I have a special treat today. I have this absolutely amazing guest blog by author Ashley Rae. It really touched my heart and I know it will do the same for you! Thank you so much for joining us, Ashley.
Turning Rock Bottom into a Springboard
by Ashley Rae
“I was set free, because my greatest fear had already been realized, and I was still alive, and I still had a daughter whom I adored, and I had an old typewriter and a big idea. And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.” – J.K. Rowling
I used to laugh whenever I heard that tired maxim, “Things could be worse.” Even when I hit Rock Bottom, well-meaning friends and family would tell me that things could be worse.
A few months ago, I met a man who as a boy had been drafted to fight the war in Vietnam. He returned from war suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. A few years later, this man lost his young wife to cancer. Faced with his grief and three toddler daughters to raise on his own, he packed a backpack with all he cared to bring with him from that life and walked out the door. Jobless, homeless, friendless, that man has been living on Rock Bottom for more than two decades now. (I did not tell him that things could be worse.)
I'm not sure what my mother would have considered “Rock Bottom” in her life. Her too-short life really sucked. If I had to guess, though, I would say it was the months she spent recovering from the gunshot wound inflicted by her husband while that murderous man lived free, awaiting trial in the home he shared with their two young daughters.
When I was raped the first time, I thought that must definitely have been Rock Bottom. How could anything be worse than that?
Twelve years later, when my then-fiance literally dumped me and my one year old in the woods with as many of my belongings as I could fit in his car, leaving us homeless and penniless, well, that had to be Rock Bottom. But I still had friends, I had my education, we had couches to hop, so I remained optimistic.
Today when I reflect on the concept of Rock Bottom, I would say that it wasn't a singular event in my life. Rock Bottom was a state of mind. It was when I felt so overwhelmed with hopelessness and helplessness and worthlessness that I couldn't do anything but hurt and wish for death.
Rock Bottom was when my mother chased me out of the house at knife-point and no one would help me. Rock Bottom was when three coworkers raped me and I felt that I couldn't tell anyone. Rock Bottom was when I couldn't even curl into a ball because I was too fat to hug my own knees, so I curled around a pillow that muffled my screams and sobbed until I finally drifted into aching oblivion.
Rock Bottom was when I caught myself wanting to hurt my toddler to make him shut up just shut up, and realized that I was screaming at him just like my mother had screamed at me.
That last Rock Bottom was the turning point for me. I loved my baby too much to be the mother I'd survived instead of the mother my baby deserved, the mother I'd always wanted for myself.
In that moment, I fell to my knees, cradling my one-year-old, covering his face with kisses and begging God, Goddess, the Universe, and Everything to please please please help me, help me protect my child from the monster that raged inside me, please please please help me to heal myself and be the loving mother I was meant to be.
A couple weeks later, the Universe sent me home with a sister-of-the-heart to love me, shelter me, and encourage me as my mother should have, providing me with a space to release the past and create a future more amazing than I'd ever dared imagine.
In this new home, in a new city, I finally finished the thesis for my Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing, a memoir in which I explored my mother's life, my father's life, and how their lives had shaped mine, culminating in the birth of my son. I poured it all out, all the horrors, all the pain, all the rage. And when I finished it, I felt like I'd removed a huge tumor from my heart.
A few months after I graduated, I found a publisher for my thesis, and I picked the book up again and read it through. It was like reading about someone else's life. I realized I couldn't publish it in that state. It was too dark, too depressing, too unlike the woman and mother that I'd grown into since finishing it.
My first book, Not My Mother: A Memoir, is the revision of that thesis. It captures the essence of the most desperate years of my life, the most heart breaking memories, and the most beautiful gifts. It explores the first shift that took place within me that empowered me to choose to climb once I hit Rock Bottom for the very last time.
My son is three now. It's only been two years, two amazing, challenging, beyond-imagining years since I knelt in the dark on that hard floor and gave myself to hope.
In the last two years I've learned how to dwell in the moments of beauty and love, how to ask for help when I've needed it, accept help when it's been offered, and how to be thankful for what I've had rather than resentful for what I have not.
In the last two years, my dreams have been coming true one by one. I published a book. I've turned my hobby of tarot reading into a way I support my family. I organize weekend retreats teaching healing, divination, and writing. I travel from festival to spiritual book store to healing center teaching from my heart. I am a single mother working from home, raising my precious child with as much love, patience, and respect as I'm capable. I love my life more every day. I wake up excited and brimming with gratitude.
My goal in life is to help as many people as I can to find their own paths to healing and love their lives as much as I love mine.
It's not that things can be worse – It's that things can be better. There is no Rock Ceiling. Things can always be even better than they are now. Things are getting better every moment of every day. For every moment of suffering there is a moment of bliss, of joy, of radiant love.
We all have the power to choose our Rock Bottom, to decide that things will never be worse than they were in that moment, that from this moment on we're making things better and better.
Ashley Rae has a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from the University of Central Florida and resides with her precious 3 year old in gorgeous Sarasota, FL. She leads weekend retreats for psychics, kids, and writers, and teaches workshops on using writing as a self-healing tool, developing intuition, and about The Incredible Vagina, which is simply the best title anyone has ever come up with for any class, ever. She is presently working on her second memoir, tentatively titled “Sentence Interrupted: Memoir of a Moody Mama.” Also a professional psychic, energy healer, and a Love-Your-Life Coach, there is plenty to check out on her website at http://AuthorAshleyRae.com.
By the age of twelve, Ashley Rae had survived incest, child abuse, and the deaths of both her biological parents. Born to Baptists but raised by Buddhists, Rae found peace and healing on a Pagan spiritual path while obtaining her college degree and starting the career of her dreams.
Rae thought the hardships in her life were over...until she lost her job, started a new relationship, and found out she was pregnant with another man's child all in the same week. Terrified of cesarean surgery, Rae vowed to give birth to her child at home – but first, she had to find one.
Alternately haunting, humorous, and heart-warming, Not My Mother: A Memoir follows Rae over a nine-month quest to break her family's generational pattern of abuse and victimhood in order to become for her unborn child the mother she had always wanted for herself.
From the moment Dad rushed us through the dark living room, too quickly for me to see her body, I'd been looking for my mother. Even after her funeral in Virginia, I kept looking for my mother. She came to me in my dreams and told me it had all been a mistake, and she wasn't really dead at all. I'd wake up and jump out of bed in a hurry to continue our conversation, then freeze and fold in half, hyperventilating as reality hit me.
At twenty-two, I had not yet explored how the violence that I couldn't remember witnessing affected my life and my relationships. Ike died when I was five. Mom hated him. His mom loved him. I, on the other hand, had never given myself permission to have feelings about this man who'd loved me and killed my mother. Until I saw him staring back at me through my mirror in the flickering light of a white candle.
Here is the rest of the tour schedule:
11 – W. Lynn Chantale
15 – Lilac Wolf and Stuff
16 – Melissa Kendall
22 – Books-n-Kisses
26 – New Age Mama
6 – Jenna Jaxon
10 – The Page Flipperz
19 – Rosa Sophia
20 – Celtic Lady Reviews