Sometimes I just feel like a broken toy.
I feel like I am, in fact, stranded on that island of misfit toys we see in the Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer special every holiday season. But I guess when we get treated like toys, get broken and then are cast aside, it’s hard not to feel a certain kind of way about that.
This last year has been an amazing one. I have experienced exponential personal growth, and I’ve met several goals for myself. So much that has happened has been positive, but there’s been an awful lot of change. And I’ve taken some hard knocks in relationships in the last year, too. I fell for the wrong person and then trusted someone I should have never trusted. I kept putting my heart back on my sleeve and showing up with my raw vulnerability to try to truly connect with people.
And I got hurt.
I also learned a lot about myself. Pandora’s Box opened, and I found inside it all of these deeper messages I had absorbed that I didn’t even realize were working behind the curtain of my life. I’ve done some house cleaning, so to speak, and really pulled all of that dark out into the light. It’s been rewarding in so many ways, but it’s also left me feeling like I’ve been put back together inexpertly.
Because now I can’t just enjoy an attraction or the feeling of chemistry with someone. I feel terror and insecurity in equal measure because when I fell for the wrong one and when I trusted the wrong one something just broke inside of me. I’ve seen where this could lead. I know that there is so much potential for me to get hurt because I’m just this barnacle of a person who keeps attaching.
I don’t want to be played with and discarded like I don’t matter, and that’s what has happened this year. I’ve shown up with all of this honesty and authenticity, and I’ve been met with duplicity and unkindness. While I’ve learned a lot, I worry about this new reaction to dating. I truly am concerned about the terror and insecurities that are going hand-in-hand with dating these days.
The thing is that I don’t come across as fearful or insecure at first. I can play it cool as a cucumber for a while. It’s when I become attached that I begin to see the cracks in the poorly reconstructed version of myself. I come across as needy then, and the thing of it is that we all have needs. Some of us are just out here going it alone and not getting most of those needs met. I’m not even talking about just sex. I’m talking about human companionship and even the most casual of human contact. A hug. Holding hands. Sitting beside someone. Having an actual conversation and not just texting.
So what do we do when we honestly feel like broken toys? How do we begin to recover a sense of ourselves as whole individuals worthy of belonging and love and having our needs met? How do we begin to ask for what we need and acknowledge that it’s just as important to have our own needs met as to meet the needs of others?
I can posit a number of theories as to how we can make this transition. Clearly, I’m not quite there yet. I’m still a misfit toy waiting to not feel broken anymore. But the thing is that I don’t intend to stay this way. So here are some ways we can go about repairing ourselves when we’ve been broken by life or the carelessness of others:
1. Phone a friend.
I’m not kidding. A support system is primary here. We need to call on the supportive people in our lives, the ones who will tell us straight-out and unequivocally that we are not, in fact, broken toys but spectacular, worthy people.
2. Find a refuge.
It’s tough out there, and life is tougher when we’re out there living like the walking wounded. When we feel more broken than whole, we need to find a refuge for ourselves, and nature is a great place to find that. We can go to a local garden, head to a park or go for a hike. We need to find those quiet places where we’re not receiving so much artificial stimuli from the world around us. We can ground ourselves with nature and give ourselves an opportunity to just absorb our surroundings.
3. Remember the lessons.
When other people hurt us, it’s because they are living out their own journeys. It often has little to do with us, and yet we’re left feeling bruised and broken from these encounters. It’s important that we remember what we learned and how we’ve been able to apply those lessons to our lives to make better choices. For instance, I’ve learned that I need to pay heed to my intuition and not overlook the red flags. By remembering those lessons, we can remind ourselves that we are stronger because of them. We have survived this and likely have survived worse. We need to remember the lessons so that we remember our strength.
4. Ask for what we need.
We need to find a way to get our needs met, particularly when we’re feeling damaged. We need to ask for what we’re needing and to be specific. If we need a hug, we need to let someone know. If we need someone to listen to us vent or give us a shoulder to cry on, we may need to ask for that. We have to stop expecting other people to read our minds and to seamlessly meet our needs without us having to communicate those needs. We need to be assertive and just ask.
I’ll go a step further here and say that sometimes we need to provide what we need ourselves. For instance, I recently tried an exercise where I gave myself the apologies I needed from the people who have hurt me who will never apologize. I said to myself what I needed to hear from those people, and I actually found some measure of peace. I’m not waiting anymore for an apology that’s not coming. Instead, I gave myself permission to be at peace.
5. Take self-care to a whole new level.
When we feel legitimately broken, we have to step up our self-care game. For me, this means that I pull out nearly every self-care strategy in my arsenal and put them all to work. I take long walks, eat healthy food, take long baths, give myself home spa treatments, meditate, watch movies that make me feel good and do all of the other things that help me feel better. The list just goes on and on, and I try to incorporate as many of those healing rituals into my days when I’m feeling particularly damaged.
We can’t expect to apply our usual stress reducing methods when we’re not feeling our usual amount of stress. When we’re particularly weighted down, we have to bring our A-game and really make a point to care for ourselves. It may take multiple strategies to help us feel even a little bit better.
When we feel broken, we have to find ways to remind ourselves of our essential wholeness, and these are a few ideas to help us re-center. We may feel like misfits and truly feel like broken people, but we’re not. As long as we’re seeing ourselves that way, we’re just reinforcing the idea of our brokenness, and we’re not allowing ourselves to heal. Sure, I’ve taken some hard knocks this year, but I’ve also made these great leaps forward in the evolution of my own consciousness. I’ve built stronger relationships with my support system. There’s actually been good that’s come out of all of those things, and I’ve emerged from those experiences stronger than ever.
And, yes, some days I still feel broken. I still have unmet needs and enormous fears and this existential crisis that seems to be following me around. But here’s what I don’t do: I don’t actually stay that way. I may sit with my brokenness for a while, learning everything I can from the experience and giving myself permission to feel all of the emotions that I feel. Then I get up, and I start putting myself back together. I start to care for myself. I start to look for ways to make myself feel better. I phone that friend or take a walk or do whatever it takes not to wallow inside of the broken feelings.
We’re whole and complete and worthy, but we’ll never see it if we just keep seeing ourselves as broken. Sometimes it’s the mirror we’re choosing to look into that’s broken and not ourselves. So we choose to let our loved ones reflect back to us. We choose to care for ourselves as whole human beings who may just need a little more TLC than usual to get back to feeling complete.
We put in the work of caring for ourselves and asking for what we need, and hopefully we’ll stop feeling like broken toys, used and discarded for someone else’s purposes.
Instead, we’ll see ourselves as amazing people on extraordinary journeys.
We’ll see ourselves as strong and empowered.
We’ll see ourselves as whole and complete.
We’ll see ourselves as perfect, even if we’re battle-worn and weary from the journeys we’ve made.
We are not broken toys. We are complete, whole and so unbelievably worthy.
We just have to remember that we are.
Author: Crystal Jackson
Image: Great Gatsby Still
Editor: Travis May