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Yep, that’s right.  I have completed nine chapters (well, let’s be honest… nine shitty first drafts) of my book.  I decided to take a little break from writing my forthcoming chapter so that I could update this blog with my progress.  The little project that just floated into my head a few months ago has quickly become this thing that I devote 15-20 hours of my week to; with absolutely not a single complaint.  It’s the work I wake up excited to do. And….it’s the project I feel as if I was always meant to do.

Here’s the quick and dirty of what my typical week looks like these days.  I do an interview every week with a different woman.  These interviews have been with strangers, friends and acquaintances; but I haven’t left a single one without this crazy feeling of bonding and connection.  It’s usually about a two hour long sit down, with coffee or wine and I record all of the material on my phone so that I can devote all of my attention to what is being shared.  A day or so later, I transcribe the entirety of these interviews.  And then I write.  And I read from a stack of research books; two recent ones are “It’s Not You: 27 Wrong Reasons Why You’re Single” by Sara Eckel and “Sex at Dawn: How We Mate, Why We Stray and What It Means for Modern Relationships” by Christopher Ryan.  The former gave me a feeling of extreme hopefulness, the latter not so much.

Oh yeah, and I’m also starting to figure my shit out a little bit.  A few weeks ago I had such a feeling of ‘aha’ in regards to unraveling why I’ve been so terrible at relationships as of late that I almost decided to shout to the universe ‘OK, I’m ready now! Send in the soul mates.’  But luckily the wise little voice inside of me stepped in and said ‘Not so fast grasshopper.’  And I always listen when she calls me grasshopper.

But the way that this book has been lining up organically will just never cease to amaze me.  For example, a few weeks ago I had an interview in which a woman talked to me about a run-in that she had with her first boyfriend.  I didn’t know what story she would tell me when we sat down but it just so happened that within days of that interview, I had lunch with my first boyfriend.  And you’ll have to wait for publication to read about how those meetings couldn’t have been more similar but also entirely different all at the same time.  But it was a chapter I could barely see through my tears as I typed it out.  “This book is almost writing itself,” my dear friend Miranda said to me.

Which all brings us to Chapter 10.  I went to Columbus this past weekend to do an interview and I booked a hotel for the evening so that I could enjoy some time in ‘the big city’ and hopefully also interview an ex.  This ex was a big one; you know, he’s the one that when I say his name all of my friends roll their eyes because he’s that much of a jerk.  But! But…..though our time together was brief it was intense.  I had never felt as much connection upon meeting a man as I did with this guy.  And then he just disappeared (they call it ghosting these days…..yes, it’s such a common occurrence in today’s dating world that it has it’s own name…..I explore this phenomenon in Chapter 9 which is about online dating and is called Tinder is the Night).  But I digress.

This dude lives in Columbus so I contacted him and told him about my project.  It wasn’t super weird to text him; we have been in contact off and on for the past two years since he told me he couldn’t ‘do’ a relationship.  So, he agreed after I promised him that it wouldn’t be a bash fest with him on the receiving end, rather just an open, honest conversation about wtf happened.  He texted me a few weeks ago asking when his interview was and we agreed on a day.  And in the past week, leading up to my Columbus trip, he stopped answering my texts.   It didn’t surprise me at all.

My interview took place at my favorite coffee shop in Columbus.  There were parts in this woman’s story when my eyes welled with tears simply because what I was hearing was so beautiful and authentic.  My heart was absolutely full when I left the interview.  And I never heard from the dude.  But I did go to a book store following the interview and spent an hour or so wandering the 32 rooms of books.  I checked into my hotel and starfished on a king size bed, surrounded by my newly purchased novels and began to read.  And then I took myself out to dinner and had a meal that would probably be my requested final meal—steak with chimichurri sauce, perfectly cooked asparagus, corn soufflé and a Christmas beer from a local brewery.  I went back to the hotel and had a facetime phone date with the aforementioned Miranda.  And so despite what could be a disappointment in what I had planned in light of what was not happening….despite all this…..my heart remained happy.

As I transcribed everything yesterday, all of the threads of this chapter started to weave themselves together.  It has something to do with a nickname that a friend of mine gave that dude after he broke my heart, it has something to do with what happened when I met with a shaman the morning I left Columbus, and it has something to do with beautiful words of wisdom I heard in my interview.  And it has everything to do with the certainty I have about this path that I’m on; it has everything to do with this immense trust I have in what’s to come.


