The Gift of Self-Becoming Real

woman in fire


I gave myself a gift this year that I’ve been wanting for a long time, but never really thought I deserved. I gave myself…me.

I know I’m the only one with the ability to unwrap such a gift, and I know there are many layers that will take time and courage to pull away and discard. Like one of those gifts you get, and open and absolutely know it’s of great significance, but you find yourself wondering “what the hell is this?”, or “what the hell am I supposed to do with it?”.

I can tell you that for me, marriage (or even living together) is a killer of intimacy, a long and painful death of love by paper cuts. Negligence, a familiarity that breeds contempt as the saying goes, a not so benign devaluing of self that is both inflicted and allowed. Both parties have to accept their part in the demise of something that should have been held precious.

Usually both parties don’t, and that’s why healing cannot happen. The one to first accept responsibility for their part in it is usually the one who walks away. I know that I tried so hard to become the catalyst for change that I lost myself along the way. I played so many parts, read so many self-help books, tried to put life into something that was continuously gasping its last breath, that I truly lost any hold on who I thought I was in reality.

That’s nobody’s fault but my own. I claim that one.

Now please don’t think I’m not a believer in love and lasting relationships. I carry way too much love inside me to deny the existence and necessity of it. It’s what life is all about. It’s the point of breathing. To love, and be loved and add color and dimension to life as opposed to merely existing day to day.

But I have learned it must be protected with relentless truth, honest communication and the courage to face and fix anything that threatens the Garden of Eden.

I know I’m going to love. I won’t be able to help it, and I don’t want to. That’s something I know for sure. But I promise you the closest I’ll get to living with my beloved will be living on the opposite sides of the same block. We can share all we want and then one or the other of us can walk to our haven, giving both the ability to restore themselves, appreciate the other and miss each other. We’ll have fresh and interesting things to talk about.

We won’t take each other for granted. We’ll preserve a little space and mystery. We’ll each actively seek spending time with the other because it’s not set up to be taken for granted. We may hang together for days because we want to, then retire into our personal space to regroup. The conversation, company and sex will be new and interesting.

Imagine that.

But all this is future speak. I have promised myself I will not become part of anything again until I’m whole myself. Until I realize I’m more than enough for anyone I choose to be with, and what I have to bring to the table is me, unplugged with no filters or apologies. Until I’m setting the standards for how I’m treated by how I treat myself.

And I will not accept less from anyone else.

I’m becoming real. I like it, even though it’s scary and frustrating sometimes. I’m beginning to hear my own voice instead of the chatter of others. If I peel back a layer as I go, and I don’t like what I see…I’ll get rid of it, or change it to be of value in some way. I get to decide that.

So at the beginning of this beautiful new year I raise my glass to self-love, honesty and fierce courageousness. To reality reborn…

And those who are not afraid to walk with me through the fire.






Self Echoes: Protection Against True Communication

I have recently come across a behavior that’s an anomaly in someone that has become very important to me. It makes me wonder how many others are out there with this protective practice. How many others use their assumptions and experiences to eliminate others from genuine conversation by predetermining the other’s intent,  meaning and response to any given situation? How many people never really have a conversation with another because they’ve already decided what  will be said and meant before the other party has a chance to engage?

The first few times this occurred, it struck me as off a little, but I gave it no further thought,as I was still getting to know them. All of us have our oddities so to speak, and I am very open-minded to the differences in each of us and what a challenge and blessing those can be.

Last night, after getting off the phone with this friend, I found myself wondering…why does he even call me? If I need to be told not to say this thing, or react this way, or use this tone of voice, or expect this or assume that…before I ever know what conversation we’re going to have…why does he call? Because, in all honesty, he’s not talking to me at all. He’s talking to himself, or someone in the past, or a pre-determined personality that has nothing to do with me.

I realized that I didn’t care for it. At all.

I am naturally a loving, nurturing person. I show that because that’s who I am. My caring and showing it to another in no way means that I think they are needy, weak or lacking in some way. It means I care. That’s it.

