Avery – 00:01

Hi, I’m Avery Thatcher and I believe that we can’t solve a problem with the same mindset that created it.

That’s why on this podcast we combine ancient, Vedic and Taoist wisdom with our modern lifestyle and latest research to show high achievers like you how to recover your energy and optimize your habits so you can elevate your impact and prevent an epic burnout experience.

Because burnout’s a bitch and hindsight’s an asshole, so rather than let them win, let’s dig into the truth about burnout.

All right, everyone, welcome back.

I am so grateful that you are here listening right now because I have a wonderful woman that is coming on to share her story.

And I know that a lot of us, even though we may not have experienced this specifically, we will recognize a lot of ourselves in her story.

So Ashlee, welcome.


Avery – 00:52

Thank you.

Thank you for having me.

So tell us a little bit about you and who you are and then Kind of what brought you to a pivotal moment in your life when you knew something had to change?


Ashlee – 01:05


So, um, when I was a teenager, I ended up in a relationship and it was all amazing and, you know, in the beginning and there was lots of gifts and lots of high emotions and it turned dark pretty quickly.

Um, it started with emotional abuse and, uh, little things, you know, like, Oh, I like it when your hair is straight.

I’m Mexican.

My hair is very curly and all these little things.

And after a couple of years, when I moved out of my parents’ house, it turned physically abusive.

And that went on for about nine months.


Ashlee – 01:42

And then I got out of that relationship and I’ve kind of spent the last 14 years healing from it.


Avery – 01:51

Absolutely, things can have such a lasting impact both emotionally and mentally in our habits but also in our physical body.

So, can you tell me a little bit about the link between what you experienced emotionally and then how that lasted and lingered in your physical body?


Ashlee – 02:09

At first I thought I had healed after about five years, but I still had this lingering back pain.

It started when I was 21. I threw my back out twice in one month.

And so I went to the doctor because I was 21 years old and it wasn’t doing anything crazy.

I wasn’t like throwing.


One time I sneezed and the other time I coughed and threw my back out was, could barely walk for like three or four days.

So I went to the doctor and basically they just said I had bulging discs, they did x-rays and that it was really bad for someone of my age.


Ashlee – 02:41

And I did physical therapy.

I did all the things and it went on for 12 years.

No one ever knew what the problem was, where it came from, or why.

And it wasn’t just like a little backache.

It wasn’t like, oh, ouchie, my back hurts.

It was so debilitating.

Most of the times it felt like somebody was ripping the muscles off of my spine.


Ashlee – 03:04

Um, it stopped me from doing a lot of things.

I’d have to tell my oldest son, like, not today mommy’s back hurts.

Uh, my husband knew when we first met, like, don’t mess with me in the morning because in the morning it was always the worst.

I’d wake up and I would just be in so much pain.

Um, and so I was a very grumpy morning person and I never had any answers.

And so.

In the fall of 2020, I first started to hear about emotional pain being stored as physical pain.


Ashlee – 03:33

At first I thought it was a little bit crazy.

I thought that makes absolutely no sense to me.

I don’t understand how that could possibly be.

True, it’s been 12 years since I left that relationship.

I felt, you know, I’m happy, I’m thriving, I’ve got an amazing husband, two great kids, we just bought this beautiful house.

Like, there’s no way, I’m good.

And so I ended up doing a lot of healing, a lot of inner work, a lot of mindset shifts.


Ashlee – 03:59

A big piece of it was forgiveness.

And I learned, you know, this new perspective of forgiveness.

It wasn’t what I always thought it was.

I realized that I still had a lot of anger.

And hate towards my abuser and a lot of, why did you do this to me?

This has ruined my life.

All of these negative emotions, a lot of shame and guilt around it.


Ashlee – 04:20

And after about five weeks of doing all of these healings, all this journaling, all of this crying and releasing I woke up and my back pain was gone.

It was just completely gone.

And it’s been 18 months since that time.

You know, there’s been a couple of times where I’ve started to feel a little bit of the twinge and instead of stretching it or putting ice and heat on it like I used to, I turn inward.

I go, okay, what is going on with me right now?

Like, what am I stressing out about?

What am I thinking about?


Ashlee – 04:55

How am I feeling?

And I journal and I do all of this.

Mindset work and no physical work, I do mindset work and it goes away.


Avery – 05:02

That’s so fascinating and such a clear example of how much our mind-body connection is linked and our heart-body connection too.

So there was two things which I just wanted to touch on really quick with what you said there.

When we label things as negative emotions, we talk about this a lot on the podcast, and when we label it that way, we’ve told a story about that emotion, whereas emotions can just be serving or sabotaging.

A lot of the times like you even said you needed the anger in order to heal and so when we label anger as that negative emotion it can sometimes be easy for us to push it away but you just embraced it.

So given your history anger was a very unsafe emotion.

What allowed you to hold space for the anger even from a space of fear?


Ashlee – 05:51

So I think I had just reached the point where I was done.

