April 10, 2014

Buried Deep

One morning Tytus woke me up really early. I grabbed him out of his bed and began to feed him in my chair. His big blue eyes stared up into mine. I loved rocking him and enjoying every smile he gave me out the side of his mouth.

Within minutes, his smiles ran out, and he was fast asleep in my arms. I didn’t want to move. He looked so peaceful, and I loved every second of watching him sleep. It didn’t happen very often. For a while, I just stared at his perfect little face. He was an angel, that was for sure, but I don’t think that even at the moment, I could fully comprehend what a great blessing he was for my life.

After some time, I began to look around my empty bedroom. Not much had changed within its walls. The bedspread was still the same as when Emmett was there. I had moved the furniture around a bit, but that was nothing new for me. Almost everything in that room, at that very minute, felt completely the same. It felt as if at any second, Emmett would come walking into the room to tell me about his day. I could almost smell his body wash steaming out from the shower. If I closed my eyes and ignored the pain in my heart, I could step back in time before he died and pretend I was there. Maybe it had all been a dream!

The clock read five a.m. I knew that time well. Emmett always woke up that early to leave for the gym. On many mornings, I would get up with him to make him some eggs before he headed out the door. I never thought twice about how early it was. I was excited to get up and show him how much I cared. I would sit on the counter and watch him scarf down every bite.

Eggs. I craved to lay Tytus down and go out into the empty kitchen to make Emmett some eggs. I wanted to show him one last time that I didn’t even look at it as a sacrifice. I wanted nothing more than to be there for him, no matter what time the clock said.

It had been months since I had been wakened by the sound of his voice, asking me for a quick pre-workout snack. I could almost hear his deep voice, “Hey babe, do you mind making me some eggs before I go?” It hurt how badly I wished he would wrap his arms around me, and whisper that in my ear. 

I snapped out of my daydream as the clock turned to 5:10. It was still hours away from the moment when tiny feet would come running into my room, but I couldn’t sleep. Somewhere buried deep inside of me, a pain was raging. It was so heavy that I could almost see it in my empty bedroom. There was no sign of any change, but deep inside my soul, a storm was brewing. In that moment, the room might have looked the same, but I knew everything was different.

My bitterness chimed in with a stark reminder of all the pain Emmett’s obsession with his body had brought me. The gym. Every morning, I had dragged my exhausted body out of bed so he would have the energy to go prance around half-naked with a bunch of other people! Regret for every egg I had ever cooked him simmered deep inside me. All of the positive memories of waking up to make him breakfast turned black. Why had I been there at his beck and call? Why had I put everything into him, when he had not returned the favor for me?

A deep-rooted anger seemed to be pulling me further and further into despair. By the time morning came, the house was all abuzz with excitement because the twins were graduating from kindergarten that morning. Their joy was apparent, but my heart still felt black.

I showed up at the school just in time to find a seat. Kindergarten graduation, though very exciting for the twins, was just one more thing for me to do alone. The anger and bitterness that had churned inside of me all morning about the eggs seemed to be bubbling up into my throat. I felt like everyone was watching me, just waiting for the pain to explode out of me. The eyes in the room felt heavy as I slid past a few parents to an empty seat.

The twins looked beautiful. Their eyes were fixed on me. They sang a song called Big Dreams. It started out, “Big, big dreams, lots of big dreams, things I want to be someday . . .” I choked up as I tried hard to keep my feelings buried inside. Dreams. Big dreams. My twins were standing up on a big set of risers singing at the top of their lungs about all the dreams they had for themselves someday. Tears streamed down my face as I pictured the semblance of the normal life I had once enjoyed being wiped away, like my tears, never to be experienced again. Once more, I tried hard to push my fears and emotions back inside of me.

By the end of the performance, I was ready to run out of the room. I didn’t want to talk to any of the teachers, or parents . . . or children for that matter. I wanted to run away, and hope that no one had caught a glimpse of the tears that had forced their way out of me. I had to be strong, I had to bury the pain, I couldn’t let anyone see how truly broken I was.

