On brokenness

Those who know me or my writing know that I battle with mental illness.

As I politely but firmly see 2017 out the door, I am thinking about that battle. This year was a long and difficult one for many reasons, and it has left me bruised in new places, and broken open ancient scars. I have been asking myself if this brokenness of my mind is my destiny, my forever, and if so how to make peace with that.

For a long time after my first encounter with a formal DSM-IV diagnosis, I could hide from the truth of my broken mind. I dutifully went to therapy, I journaled. And even though I struggled through some patches, I convinced professional after professional that I had it under control. I knew my demons well and could vanquish them at will.

About 2 years ago, almost 1 year into my son’s life, none of my old tricks were working. I experienced the sheer terror of a mind that will not bend to my will. The absolute desperation that comes from knowing that your cannot wrap your head around your reality. And I had a little life to nurture. With some hesitation, I finally faced up to my brokenness and went on meds.

It felt like failure at the time. But now I see it’s what I needed to do to really tame those demons. And to learn that the nature of my brokenness is such that I will always be broken. I will always have demons to contend with. It’s never going away.

We live in a society that brands that as failure. Walk it off, take a pill, slap a band aid on it. Make yourself whole again. What I know now is that the true success is in admitting that your brokenness is part of what makes you whole.

None of us make it through this life unscathed. We all break, in lots of ways. The lesson of 2017 has been that wholeness entails brokenness. You cannot pretend to be whole if you don’t acknowledge your pain.

So my wish for all of us in 2018 and beyond is this: ring those bells that can still ring; forget your perfect offering. There’s a crack in everything; that is how the light gets in.

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