I think I’ve been sad now for about a year. When I turned 30, I felt this fire in me. I felt a change coming and I embraced my new found confidence while finding myself after three kids.

Now, I feel like a burned woman…the fire has gone out completely and only ash and dust fill the air. My lungs burn as I try to breathe. My eyes well up with tears trying to see. Everything hurts.

The phrase “you flew too close to the sun and got burned” has echoed in my mind since then. It still stings.

Maybe I did. Or maybe I never really had the fire in the first place, it was only falsely fueled by a new perspective.

What I do know is that the new people I’m meeting don’t get to know that fiery girl. All they get is sad, burned girl. She’s maybe even a little angry too.
I’ve left so much behind and I know you all are sick of hearing it, but I’m just tired. I’m worn thin by all the responsibilities and I don’t have my tribe anymore to build me back up. It’s just me. My children and my business and my husband get all I have.
I am proud. I did it. I moved and I rebuilt.

But I thought it would be…more…

I thought I would feel more successful or more a part of this place.

When I’m working with new clients, when I’m planning for my business, when I’m editing photos, I can feel a small spark in my heart light up. I am in their story and it’s so real. The hope and love are tangible. I believe it and I’m part of this place for a moment. I think that’s why I am still doing my business. It’s so damn hard to put yourself out there, so it’s not because I like being that vulnerable. It’s because I want to believe in these stories and their happiness.
For a while there I wasn’t sure I was really doing it. Making it, that is. Like…just breathing. I don’t know how I was doing that. And I don’t even know what made me get out of bed most mornings. It physically hurt to do so- a pain deep in my bones that couldn’t be soothed no matter how much sleep I got.
I think you could all tell. The look of a person who is drowning. It’s painful to watch someone struggle like that.

But I kept smiling and reaching out and pouring into my new community.

Maybe I’m just a broken moody artist, but tonight I just want to let go. I want to gather up the pieces I’ve spread out since we moved here and run. They are my pieces and I want them back. My heart is too tender and tired to keep fighting. I’m not fiery, mature Ashley who can take what everyone is dishing out. I’m frail and easily injured. I feel like I’m running in circles yelling, “I’m here! Like me!”

Ha…that’s sad huh? Sad little girl. That same girl told her mother she was going to be a cool kid. As if it was that simple. But I really believed it. We were moving, and I was going to have all new friends, and new clothes and people would like me.

And I remember the hard lesson I learned from my immature declaration that year: your clothes and hoping to be liked by others won’t make it so. Those things don’t make you who you are and they won’t make people like or accept you anymore than the last school you attended.

I used to imagine we had all been assigned our group at birth. Like, how popular or unpopular we would be. My assignment was plastered to my forehead- a big neon sign that said “loser”.
Anyway. This isn’t some weird plea for friends or me throwing shade at anyone.

It’s just me thinking out loud. Sorting out where my heart is. Maybe even apologizing.
Perhaps I’m expecting too much (I know, mom, I always have.) But the honest truth is I just can’t take rejection and broken promises/unfulfilled plans/fake interest/bad business anymore. My heart can’t. Yeah, I’m a grown-ass boss mom but I’m too tender right now. Rejection takes on a lot of forms and any time I taste something that is even remotely similar I want to pack up and run. I want to hide under a blanket and pretend this isn’t my life. That I don’t have to wake up and keep trying to fit in here.

It took me 17 years to build my tribe in Houston. Right now I fear I will be mourning that loss for at least that long…but also it leaves me where I started the day we moved here: how long until I have a tribe here?
For now, I will accept the small progress I’ve made but you must accept sad girl. She’s all I have right now and she will be the most true friend if you let her.

Tomorrow I will get up, put my make up and smile. Maybe I will pick red lipstick in hopes of adding some fire to my day. And most of you won’t know the difference so long as you don’t really look. But be kind, could you? Because I’m barely holding it together and there’s still a trail of ashes behind me.

She won’t be sad forever.

May the bridges I burn, light my way.


5 Replies to “Unsteady”

  1. Tenderness, sadness, unmet expectations…they’re a part of your journey. Your fire never went away. But, your expectation of where you’d be in this moment versus where are right now are so vastly different, that you feel pain. Suffering, even. Because, it wasn’t supposed to be like this…right? Ashley, your vulnerability and soft heart are part of your strength. Your passion is sizzling like it ever was, because I see it. We vibrate on the same frequency. With the same chord of passion, and striving and seeking beauty and connection. This is your awakening, your birth, and it can be painful. I wish I was there and could give you a big hug!! You will now be able to help others in this place. And, that is a gift. ❤

  2. Wow! That’s painful and beautiful at the same time. I admire you so much for sharing such raw feelings. You are a strong woman and an awesome mom! Praying that you see brighter days ahead!

  3. Oh my sweet friend. You cross my mind often, even though I haven’t kept in touch. I think of you and your sweet babies and how hard it must be for your to start over in a new place. You are such a brave, loving, and empathetic person. The downside of wearing your heart on your sleeve is that everything is so intensified– the good and the challenging. It’s what makes you such a beautifully talented artist.

    I am so glad you moved when you did and I was lucky enough to call you my first real friend. You have always, and will continue, to hold a dear place in my heart.

    1. Oh girl, I hadn’t even seen this! Thank you so so much. I enjoy keeping up with you on social media and feel a strong connection even after all these years. It’s been amazing to watch our lives unfold and change. Who would have thought, huh?
      Thank you for your continued love and support. For being a dear friend.

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