Turning Mess Into a Message and Helping People Free Their Ghosts with Ashley Kesner

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This is a podcast episode titled, Turning Mess Into a Message and Helping People Free Their Ghosts with Ashley Kesner. The summary for this episode is: Sharing your journey and your story can be a powerful tool. It can make recovery easier and it can also help others heal and grow. Reflection and connection are so important to our growth and healing as human beings. We must be vulnerable and know ourselves through reflection to authentically connect with others. In this week’s episode, we talk to Ashley Kesner about her journey with alcoholism and how she recovered. She talks about her depression, her battle with alcohol, and her recovery. Ashley discusses why she turned to write during her sobriety, and how her blog, “Ghost in My Bedroom got started.” In her conversation with Rebecca, she emphasizes the importance of recognizing that you are enough, and not focusing on being perfect. She talks about why she helps other people free their own ghosts and work through their addiction and recovery. She even explains why it is so important to be yourself and not be afraid of criticism because we are all unique, beautiful, and individual people. Listen in to learn more about how to make your mess a message, free your ghosts, and share your journey along the way.
Introduction to Ashley Kesner
00:57 MIN
Ashley's journey with depression and alcohol and her story
01:45 MIN
How Ashley hid her problems and how she reached the bottom and then got help
03:47 MIN
Why Ashley went back to alcohol and how her recovery led her to starting a blog
03:09 MIN
How people lifted up and supported Ashley through her blog
01:32 MIN
Rebecca's timeout: The launch of a badass masterclass
01:03 MIN
Helping other people change their lives and free their ghosts
02:54 MIN
Why it is so important to be yourself and not be afraid of criticism
01:15 MIN
Recognizing that you are enough even if you aren't perfect
02:39 MIN
How alcohol affects your physical and mental health and how it changes your life
03:39 MIN
Dealing with criticism and finding your happy place
03:48 MIN

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: (singing) Hello, this is Rebecca Fleetwood Hession, host of the Badass Women's Council podcast. We're here for reflection and connection for the badass, high- achieving woman like you. Thanks for being here, and since you're here, you might as well just hit the subscribe button. I mean, don't be silly, you don't want to miss a minute of any of the episodes coming up.( singing) Yeah. I can't wait for you to hear this interview. Oh my goodness. One of my favorite things about having this podcast is having a reason just to randomly reach out to people who interest me in something they've posted or something I've read about them to say," Hey, do you want to be on the podcast?" That's what happened with Ashley Kesner and I. I saw a post that had gone viral on LinkedIn that she had written and I messaged her, and said," Do you want to be on my podcast? She said," Yes," and that's just a beautiful thing. Ashley's story is the definition of badass, not just because it's a story of overcoming and a story of victory and hope, but it is the absolute representation of reflection and connection. The more we know ourselves in reflection, and then courageously reach out with that authenticity and vulnerability that comes from searching within to connect with others, to me, that's the most badass thing that you can do. As you hear Ashley tell the story, you'll know what I'm talking about. Here we go. Hey Ashley, how's it going?

Ashley Kesner: Good. Thank you for having me.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Thanks for being on. I found you on LinkedIn-

Ashley Kesner: Yes.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: ...and what I already love about you is, I sent you a quick message and said," I'd love to have you on the show," and you were like," Let's do it."

Ashley Kesner: Yeah, I'm trying to never say no. Really trying to get out of my comfort zone. One of the things that I struggle with sometimes is doing things like this, getting in front of people and communicating. What I've learned is that I really like to expand out of that and break those comfort zones. That's how you learn. That's how you grow.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Absolutely, I love that. My girlfriend and I did a summer of yes, one year that turned into a full year because we were having so much fun. That's exactly it, it's how you meet people and learn and grow. So I love that you were like," Yeah, let's do it. What attracted me to you is, I don't even know who had commented on a post or how I found you, is you were talking about your recovery from addiction and just being really vulnerable and really out there about it on a career website, which I was so excited to see. Then when I saw the name of your blog is GHOST IN MY BEDROOM, and it's all about really just taking your story and putting it out into the world. There's nothing more in alignment with this show than that, so thank you for being here to share your story.

Ashley Kesner: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: And so, just tell our listeners a little bit about this journey. I mean, we have 30 minutes and I know your-

Ashley Kesner: Sure.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: ...story could go on for hours. We could do a TV movie out of your story.

