What if You're Not Broken?

A photo of a broken window in a dilapidated house. There are leaves and greenery growing through the holes in the window and inside the house and the sun is streaming in. It's broken but beautiful.
Photo by Denny Muller.

Recently, on the podcast Hurry Slowly, Jocelyn K. Glei posed the question, "what if you're not broken?"

This question has hung with me since then.

There are times when I would have said that I was broken. When my self-hatred and depression were so severe that I was defective. I needed to be fixed.

But really, that's wrong. I wasn't broken. I was still my whole self. What was broken was the way I saw myself. That's what I needed to fix. When I worked through it and found healing, what I was changing was the beliefs I held about myself, not myself as a person.

Even now, I know that my focus on self-improvement sometimes comes from overly focusing on my flaws. I wouldn't call myself broken, but I might say that I have things that need to be fixed.

In the podcast, Jocelyn shares a story about falling and splitting her shin open at the same time as when she was going through heartbreak. She told herself that when her shin healed, she would be ready to love again.

It's the perfect example of thinking we have to be somehow better, somehow fixed, to earn the good things in life. We have to improve our habits, keep a cleaner house, take better care of our appearance, exercise more, confront our demons, banish our insecurities, love ourselves wholly, and otherwise be different to be "ready." Ready for what? For love, peace, happiness, and ultimately, acceptance for ourselves.

And of course, we are secretly afraid to just accept ourselves, as is. We believe that if we love who we are, as we are, then we will somehow give up on learning, growing, or getting better. We can't embrace who we are because we will then turn into - what? Slovenly pigs? Lazy jerks? Self-aggrandizing, delusional fools? Stagnating pools of nothingness?

Or maybe we won't turn into anything. We will stay just as we are and we are not good enough to be accepted as-is.

Here's an alternative scenario: that we are wonderful, whole people and we can love (or even just like) ourselves right now, while we are mending, changing, and growing. Two things can happen at the same time. In this scenario, we aren't changing because there is something broken in us, but because we want to keep experiencing life and ourselves in newer and fuller ways.

“It’s not a binary decision: Acceptance or healing. You can have one but you can’t have the other. It’s one of those complex contradictions you have to hold in the mind. It’s self-acceptance and healing at the same time. It’s self-acceptance and knowing that you can improve at the same time. It’s self-acceptance and being present even when everything around you is going totally off the rails.”

From Jocelyn's lips into our hearts.

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