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Tactical Living

Jul 31, 2019


911, what’s the nature of your emergency? 


Ashlie: Welcome back to another episode of Tactical Living by Leo worriers. I'm your host Ashlie Walton. 

Clint: And I’m your co-host Clint Walton. 

Ashlie: For today's episode we're going to talk about the first time I saw a dead body on the streets. How dead bodies were one of my biggest fears and how years later I would overcome that fear. So just sit back, relax and enjoy today's content. Now I managed a pediatric practice for 12 years. Talked about this before, get to work at five o'clock in the morning by myself every day. And one morning while I was driving to work it was a little bit different. I remember it was shortly after daylight savings time.


I remember that because the way that the sun was coming up in the morning just a little bit as I was maybe two blocks away from the office and driving to work and I get stopped at a stoplight and I look over to my right and there is this embankment and right above that embankment there's this 24 hour del taco and right next to that there's a giant parking lot that is home to a very popular bar in that city and I don't know what made me glance over. But when I looked over, I could see a body lying in the center of that embankment and I kind of spanned my vision a little bit further wondering if there's somebody around this person.


And I realized that because the sun was just breaking that I was probably the first person to even notice that this person was laying on the side of the road. And I guess the side of the road on the side of the embankment. Now in retrospect I probably should not have gone on with my life in fear. Maybe I should have called somebody. But in my mind at that moment I was thinking this is one of the busiest streets in our area. And certainly if somebody else is going to call to report this if they hadn't already. I knew that it was a dead person. I was ninety five percent sure that this was a dead body on the side of the road and with my fear level at the time there was certainly no way I was going to stop.


And I also didn't want to get involved in having to talk to anybody about that. My fear of dead bodies was so exemplified at that point that there's was no part of that, that I wanted anything to do with. So in true actually fashion I called Clint and nearly tearful because that's how afraid I was, and I started creating all these stories in my mind. Of course this person must have been murdered and somebody just threw them on the side of the road, and I hate getting to the office this early in the morning, I’m all by myself. I work next to a block of section 8 homes and I have to park in an alleyway next to a gas station.


Like it gets worse and worse right. And for weeks I remember just being petrified every morning I would go to the office and I don't know if I was more fearful of the thought of seeing something like that again or something like that crossing my own path. And one day Clint just so happened to meet up with somebody who works at our local agency when he was at a prison one day. 


Clint: Yeah. And he told me that he was familiar with that incident too and so it was really interesting just to see the dynamic that played out from there. Because you know he told me it was you know a transient that drank too much and he had some type of medical emergency. There was no foul play. There was nothing out of the ordinary around it. And so as soon as I got out of jail, I called Ashlie and I told her in hopes that maybe it would ease her fears a little bit about that whole situation. 

Ashlie: And part of me was happy that this person wasn't murdered. But of course it was tragic that somebody had to die. He actually apparently stumbled and hit his head on one of the rocks going down that embankment and that led up to his demise. But that still didn't curb the fear that I had going to work every day. And that lasted for a good six months or so.

Clint: Yeah. You had almost an anxiety about it for some time where is just built up and built up based on the stories that you know you had you created within your head and just your fear alone of having the dead body so near to you, even though you didn't get so close. But seeing it, witnessing it. You didn’t really never witness anything like that before.

Ashlie: Not at all. Not apart from going to a funeral. That's the only time I’ve ever been around a dead body.

Clint: And that's a completely different dynamic and that's something for like me being a police officer and seeing that stuff I’ve seen it so much unfortunately that I’m almost numb to it. 

Ashlie: And so that fear lasted up until four and a half years ago, not that same I can't drive to work kind of immobility fear but the fear of not wanting to even see a dead body like in a movie. Like we all have that thing. I mean if you're afraid of snakes, maybe you fear snakes being under your bed or spiders in your bedroom or in the bathtub. There's something that most of us are afraid of. Clint's afraid of heights. 


Clint: Terrified. 

