Ashley’s Story || Recovery through Boudoir

A HAPPIER HOUR: Learning Self-Like in Recovery

Trigger Warning: This story features drug addiction, self-harm and suicidal ideations. If you suffer from drug abuse or addiction, please reach out to the SAMHSA for assistance.

If you’re interested in the topic or want more information about the history of drug overdose in your area visit RehabAid. 

They also have an interactive overdose map of the United States.

When Love asked me to write a blog for her, I knew I had to incorporate recovery. Back in
January of 2019, I had taken some steps to get out of my comfort zone. One of those steps was to apply to be
part of Love’s Siren Squad. I knew “my fat ass would never get picked,” but it forced me to say nice
things about myself. Next thing I know:


I’M A SIREN for Grá Intimate Portraiture!



Being selected as a siren is further proof to me that my higher power puts me exactly where I
need to be exactly when I need to be there. Women have opened up to me about suicide attempts,
physical ailments, and their recovery journey. Women trust me now whereas before, I made women
competition. I even got the chance to meet a woman new to the area and new to recovery in person as
a direct result of my role as a siren. I get to use my experiences to help these women. Being a siren has
allowed me to see myself in a new light, and it has helped me appreciate the journey I’m on.

My path from self-hatred to self-like (and sometimes self-love) has been a long, twisty, windy,
bumpy, crazy road. I used to be as confident as they come. Then I crossed the line from party girl to
addict, and what I saw in the mirror drastically changed. Ultimately, I only looked in mirrors when I had
to because I was disgusted with who I had become but had no idea how to change. I eventually got
clean, but in some ways, that made it worse.



I was suddenly exquisitely aware of everything I had become over the years.


All the feelings I had been numbing came flooding to the surface, and I had to deal with them without any sort of
chemical escape. I looked in the mirror and saw what I had done, not who I was. Hell, I didn’t know
who I was anyway.

I saw someone who had robbed her family. I saw someone who sold her body for drugs. I saw
someone who put herself in dangerous situations without a second thought. I saw someone who drove
under the influence on a regular basis and put countless lives at risk. I saw someone who had stolen, in
some shape or form, from every company she had worked for. I saw someone who tried to take her
own life with no regard for her friends and family because dying was easier than doing the work needed
to get clean.

Oh, and then there’s the rehab flab. I didn’t look like a skeleton when I was using. I masked my
PCOS and was a size 6-8. Not only had I given up my coping mechanism; I gave up my appetite
suppressant. Now let me be clear. Literally NOTHING going on inside my body was healthy, but
addiction is a disease of perception. If I looked healthy on the outside, then in my mind, I wasn’t doing
that much damage. So now I was looking at all the horrible things I had done AND seeing myself get
bigger and bigger.


Here’s the thing about addiction and addicts.


We all have different stories.



We all began using for different reasons, continued using for different reasons, suffered different
consequences, and got clean for different reasons. There are many different paths to recovery. The one
thing we undoubtedly share it the toll addiction takes on our self-esteem. Guilt, shame, and remorse can
be so powerful they send us back into substance use.

In AA, I kept hearing things like “self-love will come” and “happiness is an inside job.” WTF does
that mean? Oh, and those people in meetings telling me they would “love me until I could love myself.”
That one actually made my butt hole make faces. In early recovery, my goal was not “self-love.” That was
a foreign, overwhelming concept that I had no ability to process. My goal was to dislike myself as opposed
to hating myself. That would have been progress.

I can’t tell you the day it happened, the exact reason why, or even when I first noticed it, but I
can tell you that today, with over 3 years clean and sober, I like myself on most days. I like that I can make
jokes about my trauma because I worked really hard in a trauma-focused therapy program. I like that I
can use my experience to help other women. I like that I can speak in front of groups of people without
anything more than coffee or Diet Coke. I like that even with my “rehab-flab,” I can look pretty. I’ll take
being overweight over the consequences of the “stem-fast” diet any day.




I love that I’ve fallen in love with boudoir and enjoy being in front of a camera.


I love the stage fright I got over when I auditioned for a play for an AA event that was performed in front of
almost 2,000 people. I love that I no longer have a comfort zone. I love that I was able to be a caregiver for
my grandfather and made a living amends for the damage I’ve done over the years. I love that I’ve gotten
back into health and fitness, and I love that I can appreciate that journey instead of chasing instant
gratification and a quick-fix.

Learning to love, or even like yourself is a journey no matter who you are. If you’re in recovery,
that journey is different. I’ve found that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to rebuilding the person
addiction stole, but I can tell you there is hope. Just give yourself a chance and remember, what you’ve
done is NOT who you are.



Are you ready for your own boudoir session? You can schedule a consultation with us or call to set up your session: 234.208.5744