community and my broken heart

I sit in my messy office surrounded by my life and think about group Monday night, knowing something there broke me wide open. I’m still picking up the pieces, curious about the shattering and looking at the shards. Why do I hurt so much? What was said and felt that made me need to listen to music and cry?

I knew we would be talking about community on Monday night. Jenni had sent us all a poem that asked this question: how do you build community? The writer answered, I don’t know. There are hundreds of ways. Thousands of ways. But he did know one way to not build community. Don’t need anybody. Don’t tell people how broken you are. Don’t ask for help.

I was abundantly excited to talk about building community. Who doesn’t want a lovely support network of family and friends around them? Jenni started group by reading the poem to us twice. I smiled to myself, thinking yes, yes, yes, we are going to figure out how to build a strong net within our Badass Mama’s support group. I’ve struggled with this idea, wanting instant connection with everyone in the group while knowing it takes time, lots of time, to build solid relationships that can help us weather the storms together.

Jenni led a discussion about community that lasted for our entire time together. We feel comfortable enough together that we went over our allotted time easily, talking for more than two hours before we noticed the clock. Jenni talked about how our struggles aren’t personal failures. So instead of asking “What’s wrong with me?” and trying to fix ourselves, we can ask “Where do I need support?” So often when we are struggling, we think we are inherently broken, but maybe we just need help.

Asking for help is difficult. Jenni suggested that we invest in each other intentionally, making and answering calls for help with our languishing tasks and other needs. But it’s hard to reveal my human needs. It feels pathetic to admit to say I can’t make myself look at my budget even though it’s on my to-do list everyday. Or that I need more human connection or even a well-placed text from a friend because working alone is driving me slightly batty and eats at my self-esteem. Yet Jenni says we can ask for help with what we need and people will volunteer to help us.

This isn’t about getting stuff done; at heart it’s about showing our true selves and showing up for each other.

This is where my broken heart comes in. Have you ever been broken enough to ask for help from someone you love and had them say no, no, no, I no longer am available to help you? Have you ever thought a relationship would last forever only to learn this relationship has an expiration date and that date is today?        

I have. I’ve been depressed and sad and unable to move out of my head and into the light. From this space, I’ve asked for help. I probably didn’t ask for it in the best way. I wasn’t pretty. I was ugly and sad and hurt and raw. While some of my net held strong, it was the people who couldn’t help me that I remember now. This is what gets in the way of me building new nets, new community. This is why it’s hard to trust that I will ask for support from a new person and they will say yes, yes, yes, I will help you.

I’ve been left behind. It feels like I’ve been left behind because I’m a faulty human. Even if I can apply reason and know that the person who left me behind maybe was too broken to help me in my own brokenness. This is why in the middle of group I looked around and thought that it might not be safe for me to build a new net. Even as group feels safe in many ways, I come to group with my own history, my own her-story, my own unique broken heart.

So Monday night at group all of us shared our thoughts on why we don’t trust the idea of community, that friends (new and old) will be ropes that come together to make a net to catch and hold us through the hurt. Even as we have brought our hurts to group and felt ourselves held within these Monday night meetings.

Since we met, I’ve been wondering about my broken heart. I’ve been looking at the shards of my own broken heart and holding them with my own loving kindness. I’ve been reveling at how my family is a safe and solid space for me to be both broken and whole at the same time, sad and joyful. This morning I listened to a song that a friend sent to me, a song we listened to together back when we were in similar broken places together. I listened to “Say” by John Mayer and thought about how we have to say our truths even if they hurt. Here is my truth: I have a broken heart that hurts. And I want to build community despite and because of these hurts that ache. So while part of me doesn’t want to take the risk, that other part answers the email from another Badass Mama asking if I’ll have coffee with her soon. It would be easier for me to say I’m too busy, to not trust that I could grow to love these people and call on them for support. But coffee with a new friend sounds good.