Enlightened Conflict

can broken people be fixed

August 6th, 2010


So. I am a quote guy. When I came across this quote below I stopped and started thinking. A lot. And a lot about people I care about. I know we all have baggage and ‘issues’ we have to deal with. Later I call them ‘devils we deal with.’ But I don’t believe I had ever consciously thought of this as ‘broken people’ or that some of the people I really care about who admit they have some ‘baggage issues’ as broken. And I just started writing.

“And then I felt sad because I realized that once people are broken in certain ways, they can’t ever be fixed, and this is something nobody ever tells you when you are young and it never fails to surprise you as you grow older as you see the people in your life break one by one. You wonder when your turn is going to be, or if it’s already happened.”Douglas Coupland

Look. I believe everyone gets “broken” somehow in their lives.

And.

Yes. I do believe broken people can get ‘fixed.’ Even if they are ‘broken in certain ways.’ (s0, sorry Mr. Coupland … I do not agree)

But. As with everything it is tricky.

Yup. Some people in reflection call this thought “baggage” or the issues they feel they have to deal with personally (self esteem, self image, self confidence, self respect … stuff like that).

Ok.

So I believe the foundation for breaking (let’s call it at least the ‘bending’ portion) tends to begin in childhood. And most of us have to be really silly if we don’t recognize that.

And then it is most likely when we shift from childhood into adulthood and the everyday realities of life and responsibilities start coming through the front door … often without knocking … that bending parts truly snap.

The truth is almost everyone emerges stronger after suffering some breaks. So. Some people aren’t broken but rather simply broken but healed. And in some cases stronger.

“The world breaks us all. Afterward, some are stronger at the broken places.”
– Ernest Hemingway

Well.

Let’s say everyone certainly learns something from being broken. But. Some people struggle to be ‘fixed.’

Or let’s say they emerge with some cracks they live with for the rest of their lives.

Because getting fixed really is tricky.

–          Here’s the tricky part 1.

Life can be a bitch (or a bastard) sometimes.

Okay. Let’s just say life can be overwhelming.

Not only can it put unrelenting pressure just in day to day life (getting shit done and shit done well) but it can also be unforgiving in its unrelenting pressure it seeks to put on the “personal cracks.” You know what I mean.

When you have been broken by something … a series of unhealthy relationships, maybe trying to rise above some abusive parenting that attacks your self confidence, maybe some self doubts with regards to decisions you made in your youth or even in adulthood … these are all old cracks, some big and some smaller, that are inside you. and then life comes along and almost seems to seek out the weak points with career challenges, home issues, financial issues, car repairs and in general stretching time so tightly that it becomes difficult to let the weaker cracks have the time they need to heal (let alone seek to move forward beyond the pain).

Hey. Life certainly means enduring some things that bend us, break us, make us weaker or make us stronger. But enduring can become a never ending endurance match if you are not careful. And no one can be successful in being fixed in that situation

Yeah. Tricky part 1. Life sometimes makes it difficult for broken people to escape enduring and shift into enjoying.

–          Tricky part 2.

I discussed in my self esteem post that esteem is an internal issue (or characteristic) but external factors can affect broken people. A lot. And in many ways that can be sneaky.

And here is where broken people can really get screwed.

Let’s say they’ve ditched the people in their past who were destructive and ‘bended’ them in the first place and maybe even broken them a couple of times.

And then let’s say for whatever reason they make a mistake with a good friendship or a partner/companion who takes an old break and rebreaks it.

Ok.

Maybe that happens a couple of times.

Well.

Breaking things hurts.

People avoid things that cause hurt.

And eventually it makes broken people even more wary of being broken again.

(Not to take a serious issue lightly but Charlie Brown may have summarized this thought best)

“I think I’m afraid to be too happy, because when I am, something bad always happens.” – Charlie Brown

So the broken person becomes careful. Really careful.

–          Tricky part 3.

Uh oh.

Then a ‘specialist’ in fixing these particular broken pieces appears (unfortunately ‘specialists’ in the non medical world don’t come with degrees nor do they carry signs saying who they are).

Oh. And I just mean by specialist that ‘right person at the right time to deal with the right issues …. well … in the right way’.