Ashlie: And we start to create these stories around those fears that actually help to magnify those fears based on what we're allowing reality to be for ourselves when it's not reality at all. And there came a point in my life when my mom got sick and I knew she had; her prognosis was going to be about nine months. And it was actually nine months almost to the day. And from a lot of self-work and talking with a lot of medical professionals you know managing a pediatric office at the time and being so close to the doctor that I had worked with and having her really helped to facilitate my mental train of thought in grieving my mom's death before it even happened. 


As you sit there maybe that sounds morbid, but in reality when you know that the demise of a loved one is coming, I don't think there's any greater gift that I could have been given than to allow myself to process that to fully be there and in the moment to help her and support her when she needed it.

Clint: And it wasn't only that. You had to be the rock for your brothers and your dad as well to be that foundation so they could crumble because they weren't prepared for it.

Ashlie: Right. And during that time there was this point where I remember thinking the way that I was nurturing my mom during her death is almost very similar to the way that you nurture a baby after they're born and you take care of that baby in the same way I was taking care of my mom and in doing that and me fully being aware and understanding that I was doing this to support her during her death, there was this acceptance that started to grow in me. This acceptance of knowing I’m going to lose my mom, like I knew she was going to be dying and by doing that and having the emotional strength to be able to sort of prepare for that moment, in retrospect there was no piece of that, that I felt fearful of. None at all. I wasn't afraid of having to be there when my mom died. Of course it's hard to talk about.

Clint: Absolutely and your strength throughout the whole thing was absolutely amazing.  And showing your love for your mom and not only conquering that fear that you had at the time but completely throwing it to the side in help of your mom.

Ashlie: And I think a part of that might have also been. It wasn't like bam! My mom just died. It was botching like the process of a human body dying and maybe that played a role in me getting over that fear. And it also being somebody close to me. But in looking back at it, like never once maybe even until now did I think about being afraid of that or not being able to be there for that. And I was so fortunate because during the day when it happened, I had my sister in law here and she's a registered nurse and she really helped to sort of guide the process and talked very openly and candidly with me about what to expect and what to experience. And mind you during that whole time I was prompting her with questions.


She was like now Ashlie when she dies, I’m going to remove the catheter. Like she wasn't going through that nature of it. It was me prompting her like I needed to know so that I can continue to mentally prepare myself. I needed to know what to expect. And in that moment, I don't know how to explain it, but I knew that day that my mom was going to die. There's a lot of factors that play into that being educated and understanding her mapping and just exactly where she was in her current state.


When I got the phone call just seeing exactly where her vitals were. I remember driving home very slowly that day from work. It was probably around 10:00 in the morning and mentally preparing myself for like this is the day. I know it's going to happen now and almost walking myself through the motions and the imagery of like what my dad's going to look like when it happens. Like what are the boys going to experience when it happens and not so much caring about myself and my own feelings about it. Because I had come to terms with it. Like I had already accepted that long before anybody else in the family ever could or even had the capacity to do that. And in that moment, it was just my mom, my sister in law and I in the room and I knew exactly when she was going to die.


I knew, excuse me it's really hard to get this out but we're going to keep going. I knew exactly when the time came when I was going to watch her take her last breaths and instead of it scaring me, I remember thinking almost instantly that having the ability to pay witness to that and to be with her when she took her last breath, it was the biggest privilege of my life. And there's no fear that comes with that.


There's every opposite emotion, there's gratitude, there's love. And instead of me using that moment as this negative replay in my mind, I’m able to use that really as strength empowered to be able to understand just how beautiful life is. But by fully embracing that you can't understand that beauty without accepting the fact of death. Maybe my mom had prefaced this. But while she was sick one of the moments when we're just like snuggling in bed together, she just told me very calmly like Ashlie it's just the process of life, like plain and simple.


And I never would have thought that going through something like that especially so personally on the backside of that that I would overcome a fear like being afraid of dead bodies and I think that when you're able to use something so tragic and we hear it all the time, but everything does happen for a reason and it requires you to sometimes take a step back and look at yourself and the whole reality of it to be able to pick out those gifts and when you're able to do that, even in the most tragic and darkest of times then you're really able to enjoy your tactical living.


Balance. Optimize. Tactics. 

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