Ashley Kesner: Yeah. Yeah. Inaudible to contact me.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: I was going to say, let's put that out there and just say," Okay God, we'll be looking for a producer to pick this thing up." But tell us a little bit about your story.

Ashley Kesner: Sure. I'll shorten this up the best I can. Basically when I was 16 years old, I was struggling with bulimia pretty severely. Body image issues, insecurity self- worth, and my parents had taken me to a psychiatrist and it was here that I was diagnosed with major depressive disorder. Dealing with that, you don't know really what to expect at the age of 16. It's still really young to process something like that mentally. But I went into college, I was fine. I was treated, and then I started to feel better and I weaned myself off of the medication, which right now looking back it's like, big mistake. Ashley, big mistake.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Red alert, red alert, you know that now.

Ashley Kesner: Yeah, don't make serotonin. Get that through your head. But so I weaned myself off and I had gone into college, the party scene, and that's when I met booze. Alcohol, like a lot of different people, gives you that full confidence. It gives you that self- worth. It breaks you out of your shell to make you feel like you can be someone else. That's what it did for me. For me, it's different. My brain is wired differently and I used it to cope and self- medicate, which led to over 15 years of drinking. It got me-

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Okay. That really stood out to me as well, is that for 15 years, and you had jobs and a baby. You were sort of living life. If you dig into your blog you realize that behind the scenes that's not really what was happening, but-

Ashley Kesner: Oh yeah. Nobody really I think had any idea of what was really happening and how I was feeling and how I was using it and the intention behind it. I kept that very much a secret. I kept it very much a secret how much I was drinking when I wasn't in front of people. Although drinking where I'm from, small town and I think just in the world in general, is really accepted to go out on the weekends and overindulge. So it really didn't look like there was an issue, but I was doing it behind the scenes at home by myself to sleep, to just get out of my own mind and escape. That's where the harm started to happen. Eventually with me, I would cross over into a line where I would get severely depressed as... Alcohol is a depressant, on top of crosstalk and severely depressed and eventually even started to use self- harm as an even bigger release and for a while using cutting as a way to treat that anxiety. But this all piled up when last year my daughter's father was deployed in Poland for the year, for the National Guard, and my world kind of fell apart. We're not together, but we share custody and that help to have those breaks was immense meant for me. But at that point, I became a full- time mom I was in school again, trying to finish my degree because I had went back and forth and gone in and out. I was in school again, I was working full time, and I was an alcoholic full- time. I really don't know how I did it to be quite honest, but my life had just become this robotic movements. It felt empty. It felt like I was just going through the motions of life and living without purpose. Eventually, all of that caught up to me so much and I couldn't take... I think I was self- aware enough to realize I have a problem right now, but I just am too ashamed to admit it. To escape that feeling, that's when I made my plan and attempted to take my life. It's hard to put into words what that feels like when you've reached that bottom, but luckily, it was unsuccessful and it's why I'm here today. But when I went inpatient after that into behavioral health hospitalization, I discovered AA and The Big Book, read a few of the stories and I was like," Damn it, this is where I have to fully admit I have a problem." And so, I got out and I was ready. I was ready to commit to it. I was ready to make that choice, but falling back into the same environment, into my little apartment where I spent all those anxious moments, it was too much and it was overwhelming. And I went back into it. I would try and then I would fall back. I would try and I'd fall back. Eventually, this took me into the biggest depressive episode of my life. I basically gave up and I spent, I think the longest, it was two weeks in bed, not eating or bathing. Just laying there, sleeping off and on. I was a shell.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: [ inaudible 00:09:44].

Ashley Kesner: That's where I refer to a ghost of myself and I didn't know what to do because at that point, my daughter's father had taken her then fully. Rightfully so, he didn't trust that I was able to take care of her because I couldn't take care of myself. That left me even more empty because she's my light, you know?

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Mm-hmm(affirmative).

Ashley Kesner: And she was my reason for living to begin with. Something at that point, higher than me that it's still really, really difficult for me to put it into words said," You have a choice here. You can try again, one final time." I apologize for that.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: It's okay. [crosstalk 00:10:31].

