Sasha Raskin once was depressed and suicidal. Now she shares why her future vision is in making sure to give others the emotional support they need through her incredible initiative, A Beautiful Mess.
TAMAR: Hi, everybody. Today, I am so honored, and it’s such a privilege to have somebody I’ve been admiring from afar, Sasha Raskin. She is not too far from me, but we haven’t met face to face yet. We’ve met online in the women’s community. This is Episode 42. And hi, Sasha. Thank you so much for joining.
SASHA RASKIN: Yeah, thank you. I’m so excited to be here.
TAMAR: Yeah. Awesome. Awesome. Tell everybody what do you do? Where are you from? What’s your life like these days?
SASHA RASKIN: Okay, um, well, I was born in Ukraine where it was in the Soviet Union right before the collapse. But I’m pretty far from there. I live in New York City right now. I’m in the East Village, which you probably know, and maybe a lot of other people do. And now I run a mental health organization called A Beautiful Mess. And we do talks and events to combat loneliness, depression, and mental health stigma. And yeah, I’m just trying to stay sane during the madness, pandemic life.
TAMAR: It’s hard. Let me just disclose right now. It’s October 20. And I mean, full disclosure for myself. I feel like I might have it a second time. That’s really where we’re going right now. This is like a crazy, it’s a beautiful mess. I will say. Yeah, let me get a little bit more about your history. So you were from the Ukraine. Tell me when did you come to America? I’m sure it contributed to your story. But give me a little bit of background about like how you immigrated to the United States. That story and maybe any challenges that you faced, hardships that you faced along the way?
SASHA RASKIN: Yeah. So we left when I was a toddler. So I don’t remember anything, actually, from the journey. But we did come as refugees to the US. There’s an organization named HAIS, what it stands for Hebrew, international aid society, something like that. And they helped us escape the former Soviet Union. So yeah, we were very fortunate to get their help. And they essentially sponsored Jews who were trying to get to the US. So we lived in Europe and moved around Europe while we were trying to get to the States. And like I said, I don’t remember the journey because I was too young. But that’s probably for the best from what I hear. It was pretty intense. At one point, I’ve obviously heard a lot of stories and a whole family emigrated together, and we all lived in in one room. That was not exactly nice. And there are a lot of pests. And they said the rats are so big they would like you to sleep on surfaces because they were worried the rats were like bigger than me.
SASHA RASKIN: Yeah. So I’m very grateful to not remember that. For sure.
TAMAR: Yeah, it’s interesting. When I was a child, I remember my mother being very involved in like Soviet jury stuff. I don’t even remember what she did. But I remember she had a lot of paperwork in her car. And we were very, very instrumental in that. I mean, obviously, things have changed in the last 20 years. And none of that’s happening anymore. But that was a big part of what she was focused on. So I wonder if she was involved in any of that. I mean, this is in Florida, it was not in New York. But still, that being said, there’s a lot of that immigration, and I had seen her as well in school like kids coming from the Ukraine, or Russia, whatever you say politically correct. I don’t know. Because borders are changing all the time. But yeah, that was my life as a child as well. Like I experienced it from the side.
SASHA RASKIN: Yeah, that’s so interesting. Why was she involved?
TAMAR: I’m not even sure it was just more of like, a grassroots volunteer thing that she decided to take upon herself. And I just remember this was like I said, South Florida, she would go and there would be this office and she pick up papers and she was so young. I wish there was more concrete information that I could provide here because I just remember that she was instrumental in that immigration. I think my family is very diverse, we come from various parts of Europe. My paternal side is Lithuanian, Polish, and Hungarian. My maternal side is Russian and Polish and my mother, I guess maybe it was my mother’s side of the family, she’s like, oh, let me do it. It was never cousins that we were ever immigrating. I think by that point, we were all there. But maybe it came close to our heart that these are people who suffered, like, our previous generations. Let’s help them get to make a home here.
SASHA RASKIN: Yeah, so maybe your mom was responsible for helping us.
TAMAR: I don’t know. I have to ask her. Like I said, there was always some paperwork somewhere. And she’s like, there’s so many theories. Like I just remember that phrase from my early, early childhood years, maybe like five or six years old. And that was like what’s going on? But yeah,
SASHA RASKIN: Yeah. Hopeful.
TAMAR: Yeah, yeah. Well.
SASHA RASKIN: I love stories like that.
