Beauty in Brokenness

A conversation with a dear friend today wound up at a place which rather swept me off my feet and plonked me right into the middle of a rather think-y kind of mood. It happened right around the time I was trying to justify the point to her that somehow we just have to live, and keep living, right amidst the shambles that life sees fit to thrust upon us.

Because it does. It really, seriously does.

Life ShamblesIt takes hopes and dreams and plans and expectations and desires and blows them all into smithereens, whilst almost laughing in your face at having been so stupid to even think that those things might have been meant for you, or part of your future. It sucks.

And if I think veryveryquickly, without even stopping to put effort into it, I can call to mind people in my ken who are dealing with such diverse things as chronic illness, death of a loved one, depression, family breakdown, complicated children, unemployment, mental health issues, financial difficulties, eating disorders, child loss…ohmigosh I could go on, and the list just gets bigger and more heartbreaking the more time which is spent on it.

These aren’t even the ‘middle’ things, like injuries, ongoing medical conditions, complicated families, or lack of job security. And really the small things fade into the background to the point where they almost become decorative pieces of tinycrap amongst the shit-storm which is being dealt with on a daily basis.

Each time I feel as though my own life has barrelled straight from one catastrophe into the next – with no time to stop and breathe in between – if I’m not careful and I say it out loud, I soon discover an echo in the voices of so many of the people I hold dear, all raising their hands and voices in one plaintive cry of “me too!”

Sometimes it feels as though a large number of the people I know are hanging on by a thread. I know it’s not the case for all of them, but for many, there is genuine anguish in the soul or the circumstances, and they’re struggling to stay afloat. If I look with my mind’s eye for too long, it becomes misted with tears and the disheartening fear that this is just how life is – there is no let-up, no win, no pinnacle or plateau which, once achieved, ensures ongoing security and success: it’s just all a big ol’ mess.

The thing which struck me between the eyes was my friend’s concern that her life had lost meaning, and that she was stuck in that shambles with no way out. I didn’t have anything comforting to say because I’m not sure that, for everyone, there is.

Whatever way they arrive at them, most people (I think) end up with a set of expectations for life, and things they feel *should* happen. I know I did. And I know that each time I crash into another wall of reality and watch one of those expectations go up in flames, it hurts. It really, really hurts, and though I don’t think that the BadStuff happens on purpose, there is beauty in the brokenness, which I don’t think could be found any other way.

And mostly that comes through the people I have around me.

There are instances, of course, when a moment in time just transcends the day and becomes delightful. There are small successes and achievements, which make life seem *twinklysparklygood* for a while. There are periods of time where I feel like the right person, in the right place, and everything is as it should be. There is *always* nature (and failing that, Pintrest), which often provides moments of wonder and awe, and it feels sometimes as though those things are like specks of light in the darkness, making it seem almost pretty as it rolls on in its grumbling, destructive way.

But the clouds gather again, and threaten to overwhelm, and in those moments, time and time again, it’s the people I know who provide the silver linings, and let me tell you – they. are. breathtaking.

The capacity of the human heart to love – to take into its consideration another person (and another, and another), and to care, is mindblowing – and in the end, I think that’s part of the point: we all belong to each other, and gradually we need to learn to live like it.

If everyone lived with each other’s best interests as their driving force, what a different world this would be. Yes – it’s a completely unachievable ideal, but just stop and think about it for a moment – how beautiful it could be…

Each time I get knocked down by the next catastrophic sneaker-wave, become overwhelmed and start drowning, people are there for me – not because they are forced to, or because there’s something in it for them, or because I deserve it, but because they have chosen to take me into their hearts and allowed me matter to them.

It’s what friendship (perhaps the pinnacle of human relationship?) is about.

The strength of their love and care is so great that it reaches beyond TimeZones and Geography. There are people who can hug me, or hold me when I cry, and there are people who send emails or voice-messages to express support. Collectively, the light which shines into my various darknesses has thus far proven more than up to the challenge – I am still here. The darkness has not overcome me and in counting my blessings, I know that they all have names and faces and lives and families and challenges of their own.

I only hope that I can be as much of a silver lining to them in my turn.

And THAT (I think) is what it’s all about – life is messy and broken and brutal and often seems intent to destroy us, but if we can find people to whom we can turn; to whom we can reach out our hands from the depths of our darknesses, and know that they will grab hold and hang on tight whilst trouble rages around us, then there is beauty and light in our lives which, without the challenges, would never have been discovered, and without testing, would never have shown its true strength.