–          Note: Some people call these specialists “lighthouse” people. I am calling them specialists because this is about the idea of broken people and I also believe just as in any great personal relationship mix I believe individuals need special individuals to meet certain needs to be a great partner.

Okay. The specialist.

It doesn’t have to be a life companion (although I do believe those are stronger) it could be a friend or someone who influences you but it is someone who not only knows how to help heal the broken parts but also has some sense of how the original break occurred (so you have healing and some true empathy from understanding).

And the specialist, although curious to help and interested in helping, gets missed by the broken person.

Hey. I am not saying this flippantly.

I am not sure how a broken person can see anything clearly in some situations.

But, as noted in tricky part 1, life is overwhelming.

And, as noted in tricky part 2, past experiences make you wary.

Ultimately? Broken people get screwed because they simply miss ‘assistance’ opportunities. Or maybe miss a ‘lighthouse’ personal companion.

“If you wanna get somewhere in life fast, go alone. But if you wanna get far, you need someone by your side.” – anonymous

Yes. The key point here is some broken people need help. Help carrying their ‘baggage.’ Maybe some help healing the broken pieces.

Sure, some do it on their own.

But not many people can do it on their own. They can instigate the initial change but it helps to have support. One of my 20something links just wrote about something similar:

–          Because changing for the better constantly and drastically, well, for lack of a better word, can completely suck sometimes. As much as you want to believe that everyone around you will be supportive and gracious about this new and improved you, it’s sometimes not the case. And, that’s disappointing. It’s terrifyingly disappointing, in fact, when you realize that relationships you’ve treasured had been built by the you that you didn’t respect. And that these relationships survive only when their veins are pumped with negativity and unyielding insecurity.  That conversation grows silent if you have nothing to complain about. That sharing the positive without the negative won’t always be met with a welcomed face on the other end. And, so I get it. I get why people don’t change, why they wouldn’t be willing to sacrifice their relationships for their own well-being. Maybe they didn’t understand that them playing small isn’t serving anyone’s best interest. But, it’s easier said than done. It’s easier to say you’d love to be great and you’d love to straighten out your own edges, but when it happens? It’s not always the sweet and delicious heaven you’d been waiting for. Because when you change and you change for the betterment of yourself, your people may get threatened. They may feel jealous. They may want you back on their level. They may miss your self-destructive love life. They may not be comfortable with your new way of approaching dating and career and friendships. They may not be prepared when you stand up for yourself. They may just simply not be prepared. And you’ll be sad. You’ll realize that, in changing, you’ll have to weed through toxic relationships. You’ll have to understand that not everyone can stay, not just anyone gets to have an audience with you. Because, you’ve changed and you’re happy and the last thing you’d ever want is for someone to come crashing into your life and threaten what you’ve spent years building.

Because all you’ve ever wanted is to feel peaceful and happy and to stop analyzing every word that anyone ever says to you or around you. All you’d ever wanted was to stop falling for the wrong men, to stop swallowing your feelings, and to stop acting like what you want doesn’t matter. All you’d ever wanted was to believe you’re worth loving and that you’re good enough.

This 20something nailed why broken people struggle to get fixed.

Why?

Because not all broken people can be strong enough to make the change amidst everyday life crap that comes your way AND do it ‘alone’ (I want to be careful with that word … I don’t mean ‘without some friends’ but rather you lose some friends and you possibly avoid some others who really really could step up and ‘be there’ for whatever reason).

And while I believe some people will argue with me that it comes down to the individual I will debate that thought.

Yes. It begins with the individual.

But even if you aren’t broken, life is best faced in tandem. You know what I mean … double the joys & halve the griefs type thing. So if someone is broken? Square the double/halve equation in last sentence. Just increases the potential & possibilities of success and happiness in the end.

Necessary? Nope.

Easier? Yup.

–          Tricky part 4.

Keeping it to themselves.

Nobody really ever knows how much anybody else is hurting. We could be standing next to somebody, who is completely broken, and we wouldn’t even know.

And this one gets even trickier. Sometimes the most happy and most beautiful people you know may be broken in a way that is eating them up from the inside out.

You can come up with all your own reasons why this ‘keeping it to yourself’ happens because there are a slew of pretty good reasons.

But. At its foundation I believe it is mostly because they fear not getting fixed and letting people see (and then stay within themselves trying to fix it on their own).