The mother of one of my daughter’s friends came over to say hello. She asked how I was doing—a question for which I had no answer. That particular question had been asked so many times that I actually stressed out about how to answer it every single time it was asked. I assumed she wanted me to answer honestly. Maybe she had been reading my thoughts, and wanted me to tell her about the eggs I was fretting about all morning? Maybe she wanted me to break down and cry, and remind her of all the legal hell I was climbing through? I almost saw her as a threat—an enemy who wanted me to unveil the unbearable pain I had been masking all day.

Instead of answering her, I started making jokes about Kandi and Emmett. I didn’t look her in the eye, just rattled off joke after joke about all the crap Emmett had pulled, and all the horrible thoughts I still carried around about Kandi. My friend stood there silently as I made fun of every possible angle of the story, and rattled off all of the degrading and inappropriate slang terms I could think of to describe Emmett and Kandi’s decisions.

She gave me a little side hug and said, “Hang in there friend.” Then she walked away. HA! She hadn’t won. She hadn’t seen my pain. I had fooled her for sure. She had no idea of the secrets I was concealing, right? If all eyes were off of me, that meant no one could see my pain. But even if they couldn’t see it, it was there, and there was no way I could let it go because it had become a part of me . . . and I almost needed it to survive.

That pain, the pain I thought would go away as I directed my friend’s thoughts off of me and onto Kandi and Emmett . . . it didn’t leave. It didn’t even feel better; it actually felt completely worse. My plan seemed to work for a few seconds. I didn’t have to share any of the things I was struggling with, I didn’t have to open up about my breakdown over eggs that morning . . . but the words I did use spoke more about my insecurities than a detailed description of them would have. I didn’t have to describe my pain because it came straight out of me in the form of hate!

That moment of hate would not be my last. In fact, it became my companion. Anytime I didn’t want to look someone in the eye—for fear they would rat out my buried anguish—I would make them laugh by telling jokes. I would make light of the horrific story I had learned to call my life. I would mock and tease and try hard to get any ear to hear about how “well” I was doing. I truly believed they thought my humor was a sign that I was doing “better,” that I had overcome my grief.

They could laugh with me, but I never let them cry with me. No, that was something I continued to do alone in my closet or while driving in the car.

One of Emmett’s friends came over that night to help Teage with some soccer moves. He ended up staying until way past the children’s bedtime. When the kids were all in bed, we found ourselves watching TV. He sure was a cute guy. He had never been married, and the thought crossed my mind that maybe he was there for more than to just help Teage. I kind of enjoyed having a man in the house again, and sitting on the couch talking with him reminded me of having Emmett. They had a lot in common, and I could see why they had been friends.

He had come over a few times to play with Teage since Emmett had died, but he’d never before stayed until the kids were tucked in bed. I had only met him a few times before Emmett’s funeral, but I remember having seen him at the viewing. He had been very emotional, and I remembered feeling so badly for all the single guys who had looked up to Emmett so much. It was as if they had all looked to Emmett as an example of the men they wanted to become and the lives they longed to have. Now they were all in the difficult situation of trying to figure out where he had gone wrong, so they could make certain they didn’t follow the same path.

I figured he was at my house to find more answers about why Emmett had failed, so he could know where to look for a new hero. We talked for a few hours about “Emmett stuff,” and after some time, he grabbed my hand. My heart began to race. All the emotions and fears that had been bottled up all day began to try to find their way out. What if he could feel them through my hand? . . . What was I doing letting a man hold my hand in Emmett’s house? I was panicking inside . . . and every feeling I had buried deep down was trying to make its way through my hand and into his.