Ashley Kesner: You can try again one final time and take your life or you can start over. I knew I had a lot to say and I was ready to say it and I think just that little bit of hope and that extra, more than me, up there, that energy source more than me up there, shoved me on a bed. That's when I started writing, and that's when I wrote the Breakup letter, which is to alcohol and which is my first blog post. I say blog, but it's not an advice piece, it's not anything like that. It's my personal diary. I just pull the curtains for the world to read, basically. And I did that because I didn't want anybody else to feel the way that I did, but I posted it to my personal Facebook page and basically admitted to my world that everything I was dealing with and that I was basically a sham of Ashley and admitted that I was an alcoholic. That was the most anxious moment of my life sitting there [crosstalk 00:11: 36 ]-

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: I'm sure, yeah.

Ashley Kesner: ...but it was the way to keep me accountable. Because I figured, my small town, if they knew that I was struggling, then I couldn't go out to that bar and drink, because someone's going to call me out. That was my mindset, as I thought that I was going to be criticized and judged. I was not, I was filled with so much love that it just kicked my ass into overdrive and I started. There's another part to this though. I chose all of this, I chose to get sober on the brink of a global pandemic. I don't know who thought that was a good idea.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Well, that higher power that you were talking about. I call it God, but... Yes, he had a-

Ashley Kesner: Yeah. Call him the big man. Yeah, so the big man. The big man though was like," Here's your silver lining, Ashley. I'm going to force you to sit in all those uncomfortable feelings and dissect your life." And so, that's what I did.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Wow.

Ashley Kesner: Two months into the pandemic, it was really a struggle for me to be isolated here in quarantine, but I had ended up hiccuping, which I call a relapse. I hiccuped in April and I made that vow to myself to blog through the whole thing. So I did, and expecting to get criticism again. I was not, I was lifted up with a lot of love. I started the next day and I've been sober ever since. 258 days today-

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: [inaudible 00:00:13:04].

Ashley Kesner: ...and it's been life- changing to me. The more I openly share, the more I realize the peace that I was missing in my recovery. It's the human part of it and the reaching out. Almost, I feel recovery help right now and mental health is almost condescending in a way sometimes. I take a different approach. I say," I'm cynical, not clinical." I'm very sarcastic by nature so I've set out to basically create the space that I always wanted, and that was one with love, hope, and the occasional self- deprecating joke, because I think they're hilarious.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: That's exactly what drew me to you, is that humor and that style and that sarcasm. That's my language, girl. As I read your blog, I just connected with it in such a beautiful way, because you spoke of how connection helped to heal you.

Ashley Kesner: Absolutely.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: The tagline for my company is to band, burn out, build community while you boost your business. The building community part, I think is so under utilized. We've gotten so busy and so independent, and so striving for success that we've lost our ability to just connect as humans. To me, that's the most soul- filling act there is.

Ashley Kesner: Absolutely.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Okay. Quick timeout from my interview with Ashley, because this topic of building community is relevant to something that I'm launching. I made a commitment to be bolder in 2021, so I'm not afraid to pause this interview to tell you about something that I think is. I am launching a badass masterclass, so if you are a high- achieving woman, who's leading a team, leading a company, or want to increase your sales dramatically, the chances are you're the kind of woman who has been heads down working for so long that now you know you need a community around you to inspire you, hold you accountable and kick it up a notch. That's what I'm going to launch for you. That's what we're building. So if you want more information, hit me up, rebecca @ wethrive. live and just say," Tell me about the masterclass." Or, you can dip your toe in the water and join the online community, badasswomenscouncil. community, and you'll see some information about it there. Okay, back to this interview with Ashley. Isn't she amazing?

Ashley Kesner: Oh, I completely agree. Through all of this too, I just really was able to be me and, not only discover my true love and support in my environment, but also broaden my horizons and get more stories. It educated me and it opened my world. I always thought that I was going to be in finance and baking. I was an investment trader for God's sake for years selling stocks and mutual funds. Now I'm this giant mental health nerd. It's my purpose. Now I finally realize that the reason I was meant to go through everything. The reason I meant to be here was to turn that mess into a message. That's what I continue to do and help others free their ghost.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: I just want to stand up and slow- clap when I hear you say that, because the message that I send to my clients and to my listeners is that your story matters. No matter what that story is, whether it's addiction, it could be anything that you've learned or you're good at, or you've overcome. We're supposed to share our stories. That's how God put us together, was to say," You know what? We need each other. Nobody's perfect, and when you can vulnerably and authentically just be yourself, there are people that need you." And you are answering that kind of tap on the shoulder that says," Hey, get up. I got more for you." And you did and I love that.