TAMAR: I do a lot of genetic genealogy and genealogy in general these days. And I mean, I’m sitting here, and as I read, and I learn about, people’s stories of immigration, I think I’m fascinated by it. Most people, when they do genetic genealogy and use a site like Ancestry in particular, and MyHeritage, those are the two sites that you pull up records, and you can just accept them blindly, without actually learning about the story and about the people who come. And I’m sitting here and I’m reading passenger manifests, like, literally line by line, I want to know what they did for a living, I want to know who they left behind, I want to know where they’re going, I want to put that address down, I want to know how many children they say they had given birth to and how many children are living. I try to really get a full picture of the individual, it ends up taking 13 times I’m just giving random number, but like probably about 13 times longer because I’m actually documenting it as I put it in there. Where if somebody would just accept that hints, like these comes up as hints, and they’re like, this is essentially an entry from 1940. And for me, I don’t accept that centrist entry. I sit there, and I say, Isaac is living with his wife, Sophie, and they have their children Louis, and Lester and Henry and Henry is seven and he’s in school, and he is not working. And his husband is like, his rent is $12,000 a year like, really digging down to the nitty-gritty of this stuff. Because I want, like to store people to not just be like a picture on our name, a word on a page, I want to actually know the story behind their arrivals and what they’re doing and the struggles that they had to go through to bring us to where we are. It’s fascinating, but at the same time, they’re difficult to do. And to just imagine, I’m reading completely different, but like a different perspective, from Naval Ravikant, he owns AngelList. And he was talking about how his father came to America. His father was trained as a pharmacist. He came to America and it was obviously wasn’t transferable. So he ended up working in blue collar services. It wasn’t the opportunity that he was able to bring to America. It’s basically like starting over again, and it’s more of a struggle when you immigrate because it’s just not the education and systems. It’s all very different. But yeah, let’s talk about your story. Let’s talk about where you are today. I mean, you have this amazing, inspirational and educational organization. Tell me how that started.
SASHA RASKIN: Well, yeah, so I started A Beautiful Mess for really personal reasons. I was I think suicidal, depressive, or both of my life. I started college when I was 18 years old, I went to a top university and graduated with honors, I was an agent in Hollywood. And then I even ran a tech company briefly, but I was pretty depressed at the time. And like most of us, I learned to put on a good face. So there’s a chance to wouldn’t have even known that I was dealing with any of that. And then a few years back, things really culminated and I ended up checking myself into psychiatric facility. And it was something I needed because I needed the support, but it was also just terrifying. I really thought that my life was over that no one would want to love me or hate me or marry me or even be my friend. And yeah, so I thought that if I want anything approaching a normal life, I have to keep this a secret and no one can find out and sort of instantaneously as I thought that I decided, I just instinctively decided that I would tell everyone because I didn’t want to lead a life of secrecy and shame. And I didn’t want to perpetuate the stigma. People silence So, I knew I was afraid that I would check it out. I didn’t do something drastic. And so I just wrote a note to as many people as I could, I was in a voluntary unit. And even most voluntary units are pretty strict. We had access to, I was able to use my computer, which is common for psychiatric facilities. But yeah, my first night in there just wrote a note to a ton of people, I think it was 100. I’m not sure. And I told them. And then going forward, I just started telling everyone. And I guess in retrospect, I should have been surprised. That’s obvious now that everyone struggles, but at the time, I was just blown away because so many people had similar stories, and they ended up sharing them with me. And they often told me that I was the only person that they knew outside of their emergency contact list. And I just thought that the craziest thing. Now we’ve built a world where we, the people that were closest to, we’re scared to know what’s actually going on with us because there’s just so much judgment and the soap stick. So, shame on this. And I thought, this is ridiculous. I have to change this. Oh, that’s really why I started A Beautiful Mess, to normalize conversations around the full experience of what it’s like to be human and be alive. Because obviously that is happiness and joy, but also a lot of pain and struggle and hurt. I don’t want people to feel sad. I think that we talk about conditional love, but in our reality that’s so rarely actually felt or experienced. And so I don’t want space for like conditional shipping. You’re beside us. I believe the most beautiful things about us are ugly, messy, and just showing up in our full honesty. And that’s it. Sometimes it’s just really hard to be a human. And I don’t want people to feel like they have nowhere to go. And that’s the case. Because I think too often we feel like people only want us when we’re palatable to them. And that’s a horrible feeling.