I was afraid that by getting that close to me, he would be able to know how broken I was. He held my hand the rest of night, but I never relaxed. He probably felt like he was holding onto a zombie’s cold, unattached lifeless fingers. I shared no emotion through my touch. I didn’t want to tell him to let go, but I held onto the fear that was trying to let him in. I wasn’t about to share it with anyone. It was mine, and there was no way a cute smile was going to talk me into allowing it to leave.

I never let him come over again. He called and texted a few times after that, but there was no way I was going to let myself be vulnerable again and risk exposing all of the broken pieces I held inside, by having him too close.  I had buried those feelings, and nobody was going to be able to crack me open to let them free. I wasn’t ready to have a man hold my hand; I hadn’t let go of the hand for which I still longed. But even worse, although I wished Emmett were there to hold me . . . I hated him at the same time. That was one toxic relationship I would have to overcome before I let anyone hold my hand ever again.

Feelings buried inside feel safe. When we are the ones suppressing them, we truly believe that no one can see them. Our fear of them being revealed keeps us from letting anyone in. The moment others’ love and concern for us causes us to believe that they are after our buried treasure . . . we want to run. 

There is no freedom from our pain when we are running from it. It doesn’t get left behind when it is hidden inside of us. 

So many of us have been hurt. We long to find peace, and yet we refuse to let go of our hurt. We bottle it up as if it were a prized possession. There is no good in storing our pain, there is no place for it to reside inside our heart. Its power is darkness, and its message is deceiving. Somehow, it causes us to believe that we need it to survive. It creates a bond inside us that causes us to feel that it must stay there. 

The darkness of the world has left many of us stuck. We have buried its secrets within us, and we are afraid to let them free. 

Abuse, neglect, and anger have allowed others to define who we are. We have all fallen victim to the cruel and evil secrets of our past, and the pain that has followed has settled in comfortably inside our hearts. 

But, we don’t have to keep it in! Just like a buried treasure in the sand, we can find the riches of digging it up and letting it free. If you have scars from your past holding you down . . . let them go. If someone in your past has wronged you . . . let them know. If you have a secret eating you alive . . . today is your day to set it free. 

You are not alone. Every one of us has something buried deep inside. A secret from our past . . . or a deception causing pain. Satan will try to get us to believe that its home is permanent; that its power to hold us back will never leave. 

I can testify that Christ knows the truth about our pain. He knows of the fears that eat us up inside. He has heard every prayer and seen every tear we cry. Even if those tears have been shed alone in our closets . . . He has counted every single one of them. 

When you are alone looking in the mirror, do you hate yourself? Do you purposefully draw attention away from yourself and onto others? Do you spend your days trying to point to everyone else so you can continue to hide?

Pretending my pain didn’t exist . . . didn’t take it away. It didn’t even hide it, because my screams about Kandi and Emmett’s imperfections did nothing more than display my own. What fears are you trying to conceal by putting others’ shortcomings on display?

I spent years making jokes about the people who had wronged me. Anytime I saw my raw emotions coming to the surface, I would cover their tracks with slams. Even in meetings with attorneys and detectives, it was easier to mock Emmett’s and Kandi’s mistakes . . . than to let them see the pain that had built a colony right in my heart.

Laughter isn’t always about what is funny. Sometimes we laugh because it helps us not to cry. Fear and pain can be suppressed for a long time . . . but they always find a subtle way out . . . or eventually explode through our screams. The pain I had buried deep inside of me raged its way out through hurtful words about the tragic events of my past, and mocking jokes about those who had wronged me.

The emotions that drive our actions are larger than they seem. They are powerful, they are blatant, and they are self-destructive. Spend less time putting others down, and more time letting out the real emotions you have buried deep inside of you.

Our bodies were not made to be storehouses for pain. Our bodies were built to be the receptacles of beauty and light. When we hold in our pain . . . it hurts. It doesn’t feel at home, because it was never meant to reside inside of us.

