A man called me a ‘broken woman’ not long ago. It was in response to my decision to disengage myself with him. It wasn’t personal, just one of the first times I prioritised my wellbeing over someone else’s wants.
I’d be offended but I’ve called myself this many times before. When I met him for a few dates years ago I probably described myself that way at least in my head.
Broken by abuse. Shattered through fear and violence, threats and intimidation. Cowed and controlled by manipulation, deprivation, degradation.
A broken woman.
Here’s why I disagree.
I’m not broken I’m strong. I have life experiences I wouldn’t gift to anyone but I’m not a fragmented shell of a wrecked woman.
I thought I was. I was wrong.
Instead I have allowed myself to feel the painful depths in counselling and through self motivated education. I have willingly flooded myself with truth and dark, bleeding trauma a little at a time until I can confront the source. I didn’t bandage up the broken shards and cross my fingers for healing.
In the past I’ve hit one trauma blindly from another, I’ve crawled barely alive from one harrowing event or person to another crushing blow. I’ve raised my head only long enough to blearily peer ahead then run into the next misery.
Not now. I shoulder slammed the unforgiving walls of persistent abusive relationships more times than I can count. With private and professional support I smashed a fracture in the barrier and squeezed, bruised but whole into life beyond control and hidden abuse, rape, violence barely cloaked in excuses.
I can’t lie, from here I can still see the tilted velodrome prison designed to keep me sliding helplessly back each time I try to climb out. I’m not far enough away to be out of sight from the looming monstrosity but I am moving steadily away into the dazzling possibilities beyond. I don’t have a fixed view of my life beyond yet but there’s contentment in moving.
I’m not broken though, I haven’t yet erased the blot on my horizon from everyday life but I have grown in strength and self belief.
Broken was staying, resigned again after another failed attempt to escape saw me slide, scrabbling pointlessly to the false calm in the eye of the storm again. One step out of place threatening to take me off my feet again. Broken was years of disconnect and autopilot.
He’s wrong, the well meaning man who called me broken. I’m not. I’m more solidly myself than I could conceivably be.