Originally posted at What does it mean to be broken?
This post is for all those people out there, who have come across broken people. How do you deal with it, do you snigger behind their backs or make jokes at their expense? Do you try to understand to help and understand them, only to give up exasperated? Have you tried everything you could possibly think of tried to encourage them to get a job, go out more, get a grip. Is their brokenness embarrassing for you socially? Does it make you feel at a loss for how to help them support them? Or are you just sick of the whole scenario to your back teeth?
Well here’s a novel idea, it’s not your job to fix them. Or to tell them how your Aunt Sally overcome her “sad moments” and came back to the real world. It your job to decide whether you want to support them and if the answer is no, then at least be honest and walk away. You may want to fix the world to show how clever you are but to tell a broken person the obvious “they are broken” or offer ways to fix them without being invited is just plain insulting.
Broken people are in good company, did you know that William Churchill suffered with depression and called them “bad dog days”. He knew what all broken people know, that they are not their illness. In creating a distance between his bad and good days he created the necessary separation between who he was and his illness. People who are broken are so much more than their illness.
People who are broken do not trust easily and if they have taken you into their confidence, then they have honoured you. How will you repay that trust will you make jokes about them talk over everything they say? To make them feel even more worthless or will you give them the respect you give to others automatically.
Sometimes a broken person just wants to be listened to. Maybe no one else as ever listened to them with respect. Our actions carry far more weight than we realise and words can and often are; played over and over in a broken persons mind.
What does it feel like to be broken? It feels like you are nothing and no one and have nothing to contribute. Be sure that every look, snigger and remark will be noticed. Do you feel because the person says nothing they have not noticed what you have done? Let me tell you something broken people are hyper-vigilant they have honed this skill to survive and they miss nothing. No one gets broken without great trauma and pain over a long period of time. You can bet they have only told you half a story, why? Because when they have told their stories in the past they have had maybe the same reaction that you are giving them now.
Some people look at others who they view as broken as weak and needing to move on, get a grip. Another lesson, broken people are not weak they are probably a lot stronger than you are. I bet you could not as Ghandi put it “walk a day in their shoes”.
You may not view getting out of bed and having a shower as a productive day but to them it is a miracle. Do you have any idea what it is like to try to monitor every thought, it’s exhausting, its soul destroying and it takes a huge amount of strength.
So what do you think, will you stay or will you go? Take a look at what you shouldn’t do on the list below and decide what you would like to do. If you are doing any of these things you are adding to their pain and need to walk away for both your sakes.
(1) Talking about the person behind their back.
(2) Sniggering behind them with others.
(3) Talking laughing at their antics with your other friends.
(4) Talking over them or completing ignoring what they say when you don’t like the subject.
(5) Bragging about how perfect your life is because you need to get one over the other person.
There are many ways to be a good friend or source of support for a broken person here are a few.
(1) Listen, the most powerful tool of all.
(2) Don’t try to fix them ask questions like “Is there any way I can help?”
(3) Don’t talk behind their backs or even worse when they are in the room as though they weren’t there. Broken people are sad not mad and are not deaf.
(4) Be as good a friend to them as they are to you, don’t take advantage of their low self-esteem and think “well it’s only so and so” so and so whoever she/he is they have feelings just like you.
(5) If you can’t say something positive don’t say anything at all.
These lists flow into each other and there are many others things. Just ask yourself how you would like to be treated and do that. So next time you come across a broken person don’t ask yourself if they are good enough to be associated with you and your circle of friends. Instead ask yourself am I good enough to be a true friend to them.
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