This mortal journey we are on is more than just a road full of painful bumps, it is a rollercoaster of excruciating exhaustion and fear. It is a river of whitewater rapids that can toss us back and forth. We were each sent to earth with a body. That body is a gift to serve as a vessel for our spirit as it navigates the bumps and feels the pains of mortality. Our end goal is not merely to see how much pain we can store inside and take back to heaven with us, but to see how much of the pain we can overcome . . . how many of the mountains we can cross without harboring the pain all the rocks create under our feet. We have to learn to let go if we want to return back to God. Those pains that are still a part of us when we die will not be left here with our mortal bodies. If we haven’t let them go, our spirits will hold onto them. That is why this earthly life is the time for us to learn to live and let go.

Each one of us has been given our own roadmap, but our final destination . . . our end goal. . . is the same for all of us. When we left the Spirit World, we knew that the things we would endure were to help us return to live with God. He sent His Son to die for us to make that possible, but he also commanded us to forgive all men . . . and not harbor the pain inside of us.

When life feels like it is trying to bury its darkness deep inside your soul, fight for the light of Christ to carry it away. When others are sent to hold your hand, let them do their part in helping you release your pain. When memories of the past cloud your ability to live today . . . pray for the power of God’s love to lighten your load. I know that Christ is the one being who has walked this earth, who has seen firsthand exactly how each day has felt for me.

When those around you are singing about the “Big Dreams” of the future, let it be a reminder that the sorrows in your heart can be transformed into peace. It is good to hold onto your dreams, even when the dream you are living feels dark. There are brighter days ahead. Don’t give up on the big dreams and the little memories about eggs . . . for when we stand at the gates of Heaven, searching for the acknowledgment of the one true God who gave us life . . . remember that we will be judged on the days we are living now. 

Heavenly Father doesn’t care if you are a bread maker or the owner of the entire bread company. What He longs to see for us, His children, is that our road of life was lived to its fullest. He longs to hear the stories of when we overcame the darkness that tried to bury itself in our smiles. God desires to see us sacrifice, and love, and work hard to fulfill the mission He sent us here to perform. 

Whatever mission He has sent us on . . . we cannot see its purpose when we are busy hiding from it. I have found that in the moments when I have let it all go, it is then that He has been able to speak to my heart. 

If your heart is clouded with the secrets and pain of the past, and you can no longer feel or hear Christ’s tender whispers, now is your time to unclog your connection. He isn’t the one preventing Himself from coming to heal us, we are the ones preventing Him from coming.

When you feel like you’ve buried yourself deep in the sorrow of your past . . . you are the only one who can allow that sorrow to be set free, but He can carry it away. He stands waiting for you to ask for help. Deep inside of you, under that pain, are all the answers you are seeking. Clear the view and you might see the perfection waiting for its voice to be heard. You are more than the pain others have left in your heart. What is buried even further down, deeper than the pain . . . is you. 

Good Things to Come


Anonymous said...

I'm so glad you posted tonight. You are so strong and your wisdom helps me be a little stronger too. Thank you. I am sure it is so hard being the" muscle" for us whimps, but we need it. So again, thank you.

RATCH said...

Thank you. I spend a lot off energy burying some pretty heavy pain most days. I too laugh and joke because I worry I will make people uncomfortable or wear them out with my pain.

This was beautiful... Thank you.

c a n d a c e said...

Such a beautiful & strong post. Thanks for sharing Ashlee!

Unknown said...

Thank you for you example and showing how Christ has made you strong. I admire you have turned to him to help you through your trails.

McKell + Garrett Hartle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
McKell + Garrett Hartle said...

Gorgeous girls like their mama! Love your blog. Stay strong.

Em said...

Written for me.....it feels

Wendy said...

Thank you for your post, and link to the video. I always look forward to reading your posts!

Chelsea said...