********For those of you who don’t know, I’ve been selected to attend the Haven Retreat in Whitefish, Montana in late February with New York Times Bestselling author Laura Munson.  Please check out this link for details on the retreat and how to donate if you so choose.  Any amount helps.  Any donation over $40 and you’ll be handsomely rewarded with a handmade knit hat made by the one and only Shannon Oakes (I’m modeling this hat in my profile picture).  If you don’t want to use GoFundMe, I accept cash and checks.





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Today I went to go make an appointment to get my next tattoo.  And they were closed.  But that’s not the point.  I’ve got this super special design in mind and I’m finally ready to commit it to skin.  And it’s been long enough since my last tattoo that I’ve distanced in my mind how painful it is and I think that delusion will hold for another round of ink.  But that’s not really the point either.  The point is that I’ve decided today that the design will include a hummingbird and now that feels perfect.

Take a break from reading this and google Elizabeth Gilbert’s speech “The Flight of the Hummingbird.”  Or just simply stay tuned for my quick synopsis.  Basically, she says that one should not be stressed out if they don’t know what their one passion in life is.  Ms. Gilbert says that some of the most interesting people she’s ever known in her life haven’t had a clue what they want to be when they grow up.  They’ve been quite a few things and somehow have fallen into their passion along the way.  The flight of the hummingbird that she speaks of refers to the idea that when one finds something that interests them, they should simply turn their head a quarter of an inch and pursue it.  That way, if it doesn’t work out then one hasn’t spent a lifetime headed in the wrong direction (which can be the case when we try to convince ourselves that something is our passion only to later find out that it only looked good on paper.)

Of course, this is more eloquently stated by Elizabeth Gilbert on YouTube.  This fact does not stop me from telling my younger friends all about the flight of the hummingbird when I see them in near tears because they feel like their life doesn’t contain a passion or a direction.  But then I tell them to watch the video.  And then they tell me they feel better.  And then I get to feel like the wise older sister who made all the mistakes to pave the way for the younger sibling.  I’m an only child so I need to use my mistakes for something.

I have followed the flight of the hummingbird for sure.  Sometimes I think of it as a hummingbird.  Other times I think of myself of the dog from the movie ‘Up’ who has a lot of smart things to contribute to conversations and then SQUIRREL!  But I’m not getting that tattooed on my body.

Here are some of the things I have done with my professional post-college life: got a masters degree in marine science, managed a North Face store, waited tables, coat check girl at a swanky bar, cocktail waitress at an evening swankier bar, loan assistant at a bank, kickboxing instructor (that’s right….watch out), yoga teacher, professional beer nerd and now….a writer.

Perhaps I’m being a little premature thinking that my first big book project will allow me to be a writer in the professional (read: paid for doing something) sense.  But something in me tells me that this is where my hummingbird will rest for a while.  And when I look back on all those other professions, every single one gave me just the nectar I needed to continue to fly.  They were not for nothing.

It’s been one month into this project and I don’t even know where to begin with talking about how flippin’ amazing it has been.  It’s a ton of work.  But I wake up excited to do it.  It’s been a lot of reckoning with my own shit.  But even that feels pretty great.   I’ve already made some new friends with some of the incredible women that I’ve come in contact with thanks to this project.  Sisterhood, y’all.  It’s a pretty powerful thing.

I’ve filled one whole composition notebook with the ideas that come flooding to me on a daily basis.  Just today I started constructing my thoughts around a chapter that will be dealing with online dating.  I contacted an interviewee and decided on a title chapter—-Tinder is the Night.  I think it’s hilarious.  But it’s highly possible that my future editor won’t find me nearly as funny as I find myself.

And in the interest of that chapter and others to come I contacted two guys I had gone on dates with via online sites.  My plan is to have some open, honest conversation with them about why they weren’t that into me.  Oh, you thought I was brave before?  Watch this.  But it’s after sending those messages that I discovered something super interesting about myself.

This project and the constraints I’ve put on myself for dating during the duration of it have given me this sense of freedom.  I can speak honestly and from the heart with men from my past because I have absolutely no fear of rejection.  I don’t have any attachment to an outcome standing in the way of saying what I want to say without first filtering it out so that perhaps I can come across as more attractive.  Trust me, this is big.  And this freedom is allowing me to know myself better and, hallelujah, get some closure on the way.

