We Should Love the Damaged Ones
When small acts of love mean big things
I am fortunate to be friends with a lot of people of solid social and professional status. My friends include CEO’s, philanthropists, would-be senators, lawyers and people for who fight for the inalienable rights of others.
My friends also include misfits. The undesirables. They include musicians who really don’t make a firm living but sacrifice that for their craft and their passion. Artists who buck convention but are compassionate people with beautiful minds.
My friends include people who are damaged and broken and dismissed by others.
One of my best friends is a beautifully damaged woman. She would take no offense in me saying this because she knows it’s true. She was born of a father who suffers from serious mental illness and a mother who was a hippy of the highest magnitude. Her upbringing was not like most people’s. Her sisters, who had a different and “normal” father are not like her. She has always felt different.
She suffers from a multitude of mental and emotional issues, not the least of which is a sometimes crippling depression. People that are happy and whole and complete don’t always understand people like her.
I, however, love her. Completely. Not because she is broken Not because she needs help. Not out of pity. I love her because she is deserving of my love.
She is brilliant and funny. She is one of the truest friends I have ever known and would do anything for me.
We spoke last night. I made a massive amount of food and had more than enough to share and invited her over for dinner. I know she is currently in a bad place and felt a little care would do her good.
“I’m making lasagna. Come over and have some,” I texted her.
“No,” she texted back. She told me she hasn’t gotten out of bed in three days.
“All the more reason to come eat.”
“I can’t,” she told me. I left it at that. I know better than to force people to my house or shame them into doing something they don’t want to. The thing is that I knew she wanted to. She just couldn’t. Sometimes that’s just how it is. You just can’t.
At 7am this morning, my doorbell rang. I wasn’t even up yet because my own problems and my own life have weighed hard on me and I know when I need rest. I got up and there she was on my doorstep, smiling.
“I got up and out of bed. And I got dressed. And I knew that if I didn’t go somewhere I would just get back in bed and be done with it,” she told me. “So I came here.”
I made a big pot of coffee and a huge breakfast of eggs and bacon and toast and we put music on. Music and comfort was the least I could give. We fixed mimosas using the good champagne you probably don’t want to mix with orange juice but I didn’t care.
I know that everyone needs this space and I commend her for coming right out and saying that she did.
There is absolutely no shame in needing love but too many times people fear that vulnerability and that honesty. It’s hard.
Doing this for people makes me happy. I’m a giver and there are times that I feel beat down myself. People give back to me when they let me love them. It’s not a desire to fix people. People are the only ones who can fix themselves but I recognize that journey is hard and they need help along the way. I’m good at that help.
I can fuck up a lot of things but loving people is not one of them.
There is a fine line between enabling and helping. Enabling my friend would be letting her climb back in bed and telling her that’s acceptable. It’s not. That’s cowardice. She has to face her life and the world. She just needed a safe place to feel like she could do it and the support of someone that wasn’t going to let her off the hook and yet, provide her care. There is no room for judgment in my home.
I gave her a clean towel and ran the shower for her. I sat on the counter as she talked to me while she took a long, hot shower. Her hair was a mess.
“I haven’t showered for days,” she said, crying in my shower. “It’s like an admission that I’m not okay and I need to be fixed because I need to be clean.”
After I gave her a clean dress and brushed the knots out of her hair, she laid down on her couch and put her head in my lap and said, “I just needed you to love me.”
I put my hand on her head and told her, “I needed you to let me love you.” This is our friendship.
This is not one sided. She gives to me in ways she can’t give to herself. She holds me to hard line of accountability in addressing my own problems and makes me see things for how they are, not how I want to see them. She is painfully honest. She is real. She is remarkably human to the extent a lot of others can’t admit. She has the strength to know this but addressing it is overwhelming but she is working at it harder than anyone I have ever seen. She has a long road ahead of her and the best I can do for her is to help her create a solid map, knowing the journey is hers to make, not mine.
Broken people are easily made to feel they are not worthy of love. What makes them imperfect drives people away. It’s too much. But, really, it’s simple. She is worthy of my love so I give it as freely as I can. Everyone is worthy of love. Broken and damaged or whole and happy. Everyone.