A Path to Healing

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The path to self-growth is not linear. It is a meandering journey through mountains and valleys, and occasionally there are more lows than highs. But it is a journey ever onward, and it is our light—that same light that exists in every one of us—that guides the way, if only we allow it to shine. -Rachel Grayczyk

It feels like often it takes something big happening in my life to point out the areas that need to be addressed. The areas within me that I’ve been running from or that seem too painful to really stop and take a good look at and heal.

A breakup or divorce, losing a job, losing a friend, getting sick. I’ve experienced all of these things and what I know now is that they are all messengers. They come with profound knowledge and insight. But they also come with a lot of heavy emotion that I often like to dust under the rug. Pain, sadness, heartbreak, anger, regret, resentment, fear, abandonment, betrayal — these emotions aren’t pleasant. At times they can feel like the most painful thing in the world. Who hasn’t experienced a heartbreak we thought we’d never recover from?

But what I also know now is that THOSE are the golden nuggets. Those are the moments and experiences that gain the wisdom. Those emotions are the messages waiting to be peeled back and dove into deeper. Those nuggets are actually the path to true peace and happiness.

We are all incredibly intuitive beings and already have the answers to the questions we seek within. Who said that originally? Rumi? Buddha? Whoever it was, I fully believe it to be the truth.

Recently I developed a massive rash all over my face. To some, it’s just a rash. To me, it means something more.

It looks a lot like acne but it’s not. I know it’s not. It is hot, very inflamed and itches. And that it seemed to get inflamed when I eat certain things like coconut. And I know enough, I’m intuitive enough, to know that it means something.

This rash, to me, is a message. I know, that sounds a little woowoo for some but I really believe that our bodies are incredibly smart and so many of our ailments are messages from something deeper within. Wake up calls trying desperately to get us to address the deeper issues that are in a way, holding us back.

I know on a deeper level there are several reasons for my rash. One, I’m consuming something my body doesn’t like and I need to pay closer attention to what I eat and drink and how i feel after. Do I experience a reaction right away or is it delayed? I’ll get into this more in another blog post.

Two, there is a huge emotional component. I’ve been hiding from some things in my life that need to be addressed and my body seems to like to get me to wake up through body ailments.

The traumas of my past are finally speaking up and asking to be dealt with. All that hurt, resentment, anger, it’s been bubbling up quickly the last few months and I feel my body is asking me to look at it for real this time.

I was also dating someone for the last six months whom I adore and love. However, I knew he and I were in different places and wanted different things but fought against that inner knowing and tried to fit this square peg in a round hole.

These things combined created a toxic environment inside of me, always questioning, always frustrated, always sad or questioning, “what’s wrong with me?” This triggered the only way I would listen — a horrible skin rash on my face.

And this is why I love the body. Because it never lies to us. It’s always seeking to show us the truth, get us to listen, get us to show up for ourselves, through messages.

I believe we can heal ourselves in a multitude of ways if we just stop, get really still and listen for the answers. Listen to those little pings, those nuggets of truth, those whispers that say, “he’s not good for you, or don’t eat that, don’t take the job, don’t say yes to the thing even though it “looks” good on paper — just wait.”

I would like to point out that that’s not to say I don’t believe in taking action. We have to take action. But maybe we need to pause a bit more, give ourselves space and time before we react? At least I know I sure do.

I also believe in western medicine. I do. 100%. I thank it daily because if not for it I would be dead. I know this. But I believe too many of us use it as a bandaid. A quick fix. At times, myself included. But sometimes if not most of the time a headache simple means you are dehydrated and need more water. Sometimes it is signaling you need rest or to actually look at something you’ve been avoiding. Taking a pill is a quick and easy fix but often we are reacting with the quick fix instead of addressing the issue. What would happen if we pause and just ask ourselves what we need instead?

If we just took the time to explore more of what our body, our heart and our soul are trying to tell us, what would happen in our lives?

This is what I’ve been thinking a lot about since the last time I wrote. Writing has always been incredibly therapeutic for me. It’s been a catalyst for discovery, exploration and ultimately, what paves the path to my own growth and ultimately, my healing.