Until next time…..don’t forget to turn your heads my darlings.  You never know what you might find.


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Science and Serendipity

I’m three weeks into my book project and I’m already quite certain that, no matter how this whole thing turns out, it will be one of the top five coolest things I’ve ever done in my life.  The other four include living in Bermuda for a summer, getting certified to teach yoga in Costa Rica, spending New Year’s Eve 2000 in Paris and selling long underwear to Ringo Starr.  So yeah, the bar is kind of high.

For those who haven’t been following this blog, my year long project consists of three different parts.  The first one is conducting interviews with one woman every week for a year.  I put out an open letter asking to hear their stories of love and heartbreak, intimacy, wild nights and gentle unknowns.  The response has been pretty awesome.  The second part involves me doing some inquiry into my own stories of love and it’s scary other side and discovering what happens when I spend an entire year pouring my energy back into my own well.  And the third part is research.  I’ve got a stack of about 20 books that run the gamut of topics, from how the Buddha would find love to how sex influences our relationships to the actual science behind connection and attachment.

Let’s start there.

Last week I discovered that there is a product called Liquid Trust.  I imagine it smells exactly opposite of Axe Body Spray.  But alas, Liquid Trust is an oxytocin-infused nasal or body spray.  Oxytocin is a chemical in the brain that is released during breastfeeding and orgasm.  The author of “Love Sense”, Dr. Sue Johnson, refers to it as the ‘cuddle hormone’ and the ‘molecule of monogamy.’  And it works like a feedback loop.  “Oxytocin spawns trust, trust generates closeness and sex, orgasm stimulates oxytocin and around it goes.”  Do you know what a vole is?  Go ahead and google it for join me in saying ‘aw, how cute.’ Distracting, right?  But focus…..there are studies looking at two different species of voles which differ in one major way–one has oxytocin receptors and the other does not.  The voles with oxytocin receptors mate for life; the ones without the receptors knock up some poor, unsuspecting female vole and then peace out before breakfast.  And…and! if monogamous voles are injected with a chemical that shuts down their oxytocin receptors and are introduced to a female vole that is not their vole soulmate; then they behave like the asshole other voles and have a vole affair.

Vole is one of those words that sounds weird when you say it a bunch of times, huh?  And also science is cool.

So anyway, enough of that.  Last Monday I took a two hour trip to go conduct my third interview.  Long story short, the interview didn’t happen.  But it was OK.  I had had a really strange weekend prior to that; it was one in which I was confronted with demons from my past love relationships on a couple of levels.  So Monday brought about a beautiful day for driving down windy two lane roads and it turns out I needed a little of what a friend called ‘windshield time.’  And I sat in the sun at a brewery with my dog and a notebook and the world was quite alright.  But nevertheless, I sent out an email right away to a different respondent from my open letter, asking if there was any way we could schedule a last minute back up interview.

This particular email I received was from a stranger who only told me that she wished to tell me a story that she had never told anyone else.  I had no idea what to expect.  And when she sat down and started talking, it became apparent that her story closely mirrored the one that I had been turning over and over in my brain during those four hours behind the wheel.  I won’t say anything else, mostly because I just want you to buy the book when it comes out.  But I will say that when the interview was over, I think the both of us had a great sense of catharsis, some healing in the telling, some strength in numbers.

I tend to keep a pretty tight control on my reigns around the universe.  I have an idea of how I want things to happen and get a little unnerved when they don’t happen that way.  But this project is perhaps the first time I’m letting things unfold as they will.  So far it’s happening in the most organic and beautiful fashion.  But I won’t even hold on to that.  It’s a rollercoaster I’ve waited all my life to ride.  And I’m just going to leave my arms in the air.

(To find out more about my project, please visit the last few entries of this blog.  The open letter asking for subjects is titled “The Intimacy Interviews” and if you would like to be involved, please send an email to the one listed.)


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Music feeds my soul and is an absolutely crucial part of my life.  I don’t sing in a band; although I do think that being a front woman in a band was a calling in another life.  But I don’t really know who I would be without my love of rhythm and lyrics and song.  It guides my emotions to a place they need to be and takes my heart on adventures I never could imagine.  And there are certain songs that take me and lift me up and drop me right into a certain moment of my life.  There’s a Father John Misty song that takes me straight back to the first summer after my divorce, a time when I was gracefully unhinged and navigating waters of a brand new life.

