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The Greatest Power in the Universe Is Not Love.

I am in so much pain right now. I can’t eat. I can’t sleep well. All I do is cry or try to hide my crying from others. Before my best girlfriend died last week, she said, “You’ve been through so much,” and I told her that I wouldn’t trade it, because I am an entirely different person than I was 5 years ago. This is true; I have dropped many things. And I am much happier than I have ever been. But I am still on the same ladder, and the universe is doubling down on my spiritual growth right now…stripping away everything until it’s just me, wrestling the same universal force as Jacob did in the desert (it’s always in the desert) under a canopy of stars. That’s what happens with pain. You wrestle. And if you get the lesson, you go up the ladder.Where Does the Ladder Lead?

Where does the ladder lead?

To enlightenment. To letting go of everything so you have right seeing, which results in the full activation of the Christ within you: you have true love for yourself, which gives you the ability to love others without codependency or an agenda.

But you have to go down to go up the ladder. That’s what the sacrament of baptism is about, descending to ascend. And, as I have said a dozen times, the diamond is in the pit. But man, we just don’t want to go in that pit. I’m always reminded of Frodo in Lord of the Rings when he wishes the ring of power had never come to him, and Gandalf’s response is basically, “tough shit.”

Fuck you, Gandalf.

The good news to all of my agony, I guess, is I will be writing more.  Writing soothes my pain like nothing else can, and this very fact gets to the heart of what pain demands if you want to truly heal and continue living.

Not surviving.


What is the work to go up the ladder?

Well, …the work is very simple. But very hard.

Mountain RangeAnd almost no one has the courage to do it, except alcoholics and drug addicts who have to do it to stay alive.

It’s called living in truth. And truth, unlike love, has the power to save your life

I know that’s weird to hear. I’m sure you expected it to be love. We hear so much about love. LOVE. LOOOOOOOOOOOOOVVVVVVVVVEEEEEEE. But love is not the highest value in the universe. Truth is. Because the truth is always love, but love isn’t always the truth. Love can be codependent when we love others too much or narcissistic when we love ourselves too much. Truth is balanced love—loving God, ourselves and others equally. Not getting gross (i.e. pathological) with it.

One of the great sadnesses of my life was watching my husband disintegrate and die because he couldn’t tell or live the truth. He wasn’t supposed to be a lawyer; he absolutely hated it. He would have done better as a storyteller or a photographer or a professor. He probably also hated being married to me. I was a really mean wife sometimes. He was also an alcoholic and could not admit that either. Simply, he had so much pride that he could not tell his parents that he was not the attorney about whom they bragged or tell me that he was unhappy. He needed to be a king of a kingdom, because he didn’t love himself enough to accept himself as anything else. He couldn’t be a humble nobody, a passerby. So he betrayed his own soul. And when we betray our own souls, there is hell to pay. As they say in AA, our secrets make us sick. That is why he had to drink. I am still trying to forgive myself for the role I played in it all (see here), but at the end of the day, he was the only person who could save himself. I couldn’t do it for him. One Day At a Time

This is how our LGBTQ sisters and brothers end up committing suicide. Because the soul cannot abide to live a lie. And living by what culture or the church says instead of by what our heart says is a lie.

That’s why writing helps me with my grief. Because it’s truth telling.

There is a quantum physics reason that living in truth is so important. Consciousness creates matter, but as more accurately explained in David Hawkin’s book, Power vs Force, the subconscious actually creates matter. When we stuff our emotions, our pain, our truth, this denial of love to ourselves is an injury that is stored in the subconscious. The subconscious then draws this negativity to itself again, as like attracts like (string theory). Similarly, when we have wronged people, we feel guilty and store that in our subconscious. This past injury or past guilt takes the future form of disease, alcoholism, mental illness, and a whole host of other nasties. We have to clean out the subconscious by reversing the injuries to it to free ourselves from the past.  When we do this, it cures everything.

That’s the power of truth. Huey Lewis had it wrong.

But living in truth is really hard. It takes courage, humility, compassion for others, reverence to the universe, and above all, love for yourself. The best directions on how to live in truth are the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. A great book and short read on how to do the Twelve Steps yourself is: Back to the Basics of Recovery: How to take the Twelve Steps “quickly and often.” Don’t let the fact that you’re not an alcoholic trip you up: you are just as powerless as alcoholics are.

I try to go to an open AA meeting every week, even though I am not an alcoholic, because I love the group therapy and the philosophy and sayings at the meetings. And the stories and humor are fantastic! Meetings labeled as “open” meetings are open to everyone, not just alcoholics. And I find I really enjoy the company of a humble bunch of recovering drunks.