Ashley Kesner: Yeah. It just keeps building now. I'm just so excited to see where it all takes me. I am actually now certified in this stuff. It's possible. I'm a certified peer support specialist to help others, and I had myself working in the industry and really loved it. But there were aspects to it that when you're working in there, when it's an insurance reimbursed type of program-

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: [inaudible 00: 17: 57 ].

Ashley Kesner: ...sometimes you get people that aren't ready to change. And I realized that my voice is better served to people in that contemplation mode. Like," Am I drinking too much? Is this glass of wine too much?" So I've broken off now and I'll be offering myself as a recovery coach next year. That's what I'm building. I'm developing my whole program, basically around my story. The program, I will have everybody write their own breakup letter to send to me and be that vulnerable person. There's an immense amount of power behind it. But in order to tap into that power, you got to get out of your damn comfort zone.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Oh, absolutely. Anything that you want to do, it doesn't happen in your comfort zone. You got to get out there where it's really uncertain and uncomfortable.

Ashley Kesner: Society in general has just made that so absolutely difficult because we sit in fear of criticism. So the other part of this is I really try to advocate for how crucial communication is, against unsolicited advice. Take out you need and you should out of your complete vocabulary.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Preach, girl. Yes.

Ashley Kesner: Yeah. The toxic positivity is something that irks me again, telling people to stay positive. That is so invalidating and it makes you feel like... If you're on the other end, it makes you feel ashamed to how you feel currently in that moment. So I really just try to educate people on what was lacking for me to hopefully, make a difference moving forward. I use the humor because it grabs attention. That's just me, that's my personal [inaudible 00:19:44]-

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: It's part of that human connection where, use your sarcasm and your humor to attract the people that need you. Right?

Ashley Kesner: Yeah.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: There are a lot of people probably in the world that do that kind of work, but the people that need you will resonate with you. That's why it's so important that we are ourselves because we're not for everybody, but there are people that need what we have.

Yes. Yeah. That's a beautiful point that you just made. It's an important part all around for your balance and your mental health is to realize that you are not for everyone and we are not perfect. That is something that's truly been something that I had to work really difficult on because I was talking to you about it before. I'm kind of a perfectionist mindset. Like I said with the eating disorder and stuff too from so early, some of those kind of things come into play. There's a lot of pressure on me for other things. My parents being successful, that pressure on my shoulders too. I mean, there's so many different things that come into play. But to get out of that perfectionist mindset and go," I am enough. As I am right now, as long as I am doing my best, then that's awesome." That's what I've really tried to push too, is, "You're enough. You're good." If you want to send me a miserable cuss today, you do it."

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: And do it the best you've ever done it for that moment.

Ashley Kesner: Yeah, [ crosstalk 00:21:17]. Absolutely.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Absolutely, and that's something I too am hoping to spearhead, is to break us out of that achievement- based culture and setting just unrealistic expectations on humanity about achievement and success. I think that's why our kids, I have a 19 and a 22- year- old. I look at their peers and listened to their stories. I think we've done our kids a disservice in setting expectations about achievement at such a young age. It was unintended. Most of the time it was a loving, like wanting them to have the best or do the best but the consequences of it are just rampant. So I love that you speak of that as well. I always talk about the difference between marbles and puzzles when I talk about achievement and perfection. If you have a handful of perfectly shiny, round marbles, and you were to lay those on the table in front of you, they all roll away. Perfection doesn't stick together very well. But if you have a handful of puzzles, with their jaggedy- ass edges and the dust from the bottom of the box, and you throw those on the table in front of you and you just intentionally say," Where's the beautiful side and how does this fit together," that's more of a reflection of what humanity's meant to be. Is, our ins and our outs are meant to come together and figure out how we can support each other. So I think what you are doing is a beautiful example of the way humanity is supposed to be.

