Many years ago, my former spouse put his hand on my shoulder, pressed it down, and bitterly asked, “Are you still growing?”
Such a powerful metaphor for his massive need to control, limit, and define me.
I would like to answer that question today and say, “Yes, of course, I’m still growing. All healthy people continue to learn and grow throughout their lives.”
These are some of the ways I have grown and continue to grow physically, mentally, emotionally, socially, and spiritually.
- Physically: I got to know my body, and I give it what it needs. I eat what is healthy for me. I drink plenty of water daily. I do some kind of exercise every day. My exercises include yoga, Pilates, weight training, and walking. I taught myself how to get a good night’s sleep. If insomnia is an issue for you, read Say Good Night to Insomnia by Gregg D. Jacobs, PH.D. I begin every morning with stretches I got from my chiropractor to alleviate lower back pain. If I don’t sit down or stand still too long, I’m pain free. Most important, I recognize toxic people and set up boundaries!
- Mentally: I had to learn to reprogram my mind from all of the negative messages I received since childhood and on into the abusive marriage. I currently have the following signs hanging up, and I say them aloud several times each day: I am a hero. I am a survivor. I have a choice. Choice is freedom. I do not allow anyone to define or limit me. I can say what I want to say. There is nothing wrong with me. I am a capable person, and I can handle anything that comes my way. I do my mirror work. I journal, read, write, and do artistic crafts. Again, toxic people are bound up!
- Emotionally: I learned how to identify my feelings and emotions, and I allowed myself to feel them in my body. I learned how to speak up for myself and to tell my story. I am doing a much better job expressing what I am feeling. I allow myself to experience the full range of human emotions instead of shutting down. i am experiencing a healthy relationship with my adult children. Again, I bound up the toxic!
- Socially: Once I learned how to identify toxic people, I came out of isolation. I learned not everyone is out to destroy me! I have a few close friends. Next, there are friends. Then, I have acquaintances. Finally, all of the toxic people are bound up and put into either no or limited contact. I feel free and good about my choices.
- Spiritually: I pray every day and read spiritual text. I have a great sense of myself as a lovable, loving, valuable and worthy person. I know that I am a spiritual being living in a physical body. I am thankful for my health and the wonderful people in my life. I have a very deep appreciation for nature. Mindfulness and meditation are essential daily practices. My spiritual practice guides me in recognizing toxic people.
We are whole and complete beings. Therefore, the above five categories all overlap. For example, knowing you are a valuable and worthy person helps in addressing all of the other areas. I also have great professionals who help me in all of these areas. Therapy is a sign of courage and strength and not a sign of weakness.
I have used a lot of I’s. However, I am not self-centered or narcissistic. I am practicing self-care.
So back to the original question posed by my former spouse, “Are you still growing?”
My response today is a resounding, “Yes, I am still growing! In fact, I have grown so much that you would not be able to get anywhere close enough to me to put your hand on my shoulder!”
Never give up! You were meant to thrive!