Two of my best friends have been dealing with some pretty serious issues lately. One is physical and one mental, but both conditions are impacting their quality of life. Their work time, their down time, their relationships.
Both friends have told me that they feel broken.
I’ve felt broken, too. I’ve felt broken a lot. When I was stuck in a stark communal dining room in a hospital, eating perfectly portioned meals and then journaling about my “post-meal mood” while the rest of my friends were presumably going out on hot dates and bar hopping across the country. (Okay, maybe they weren’t. But still. They were at least living in a dorm room.)
I’ve felt broken when I kept struggling with intrusive thoughts, years after I was supposed to have “recovered.”
I’ve felt broken when everyone else in the world (or what seemed like everyone else in the world) was managing to live a normal, productive life and kept questioning why it was so hard for me.
Why don’t you just let go?
Why aren’t you better yet?
Why is this taking so long?
I felt like screaming at them at the top of my lungs that I couldn’t help it. That I didn’t know why this was taking so long. That I didn’t know why I couldn’t just “let go.” We all can’t bolt out of Arendelle and build our own sparkling ice palace. Or have that awesome dress while doing it. (Or the hairdo. Seriously, can someone teach me how to make my hair look both tousled and expertly arranged at the same time? Okay, she’s a cartoon. I get it. Anyway.)
It’s the same thing whether it’s a physical or mental illness. Your friends and loved ones want to see you get better. They might not realize that the wait is killing you as much as it is them.
Or more. Much more.
I want my friends to feel better. I want their suffering to stop. But I’m not going to ask them why they aren’t better yet. I know things take time. I know the journey to wellness, to healing, to self, to health, to whatever you want to call it, is individual.
So I’ll let them vent. I’ll let them cancel plans if they need to rest or recuperate or unwind by themselves. I’ll assure them that they’re doing all the right things and talking to all the right people and asking all the right questions.
I’ll tell them that they’re not broken.
I’ll tell them that we’re all broken, in so many different ways. That you have to be broken before you can put yourself back together again.
When I was in treatment, there was a fellow client there who was way into crafting. Once, when we all went on one of our weekly outings to the local craft store, she picked up a few bags of colored glass tiles, then proceeded to transform an end table into a work of art, with multicolored tiles shimmering across its surface.
A simple pane of glass wouldn’t have been as pretty. Yes, it would have been crack-free and clear. But panes of glass are see-through. Boring. They have none of the colors, none of the creativity and life of a mosaic.
Sometimes, we have to be broken into order to reassemble ourselves into a work of art.
So take all the time you need. The glue is there, ready when you are. When you find answers or strength.