So what’s the truth about my pain?

My personal truth is that I’m scared that I can’t love myself enough to compensate for the loss of my beloved best friend, that I will always be heartbroken and sad.

The real truth though is that all love comes from the universe.

ArtworkIt is abundant. It is free. It is more than enough, more than any human can give. It is always available. And it can show you how to love yourself. And to not be afraid. And to let go of everything, because none of this is yours.

This is the truth that liberates.

“They will know the truth, and the truth shall make them free.”

“Clean the inside of the cup and the outside will be clean.”

“Ask and it shall be given. Seek and ye shall find.”

So the message to myself is this:

Listen to Gandalf.

Quit being so afraid and just do the damn work.

Until next time, joy and laughter to you. And triple sinks.



  • Amanda

    May 7, 2019 at 4:23 pm

    Such a great post Ashley. We all have hard truths to face, yet what seems to hold us back is the guilt and shame of what we said, or didn’t say, did or didn’t do, and the cumulative effects of gathering those feelings for years. If we had to tell our friends, or strangers, what our deepest secrets and fears were we would probably be met with support and understanding, yet we harbor them and tell ourselves what we are not worthy to receive.
    My deepest condolences on the loss of Genia.


  • Ashley

    May 7, 2019 at 5:50 pm

    Thanks, Amanda. More practice on letting go. I am feeling it but also analyzing my feelings and trying to embrace the gift. The gift of having known a love like that, and the gift of one day being able to let it go. I feel really locked in with the universe right now, and I haven’t felt that in months, so I’m glad for that at least. Thanks for reading! 🙂

  • Ashley

    May 7, 2019 at 9:29 pm

    From my friend, Fletcher: “You can post this as a comment. Truth is if you love somebody unconditionally like you did your friend you will always be sad and heartbroken over your loss….But I think you are supposed to because they are forever apart of what brings out the good in you…just my .02 cents….sorry for your loss….love ya.”

    My response to Fletch is “I do believe that it’s possible to remember with joy instead of sadness. I’m not there yet, but like the apostle Paul, I press on. I mention Paul because he was the great Gnostic Christian apostle co-opted and misinterpreted by Orthodox Christians in the 3rd century, who emphasized that the Christ was in us, literally in our bodies, and not just some separate entity to be deified. We press on to become the Christ, and Jesus himself said we would do things greater than he. To me, this is similar to Buddhism– we have the ability to transcend suffering if we do the work, to transform our bodies themselves, which Paul also talked about. And when we do this, we love our lost loved ones more, not less, but we are no longer heartbroken, we are heart open. But mind you, this is just a theory, and we have to feel pain to get there, not stuff it.”

  • Ashley

    May 8, 2019 at 10:49 am

    I had a question from a reader: “How am I supposed to take the Twelve Steps if I am not an alcoholic/addict, since the first 3 steps are about asking Higher Power to take the addiction away?” Answer: The first three steps are not so much about addiction. They are about acknowledging that you are stuck, or you are confused, or you are scared. Acknowledging that you are powerless. (over your emotions, a situation, a health condition, a relationship, really, just over everything in life if you want to be honest about it.) It’s the ultimate humility (i.e. I am not the greatest power in the universe.) And then asking that Power to help you, to remove your shortcomings. Importantly in AA though is that they only ever pray to know Higher Power’s will for their life and the strength to carry it out. It is total surrender. That’s why I usually only ask for things like self-love, humility, faith, courage, etc. etc. The rest of the steps are not as tricky because they are not specifically about addiction but about truth telling. Thanks for the question!

  • Ashley

    May 8, 2019 at 10:53 am

    One last thing that is helpful for going up the ladder as an add on to truth telling at AA is to do yoga. Much as telling the truth releases the stored negativity and emotions in our subconscious, yoga does so as well, releasing it from the body. A friend of mine lamented to me that he had tried yoga but stopped because it made him depressed. I told him that it was actually working so he needed to keep doing it. Yoga is a type of somatic therapy. Somatic therapy works under the theory that emotions are stored in the body and get stuck. If one gets depressed after yoga, that’s the emotions coming out. Many alcoholics in recovery have found that yoga helped almost as much as truth-telling meetings to dump all their baggage.

  • Heather

    May 14, 2019 at 6:05 am

    Thank you for this, Ash. Just loved it. An open meeting is in my near future – time for me to giddy up and get some of my work started. Love you.


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