TAMAR: Yeah, yeah. Like when we’re in one piece, and I totally hear you. It is true, though it is true. I mean, I relate to your struggle as well. I’m not shy about the fact that I suffered from what I guess was postpartum depression. I’m not really sure to be perfectly honest. But I really feel like there was when I started having children. While I loved having children, I lost the joy of life. I enjoyed the child, it’s very hard to articulate. And as that progressed, eventually, I needed someone to like, I don’t know the right word, but I would say like coddle me or care for me. And it wasn’t until like my fourth child, where I finally felt like, there was somebody that was mentally not in my family. But there was an individual who kind of came into the fray. And I felt like I can give them more than I was able to give to my children because I needed sort of like an emotional stimulation that I wasn’t getting. And it became a codependency and eventually that codependency fell apart, it completely fell apart. Because as you take advantage of, I guess somebody who’s already sort of broken, eventually, it becomes even worse. So you can only imagine If somebody already depressed and then you take that for granted, that’s not sustainable. And I basically fell apart. And it hit my rock bottom. And I wasn’t like tweeting and I wasn’t posting on social media for a very long time. And people are like, oh, you took a hiatus, and like I fake it, like you said, it wasn’t noticeable. It’s like something that you kind of like go out your way. And people think that things are obnoxious to you, but you don’t have the recognition that you’re suffering. Until you hit that rock bottom, and then all of a sudden, you look back retroactively, and like, oh, my God, who was there?
SASHA RASKIN: Yeah. And I mean a lot of the same thing. I used to have 10 panic attacks a day, wake up in the middle of the night with my heart just racing, feeling like I was dying, covered in sweat. And I thought that was normal, I thought everyone lived that way. And that I just sucked at doing it.
SASHA RASKIN: And that’s why, again, the talking about it is so paramount, because if that’s normal for you, you have no idea that you’re going through something pretty severe, and that you need help. And it’s so important that we share more for that exact reason.
TAMAR: Right. I started doing that, in my context of launching a perfume brand for self-care, self-love and self-acceptance. I feel like scent should be an inward journey and not an outward journey of getting the external acceptance, start feeling like you love yourself before that happens. You can be loved by everybody in the world, but unless you feel it in yourself, unless you do it yourself, it’s really mood. And I felt that way for a super long time. And then I started tweeting about it the same way, like you were, and that’s why I felt like it’s so relatable and so nice that we connected, that I was able to use my voice as a platform to start sharing things. And people are like, thank you for being so honest, and raw and vulnerable publicly. That’s not something that people do. And there’s still a stigma around it. And yet, I read people, I read People Magazine, let me say, I don’t do too much anymore. But I used to read People Magazine, and I religiously followed it. And people were very slow to express that they’re flawed people. And just to think about like, it’s a human trait of who we are. And don’t be afraid of not being perfect.
SASHA RASKIN: Yeah. Or be afraid and do it anyway. I think the other part of it is that now I can talk about it comfortably. But initially, I was terrified. I was scared. Shitless . The last thing I wanted to do was tell people that the only thing that sounded worse was to not tell people and to keep it a secret. And so, I think that’s also a really big misnomer that people have, they’re waiting for the right moment, and they’re waiting to not be scared, or they’re waiting to be stronger. They’re waiting for some kind of mythical moment. And I think one of the most powerful things I’ve learned is sort of to do an act even when I’m not always ready to trust that I will rise to the occasion and that I have that strength. Because you don’t know what you’re capable of until you do it. And I don’t know what it’s like to not have fear or anxiety, but I’m just kind of making friends with it and deciding to show up anyway. And I think that it’s kind of like one of the things that I talk about. I think one of the worst aspects of our society and I think it’s hurting our relationships and everything is this need to feel comfortable or good. Some of the most rewarding, beautiful moments, I would say not even some of most, and I’ve brought up deeply uncomfortable topics with friends, like ways our friendship wasn’t working for me or was hurting me or my needs were met. And that’s such a scary thing for us. Because we’re so scared of being abandoned and left but the reward on the other side, if that person meets you the richness of that bond and that relationship grows just exponentially and so, a big part of it is there. Some of you may be able to get to a point where you are fearless or whatever, but for most of us and certainly not me, just because you have the fear or the discomfort doesn’t mean you can’t do it anyway. And these I think feel frustrating because it’s like in school we learn the quadratic formula and all this other crap that we’re never going to use in our lives. But we don’t learn that these are skills, you aren’t born able to figure it out. And nobody teaches you how to have healthy conflict or have deep conversations or meaningful conversations or withstand discomfort, but these are teachable skills, these are things that you can learn. And that’s why I create the spaces for it to be in our own discomfort. I think it’s just one of the most powerful tools ever. And I think it’s why you avoided so many conversations that are critical to our growth and why we’re stuck with, like racism or sexism, why black people are on the streets, because since the 60s, some things have changed. But a lot of habit, and a lot of us, particularly white people are not willing to have the discussions because we don’t want to feel uncomfortable. At a certain point, it’s kind of like felt comfortable, get uncomfortable and get okay with that, and you can be uncomfortable. It’s not going to kill you.
