Not Broken Just Bent-My Messy Beautiful

Bent flower


This essay and I are part of the Messy, Beautiful Warrior Project — To learn more and join us, CLICK HERE! And to learn about the New York Times Bestselling Memoir Carry On Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life, just released in paperback, CLICK HERE!


I sometimes imagine myself on a panel, you know, on a stage where they line up tall chairs for the speakers to awkwardly climb into and talk and be questioned about things or subjects they are experts on. But this panel is different, it is compromised of women, most who have been to hell and back, and they are telling their story of pain and loss and grief. How they survived and overcame and are dealing with breast cancer, infidelity, domestic violence or (unimaginably) the loss of a child. They are there, telling their story, sharing their hell. And then its my turn, my throat is dry and my heart is pounding, I know that my voice will crack or shake or do both if I attempt to speak. I wring my hands to stop them from shaking and I close my eyes and then open them and look down at the line of brave warriors that had gone before me and quietly say ” I got nothing.”

Because in comparison, I don’t. And all of my sniveling and complaining and internal rages comes from being exhausted with work and three kids and being tired of just getting by. I have a husband who is present and loves us and sacrifices everything to make our lives good and I still feel less than whole. And how is that possible?

When I look at this panel I have created in my mind, this panel represents real women whom I have met or read about and have real, true life shattering issues. Things that have have torn their lives apart and broken their souls but still they prevail through their storms, and that’s when the guilt comes. Who am I to feel darkness and despair?

How can I feel like I am drowning when my waters are calm? But I do. Sometimes its like a wave crashing down out of no where and it takes me under and holds me down for what seems like forever and I can’t breathe and its dark and I’m scared.

Then the light breaks through and air fills my lungs and I am free again, and I inhale and exhale and am thankful that I am on solid ground again. For now.

The peace lasts a while, long enough for me to be able to forget the last wave and smile and be a good mother and wife and friend and daughter and worker and whatever other title I am holding that week. And I fly, for just a while before I crash again. But when the crash comes, I don’t feel worthy of it. How am I allowed to feel like this? I am not in a hospital, hooked up to machines fighting for my life. I am not in a hospital, holding my child’s hand and praying to God to send a miracle. I am not in a courtroom fighting for custody or alimony. I am not living in fear of the man who I thought loved me. There are so many I am not’s, I can’t even count them all. But all I do know is I am not worthy of this fear and sadness and the overwhelming feelings of brokeness.

But I have to believe (because it’s what gets me through) that someone else is feeling this way too. Someone else is having guilt and remorse over their pity party. Someone else has just emerged from the wave that had taken them under. And that same someone wonders why.

I do fear that someone reading this will be hurt by my comparing my “issues” to their true tragedy. That’s why I have hidden this for so long. It’s nothing compared to the pain and anguish so many in this world are experiencing and its embarrassing that these feelings grip me by the throat regularly. I can’t even truly describe what they are or what brings them on. The constant arguing of the children and the running and running and running…from home to school to work to practice to dinner to bed time. Repeat. The laundry and lunches and schedules and constant feedback of you didn’t do this or that right….again. Forget about quality time with the husband, we pass in the night. I know, I know poor me. Its pathetic and I know it.

So I put it away in that deep dark place where no one can find it but me. And after a while it builds up and the pressure gets so intense that it blows, just like a volcano and usually at the expense of someone I love. And then its better and cleaner for a bit until it builds again.

I suppose this is my attempt at total release, my version of running naked through the streets. It’s out there for many to see and to judge and to know. Know that I am flawed and imperfect and maybe not broken just bent.

This is the dust in my corners. We all have it and try to sweep and vacuum it away but it always comes back so you have to stay on top of it. I have learned that everyone’s got something hidden that they are afraid to reveal, most, I know, are much more  than mine but I guess it’s all relative. We live in our own skin and in between our own four walls and regardless of what our issues and problems and messes are, I am learning that it all matters.

I know that we are here on this earth to love one another, Jesus said that before He died. Simple statement that spoke volumes. He didn’t say love them based on what they can give you. He didn’t say love them only if they are like you. He didn’t say love them only if they have some serious issues. It was just love one another. I find tremendous peace in this.

I keep going back to that made up panel of women in my head and wondering what they would say to me. Wondering if, after I spoke, they would roll their eyes and shift in their seats and think “this one’s pathetic.” Maybe some would and in a way they, would be right. But I guess we are all a little pathetic every now and again. And we’re all in different stages of different things and issues and challenges. So my thought is that we just have to learn from each other and be inspired by each other and find the lesson in every person’s story.

God placed each of us on this earth to create His story, each of us is a chapter in His book. Some are light and funny chapters and others tear at our very being. Some will resonate with many, others will lightly touch just a few… but every story matters.

I think those women on my imaginary panel would tell me the same thing. They would tell me that they are there to tell their story to get others through their brokeness, what ever that may be. Because many out there are completely and utterly broken and it is our jobs, the ones who are putting the pieces back together and the ones who are just a little bent, to help them learn how to breathe in and out again. To place one foot in front of the other and take that first step.




















11 thoughts on “Not Broken Just Bent-My Messy Beautiful

  1. I think that’s just the message this Messy Beautiful project is sending out to everyone. We are all welcome to pull up a chair and share our woes and our broken spots. And everyone’s included… “Everyone’s In, Baby.” It’s not about how you measure up to others, how many battle scars you have versus someone else. Your life and your journey and your heart is just as alive as anyone else’s, and your feelings and frustrations and hurts matter just as much. Sending love to you.

  2. Beautiful as usual !!! I look forward to your writings – thank you Proverbs 22:6

    Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.


    Sent from my iPhone


  3. We all have our stories, we all have our struggles, pains and losses. None more difficult than the other because hard is just plain hard. I so appreciate your courage in sharing this, beautifully written! Thank you, Justine

  4. Oh my … I deeply admire the truth you have dared to bare. As a counselor/therapist, I have learned that there can be no hierarchy when it comes to pain and suffering. Pain is pain … felt, real, heart-breaking … regardless of what ’caused’ it. I have learned that our society likes to give more ‘merit’ to some types of suffering than others. I’ve learned that society doesn’t get it … and … I thank you for daring to shift that consciousness with your tender, touching and truthful sharing. It just doesn’t matter how high the heels are … you can get blisters if you’ve been trudging for endless miles – even if you are in the comfiest sneakers. Warm hugs, Karen

    • Karen,

      What incredible thoughts and words you have shared. I’m learning that no matter what shoes you are wearing we still must put one foot in front of the other or at least try to. And when we can finally walk on our own, its then that we can help others take their very first steps. Thank you for reading and understanding and being there to help those that are overwhelmed and in pain and thank you for trying to get them back on that road to living freely again. XOXO Meghan

  5. Thank you for making me feel normal. Your words are so brave and inspiring, they give me courage to be honest and share myself without hiding from my beautiful mess.

    • Thank you for your kind words…we all have a beautiful mess, some parts are easier to clean up than others and everyone has some dust in those corners. We spend so much time wondering if we are normal and if we are ok and if its ok to feel the way we are feeling. Its a vicious cycle that needs to be stopped so we can realize that we are all scared but we are also brave and can do hard things. Share your beautiful self!



  6. Meghan: The Native Americans have an applicable saying: “Every man skins his own skunk”, so. no matter what the situation, there are always other “skunk skinners” out there, and, just as folks who all eat garlic at the same dinner party, we all smell the same. Life is what happens when you are making other plans.

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