This #BrokenSeries is about baring it all. The urge to write it was dropped on my heart while I was meditating a few days ago and I hope it will help you get to the root of your brokenness.
Someone once said to me “I feel like I am in free fall from the top of a cliff, and I know there is no one to catch me. I should be panicky and stuff, but I have come to accept the fact that I will hit rock bottom. This free fall is my norm”
At the time, I don’t think I’d ever heard anything so poignant, and I remember just looking at her, short of words that could help alleviate her perception of her situation. The picture she had painted in my mind was so vivid, yet I could not ascribe a term to it. Later, as I went through a similar phase, I realized what the feeling was – brokenness.
There was a time I felt that one could not precisely put in words what brokenness felt like, but thinking back to that conversation with that lady made me realize how strangely lucid being broken can make a person, to the point that they would even successfully use words to describe a difficult state of mind many people cannot understand.
More and more often as the days go by, I realize that there are more broken people in the world than humanity would like to admit. There are more broken people in the workplace than organizations would like to accept. There are many broken children coming from broken homes constituted by broken adults. There are many broken adults stepping into relationships for the joy of breaking other adults. Brokenness is a reality; albeit one that we would rather shove under the carpet and act like it doesn’t exist, even though we can feel its prickly stems as we walk barefoot on that carpet.
So what does brokenness look and feel like? How does one qualify it given there are so many angles to it? Is it simply that free fall feeling that was expressed to me? Does it unleash the dark and sinister? Does it make people timid or does it make them aggressive? It is difficult to put brokenness in a box but here are a few signs that you or someone you know is broken:
#1 You accept less than you deserve: One of the major signs of brokenness that I have seen is when people start to accept less than what they deserve. They are aware they deserve better. They know they should be treated better, approached better, loved better, and valued better, but they have been broken for so long inside that less seems OK. Don’t get me wrong; they are not excited about less in a ‘kumbaya’ manner. They are simply OK with it because they have identified other broken people who are getting by on the same level of less. This form of brokenness is mostly common in people who have been psychologically and emotionally abused in a romantic relationship or even unknowingly by parents
#2 You find yourself drifting through life: This is a form of brokenness that is not easily seen from the outside. Many people die at 25 and are only buried in their eighties. This kind of brokenness is a result of giving up and accepting whatever comes your way. It is a form of brokenness that says “no matter how hard I try, I will not make it to that height I dream of, so let me simply make do and stop dreaming”. You see, dreaming is an inherent human trait, and when that aspect of our lives is silenced, we tend to become leaves on a lake, simply drifting in accordance with the direction of the lake. This form of brokenness robs you of the zeal to even pursue the things you are passionate about because you believe that they will fail anyway
#3 You are always looking for someone to love and validate you: Isn’t this obvious? The form of brokenness where sitting alone with yourself in a room is enough to have you call 911 because it is so damn scary. Because of this, you tend to be on the lookout for love from any angle, even if it is the destructive type of love. You tend to always seek attention because that is where your validation comes from. Don’t get me wrong, everyone likes to be reassured, admired and validated every now and then; but in your case, a lack of compliments when you suavely or gracefully walk into a room is enough to ruin your whole day. People who exhibit this often make up stories just so they can be admired by others. Their confidence is from an external source; hence it is not real.
#4 You are scared of someone loving you: Isn’t it odd that someone would be scared of love? I think it is; but alas! It is the reality of many. This kind of brokenness is difficult to decipher because, at first glance, all you see is someone who enjoys their own company and truly cannot be bothered if no one else is there (opposite of #3). However, a closer look will reveal that some people who are like this are scared to be loved and scared to love. Why? They have loved passionately in the past and had it thrown back in their faces. They have gotten back up and given love their best shot in another angle only to be ridiculed. And so they begin to retreat, and the idea of love becomes scary. Their minds are always filled with the negative ‘what ifs’ so they apply avoidance strategies and stay away from potential love interests because they are scared they might just love them back and end up getting hurt. This kind of brokenness also comes with an intense fear of rejection, rehashed pain, and a general perception of feeling unwanted.
#5 You cry and you don’t know why: This one breaks my heart very often. I have hugged people I barely knew and suddenly felt them shaking as they sobbed. I have been hugged by someone I barely knew and I broke down in tears. I probably found a superficial explanation to explain why I was making that poor person uncomfortable, but deep down, I knew it was a myriad of reasons – so extensive that I had even lost track. This is a sign that something is your sub-conscious is crying out for help, for care, for nurture, for positive attention. It is a form of brokenness that comes intermittently without invitation or expectation. Sometimes, you are broken this way because you’ve kept so many things deep down for so long, that you are beginning to burst at the seams with a toxic mixture of sadness, depression, pain, anger, anxiety and a whole lot of other emotions psychology probably does not have names for yet.
#6 You derive joy from hurting others: This has been mistaken as a show of power and strength, but it is really not. It is a sign of brokenness that comes from a person who does not believe he or she is worthy of love and does not understand why others think the opposite. People like this take joy in clipping the wings of their successful partners, breaking the hearts of people and laugh even harder when these people forgive and ‘come back for more’. Of course, they are never perceived as broken, but the truth is something in them tells them they are not worth the trouble others go through for them, and it is better they sabotage such affectionate efforts to prove their point. And they do just that.
If you identify with any of the above or would like to add some information, please do so. Feel free to comment anonymously, but most importantly, bare it all and be honest with yourself. Remember God is close to the brokenhearted and he saves the crushed in spirit (psalm 34: 18-19). Look out for the #BrokenSeries every week