, and yet so many continue to hide themselves behind their masks.

Cultivating deep, meaningful relationships requires a level of investment – both in yourself and in those people and relationships – that not many people here are willing to give. It requires vulnerability and a willingness to allow others to see you.

I think a lot of people are honestly terrified to be truly seen. That means opening yourself up to the possibility of rejection. It’s too scary. And it’s so much easier to just keep wearing the mask.

But when you do connect with people who get you and love you and respect you for what’s inside, it’s the most amazing feeling. It’s freeing. You never realize how heavy the armor is or how exhausting it’s been carrying it around until you take it off.

“God I hope I can do this for other people!! So much love!!” continued my new friend.

Vulnerability is contagious. I think that it’s my willingness to be so open about myself that gives others permission to do it, too. If I can sit here and talk about how fucked up I am, and how I’m working to heal myself, the people around me can feel safe doing that, too.

Unless, of course, they’re not ready to take off the mask, and that’s happened. I met a girl on Bumble BFF shortly after moving here. We met for coffee, talked for three hours. I was just as open with her as I am with you, here. I texted her a week later to see if she wanted to hang out again. No response. And you have to be prepared for that kind of rejection. I open myself up to it all the time now, and it stings a little less each time.

When you finally do find people who are willing to accept you, to be vulnerable with you, and you create this sense of connection, you can’t help but want to give it to the world. To look for all of the other misfits who are just as misunderstood as you and let them know that they’re ok, too. Or at least, they can be, if they choose it. What we find for ourselves, we offer to others ten fold. This is how we heal the world.

I posted a few weeks ago about my own process of cultivating radical vulnerability. I see that there’s a need for this in the world, both in friendships and deep, intimate relationships. I’ve never seen the need for it so starkly as I see it here in New York.

It’s got me thinking – how can I teach others how to open themselves up to the world? How can I show others how to cultivate the kind of intimacy in relationships that they so deeply desire, but are so afraid of? I’m still figuring that out myself, honestly, but I think I’ve laid a great foundation so far.

As promised in my last post, I said I would post the results from my Johari and Nohari Window questions in my next blog post, so here they are. I realize that a lot of you don’t know me in person so it’s hard to choose, and I also recognize that it forces you to choose 6 traits and so you might have ended up having to pick random things even though you didn’t really feel they were applicable. That in mind, I tried to look at the ones that more than one person chose (which you will see bolded in the results) as being more accurate.

Arena

(known to self and others)

accepting, intelligent, logical, mature, observant, reflective

Blind Spot

(known only to others)

able, bold, brave, clever, complex, confident, dignified, friendly, happy, independent, kind, knowledgeable, organised, powerful, responsive, searching, self-assertive, self-conscious, wise, witty

Façade

(known only to self)

Unknown

(known to nobody)

adaptable, calm, caring, cheerful, dependable, energetic, extroverted, giving, helpful, idealistic, ingenious, introverted, loving, modest, nervous, patient, proud, quiet, relaxed, religious, sensible, sentimental, shy, silly, spontaneous, sympathetic, tense, trustworthy, warm

Dominant Traits

54% of people agree that In My Sacred Space is reflective

All Percentages

able (18%) accepting (18%) adaptable (0%) bold (27%) brave (27%) calm (0%) caring (0%) cheerful (0%) clever (27%) complex (18%) confident (18%) dependable (0%) dignified (9%) energetic (0%) extroverted (0%) friendly (18%) giving (0%) happy (9%) helpful (0%) idealistic (0%) independent (27%) ingenious (0%) intelligent (36%) introverted (0%) kind (9%) knowledgeable (27%) logical (18%) loving (0%) mature (9%) modest (0%) nervous (0%) observant (27%) organised (36%) patient (0%) powerful (9%) proud (0%) quiet (0%) reflective (54%) relaxed (0%) religious (0%) responsive (9%) searching (45%) self-assertive (18%) self-conscious (27%) sensible (0%) sentimental (0%) shy (0%) silly (0%) spontaneous (0%) sympathetic (0%) tense (0%) trustworthy (0%) warm (0%) wise (18%) witty (18%)

Created by the Interactive Johari Window on 6.5.2018, using data from 11 respondents.
You can make your own Johari Window, or view In My Sacred Space’s full data.

Arena

(known to self and others)

timid, withdrawn, distant, impatient, self-satisfied

Blind Spot

(known only to others)

intolerant, inflexible, aloof, glum, insecure, hostile, unhappy, cynical, needy, brash, blasé, chaotic, weak, loud, panicky, insensitive, passive, overdramatic, dull, callous, inattentive, cold

Façade

(known only to self)

vulgar

Unknown

(known to nobody)

incompetent, cowardly, violent, stupid, simple, irresponsible, lethargic, selfish, unhelpful, unimaginative, inane, cruel, ignorant, irrational, childish, boastful, imperceptive, embarrassed, vacuous, unethical, smug, rash, dispassionate, predictable, unreliable, foolish, humourless

Dominant Traits

60% of people think that In My Sacred Space is insecure

All Percentages

incompetent (0%) intolerant (20%) inflexible (20%) timid (20%) cowardly (0%) violent (0%) aloof (20%) glum (10%) stupid (0%) simple (0%) insecure (60%) irresponsible (0%) vulgar (0%) lethargic (0%) withdrawn (20%) hostile (10%) selfish (0%) unhappy (40%) unhelpful (0%) cynical (20%) needy (20%) unimaginative (0%) inane (0%) brash (20%) cruel (0%) ignorant (0%) irrational (0%) distant (40%) childish (0%) boastful (0%) blasé (10%) imperceptive (0%) chaotic (20%) impatient (10%) weak (10%) embarrassed (0%) loud (10%) vacuous (0%) panicky (20%) unethical (0%) insensitive (10%) self-satisfied (20%) passive (20%) smug (0%) rash (0%) dispassionate (0%) overdramatic (10%) dull (10%) predictable (0%) callous (10%) inattentive (10%) unreliable (0%) cold (20%) foolish (0%) humourless (0%)

Created by the Nohari Window on 6.5.2018, using data from 10 respondents.
You can make your own Nohari Window, or view In My Sacred Space’s full data.

Pin It on Pinterest