Sometimes music drops me in an uncomfortable place, though, and it’s those times in which I find reckoning.  Either that or I find myself desperately punching a button to skip past the song once I hear the first notes.  A couple of months ago, I was tending bar and waiting on a group of men and we started having a conversation about songs.  I joked about how so many songs had been tainted for me because they reminded me of exes.

One of the men looked at me and said “Don’t ever do that.”

“What?” I asked.

“Don’t ever let a man take your music from you,” he said.

That comment from a stranger shook me to the core.  But then, like sometimes soul shaking things do, I forgot about it.  Enter the upcoming Huntington Music and Arts Fest, which is a wonderful local event that we have in our town.  It’s a day of outdoor music and community and it’s something that I look forward to every year.  Well, every year except for this one.

You see, I had attached a pretty jagged memory to this event (HMAF, as all the cool kids call it).  Last year at this time I was involved in a new but pretty intense relationship with a man.  Because I’m not quite ready to go into detail and in the interest of keeping this short, I’ll just say that our ties together started fraying and unwinding the day of HMAF.  They continued to do so for a few more weeks before we called an end to it.

That ending came about because of music as it turns out.  We had gone to a music festival together and we were watching one of my favorite artists, Josh Ritter.  He started performing my favorite song, one about a girl in a war with eyes like champagne.  I had seen Josh Ritter three times previously and he had never done that song live.  So when those first notes were played, my heart burst all over Cincinnati and I began to cry.  I grabbed the hand of the man I was with and knew in that moment he had no interest in holding it; he would never be able to give me that moment or any other moment for that fact.  Later on Band of Horses starting singing a song about how no one is gonna love you the way I do.  I asked the man I was falling in love with to let me go that night.  Our ending twisted and turned a little more but none of that is important.

And so I declared to my friends that I would not be attending HMAF this year.  And then yesterday I started making a new playlist for my yoga class that would be happening the day of HMAF.  I was listening to the artists that would be in attendance and started getting sad that I would not be.  I told a friend of mine that today at lunch.  She looked at me and asked me if I remembered what that man said to me at the bar that night.

I had forgotten.  I was letting a man take my music from me.  I was negating all of the times that I had been to HMAF before last year, I was giving them up so easily in reverence to this one bad year.  I was denying myself the right to dance and laugh and be with my community.  And that’s just silly.

I remember my moment I gained closure from my divorce.  It was on a ferry en route to the small town in Costa Rica where I was going to attend my teacher training.  This was a few months following that summer that Father John Misty played in heavy rotation.   I had been on that ferry before….on my honeymoon.  Yes, I was doing my training in a town which I had first visited as a newlywed.  On that ferry, sea spray hitting my face, caliente music booming  from the loudspeakers, I questioned my decision.  I wondered why I was revisiting this place.  And then I decided that I would not revisit it; I would reclaim it and make it mine.  And I did.  I took my flag and stuck it in the place where the new life would soon spring.

I have a hard time learning the lessons of closure.  The rational part of me knows that I am the only one who can give myself the gift of closure.  That, as much as I may want it from another person, they might never give me what I want.  But I have that power to reclaim what is rightfully mine.  I have the right to my music and my songs and my ferry rides.  So if you see me this Saturday, maybe grab my hand, give me that moment….give me a new story to weave in between the lines of the song being played.  But a warning–I might drag you straight to the dance floor.

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And So It Begins….

I just celebrated my 39th birthday.  It was a hard one to swallow, the final year of my 30’s.  From talking to friends, I know that I am not alone.  There’s different ways of coping.  And mine is to declare celibacy for a year and attempt to write a book.  Which is kind of funny to think about because both of those things seem like drastic measures and I wonder if I’m fooling myself about the fact that I’m cool with this whole train-to-40 type thing.  But  honestly from the moment I dreamed up the notion, I have been so excited about it.

The amusing part is hearing people’s reactions to the whole thing.  I’ve had a few people say “Wow, you’re going to write a book?”  But more often than not people have said “Wow, you’re going to remain celibate for a year?”   And it is hard to tell which one of these things will be the biggest challenge.  But I know in my heart/gut/soul/tiny little voice that this is just what I’m supposed to be doing.

