broken open

I’ve been meaning to write this since yesterday.  But the minutia of day-to-day whatever got in the way.  I’m up early. My roommate is home, but has taken our Fogg to the vet.  And I’m alone again, in the sweet quiet that will eventually be rare–but isn’t these days.

It’s an odd thing to read the words of strangers about your friend.  It’s weird to reflect their grief.  It’s weird that she’s gone.  One of the biggest things that struck me is how so many people mentioned how she reached out to them–as strangers–when they needed people.  It didn’t surprise me so much as it felt like–of course she did.  That was who she was.


A man I probably loved once told me I’m my most beautiful when I break.  He said that to me after I broke his heart–as my face disintegrated when I realized he actually loved me.  But, at the time, I was in a place where I wasn’t the person he deserved.  He thought otherwise.

I was right.  But I’ll always remember that conversation.  How utterly broken I felt when we were talking, and how he could only admire it somehow.  Mostly because I’ve always kind of wondered if others could see what I felt inside.

I used to think that there was some sort of virtue in being the one who was always broken.  I took some kind of odd pride in it.  Wore it like some shield.  It was a way to keep people out.  It was a way to protect myself.  But it was also an excuse.  One that took me to a place of isolation, more often than not.

I’ve learned that being broken is a choice.  That how you live every moment of every day is a choice–a commitment.  That you can choose to believe the gremlins or you can reach out.

I’m so grateful for the people who reached out to me on my very worst days. For the strangers, especially, who had nothing to gain.

For a long time in my life, I was that stranger–that person who would reach out to people who were in pain.  Probably for selfish reasons.  Because I identified it in myself–some tether to that person–built by my own trauma.  I reached out because choosing connection drowned out my demons, and simply talking about it with them made it easier to deal with.

Over the years, I’ve done that less.  I deeply care about people–as a whole–but I’ve often been punished for that.  I’m still a people pleaser, so I tend to be cautious about how I reach out to people…never wanting to offend anyone…never wanting to overstep or be where I’m not appreciated.

It’s caused me some regret.  Sometimes, I say nothing to people I know are suffering when I know maybe my words would help.  When I see someone preparing for something, when my intuition fires, I often also know that person will feel protective if I mention it.  As much as I do say to my friends who are depressed, I don’t say so much.  I don’t share how angry I am with them–how utterly exhausted I am by them–how much I get it…but also how much I don’t.  How sick I am of them not fighting when all I ever do is fight.  Every day now for over ten years.

How we’re all fragile creatures and they’re not so damn special–and man, get over yourself.

And yet, they are.  Her death proves it.  So many strangers confirm the fact that her absence is palpable.

I want to scream at them–stop being so damn okay with how broken you are.  Stop believing that lie.  Stop being proud of it.


The day before this happened, I was trying to figure out my life…a frequent activity in this world…a way I choose to live.  Every day.

As I am prone to do, I covered myself in timelines and options.  Part of me felt exhilarated.  Part of me was paralyzed.  Part of me was grieving.

Still.  Always.  It never stops.

Because life continues.  Whether you want it to or not.

Sometimes, I’m so rigid.  So much in the movement of living that I forget that life is just here–and I am choosing busy over joy.  I can do anything I want.  The hard part is deciding and making it work.  Because once I decide, it will work.  I know this.

This week really illuminated for me my desire to get my PhD–to do the work that’s existed in my heart for a long time.  To do that work that would have helped my friend.  God–yes–I need to do that.  I need to fast track that shit.  I realized that while counseling helps individuals in very direct ways, my purpose isn’t there.  Or maybe a little of it is.  But most of it is in the bigger shit.  Which is why I want to tackle macro social work and not just be okay with private practice.

The epidemic of suicide and depression comes from inability to cope.  Lack of resilience.  A fucked up relationship with grief.  We idolize death, but no one really processes it.  Never heals.  We live in an avoidant culture where feelings might as well be vomit on the sidewalk.

I know a thing or two about these things.

I keep thinking about the work she was involved in–the film she didn’t finish.  How the ones who’ve survived loss and devastation need to speak up for those who can’t speak…who just don’t have the words.  I guess I’m one of them.  I have too many words.  So, it’s kind of the only way I can make any of the shit I’ve been through okay.

I can study counseling and study film and work on the stuff that matters.  I don’t have to do just one thing.  As always, I’m the girl who juggles.  But–no matter what I do–I need to keep reaching out.  Especially when it’s hard.  I need to show people they have a choice–and I know because today I chose to reach out.  Today, I’m alive.

Thanks for reminding me, friend.


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