TAMAR: One of the things that I feel like is incredibly empowering right now and being able to share the story in getting this way is that people really come up to you. And like you said, the same thing, like people started approaching you and saying, I’m not telling anybody about the story, except for my emergency contacts. It lends itself and it communicates like you could be, and I don’t know, if you and I want to be this way, but I think we ended up kind of adopting this like role of like therapists in people’s lives, because we’re human and real enough to share that experience. And it’d become all of a sudden, this relatable, slash approachable kind of being. And it’s a role that I never expected that I would have, but at the same time, I’m really excited about it, because I want to be a support system without having that dependency where I’ve been before. I don’t want to latch on to that. And it’s hard because in relationships, I feel I can find myself getting addicted to that desire to help in such a way. I’ve been depressed more than once in my life. And I’ve had two very codependent relationships and those relationships in particular stems from a longing to help somebody but once I started helping I became addicted to the help. You know what I’m saying? I just felt more and more and more. Oh, my God, I love it. I love the high it feels I love what I’m able to do to these individuals. But eventually, there’s only so much you could give of yourself and eventually, it’s like milk. It can’t milk you drive, but they do. And that was the end of those I would say the worst thing that’s ever happened to me. But maybe for the second time around, it was the best thing that happened to me because eventually I experienced what I consider my real growth and where I am today, if not for the fact that I hit that rock bottom. But it’s crazy because yeah, people have come up to me and they asked me for all of this advice. And like, I’m not any different than you. I’m the same as you. The only thing that’s different is that I’m sharing my story.
SASHA RASKIN: Yep. Exactly. Yeah, I mean, one of the things I talk about a lot is like, yeah, because people come up to me and be like, wow, that’s so amazing. You share that you transform the space and the level of dialogue just totally shifted, and blah, blah, blah. And it’s like, well, nobody, like elected me president of sharing club or the mental health club. It’s like, I just made a choice to do it. And you have the same power to change every room that you walk into, just by showing up really fully and sharing what’s actually true and real in your heart. And I think it’s just funny because people act like they’re amazed when I do it. When you do it or when somebody else does, it never occurs to them that they just have so much power and ability to do that too.
TAMAR: Right? On LinkedIn, I started using the hashtag human movement and my whole mentality and the mindset there is that we are all human and we have to stop conveying ourselves as professionals and convey ourselves as the whole person. Yeah, we always are oh, perfect. And now thanks, I actually think Coronavirus for the fact that now we’re seeing a person as a family member, a family man, a family woman, like my husband who’s always at work and works really late and never sees his kids. Now he’s working in my upstairs closet, and we have a kid, for example, in quarantine right now who has to come up in the middle of his business calls and you hear the kid, “Daddy my sm not working,” because if mommy can’t do it, he comes to daddy. And like, thank God for the human movement because we have to stop pretending that professionalism is there but we’re people before we’re professionals, and I’d like to think that we can be family, we can be career oriented, and also family oriented without being exclusive of the other. I mean, it’s funny, my husband is more of a family man over career oriented man, but he’s the one who’s in the office more than me, and I’m more of the career oriented person, but I’ve been working from home since 2007 before I had kids. It’s such a weird dynamic. And now I’m just happy that our reality encompasses our flaws and the fact that it’s high time that we show our offices of us sitting at our computers and zoom in, in our zoom meetings, and kids sitting next to us in zoom school, and have that family photo, like, forget about it.
SASHA RASKIN: Yeah. And I like to talk openly about, because I think the one thing that I will say, I don’t have much social anxiety, and a lot of people speaking in public is utterly terrifying. And sometimes it definitely happens to me, but other times, it doesn’t at all. And I think that, like a lot of things, you take an outside look at me, especially on paper, all the bullshit achievements and stuff, it can seem easy for people. And it’s easy for me. And so I kind of opened up my first workshop I ever ran, I totally was having a little meltdown. And I thought, so much of my life, I had conditioning to kind of like, be this trained monkey and to hide what I was actually feeling to perform for others. And I thought I could do this workshop, and nobody would be none the wiser that I’m really struggling through it, but then it sort of maintains this facade that there’s the leaders, and then there’s us, and they have something that we don’t and I think that’s just bullshit because we are the leaders, every person that makes that choice is in that position. That’s, all it is. And I also think that now’s the time when we see our leadership failing us on so many levels, and we kind of have to step into that ourselves and decide that we can’t hand over the reins like we were steering the ship.