Oh. This fear also bleeds into tricky part 2 & 3 in the guise of “independence” (or say fear of dependence). An unrelenting belief that all the external factors have relentlessly broken them suggests the way to be free is by “going it alone.” And that maybe by doing so they will be stronger independently in the end.

Well. Could be. But. Certainly increases the likelihood of failure (see tricky part 1). And certainly, depending on how broken, increases the amount of time things will need to heal. Sure. I am an advocate of professional assistance for lots of broken pieces. But. That is still ‘going it alone.’ And that is still “keeping it to yourself” in a very important way.

Look. I am not advocating “being dependent upon someone for getting fixed.” That simply isn’t healing the broken parts. In fact, that resembles a toxic relationship scenario and edges into killing independence. But. As I mentioned to someone once … situational support is not dependency. That is simply an independent person receiving help. Dependency is non-stop situational support.

So.

The point? (something that most of us don’t do well)

Listen.

Listen again.

And then listen again even more closely.

And then do something. Really. Just do something. Random acts of support in unexpected ways relieves pressure on broken parts.

To any broken people reading? No. That is not being dependent. That is remaining independent and getting some relief.

To the doers? Look. You don’t have to talk about it when you hear it. And nothing has to be extreme. But if you have ever broken a bone you know what a relief it is to get a small bit of help on occasion.  It gives you time to rest. It gives you time to heal.

Okay.

Beyond the tricky parts.

Once again.

I come back to one key thought.

I do know broken people can get fixed.

Whether it’s in business (cracked confidence, broken spirit, whatever) or in personal lives broken people, no matter how broken THEY feel they are (because they are never as broken as they feel they are), can be fixed.

And fixed in a way where the broken pieces are never forgotten they are just healed stronger.

Of course I do recognize the ‘most broken’ people are the most difficult to fix.

We, all of us, have done our own life in full measure. However you define full measure. And within that everyone has known the things that ‘break’ …  fear, loneliness, great distress, some abuse. Sooner or later in life of everyone comes a moment of trial. That is living life in full measure (so if you haven’t faced these things you are living life less than full).

So living life in full measure everyone has been broken at some point. Some of us more than others. And we, all of us, have our own particular devil that rides us and torments us.

And we all battle our particular devils (well, let’s say, most of us do  … and most of us don’t really give in to “the devil”).

This is moving on. In moving forward in life, regardless of our pace, we have conquered our devil, or so we believe, enough to not stop us in our tracks. Or let’s say ‘be broken enough to not move’. I would imagine we heal the breaks in some form or fashion. And everyone deserves to heal the broken parts well enough to move on.

So. Everyone. Yes. Everyone can be, and deserves, to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, redeemed and re-whatevered as “that which has been broken but has now been unbroken.”

Me?

I say never throw out anyone. No matter how broken (in the ways we are discussing here).

Oh.

That sounds right doesn’t it?

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh … but how many of us have lifted our hands in frustration and said “I cannot do this anymore. They cannot be fixed. I am tired.”

And walk away.

Or we hear “I need to figure things out for myself” and you take that as a stop sign to offer help or keep coming with some glue to fix some broken things.

Don’t do it.

Stay the course.

If you care, never throw anyone out. Never believe anyone is too broken.

Anyone.

No matter how broken they may feel they are or how broken they may actually be (two different things … same conclusion).

You may not be a ‘lighthouse’ companion (although, if you can be, consider yourself one of the darn luckiest people in the world … because there is nothing … let me repeat … NOTHING better than leading a broken person you truly care about through the sometimes fogginess of change or ‘healing’ so they can join you at the lighthouse).

Uhm. Quick note. It is at this point you cease being a lighthouse and become walking side-by-side companions. That is just as good a feeling too.

Anyway.

Healing broken people is about change.

And change is typically about moving forward. Or zig zagging a little in life. Regardless. Nothing about it contains stagnancy. So if you are a broken person what that means is some around may lead (lighthouse people), others follow, others maybe go by your side or others just have to get the hell out of your way. But moving forward means some others, those unwilling to move (those who fear the discomfort of change), won’t move. And (even worse) sometimes someone considered ‘a friend’ will discourage movement out of that fear (not because they don’t want you to improve but rather it unsteadies what they have and they fear what may come after).

