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It's hard being in love with someone who is damaged.
I know, because I'm that broken loved one and my husband has a hell of a time being in love with me. I'm not exactly the easiest person to be around in general, so loving me is even more difficult.
When it comes to feeling broken or damaged, the holidays often play a huge part. Not because it's happiest time of year. But, because for many people, it's the saddest.
The holidays have been hard for me for a long time now. It used to be a time where my entire family got together Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Years Eve & New Years Day. We literally spent almost every one of those days with both sides of my parent's families.
When my godmother passed away, that started to change. We started drifting apart. People started making excuses to not visit for the holiday, excuses that were really lame too because they never made a difference before but all of a sudden a couple hour drive was too much, when the prior years it was no big deal.
Then when my grandparents started passing away, things got even more broken. The excuses were “Oh, what's the point, so & so isn't around anymore. It just doesn't feel the same.” You're right, it doesn't feel the same.
When I had a miscarriage a few months after my husband and I were married, I started falling apart. I wanted so badly to give him a child of his own, that I felt like I let him down by not being able to give him a child. When I found out that I would never be able to and had to have a hysterectomy, I thought he would leave me.
Why would a man want to be with a woman who couldn't provide him with a child but has given two other men, who walked away children? I felt like I failed him as a wife. There are days I still feel that way
Then, when my mom passed, I broke. Entirely and utterly broke. I didn't admit it then, but I was broken more than I had ever been broken before. It was a type of broken that rocked me in away that I'm not sure I'll ever be able to come back from.
My mom and I had an “okay” relationship until I realized that she wasn't going to be here longer. I still feel guilty for how I treated her. It's something my brother and I talk about regularly.
Growing up though, she was one of the strongest women I knew. Despite having a marriage that wasn't right for her and two kids who were a handful, she kept it together….. at least on the outside.
Recently I stumbled across journals of hers. It made me realize that she was someone who is damaged, just like I am now. Her words, her sentences felt like bullets when she talked about how disappointed she was in my life decisions. She talked about how many nights she had to cry herself to sleep because of my dad's affair(s). She questioned her self-worth, integrity as a mother & wife, daughter, employee, friend, and sister.
That's when I realized, I am my mother. I'm as broken as she was.
But how could I help others understand what it takes falling in love with someone who is damaged?
Being in Love with Someone Who is Damaged
Patience Goes A Long Way
This is the first thing and probably the MOST important thing you will need to possess. If you don't, it's not going to work. When you're loved one is having a rough day. They don't always want to hear “You're doing a great job. Stop stressing” Because we know, you're saying that to cheer us up. We know you're intentions are good, but sometimes, we need the reality.
If we're struggling with what would normally be a simple task, pull us a way from it. A “Let's go for a walk and talk” will do wonders. Sometimes we just need to get out what's stressing us, what's on our mind, or even cry.
Be Strong When We Can't Be
We are strong, we know that, but we also know we can't be strong 24/7/365. So when we're not at our strongest, we need someone who can be strong for us. Sometimes it may just be for an hour, other times it may be for weeks on end. Especially during a time of the year where we are reminded of events.
Holidays are the hardest for a lot of broken people. Loved ones who used to be our rocks, may no longer be around. Other losses may have happened, or there are a lot of triggers.
For instance, if your loved one has suffered the loss of a baby or child, seeing all the pregnant women or newborn babies can cause a meltdown. Simply saying, “Hey, let's get out of here, it's crowded.” can relieve them enough to get out of the situation. Let them cry when they want, it's needed.
Just like you'll need to be strong for them at times, you'll also have to be understanding. Nothing you can say sometimes will be enough to help them, or it may be just what they need. If they say “I can't do this today”, understand and say “Sure, I get it. Let's do nothing at all or something you can.” Don't push it.
If they can't emotionally go to a function that was already decided on, they can't do it. Forcing them will only cause more issues in the long run.
This is something that someone who is damaged gets the biggest flack for. There are times we physically, mentally and emotionally can't do something because frankly it's too hard for us to cope with. Sometimes we never can, other times we can but the next time we can't. We're not trying to be difficult, it's just that sometimes, we can't. So don't push us, understand us and move on.
Be our Safety Net
We don't expect everyone in the world to understand that we're broken. Sometimes we can't explain what we're going through at that point in time. Having someone who is our safety net and our back up, helps beyond words. When we can't say what's going on with us, we'll have someone who can simply say “Look, she/he's just not feeling well. So we're not doing this today!” or “You know, I know we need groceries, you look like you're having an off day, I'll take care of them, go take a shower, grab that book, and cuddle in bed.”
My husband knows when I start getting anxious while we're out. He's learned that if he keeps me talking on various subjects that I tend to ramble on and on about, my anxiety is less. If I start getting anxious, he grabs my hand, runs his thumb up and down my thumb and it calms me, usually enough that I don't have a full blown attack. So find your loved one's calm, and use that to keep them safe.
Show them Love, Show it Often
It's hard to love someone who is damaged, but once you do fall for them, it's harder to fall out of love. When they finally trust you enough to take a few layers away from the walls they built around their heart, they are going to love you, and love you hard.
Showing them love often, means showing them in ways that are not conventional. We don't always want the flowers & chocolates. Sometimes we want something that is small like that new book we picked up at the store and read the first 2 chapters of before putting it down and walking away. Bring us a cup of our favorite coffee/tea. Or a simple hug and kiss on the cheek or forehead does wonders.
Wanna score bigger points, do a chore we struggle with. Fold the clothes, wash the dishes, vacuum, or take the dogs out for a walk.
Falling in love with someone who is damaged isn't for the faint of heart. It takes a strong, patient, understanding and loving person to love someone who may have been damaged themselves previously, or is even currently damaged.