Have you ever looked at a child’s most beloved toy and seen how it has begun to fray at the edges, how the buttons and knobs have started to fall off and the stuffing has begun to seep out of little holes?
Or how, gradually, through daily use and rough handling, they threaten to utterly disintegrate or fall into almost permanent disrepair?
Well, sometimes, humans may do that too. Only, it’s not necessarily visible to the naked eye. Those frayed edges might reveal themselves in the way your mind begins to unravel and give way under the weight of daily life and its constant emotional demands.
It might be the subtle dimming of light in one’s eyes after having seen things a human shouldn’t have to see or the way your insides twist into a knot of jangled nerves and worn out things and remain that way.
The telling difference between a toy and a person, however, is that very often, no one stops to attend to the gaping holes and sew them shut again before they spread too far or open too wide.
No one comes along, armed with a warm, damp cloth, to lovingly wash away years of accumulated grim, before they gently set you down onto a fluffy pillow to await the embrace of someone who cares or put you back on the high shelf, all shiny and seemingly new once more.
Sometimes, no one tries to fix us when we start to break and more often than not, just like a toy, we fall apart at the seams. It starts out subtly enough, blink too much and you might even miss it.
It’s the way your eyes flick from left to right, never settling on any one thing for very long, as if they are searching unseeingly for something just beyond their sight.
It is in the way that your thoughts race, keeping you awake until the darkest hours, even though your body is fit to collapse from exhaustion and is all but begging you for a few moments’ worth of uninterrupted, mindless sleep.
It’s why you have to force a smile or guffaw out a laugh in order to keep up appearances or drag yourself out of bed to face another day, wishing before, you’ve even gotten dressed, that this day could be over. Soon.
It is how you push loved ones away, even as your heart pleads with you to make them stay.
It’s the reason you lie and tell yourself you’re better off alone, even when loneliness is the very thing threatening to tear you apart.
It’s eating food and tasting ash or walking out in the summer sunshine and yet, you feel bitterly cold within.
It exists in the way you begin to feel like a crazy person for wanting to be ‘normal’ again, to feel sane because you recognise with the greatest fear that right now, you’re anything but. It’s gripping tighter and with an even greater urgency just as you feel yourself falling and start to let go.
These are the ways in which we break… slowly, gently, but with painful awareness all the while.
The truth is, our physical bodies almost never show the true depth of our wholeness or indeed, in stark contrast, our brokenness but the signs are always there, lying just below the surface.
Society has made us feel ‘wrong’, flawed or damaged if we admit that we are struggling or if we can’t project a façade of togetherness throughout our lives. It starts when you’re a teenager and sadly, it never really stops from there on out.
If you don’t fit just so, then get the hell out of the toy box that is accepted society, that’s what ‘they’ will say… but sometimes, it is in our falling to the floor that we get noticed and found again.
Sometimes, showing that we are breaking and admitting that we can’t fix ourselves alone is the first step to healing and it opens up the possibility of our being put back together again before it is too late.
Here’s the catch though: just like a child’s favourite toy, you are never quite who or what you were before.
Sure, you may have been stitched back together but maybe the cotton isn’t always of a complementary colour or the handiwork is fairly shoddy or rudimentary at best (much like my sewing…) and it’s noticeable.
The world has lead us to believe that looking different and being resuscitated and effectively ‘brought back to life’ is not acceptable. Sorry, friend but that ‘damaged goods’ label is yours to keep – but you know what? It doesn’t have to be! Rip it off, throw it to the ground and get the hell on with your life again.
Because truthfully, the most beautiful things in life can emerge from brokenness and scars are only proof that you have lived. They’re sexy in a way because they remind you that something tried to kill you and you managed to damn it and live to see another day.
So yes, sometimes, people break too – but much like with toys, we’re capable of being fixed again too.