Those who are badly broken often don’t realize how badly broken they are. As our coping mechanisms evolve and strengthen — mainly through the erection of many protective walls intended to keep us clear of any more vulnerability and abuse — we also subconsciously alter our concepts of what is normal.
Strangely, a lot of times, this actually results in more abuse, instead of less. Yet, the mind, with its magical powers, does a stellar job of convincing us that if we are in control of the situation, that we are safe and the illusion is built that we are, indeed, in control, even if the situation is not to our liking.
As abuse goes on for longer without being addressed, control becomes an obsession. Somehow, a concept is put together that if we can control everything, we can control how vulnerable we are and in turn we can control the abuse that we’ve been subject to earlier, or even abuse we are being subjected to right now.
All of this leads to an eventual mismatch of stories and truths in our lives. How we see ourselves, how we’d like to see ourselves, how we’d like others to see us and how others actually see us — all become pictures with varying degrees of dissonance with each other. Yet, this all looks normal, there seems to be nothing wrong with all of it. We are in control of the situation.
You can’t function normally as a broken being, I learned this the hard way over the past few years. Even making your peace with the people who broke you does not mean you have made peace with yourself; or that you’ve forgiven yourself for allowing all that to happen; or that you consider yourself as worthy of deserving any better.
Being broken is unlike brushing dust off your shoulder, even though that is our most common reaction to it. We bury it deep, pretend it didn’t happen or that it doesn’t matter. We’re on top, we are in control now – that’s what matters. But, all wounds need to heal – at some stage. It is not normal to live in pain, even if we tell ourselves that we have it under control. People living in constant pain don’t live normally.
It is not normal to live in pain, even if you can’t feel it or see it – when you convince yourself that is the case.
As the years tear down my walls and peel more layers off me, I realize so much of what I think strongly of as me is just yet another layer added to insulate, it is another attempt to control what will happen and what I’ll feel. At every vulnerable juncture the temptation is to dodge, deflect and defend so that I can feel safe. Can you imagine the strangeness of that scenario - abnormal feels safe?
With effort, falteringly, I’m learning to survive those initial attempts to dodge and deflect. I’m slowly learning to give straight answers and try not to hide behind another’s imagined feelings. In all of this I’m realizing how little I actually know, how little I understand and how much of what I think of as living is actually elegant and refined hiding.
I finally understand why I possess so little so few life skills and why I have those inaccessible black vast patches in my memory. I am surprised I have managed to hold together all that for so long with so little. I guess it is a testament to my determination to keep going at all costs, but now it is time to let it go and feel what it feels to be normal like anyone else.