We are each others’ silver linings, and times of darkness only serve to make us shine brighter.

Together we are stronger.

We are each others Silver Linings

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82 thoughts on “Beauty in Brokenness

  1. So poignant.
    I’ve had my fair share of hardships and I do not like it when people compare theirs to mine. The reason being is that my “big” problems might be your small ones and vice versa. So say for example, I cannot get out of bed because my back is a hot mess and a friend that same day complains that she has a sore neck. She’ll say “Oh I can’t complain because you’re far worse off than I.” …no, no you can complain. Pain is pain whether physical, mental, etc. and if it is bothering you, then it is and you shouldn’t minimize it. I think that is the problem that holds people back from reaching out. “Burden” blah blah…we fail t realize that as you so eloquently put it, we are each other’s silver linings. Reach out and someone will pull you out or at least bake some mean fucking brownies and share them with you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • YES this is it – where we can’t actually make the situation better, we can bring what we can of ourselves, and the good we know we CAN do, and brighten it up that way.

      Pain and hurt and challenge and difficulty are all so very…whatever they are to US, and that’s not to say that I think a little rich girl whose pony is sick should be tallied on the same lines as a third world family whose child is sick, but you know what I mean. Our challenges are hard because they’re OURS.

      I’m glad you liked this so much, and thanks for sharing it – you are a darling πŸ™‚

      Like

  2. This is absolutely beautiful. Particularly like the idea of “middle things” – that sums my life up perfectly – good, but, there’s stuff – and you feel you shouldn’t complain because overall, well, it’s good. I have a good friend whose an Anglican priest who once told me that what you feel is what you feel and just because your issues don’t “measure” to others on the “bad” meter doesn’t mean they aren’t issues and aren’t worth talking through.

    That would be some of the best advice I got.

    As for the whole “is this all there is” part of life? I’m starting to think your 30s – as a life stage – rather sucks. Because it is very much the decade where life expectations and reality collide and you realize where you might ultimately land in life. Life isn’t predetermined by any means, but I think it’s the “reality check” decade.

    I find myself telling myself often that I am in charge of much my happiness. Bad stuff happens, yes. But how I choose to deal with it is about … how I choose to deal with it.

    I love this post.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, I’m glad you like it so much, Louise – thanks πŸ™‚

      I think that holding yourself responsible for your own happiness is appropriate up to a point, after all there’s a lot to be said for how a person deals with things, and having an attitude of ‘making the best of’ those things (this is, I suppose, why such hackneyed expressions as “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade” exist) but I also think that the priest was right – when things are hard for us then they’re that – they’re hardfor us. And whether they pale in comparison to the things which are hard for someone else is immaterial, and another person’s pain/challenge shouldn’t be used to undermine our own.

      I think you might have hit the nail on the head about your thirties. That sums it up soooooo perfectly. And perhaps that’s why I can’t wait for my 40’s, then all the BS will be over, and I’ll have found ‘my’ place. and be cool with it – thanks for that thought.

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  3. Lizzi, Your soulful reflections are so… can’t find the right word. Soulful, heartfelt… “If everyone lived with each other’s interests as their driving force…” I do wish. I know it is but a fantasy but I won’t stop wishing for it.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh how gorgeous this post is… because it speaks such truth to life and living and how LOVE will always prevail amidst the messes of it all…

    “But the clouds gather again, and threaten to overwhelm, and in those moments, time and time again, it’s the people I know who provide the silver linings, and let me tell you – they. are. breathtaking.”

    YES. That. ❀

    Liked by 1 person

      • my pleasure! Your words really spoke to me. It’s just in the last week or two that I have experienced so much support and meaningful assistance from a few friends all who have or are going through so much in their own struggles. And my own realisation that all the pain I am experiencing is in some ways opening me up to more than I could have experienced before.
        The only way to survive (and thrive?) is to connect with people who really understand and support each other, and it’s all I have ever wanted to do.

        Liked by 1 person

        • YES! So much very yes! That’s what really hooked me into blogging – I thought at first (2 years ago) that it would be a neat little platform for me to share my thoughts with a (somewhat willing/unsuspecting) audience. In fact it’s proven a place to make strong and enduring connections with other people, and as you say – largely through shared understanding of suffering and hurts, in which empathy and compassion come burgeoning into the forefront and wrap both persons around with care…it’s marvellous.

