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Guest Posts, healing, Inspiration

Out To Sea by Ally Hamilton.

December 24, 2013

By Ally Hamilton.


When I was seventeen I began dating a man who was twenty-one years older than me. My parents tried to stop me, but they have nineteen years between them, and even though they divorced when I was four, I was positive my relationship was different. Because I was seventeen and I thought I had all the answers. My previous boyfriend, who had been kind and sweet and awesome in every way, also tried to stop me. But he had moved across the country to go to college, and the truth was, I was heartbroken. I felt abandoned, even though he was talking about Christmas break, and calling every day. No matter; he’d left, and it stirred in me something old and raw and completely unhealed. So I let this guy who was so much older come at me with his cars and his boats and his private plane to his house in the Hamptons. He had a terrible reputation for cheating on everyone he dated. And I signed myself up for the task like I’d be able to fix that. Also, something inside me was believing the idea that I was the kind of person someone could leave. So who cared, really.

The first time we were together it was strange and sad. We flew out to his house, and went directly to the beach where we got in his speedboat. He drove us out to the middle of a secluded bay area. I knew he’d done it before, all of it. It was like some kind of ritual. Something to get out of the way. I knew he didn’t love me. That came a few years later, after he’d broken me and it was too late. But I let him have me, even though I felt nothing. I mean, I was hooked in, I was playing out all kinds of ancient history. But I wasn’t in love with him, and I certainly wasn’t loving myself. Not even a little. When it was over and I was swimming in the ocean, tears came streaming down my face, unexpectedly, without permission. I dove underwater, trying to wash them away, trying to wash the whole thing away. I don’t remember much else about that day, or that night. I think he spent most of the rest of the afternoon working, and I curled up in front of the fire with a book. I felt dead to myself, and also strangely satisfied that I’d done something so unlike me.

I stayed with him for three years. Once he had me, he kept a tight leash on me. It’s funny how people without integrity assume other people also have none. He was threatened by the guys at Columbia who were my age. He’d drop me off on campus sometimes and get upset if I was wearing lipstick, or tight jeans, or short skirts, or pretty much anything that wasn’t a sack. But he cheated on me regularly. He was good at it, I could never prove it, but I always knew when he was with someone else because it hurt. It hurt in the way that sends you under the kitchen table, holding onto yourself as you sob and wonder what the hell you’re doing in this situation, and why you don’t get out. But getting out wasn’t even possible at that point, because I was so attached to getting my happy ending. If I could just be perfect enough to get him to love me. If I could just hang in there long enough he’d finally realize I really did love him. Because after awhile, I did.

I began to see this insecure guy who felt he wasn’t enough, regardless of how many women he took to bed, or how much money he had, or how many sparkly, shiny toys. Nothing did it for him, not even the unwavering love of a good girl. I can’t call myself a woman when I think about this experience, because I wasn’t yet. I had a lot of healing to do, and a lot of growing, but I was very kind to him. And the longer I stayed, the more he gave me reasons to leave. For his fortieth birthday, I planned an elaborate surprise party. I rented a pool hall, had it catered from his favorite sushi place, and ordered dessert from an amazing pastry chef. I sent invitations to all his friends. I made a reservation at a new restaurant that had opened downtown that he was dying to try, and planned to take him to the pool hall from there. I ordered a bottle of champagne to be waiting at the table. It took me months to save up the money to pull it off.

A week before the party he confronted me in the kitchen in East Hampton. He told me he knew about the party, and he wanted to see the guest list to make sure I hadn’t forgotten anyone. At first I tried to deny there was a party, but he kept coming. He laughed at me. He knew it was at a pool hall. He wanted to know if I’d ordered food, and all the other details. He didn’t want to be embarrassed. I stood there in that kitchen and I felt everything fall away from me. I felt like I was made of bones that could disintegrate into a pile of dust on the floor, that his housekeeper could just come along and sweep away, out the door, into the ocean, to meet up with those tears I’d cried the first day. I told him every last detail. He took away any shred of joy I might have felt at having been able to give him something. Three days before the party, he went to the restaurant I’d made reservations at a few months before. So that the night of the party, the only surprise was that sad bottle of champagne, waiting at the table.