I LOVE this post so much. I think I say it every time but I am so proud of you and inspired to do better at so many things because of your words. You are beautiful from the inside out! xox

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this post. You brought tears to my eyes as i read this feeling very similar with burying feelings of pain. I have recently received a diagnosis that makes it almost impossible to have a child and am hurting deeply from it. But i try to put on a happy face every day hiding my real emotions from others...and myself. Your post has reminded me that I cannot hide those feelings from Him and He is with me no matter what. Again thank you for your post tonight and for all your posts. You are an amazing woman!

Anonymous said...

Beautiful post, thank you!

Anonymous said...

Thank you! This is exactly what so many women need to hear. As I read the comments from your last post, I was saddened by all the hurt I read from so many women. I'm not sure how the last post turned into a discussion about pornography addiction (?), but I will add my thoughts. I've been married to a sex/pornography/masturbation addict for 18 years. I didn't find out about his addiction until we had been married several months. Since then, I've gone through every emotion possible: hurt, pain, anger, sadness, bitterness, betrayal, etc. But through the atonement of our Savior and some professional therapy, I've changed my feelings to: unconditional LOVE. My personal worth has nothing to do with my husband's addictions. And guess what the result has been for my marriage? It is better than I ever thought possible. No longer am I his babysitter. I trust him. I forgive him. I believe in him. That doesn't mean we don't have filters on computers and that he never slips up. It means I love him. Period. No strings attached. And by feeling the love I have for him, my husband is better able to feel the Saviors love and gain confidence in his ability to eventually overcome his addiction.

I will add that through our years together we've dealt with an affair, his inactivity in the church, and his anger issues. And this is the part that may shock many people: I wouldn't trade any of those experiences. They've taught me more about my Savior's atonement and unconditional love for me than I ever could have learned otherwise. We are all given trials to become more like our Heavenly parents. Let yourselves be molded. Turn to Him. He will completely heal you. And when you are feeling healed, you can heal your marriage.

To all those women who are hurting and considering divorce: It CAN be better. Your marriage CAN be successful. Your husband CAN one day become the man our Father wants him to be. You CAN feel whole again.

My marriage has been a huge trial in my life, which is exactly the plan Heavenly Father had for me. He didn't plan for me to have a fairytale. He planned the life I've had. He knew my husband's struggles before I was married, and still wanted me to marry me - in fact, the addiction is part of the reason He wanted me to marry this person.

Please work to overcome your pain so you can be whole. Then you can help your husband become whole.

Ashlee, you are changing lives with your posts. Thank you for your dedication as you bring hope to others.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Ashlee. Even though our circumstances are different, you always speak straight to my heart and my present state. Thank you for being brave.

Pam said...

Thank I needed to hear that today, I realized how right you are about realizing whatever pain is deep down inside us we need to let it out. And let Christ's atonement in

Anonymous said...

Wow. I'm amazed at your strength. As I'm going through some similar situations, I feel so much peace reading your words. Thank you so much. You give me so much hope that
I do have enough strength to get through my/our trial. I have to believe I have enough strength.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing this today. Much appreciated!!

Lisa said...

Such a great post. I think it took me about 2 years to finally get past the unexpected break downs and tears after I learned of my husband's multiple affairs- his choice to leave the Church, and our family. I cried for my children more than anything. I would try and hide the emotions because I wanted to be the rock for my children. I wanted them to feel safe and secure. I didn't want them to be worried about me because they were already dealing with so much. I would cry when they couldn't see me- while driving in the car, at night after I tucked them into bed, and especially while in the shower. Shattered pieces of broken dreams. If any of you are trying to figure out how to pick up the pieces and how to turn it over to the Lord but don't really know how to go about it- I highly recommend a CD that was given to me by a therapist called "Healing Trauma" by Belleruth Naperstek. You can find it online. It is so healing and empowering. That CD helped me more than anything. I feel it is truly inspired. I always recommend it to everyone I talk to who is struggling through the pieces of broken dreams...it has blessed my life so much.

I loved your quote, "There is no freedom from our pain when we are running from it. It doesn’t get left behind when it is hidden inside of us." So true.

Palmers said...