TAMAR: Yeah, 100%. I mean, everybody can totally be the voice of their own struggles. And doing that , and forgive me, I have one right now in the other room who’s crying because something happened in his zoom class. So give me one second. I don’t even know if I want to edit this out. Because this is the reality of the situation. Give me one second because I have this little boy.
SASHA RASKIN: Oh, I totally agree. Well, I think that more than a tantrum in the middle of it always.
TAMAR: I know it happens. Right? Come here. Come here. Give me Give me. (Tamar attends to her child, their exchange inaudible). What’s happening?
SASHA RASKIN: Funny, I teach a class called Toddler Temper Tantrums for Adults.
TAMAR: And I think of my four year old, you can have him?
SASHA RASKIN: Oh, I’m sure. I mean, the funny thing is, there’s a little four year old in all of us that’s like begging for attention. Oh, I can relate to that.
TAMAR: Yeah, yeah. Unfortunately, I don’t even know this kid. But yeah, it’s how I feel as well, every single day and this sort of like what lends itself to this, what we’re suffering from. I think for me, my story of my depression has really kind of come from this place of childlike, where nature versus nurture, maybe that nurturing when I was young, I didn’t have that experience to have that and has become like something and maybe I’m wrong. And I’m not blaming my parents they did. They did great, great work, but psychologically, it’s always been a conversation as I’ve gone through my years of therapy. And my therapist, I’ve always kind of like, pushed me in a direction of maybe, or maybe it wasn’t a journey. I’m just like, I don’t know. But maybe I need to check out that retention thing because I feel like there was that lack?
SASHA RASKIN: Yeah. It’s interesting because I started when I was in the hospital, I started struggling very, very, very severely with abandonment issues for the first time ever, and I just couldn’t figure out where it was coming from. I mean, it was so severe to the point where if a friend would go to the bathroom, I would kind of start hyperventilating and was afraid they were just sneaking out the back window, and I never see them again. And then of course, I was so scared of telling them that because I didn’t want to freak them out. So I kept that all to myself, which of course made it worse. But I couldn’t figure out my parents are still married; they still live in the house that I grew up in. Divorce doesn’t really exist in my family, not my grandparents, or uncles or cousins. And yeah, I’ve had a sturdy upbringing, and in a lot of ways, and so I just couldn’t understand why would somebody like me have abandonment issues of all things and I read an article that was talking about how, attenuation is when your psychological needs are met, and when somebody attenuates to you. So essentially, like a parent responds appropriately to a child’s needs. So if a child is hurt or scared, and the parent yells at the child, or tells them that they’re bad, that’s a very poorly attenuated response. And that emotional abandonment actually has the same effects on your brain and psychological development as actual real physical abandonment. And so, it started to make a lot of sense because I think it’s the same thing. I know that my parents did their best and loved us, but certainly, their emotional responses were not very attenuated. I remember just even being in the hospital, I couldn’t stop crying, and my dad telling me to stop crying, and saying that if I didn’t stop crying, I would stay that way forever. And it’s just his own inability to deal with that and watching his daughter in pain and wanting it to stop and you can’t fix it. So, I understand that at the same time. Yeah, it’s fascinating, because the effects are the same. And I think that often we really minimize emotional health, like, oh, well, if you’re not, especially in like immigrant communities and refugee communities, there’s this pick yourself up by your bootstraps, sort of ethos, but I can really leave people who are struggling and leave them very alienated and very alone. And, and so, they’re saying, we give you everything, we give you shelter, we give you this, but it’s like, actually, if you’re not meeting your child’s emotional, developmental needs, it’s as though you have abandoned them.
TAMAR: I’m terrified as a parent to think about the possibility that I might not be meeting my child’s expectations.
SASHA RASKIN: You probably are. And that’s just the reality.
TAMAR: Yeah. I think all of us are because I had the same thing. Abandonment is exactly where I was. And that’s where I fell. And that’s why it collapsed. Because I was abandoned eventually, by that individual who I became latched on to. And certainly I didn’t want that to happen, but that’s just the nature of the beast. And it was beastly, it was probably one of the worst things that I’ve ever experienced in my life. Because I was so gung ho and I really needed that at that point, giving birth to children and then feeling my needs as somebody who could have external help but unless you have that emotional coddling it’s that’s it for you. And that was what happened, I fell apart. And it was abandonment and I don’t think I could provide the same thing to my children. And my kid right now is feeling like he’s being abandoned, and hence the mummy in the background. That’s just, life right now. I don’t know.
