“Bent but never broken; down but never out.” ~Annetta Ribken
I lived for a long time thinking I was broken beyond repair.
Let me rephrase: I thought I was unloved, unworthy, scarred, and broken. What a package, right?
It started young, never feeling like I was good enough for anything I did. Being the youngest of the typical modern recomposed family in the eighties, I never knew on which foot to dance and always thought I needed to bend left and right to be seen and loved.
I carried this baggage under my badge of anxiety, feeling like no one and nothing could ever make me happy, that no one could love the real me, that nothing could ever make me feel worthy.
It reached a point as I was entering my forties when all I wanted to do was disappear. I wanted to not be who I was. I wanted to die.
I thought that was my only solution.
I believed the world would be better without me.
What I didn’t understand then is that by thinking I was broken, unworthy, unloved, and all the other awful things I told myself daily, I was pouring salt into old wounds that had no chance to mend until I stopped the self-loathing.
The more I told myself I was broken, the more I was breaking my soul. The more I told myself I was unloved, the less I loved others and opened myself up to love. The more I told myself I was unworthy, the more I interpreted others’ words to mean the same.
I didn’t know what I could do. I didn’t know how to get out of the storm I was stuck in. I didn’t know what could help me live in the moment and stop hurting from the past or getting scared of the future.
How do you get out of hurting so much you want to die?
For me: writing.
It was the only thing I could do.
I was losing friends left and right, closing up like an oyster, hurting myself and others with my words and actions—but my pen and paper were my salvation.
I bled tears and words until the day I could take a step back.
The pain, the feeling of being broken and unworthy was still here; I could barely look at myself in a mirror, even less love anyone properly. But as I was playing with my pencil not finding words for a poem I needed to write to survive, I kept pushing into a crack it had. And I pushed my nails into it, and I played with it, and picked at it and some more not really thinking what I was doing, desperately trying to find words, until the pencil broke in two.
No, let me take responsibility—until I broke the pencil in two.
I looked at the two pieces in my hand.
I had played with that pencil’s crack until I broke it.
My fingers kind of hurt, but I smiled.
This wasn’t me. This couldn’t be me. I really didn’t want this to become me.
I wasn’t two parts of one entity.
I was still one.
And if I was still one, I wasn’t broken, I was just scarred. I was just bent.
From that moment on, everything shifted.
I wasn’t broken, just bent. I could learn to love myself again.
It became like a mantra I repeated daily.
And if I wasn’t broken, just bent, then maybe I wasn’t unlovable but loved by the wrong people. And maybe I wasn’t unworthy but only surrounded by people who didn’t recognize my worth, or maybe I was blind to my awesomeness.
And if I wasn’t broken, if I stopped playing with my wounds, then maybe the healed scars could tell a story. And if I could tell my story and help others in any way, maybe, just maybe my pain and hardship and years of anxiety and depression could become more than a feeling of brokenness.
So maybe I wasn’t broken. Maybe I was indeed just bent.
It was hard to say it out loud, it was hard to explain, but the moment I shifted my mindset, I felt a relief.
I knew then I could rise from the traumas I’d gone through. Even the smallest ones.
I could give myself a second chance at life by healing and sharing my story.
I wasn’t broken; I was made to break the shell of my past and show that if I could do it, you could too.
Because here is my biggest secret: I am no one, and I am everyone.
My story is the same story as most of yours. I didn’t deal with my traumas, and they caught up. I thought I had dealt with the past by putting a bandage on it when I really needed an open soul surgery.
I thought I could wear a mask and be loved for who I thought people wanted me to be, but this made me feel unloved to the core.
I thought I was broken when I was only bent by circumstances I needed to untangle. I thought I was unworthy but I was capable of creating art with my scars and shining a light on the most common depression story ever to tell others they weren’t alone and could get out of it too.
So don’t tell yourself that you are broken.
Don’t think you need an extraordinary story to help others find their light.
Don’t believe you are no one, because we are all no one, and we are everyone.
I’m not a life coach, I’m not selling classes, I’m not even trying to save your soul. I’m just like you, trying to find a light of love and joy. And together, we are healing, and we have a story to write. A story about the power of choosing to see yourself as someone with strength, value, and purpose.
Change your mindset today. See yourself as just bent, and don’t try to straighten yourself up.
Allow yourself to be bent, and let the shift happen.
Broken is irreparable.
Bent is not.
It’s not a big difference, but it might change your life.