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Why I Am Taking a Social Media Vacation

My dear friends,

Starting tonight, I am taking a month-long social media vacation. No Facebook. No Instagram. No Twitter. No Blogging.

After my dad passed away in September, I have been much more of a wreck than anybody would be able to tell from the outside. For those of you who do not know, my father battled with alcoholism for over twenty years, and eventually it was that severe chronic alcoholism that took him from us at only 54 years old.


He was not the type of alcoholic you might picture when you close your eyes. He was not a stumbling drunk. He was not abusive. He was not a mean-spirited man. Instead, he was a singer, a cook, a businessman, and a loving father. He was my best friend, my biggest fan, and my strongest pillar of support. He hid his problem from everybody for more than twenty years, and he managed to keep it together pretty well on the outside. But eventually, that kind of substance abuse will catch up to you, and the body will begin to shut down if sobriety is not achieved.

Watching somebody suffer this way for so long is unlike anything I can even begin to describe. So I won’t try. But those of you who have tried to help an addict before can probably understand in some way what it’s like. For the past two years, I only saw my dad when he was either in hospital, or just coming out of a treatment centre and beginning to relapse. In order to protect myself, I set boundaries and told him that I would no longer visit him until he was sober. It was simply too painful to see him in that state. The last time I saw him in person was in February, when I said my goodbyes to him in his hospital bed, because I truly thought he was going to die right then. He didn’t. After that, we talked on the phone at least once a week.

Once he did pass away, on September 14th, I tried my best to hold my life together by its fraying threads. People needed me. I was told to stay strong. But eventually, the threads began to snap, and the fabric of my very existence began to unravel.

Between working full time (talking to people about it all day long as a hairstylist), training for and running my second half marathon, keeping up with my blogging and freelance work, blowing through my entire financial nest egg with funeral expenses and unpaid time off work, handling the stresses of building our first home, traveling for work, and managing all kinds of grown-up things that happen when your parent dies, I have been scraped raw. Some days, it feels like there is nothing left of me but tired bones and a heavy heart.

I have also been dealing with some fairly serious health issues. I have learned that I have a problem with my heart, and have been undergoing numerous tests to try and find out what’s wrong. I have been dealing with a chronic wrist injury that is pushing me towards a major shift in my career, which is devastating, uncertain and confusing. I have been battling the fiercest anxiety of my life, sometimes having multiple episodes of panic in a single day. I have also developed sciatica. It’s all just too much.

Now, at this point, I feel it is necessary to point out that the intention of sharing this information with you – my readers, friends and family – is not to earn your sympathy. I have had enough damn sympathy over these past few months. My intention is to break myself open and expose my deepest, darkest and most honest emotions, so that hopefully someone, somewhere will read this and understand that it is okay to take a step back sometimes.

“You Cannot Serve From An Empty Cup.”

Like the majority of people out there, my life’s work is to serve others. I live for it. At the salon, I work to make people look and feel beautiful, inside and outside, serving up to 8 clients in a single day. Through my blog and social media channels, I strive to inspire, offer support and advice, and make significant, lasting connections with like-minded individuals. And in my personal life, I try to be the best friend, girlfriend, sister, daughter, niece, granddaughter or cousin that I can be. But sometimes, somewhere in there, we lose ourselves. We become so caught up in caring for others that we completely disregard our own self care altogether.

I am not well. My body is tired. My soul is bruised. My heart is no longer ignited with that passion that it normally is set ablaze with – for anything. I am really struggling. My health has taken the back seat, and I don’t like the way that it’s making me feel.

Normally, I can turn to friends, family, and social media to inspire me and reignite my passionate heart when I begin to fade. But lately, when I scroll through posts on Instagram, I am met with a lot of ‘fluff’ and falseness. And I know that these perfect pictures of fabricated lifestyles are not authentic, yet I still allow them to hurt me. I become enraged when I see someone post about their ‘poor liver’ and joke about being an alcoholic after a night of partying. I become jealous when I see photos of people enjoying fun, sunset-lit adventures on a beach somewhere. I often cry in agony when I see a post about someone’s father. And I carry around this unshakable feeling that something is wrong with me and my messed-up life, which is awful, because I actually have a hell of a lot to be grateful for. My life is beautiful, and I am blessed. I just can’t see that right now because I am so deep in my ego, so deep in my grief.