Lately I’ve been called to share where I’m at in a different way. Cancer took a toll on me physically, mentally and definitely emotionally.

The last two years have been extremely challenging in a multitude of ways for me but the amazing thing is, I’m finally at a point in my growth where I can look at challenge in my life and see the parts that are getting me to stretch beyond my comfort zone and grow.

The dance for me is and always has been to learn to balance my emotions, to not be so reactionary, to let go of all the stories I took on for years, and honestly, find my voice and figure out who the heck I am and fully embody that. Even if it means others in my life may disapprove.

Developing my tumor two years ago has been the greatest teacher so far. I think I’ll have to tell that story sometime because it was one of the most frustrating and terrifying experiences of my life. Yet, looking back it’s taught me so much. Getting a rare and confusing cancer diagnoses, the whole process of learning about that, surgery, treatment, and recovery from that has felt like one big uphill climb and I just couldn’t catch my breath. My normal disposition is to keep pushing on. To do all the things in the same way I always have. What I’m learning now is I just can’t. I’m not that person anymore. Or, maybe I never was.

I actually need a lot of downtime. I need a lot of rest and relaxation. I need quiet. I need to not over schedule myself or have very many plans throughout the week. I function better on more spontaneity and I definitely need to allow myself the space to make a decision instead of saying yes to everything out of fear of missing out like I normally do.

So, I’ve spent the last few weeks sitting with that and trying my best to get really honest with myself. I’ve been asking myself some really tough questions.

But it’s always when I feel like I’ve hit a bottom that God (ie: Universe, Source, Life) steps in to remind me of the very thing I’m not addressing and if I did, it would change everything. Rashes, breakups, anger and resentments rising to the surface, massive hormonal chaos. All huge messages right now for me.

I find myself in a place I’ve never been before. I’m excited. Almost giddy about what is to come. It feels like the calm before a storm but not a destructive storm like in the past. A tranSTORMation is what I’m calling it. A big one. One that will allow me to peel back even more layers and show up as the real me even more.

So what is next?

Trauma, whether emotional, mental or physically (usually it’s all three combined), doesn’t look the same for everyone thus healing can’t look the same for everyone either. We all have the opportunity to embark on our own healing journey. And that is exactly what I am doing.

As I said to my therapist via text the other day, “It’s time. It’s time to go deeper.”

So that is what I’m doing. I’m investing in me in a way I never have. I’m taking this whole healing thing a few steps deeper. It’s not a one size fits all plan. It’s tailored just for me. I’m looking at all areas of my life and getting very honest and I plan on sharing what I’m doing for myself to heal along the way. I plan to really show up in this space consistently and offer you an experience that may open a few doors of curiosity for you as well.

But please remember, this is MY path and it may not feel right for you. It may trigger you or cause uncomfortable feelings to arise in you. May I invite you to explore that more deeply? It’s just an invitation for you to possibly look at your life differently too. You have to go on your own exploration. Your own journey. You have to try things on, listen to those little nudges and find the courage to step forward on your own path. .

So raise your glass of organic green celery juice (that’s all I’m drinking these days) and cheers with me. Because t’s time to really heal.

Liar Liar Pants On Fire, The Truth Shall Set You Free

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“Above all, don't lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others. And having no respect he ceases to love.” 
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky

When I started writing in this space almost five years ago, my life was going down a very different path. This blog was called The Savoury Soul and it was where I attempted to talk all things health and wellness.  

I say I was attempting to write about health and wellness but everything felt very sterile and forced. My writing was a mix of how to's and unwarranted 'do this and you'll be happier!' advice. 

What I really should have been writing about, what would have felt way more original and authentic, would have been, "do this and this so everyone you know thinks you have the perfect little life.” And under no circumstance whatsoever admit or even hint at the truth.

All I remember was feeling like the biggest fraud and that I had so much to say, so much to share, but what I was writing about was not even close to being it. 

Instead, I spent a lot of time fluffing up my life and pretending I had it all figured out. 