When I repeatedly commit the apparent sin of “re-capping” a situation or conversation, it’s to tie it together for me, and make sure I understand what someone has said about where they are. That’s it. I don’t want to misunderstand or assume another’s meaning so “this is what I heard you say” is my way of saying “did I hear what you needed me to?”.

When what I say is misunderstood, it’s not because I’m stupid,  I deserve enough respect that a simple request for clarification is all that should be needed. Assuming that anything I say is meant in an insulting or derogatory manner is a disservice to both of us and a friendship that doesn’t deserve to be tarnished by the prior behaviors of others.

These self-echoes that stand between two people and the promise of a solid friendship are a result of past damage and insult that has been repeated over the years far too many times to ignore. I understand this. I could say that all men suck, or people are untrustworthy users, or never count on anyone but yourself. I could say that, but I won’t. Because that would make me someone less, created by someone else, and I prefer to be me and who I decide that is.

Self echoes are the things we decide ahead of time that people mean when they talk to us, the ulterior motives they have for the relationship, the things we won’t tolerate from them before they ever happen, the limits and restrictions we place on someone new based on the countless before who have injured us before in the most painful of ways.

Self echoes eliminate our power to lead ourselves, and our hope for more than others have been capable of offering. It puts our hearts in a straight jacket and hinders the possibility of love and growth.

This doesn’t mean we ignore them, or be foolish in our choices. We listen to the whispers of the echoes and learn where the ditches and potholes are, without blinding ourselves to the fact these things we are to avoid are found in a road worth traveling with the wisdom gained from the echoes we hear.

These echoes are a tool, not a lifetime trauma. They are a reminder for wisdom and caution, not a royal dictate that all people are users and losers.

If we can’t determine the difference, then we will lose the love in the hearts that will lift us and light our way when we most need it. My friend says that the most courageous act a person can do is to let somebody love them. I hope he is brave enough to do so.

I hope we all are.





the survival of She: laying down the lies

Do not go quietly ❤

Shelly Aspenson ~ Living Write

I grow weary of the worlds I carry. The ones I allowed others to create for me, the ones I created for myself to appease those so uncomfortable with the irrepressible  parts of me. There are truths of me that I haven’t shown in the centuries I have existed since I was small.

I hear the clock ticking, the grains of sand whispering to me that I have to move now. I have to do more than stand at the edge of this precipice waiting for permission to exhale the dust of immobility. To take my first free breath, and laugh joyously before leaping into the next whatever.

I still hear clearly the admonishments to be still, be quiet, don’t question, calm down, don’t laugh so loud, cry so much, smile so freely. Each one a binding, a board to be nailed, a bar to be placed at the windows where my soul was kept…

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the tale of She-awaken the sleeping heart

Here’s your bedtime story. Once upon a time… ❤

Shelly Aspenson ~ Living Write

She had been asleep a lifetime. Waiting to be awakened, her Pandora’s box of dreams locked up tight in the dark corner. She didn’t remember now what little poisonous prick had caused her unnatural sleep, and just as forgotten was the prince that was supposed to kiss her awake for her life to begin. She remembered asking “mirror, mirror…” and couldn’t remember why that had been so important to her since she knew, deep down, that she was the mirror.

She realized slowly over eons, that we were all sleeping beauties waiting to rise and fulfill our fairy tales, but we had all been taught to wait, to endure, to accept. She grew tired of lying there, all chaste and lovely, while the world of possibilities danced around her ivory tower. Some were waiting patiently to be loved, she knew, but in her opinion, she thought she should just get up and…

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No Flowers

Let the flowers bloom ❤

Shelly Aspenson ~ Living Write

What if, during these apparently disturbing times of unrest, there was no one willing to smile for a moment? What if, during the storm of what’s coming, raining all over what is, there was no one to point out the rainbow of hope? What if the morning news kept beating us with political screw ups and forgot to share the stories of triumph, hope and perseverance? What if all we could see was the endless desert, blinded from seeing the beauty of the sunrise or sunset, it’s simplicity, or simply became numb to the dreams inspired by the flowers brave enough to bloom there?

