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  • Writer's pictureAshley Stevick

The Great Purge

It occurred to me a few days ago that my writing over the last year has been all about purging.

Purging, processing, digesting, moving it through. There’s been a lot to purge.

This last year especially, and also plural. Years in John Day steeped in challenge. And years before too.

I wrote and wrote and wrote. Some shared. Some kept to myself and my loves.

Now I feel light. Clear. Nothing more to purge. At least for now.

I feel complete. Empty in a good and nourishing way.

I feel complete in this space, this chapter.

And man oh man am I glad I didn’t leave that shit inside my body to rot and brew and ferment.

Nothing tucked under the rug. Nothing hidden and growing in power and pain due to lack of attending to.

Everything felt.

Staying with the discomfort — sitting with it — is different than drowning in it.

I got to know the difference.

Dipping a toe versus complete submersion.

I learned to rest. I decided that living a life of burnout and hustle are no longer for me.

I started feeling better. Coming back to life. Maybe for the first time.

A sense of vitality building gently in my body.

And now here. Clear. Eyes bright. Easy laughter.

Getting here though — it’s been wildly isolating.

No one’s come out and said it, but where I’ve been and what I’ve written — I get the sense it’s been too much for some.

(Of course it has.)

Certain friendships gone silent.

(Of course they have.)

While other existing and new friendships solidified. Aligned.

Born of fire. Through the fire. Together.

Unfortunate commonalities.

Healing. Growing. Learning to breathe again. Through the mess. Through the fire. Through the words.

I’ve loudly advocated for being with the hurts as well as the joys.

And I get that being with more than ‘good vibes only’ is too much for some.

Some don’t have time/room/energy for that.

I didn’t burrow away completely and reemerge healed and whole.

I shared it. I showed it. Showed the mess. The process. ‘Cause the purge required visibility.

No hiding in the shadows of shame.

When I show up completely it gives others permission to do the same. There are others who reciprocate, neutral others, and others who run.

And maybe this visibility brought up experiences of their own. Hurts and betrayals and feels tucked under their own proverbial rug.

(Of course it did.)

It could feel too vulnerable to read my words. To be near me.

It might be defense mechanisms doing their job. It might feel like death.

I get it.

The death of old ways is brutal. Seeing someone in that — also brutal.

Life. Threatening.

Me getting clearer, lighter, complete in this round of purging — it means the hurt I’ve felt — the grade school hurts re-lived, re-felt, re-membered — means I see this too.

Insight. In. Sight. Neutral sometimes. Often painful.

Not every friendship has to be deep, I’m told.



I’m not interested in putting time into friendships where I’m only welcome if I’m put together.

That’s a level of shame and proving I’m no longer available for.

I’m not here to be for everyone.

I’m here for connection with a curated few to many.

Connection and compassion.

Compassion and kindness to myself means I’m not here for everyone.

And so I share this too.

Because some will read this and feel the truth in their bones. And some will run.

The price paid for sharing insight in sight.

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