SASHA RASKIN: Yeah. I mean, I’m not a parent, so obviously, there’s limitations to anything I can understand about. But at the same time, I imagine the hardest part of being a parent is knowing that in some way, you’ll probably fail your child. I think the most you can do is just acknowledge that pain. I think maybe it’s not inevitable, I don’t know. But I do think it’s inevitable under our social paradigm where people are so under supported themselves, like, how the hell are you supposed to raise a child, work a full time job, do the laundry, cook, clean, it’s just, we don’t have enough support structure for people whatsoever. And like you said, who’s the person coddling you, you have your own needs to be able to show up for your kids that way. And so, that’s where the self-compassion comes in. And knowing you’re doing your best, but you’re not supported, either. None of us are. And that’s why I think I didn’t mean to turn this into like a revolutionary talk. But I think that’s why our current system is so scary and insufficient, because people are just exhausted, and they feel like they’re left to their own to fend for themselves. And it’s just utterly depleting.
TAMAR: Yeah, yeah. Yeah.
SASHA RASKIN: And then we’re like, why are people so depressed? I don’t get it. Like, gee, I wonder it’s not rocket science, it actually makes perfect sense.
TAMAR: It really does.
SASHA RASKIN: Yeah, we don’t have community support. We don’t have the infrastructure and then we don’t get it. Why? It’s just as baffle
TAMAR: A 100%, a 100%. And it’s difficult because even with the community support, people do not feel like they can articulate the fact that the struggles are going through because God forbid someone might flag them as oh my God, you need help. Like, I was reading yesterday, 31% of people up from like, 10% of people are now suffering with mental health issues because of the coronavirus pandemic. You’re not alone. And unfortunately, everybody I look at, I don’t judge them, I don’t think about them in a way of oh, my God, somebody is going through some sort of mental health struggle. I’m sure they look at me as the person who came back from Twitter, and all of a sudden, we had massive depression. I’m not any different right now 31% of people, but it’s not more than 31% of people we all have basically are crap. We’re all dealing with it.
SASHA RASKIN: Yeah, I mean, even the 31% saying, I’ve actually heard higher statistics for sure. But also, even if it is 31%, that’s still such total bullshit, because when I say it, almost everyone responds with like, oh, yeah, I’ve struggled with mental health, too. And my response is always like, yeah, I mean, no offense. But if you said you didn’t, I would think you were a liar. Like, I don’t know anyone who hasn’t struggled in some way, shape or form. It’s just a question of, if they’re willing to be honest about it. So yeah, and there’s a lot of social pressure to not be honest about it. And I think there’s so many reasons not to share, but the amount of people who will totally be invalid, who you thought of making a gratitude list that’s like, no, gee, why didn’t I think of that? Yeah, we really love to oversimplify and soundbite. But these are really complex issues that are not solved by a gratitude list.
TAMAR: Right. There’s a lot more you need to do. You need to own up to it, you need to acknowledge that you’re struggling, you need to not feel like you need to be identifiable, you need to relate, you need to understand that you’re not alone in this. There are the support system. It doesn’t have to be paid support. It can be camaraderie, people who are going through the same thing all the time. And unfortunately for most of us, it’s not something we want. There’s still 100% fear of stigma.
SASHA RASKIN: Well, this stigma of fear makes sense.
TAMAR: Yeah. Unfortunately, that’s very true.
SASHA RASKIN: Yeah, in time it’s really exciting. I think there’s so far left to go. But at the same time, this is probably the first time in human history where we’re having discussions like these in a more public way than ever before. And I just think about it. And I’m blown away at the progress that’s been made. And just how much the landscape is really changing. And that’s just on one level. On another level, it’s also like, as a woman, I just think about, for most of human history, you and I couldn’t have had this conversation.
TAMAR: Right. I come from a culture Also, we’re having this conversation and making this wide open, it’s like, the stigma is there, we still, it’s not something that that there’s still things about me that I can’t openly express, because I come from the traditional mindset where these are not things that should ever been expressed.
SASHA RASKIN: Yeah, I mean, there’s cultures in which I remember when I had cancer when I was younger, and there were relatives, I thought, who said you should keep it a secret because people might not want to date you, or whatever it is, and we forget how recently, especially for women, it’s like you’re considered, like cattle. Like, what? What can you be traded for? You needed to come from good stock? No, and if you had some kind of issue, which 99.9% of us do, that could potentially affect your breeding status in the eyes of the society. And so it’s like sometimes they’re really frustrated, because there’s just so much further to go. But then other times, I’m just like, wow, if I’d been born in any other time in human history, I couldn’t do even a fraction of what I’m doing. And that’s incredible. I mean, you have somebody living in like, literally Timbuktu. Good stuff, and listened to, and perhaps be changed.
