Week 2: Let's Be Honest, I Kind of Suck at Slowing Down

yurt life and slowing down.jpg

Back in July when this whole move came about I felt deeply in my gut that one of the main reasons I was being called to move to Bodega and live this way of life was to slow down and simplify so that I could really figure out who I am and what I am here for.

Well, almost three months in and I must confess. I kind of suck at the slow down.

On my drive to Encinitas this week I was deep in thought about how something just felt off. I’m not going to sugar coat it. The last two months have been hard. Transitions are never easy and I have no idea why I always think the next one I’ll just glide through it with absolutely no bumps, no questioning, no anything remotely emotional (Said the most emotional person in the world. Insert eye roll here). Now mind you, I don’t just go through small transitions. All mine are like, uproot and change every aspect so I feel totally unstable and ungrounded kind of transitions. And this one was definitely no different.

And I should have known better when I broke my foot and had a sudden relationship ending all within the span of three days a week before I moved that this one was probably going to take the cake. That life, something bigger, was pushing me out of the next. It was time to get really uncomfortable.

While at The Home Depot a week and a half before I left, I dropped a 4 ft by 8 ft sheet of plywood on my left food from about 2-3 feet up and watched it all happen in slow motion as I lost my grip and the wood came crashing down before I could get my food out of the way.

Then, three days later over dinner the guy I was seeing and I ‘accidentally’ broke things off. I’m serious. We were fully intending to continue exploring our relationship from a distance but I now see that that wouldn’t have worked for me. I still look back and think, WTF happened there?

THAT my friends, is a perfect example of how the Universe steps in because you aren’t doing the very thing you know you need to do. I knew he wasn’t right but he was a really amazing guy and there were SO many things about him that did feel right it was easier for me to not listen to that small voice in the back of my mind that was saying, “Nope. This is still not it but it’s close.”

So when I wasn’t icing and elevating my foot and trying to figure out why the hell my relationship ended out of nowhere, I was looking up into the heavens with a smirk saying, “Ok, ok! Jeez la weez! Pipe down up there I’m picking up what you are laying down already.

Let go and surrender.

But sometimes I don’t want to surrender. Sometimes, I really want to control every single aspect of my life until my insides are wound up so much that I explode like one of those creepy Jack In the Box’s because I can’t take the pressure any longer.

So I moved here with a broken foot and a super bruised heart and sat alone in a yurt in the middle of nowhere wondering what the fuck did I just do.

All the while in the back of my head I kept hearing a voice say, “Just slow down Amanda. It’s okay to slow down.”

So I tried. Some of it was unintentional because the emotional force of the transition had me literally paralyzed at times…with a broken foot. Other times I remembered that little voice in the back of my head and intentional tried to discern what slowing down even meant.

To be clear, that little voice in the back of my head is something we all have. It’s called our higher self, our intuition, our inner guidance. It’s the one that told me to move to Encinitas and also told me to buy a saw. It’s the one that told me to look on my ex-husbands computer and ultimately leave my marriage. It’s the one that says, “don’t go down that dark road.” The one that always guides me to my next thing and never leads me astray. And I remembered that about a year and a half ago, it started telling me to slow down and simplify my life.

Except, what I realized on my drive to Encinitas this past week was that I’m not exactly sure I even know what that means for me. And that I am really good at pretending I’m slowing down but in reality, I’m still just busying myself and my mind.

I also think it’s easy to look around and see other’s definitions and take bits and pieces of what they are doing and apply it to our own reality which in part is a way of figuring out what is true for you and I was doing that but something felt off.

Most of the time I think I’m slowing down but I’m really still doing. Like for example, I take Baker on walks and bring my phone and listen to music or a podcast. Sometimes that’s fine but mostly it’s just another distraction. Or I sit on my couch and work on macrame or weaving something on my new handmade loom while watching another episode of Scandal and I convince myself this is the slow down. And maybe for some people it is. But for me, something still fells off.

So on my drive to Encinitas I thought more about this. How the week leading up to this trip I was rushing and caught back in the hustle of getting it all done and I just kept thinking, I don’t like this feeling. I mean, I LOVED most of what I was doing. I was back to creating and just so in the flow but I also felt the old stories of validation from my business start to creep back up. Look at me I’m SO BUSY. I must be worthy now.

And I know very clearly I don’t want that existence. And I’m tempted to say that I know there will be times in life where the hustle is sometimes necessary but is it? Or is that just a deep seeded conditioning by society. Have we just been so programmed to believe that we really need to work hard to play harder? Do we really have to burn the candle at both ends to feel successful?

So today I’m back from my trip down to Encinitas where I was commissioned to make this barn door and I’m recommitted to understanding what the slow down truly means to me. And to understand this, I have to get quiet and really listen.