You cannot save anyone. All the love in the world won’t get the job done. You can’t make someone faithful or kind or compassionate or sensitive. You can’t make another person happy. They are, or they are not. You can harm yourself. You can allow yourself to be abused, mistreated, neglected and betrayed. But I don’t recommend it. A healthy, happy, secure person wouldn’t have been on that boat with him in the first place. Of course, he preyed on a seventeen year old, and when I look back on it I have all kinds of compassion for myself. But it took me years to get there. And a lot of yoga, and a lot of therapy, and a lot of weeping and writing and reading. Anything you repress, or run from, or deny, owns you. It owns you. And if you don’t turn and face that stuff down, you’ll call it into your life in other ways. The truth wants out. Your heart wants to heal so it can open for you again. Whatever is in your past does not have to define your future. But it probably will if you don’t do the work to liberate yourself. We have such fear. We think these things will overwhelm us, that we won’t survive. But what you won’t survive is the not facing it. That’s the part that kills you. That’s the part that makes you feel you could be swept away in the wind. Looking at your stuff hurts. It’s painful and deeply uncomfortable, but if you trust yourself enough to lean into all that pain, you’ll find it loses its grip over you. If you let yourself weep out the searing heat from those wounds, your whole being can take a real, deep breath, maybe for the first time in ages.

You can forgive those who let you down, who didn’t or couldn’t show up for you the way you would have liked or the way you deserved. You can forgive yourself for choices you might have made that were harmful to you or others. When we’re in pain, we don’t tend to treat ourselves well, and sometimes that also spills onto the people with whom we’re closest. But life can be beautiful. You can close the book on the old, painful story that was just a replaying of your past. And you can start working on this new creation that gets to be your life after you’ve healed. Not that the old pain won’t show up from time to time when you’re feeling triggered or tested or vulnerable, but it won’t grab you and knock you off your feet and show you who’s boss. Because it won’t be boss anymore, it won’t rule your life. You’ll just see it for what it is, an echo of a very old story that came to completion. It can’t be rewritten, it is what it is. But you get to decide where to place your energy and your attention. And I highly recommend you direct it toward love. That’s your happy ending, although it doesn’t end. You get to keep choosing it every day. If you do that, you’ll never find yourself sailing out to sea with someone who doesn’t know how to do anything but hurt you. Your own ship will have sailed. And maybe someday you’ll pass your seventeen year old self, weeping in the ocean next to your ship and you’ll pull her on board and show her your future. Which holds so much joy and gratitude and meaning and fulfillment, maybe she’ll weep there on the deck with you, not in sadness, but in relief.

If you’re allowing yourself to be mistreated and you need help, feel free to message me. Sending you love. Ally



Bio: Ally Hamilton is a Santa Monica-based yoga teacher and writer who streams online yoga classes all over the world. She’s the co-creator of, which has been featured in The New York Times, Yoga Journal, Self Magazine, Shape Magazine and The Wall Street Journal. She’s a regular contributor for The Huffington Post, a wellness expert at MindBodyGreen, and writes an almost-daily blog at She’s the mama of two amazing kids and one energetic Labradoodle. She believes everyone can benefit from some regular time on a yoga mat.

**Jen Pastiloff has over 30 online classes at Ally’s studio Yogis Anonymous. Click here.

Join Jen and Emily Rapp at a writing and the body retreat in Stowe, Vermont Oct 2015. This will be their 3rd one together in Stowe. Click the photo to book.

Join Jen and Emily Rapp at a writing and the body retreat in Stowe, Vermont Oct 2015. This will be their 3rd one together in Stowe. Click the photo to book.


Click poster to order book!


And So It Is, Beating Fear with a Stick, writing

On Discovering You Are Still Human.

December 9, 2012

Here’s a promise I make to you, my Tribe. I will always be: honest, vulnerable and my most unadulterated self, without any fluff or bullshit to lead you into thinking I am any better or worse than I really am, (as if those words actually mean anything.)

If you don’t like it, this pledge to be me, as it were, you probably haven’t “liked” my blog and aren’t reading this. And that’s ok, I don’t feel rejected. In fact, I probably don’t even know and neither do you. (It’s better that way.)

But for those who have connected with me, and me to you, listen up. This is for you. I am committed to what I have started which is: a call to arms, a rally cry, a demonstration of what it means to be real person, not a shadow living in the peripheries, not a status update, not a perfect yoga teacher or daughter or wife or any of the words that could move in quietly after the word perfect but rather a human being with faults and cracks and and histories and mistakes. I do not have a lesson plan for this. What I know to be true is that human beings forget that we are all human beings, so sometimes, when someone reminds us, when they literally shove an example in our face like a crumpled up coffee stained map and we have no choice but to pull over in the car and stop on the side of the road to read the map with its coffee stink and fingerprints and out-of-dated-ness, we somehow find our way.

Someone else’s journey can help us along, sometimes, on our own. It doesn’t always get us to where we are going. Like I said, the map is probably out of date, having been shoved under the passenger seat of someone else’s car for Lord knows how long, but its something.

