I haven’t done a poll of how many would say they feel or have felt broken, but it seems it could be a good number of people. Many of us feel broken in one or more areas of life, or have felt broken at some point in our life.
It’s true, and also not the whole picture. We may be broken in some ways. Whole in other ways. And the term doesn’t even apply in yet another way.
I am broken from feeling unloved and unlovable, feeling not included as a child and early teenager, from missing out of things that felt deeply important to me (mostly relationships), regrets, fears about the future. (And a pattern of first getting a “yes”, waiting too long, getting a “no”, and feeling the loss very deeply…. in relationships and education and work opportunities.) This does impact my life. It impacts how I perceive myself, others and the world, and how I live my life.
I am also whole in other ways. I experience myself as whole, as the wholeness body and mind are part of. I experience myself as a seamless whole. I am able to meet experiences with kindness and love (at least at times, when I remember and find a clear intention), and that gives a sense of wholeness. Even in the areas I experience myself as broken, I may experience myself as whole in some situations.
And the term doesn’t even apply. I cannot find an actual “brokenness” outside of images, words and sensations.
All of these are real. Each one is valid, in its own way. I cannot leave one out, or deny it. I cannot say that there is no brokenness, even if I feel whole in other ways, or the brokenness is unfindable. I also cannot say that the brokenness means that my wholeness is not there, or that it is findable as something real, solid and concrete.
Brokenness is an invitation. It’s an invitation to see myself as deeply human. To see and feel that we are all in the same boat, and that it’s part of the human experience. To meet what’s unloved in me with love. To meet my unquestioned stories with (somewhat systematic) curiosity. (The stories creating a sense of brokenness.) To notice what happens when I meet my brokenness in this way. To notice my wholeness, and that the brokenness is really unfindable. And to do this for others too, when they feel broken.