Brokenness and Presence

I am meditating on brokenness today.

Mostly, I am not feeling so broken myself these days. This is a nice change of pace. I wouldn’t go so far as to call myself whole and thriving and totally peachy keen, but I’m honestly well. I am tired, because I have two jobs now, in addition to my volunteer work and my life, but I find that working with my hands is feeding me. I am calm, and I believe my life is okay and heading places I want it to go.

ND1

Blogging is hard for me sometimes, because I have not always been okay. I have been so broken that I ran the risk of metaphorically cutting myself – and worse! others – on all my jagged edges. I started a blog because I love to write, because I was so interested in the warm & loving communities I encountered on this Internet, and because I believe I have insights and articulations worth sharing with others. I have a thoroughly developed self-censor. I didn’t mean for this blog to be therapy, and I am aware of an audience’s interests. I didn’t (and still don’t) want to inappropriately burden others, especially strangers, with my wild emotions. If every post I wrote was “Today was wretched, and I am so hurt and lonely, and I am afraid that I have failed in life and that things will never get better,” well, it may have been authentic, but I was pretty sure it wouldn’t have done much good for my readers.

This morning, I am reconsidering.

ND2

A lot has been said about The Facebook Effect, the curious way we all feel worse about ourselves in the midst of all the happy posts and photos and life achievements of other people. My own personal Facebook experiences are a bear, and grist for another post of its own, but I think the problem is not the site, but what we expect of it. Facebook is a muddle of photo albums, the local newspaper’s announcement section, and the overheard conversation of someone across the street. It has functions by which we can communicate, but it’s not a community. It’s not supposed to be where we have our communication. From its earliest days, through all of its many variations, and even now (despite what it might try to tell you), Facebook is meant to be only a door, not a room. It is a way to get a glimpse of someone, to help you make the leap to build relationships, but it won’t sustain relationships on its own.

People have always struggled with loneliness, and fear, and isolation, and depression, and worry about all manner of things. When we genuinely encounter people, we encounter, sometimes by chance, their struggles right along with their joys.

photo credit to James Souder

photo credit to James Souder

 

The people in my Facebook pictures are some of my favorite people in the world. We have been through so much together, that whenever we meet up, it as though we have never been apart, and I say they are as dear to me as when we spent all of our time together.

I am devastated that they are so far away, and I fixate on that. I see pictures of what they do now, who they are with, when they see each other without me, and I am lonely. I am jealous of their success and popularity and joy, and then, when we meet up, I am surprised when I encounter their struggles. I realize how much I depend on Facebook and memories instead of phone calls and letters and actual human contact to sustain these friendships, and I see it is no wonder I am lonely.

I wonder this morning, who knows more of my brokenness, these people I claim as my dearest, or the coworkers I never see outside of work, the acquaintances at Mass who see me cry through the Gloria, the people I wouldn’t say I truly know, but who do happen to be around to experience the wholeness of my experience.

I think we as people need more opportunities to experience each others’ brokenness, not to wallow in it, but to see that it is universal. The more we see our dear people and our just-happen-to-be-there people as complex, struggling fighters, the less lonely our own brokenness will seem. This means we need to be better about finding ways to encounter the friends we have chosen, even though they are far, and actually being friends with the people we may not have chosen, but who have blessed us with these encounters.

In the meantime, I blog. Now that I am feeling less broken, I find I can articulate this yearning for community, for shared brokenness and awesomeness and somewhere-in-the-middleness. Please take my brokenness, and know that I am still okay, and that you probably will be too.

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