And so, I am taking some time off. Away from my blog. Away from Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Away from silly, mind-numbing distractions that permit me to avoid my emotional pain instead of feeling it. Instead, I hope to give myself the time and the space to read, write, run, love, and heal – not with the intention of posting about it on Instagram or writing about it on the blog – but just for me.

Some people self-medicate with drugs, alcohol, sex, shopping or gambling when they are grieving. I have realized that I’ve been doing the exact same thing – only with distractions. With social media. With stupid, mind-numbing games on my iPhone. With food. With anything I deem ‘not harmful’ as a way to keep my brain busy and feed little morsels of approval to my sad, starving ego. These are all one in the same, because they are all methods of short term relief that lead to deeper pain and emptiness in the long run.

I don’t think any of the above things are necessarily ‘bad’. Everything has a time and a place, in moderation. I am not saying that you’re a terrible person if you drink, smoke, enjoy sex or like to shop. I am simply recognizing that none of those things can heal deep emotional pain. Self work. Self care. Self love. That’s what can heal.

Put simply, you have to look within.

And that’s what I am taking some time off to do. At first I was worried about silly things like missing out or losing readers. But I quickly realized that those who want to keep in touch, can. Those who want to invite me to something, will. Those who truly care about me and Adventure To Anywhere won’t unsubscribe just because I need to take a month off to work on my mental health.

If you’ve come this far, thank you for caring enough to read this. If you’re also feeling burnt out, please remember that it’s okay to be selfish sometimes. And finally, if you’re struggling with addiction, please, PLEASE reach out for professional help. I am begging you.

With Love,
Ashley

Ashley Dempster is a twenty-something Canadian Travel and Adventure blogger based in Calgary, Canada. Her passions include good food, minimalist packing, running, music, and chasing down every opportunity for adventure.

11 Comments

  1. Beautifully written Ashley, and completely understandable. That quote about pouring from an empty cup reigns so true for you right now and I really hope this time off heals not just your body but your mind, soul, and heart. Love you girl, stay strong, I’m sending all of my hugs to you!! <3

  2. So much love, my strong, wonderful friend! This was such a beautiful and inspiring post. I will miss your presence on social media while you are away, but I’ll be thinking of you as you take this much needed time to heal, live and just be. xoxo

  3. Ashley…you write so well, far more wisdom than your years. When my husband died and I was left raising two very young children on my own a friend sent this special poem to me. I hope it inspires you to hang on in these dark days. You are loved by many, and this too shall pass and the sun will shine again in your heart.

    FOOTPRINTS IN THE SAND…
    One night I dreamed a dream.
    As I was walking along the beach with my Lord.
    Across the dark sky flashed scenes from my life.
    For each scene, I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand,
    One belonging to me and one to my Lord.

    After the last scene of my life flashed before me,
    I looked back at the footprints in the sand.
    I noticed that at many times along the path of my life,
    especially at the very lowest and saddest times,
    there was only one set of footprints.

    This really troubled me, so I asked the Lord about it.
    “Lord, you said once I decided to follow you,
    You’d walk with me all the way.
    But I noticed that during the saddest and most troublesome times of my life,
    there was only one set of footprints.
    I don’t understand why, when I needed You the most, You would leave me.”

    He whispered, “My precious child, I love you and will never leave you
    Never, ever, during your trials and testings.
    When you saw only one set of footprints,
    It was then that I carried you.”

  4. Dear Ashley, I stumbled across your post having never visited before. Once I started reading I couldn’t stop as your words meant so much. Three years ago I lost my father , and your account of how you are feeling really resounded with me… I just wish I could have read this 3 years ago. I so hope you have found some peace over this month and allowed yourself some time to heal. Thanks for being so honest, be kind to yourself, and I hope that you allow yourself happiness and peace in your life. Jude x

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