I dedicate this book to my niece, Destiny, who inspired me to take astand for the truth and to be a better example for her
Acknowledgments Introduction 11 The Death of the Fairytale Pg 22 Identity Crisis: Who Am I? Pg 143 Pebbles to Boulders: What Do You See? Pg 284 Alone But Not Alone Pg 435 The Power of Education Pg 706 Who Is This Woman? Pg 937 Forward Thinking Pg 1048 Resources Pg 108
I want to thank God for giving me the strength, wisdom, and peace to bewho He created me to be. I am nothing without Him.I want to acknowledge the two people that brought me into this world – myparents because they have never given up on me. Thanks, Mom and Dad! Iwant to acknowledge my brothers, Antoine and TJ, for being a great sourceof support. In addition, I thank my extended family for their prayers andencouragement.I want to thank my therapist, Monica Hayden, and my friends who havecontinued to support me on my journey. I want to acknowledge the great team of people who have helped me put thisstory to words. I sincerely appreciate all of you!
I never thought I would be “that” girl. “That” girl who had goals and dreams but became entangled in the fight of herlife. “That” girl has now started her journey with God of recovering what was once lost – her joy, her passion, her self- esteem, and her desire to make the world a better place. “That” girl is me. I believe that everyone has a God-given calling on his or her life. Thus, everyone has aresponsibility to discover and fulfill the call in order to help someone else. I am on a journey todiscover who I am, so that I can fulfill Gods plan for my life. I am learning that in order to reach theworld, I must first reach me and discover my identity. I have mastered the art of faking it for far toolong. It is time to step into my truth. I invite you along this journey with me in the discovery of truth. You may find yourselfdiscovering more of your truth in the process. Understand that this journey, not the destination, is a celebration. Yes, I have cried andexperienced the rage and anger, but this is a joyous occasion because the "toxic merry-go-round" canstop, if you want to end it. Did you know you have that kind of power? Here is my disclaimer for this book. This book will challenge you to look within and deal withthe parts of you that are broken so that you can start living! Yes, hard work is involved but successdepends on your willingness to do the necessary work. I am right here with you to encourage youand give you that push towards authenticity and purpose. I made one of the most difficult decisions of my life so far to stop the flow of toxicity into mylife. You don’t have to participate in this cycle year after year after year. The cycle ends the momentyou recognize that you have the power! Stand up and walk in your purpose!To life, happiness, and truth,Ashley
When we walk in our truth, we are aligned with our purpose and destiny. We are able to influence thelives of others and make a true difference in the world. Yet, we can’t reach the world while broken in body,spirit, and mind but from a place of wholeness. In wholeness, we can make things happen. *** Yet, I choose to see myself as a young woman worthy of love, respect, and the best that life hasto offer. For that reason, I don’t refer to myself as a victim of my past. I am not the same womanwho started out at the beginning of this portion of my journey. My perspective on life and entireworld has changed. Of course, I am still dealing with the aftermath of the relationship and the deathof my fairytale, but I choose to focus more on what lies before me. I will no longer allow fear to runmy life. I will share my story with boldness. I can now keep my promise to be a great example for myniece, Destiny. Along this journey called life, I am celebrating my freedom to embrace the truth as I pursuesuccess in every area of my life. I am celebrating the milestones that I have achieved to be where Iam today in my personal and professional life. I have no interest in returning to the “old” me becauseI am too busy rediscovering myself to face the life events ahead of me. *** Life Lessons Life certainly has a way of teaching us about others as well as ourselves. I had expected to figureout finally why my former husband would say and do certain things, but I learned more about myselfin the end. Through the rediscovery process, I am learning that my journey is not all about me. Iwant to help encourage someone else along the way. I want to share with you a few of the many lifelessons that I have learned so far in this journey. “The sun will rise and set again.” I smile when I think about this phrase that I would tellmyself through the time when I had to make difficult decisions to leave the past behind. Even now,when I have moments when I feel down, I tell myself that life continues. The sun doesn’t stop itsfunctions because we have to deal with issues. Likewise, we shouldn’t stop moving forward becauseof challenges on our journey. I encourage you not to allow any circumstance or people to hinder youfrom moving forward with your purpose. “Take nothing for granted.” Even before I entered into this stormy season of my life, I hadalways considered myself appreciative of the people and blessings in my life. However, now that I amon the other side of the difficult situation, my gratitude has reached another level. First, I have agreater appreciation for God and His hand on my life. Prior to attending college, I knew somecharacteristics of God, but I didn’t know that He was a friend, heart specialist, and mind regulator,and more until I needed His direction in getting off that toxic merry-go-round. Next, I have so muchgratitude that I am here today. Yes, I could sit around and be angry because of my situation, but Iwould rather spend more time being thankful for my life and fulfilling my purpose. Thirdly, I amthankful for the little things like peace or being able to come to my home and sit in the silence. Idon’t have to deal with anymore anxiety attacks because I don’t know what insults will be hurled atme when I come home. I am at peace and all is well. Next, I am so grateful to have had theopportunity to further my education. I don’t take it for granted that I was able to successfully attendand graduate from undergraduate and graduate school. Those goals are no easy challenge, but I amgrateful that I accomplished them. Lastly, but definitely not least, I am grateful and thankful for thepeople in my life. My family, therapist, and friends kept me uplifted and encouraged. They didn’tspread the details of my situation all over town or judge me. At the times when I wanted to give up,
these people called me, sent text messages and emails, prayed for me, and gave me guidance. I amforever grateful for each of the