Uniquely Broken

Dear Uniquely Broken,

Do you believe at some level that you are uniquely broken as a person?

It feels like you embody a fundamental flaw that colors your entire life. It goes where you go, lurking in the backdrop of your soul, waiting to ruin your relationships and goals. According to this uniquely broken paradigm, you are especially cursed – beyond repair. Doomed.

It’s a dirty little secret that so many people keep…

You know, in the very fiber of your being, that you are damaged goods. While you cannot explain this feeling in words, you experience it at a depth that is undeniable. It’s just who you are.

At the same time, logic tells you that everyone suffers. We all feel broken from time to time. People who have undergone traumatic experiences and neglect often feel there is no hope for them. It’s not unusual to live out the effects of adversity over the course of a lifetime.

Yet, you know instinctively that people in the “everyone suffers” category aren’t really suffering like you. After all, they are capable of healing. These are the folks for whom therapy and self-help actually work. They are, in essence, lightweights when it comes to emotional pain. At least they are normal people. Sure, they’ve been hurt but they don’t carry that sense of being a lost cause. Even if they do feel like a lost cause, at least they can recover.

If one can recover from suffering, then it isn’t the kind of suffering that has been the theme of your life. Your suffering is the worst kind – unavoidable, unending, and irreparable. You may not be able to deny a subtle scorn for people who heal from their pain. If they only knew what real brokenness is.

Even when you dedicate your life to healing, you feel like Sisyphus, forever pushing a rock uphill, only to find yourself at the bottom again after all your effort. Cursed. This “curse” often makes people chronically self-conscious and even narcissistic.

It’s what compels religious people to ask the authorities for an exorcism.

Due to the special circumstances of your life, you will find it natural to expect special consideration. It only makes sense. People with disabilities need accommodation. Your disability, however, is pervasive. It affects everything you do. Yet no one can see it, thank god. Still, you know it to be true. It’s the story of your life and…well…fuck ’em if they don’t understand. Most people never understand. They go on expecting from you what they expect from everyone else.

If we assume the curse is real (it is, in its way) then you are likely to:

  • Feel broken/low self-esteem
  • Hide your feelings/self from others
  • Feel like an outsider/like you don’t belong
  • Excuse yourself from doing what you don’t feel like doing
  • Avoid accountability to others – resist expectations
  • Feel like an imposter/fake
  • Be hopelessly wrapped up in your own inner drama
  • Avoid sharing your feelings with others
  • Just desire to be left alone
  • Feel entitled to all manner of special treatment
  • Practice a passive-aggressive lifestyle
  • Lack personal discipline/prone to addiction
  • Refuse to take care of yourself
  • Continually seek self-improvement but rarely find it

At the heart of the matter

Trauma. You were traumatized, most likely by someone/people who should have cared about you. You were innocent. They betrayed, overwhelmed, and broke you. There is no need to seek an explanation outside of trauma. Feeling inescapably broken is part of it.

Out of shame, you hide your brokenness. Hiding, escaping, running from your pain…all this forms a pattern. Avoiding your deep sadness becomes a way of life. You don’t allow yourself to get close to others. You must be above the fray, uncommonly put together. Perfect.

People may see you as self-centered, which is true. However, you have your reasons, your special consideration for being uniquely broken. You don’t blame them but they just don’t get it. No one does. Not even you. You’re forever stuck in a protective bubble that insulates you from others and the world.

As with many issues we face in life, the remedy isn’t what we think and certainly not what comes naturally. The solution, hands down, is to open up and share your inner life with others.

If you do begin to share your experience, you’ll discover that (spoiler alert) you are not alone. Tons of people feel as you do. And they aren’t just saying it. They have – down to the wire – the exact same “curse”.

Suddenly, you aren’t special. What you have is typical of millions. You’re an ordinary person, who happens to be of the opinion that you’re not ordinary; that you’re operating under some special brokenness clause. Along with countless millions. There are no uniquely broken people, only people who harbor feelings of being uniquely broken.

This is good news.

Think about it.

You are limited in life, not because of what happened to you (or what you did), but because of what you believe it means today. And because of what it would mean to other people if they only knew. If people knew how you are, what you really think on the inside; if they only knew how deliciously heinous you really are, they wouldn’t know what to do with you. Becoming uncomfortable, they’d surely begin to avoid you. Soon, you’d be a singular degenerate who deserves to die a lonely death.

And nobody knows this is how you really think, how you feel, deep down. And god forbid anyone ever got a glimpse of the super-fucked-up thoughts inside you. The people who do know don’t understand. If they did, they’d treat you differently; give you a massive break, and let you live life on your unique terms.

But they don’t and this fact fills you with rage.

Oh – the good news.

You’re normal

I genuinely do not like breaking the news. But it’s true. You are normal. Your horrific, ever-present belief that you are abnormal is normal, too. Lots of people feel that way – just like you do – in every detail. You are having a normal human life. This doesn’t excuse the bad things that bad people did to you. It doesn’t suggest in any way that you should suck it up and let it all go. But you are normal.

Refusing to believe you are normal is also normal and expected. There’s just no way out. It’s objectively true that thinking you are humanity’s true outcast, damaged goods, a reject – with all convincing intensity – is commonplace.

Once you realize that you are normal, your healing has begun.