I’ve always wanted to write a book.  There’s been a story inside of me that’s been trying to find it’s way out for quite some time now.  I just never knew what it was until about a month ago.  And when the idea floated into my head, I seized it and didn’t let go.  I put out an open letter asking women to tell me their stories about love and connection and heartbreak and longing and all the little things that exist in between.  And the response was overwhelming.  Within a few days, I had dozens of emails.  The women who responded have ages that span 40 years, distances that spans thousands of miles and stories that run the spectrum.  Some of them want to tell me a story that they’ve never told anyone ever before.

I told a friend a few days later, humbled and in awe, “This has become so much bigger than me.”  She shook her head and said, “No, this is just your size.”  I suppose some of the reason behind my decision to remain celibate during this time (and celibacy including dating and any kind of intimacy or romantic encounter) is to fully honor the space that needs to be created in order to receive these stories.  I’m just not sure I could properly hear a story of heartbreak if I was falling in love.  And I’m not sure I could hear a story of love in I was in the depths of heartbreak.  But from where I stand now, I have been through almost all of it by this point.  I joke to others that if it’s one thing all of my attempts at love have given me, it’s the ability to provide great advice to others in a variety of situations.  Some of it may be ‘do as I say but not as I do’ but whatever.

But there’s more.  I have some work to do on this ol’ heart of mine.  I’m ready to come to terms with some things.  I’m ready to change the tape reel in my head.  I’m ready to redefine who I can be as part of an ‘us’.  In short, I’m ready to figure my shit out.  And I’m ready to see what could happen when I spend a whole year giving myself the energy that I usually freely and carelessly throw to anyone who I become involved with.

In the weeks since I started laying the roots of this project, I have already been in contact with some pretty incredible people.  I spent a weekend at a yoga camp and learned more than I ever thought possible about sisterhood.  I’m developing strictly platonic relationships with men, something that I’ve never really done before.  And here’s the big one……I met a really nice man who was nothing but kind and sweet and adoring.  And on my birthday I ended it because this project is more important to me right now.  I chose myself.  And he completely understood.

Today I went to a complete stranger’s house and she made me coffee and we talked for two hours about love and sex and celibacy the idea of ‘the one’.  It was a beautiful story; one that at many points I could see myself in.  That’s kind of the whole idea of this…we are all on these crazy, undulating and intersecting roads and there’s a beauty that exists when we stop at a crossroads and share what we have learned.  I’ve got 51 more stories to hear.  And I’m so ready, for all of it.

I’ve still got room for a few more stories.  If you or anyone you know is interested, please email theintimacyinterviews@gmail.com

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To all of the women reading this:

I want us to talk. I mean like really, really talk. I want us to talk about the thing that tends to be our downfall and our salvation. That’s right…I want to talk about romantic love and intimacy and passion and heartbreak and all of the little things that exist between all of these words that are so much more than words. They are experiences and feelings and emotions.

I want to hear your greatest love stories, regardless of how they ended. I want to know what you learned from the lowest places of heartache and from the highest places of connection. I want to hear about the time you felt love so deeply that you felt for sure that you had found ‘the one’. I want to hear about the when that love left and you felt broken and unsure of everything.

I want to hear about the one night stands, the decades-long partnerships, passionate drawn out affairs and the one who got away. I want to hear about your marriages and your divorces and your first love and the relationships that you can’t quite define.

I want to hear what keeps you up at night. I want to hear about the mistakes that you keep making over and over and over. If you think you’ve got it all figured out I definitely want to hear from you. And this is not about our love for our friends or our children or our pets. I think we can all agree that those interactions tend to walk a straighter line. Oh no, let’s get to the stuff that songs and poems are written about.

Why do I want to know all of this?

Because I feel quite sure that this is the story that I am meant to tell. And I need your help. My 39th birthday is approaching and I want my year before the big 4-0 to be something meaningful. There are two big things that I’ve been wanting to do for a while now—-write a book and get out of my own way. I think that this project will help me accomplish both. Starting the week of my birthday, I will interview a different woman every week for a year. That’s 52 women, 52 stories. And during these weeks that will become the final year of my 30’s, while conducting these interviews, I will be setting about on doing some very important work on myself.

