We humans break easily.
And I’m not talking only about bones; Our feelings get hurt, and our self-esteem is fragile. We hurt each other with words and actions. We bully each other, steal from one another, gossip, verbally abuse, and assault those around us. We hurt ourselves by what we do. We cut or burn ourselves, neglect our health, abuse food, and drugs, and engage in reckless behavior.
Others abuse us and neglect us. People who should love us hurt us. Sometimes only getting through one day to the next takes an incredible amount of courage and strength.
When people go to therapy, they often see themselves as hurting and broken. People don’t go for counseling when they’re feeling elevated and on top of the world. They go when they’re in pain.
Everyone, I mean everyone is broken. There is not a human on this earth who has not hurt, who is not damaged or is not in pain. We don’t harm in the same way, of course. And some people have suffered traumas that are hard to fathom.
At times, the pain of life can seem too much to bear. Jobless, homelessness, a husband leaves. A marriage falls apart. A child dies. Rape, assault, incest, drug abuse, disasters. All of these things hurt us to our core. And at times, all we can do is sit, cry, and try to survive.
It may feel like no one has felt hurt precisely like this; that’s true. But how do we survive? How do we get through the days, the nights, when our hurts are fresh, new, and tender? The answer is that we reach out to those around us.
People are not meant to live in isolation. Since the beginning of time, humans have lived in clans, groups, and families. Close relationships were crucial to survival. They still are! When people sit alone with their pain, it morphs and magnifies. So people build walls around themselves to keep everyone out, so they won’t be hurt again. But the barriers that are created are like a Petri dish for suffering. With no one to help shape their reality, no one to help them heal, or to see their pain and show them that they are loved anyway, hurt grows, and healing remains elusive. Walls don’t so much prevent pain from coming in as keep the pain from ever leaving.
Leonard Cohen writes, “there is a crack in everything; that’s how the light gets in.” Think about that for a second. The cracks, the pain, and hurt, are inevitable, but it is through them that growth happens, that light comes in. The pain will always be a part of life. But what we do with it, and how we reach out to each other, is what makes the difference. Are we focusing on the cracks, or can we see the light that they provide, the view that helps us to see, that allows us to grow?
When we decide to open ourselves up to others when we are hurting or reach out when we encounter someone else in pain, we begin the healing process. Others help us make sense of our suffering, support us, and remind us that, broken as we are, we are still loved. It is through connecting with people, sharing our stories, that we see ourselves as part of humanity.
If you’re hurting right now, know that you are not alone.
Some people care and who will listen. It may be a family member or friend, or someone on a suicide hotline, or people on an online support group. It may be a counselor or therapist or a friend from the second grade you reconnected with on Facebook. And if you open up to one person who can’t listen, try someone else, and then another, and then another, until you find someone who can take the time to hear you. Isolation and loneliness are what pain feeds on.
Let your walls crack open, and the light comes in. Allow yourself to be heard, understood, comforted. We’re all broken, but we’re also all healing. We’re all, always, healing.