Ashley Kesner: Oh my gosh, thank you so much. Yeah. Honestly, I have a lot of fun with it. It really is just such a beautiful thing to find your purpose and to find that love for life. It was years that I dreaded getting out of bed in the morning to go to work. Years that I dreaded to do things and take part in things unless it involved alcohol. I've just really gotten so excited to jump out of bed, the same bed that I spent those weeks in. That's what humbles me back to that beginning every morning and starts my day out graciously, is getting out of that same bed. It really is just a beautiful thing and I just can't wait to see where it all takes me.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Me too. A couple of things before we go. This is your career now, so as the listeners are thinking," Gosh, I don't know. Maybe I did drink way too much during COVID. Maybe this is a problem," what are some of the things that you would share with listeners to even just kind of test out the theory of whether they needed a coach like you or not?

Ashley Kesner: It's really difficult for me to answer that because it is a case- by- case basis. Usually, and right now, I'm kind of just doing it all for free so come at me.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Girl, we need to talk. This is a business.

Ashley Kesner: Yeah. In March, everything is launching.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Okay.

Ashley Kesner: It takes a long time to do this because I'm actually developing it all myself. I come from very little and I don't have a lot of capital to put into it, so I am working on everything myself and like that. But when people come to me, usually I just share my story with them and they share theirs, and I'll ask them questions. It's really kind of a motivational interview." Where's your struggle? Where's your frustration? Why do you think that you're having a difficult time with the drinking? If it comes down to the fact that you're hiding it, yeah, that might be an inclination." I'm very upfront, I'm very bold, but I am respectful. I attack it and I approach it differently than a therapist or a doctor. That's the beauty of what I can do, is that I can relate on so many different levels. People hone in on my sobriety, but my story is much larger than that, and GHOST IN MY BEDROOM goes into it. But I'm also a rape victim. I have a mental illness with depression. I struggle with anxiety, although that has drastically diminished since giving up the booze. But so many different aspects of my life that contribute in.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Well, isn't that the interesting part? That's something that I studied as well for a while, is the impact of alcohol on your ability to deal with anxiety. So you drink thinking it calms you down and gives you less anxiety, but then when it comes back, it escalates it. When I was just starting my business and everything felt like anxiety, just trying to figure out what I was doing, I would even notice if I'd had two glasses of wine, the next day, the thoughts in my head were much darker and much reserved and I was afraid to do things and I thought," Well, if I'm going to do bold business decisions, this is not helping." I started Googling and studying like," Is this..." I felt it, and then I started Googling it and I was like," Oh my gosh, this is triggering all the opposite things that I want for me and my business." It was a big realization that I had. It was good.

Ashley Kesner: Yeah. It affects your sleep, just your consciousness, your ability to be present, be mindful, your listening skills. I realized that was what's off for me. And so, it's really just... It's dramatically changed my life, and I think where people get worried or scared about it is worrying what other people think. But as the recovery movement and as the sober movement gets bigger, because there's this huge push for physical fitness, and a part of that is giving up the calories, the booze, it's getting larger and there is a huge community out there. I deviate. I don't use a program personally. I use the Keep Kicking Ass Ashley program-

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: I love it.

Ashley Kesner: ...but I was in AA and I didn't really like it. For me, I had spent 15 years hiding my pain. I didn't want to write the next story and write the next chapter of my life hiding it too. That's another reason why I chose to come forward. There are just so many different resources too, I've kind of become this walking book of resources.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Yeah. The things you learn when you're going through your own stuff. Right?

Ashley Kesner: Yeah. I mean, just different things. One of the things that I stumbled across that I like, excuse me, is non- alcoholic beverages. People will have their views about this, and that's fine. It works for me. What works for me, doesn't work for the next person, but there's these awesome women coming out with wines that are non- alcoholic that tastes just like wine. Sutter Home makes an awesome one called Fre that I enjoy sometimes. That's just one of those things that recovery doesn't have any roles, you get to make your own. So it's awesome.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: I have seen so many mocktail- cocktail things, especially throughout the holidays and I think COVID is really bringing to bear the drinking challenges that people found themselves in. I love that. I have a friend, Allie, who's been posting that she stocked a whole bar cart full of all of these mocktail things that she was making. Every so often, she posts pictures and they're gorgeous. She's loving life and she's training for a half marathon and getting healthy. I think it's great.