          I’m sorry you’ve had a hard time lately, but I’m so glad you’ve had good friends around you to help hold you up. It sounds like you’re being really analytical about it, too, which gives an additional layer of understanding and wonderfulness to an otherwise very sucky experience. You’re so right though – it’s how we thrive – in the company of others.

          Liked by 1 person

  5. Yes yes yes! I love this. It so reminds me of the poem I posted by Andrea Gibson… she says:

    “Friend, if the only thing we have to gain in staying is each other,
    my god that is plenty
    my god that is enough
    my god that is so so much for the light to give
    each of us at each other’s backs
    whispering over and over and over,
    β€œLive. Live. Live.”

    πŸ™‚ Indeed. Without those silver linings of each other… I think we would never survive. Glad to call you one of my silver linings, sweet friend.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Pingback: Ten Things of Thankful #64 | Considerings

  7. The crap does keep coming and coming and coming, but the silver linings, and the connections. That’s what it’s about. Here’s to spreading the love. Everywhere. Except to mean people. Ok maybe they need it the most. I dunno but here’s to the love and silver linings. Pinned your pin.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. THIS.
    I get all wrapped up in my own whateverness, I forget to step back and look at the big picture. We all do, we’re allowed to. We’re Human. Humans are the worst πŸ™‚ but we can also be the best. For a little while anyway, that is exhausting.
    Whatever our own troubles/worries are, they’re huge to us. That’s ok, sometimes it’s ok to stew in it for awhile. But then posts like this, and the THANKFULs and Silver Linings people remind us, oh yeah, I guess we DO have our health. There’s that, right? RIGHT?
    Because the only thing I know for sure about Life, is that it goes on. Whatever crap it throws right in your face, it just keeps going and going and going and going.
    So it’s nice to have friends to talk to about it, to empathize or sympathize or vent-ercize, which is the only form of exercise I’m doing right now πŸ˜‰ I’m tweeting that b-the-w.
    *hugs*

    Liked by 1 person

  9. The thing we humans forget all too easily is that we are not alone – we just have to remember that and let others in. Hold fast to those friends who comfort you – and comfort them in return. Those connections are like ripples in a pool or an ocean…you never know just how far they will reach.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Often, when I’m overwhelmed and down, I tend to pull into myself. In my self-pity and depression, I assume that no one can understand or relate to what I am going through. I get so self-focused and alone that I forget that there are others out there who need my empathy (like the patients I deal with each day) or that there are those who DO understand and would be there for me, if only I would allow it. I’ve had years of practice being alone (even when I wasn’t physically alone) – so it’s taking some work to trust and believe and let others in. This post was a beautiful reminder of how important it is to both be there for others and let them be there for me!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I do precisely the same thing, Jana. I think to some extent this post was an attempt to remind myself of that – that there are people out there who care about me, and that they MATTER, and that I need to remember that. Also to respect their decision to let me matter to them, and stop writing that off just because I don’t like myself very much. I think you hit the nail on the head with “if only I would allow it” – I tend to get into a very self-destructive place, mentally, and convince myself that it’s all about deserving (which I don’t) and being worth it (which I’m not) so then having failed, I retreat. I need to remember it’s NOT about either of those things (thank goodness) – it’s about other people’s choices.

      I have (with varying degrees of success) tried to do something nice, on purpose, for someone else when I’ve been feeling down, because it reminds me that I can do nice, good things, and that it will bring happiness to someone else.

      Aloneness is very difficult to overcome (especially the non-physical kind). Keep fighting it.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Lizzi, you just have a way of reaching out and hugging my soul. Friendship truly is a silver lining, one that I cannot live without, and you’ve just said this so well. As far as time zones and oceans and distance and every other obstacle in between. I need to do nothing more than step out into the night and gaze up at the sky to see sweet Lizzi shining down on me. I know I’ve said this before, but I am truly grateful that the blogosphere introduced me to you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • And you mine, Mandi. I save your comments ’til last (when there’s the option) because they almost always make me feel better. I kind of love your idea about the stars. And I’m hugely thankful for your presence in my portion of the Blogosphere – you make it *twinklysparklywonderful* on a regular basis, which is delightful and always makes me smile in my heart.