I am weary and heartsick of being trapped in the quicksand of pessimism, discontent, and disbelief in humanity that I find myself surrounded with. Fighting against those who perpetuate this only causes their grip to become stronger, and me to sink faster into a depression I am…

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Lessons In Living (From a Dead Woman)

Bring yourself back to life ❤

Shelly Aspenson ~ Living Write

Sometimes the death of who you are is not dramatic. There is no impact of twisting metal, or fist to your flesh. It may not be a heroic effort gone wrong, or a fistful of pills. It may not be due to an unforgivable drive by shooting, a robbery gone wrong or a slash too deep in your wrists. Sometimes you just watch yourself die; bloodlessly, silently, without a single tear.

And yet you’re still breathing.

You didn’t fight the quicksand as it sucked you down in the fine and infinite grains of sand-made of becoming less-one moment at a time. You let it swallow you as a frog lets itself boil to death degree by numbing degree, unaware of it’s impending demise until it’s too late to hop to freedom.

And you’re still boiling.

You lie with your life, with your words, with your smile, as your soul rests…

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Heart Blind

Open the eyes of your heart ❤

Shelly Aspenson ~ Living Write

If you love someone,

you must look beyond

how you believe

you should love them,

lay aside your assumptions

of what you think they should accept,

step outside of yourself

and what you’ve been led to believe,

and see them as they are.

Honor their boundaries,

let them come to you freely,

respect the private places

of their soul

and let your quiet calm call forth

the pieces they can share

without pain.

If you love them don’t assume

that making yourself feel better

gives them what they need

from you,

don’t disguise self gratification

as selfless gifting,

sacrifice your ego to give them

the safe place

they’ve never had from another.

If you love them,

let your hands

be open and still,

your heart softly welcoming

and your eyes

free of judgment.

If you love them, look beyond

your own reflection

in their eyes and see them,

with a heart

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Relationship Apocalypse: The Warning Signs

Read the fine print ❤

Shelly Aspenson ~ Living Write

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What are the warning signs of a dying relationship? Why does it seem that only one partner is aware of this impending tragedy? Is this really true, or is it simply that one person chooses to be blind, is comfortable with the way things are for them, and hopes to ride out the discontent of their partner? The equivalent of pulling the sheets up over your head and thinking the monsters can’t see you.

This whole scenario astonishes me.

If someone I love looks at me and says, “It hurts me when you do that.” You can bet your ass I’m not going to be doing whatever that is again. Because that would make me an asshole, which I am not. If my partner looks me in the eye and tells me he needs something from me that I have the power to give him to ease his heart…

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The Word Warrior-Speaking Your Truth Unapologetically

Take no prisoners ❤

Shelly Aspenson ~ Living Write

First of all, let me confess that I quit writing for over 20 years because I allowed someone’s feelings to carry more weight than my own. I looked into their judgement bearing eyes and tossed my writing in the bottom drawer where it stayed, gathering dust.

By doing so, I suffocated the part of me that was real, the truth of me, the softest part of my heart. I dimmed the light, shelved the dreams, let the fire go cold. No poetry flowed from within onto waiting paper, no stories of Warrior Queens, or howling Wolves, or love overcoming, or the victory of freedom were told, in epic fashion, by the clicks of my keyboard.

After years of that, my soul became one long silent scream of fury.

I will not tell you whose words cracked my heart like an egg finely fractured without breaking open. He would not appreciate the attention. But…

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The Write to Remain Silent

Speak your truth ❤

Shelly Aspenson ~ Living Write

I have written the guts of my heart as long as I have memory of the ability to write. I write because I have to speak even when I have no voice. I write because I need to be heard, even if it’s in the silence of my own world. I write because it is the safest expression of my soul, of everything I am or hope to be. It is what I do when communication is imperative to the continuation of a relationship.

Because people interrupt. They talk over you, they manipulate your words to work for their benefit in their twisted little minds. They mis-under-hear you. They paint their own meaning in milli-seconds and obliterate your truth with their own means to an end. They take the words from your breaking heart and use them as a weapon against you and themselves at the same time-because they don’t…

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