Friday, November 25, 2011

From the inside out…..Lord my heart cries out

I am not a very religious person… fact I don’t I have ever been accused of being a believer but  the title Yoga from the Inside Out makes me think of the song I have in the title of this blog.

I wasn’t quite sure how to go about writing this memoir. At first I was just going to write a heart wrenching reflection on the ongoing war raging between myself and my body, mind, and spirit (I am winning by the way but that is not a good thing).  Then I thought to myself, “Well it may not seem like I read the whole book if I do that”.  This is how the blog will be organized: what I think about the book, what I think about the author, my favorite parts, and finally my story.

The book:
The book gave me hope. It’s lets me know that everybody has problems with their body image; that everyone doesn’t quiet except how they look. It lets me know that I have a long way to go but I am the right track and that this battle is not necessarily one to be won but one to be fought. The lets me know it is okay to relapse, it is okay to not have it all mapped out; that it takes time and patient to deal with issues that have been with you for as long as you can remember. The book was just all around inspiring. The book also made me realize how much alignment integrates into hatha yoga. All semester we have talked about hip alignment, spine straightening, shins moving, hips opening, but it never occurred to me that hatha yoga is about those things and not “does this look right”. All semester and that underling idea was just that…..underlining everything you said but nothing that I truly grasped.

The Author:
Christina Sells has courage that I can’t even phantom right now.  To bare your soul to people you don’t know, to expose your weaknesses for people to judge or manipulated you, to let strangers into a place you have guarded your whole life is amazing to me. I write a lot sometimes and I let very few people know my trail because I am so afraid that someone will use that against me. I am afraid of what people will think or say. I am just afraid and that fear has kept even my closest friends at a safe distance. I could imagine bearing all to anyone let alone write it down in a book. However, if you were going to bare your all…making money is not a bad way to go. I know that is not the reason she wrote the book but it is somehow satisfying to me that her courage isn’t going unrewarded. To start off a book confessing what some people take to their graves… takes more than I have right now. So the author has my utmost respect.

Favorites Parts:
I like the additional stories in the book; they reaffirm everything about the book. The parts of the book that hold resonance with me are “Paying Attention” and “Accepting What-Is”. A couple of quotes that I like the most:

“Self-observation is about bringing an honesty and depth of clarity to manifestation s, motivations, and behaviors. It means to see objectively from an observers/a point of view without justifying, rationalizing, implying, or excusing anything, and obviously without any feelings of pride, vanity, guilt, or shame as result of what we observe in ourselves.

“When we begin to pay attention we may be shocked by the steady barrage of criticism and judgment we have about our body----it is too big, too small, too wrinkled, too pale, too short, too tall, too stiff.
“it is hard to think about what feels out of control when everything feels simultaneously fine and out of control.”

“Life as it is, in the moment, is a gift from the Divine----“the present”. How many times a day do we refuse the gift by complaining, avoiding, or compulsively attempting to bend reality to our whim rather than simply surrendering to the way things are”?

My Story:
Now my story is nowhere near complete and it hasn’t even reach the good part where yoga helps me completely but hatha yoga has helped me a great deal. My war with my body, mind, and spirit starts as a kindergarten. My older cousin sexual abused me….I remember it was kindergarten because I had to go over my great grandma’s house in order to walk to school and I remember being woke by wet kisses on the neck and wet kisses where my “private area” was. I also know it was kindergarten because I remember being afraid to use the bathroom or sitting on the toilet thinking his “thing” would somehow come through the toilet and poke me. This experience in life taught me to forget or spin wild stories in my head. It taught me question myself and what I “thought” happened to me. To this day I know what my cousin did to me but I can’t be quite sure because of all the things I imagine on a daily basis to help me cope. I can’t say when it started but sometime in elementary I started to believe I wasn’t as pretty as other girls and that my hair was “bad”. I remember wishing I had long hair like “white” people or Hispanics because it so pretty and long and it blew in the wind and they could flip it. I remember feeling like I never belong to any group. Even at that young age(I want to say third grade) I felt like an outcast. My parents were teenagers when they had me and young adults when I started elementary so money was sparse. I never went to school with hole in my clothes but name brand clothing didn’t happen often. My mom had no color sense (still doesn’t) and she wasn’t that good a fixing hair either. So needless to say I went to school tacky and with bad ponytails; kids can be so cruel and mean. In fifth-grade I hit puberty and acne appeared. I hated my face…it was covered in bumps and pimples and brown spots from where I picked at my face. Even now I believe that when I have enough money I will most likely get some type of skin treatment to make my face clear of blemishes. I never even indulge in make up because it is too much work and it makes my face break out. I also wanted to brighter….yellow bone is what the elderly called it……mixed is most likely what I said. They seem to have it all. They had gorgeous eye, “good” hair, and everyone liked them. I never thought about this until now but that is probably the reason I am attracted to “lighter skinned” races so I can have me a mixed baby with pretty eyes and “good” hair.

