Against being broken

I’m not good at this whole “love” thing. I’m not good at this whole “family” thing. Not because I’m somehow prejudiced against these concepts, or because I find them boring, but because I’m a fractured person. I’m an old-time painting. Look closely, and you can see the cracks in the paint.

I’ve discovered that the only thing that matters is loving your loved ones. You have to love your loved ones, or else they grow to be misshapen and dented by your lack of love. I say this as a severely misshapen and dented person – so dented, that my market value is too low for me to be a decent investment. So dented that it’s a little embarrassing. I’m in a leadership position at Russia’s oldest English-language newspaper. I’m a wife and mother. And say to you: growing up unloved is the most terrifying thing. It does things to you that you don’t even notice – until you begin doing the very same things to the people around you.

I shouldn’t talk about these things publicly. At the very least, I should save them up for a memoir of some kind, not splash them across a blog like a 15-year-old girl. But I don’t have the energy for memoirs, frankly, and neither do I have the self-restraint to go about my business, keep writing for various publications, and somehow not talk to my readers about what’s going on inside of me. I don’t do it out of some vain hope that it may change somebody’s life. Rather, I seek to unburden myself.

The Russian theater world is currently discussing the tragic suicide of the young executive  director of the famous Kolyada Theater in Yekaterinburg, in the Urals. Of course, the main portion of the blame appears to lie with her ex-lover, a man who humiliated and threatened her, driving her to the brink of despair. But abusers sense their victims’ weakness long ahead of time. They’re sharks that smell blood in the water. And too often, that blood is spilled early on, in childhood, when we’re too young to defend ourselves or to comprehend what’s happening to us and throw up an emotional barrier of some kind.

I can’t argue against vulnerability – without vulnerability, I could not write. But I can and will argue against being broken There’s nothing romantic about. Nothing artistic. Nothing special. Broken is broken. It turns you into nothing more than a collection of dangerous, glinting shards.

7 thoughts on “Against being broken

  1. “But abusers sense their victims’ weakness long ahead of time. They’re sharks that smell blood in the water.” YES. This is so, so, tragically true. Keep writing. Keep unburdening yourself. The cracks will still be visible, but broken *can* be mended.

  2. It becomes a much more pressing issue when you have children. At least it did for me – because if I’m only hurting myself, I’m hurting myself. But when you have a kid and start making the same damn mistakes, that’s shocking, at first.

  3. I must say that I passionately disagree with your conclusion (although perhaps I’m just misunderstanding or projecting some things onto you).
    I was an extremely unassertive girl as a child (I think it’s a character flaw) and I did get abused – as you say abusers sense these qualities. But it made me stronger. For me it’s not about being fractured, it’s about what happens to you later, the experience will define you, but in what way?
    Some say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, some say it make you weaker. There’s post-traumatic stress but there’s also post-traumatic growth… So I can’t agree that broken “turns you into nothing more than a collection of dangerous, glinting shards” broken can be many things to many people…

  4. @Ola

    I’m going join this conversation very cautiously, but I think that when Natalia refers to herself as “broken,” she is referring to a very specific episode of her personal history which most children hopefully don’t experience. Although I myself was emotionally abused as a child, I was never betrayed as Natalia was, and I cannot blame her for feeling “broken.”


    The fact that you are aware of making “the same damn mistakes” as a parent means you have the motivation to correct your mistakes (as you define them) — which puts you ahead of many parents who re-enact their history of abuse on their own children.

  5. @James
    I wasn’t blaming anyone I’m sorry that it came out this way. I assumed Natalia was speaking more generally because she mentions another person. So I got it wrong. I have a history of sexual abuse and because of it 3 years in my biography are a big black hole – depression hit me in late teens. Now I constantly lie to people about myself because how can I explain these 3 years? It’s difficult. But when you hit rock bottom, you can start climbing up (this is how I see it anyway at this point in my life).

  6. I’m rather arguing against the idea that there is anything romantic about being a person with an abusive past of any kind. Abuse is shitty – and it often has a tendency to complicate things even more once you have a family of your own (or so I found out). Although James is right, I think (I hope). If you’re aware of what it has done to you in your lifetime, you have a better chance of not replicating it.

  7. Beautifully expressed. From one damaged soul to another, I thank you. Happily, my experience has been that I am not chained to my past. In recognizing all the ways in which I subconsciously perpetuate my history, I am afforded the opportunity for change. That sounds cheesy and overly sentimental even as I type it, but it doesn’t make it any less true.

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