You see, I’ve kinda got my stuff figured out at this point in life. I love my jobs and feel absolutely certain that I have found my purpose on this earth. I have the best friends that a woman could ever ask for. My life is filled with beauty and adventure. I have found my bliss. But alas, the one thing that’s always eluded me has been relationships with men. Basically, I’m pretty bad at them. It has something to do with a fear of intimacy for some reason. And it’s the work I’m finally ready to do. Over the course of this 39th year of mine, I am taking a vow to completely abstain from any kind of romantic encounter. All of the energy I once threw into going-nowhere relationships is now going to be funneled straight to myself and this new project.

So what’s in it for you if you decide to become part of this? Well, you see, things tend to lose the power that they hold over us when we speak them aloud. If you need to heal, I’m here to take that story away from you just a little bit. Or perhaps you are trying to figure it all out like I am. Maybe together we can start to find some answers. It’s time to talk about this stuff. I have a feeling that, at the core of things, we have more things that bind us together than things that make us separate. I recently searched for books that dealt with women and intimacy and came up with a lot of results that read like “How to Get that Guy.” There’s got to be more than that. Who are we when we are in relationship and how does that shape and shift who we are in this world?

All of the results of these interviews will be treated with the utmost respect and anonymity. That being said, I will ask you to be completely vulnerable and open with me. It won’t work if you aren’t. I want you to tell me the things that you never thought you would breathe aloud. I have training in compassionate communication and holding space for others. I promise to honor your joys and your sorrows and your truths, no matter what package they come in. If I am a stranger to you, I can provide references of friends and yoga students who will tell you that this is something I am completely capable of.

I don’t know quite where this project will go. But I’m excited to find out. I want to talk to women of varying ages, backgrounds and sexual orientations. If you are interested in being part of this, please send an email to theintimacyinterviews@gmail.com Tell me briefly what it is you might want to share with me. And if you don’t know and are still interested, that’s quite alright as well. Let me know where you live. I am definitely not opposed to travel; I’m a big believer in face to face communication but if that can’t happen, then a good old fashioned phone call would suffice.

Thank you for your time.

Ashley Skeen

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I was talking to a friend yesterday and told him that I had just wrapped up a two day spree of being in a super pouty mood.  He remarked that he didn’t think I was the kind of person who got pouty.  And I don’t think he’s alone in his assumption.  I am really good at hiding it.  For one, I tend to retreat when I’m not feeling great; and also, I have jobs that kind of force me to be ‘on.’  But in the name of this blog and the vow to honesty in which it was established, I want to open up a little about the pouty moods of mine.  But let’s call a spade a spade here….I want to open up about my depression.

It’s been a part of me for as long as I can remember.  The cliché black cloud that sneaks in and follows me around has been in my weather pattern since high school at least.  In those years, I’ve learned how to tame it a little.  I’ve learned that going for a good run will help me outrun some demons.  When I discovered yoga, I started learning how to shift my thoughts around a little more productively.  And I’ve learned that if I can force myself out of the house to be with friends, then the ‘fake it til you make it’ method works pretty nicely.  And I write.

But there’s always that period of time at the height of the depression where going for a run, doing yoga, seeing friends and writing all just seem like too much.  It’s the little gremlins in my head feeding off the black hole of my mood and they don’t want to go anywhere.  They are happier on the couch.  Because then they can convince me that I am worthless and that this mood is all my fault and then and then and then and then.  The thoughts swirl up and then get sucked down a drain, leaving me feeling depleted and just wanting to sleep a little longer.

The duration of these bouts and the frequency have shifted and ebbed over the years.  But it was beginning to become clear to me that, although I had all the tools in my toolbox, something bigger was going on.  My doctor offered to prescribe some medicine to help with my moods and I tried one that didn’t have any effect on me at all and then another one that effected me way too much.  Now, I had been used to maintaining ‘my crazy’ but how I felt on this second medicine was a whole other level.  I stopped taking it and knew that I never wanted to feel like that again.   It was then that I started looking into going to a psychiatrist.

It was a pretty great decision.  Not only was this guy super easy to talk to but he seemed to be able to understand what we were dealing with right away.   I told him in my first appointment that I was there because I knew that it was possible to feel better than I felt, and I wanted to be able to access that place.  He knew that I practiced self care and mindfulness and agreed that the right medicine might finally help me get past the boundary in which I was just getting in my own way.  It was then that he introduced me to GeneSight, a DNA test done with a simple cheek swab that will come back telling you what medications might work best for your specific body chemistry.  Lo and behold, when my test came back, not only did they confirm what I had already suspected—that something in my very makeup was slightly off making me prone to depression; but the results also showed what medicines would not work with my body chemistry.  And there in a bright red ‘will have negative reaction’ column was the very drug that I had such a bad experience with.  Science is pretty cool.