Oh. And toxic relationships fall distinctly into that last sentence. They will ALWAYS seek to slow down broken people healing because they are thriving on the broken/unhealed parts.

Another note: Unfortunately for ‘specialists’, who are not only lighthouses but peer companions, they are difficult to discern from toxic people.

Anyway.

In the end?

I like this quote:

“I just want them to know that they didn’t break me.” -Pretty in Pink

But.

I would change it. Change it for those of us who can help.

“I just want them to know that I wouldn’t let life break them.”

I don’t think I am a specialist by any stretch of the imagination (as I described specialist earlier).

But I have seen how someone can make a huge difference in a “broken” person’s life when permitted.

I guess my point is.

Don’t throw any broken person away as unfixable. No matter how much of a relief it may sound to you personally or how much they suggest they want to fix themselves.

Why?

Who knows.

You just may be their specialist.

And if you can say you helped fix one broken person in your life?

Wow. That’s good stuff.

Comments

6 Comments

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  • Marie says on: August 5, 2011 at 1:11 am

     

    I absolutely feel as though you’ve hit the proverbial nail on the head with this. Great advice at the end because sometimes walking away from someone you classify as “unfixable” could be what breaks you.

  • Nicole says on: October 4, 2011 at 9:35 pm

     

    I think you wrote a lovely article, full of hopeful ideas and beautiful thoughts. I wish everyone could feel that way, however, I don’t agree with you. I don’t think you’ve ever been truly broken. And the sad part is some people can’t be fixed. Abuse as a child can damage you in ways you would never imagine. Some children are so severely abused that they develop reactive attachment disorder, where they literally lose the ability to love. That is a broken person. And what of the sociopaths of the world. They are broken people. Some people aren’t fixable and the only solution is to walk away. Sometimes someone is so damaged that they hurt everyone they touch. I’ve been broken beyond repair. I will never have a normal life again. That is not to say, that I am never happy or that I don’t have people I love desperately and who love me back. I have a good life, I support myself and have my own home. It took me years to accomplish all that. But I have terrible demons from my past that will truly never go away. A part of me will always remain broken. The abuse and neglect and violence I endured have scarred me in ways I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. I tell all of you this so you can see the other side. I hope you always see the positive and never “break”. May god bless you and yours!

  • Kari says on: May 9, 2014 at 1:14 pm

     

    Bruce- Im sharing this because I believe we need more people to be lighthouses.

    Nicole-Im sorry for the past you have endured. But the fact that you have been able to face your demons, and grow into the amazing woman you have so obviously become, proves what Bruce says. You may have broken parts still, and always. But YOU are not broken. And youre stronger at the broken parts. Hemmingway is pretty awesome too. “The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of those, you can be sure that it will kill you too, But there will be no special hurry.”

  • P Willis says on: December 9, 2015 at 11:17 pm

     

    It’s not necessary to ‘repair’ people. There is no such thing as a perfect life. Life is messy. That’s how life works. That’s why life even exists. It is a great mistake to believe that we must somehow fix every ill that occurs in our lives. Without those disconcerting bits of crap none of us would know when we are actually having a good time. We would have nothing to compare our good days to. I say “Bring on the crap!”. I’ve survived it so far. At least it reminds me I’m still alive.

  • Bruce says on: December 16, 2015 at 10:42 am

     

    i agree 100%. while it may sound like i am shilling my own writing … i encourage you to search thru some things i have written about Life and people where, in general, i suggests Life is what it is and what you make of it. however, i do believe that life can be incredibly cruel to some people and cruel enough that it can break some people who deserve to be ‘repaired.’ this doesn’t mean they have a victim mentality but rather they were victims of circumstance … and maybe, just maybe, they deserve a helping hand.

  • jen says on: September 12, 2016 at 6:35 am

     

    Its hard to feel the pain will ever end. I feel broken in so many pieces that the jigsaw is unable to come together. A life time of pain and always trying to be positive and have a heart full of graitude
    But sometimes l just cant see the light at the end
    I wonder what its like to have someone who cares enough tto be there – its been a long time
    Fomestic voilence, sexual assault a family that thinks l am worthless
    I try and rise above this
    I have done volunteer work for many years and get the joy of giving to others
    Just one day l hope l can smile inside and the pieces come back together but maybe l am getting too old for the pieces to find their way home
    Thats for your story

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