TAMAR: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. And I appreciate the platform. I mean, you creating a voice for so many people and for yourself and allowing that. Let me shift into I guess you’re obviously doing this. And it’s just talking about is self-care. But tell me a little bit about like what you’re doing in that realm.
SASHA RASKIN: Yeah, and self-care. I would say the number one thing that I’m always amazed is really overlooked and not given enough airtime especially in light of how effective it is. I think it’s one of the more effective things I’ve ever done. And it’s one of the least talked about. And so I continue to marvel that, I think everyone should become aware of re parenting if they aren’t already than they should. And essentially, it’s the ability to give yourself the level of love and care that you may not have had or wanted, when you were younger. A lot of our hurt and pain and trauma unfortunately, does start from childhood. And, again, we talked about how this is really the first time in human history that we’re becoming more trauma aware. And as we do, we’re aware of just some of the inadequacies and the trauma that’s been passed down from generations. And so, re parenting to be able to gift yourself the type of love that you may not have been able to receive is one of the most powerful things ever. And so, one of the things for instance, my self-talk initially with depression, went a lot like this. It was called You’re so lazy. You’re such an idiot. You’re just whining and like to complain, nothing’s actually wrong with you. I mean, it was essentially a repeat of variations of that nothing’s actually wrong, you’re just choosing to be lazy and whiny instead of fixing it or stopping being depressed. And that’s just incredibly harsh and cruel, I would never say that to another human being. And so repenting, it’s what you can do, what’s one thing that makes it easier, sometimes it can be hard to give compassion to our adult selves, or our current selves. I mean, I’ve worked on this, like I said, it’s a skill you can grow. So I can do it now. But the beginning, I would imagine myself as a child, the age that came up for me a lot was around two and three, and then five, and six, those ages, for some reason, felt very poignant. And I would imagine myself as that small child, and allow myself to feel whatever I was feeling. So, with depression, obviously, incredible sadness. And I would talk to myself the way I would talk to that little child version of me. So I wouldn’t tell that child oh, you’re lazy, you’re stupid, get over it. I would tell that childlike, come here, let me hold you, I’m so sorry, you feel that way. And I love you so much. And so I really I repair myself, I talk to myself the way that I wish I had been spoken to and sometimes even hug myself. And it’s just an incredibly powerful tool that, like I said, is, I don’t understand why it’s not more utilized, or more talked about in the field. So that’s one thing. I also think somatic practice is incredibly important. I think, particularly in the West, we really over value, our intellect. And we really undervalue our heart and our body, trauma and hurt and pain. These aren’t just intellectual things; these are things that our body stores. And so having a practice where you can acknowledge what’s showing up non judgmentally and allow it to move through your body. So I try to dance most days, I’ll kind of identify the main three emotions that I’m experiencing. And I’ll put on a little soundtrack that’s representative of that. So let’s say, and I’ll kind of try to create a musical narrative to it. So let’s say I’m feeling grief and rage and enjoy. And I’ll usually kind of try to leave on the note of joy, or kind of orient things towards that direction. But yeah, I’ll just dance it out, I’ll go kind of go crazy. And it’s amazing and beautiful, and really, really fun. And it’s like, you can really feel things getting physically unstuck. Which is really great.
Um, gosh, there’s so many things I do. I think meditation is really, really critical, but not for the reasons that were kind of we hear about meditation a lot. Oh, you should meditate. And oh, it’s so good for you when these successful people do it and allows them to focus and this and that, but feel like the part of meditation that we don’t hear enough about. Our society, ironically, what we call civilization is a process of disconnecting people from themselves. We are supposed to work, I don’t even think it’s funny that we even call full time, 40 hours a week. I don’t know any professionals that work 40 hours a week, it’s, it’s understood to be expected that full time means you’re available and on call, like 50, 60 hours a week, minimum. And so you’re busy all the time. You’re working all the time, when you’re not working, you’re distracted, and there’s lights and sounds and flashy objects and watch this and scroll that and just a million things sort of vying for your attention and we become really disconnected from ourselves. We don’t actually know what it is we think and feel, which makes a lot of sense. Like if you want to because most people are miserable, and they just kind of settle for that. Most people work jobs that they don’t give a shit about. They’re working for somebody else, making somebody else a lot of money. Most of them aren’t getting by that well, or if they are just proportionally not well, compared to the owners of the business. And if people started to wake up from that, they’d be like, hey, I don’t want to work my whole life. And then work until I die, essentially. And so, I think people, just kind of shut people off from themselves and meditation, it’s an opportunity to connect to yourself and discover what, who you really are and what you really think and feel when you’re not getting kind of constant input and bombarded from the outside world of buy this, do that, live this kind of life, buy this beauty product, look this way. It’s very easy to lose ourselves and in the nonstop barrage of everything. And so it’s funny, my relationship with meditations all so much like, first I like a lot of people, I used it as a tool, just like, oh, I hear it so good for you. And it helps like, Warren Buffett does it and it helps him constantly, whatever I did, it’s like, wow, I’m understanding what it’s like to be me. And that’s invaluable.