In reality, what I really wanted to share was the truth. I wanted to scream out, "Hey! I have no friggin' clue what I'm doing here and I want out of my marriage but I have everything I ever thought I wanted so why am I so unbelievably sad and miserable? And why is it that when I look in the mirror I have no idea who the person I'm looking at is? And does anyone else out there feel this way?"

That is the stuff I really wanted to write about. 

The truth.

Real life. Real stuff. Real feelings. 

Raw, gritty, honest to God truth.

I wanted to expose the complicated feelings I was experiencing from being married to someone who had no idea who I was nor really even cared to find out. I wanted to write about how I had no idea who I was either but was desperate to find out.

I wanted to talk about how I had everything I ever thought I wanted but all the stuff in the world couldn't fill the ever growing hole inside. I needed to confide in someone, anyone who’d listen, that sometimes I’d dream about telling my husband that I was going to the grocery store and get in my car and drive away. And just keep driving. 

I wanted to tell the story of how on my wedding day as I stood in front of my family and the two friends I was "allowed" to invite, I wasn't thinking that this was my dream day. I was looking around thinking about all the people I wished were there but weren't because my ex made a big stink about the fact that this was his second wedding and "nobody wanted to come to a second wedding."

"How do you think it makes me look Amanda?" He asked. I remember thinking, "But...it's not just about you. Shouldn't we compromise? Isn't that what love and marriage is about? Give and take? Shouldn't you want to see me beaming from the happiness and joy I feel from having all the people I love at our day? 

 Instead, I stood in front of the twenty people in attendance and said my vows while secretly wondering how long it would be before we got a divorced. Instead of being in ah of this person I was committing my life too, I stood there with a fake smile saying some of the most important words to a man who no more then two weeks later met another women on a business trip.

I wanted to share how the first time I learned of him cheating was before we were even engaged. I wanted to leave then but was terrified because I didn't know what I would do. And then he said all the perfect words knowing very well that I would cave from hearing those words. I'm sorry. You mean everything to me. I will be better. I don't deserve you. I love you. 

He promised he'd change. He'd get help and go to therapy. And I was a sucker for empty promises. I was addicted to the love you think you feel from being told that US was finally enough to create change. That you really mean something. That you are worthy enough for them to change. 

I wanted to share that not much about US worked and I wondered if others were living in marriages that felt like living in a glass house. Just one more lie and everything may shatter around you.

 Were others drawing the drapes closed tightly at night to cover the truth of their relationships too? Were others as desperate to keep their lies tightly sealed just like I was?

I wanted to write with such brutal honestly that when I reached the end of the page I would feel empty, cleaned out and purged of all the lies I was telling others and myself. I needed to shed the excess weight so I could stare naked in the mirror and see Amanda for the first time.

But I couldn't. Instead, I filled these pages with boring facts that made me feel inauthentic. All because I knew that once I shared, there was no going back. Once it was out there everyone would know I, Amanda Whitworth, was a big…fat…lier.

So I just kept quiet and kept writing about boring topics because I felt called to write but was too afraid to write about what it was I felt called to share. 

Those thoughts and feelings, those would stay buried deep within, folded into the layers of my heart.

But the truth will set you free they say and freedom was what I was longing for. So once I had a reason that was good enough, once I had been broken and beaten down just enough, I got up the courage to say "no more!"  And I ran 1200 miles away to a little beach town so I could give myself the space and time to finally open up my heart and share what it is I'm suppose to share.

The truth.  

And the most interesting thing has happened with being brutally honest. Every time I open up and share a little bit more of my truth I feel free.

I have given myself permission to peel back the layers and get down and dirty with the God honest truth and it’s become harder and harder to lie to myself. Sometimes the truth hurts. Sometimes it really sucks having to referee the battle between my head and my heart and make a decision that I know is best for me but I don’t want to make. Sometimes that decision brings about it’s own pain. 

I’ll tell you one thing though, the feeling I get when I’m honest with myself and take action upon that honesty is almost indescribable.

