A rose is one of few flowers that grow in the midst of thorns. Ironically, its beauty is not diminished by its painful surroundings. In fact, those thorns provide a shield from harm and allow the rose to bloom and thrive in peace.
Today I want to introduce you to a young woman whose journey embodies the definition of her name; Ashley Rose. With her permission, and invaluable insight, I am sharing her story of struggles (thorns) and beauty.
Ashley’s childhood mirrored that of many; non-traditional. She was from a broken home, but a family whom she loved and has always been close. She grew up in the south, loving life and friends.
The year she turned 21, she was a single mom of a toddler and working at K&W cafeteria when a new employee would change her life, but take the long way around getting there.
Ashley met Daniel on his first day of work, out back on a break. There was an immediate attraction. They began dating, moved in together, and soon brought a beautiful baby girl into this world.
Ashley talks of her relationship with Daniel as always having a deep and true connection. They were friends first, who talked about everything and nothing at all. She envisioned him as her life partner. The problem with that vision, however, was that Daniel unfortunately already had a life partner; alcohol.
This announcement is not an indictment to his character. He grew up, as did she, in an environment where alcohol was part of life. Celebrations, losses, milestones, frustrations; most moments included some form of libations. For many, this does not create a problem, but for some, including Daniel, it did.
His downward spiral into drinking drove a wedge between them and Ashley knew she did not want to raise her daughters in an unhealthy home. So she packed up her girls and left. Daniel’s addiction was a fight she couldn’t win alone.
She explains it this way. "We remained close friends and co-parents. We kept each other at a distance because, looking back, somehow we always knew it just wasn't our time yet. Subconsciously, it is like we always knew one day it would be. We just had to be patient for serendipity to bring us together again."
Life moves fast when you are young. Ashley moved on. She raised her daughters, dated, and thought she was happy, but slowly Ashley starting losing bits and pieces of herself.
True love and commitment always hovered just out of reach.
The end of a two-year relationship in 2018 was especially devastating for her. He had embraced her children and they loved him too. There was talk of marriage. Then, out of the blue one day, he was gone. Just like that. No explanation. No recourse. Just out of their lives immediately.
Her world was shaken. And not just hers. Her children were hurt and confused. Watching them deal with the disappointment and look to her for answers she didn’t have, drove her into depression.
She shares her thoughts. "I thought, I'm never going to be able to give my girls the family they deserve. After being abandoned like that, after thinking we were happy, I questioned everything. Even if you do find love, how will you ever know it is real?"
Her escape came, as it did with Daniel, in the bottle. Ashley never completely lost touch with her life over alcohol. She still held a job and raised her kids, but her troubles and worries were pushed down with ever-increasing amounts of liquid pain elixir. Until it wasn't.
Ashley tells of the moment the tide turned for her. She had gone to the liquor store and before going in, sat in the car. It dawned on her that usually she was buying to go out and be with friends but this time she knew she was buying it to take home and drink alone.
She sat in her car, not wanting to go in, not wanting to be THAT person, but knowing that she was.
Then she made another decision.
She decided she wanted better. For herself. For her daughters. They became her driving force. She re-focused her energies.
She started to work out. Eat better. She put down the bottle. It didn't happen overnight, but slowly she started to feel better; inside and out. She listened to motivational coaches on
YouTube while she worked out.
Here are her own words. "I stopped feeling sorry for myself and decided not to give up on the amazing life I had yet to live. I began following my passions like cooking and writing. I started exploring the world around me again."
Every day her goal was to turn pain into power and she believed everything was going to be ok. No, better than ok. Everything was going to be good! She never lost faith, not in herself and not in God. She prayed and knew He would show up, and He did.
Here are her thoughts on her girls. "I thought it was important for my daughters to not only see me recover but thrive after seeing me so broken. One day, if they find themselves breaking, hopefully, they can pull from that as inspiration to carry them through."
And then one little careless event turned the tide. She locked her keys in her car.
She reached out to Daniel for help that day. He showed up. Daniel had been sober for years now. He had gotten his life back on track and was doing well. After he helped her with the car, he invited her to go with him and their daughter to a concert. She agreed to go, but thought, at first, she was doing it for their daughter. But life had other plans.
That simple evening started the renewal process for Ashley and Daniel. They had much to discuss and fears to overcome, but together they decided to give it one more try.
Ashley credits that as being one of her best decisions. She is extremely happy, and so are her children.
As many relationship experts discourage going back to an ex, I asked her about second chances and her thoughts on starting over.
She said a relationship was founded in respect and it was the job of each person to bring out the best in their partner. To inspire and encourage them. She spoke of the importance of acknowledging their feelings even if you don't agree with them.
She said, for them, their love evolved over time. It never went away. Their connection remained strong, even when they were apart. She said that some people truly deserve a second chance.
Both Ashley and Daniel live sober lives. It is not a burden or a sacrifice for them. They are happy, vibrant, active parents and their home is full of fun and love.
These are her words. "Our love carried on and took so many forms over all those years apart, but it was never lost. That was our strong foundation when getting back together because our love survived and surpassed all tests and everything life threw at us. Our love was relentless and like anything classic; always stood the test of time."
Ashley is also pursuing her love of baking. She has always loved cooking and has recently started a sweet treat business called Silky Sweet Boutique where she is currently taking orders for cakes, cupcakes, candy dipped fruit and other delightful treats, including bacon roses!
"These days Daniel and I enjoy our beautiful home. We love kayaking, camping growing our garden and family game nights. We love being a team in every sense of the word."
Ashley's story, for me, IS one of hope. The struggles, the pain, the turning point, and the restoration. Regardless of our age or circumstances, we can be encouraged by her tenacity and motivation.
Abraham Lincoln once said, "We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses."
Ashley Rose used the thorns in her life to shield and guide her to a place where she could truly bloom.
That is a A Hopeful Life!
And that is how you....
Hope With Abandon!