Broken can be beautiful.
Does that sound strange to you? Do you believe that it’s actually true or that I’m just trying to spin something?
Initially, it sounded strange to me too, but it doesn’t take more than a minute or two when I really think about what that means, for it to make perfect sense to me. If you haven’t already read my last post, read it here and then carry on with this one. It’ll all make more sense that way.
So let’s be honest: brokenness does NOT always look or feel beautiful. Sometimes that looks like we are a sobbing mess on the kitchen floor. Sometimes that means that we’re screaming at someone we love. Sometimes that means we are pushing those away who want nothing more than to be close. Sometimes we are so scared of getting hurt or someone actually seeing us that we stay isolated. Sometimes the depths of our despair is so powerful and heavy and dark that we feel like we can barely move under the weight of it.
I get that. I’ve lived that. I’ve been there.
But here’s the thing: if we try to avoid suffering our whole lives, then we run around barely experiencing anything at all. Life IS suffering. At least some of the time, it just is. There is no way around that. Similarly, if we try to avoid showing anyone our true self, which is marred and scarred and flawed, then we run around barely knowing anyone…or letting anyone know US.
There are a lot of people who have known me for a long time….who were still shocked at my last post. They never knew the extent to which mine and Meredith’s battle against cancer affected me. Affects me NOW. Most people had no idea. Why?
I don’t talk about it. Ever.
Talking about it serves as a reminder that it actually happened. Talking about how it continues to affect me makes me feel crazy. I’m not supposed to say that because I’m a psychologist and in my world, “crazy” is a dirty word. I don’t think other people are “crazy”, ever, regardless of what they are struggling with or what they have been through. I’m able to see other’s problems very objectively and understand how they developed and see how they make perfect sense.
But that doesn’t stop me from thinking that I’m crazy.
So I don’t talk about it. And to be fair, it’s not like I’m dying to talk about it or thinking about it all the time. I think about my identity as a cancer survivor on a pretty regular basis. And I see Meredith’s picture sitting on my nightstand every night before I go to bed. But I don’t think about our whole war and I certainly don’t think about how the after-effects of that battle continue to play out in my life. I don’t think I could function very well if that was omni-present 24/7 (even though it kinda is). But even when I have an intrusive image of something terrible happening to me or my kids and I know it connects back to Meredith, I tell almost no one. My husband knows. I just told one of my dearest friends last week as I was gearing up to write these posts. But that’s about it.
But how silly is that?? Feeling pain is only human! Feeling upset after something upsetting has happened only makes good sense. And the “upset” will show up differently in different people, but pain is pain is pain.
We cannot avoid suffering.
And I don’t think we should even want to. Only when we experience deep despair can we truly experience profound joy.
Every day I get a chance to bear witness to people’s flaws, quirks, struggles…to the parts of themselves that are broken. And these struggles and their courage to talk about it is incredible. Perfection bores me to tears. Romance novels can shove it. Disney movies – eff off. I want the raw…the brutal truth…the good, the bad AND the ugly…the struggle. THAT is amazing and inspiring and sometimes it is simply beautiful.
And maybe even my brokenness is too.