I’m thinking about the ways in which we value strength, and the kinds of strength we value. And when we’re willing to give up on people.
We’re taught to value the people who struggle through against all odds and keep a smile on their face and their dignity intact. Or, at least, to your face. The people who are valuable are those who are as independent as possible, who don’t make a fuss, who keep the hard, complicated, heaviness of what they’re going through away from you. We’re taught to like our drama clean and compact, our heroes sunny, and ambivalence elsewhere.
So what happens when you break?
Insurmountable odds do break people. It isn’t a lack in that person if they can’t overcome personal or systemic horrors. Horror and trauma designed to get into the cracks and lever you apart. Those odds are called insurmountable for a reason.
And we’re not taught to deal with that. We’re taught that there is something fundamentally irredeemable about the person whose spirit breaks. The thing is, though, that there is life after that narrative has run its course. There is room to heal. It might not be pretty or timely, and it might be undignified, and hard to deal with for everyone, and you might want to turn away.
But I think that there is something beautiful and courageous in that, in getting up and building yourself again, without a blueprint, without even a narrative.
And there is room to stay broken or lost in some ways. It doesn’t make you any less of a person.
It doesn’t help if you’re looking for inspiration, or a temporary lift, or someone else’s story to make your day. There is something solid, and human, and stronger than before in recognising that brokenness in someone’s history, respecting them in that hurt, and respecting where they are now.
Fearless heroes don’t tell all the stories we need to hear. I am learning not to give up on a single human soul.