So I entered middle school feeling like an outcast. I felt not many people liked just tolerated because I was always the teacher’s pet. Not to mention the bad acne didn’t improve much. The insecurities I had with my clothing and hair only got worse, but this time factor in girls with manicures and popular cheerleaders. I remember thinking then and I still think this now….what is wrong with the way I look or dress or carry myself that boy/males don’t notice me or don’t approach me like they approach other girls. I thought this in high school and I think it in college; my solution to this problem is monetary: manicures, pedicure, and hair appointments. That is what songs say to do; that is what television says to do and that is what I see around me says to do. Even though most of the girls that were popular and pretty in middle school or high school are pregnant now or have had children and I know their life is nowhere what they dreamed it would be…….I still envy that they have a boyfriend or that someone considers them pretty(when that is probably not even the case). I don’t why I started thinking this (maybe just the environment I grew up in) but somewhere along the line between the little girl and the young adult I have subconsciously equated beauty to male attention. Since I don’t receive a lot of male attention then I must not be that pretty. Even though I know it is not true because I know I am attractive…….I don’t have that male validation so I can’t quite be sure. Although I know  I am not ready for a relationship; it would still be nice to have one. The one thing I used to be proud of though was my body. My face may have been “ugly” and my hair “bad” but my body was beautiful. I was small but had curves and little feet. That sense of pride was stripped the away from me at thirteen the day I was raped by my father. I have never felt as dirty in my life as I did then. My father taught me two lessons that night: some stains never come clean and no one will care that you are dying on the inside as long as you smile convincingly enough. I remember I just wanted to leave the room and burn the tight pant I wore that night and take a long bath. I also remember him saying that I couldn’t leave the room until I smiled because it looked like something was wrong with me. My virginity was stolen, I was in unimaginable pain, confused, and hurt but if I left looking like something was wrong then my mom would questioned what happen. So I smiled and have been smiling ever since. Don’t worry about reporting this it already was….Baylor made sure of that. He killed himself when I was nineteen and I am left to live with what was done to me. This went on for six years and so much brain-washing went on during this time that I couldn’t even call it sexual abuse when Mary Lou Scott told me I was being sexually abused because  “it is not like raped me or anything”.  So needless to say this added to my insecurities with my looks and the once pride I had in my body became I don’t know but I didn’t like it. Around that time up until about a year ago I did not like my buttocks. It was too big drew too much attention. My self-confidence was/is shot to hell. I never really think people care about how I feel…..they just want me to be okay enough to listen to their problem. I go back and forth on whether I like my shape or not. I still think manicure, pedicures, and hair appointments are the way to make me beautiful. I still think my hair is hard to manage but I don’t considerate “bad” anymore. I still avoid the sun at all cost because I don’t want to get “dark”. I don’t know if I want long hair or short hair. I have a problem with the bulge in my stomach….my muffin top. My muscles are not as toned as they should be. I am not in good shape. I don’t drink enough water so my skin is dry. I doubt everything that I do and think is important enough to matter and is probably wrong. Half the time I look in the mirror I don’t like something I see….the other forty percent I don’t know what I think…..and only ten percent of the time can I look in the mirror and say that girl is beautiful.  Don’t get me wrong I know everything I said earlier is not true…..the problem is I can’t bring myself to believe what I know. Also my teeth need to be whiter and I go back and forth between telling myself I need to work to be in good health and I need to work out to get the body I want.  So where does hatha yoga comes into play…….it is helping me become more self-aware and less self-conscious. I am starting to admit I have the insecurities…..not fix them just yet but accepting that I have them. It is putting me on the path to the long journey of finding and making peace with my inner self.


  1. this is very intense ashley. I applaud the courage that it takes to tell your story. It is funny how life works. today Christina's blog is about life events and how some can make you stronger and some we just don't recover from. you should check it out.

  2. Dear Ashley,

    I am moved very deeply by your post. I am so touched that my book had meaning for you and that you found inspiration in its message.

    But more than that, I am inspired by the courage and faith it took to write your story and to share your feelings and struggles here on this blog. It takes great strength to be so vulnerable and, even though I have never met you, I want you to know how proud I am of you for sharing yourself so honestly.

    One thing I believe deeply about the process of growth and change is that when we look squarely at ourselves and what was done to us and at the beliefs and behaviors that came out of of abusive situations like the ones you describe here, the secrets and shame we have carried our whole lives begin to lose their power over us. You took a huge step here and I believe with all my heart that over time, with practice, self-love and courage you can and will heal.

    Please stay in touch and know that you have people like me who have never even met you cheering for you and wishing you all the best.

    Christina Sell

  3. Dear Christina Sells,

    Thank you for your kind words they mean a lot. I tired to write this response on Sunday but was so star struck I couldn't form an intelligent sentence. In all honesty, I never thought you would read this. I mean I knew you were her sister and everything but still never thought you would read it and I almost put that in the blog(glad I didn't). I felt you deserved my tick for your tack(even if I thought you were never going to read it). You know one good deed deserves another and things to that nature. Your book does give me hope and while I can't say I will me making a peace offering with my body anytime let's me know that day may be slow in coming but if I work at is coming. So once again thank you for your response(makes me feel super special), and thank you for writing the book.

  4. Dr. Schultz,

    Thank you for everything. Thank you for offering the class. Thank you for making Yoga more than a physical practice. Thank you for always making us laugh in class and believing that we could do the ridiculously hard looking poses even when we stared at you in disbelief. Thank you for being understanding and flexible in the blog assignments. I swear as the semester pass we(or maybe just me) wanted the class to go longer. Had you noticed that at the beginning of the semester we started packing our things before you could get the bow out good. Now we sit and stare at you or each other; for me it is because I don't want the spell to be broken....I can't speak for the rest of the class. You have achieved something no other BIC professor has.....I want to take this class again. Which says a lot, so thank you for that as well. If I had the money I would buy you a Christmas present.

  5. Thank you Ashley. The class as a whole and your presence in it and your expressed appreciation of it is the best gift I've ever received.

    Much love,


  6. Ashley,

    Your post made me cry when I read it. No one deserves to have someone who is supposed to love and protect them turn around and hurt them so deeply, and especially not you. My heart aches for you, and you are in my prayers. I hope that you can find peace in yourself and joy in your life. I am blessed to get to know you through the BIC.


  7. Brittany,

    Thank you. Anti-climatic I know but any other response would sound condescending, patronizing, or thank you for read, responding, and praying it means a lot.