“If you’re not growing, you’re dying” – a phrase I’d heard and even repeated so many times over this wild journey of inner work.
The thing I didn’t realize though is growing IS dying. And it fucking feels like it. Expansion is expanding beyond what we know, what we feel, our limits. And nothing about that is comfortable or easy.
Growth requires us to face things, it requires us to face our own prejudice, limits, beliefs, and our failures and fears. It requires us to walk through the flame, to be burned up in what no longer serves us, what never did really serve us but we convinced ourselves it did.
Once upon a time I suited up in armour, wore it like a glove. It was me and I was it. Somehow the justifiably jaded, walls with spikes, keep everyone at bay worked. It made me safe for a while but all it really did was imprison me.
It got smaller and tighter until there was no room left, no oxygen supply, until I fell to the ground, gasping for air, still waiting for someone to save me, only realizing no-one could. I was the only person who had the keys to the suit I wore.
Taking it off, brick by brick is like ripping your own skin off, skin that is diseased and full of problems but skin that’s been with you, protected you, held you close, made you feel safe, even if it was a lie, because it was the only thing that did.
Breaking it down and being exposed is painful. The growth that is forced is painful. I remembered clearly and too harshly just why I had out the suit on in the first place. Because the world can be harsh place.
When you don’t learn how to defend yourself, how to stand up for yourself, how to enforce boundaries and when you don’t learn what healthy relationships are, when your only escape is inside of yourself, having to learn this as an adult is hard.
It’s hard to realize you’re now raising yourself, parenting yourself through the newness, the growth, the pain, the hurts, the vulnerability, the rawness of being in the world without your armour.
It can be too much and we retreat, in and out, armouring up and tearing down, each time, tearing down more walls, peeling back more layers, going deeper, until we find the place where it all doesn’t hurt so much anymore.
That place where we finally understand worth and value and our right to basic human kindness, to be heard, to be witnessed, to be cared about, to be loved and if not those things at the very least, not to be destroyed.
Sometimes I look a the themes and patterns and people in my life and I realize I’ve had a love affair with people who tore me apart and cut me down. The old me would wall up and shut down and retreat behind the safety of my walls.
The new me, walks away.
It took me a long time, too long, to know my rights, my values, my worth and I spent a lot of time engaging with people who showed me my flaws, who pointed out my wrong doings and I spent a lot of time pulling at their pant legs, showing off my paper, look at me, see me, pick me, love me, choose me…
To no avail…
The harder I shouted the less they heard me.
But the more I grew and expanded the more I really began to see that had nothing to do with me at all. Could I change? Did I need to? Absolutely. We all do. A healthy dose of self reflection is the best medicine, always. BUT… I always thought I was wrong. I always found a way to blame myself. I still catch myself in that cycle from time to time.
I always knew that on an intellectual level but I never got it in my soul. Somewhere inside of me I always believed it must be me. I always just saw myself as the problem. Somewhere along the way I lost belief in myself, faith in myself, confidence in myself.
Believing in myself was the hardest thing I ever had to do. I had to expand through beliefs, expand through hardships, grow through other people’s blame, grow through other people’s images and ideas of who I should or needed to be in order to make them happy.
Expansion is hard. Growth IS dying because in order to grow into the person you are really or your highest potential you’ve got to give up what holds you back and what holds you back is attached to a lot of fucking bullshit – a lot of moments of impact, of trauma, experiences, beliefs that make us believe we’re not enough somehow.
Those wounds are exposed without your walls and to grow you have no choice but to face them and expand through them, learn the lesson, pick up the pieces of yourself that you lost when the wound was created and the cut the cords to the baggage it created so you can soar.
In order to move forward we must let go of what holds us back. And in order to know what exactly that is we have to be brave enough to look at the armour and take down the bricks in that wall.
It will hurt.
It will hurt to be exposed.
It will hurt to grow.
It will hurt to expand.
It will hurt to create space.
It will hurt to move forward.
But it will hurt much more if you don’t. It will hurt to stay with people, in places, you don’t belong. It will hurt to give up your dreams, your potential, what could have been. Regret will hurt far more than growth ever will.
Because at some point the growth stop hurting, it gets more comfortable, being uncomfortable. Once you’ve grown from a tadpole to a frog or a caterpillar to a butterfly, flying gets easier.
Each new level will require you to grow and expand and make room for it. But each time it hurts a little less and happens a little faster.
One thing I know for sure is you can’t get to where you want to go as long as you’re still holding onto the past, the baggage, the walls and wounds. It might seem romantic for a time, to be “that girl” who gives her finger to the world, but eventually, the world gives it back. And that’s far less romantic when you realize you’re giving up your dreams, your potential and power just to say fuck you to people who really don’t matter in the grand scheme of things.
Because while someone else might have hurt you, taken from you, traumatized you, never stood up for you… what you’ve done to yourself ever since is far worse than they did to you originally.
Hiding behind those walls is like having a paper cut that you keep ripping open every day.
There’s nothing romantic about it and there’s no growth in it. There is only death, a not living, a refusal to move forward. And yet, moving forward, is also a death of sorts but a different kind of death, a dying to the old, letting go, walking away and stepping into a bold, brave, powerful, amazing version of yourself, where life exists, where you get to live fully and do more than exist.
She’s in you. She’s just on the other side of that wall. All you have to do is brave enough to pick up your sledge hammer and rip those walls down, expose your wounds, and expand yourself as you grow beyond them.
It’s hard. But it’s worth it. Because that’s where your life is and it’s waiting to be lived.