No amount of sex and drugs or food and exercise or shopping or anything else that temporarily fills those holes and stuffs down those lies can make me feel as high and full as the way the truth does.

And that, my dear, is why the truth shall set you free.

So that you can be.  

Single Female Seeks the Butterflies

"Fuck butterflies. I feel the whole zoo when I'm with you." - Unknown. 

The other day I was swiping through Bumble in an effort to totally and completely distract myself for a few minutes when I started cracking up at the irony of what I was doing. I wonder if I should change my profile to say, "Single women with cancer of unknown primary source seeks tall, dark and handsome man. I laughed out loud. "Fuck that!" I thought to myself.  What she actually seeks is a kind, compassionate, empathetic and incredibly patient man who will hold her hand through the scary and shitty parts of life."  I laughed again as the smile on my face started to fade and the unavoidable reality settled back in. 

Single woman with cancer seeks kind, compassionate, empathetic and patient man who will hold her hand through the scary and hard parts of life. 

I know this should be the very last thing on my mind right now but for the last few days it has been all consuming. I think it's because I'm craving the endorphins that comes with happy newness and right now everything is so unknown and scary. But what I want more then anything, is to get tangled up in matters of the heart. I can't help but wonder if all this would be easier if I had someone walking by my side every step of the way. Someone who says sweet things like, "Babe, we'll get through this together." Someone who I can rest my head on his should and cry. Someone who, despite everything, sends me into uncontrollable fits of laughter. 

But I don't. And that's my reality right now. I don't even have a crush on anyone at this moment in time. Zilch. Nada. No one. Not one single person. There isn't one single guy out there that gives me butterflies. And for this overly romantic heart of mine, that makes life a little boring. From the time I can remember, I've ALWAYS had a crush on someone. 

I'm sure there is a reason behind all of it. Surely, there is a reason I'm going through this without a person to call my own. Surely I need to be reminded (once again) just how strong and capable I am. (yes, that's sarcasm you hear)

But then again, who's gonna want to date a gal freshly diagnosed with the big "C?"

Can you imagine a first date right now? 

"So Amanda, tell me about yourself?" says potential suitor. Yes, the question sounds like one you'd get at a job interview but aren't first dates kind of equivalent to that? 

"Well, where do I start?" I say. " I'm super active, I love being in the mountains and outdoors in general. I make bad ass wood art and I'm in school for Graphic and Web Design. Oh, yeah....I totally forgot. I was also just diagnosed with cancer and they can't seem to find where it started in my little old body." I pause, taking giant sip of my organic green juice. "This was fun. Wanna go on a second date?" 

I can see the remnants of dust as said suitor peels away quickly in his car, frantic to get away from the girl with the big "C."

I imagine a lot of these feelings have to do with the fact that my family is 1200 miles away and the initial dust has settled and I'm alone here in my little home in Encinitas...with cancer and everything feels like it's going at a snails pace and all I want are the friggin' butterflies and to not think about cancer and instead, think about the man behind the butterflies. Is that too much to friggin' ask?

Yes, I do believe a lot of the feelings of loneliness are circling about right now because I am so far away from my people. We talk daily but I'd give anything to be in the same room as all of them right now. I'd give anything to be back amongst the green trees of the Pacific North West enveloped in snuggles and hugs. 

So my reality is just feeling a little dark right now as I move from one stage of grief to the next. Out of shock and denial into pain and anger. It's as natural as taking a breath and I'm fully committed to honoring this process but I can just as easily honor this process with butterflies in my belly as I can without. So throw me a friggin' bone God, will you? Give me the butterflies!

 I imagine that my obsessive thoughts about dating stem from wondering if I'd feel as lonely if I had a partner to fight along side me, holding my hand through all the scary tests and decisions I'm about to face? 

I haven't once asked why me but the last few days I've been feeling that questions peak up from deep down. I know the 'why' doesn't matter. The 'what I will do with all of this' does. I know what is important is how I let this experience move and transform me. How I allow this process to give me what I need to help others down the road. 

But hey, can I please have a side of butterflies too?