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Day 12 Reliving Traumas

Hey guys...


To be honest, today was kind of rough.


I'm not sure if it's because it's Friday, or if I worked on the computer too much, or if it was just an emotionally challenging day.


For anyone that is a human, that may struggle with stress & anxiety, you might relate to me. I was, triggered today. I haven't talked about it much, because I don't know of a safe or healthy way to share some of the things I'm going through, but I hope that my blog is a safe place for me to express myself so I can work through this in a healthy way.


If you remember last week, I shared how I was having pain in my chest. At first I feared I caught the Corona virus, but after having no other symptoms and seeing that the people I was living with weren't experiencing the same thing, I knew it was stress and anxiety. The pain went away this week, however it felt like my body crashed today from something.


If you remember a couple weeks before that, Austin and I moved back to Wisconsin from Arizona.


It wasn't the moving part that was stressful, it was the year and a half before that that was.


Before I go any further, I just want to say that the people I'm going to talk about are great people and probably didn't intend any harm to me. They probably had great intentions, and I know they are people that live from their hearts.


This post isn't to say that they are good or bad people, it's just what happened from my point of view that I am still processing and doing my best to work through it.


So many things happened in Arizona that were just not okay. Period. So many boundaries were overstepped. My basic needs as a human were put last, even to myself. I was confined to a small room, a lot of it was choice, however, it was because of these two things that I chose to live that way. I felt like I was always being watched, like a shadow hanging over my shoulder, someone always listening to me and spying on me. For the first year, I didn't have a means to get around, so I was confined to the neighborhood. Thank goodness there was a trail in the neighborhood for me to get away, to be in nature silent. I became so cynical here, a part of me that just grieves. Cynical people aren't assholes just to be assholes, I think they just experienced so much trauma and grief that they don't see much good around anymore. I fear I've become like this in some ways.


I chose to live through a work exchange agreement. Since Sedona is a hot place to live, it is expensive, and since it is expensive, I felt I had to give so much of myself to my "hosts" to earn my place there. It wasn't until I was completely burnt out, not only from the work I was doing for them, but the work I was doing for myself to get my platform going, that I just crashed. All. The. Time. I would work for 12+ hours a day without giving myself much of a break, but also working so hard so I could get myself the fuck out of there. After about a month of working for them, I knew it wasn't right being there. They didn't even have a place for us to stay. They took us in without anywhere to put us.


When you get work exchange through a site like Workaway.info, there are clear working terms. Most of the time, it is <20 hours a week of work in exchange for room and board and three meals a day. We didn't go through workaway, rather, we sought out a work exchange opportunity on our own through the community. These people wanted a garden and a bunch of other work done, so they agreed to host us. We were living out of a tent on public land, at the start of winter when this happened, so we were cold and desperate. They didn't have room for us. Eventually, after working around a bit I noticed a room in the lower garage that was stacked with boxes and not being used, so we cleaned it out and had an air mattress down there. There was no bathroom, just the mattress and some old furniture that sat in the garage for years rusting.


The home was for the owners and Air Bnb guests. There was no bathroom for us. So when we had to go, we either had to ask permission to use their private bathroom every single time we had to go, or use a jar and dump it out. Showering? Same deal. It wasn't until a year after we lived in the garage that they had a bathroom installed for us, making the little room in the garage smaller. That bathroom was my saving grace, the one thing I was grateful for. With guests coming and going all the time, it was stressful for Sparky. He was so stressed and alert all the time because new people stressed him out. He wasn't allowed to meet the guests because he would bark and jump up on them. To some people, this could be scary. I was always on high alert watching for people so I could grab him and hide in the room downstairs. We always had to take him with us, we could never leave him home because the hosts acted like watching him was a burden, and if we left him in the room downstairs he would cry and scream relentlessly because he had separation anxiety. This made cooking food a challenge when people were around because he couldn't be upstairs, and he would scream the whole time. It stressed me out - what kind of mother wants to hear their child cry and not be able to do anything for them? They also didn't tell their guests there was a dog living in their house. One time, a woman requested to stay with us for a week and she was extremely allergic to animals. He told her we didn't have any pets and invited her to come. *wtf*


I was overwhelmed by the amount of work they always requested of us. I remember one time, he impulsively went to Phoenix and bought an above ground pool and requested Austin to build a platform for it, put it up not once, but twice, and then a couple months later got sick of it and requested it to be taken down. About a week before we left, we came upstairs to make breakfast and he had a whole project laid out in the kitchen, a grouting project for the backsplash, and she came in the kitchen and asked who was going to do the project, because he was going to work. No plans were made, he just set it up and said, "They are," sternly and left not five minutes later. Not to mention the 24/7 tech support I had to give for helping them write a book and start their platform. Since I had to stay around because of Sparky, I was always "available" and just a shout down the stairs had all their little questions and tasks answered.


I think the worst part of all of this was I never told them how I felt. I didn't think I could, or I'd be exiled and homeless again. I don't want to censor myself anymore. It's not healthy.


A few months before we left, I started growing extremely bitter and angry. I didn't really talk about this with anyone. I suppressed my feelings with working on Adventures Across because that was all I really had going for me. It's why I worked so much and didn't bat an eye about it, because if I could do anything to not work for them I would do it, even if it was writing and sitting on my computer all day.


I'm learning that being a workaholic isn't healthy for me anymore. That I am entitled to take up space in this world, that I am allowed to live comfortably and independently in a home with others without being expected to work all day for them. That I don't need to work all day long everyday to prove my worth. That I don't need to handle it all myself. That I don't need to check out anymore and disappear from the world.


It is better to talk about these things rather than to retreat and hide. Maybe I can help someone, or maybe someone can help me. We're all in this together.


I really didn't want to write tonight, but I made a commitment and just wanted to be honest. I'm sorry it's not sunshiny in today's post, but this is what's real for me. I just hope tomorrow is better.


My plans for the weekend are to stay off my computer. I'll write you guys, for sure, I just... won't work all day. I want to paint and crochet because earlier this week, I was so happy doing these things :)


I hope you all had a great Friday, thank you for being here and know I'm so grateful for you!


Much love,


Ashley


day 12, 258 days to go


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