Maybe you feel broken. I always have. From the time I was a small child, it was clear that I was not wanted and there was no place for me in the world. I felt worthless then, and fifty years later, I still do. I hoped I would find a place and become whole. I did find a place in a 22 year marriage with someone who gets me, and two beautiful and amazing children. But I am still broken. Shake me like a light bulb and you can hear the little pieces clinking around inside. If you, too, come from the Island of Misfit Toys, you know what I mean.
I tried to repair myself. Meditation, therapy, self-medicating with drugs and alcohol, bulimia, self-cutting, getting sober, dietary changes, exercise, more therapy, volunteering, religion, politics, more religion, psychiatrists, and prescription medications. Creating is the best response. I love my family. But the whole time, I kept thinking that someday, if I could be repaired, I would be OK, and I could live and be happy. Nothing I attempted to do to make myself or my world better made any difference – not in how I feel, not in who I am, not in how I see or relate to other people. Part of my brain is a screaming infant who will never stop screaming.
What I’ve discovered on my travels through brokenness is that it’s a myth that there is utility to being a good person. They say if you’re good enough, you can have good things in life. But that is false. There is no correlation between what you have and how good you are. You do not have to be a good person to be successful financially, to get married, to have children, to have friends, to achieve anything, or to feel good about yourself. Being good will not earn you self-esteem, relief from pain, or the positive regard of others. You can have everything you might want while being a complete asshole. People do it all the time, with no apologies. This is not to say that I advocate being an asshole, although I might be one. I am simply pointing out that if for some reason you cling to the notion, as I have, that expunging the negatives and growing in virtue will help you achieve anything beyond virtue itself, you are mistaken. I think this is a spiritual truth: being a good person, to whatever extent possible or realized, is its own reward – always and only.
I never thought I was an emotional extortionist. I thought I was in pain and wanted help, and that other people were withholding, compassionless, judgmental, spoiled, oblivious, shallow, selfish little fucktards - clueless because, when they were born, the world welcomed them. As a child I was ignored completely, and learned that if I wasn’t near death, there was no way I would get any attention. But I don’t think I consciously plotted to be in pain for forty years in order to get attention. That is not a logical or efficient way for anyone to get their needs met. A few years ago someone I knew told me I was being manipulative when I said I felt suicidal. It seemed like an ignorant and mean-spirited observation, but I thought about it. The accusation might be true, in that, while going about my life as a black hole, I still believed someone could help me, and was angry that no one was helping me. In reality, a lot of people have helped. Some have made a huge difference, or I don’t think I would be here.
I am loved by some people, but no amount of love will fix the problem. It is not that I don’t appreciate the people in my life, it’s that no validation or support can fix the problem. Nothing anyone can ever do or say will fix the problem. If I’m angry at anyone, I’m angry at God for creating me as a broken person who feels worthless and is in pain, which seems like a pretty shitty thing to do. But I also know I am not unique in this regard. I have not been singled out. No explanation for why I am the way I am will change my experience. My motives or intentions don’t matter, because whatever the problem is, despite my best efforts, I can’t fix it or change it or be anyone other than who I am. I experience the world as an onslaught of overwhelming impressions and am not good at calming myself down. I am often depressed, exhausted, confused, and lose whole days to not being able to think. I tried everything there is to try. There are no more ideas, no more options. Whatever and whoever I am today: this is as good as it gets. Because I'm tired of trying.
Once, a long time ago, a therapist pointed to the tree outside the window and asked me, “Is it a good tree?” The tree wasn’t a good tree, or a bad tree. It was a tree. The comment stuck with me because that’s how I choose to face my life now.
Fighting to become whole, to be OK, doesn’t work. These are the facts: I’m not OK. I have never been, nor will I ever be OK. Short of death, I need to become OK with not being OK. No angel will descend from the clouds to confer worthiness upon me. There will never be a day when I wake up and feel safe. Some things – and people – are broken in ways that can’t be fixed. There is freedom in recognizing that I am beyond help. I won’t be asking anyone for anything, because I’ll know they don’t have it. I won’t spend my time, energy, or money trying to repair myself, because I know it won’t work. God could change me if He wanted to. It’s not like I haven’t asked. I can only assume He’s fine with me being exactly as broken as I am. And if God is fine with it, maybe I can learn to be fine with it, too.
UPDATE: YOU GUYS ARE BEAUTIFUL AND AMAZING