Ashley Kesner: It is. You really just start to fully develop who you are because you're forced to sit with who you are.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: And you're numbing it out. Right?

Ashley Kesner: No. No. Yeah.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: There.

Ashley Kesner: No. Everyone's like," Who are you?" Because 258 days sober day," Who are you to give advice?" And I say," Well listen, I'm not giving advice. I'm just sharing my perspective and my story. I'm not sitting over here getting..." You should.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Telling you," You should or you must." Yeah.

Ashley Kesner: Yeah. I like to figure out what works best for you and move forward and help connect you to the resources and stuff that you need, and help connect you to professionals and stuff like that. Tele- health was a lifesaver to me. It's something that I used and I advocate for that all the time. But yeah, it's just all changing. It's all transitioning, and as mental health becomes more prevalent in the news and with these celebrities that are now all coming out... I mean, Anthony Hopkins just celebrated 45 years of sobriety yesterday. I was so excited. I was like," If A Hop is doing this, I'm on board for life."

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Oh my Gosh, that's amazing. Yeah.

Ashley Kesner: Yeah. So the more they do that, the more it shows and that we're all a part of this fight. LinkedIn actually, I made that innocent post about me finally graduating. I finally graduated with my bachelor's degree after working on it for 13 years. I graduated three weeks ago and it was such a personal achievement for me, and I made this just innocent post and it was picked up and the female influencer on LinkedIn featured it and my stuff just went wild.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Oh, I love that. I love that so, so much.

Ashley Kesner: Yeah. It was kind of serendipitous and just really amazing, but it opened the door to get my voice heard. As I continue to write, I keep my focus and keep my authentic voice and people seem to like me being an asshole.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: I love your blog. Speaking of assholes, one of the last posts that you had where you had a hater on there that was...

Ashley Kesner: Oh yeah, [inaudible 00:31: 23 ].

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: "Who are you to blah, blah, blah." Your response was so just honoring. Basically just said," Look, everybody has a right to your opinions, but here's why I'm okay with where I'm at." I love that approach of... You didn't feel the need to go at him with the same amount of ignorance and hatred that he started out with. I love that style.

Ashley Kesner: This is really funny because everyone that's read that goes," He." I had no idea who did this. It was part of a survey for me in my market research to build my company and stuff that I'm doing now, my coaching. And so, when everybody reads us, they go," He." And I'm like," I don't know if it was a he or she." It's funny how our minds make that assumption.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Yeah, that's fascinating. I made the assumption, I think, based on...

Ashley Kesner: Yeah, I know.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: But the name wasn't even on there. That's right.

Ashley Kesner: No, the name wasn't on there. I think it might be the language or that they reference the mail but... I don't know. I think that's so funny and that's unique in itself and something that's interesting to me. But yeah, so I get that sometimes when I put out that I'm going to be a recovery coach. You know what that just screams to me? I always say finding my content place and finding my happy place, it involves self- love. I do love myself and I'm confident in myself, and criticism to me is really just a reflection of the other person's insecurities. How someone behaves, how they talk, how they act, it's all a reflection of our self- love. If you're out there digging at people for what they want to do and what they're passionate about, to me that signifies something that is much larger going on with you and yourself, not them. It says more about you than it does me. And as I continue to keep that, it's important for me to have that mindset. Because the more I go into the spotlight, I'm sure the more I'll be criticized. But whatever, haters are going to hate until they ask if you're hiring.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Exactly. That's the right stance. I launched training modules for parents of kids with attention deficit disorder years ago. My son was struggling. As I got that community built up, I experienced the same thing. There were people that just wanted to be haters about stuff. You do start to realize that hurt people, hurt others. And so-

Ashley Kesner: [crosstalk 00:33:53].

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: ...I had this ability to just have what I call empathy for assholes. [ crosstalk 00:33:59]. Because I can look at them-

Ashley Kesner: Yeah, [crosstalk 00:34:01].

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: ...and say," I know you're hurting, or you wouldn't have said that."

Ashley Kesner: Yeah. Right. That's where my compassion kicks in and then I go," I was there." Because I did it. I was hurting and I was also hurting others. I mean, I always say this, my baby daddy, I made him miserable for so long. I would drink and just try to pick him apart, and I think I did that because I was just so unhappy with myself-

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: [inaudible 00:34:25].

