Two years in

Shae Ashbury was born two years ago. And what an interesting two years it’s been.

Being an escort isn’t like TV or the movies. It’s lighter on the shopping sprees, and heavier on spreadsheets and to-do lists and careful budgeting and pulling my hair out over the correct wording for ad copy. It’s waking up early for workouts, fretting over whether I’m getting enough protein in my diet, and furiously rearranging my schedule. It’s talking to lawyers and accountants and financial advisors. It’s late-night conversations with friends — fellow providers — who are being outed or stalked or harassed, or who simply feel lost or frustrated or scared.

Yes, it’s also lolling about in hotel suites, city lights glittering at us. It’s hopping onto planes and boats, ducking into cars, gliding uptown or downtown or across the river. It’s slipping a pedicured foot into a strappy sandal, sipping champagne while getting a blowout, coordinating lingerie with a dress with a belt with earrings. It’s reading food blogs and entertainment blogs and making lists of date ideas. It’s fat envelopes with love notes tucked in. It’s sweet, silly pillow talk. It’s putting my wishes into words, and then having those wishes granted.

And, it’s about helping people enjoy their one little life.

***

I hit a rough patch this April. I pushed myself a little too hard; I started showing signs of burnout, and then boom, I caught pneumonia. The timing of my illness doesn’t seem coincidental. The mind-body connection is real. And the month of April will always hold special significance, as it’s when I lost someone very dear to me.

Being sick — very sick — put me in an odd state of mind.

Absent a healthy body, does Shae Ashbury even exist? You may adore me as a person — my wit and so on — but my worth as Shae hinges on my ability to see clients, to show up for an appointment healthy and ready for whatever is to come.

The person is the product. When the person is not healthy, the product loses value.

I’m better now, of course. By forcing me to take a break, the illness gave me space to take stock, reassess, strategize, and binge-watch some TV.

Plus, I was overwhelmed by kindness and generosity during my illness. A network of friends (clients and providers both) showed up and had my back. I couldn’t be more grateful for the boost. I needed it, even if I was loath to admit it. I’m a proud and stubborn person; but next time I’m not ok, I’ll be more willing to ask for help. There is no shame in needing a little help sometimes, even if it’s just a few words of encouragement. (I write that as a reminder to myself more than anything).

Providers can often fall into a self-isolating, me-against-the-world mindset. To some extent, it’s rational: plenty of people would maliciously destroy us, if given the opportunity. We always need to hold our cards close to our chest; letting our guards down can have disastrous consequences.

Yet, there are always people willing to help. Find the helpers.

And, if you have the emotional bandwidth: be a helper.

***

Two years in, I find myself both humbled and proud — and a lot more willing to give and receive help.

And I find myself a bit more cognizant of my limits, of how far I can push myself without losing myself.

***


This post was written by Shae Ashbury. Want to help me celebrate my Terrible Twos? Visit my booking form, gallery, patronage and details, and testimonials. If you found this post valuable, consider tipping me by emailing a Net-A-Porter or Etsy gift card to shaeashbury@protonmail.ch. Thank you for your support!

Shae Ashbury