Step Twenty

I see myself as a thriver in all aspects of life love, work, parenting and play.

Your journey on the road to recovery is almost over. You have progressed from being a survivor of the abuse to becoming a thriver: someone who finds joy and satisfaction in many aspects of life. By now, you probably have created a new family or support system for yourself that banishes the isolation and shame you felt in the past. You can readily give of yourself to others and accept nurturance and consideration in return. This is the step in which your new self comes together into a personality that expresses your full essence in the world.

Intimate relationships are now infused with trust, sexual sharing and mutual self-reliance. You can communicate your needs, allow healthy mutual dependency and resolve conflicts, free of the concerns and self-doubt of the past. Your new self-acceptance allows you to be less critical of others, while your new self- awareness helps you to identify hurtful situations before they cause damage. You can gauge situations accurately and share your feelings, as appropriate, without losing control of them.

By now, you are able to avoid exploitative job situations and can identify and pursue appropriate promotion opportunities. You are no longer mired in office politics or oppressed by bosses or authority figures. You can develop your career in a way that fosters your interests and talents and accept the financial and emotional rewards that follow. If you find yourself facing a dead end in your career, you can make the necessary changes to keep yourself vital and interested in your work. Instead of experiencing your work life as a strain, you now feel challenged and satisfied by your job.

If you have children, your new sense of self has brought you a new identity as a loving, caring parent. You accept your children as people and raise them to respect themselves and others. You foster their self-esteem by giving them appropriate amounts of power and control and protect them from harm by setting clear and consistent limits. You are able to discipline them by using the positive elements of your relationship with them to hold them accountable when they fall short of the values you have set for your family. This is the time to acknowledge that your family's intergenerational chain of abuse has ended with you. You and your children are living testimony to this formidable accomplishment. You can continue to grow together, allowing your relationship to mature into a seasoned, adult-to-adult friendship that can provide joy and affiliation for the rest of your lives.

Finally, your new self begins to express itself in one area that may have always been difficult: play. You probably have neglected this area of expression, but the newly-confident you may now be ready to explore this exciting domain. Hobbies, sports, creative arts, traveling and music are just some of the many ways you can play as an adult. Playing keeps you in touch with your own inner child and affords you an opportunity to share another experience with your children. Playing revives us and recharges our emotional batteries. It improves our outlook on life and rewards us for our hard work. Don't deprive yourself of this important element of life. Find new ways of playing that fill you up and charge your active participation in life.

Many survivors wonder how they will know that they have completed their recovery. That moment is very personal and may or may not be related to an external event in your life. It occurs at the moment when healing on the inside and change on the outside merge into a unified sense of self. This moment may be a "mystical experience," one in which you feel at one with the world. It may be the moment in which you realize you have attained an achievement that symbolizes success to you. It will be different things to different people, and you are the best judge of the moment for yourself.

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Survivor to Thriver, Page 120
© 2007 THE MORRIS CENTER, Revised 11/06