You can’t even remember the first time you referred to yourself as broken. It’s strange, it’s just a word. It shouldn’t carry this much weight. You are so many things, you know this. You even think about listing all of them, pinning it up on your wall as a reminder. But the pen shakes in your hand, or your fingers type the wrong words. Broken. You forget everything you are. In this moment, you just feel broken.
It slips off your tongue with such ease, it’s like an introduction. First name. Shake hands. Avoid eye contact. You hold onto your sides with both hands, afraid those loose seams will give way. You do not want to come apart in front of a perfect stranger.
You wonder, can they feel it? Can people feel the brokenness? When they look at you, can they see the cracks? Are they placing bets? When will you finally supernova? Some spontaneous combustion, fragments of your vulnerabilities pirouetting into the atmosphere.
Or maybe, even worse, you wonder, what if nobody even thinks about you at all?
So, you make sure nobody knows. You have perfected the kind of smile poised for artwork. It’s there for the audience, but washes away when the crowds leave. You are alone again. A smile for show that disappears when solitude finds you. You’re lonely around all those people. At least alone, you can be honest.
You let a ceramic plate slip from the kitchen counter, just to watch how it shatters. The sound, deafening. But you think it looks sort of beautiful, the way it splatters. You wonder if this makes you even more broken, the way you find pieces more attractive than wholeness.
You wonder if it is your bleeding heart that keeps attracting the piranha. Someone tells you weakness is felt by those who wish to insert themselves inside it. They tell you weakness brings the wrong kind of people. They tell you weakness is reflected in your eyes. They tell you your brokenness, the edges that have been sanded down, are too visible. You are chipped away, bit by bit. They tell you to paint a new coat.
So, you try to. You find cover up. You veil yourself. Nobody will see it.
Nobody will know.
But broken people have a way of continuing to break. Harder. Sharper. Shards of glass begin to spill out of your mouth. So you stop speaking.
Shrink smaller, head down. Smile. Don’t let them know. Don’t let them see it. Don’t let them smell it on you.
But what you fail to realize is that you, you are not broken.
You have never been broken.
Maybe you have been worn, bruised, lost parts you thought you couldn’t regain. But the human condition is more resilient than you’d believe. You are still standing, right? Watch that plate break again. Remember that you have glue in the next room. This damage, not irreversible. Your damage, not irreversible. Your damage, not a problem. Your weakness, not even weakness at all.
When you become convinced you are broken, listen to your heart beating. It may have a murmur. It might be slow. It might echo and boom, so much you’re afraid it will beat right out of your chest.
But it’s beating.
You’re not broken.