Its something.

I was in a great mood this morning even though I drank too much cheap red wine at a party last night. (Human attritube #1: I drink and teach yoga and have a spiritual practice.) The thing is, with cheap red wine, you do not have to drink much for it to be too much. Nonetheless, I woke up happy and inspired and knew I would teach a fantastic yoga class. And so it is. Happiness is decided beforehand. I heard that recently and fell in love with it. I decided beforehand. My class will be one of those classes where I have to stop myself from thinking that This is a fluke. This can’t be possible that this many people come to my class and are so open, so willing to listen and shift. I am going to have to wait tables again tomorrow because this must be a dream. I am not even that good at yoga.

(Human attribute #2: I am a really good yoga teacher (at least I think.) No, I know. And, I am actually not that good at yoga. Whatever that means. (Read: I can’t balance for 2 minutes in the center of the room in a handstand and I don’t know all the sanskrit and I can’t put my leg behind my head and I still think triangle pose is hard.)

It wasn’t a dream. My class was packed and the room almost moved in synchronicity (almost never happens, especially in the early Sunday morning class. Come on! It’s Sunday morning for Chrissakes.) The room was bursting with love (cliche, notwithstanding, it was so love filled and in sync it could have been a parody.) The theme was related to my 5 Most Beautiful Things Project and how beauty connects us.

How if we let it, we can channel it.

May I always be a channel of beauty. For beauty. May the beauty I see be who I am. May I always see the beauty. I am sure I uttered that somewhere in between vinyasas and backbends.

You must understand, I teach at a gym. A gym! Yes, it is the very high end Equinox, but still, a gym. I teach at a gym and the people (my Tribe) who come to my class are so into what we are doing, they let me be who I am (a human) and I let them be who they are. It is astounding sometimes and perhaps why I feel like its a fluke. How can this be happening at a gym? What shift is taking place in consciousness? My class is NOT easy but it is by no means asana (posture) based. And yet it is packed.

So I am feeling good and on purpose and probably my ego is a little on fire and someone signed up for my Maui retreat and also Ojai based on my writings, so yea I am feeling gooood. Until I check my email and get a rejection email from a literary site I wanted to write. I will call it “R.” I say literary because it is not like the inspirational sites I usually write for. It’s a bit more cynical, more witty, less woo woo. I wanted it because then I would be a real writer. 

(Human attribute #3: I struggle with the notion of being a real writer even though I know that is a made up term. What’s a real writer? One that isn’t plastic? That’s not made from Coke bottles or cereal boxes? What is a real anything? What is a normal anything? These terms don’t exist and yet I strive for someone to name me. Name me a writer, call me “writer”, please? Award me with that.)

(Human attribute #4:  How no matter how much self work or inner work I do, rejection still hurts. It may not hurt for as long but it still does.)

All of a sudden I shut down. Just like that. One email later, I crawl back into my unmade bed (Human attribute #5: I don’t make the bed. Not a lot) and feel sorry for myself and also angry and also that I couldn’t write and why bother when I am just going to get rejected and how snooty “real writers” are and how I am just seen as a yoga teacher and who the Hell am I anyway?

So I get up and write.

Why? It is cathartic to me and because, my hope is that when I share some of the things I go through that make me feel very very human and raw, sometimes you will relate. Ah! I don’t feel so alone as you lay in your own unmade bed. That’s it. I am hoping that by passing you my old dirty coffee stained out-of-date map that you will take it with a grain of salt, with love, and with the notion that I am most undoubtedly NOT Superhuman. That I still think rejection sucks and it hurts but that I got over it quicker this time (I did. I actually feel better now.)

(Human attribute #6: I write because I have to. It’s what I do with the pain. With the rejection. And with the love. It’s what I have to do.)

To the site “R” who said that the piece is not for us, well, that’s okay. It’ll find a home. It always does, doesn’t it?

When our hearts get broken and we think we will never love again, not ever, this is the last time, I am swearing off love! we do and we do and we do.

(Human attribute #7: I am doing very well but that I still have fits of feeling unworthy based on someone’s opinion. Case in point, “R” rejects me and I fall apart. And sometimes, despite “overcoming” anorexia, I still have days where I feel so fat but that mostly I am happy to be here in my skin as Jennifer Pastiloff.)

And that if I continue to allow myself to decide on my happiness ahead of time that the moments of happiness will far outweigh the moments of feeling like I am doing it wrong, that I have made a mistake.

Here’s to being human, guys. I am raising my glass to yours. Cheers.