It’d been 12 years.

And you know, there was a point where the pain did go away.

I started doing yoga like four times a week and after like two months it went away and then something happened and we had to stop going to that studio.

And so for a year I was pain-free and then a few months after the yoga ended the pain started to come back and within a month it was back as bad as it had ever been.

And so after a few months living with it was almost worse too because I had been pain-free for a little bit and I was like no I’m back here.

And so I finally was like, I need to go back to yoga.


Ashlee – 06:31

And so I went to yoga a few times and then COVID hit and everything closed down.

And looking back, it was like, it’s not the yoga.

Like it was just a side, like, it’s not the yoga.

You need to do something else.

Like my body was trying to tell me, there’s something else that you need to do.

And I feel like the yoga helped because it helped me to be present in my body and to really pay attention and to nurture it in a way that I wasn’t nurturing it.

And so, you know, all of 2020, that was just kind of something that I would write every morning, like, I am back pain-free since 2020. And it was something that was so important to me because I was just so tired of being in so much pain all the time.


Ashlee – 07:12

And we had family visiting in like October and I spent their visit laying on the grounds because I couldn’t sit or stand because the pain was so bad.

And so when I was doing this work, you know, we got to forgiveness and I’m like, I’m not going to forgive.

Like he did something wrong.

He’s not a good person.

I’m not, there’s nothing to forgive.

He’s not saying, I apologize.

Like he has no remorse.


Ashlee – 07:36

And I was just like, you know what?

I have to see this through.

And so I saw it through and I, I released the anger.

I wrote, I got to write a really angry, mean letter.

And then I got to see the growth from it.

I got to find a lesson from it.

And the lesson was that it made me a nicer person.


Ashlee – 07:55

It made me a kinder person.

It made me not want to hurt anyone in my life.

And now it’s going full circle and I want to help other women who’ve gone through similar situations to heal more.

And so releasing it was, Just the most, it set me free.

I know it sounds cliche or silly, but forgiveness and releasing the anger, it set me free.

There was like a Buddha quote where it’s holding onto a hot stone with the intention of throwing it at someone.

You’re the one who gets burned.


Ashlee – 08:27

And it’s true.

It’s holding onto anger and holding onto all this hate.

I was just burning myself the whole time.

I had 12 years of chronic pain and Besides the back pain, I also had all these stomach issues where I would go to the emergency room because I thought my appendix burst because the pain was so acute and so severe.

And that whole time I was just hurting myself by holding on to all of these negative emotions.


Avery – 08:52

That exercise that you described, the writing that angry letter and letting it out is such a powerful way for especially abuse survivors to let that anger out in a very safe and controlled way.

But it’s something that we talk about a lot in the flow state as well, where we You just write that angry letter and I find for a lot of people and myself included it’s better if you write it on paper than if you’re like typing it out because then you can actually get like the angry letters where

things get bigger and you’re writing harder you can really allow some of that to somatically release through your body.

So with forgiveness I’d like you to tell me a little bit more about that because you said that you came up with it, you encountered this more unique view of it.

And you said that, you know, your abuser does not have any remorse.

They’re not asking for forgiveness.

They don’t necessarily deserve the forgiveness.


Avery – 09:45

So what does it actually look like for you?


Ashlee – 09:47

Yeah, so we think of forgiveness as, you know, someone does something, then they say, I’m sorry.

And then you say, it’s okay, I forgive you.

And you give a big hug and then you move on all hunky dory, like all happy with each other.


And you’re told if someone doesn’t apologize, then you can’t forgive them.


I’ve held so many stinks against people who like, they didn’t say sorry.


Ashlee – 10:10

So I’m not going to speak to them, you know.

So that’s what you’re told, or that’s what I was told, that’s how I was raised.

And this new perspective of forgiveness that I was taught, it has nothing to do with the other person.

It is 100% an inside job.

I never told my abuser.

Call him and say, hey, I forgive you.

Like I didn’t tell him with the letter.


Ashlee – 10:31

I was instructed to burn it or rip it up and flush it down the toilet.

And since I don’t like to play with fire, I ripped it up and flushed it down the toilet.

I didn’t send the letter to him.

I didn’t tell him that I forgave him.

And I don’t have any intention of ever speaking to him again.

So it has nothing to do with the other person.

You don’t need them to say sorry.


Ashlee – 10:51

They don’t need to know that you said that you accept their sorry.

It has nothing to do with that.

It’s just all about you finally releasing and letting go and cutting that energetic ties that are between you and that person.


Avery – 11:07

So powerful.

You can just hear the passion in your voice as you advocate for people to do that.

That’s so beautiful.

So tell me a little bit, Ashlee, about what you’re doing now.


Ashlee – 11:19

Yeah, so I was obviously very motivated by the coaches that helped me through this.

They helped me more than doctors did in the past decade.

And it was just with a couple of courses and things like that.

