When I was a teenager, I would lie in the middle of the street late at night. The roads barely lit at the top of Wawecus Hill, the curve a dangerous liaison that licked at my delicate heart. I’d lower my body to the ground, the hard asphalt biting into my young legs, my breath coming fast. Spreading out my fingers, I would secretly wish for a car to come along and the will to stay put. Most times, I was with a friend or a date, and they’d laugh nervously, ask what the hell I was doing and shake their heads. Over the years, there were a few people that joined me, and I can’t believe I was the only person that did these sorts of things when young age, immortality coursing through our veins, and the gentle pull of not wanting to exist prompted me to taunt death with these outrageous acts.
I turn forty-two today. Forty. Two. It’s seventeen years longer than I thought I’d live. I think an early death is a story all young people tell themselves, especially the wild and broken people. Make no mistake, I am broken. I have been beaten. I have been through my fair share of shit. Sometimes, it has been caused by my own hands; the scars on my body and the memories in my head bear this truth. Some of my brokenness comes from others. My biggest broken bit’s anniversary is coming up in a little under two months, and I still haven’t figured out who’s to blame for that shattering.
We are all broken in some way; some of us more than others, and some of us better at hiding it all. Some of us create songs or paintings or sad, little essays on the web. And others turn to the pipe or the needle or drink themselves into someone they no longer know. No matter the path, it’s always to forget. It’s always to cope. Although, I don’t think there’s such a thing as coping, is there? I think we just learn to live with it. Learn to live with the shit that made us into who we have become.
For a long time, I couldn’t see the beauty in my breakings. Perhaps that’s the Virgo in me, the casting a cold, hard eye on my own failures and shortcomings, self-critical to a fault yet what drives me to achieve great things. I’m not much for astrology or the beliefs that stars determine who and what we become. What I do believe is that all these breakings, the broken bits of our bodies and souls, are where the beauty in life comes. It’s what makes us beautiful. When we understand pain and hurt and the breaking, we understand other humans.
I figured this out in my forties: that the brokenness is what makes life worth living. The broken bits are what turns me into me. I am who I am—a little mad, a little tough, a whole hell of a lot of kind and generous, a smidge of don’t-fuck-with-me attitude, and I sure as hell can turn a pretty phrase—I am all these things because I have been broken. Some breaks heal, some are constantly rebreaking, and some have never set right, but fuck am I happy with who I am. I am happy with where this life has taken me. I have seen some things. I have caused some things. I have been through some hells, and there isn’t a bit I would change. I feel deeply, I love deeply, and though hatred is a feeling that is hard to come by in me, you will burn if you are unkind. All these bits make up me. All these bits are loved and lovable (why am I still single?). After forty-two years, I finally see that truth.
Love yourself, my friends. Others will follow your example.