Ashley Kesner: ...and I wanted to bring everybody else down to my misery level. It's no way to live, and now that I see that hindsight, 20/ 20, I wish I could go back, but we've gotten to an amazing place. We're polar opposites. He's military man. He's conservative and he calls me his liberal little Guppy. So I'm like," I'll peace and love over here," but we have gotten to such an amazing place through all of this and built this empathetic relationship to give our daughter this well- rounded lifestyle. I could not ask for anything more. I'm so grateful for him. He's my best friend. But yeah, it's just funny that people... I think that's mindset." I'm miserable, let's bring the world down to my level," which is so crappy. I don't even entertain it half the time because I see what they're doing. I just keep doing me. Half the time social media, I'll get on and post and walk away because-

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Same.

Ashley Kesner: ...it's so toxic sometimes.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Same. I logged completely out of Twitter for the last probably month because I was just," Ooh, it's so icky in here. I got to go." I was like I would picture myself, I was like," I would not stand in a room full of people talking like this. Why am I reading it? I got to get out of here."

Ashley Kesner: Yeah. I mean, sometimes I will use it as an opportunity. If I'm feeling too good or something one day, I'll go," All right, let's jump on and inaudible haters." I use it as a tool, actually. This is a thing I do. I usually have the tool and I try to sit down and understand them. I use it as a tool to try to practice empathy and understand their side and it's a really great way to practice self- control. I mean-

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: I love that.

Ashley Kesner: ...silver lining to it all.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Oh my Gosh, we could do a whole nother.... You should come back and we'll talk about that on another episode. We'll make this a series. Tell our listeners, how can they stay connected with you?

Ashley Kesner: Sure, absolutely. The website right now is ghostinmybedroom. com. All of my social links are on there. Freeyourghost. com is being developed now. I'm really excited to unleash that. It's kind of your one- stop mental hub of badassery.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: I like that. I love that.

Ashley Kesner: But that's being unleashed, but yeah, it goes to my bedroom. com and I'm on Twitter. Instagram and Facebook is Free Your Ghost. We just paid over 5, 000 followers, which... I just started this page like two months ago.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Oh my gosh. That means it's meant to be. You got something going.

Ashley Kesner: Yeah. Oh yeah. I have a whole meme team girl. There's a team behind me and it's just so great. The memes were a big hit and the approach, it's just really relating to people. I said in another interview today that, to my knowledge, I've helped about a little over 30 people start their sober story.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Wow.

Ashley Kesner: One person, just to relate to the story, one person brings me to my knees. But that many that it's connecting with, that's the inspiration. That's what inspired me to use that cynical, nonclinical voice and for good. Because I feel a responsibility now, but I've reached this this happy place. Now it's time to share it, and it's awesome.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: That's the definition of meaning and purpose.

Ashley Kesner: Yes.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: [ inaudible 00:37:51]. We should just close on that. Drop the mic. Thank you for being here.

Ashley Kesner: Absolutely. Thank you so much.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: (singing). This is Rebecca Fleetwood Hession. Thanks so much for being here. We'd love to stay connected. We can do that if you jump into the online community at badasswomenscouncil. community. We've got lots of cool people in there already, and if you come in, I'll just be cooler.( singing)


Sharing your journey and your story can be a powerful tool. It can make recovery easier and it can also help others heal and grow. Reflection and connection are so important to our growth and healing as human beings. We must be vulnerable and know ourselves through reflection to authentically connect with others. In this week’s episode, we talk to Ashley Kesner about her journey with alcoholism and how she recovered. She talks about her depression, her battle with alcohol, and her recovery. Ashley discusses why she turned to write during her sobriety, and how her blog, “Ghost in My Bedroom got started.” In her conversation with Rebecca, she emphasizes the importance of recognizing that you are enough, and not focusing on being perfect. She talks about why she helps other people free their own ghosts and work through their addiction and recovery. She even explains why it is so important to be yourself and not be afraid of criticism because we are all unique, beautiful, and individual people. Listen in to learn more about how to make your mess a message, free your ghosts, and share your journey along the way.

Today's Host

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Rebecca Fleetwood Hession

|CEO/Founder WEthrive.live

Today's Guests

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Ashley Kesner

|Mental Health Advocate; Certified Peer Specialist; Blogger