To be continued.

Dealing With Mental Health: PTSD and Borderline Personality Disorder

Amanda Whitworth Mental Health

“Your present circumstance don’t determine where you can go; they merely determine where you start.” - Nido Qubein

About a week ago I had an assessment with a Psychiatrist at Moore’s Cancer Center to be evaluated for some mental health issues that had been coming up in a pretty significant way for the last few months. In reality, these issues have been haunting me for a very long time.

I sat before him and poured out my life story, tears streaming down my face as I observed the parts I felt most compelled to share.

At the end of our session, he confirmed what I had already intuitively known, I was in the midst of PTSD. However, he also confirmed something else that, if I’m honest, I already intuitively knew as well; Borderline Personality Disorder.

I sat, staring blankly at him as my memory recalled the moment so many years ago when I found out my dad was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder and over the years, a part of me always wondered if I had that in me too.

As he shared the ins and outs of Borderline Personality Disorder and PTSD, a interesting thing happened. There was a lightness deep within my chest as I felt the shackles of perfection fall to the ground. I felt the little girl inside who was, and still is, highly sensitive. The one who learned to stuff down her trauma from years of emotional abuse and abandonment by a man who was suppose to protect her shout, “finally! I am free!”.

I realize my years of numbness followed by intense anger, impulsivity, mood swings and irrational thoughts and years worth of binging and purging and starving myself were not all for naught. Rather, a way of coping with something my child mind couldn’t make sense of.

I don’t think it was just a label that was so carelessly and casually given to me because as I listened to him speak about these two disorders, my life, my behaviors, my emotional responses, they all started to make sense and fall into place.

I didn’t walked out of that appointment feeling like a victim. I walked out of that appointment feeling a deep sense of empowerment because now I understood. Now I got to really start the process of healing and knowing myself, my past and my behaviors with compassion instead of self-hatred, judgement and resentment. There was a softness I felt towards myself I have never known before.

Now I get to develop the tools to thrive instead of constantly beating myself up for a way of being that, at times, feels uncontrollable.

I’ve sat wondering the last week how much I should share. If I even wanted to share this truth openly with you or keep this part of me to myself. I worry that you have already retracted a bit and pulled back hearing the words Borderline Personality Disorder.

I worry now there is an unconscious judgment towards me.

I am afraid that someone will come to my website looking to buy my art and read this post and decide otherwise.

I’m nervous that you may think I’m seeking attention or pity or being dramatic.

I’m scared of the rejection I may face because I’m choosing to let go of the mask of perfection and embrace my mess.

Then I think about all the people out there living in their own little hell and how every time I share bits and pieces of my pain, my shattered parts, my story, it finds it’s way to the person who needs it who is quietly struggle to find meaning in their own mess too.

I realized that hiding and concealing these parts of myself isn’t who I really am and that part of my purpose, my authenticity is sharing. Not just the highlight reel but the REAL and this is a truth of mine that needs to be shared.

The truth of being a complicated human being.

The truth of suffering years of back to back trauma from a disease I feel like I have little control over — with myself and my mom and brother.

The truth of being abused as a child in a way that I justified as a normal because I didn’t suffer it physically.

The truth of the intense amount of shame I’ve carried for the things I have and have not done in my life.

And although there are parts of this journey I am not ready to share opening because I’m afraid of the repercussions of exposing the person involved, I think I can share in an authentic way none the less.

This isn’t only for my own healing but also for anyone else who is struggling with the embarrassment, shock, confusion and even relief that comes with finally having answers to some painful questions.

So now what? What does someone do when they fit a piece of their life puzzle together that may not be ideal, but necessary for finding meaning in their life?

You move forward.

You take this new information and instead of compartmentalizing it you lean into it, absorb it, integrate it and learn to listen to this side of you more.

You go to those painful places, no matter how much it hurts knowing that you will be okay knowing the truth.

You seek professional help. I can not emphasize this enough. Do not try to do this alone. That is exactly what I did for years.

You seek a community not to wallow in but to uplift, understand. and relate to.

And for me personally, I’m going to continue to slow my life down, eliminate anything that adds more stress, get more intentional, continue making small changes that are long overdue and peel back another layer.

I know very clearly that I have nothing to be ashamed of and I don’t believe this means I am a broken or unlovable woman. I will not hide from this. It’s a delicate dance that requires me to ask for help, get honest with myself regularly and let go of the shame I’ve attached to so many things in my life.

I will not fall victim to it but use it as a catalyst to know myself in a way I still don’t, to love myself deeper, heal and hopefully impact people in a genuine and helpful way.

In order to do that, I need to own and forgive my past and slow down enough to allow myself the grace of healing.

Grace is something I have only recently just met.

And we are getting to know each other slowly.