      Like

    • Lemme think. I wrote this late last night…which was…Wednesday – no ride – Pilates. Boxing tonight. Netball tomorrow. Tonight I got nothing but sore arms and a maudlin attitude.

      You’re gonna Pin it? Ooooooooh πŸ˜€ That made me smile πŸ™‚

      Like

  12. I know you will somehow manage to deny it to yourself …so to avoid that just say “thanks” or “awwww.” but you are one of the people who rejuvinated this quality for me… you have made me more conscious of the need to stay connected and to check in with people I care about….There have been a lot of losses here and I needed to get back to connecting… you helped with that… thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. This is so beautifully written! Christine’s quip to you reminds me of an oft-quoted (at least in the Mormon church) statement: “God does notice us, and he watches over us. But it is usually through another person that he meets our needs. Therefore, it is vital that we serve each other.” (Spencer W. Kimball)

    I definitely agree with you that it is the contrast that makes the silver linings even brighter.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That sounds like a very commonsense type of statement, after all, we’re all stuck here on this planet together, and we’d really better learn how to get along. It’s like that ‘getting along’ t-shirt which the two fighting siblings got put into until they learned to treat each other nicely (did you see that photo? It was whizzing around the internet not long ago), but on a global scale πŸ™‚

      Like

    • Thanks. I’m glad you like it. It has elements of the one I wrote that’s not published yet – now hoping I haven’t over-done it, and that there’s sufficient difference to carry the other!

      Lighthouse post? Or lifeboats? Have I forgotten what I’ve written again??!?! πŸ™‚

      Like

  14. I really liked this, Lizzi. It’s crazy how dark it can get sometimes. I can look at very specific times in my life where it was the presence of a friend– even an unlikely one– that got me through the shite. We need to never forget that and never fail to be that person for someone else.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yes, friends can definitely be found in unlikely places, and if I’m honest, I still believe that (in spite of the crap just *happening*) sometimes life is On Purpose, and we find people who we were meant to find, for however long the season of their belonging in our lives is, and they make a HUGE difference. I’ve had that with people.

      I’m glad you’ve had the right people around you at the right moments, Aussa, and I hope that continues. Well, while I’m hoping for stuff, I shall just hope for no more shite for you, but that might be unrealistic, so yeah, I’ll hope for the right people, for you and for everyone πŸ™‚

      As to our responsibility – I think being a good friend is one of the best things it’s possible to be. I’d rather be that than almost anything else, if I’m honest.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Serins. And yes – friendships are so, SO very important. I read a thing on Pintrest the other day, which said ‘to find out where your heart lies, follow where your mind goes when you daydream’ – mine goes to my friends πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  15. YES! So much yes. We are stronger together.

    The challenges life throws at us are so hard, but it is possible to make it to the other side when you know you have friends holding you up (and sometimes helping to carry you) until you make it. What a blessing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes. I was once talking to Christine and mentioned (with derision) the saying ‘God never gives you more than you can handle’, and quick as a whip, she replied along the lines that we’re given other people so we don’t have to handle these things alone. It stayed with me, and kind of compounded with my conversation last night.

      Thank goodness for friends who are willing to step in and hold us up…wow.

      Like

  16. I read this very first thing this morning on my phone but was unable to comment, and so I’m back. You know how I feel about letting people in, and where you stand with that, so I think that says everything I need to say about the matter. Together we are stronger. Thank you for often lending me your strength.

    Liked by 3 people

  17. I remember before the kids before the adoption I was at a friends house for dinner altogether it was three couples me and mine, my friend and hers and another couple we all were friends with…

    we had received terrible news a month prior and I was still heart-broken over it – during the course of the night the wife of the third couple wanted to take pictures – I couldn’t smile i was sad – perhaps I was a rag and party downer but i was there making the best of it but i couldn’t smile – she had no empathy for me and just complained about it she didn’t get it –

    Empathy – we are in this cluster… of life together wonderful post πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh that makes me so cross that she couldn’t find it in herself to treat you with compassion and care. Grrrr. And see how those kinds of care-less hurts stay wih us? 😦

      Empathy, compassion, and ultimately LOVE, is where it’s at. You’re right.

