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Fifteen Years Sober


This past Friday was my fifteen year sobriety anniversary. It was a mellow day. I saw a few clients in the morning then took the afternoon to catch up on reading on the couch. In the past I’ve thrown parties or hung out with friends to celebrate. This year I felt the pull to stay quiet and spend time grounding at home.

Being sober this long is amazing and strange. Today I live in alignment with my true desires and I’m not identifying as an addict or alcoholic in the ways that I did for many years. Sobriety is how I choose to move through the world, how I stay present and keep my heart open. Being sober is no longer a badge of honor and does not carry the burden or the pride that it has in the past. I have entered a phase of right relationship with sobriety. This is a natural unfolding, stemming from a willingness to keep showing up.


I’ve shared pieces of my journey here, the most recent, a giant breakthrough that was deeply connected to my using days. What I am able to see now is that being raped was the culmination of everything I had been seeking and hiding from up until that point. Since I can remember I’ve had an ache in my heart and a hollowness in my chest where these mantras were on constant rotation:

I’m not worthy.

I’m unlovable.

I am not enough.

If I only had this partner/career/income/family/you name it, then I would be loved/enough/okay/worthy of existing.

Those empty places within are what drove me to drink until my brain shut off, smoke cocaine until I felt like I could be in the world, treat my body like a wasteland, all the while constantly seeking attention, love, and approval. The void of self-generating love drove me to the scariest experiences of my life and it has taken years for me to be able to put all of the pieces together, connect the dots, and peel back the layers to heal.

For over a decade I’ve carried shame from the rape and used it as food to fuel the belief that I am unworthy. Because I felt that way since I can remember, being raped was the ultimate proof that belief needed to keep growing and keep running the show. By processing the trauma through my body, I am breaking that lock and starving the belief of the food it needs to thrive. And this is a real miracle.

Owning my story of shame, the darkness I faced, and the ways it corroded the fabric of my confidence has, in a very tangible, way delivered me to the grace that has been present all along. My story is one of redemption, but it wasn’t a God outside myself that did the saving, it was the spirit within who couldn’t stand another minute of living in this shadow.

Taking responsibility for my story and committing to healing this wound has given me the energy to pour love into the void I thought would always be there. Those injured places in my body that have been leaking life force for ages have become fertile soil for joy and radiance to flourish. The mantras that once haunted every inch of my being have become softer, less invasive. And there are easily more moments of feeling like I am living on purpose, with my heart wide open, than moments of hiding out in fear that I just don’t belong anywhere.

Sobriety has been a long and twisty road that I am grateful for everyday. I’ve been able to live multiple lives in this body and am clearing some major karma for lineage. In my early days of A.A. I often heard the phrase, don’t quit before the miracle happens. Well I’ve never been a quitter and fifteen years later the miracle certainly happened.

And when spirit calls you answer.

You show up.

You stop bullshitting and you tell the big, scary truth.

And you start to heal in a way that shame told you was impossible.

And you find yourself screaming FUCK SHAME at the top of your lungs, on a dry hill looking over the city as two Hawks circle overhead.

And when they start screaming with you,
you’re finally home.


All my heart.



Photo by Lani Trock



    Wow,just in awe. Much ????, Much respect! As a recovering addict myself,going into my 3rd year clean, I find such inspiration in you.????

    • ashley

      Thank you so much Christina! Very grateful for your words this evening and that we are on this journey together. Lots of love to you in your 3rd year, that is huge!! xoa

  • Beautiful post, Ashley, and congratulations to you. It is a huge accomplishment and you can be very proud of yourself. I like that part, don’t give up until the magic happens! :-) Corina

    • ashley

      Hello my dear! Thank you for the continued love and support. Very blessed from your well wishes and love. Thinking of you! xoa

  • This was a beautiful gift for me to read today. I’m coming up on three years sober and I have felt a shift lately. From wanting to identify as a person in recovery to wanting to simply identify as a person, living my life, doing the deal and not numbing anymore. I really identify with this: “My story is one of redemption, but it wasn’t a God outside myself that did the saving, it was the spirit within who couldn’t stand another minute of living in this shadow.” So true and I’m glad to have found your writing today. Thank you.

  • karen cotdova

    God bless u!!!! Can’t wait until I accomplish the same!!!!!!

    • ashley

      Blessings to you dear Karen!!! Sending love to you on your journey! xoa

  • so good. ive also been raped and have overcome addictions, particularly with 12 step. thank you for sharing

    • ashley

      Thanks for being part of the conversation Karen. It’s wonderful to connect with you! xo

  • such a nice post

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