So anyhoo, over the past few months I have been on a low dose of a medicine that showed up in a ‘green is good’ category and I can say without a doubt that it is helping.  Overall, I am feeling more hopeful, happy and capable than I have in a long time.  That is, until a couple of days ago.

It started with an injury.  There I was, first at ‘bat’ in my adult league kickball game and after I kicked I ran to first base and something in my quadriceps kind of just snapped.  Now, lucky for all of us adults that really are too old to be playing kickball, there is a team called The Bonecrushers that consists of primarily orthopedic surgeons.  So after I was carried off the field, one of them examined me, told me that the tendon was still attached and that I just had a partial tear of the muscle.  “Rest and ice!” he yelled over his shoulder as he ran back to the field.  Also, my mood that weekend was being invaded by an ex who had just happened to get in touch out of the blue.  Now, I had just done a burning ceremony to burn and let go of one asshole and another asshole just drops back into the picture.  (Warning: things like this usually happen after burning ceremonies….it’s like the universe is making sure you’re good on your promise.)

That evening, I blocked and deleted bachelor #2 (the technological solution to a burning ceremony) and then went to bed early in hopes of a brand new day in the morning.  However, I set my alarm wrong and that resulted in me sleeping entirely too long.  I awoke with a couple of very vivid dreams still in my head.  In the first, I had met a very charming, handsome and rich man who flew me to Finland.  I had thought I had finally found a partner, someone who was willing to love me completely.  But then he told me he was gay.  Oh well.  And in the second dream, I was in some kind of jury room and I was pleading my case.  I was trying to convince a room full of people that what I was doing with my life was worthy.  So there it was in two dreams, my biggest fear of not being able to find love and my biggest insecurity of not being worthy.

So much for the brand new day.  I walked around dizzy and out of sorts.  Fortunately for me, my pout fest coincided with the release of the new season of Orange is the New Black so I stayed in bed or on the couch for the whole day and well into the next.  And then I had to leave the house because I had an appointment, as it happens, with my psychiatrist.  I went into his office and when he asked me how I was doing, a torrent of now what sounded like whines came out of my mouth—“I hurt myself so I can’t exercise like I want to and I had bad dreams and boys are terrible and then and then and then.”

He asked me what the jury of my dreams had decided about my worthiness.  I told him that I woke up before the decision came in……..And then he asked me how I had been feeling before the kickball incident.  I told him the truth.  I told him how I had a newfound happiness that people around me could see.  I told him that I felt like I was able to feel joy more completely.

“So do you feel like you can get over this?” he asked me.

“Of course I can,” I said.

“So maybe it’s just time to put on your big girl pants and get out of your own way.  You were doing so well and none of these things sound like game changers.”

At that point, I shit you not, with the sky just a little gray and no rain in sight, a crack of thunder so loud that it made us both jump out of our chairs and yell profanities struck right outside the building.

“Ashley, that’s God talking and he thinks I’m right,” my doctor joked.  And then he sent me on my way.

Here’s the trickiest thing about joy.  Sometimes it is really hard to accept that it’s not some dumb stroke of luck when it shows up in your life.  Especially when you have some deep seeded insecurity that perhaps you are not worthy.  And sometimes it’s even trickier to think that it’s even in the realm of possibility that this joy will last.  I’ve read that this is called “foreboding joy”, this idea of not fully being able to embrace the good things in life because you’re  already thinking of the ways in which they might end.

And that’s where the wiser me has got to rise up and take charge.  Because clearly I’m not fully healed if these worries make their way into my dream state.  But I can get out of my own way a little if I start to write the ending to these dreams.  The seemingly perfect man who turns out to be gay doesn’t mean that I’m unlovable just as the jury’s decision on my worthiness has no real bearing on what I decide to do with my life.  I can rest, ice, and compress my leg and heal myself to a place of running again.  It just takes time.  But I can get there, with all of it.  Soon I’ll be nimble enough to leap out of my own way.



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