That's stuck with me, but not because it made me feel better about the several challenges I was facing, but because it made me feel pressured to continue to be the one that kept on going, didn't make major foul ups, to keep being the responsible one.
That one sentence from my well-meaning therapist, meant to console and empower me instead made me often feel worse about myself and the challenges I was dealing with.
If I could go back three years and offer myself an answer to that question, based on my in-depth awareness of just how much I mask of my internal states, I'd say something completely different than the therapist did: what I needed to hear then, what I still need to hear.
Breaking is okay. It happens. It's not the end of the world. It doesn't make you a failure. If you break, you are not alone and we will pick up all the pieces and put them back together and you will be stronger yet softer for it. You will be more compassionate, kinder. You will know that we all need to be taught to bend, to change, to ask for help, to speak our story aloud, and that when we are true to ourselves, those broken pieces will fit back together so much better.
You also need to know that you will live experiences that will shatter you. You will think you'll never be able to get past it, that part of you will remain there, in those shattered moments and that's okay, too, if you remember to stop and love yourself, all of yourselves, the ones that are shattered, the ones that are bending so far you are certain breakage is inevitable, and the ones who have risen, stood back up and prepared to battle yet another day. We contain multitudes, after all, and the sooner we learn that truth, the easier it will be to love all of ourselves, even our contradictory and difficult selves.
I have broken in the last three years, several times. Some of those shatterings I hid until I couldn't any more. I am a work in progress, and part of that progress is learning to admit aloud to others when I'm struggling and when I need help. And then to follow through to get that help.
And to keep telling myself that breaking is just part of life. Break, pick up the pieces, and see what kraggle* and duct tape can do to get me on my way again.
There are worse things than breaking. Breaking leads to change and growth.
There ARE worse things than admitting I don't have this, that I need support. That's what I would have told me three years ago, if I'd been my therapist. But she didn't, and I stopped seeing her because I couldn't be honest about the depth of my despair or what all I was struggling with. The facade of having it together was more important than telling her she was wrong, that I was broken in innumerable ways.
Admitting I'm chipped and scuffed and missing some of my polish, that's actually not so hard, not so bad. It's a good thing to teach my girls, to be honest about ourselves with our loved ones. They still love me. Rick, who knows all of me, has never wavered in his love or support. Sometimes he's missed that I've shattered, but that was my fault for hiding it from him.
So maybe I come out the other side of these confessionals like the Velveteen rabbit, real if tattered. I honestly don't know, but I do know I have to tell it, own it, embrace the lessons and move forward, always ready to look back and reach out a helping hand to the me's who are struggling to find their way.