So for the last 18 months, I’ve been kind of learning all about the online world.

And getting certifications in eight different modalities and I am creating a program for women to fully heal after abusive or toxic relationships, to rebuild their confidence and their self-worth, and to start to create the life that they really truly deserve after all of that trauma.

And I’m very excited about it.

A lot of research is going into it.


Ashlee – 12:03

I never thought I would be so excited to learn about the brain, but here I am.

It’s very fascinating, the effects that trauma has on the brain.

And it’s almost like a user manual to me over the last decade.

I’m like, oh, that explains so much.

It was so helpful on like my healing journey to understand what had happened also empowered me because I realized that I can rewire my brain back to what I want.

And so I’m creating this program.

I’m also working with a nonprofit called Healing the Wound.


Ashlee – 12:38

It’s a narcissistic abuse support group, nonprofit.

I’m going to start running a support group for them.

We’re actually doing a workshop on forgiveness in a couple of weeks too.

So that’s going to be super exciting.


Avery – 12:51

That’s awesome.

So I’m sure people are listening to this being like, okay, I want to be involved in this.

So how can they connect with you?


Ashlee – 13:00


So I’m most active on Instagram right now.

So it’s at Ashlee, A-S-H-L-E-E underscore, HOELCK.

And I’ve got my website up there.

I’ve got lots of great information, um, as well.


Avery – 13:14

Sounds great.

We’ll link to that in the show notes and the description as well.

So Ashlee, I just want to honor your vulnerability here and the amount that you shared and held space for.

So thank you so much for doing that.

Thank you so much for listening.

I really hope you found this episode helpful, validating, and maybe you even got a few ideas to try yourself.

If you did enjoy this episode, I just ask that you share it with someone that you think might also benefit from listening to this podcast.


Avery – 13:44

In doing this, you’re not only helping those that you love, you’re also helping me get this podcast into the hands of more people.

Together, we can really make a difference.

And before I let you go, do you know your default self-sabotage style?

There are four main self-sabotage styles that ultimately lead to burnout and knowing yours can make a really big difference in your ability to prevent burnout from taking over.

Awareness is the first step and the second step.

What you can do with is awareness of your default self-sabotage style.

I will send you some ideas for what that second step could be after you complete your quiz results.


Avery – 14:23

So are you ready for this quick quiz?

Go to BecomingAvery.com to try it out for yourself and take the first step on your intentional burnout recovery journey.

BecomingAvery.com for that self-sabotage style assessment.

That’s it for now, see you next week!

In this inspiring and transformative episode, host Avery Thatcher engages in a powerful conversation with Ashlee Hoelck, a courageous survivor who shares her journey of healing and growth after enduring emotional and physical abuse in a past relationship. Ashlee’s story serves as a testament to the connection between emotional trauma and its lasting impact on the physical body. Through her experiences, you can gain valuable insights into the power of forgiveness, the importance of embracing all emotions, and the path to reclaiming one’s life after adversity.

Ashlee’s transparency and vulnerability in sharing her healing process provide a beacon of hope for those who have experienced similar challenges. As she opens up about her own struggle with chronic pain and the pivotal moment of realization that led her to confront and release emotional trauma, you are offered a unique perspective on the mind-body connection. Her story serves as an empowering reminder that healing is possible, and that the journey towards self-discovery and thriving is within reach for anyone who has faced hardships.

Ashlee Hoelck is a resilient and compassionate woman living in Texas with her husband and two sons. As a devoted homeschooler, she enjoys daily adventures exploring nature with her family and friends. Her life took a remarkable turn when she embarked on a journey of self-healing, eventually overcoming 12 years of chronic physical pain caused by emotional trauma from a past abusive relationship.

Driven by her profound transformation and guided by the support of coaches, Ashlee discovered her life’s purpose. In response to her own healing experience, she founded her coaching business, Phoenix Rize Coaching, with the mission to empower others to fully heal and thrive after experiencing abusive or toxic relationships. Ashlee’s remarkable journey and her dedication to helping others break free from the chains of emotional pain make her a source of inspiration and strength for anyone seeking healing and transformation.


02:09: The lingering impact of emotional trauma on Ashlee’s physical body, specifically chronic back pain, which persisted for 12 years after leaving the abusive relationship.

03:46: Ashlee’s initial skepticism about emotional pain being stored as physical pain and the journey of inner work, mindset shifts, and forgiveness that led to her healing breakthrough.

05:12: The discussion on labeling emotions as “negative” and the significance of embracing emotions like anger to facilitate healing.

09:48: A unique perspective on forgiveness – Ashlee shares her personal experience of forgiveness being an internal process, unrelated to the actions or apologies of the abuser.

11:19: Ashlee’s present focus on empowering others to heal from abusive or toxic relationships through her coaching program and her work with the nonprofit Healing the Wound.

Guest links:

Instagram: @Ashlee_HOELCK
Website: Phoenix Rize Coaching
Podcast: Thriving After Abuse