      Like

  18. Superb. Though I haven’t had to face so many shitstorms you talked about…your thoughts echo my own…it is always someone not something which will help us pass over one mess after another. Kindness..and friendship and love together are the backbone of our society and whatever remains of the culture. It is people who care for each other which make us still believe in hope and sunshine..and silver linings.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yes – I often think that we struggle to do these things for ourselves – I know I cannot care for myself or comfort myself in the way a friend can, and I think we NEED one another, and to have that contact with fellow human beings to keep us going. I think it’s meant to be like that.

      I’m glad you haven’t been through as many shit-storms as I mentioned – I sincerely hope NO-ONE has been through all of them! But life is hard for all of us, sometimes, and having good people around us can transform things and make them manageable. It’s so important.

      Liked by 1 person

  19. And now I am REALLY going to send you that song cause it made me think of you this week and now I think you need to hear it.
    That made me positively gasp. It floored me. This has got to be, hands down, my favorite thing you’ve written. I am going to pin it, tweet it, reread it and savor it over and over.
    It touches me at the deepest of my heart’s core that I might have offered you some small measure of comfort in friendship. You have certainly done so for me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Believe me, you very most definitely have, my dear, and I still remember with such delight that day in the van, in the middle of my working day, when you sent me those photos of you and Glennon and I completely exploded with happiness a) that you’d met her and b) that you’d even thought of me, and c) that you took time to send me pictures…that was stunningly awesome. And since then…well, like I said – you sent me your ankles. You’re a keeper.

      I’m looking forward very much to the song – I am intrigued πŸ˜€ And I’m so happy you love this so much πŸ˜€

      Like

  20. I can identify with what you say… (for me) the key to identify with others, which is more about the connectedness and commonality than it is about similarity (in circumstances or in feelings).
    (and) the strangest thing is that it can be so simple (no, I did not say easy, I said simple). I share with another that I can identify with how them, with how they (may) feel.
    Though we would all like a way to change the circumstances that might afflict another (or ourselves), to be able to do away with the bad things that happen, it can only be ‘how you feel’/’how I feel’ that is available to us, fortunately that is enough to changes lives.
    Not a change at this very second, not money for bank accounts, not health for relatives, those are merely things, the circumstances of life, rather, to have the certain knowledge that another person has been in the (bad/good) place you may be is the real ‘help for a suffering person’ if only because, if I know you have felt, (at one time or another), as I have felt, (at one time or another) then the crushing weight of ‘it’s only you in life and you are alone’ is made a little lighter.
    sometimes that’s all it takes.
    ya know?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, definitely, and I think particularly in the case of a clark-dark, to know that another has been there and experienced it and has come out the other side – not unscathed but…unquashed – is as important as anything else. That was the part (for me) with the hands reaching in to hang onto…to know that there are people who once more reside in the light (until they don’t again, and you reach in and offer your hand to them to grab hold of)…that is amazing.

      Like

    • Agreed. And at the moment you are for me. Thank you…I appreciate it huge. Every little helps, and I find myself once again in the fortunate position of being surrounded by people I trust and who care. Thank you more than you know for being one of them *hugs*

      Like

  21. Yes, Lizzi, I DID choose to let you into my heart and make you matter because you are an amazing person whose warmth and compassion I both envy and value. You have been there so many times for me. Despite knowing some of my darker secrets, which I was reluctant to part with, you never once judged me. I truly hope I never have a chance to return those favors, but if the opportunity arises I gladly will because I care and want to help in any way I can.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I so value your friendship, TD, and thank you for always having such a determinedly high opinion of me, even when my own fails. This comment made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside, and I am hugely, definitely glad you chose to let me matter to you. And no – I don’t do judgement (on other people) because I know that we ALL muck up, and I think sometimes it’s in how we move things forward from there which counts. Thank you for trusting me πŸ™‚

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  22. Beautiful! What is that saying about how light only gets in through the cracks?? I think it is kind of like that – when we have cracks/breaks, it allows others to let their light shine on us and, hopefully, through us.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lisa, I never ever thought of it that way around…THAT’S BRILLIANT! Because I never feel that even with broken bits, there’s much good to shine, but it lets OTHER PEOPLE SHINE INTO US! Wow. wow. WOW! I LOVE IT πŸ˜€

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    • *hugs* GOOD! That was the plan. It’s so nice to see you here πŸ˜€ Loved our conversation, even with all the tricky bits, and THANK YOU for inspiring this. Also, you just scored FRIST! πŸ˜€

      Like

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