TAMAR: Yeah, yeah, it’s interesting. I tried to meditate for a while, and it didn’t work for me, and I did it. Because everybody’s like, oh, it makes you feel better. For me, I found that it’s interesting, my competitive space is the mindfulness side of things, my perfume for self-care. I literally think that where I’m going is literally like using scent to anchor yourself in the present and to bring you to an element of mindfulness. And versus perfume for wearing and getting the external validation from somebody like, oh, you smell good. It’s about getting the internal use that as a grounding tool, so that you can feel like you are present, and you have the experience of all five senses.
It’s a different mentality. But meditation can come in many forms. And I think what you’re describing is a form of meditation, right? I mean, it’s like, some of my best meditations are just holding a cup of warm coffee in the morning and just breathing it in, and I feel so present and like the feeling of the warmth of the cup in my hand and meditation and just be slowing down and becoming really sensitive and aware. And so it’s not just like sitting there on a cushion, looking like a yogi with your arm in full lotus with your arms crossed. And again, I think that’s one of these misnomers that we have. And just these distorted versions that we present to the world of like, yoga people being like these, these gorgeous, feathery people on beaches or a monk in a city. It’s like, meditation can be art. It can be going for a walk; it can be allowing yourself to be really immersed in something that feels good to you. Like me taking a bath. Sounds like you really do.
TAMAR: Yeah. I want to end with what I call the common sense question. If you can give an earlier version of yourself a piece of advice, what would you tell her?
SASHA RASKIN: Yeah. Have more fun. Take yourself less seriously. Get the stick out of your ass. Yeah, everyone’s going to have an opinion about you. And you need to reconcile yourself to not giving a shit. And there’s just so many variations of what life can be. And I think that I never could have imagined I be here and I just grew up with this very linear understanding of, do this, have this kind of job, get married. And there are certain traditional things that I really want and desire. Like I would love to be married, I’d love to have kids but there are other things that is so clear, that traditional job and how much I need. I am somebody who absolutely needs to live in integrity with who and what I am. And who and what I am is pretty off the beaten track, and owning that, and not settling for these pre circumscribed social narratives and cues. And just doing what calls you and fulfills your heart. That’s, really everything. So yeah.
TAMAR: Yeah, yeah. Awesome. All right, cool. Where can people find you?
SASHA RASKIN: So, I can be found at my website. It’s www.abeautifulmess.org. And definitely don’t go to.com. That’s a different site, although you’ll learn about crafting, so that can be fun. I also I write on Medium. I have a blog there that I’m going to be writing more. Can also find me Sasha Alex Raskin on LinkedIn. My website I directed you to has a lot of ways to contact me: my phone number, my email. It has my Facebook group that I run that is private and confidential. So yeah, lots of ways through there.
TAMAR: Awesome. Awesome. Okay, cool. All right. Well, thank you so much, Sasha. This really been awesome. And I hope everybody realizes there’s no shame in being honest about your struggles. I think the more you do it, the more relatable you are, and the more approachable you are. And people want to hear it. People do want to hear it, they come to you. And they’re like, wow, you share something that should have been taboo to talk about. There’s no reason to be afraid of sharing this history of who you are because literally, there is not a single person who’s ever had a smooth sailing completely amazing life. And I love how some people do have that attitude that they’ve never gone through anything. Everybody has dealt with the BS in their lives. They’ve all gone through their own struggles and turmoil and hardships and all the like. And it’s really important to feel that it’s not to be afraid of talking about real stories.
SASHA RASKIN: SASHA RASKIN: Yeah.
TAMAR: Yeah, thank you. Thank you for I hope you empowered others to talk and share.
SASHA RASKIN: Yes, you’re creating, which is giving an opportunity to do that. So thank you so much. I’m really glad I could be here.
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