Brokenness – Never Too Late to Learn an Unforgettable Lesson

May is mental health month. Mine was not faring well up to a few days ago. I cannot say I am a sweepingly happy or deep-down sorrowful person with any consistency. That certainly does not make me stand out from the crowd. We all have our good and bad moments, sometimes stretches of one or the other. This year has been particularly nerve-wracking, from the car accident at the end of last year, through all the physical and emotional related issues, to everyday challenges and persistent health issues. Amidst it all, the determined resolve to pursue activities, goals, and all things positive prevailed more than not. There were a few moments that turned into emotionally overwhelming hardships I am still struggling through.

One of those moments became a defining life lesson – unexpected and devastating.  It can be described as a shattered mirror of trust without going into any specific details. I am sure that we all know the turmoil such a thing may prompt. It reminds me of what I wrote earlier this year on friendship and the bond of trust. This year, I found myself in an unusual situation with startlingly distressing consequences. Nothing had prepared me for the outcome, though I had been communicating my concerns hesitatingly but clearly, intending to seek reassurance and clarification. Because of the unreserved trust – given and received – I felt safe expressing my state of mind, questioning whether my gut instinct was right. Insecurity, situation, and a lack of response when it matters, can do that.

One for direct and timely communication whenever something or someone needs prompt attention and being confident in the depth and honesty of our friendship, I was beyond surprised when technology failures and mishaps decided to drop on top of it all, right in the middle of that difficult moment, without the possibility of direct interaction, and the result was dismaying. No, not dismaying. Unreal. Overwhelming. Communication ceased altogether without any explanation. I realized I had been canceled and thus wordlessly labeled as toxic. So was my wife. We felt shattered. Had this happened with other people, we would not have given it the time of day. Friendships come and go for various reasons, seasons, etc., Part of life. This isn’t the case.

I have always been neutral in all things, especially human relationships. Why? Because we are imperfect, we all make mistakes, we all have our demons to contend with, and often our emotions take the reins of the runaway horse without realizing that we have not even caught it yet – maybe it needs to run until it stops. Someone said, “Some people are with you for what you can get them, for where you can take them, or for the safety you provide them. The real ones are with you for you. They are always there for you. Know the difference.” I do not bear resentment; I do not understand payback. The whole “people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones” concept. I believe in growth through understanding and the power of reconciliation through the extension of healing when possible.

Though devastating on a level I cannot even begin to describe, this experience prompted a drastic but long-overdue change in me. For me. While nothing changes as to who I am, and I will always be, true to myself, I recognized that I need to detach from what I have no control over – other people’s emotions. And how they, in turn, have no power over mine. Easier said than done when we are human, right? Trust is the foundation of love and affection; once destroyed, love is not enough; it clouds our judgment and pours fear into us. Broken trust allows us to see the bitter reality and face the fear. There is no trust without honesty; trusting someone is always a risk. A risk that can either create everlasting, loving relationships or destroy them.

It has been a lesson I repeatedly overlooked for ease of comfort, out of loneliness, and often only to comfort and protect others with all my heart and soul. This last time I listened, understood, and can now live more discerningly and lovingly. I trust myself with my own life. It is certainly nice to receive kindness, gentleness, and moral support. However, it is critical to recognize that trust is earned and not given. I have earned and given it, and though I will not ever again the same way, I fear having done so. The damage that has been done to me is immeasurable. Despite the brokenness, I know that my path has changed for the better. Do not ever choose silence when struggling, when your mental health is fraught, whoever and wherever you are. Issues do not define you – you define yourself. I can breathe for the first time in months — fear or not. Peace out; you’ve got this!