I have believed many lies about myself over the course of my life. Lies about who I was, what I was worth, the value of my life to others was. Lies that taught me I was too much of this or not enough of that. Lies that told me I didn’t matter or that I had to earn love in a variety of ways. Lies that told me that if I just did enough for others or if I kept quiet when I didn’t agree, people would like me. If I let others make the decisions, even sometimes when it meant I was being taken advantage of or being manipulated, I would be accepted. If I did of these things and more, it would keep the peace and people would love me and see me as someone worth caring about. Lies that told me that I would be allowed into their world and maybe I would finally have a sense of belonging and worth.
Ugh…the lies. These LIES. These awful lies I have believed for decades. Lies that I didn’t even know I believed. Lies that I kept in my heart by minimizing the impact things had on me. Minimize minimize minimize. Keep quiet. Don’t make waves. Get people to like me so that I can feel like I belong. That I am loved. That I have worth.
For many years, I learned what was right and wrong, who I should or shouldn’t be, what made me valuable and loved, and let me tell you – many of them were LIES. Unfortunately my perception of many life experiences left me broken, defeated, and defensive. I eventually began to put up walls and thicken my skin. I learned what I “needed to do” to protect myself from the pain, guilt, and shame that I felt and to protect myself from people and life hurting me again.
Over the last 5 years, I have slowly and painfully been peeling back the layers. I have been through seasons of revelation, growth, dealing and healing, coming out of hiding, and breaking down walls. I’ve been attempting this new thing called vulnerability, something I had learned to not let myself be. I have also been trying to stop minimizing and to allow myself to feel the feelings I have said “it’s no big deal” to for so long. To allow myself to say “Hey Ash, no. That WASN’T okay. No, that WAS a big deal. Stop pretending like you haven’t been hurt or dealt with really crappy things just because you feel like other people have it worse. Your experiences and feelings ARE valid and real. Just stop that negative self-talk and embrace truth!”
It’s not perfect. I still go through dry spells of growth, of falling into bad thought patterns and habits, of taking two steps back and only one forward. But the point is that I keep trying. I keep moving forward. I still have hope that I will heal from my wounds and that I will live every day as my best self.
My husband Marshall was the catalyst for exposing my lack of vulnerability and got me to begin looking inward. He was the first person who told me that it is okay to admit I have problems; to admit that I’m not impervious to pain and to acknowledge that these things really did hurt me. He was the first person to really go deeper with me with patience and love in an attempt to know the real Ashley. The one he knew was there all along but whom I am still just now discovering.
My husband is amazing. I cannot say enough great things about him. I don’t think people understand how much respect I have for him and how deep our love runs. And that’s okay! Because we know.
All of this to say that I have NO doubt that others have felt a lot of the same and struggled with the same lies I’ve believed (and probably still do, although I’m working on that… it’s a life in progress 😊). Just know you are NOT alone and that people understand what you’re going through and maybe even how you feel. And even if they can’t totally relate on the same level, a lot of people want to meet you where you’re at and love on you. I promise!! I also promise that healing is possible and that you CAN live your best life! BUT (because there’s always a but, right?) you can’t be afraid of the hard work. And when you fall back into bad habits, thought patterns, complacency, relationships, etc, you have to be willing to start each new day as a fresh start. Pick yourself up off that floor and know there is hope.
True change takes time and consistency. Humans were not meant to stay stagnant. We were created to be growing every day towards the person God made us to be. It’s not a one and done sort of deal.
Sources of Inspiration
Besides Marshall, there have been a few things, particularly recently, that have been helping me on my healing and growth journey. I wanted to share them with you in no particular order.
1. The song “This Is Me” from The Greatest Showman soundtrack. True change takes time and consistency. Humans were not meant to stay stagnant. We were created to be growing every day towards the person God made us to be. It’s not a one and done sort of deal. This is a powerful song! Just take a listen and try not to get tingles. One particular line that stood out to me today was “When the sharpest words wanna cut me down I’m gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out.” This struck me profoundly today as I realized that I am the person who says the sharpest words to myself. And I know that I’m not alone. The negative self-talk is fierce these days, especially amongst women I know. It’s gotta change!
2. Rachel Hollis’ book “Girl, Wash Your Face”. This whole post is pretty much inspired from this book. I have been chasing healing and growth something fierce after “accidently” listening to the audiobook a month ago. Rachel is vulnerable and real and addresses a lot of the lies many women believe about themselves and who they are. I challenge you to listen to this book and try not be inspired. I’m 98% sure you can’t do it.
3. Speaking of the Hollis’, just following Rachel and her husband Dave on social media on a regular basis provides laughter, a sense of community, and continued fire for growth and a better life! I highly suggest a follow: @msrachelhollis and @mrdavehollis. I’ve particularly enjoyed watching their half hour morning live stream while sipping coffee on my back porch this summer.
P.s. Their relationship podcast Rise Together is also super awesome and has great advice if you’re in a relationship and you want it to be exceptional.
4. Brendon Burchard’s book “High Performance Habits”. I’m still reading it but it has been golden in shedding light on tangible things I can improve. He asks thought provoking questions to show up for life as your best self and be a high performer!
5. Rusty Rustenbach’s book “A Guide for Listening and Inner-Healing Prayer: Meeting God in the Broken Places”. I have been going through this book one chapter a week because it requires a lot of reflection, patience, active listening, and healing. It’s not an easy or quick process but so far, it has been so revealing!
I highly recommend trying inner-healing prayer. If you’re not comfortable doing it with a counselor or someone else facilitating (like I am at this point), use this book to do it yourself. I promise that if the healing process seriously and actively pursue it, you will work through past wounds and hurts and your mind and heart will begin to be transformed.
My hope for you is that you will one day live the life you were put here to live and to be the person you were created to be. I’m hopeful for myself and for you dear friend! Why wait? You can start today.