I have been following your blog and you are such an inspiration. I love hearing your testimony! You amaze me with everything that you have been through. Keep strong, you have an adorable family!

leeann said...

This should not only be a blog but a book.... I would buy it. thank you for sharing your story and being willing to help others through their pain

Lisa said...

When I DID let my emotions show to my siblings and parents all I ever got was "Get over it. You're better off without him. Move on." I was lonely.

Katrina said...

This is beautiful. I'm not sure whether anyone else said this already, but I had something to add about the Savior-- He sees our tears, and I believe he shares them with us. He shares our pain and he sheds our tears.

Thank you so much for the courage it takes to share your pathway of healing. It is deeply meaningful and such a blessing to me!

Anonymous said...

I've never read a blog before. I was inspired to click on the link on FB. I have cried for you for me for all the hidden pain that we each carry. Thank you for your courage to be honest. You are helping me find my way back to Christ.

Unknown said...

As I read your blog and the many comments of those suffering I can't help but add my voice "THANK YOU!" Thank you for your testimony, for your sincerity, for your example, for sharing you talents! Thanks to all of you that have commented and shared. I too am going through a soul crushing, dream wrecking trial. My husband has betrayed me with lies and secrecy because of his desire to hide himself and his real pain. As I lie here alone with my 10 month old baby girl in the next room I am overwhelmed with loneliness and concern for what this all means for her life. What will life bring me. I'm afraid and lost but I don't know how to let the pain go. I think I may have to feel it for awhile knowing Christ is helping me carry the load. Trust... even though I'm so scared of what other pain may come. Then, as I read the blog and comments I'm reminded I'm not alone. I have my Father in Heaven. I have all of your testimonies and experiences, I have family and friends, I have a beautiful sweet baby girl, this blog helps remind me of the hope within and not dwell on the fear. Thank you all for helping fill my broken heart with more love and light.

Anonymous said...

GOD BLESS YOU Ashlee, you are an Angel on earth to all of us......

Anonymous said...

Thank you Ashlee! I appreciate so much your inspired willingness to share your amazing faith! God bless!

Anonymous said...

Thank you. You are absolutely right. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

HHM, I am hurting for you, and I pray that you may feel the love of your Heavenly Father. Many of us, who are reading these posts, are dealing or have dealt with the pain of deception and lies. May your burden seem lighter as time goes by.

Unknown said...

Thank you for your expression of love and concern and especially for the prayers for me and my baby. I know the Lord does have a plan and that He will bless and guide even through the hardest of times! I pray for you as well! He is with us!

Unknown said...

Ashlee, I have read a ton of things in my 65 years on this earth. However, u have a world of wisdom. I am touched by your words and your understanding of the reason we are here. April 10, 2014
Buried Deep, is filled with gems. Something stopped me and made me reflex and so agree with you.. " Our bodies were not made to be storehouses for pain. Our bodies were built to be the receptacles of beauty and light. When we hold in our pain . . . it hurts. It doesn’t feel at home, because it was never meant to reside inside of us.
This mortal journey we are on is more than just a road full of painful bumps, it is a rollercoaster of excruciating exhaustion and fear. It is a river of whitewater rapids that can toss us back and forth. We were each sent to earth with a body. That body is a gift to serve as a vessel for our spirit as it navigates the bumps and feels the pains of mortality. Our end goal is not merely to see how much pain we can store inside and take back to heaven with us, but to see how much of the pain we can overcome . . . how many of the mountains we can cross without harboring the pain all the rocks create under our feet. We have to learn to let go if we want to return back to God. Those pains that are still a part of us when we die will not be left here with our mortal bodies. If we haven’t let them go, our spirits will hold onto them. That is why this earthly life is the time for us to learn to live and let go".....wow..pretty powerful... I posted your blog on my Facebook.....thanks for your soul searching words.....u go girl.... <3 Veronica

Alina said...

Me too

Sarah said...


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