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You are not broken

…and you do not need to be fixed.

One of my close friends is in hospital this week, in 10/10 pain from a tumour that she has growing in her soft tissues, one that is pushing against organs and structures that don’t have any room to get out of the way.

She’s telling me stories about being on the carousel of hope for healing that we call our medical system, and what it is taking to advocate for herself, to take a stand for what is being done to her body, often without enough information or consent.

I’m not criticising the overworked nurses that are giving her the best care that they can. Or the emergency teams that are on the carousel themselves, moving from bed to bed to bed, trying to find grey areas of compassion amongst the legislations and rules that they are expected to follow, whether or not they feel humane and best possible practice in the moment.

There is something that she is noticing. We talked about it today when I was being matter of fact, but deeply loving, and honest in answering her question ‘do you think I am going to be ok?’.

My answer: ‘I have no idea. I have no idea if you are going to be ok or not. What I do know is, no matter what is happening to you, you are choosing not to be broken’.

What she is noticing is the tendency to be treated as if she is broken, and therefore needing to be fixed. A tendency to assume that because she has a tumour growing inside of her, she is helpless, a victim to her pain, and her circumstances, no longer anything other than that. No longer a strong, capable woman, who has spent years taking a stand for herself and her community and for love.

She has been reduced to her symptoms and the survival statistics offered to others in her situation. Except, she’s not good at being a victim, or just giving in. It turns out she’s very good at choosing to be powerful, no matter what is happening.

She told me about listening to the nurses doing their end of shift hand over, and talking about her. How they describe that she is a model patient as long as she is kept informed about everything that is being done to her. Everything that is being injected, every test that is being run and why. As long as she is able to be an active part of her own care, and is not expected to be a passive observer of others’ choices for and about her.

Because that is her way to not be broken. To be powerful. Her way to stay in the arena of life outside of her pain and symptoms.

When we choose to recontextualise our experiences into ones where we are not broken, we are then back in our power. Our power to choose what we are willing to have happen to us. Our power to say yes, or no, depending on what feels right for us, and us alone.

It’s a vulnerable place, choosing not to dive into the culture of being a victim to whatever we are experiencing. The victim mindset that is so easily and enthusiastically pushed on us.

It’s vulnerable because to be powerful means that we can’t disappear into blame or shame or story. It means that we need to take a stand for ourselves in ways that might make people around us feel uncomfortable. And it means that we then enter into an edgy territory where the shitty things that are happening to us, might actually be a source of power in themselves, if we choose to understand them, and exit their arena stronger than we entered. Which is possible, no matter the degree of shittiness they offer.

We are not broken, and we do not need to be fixed. We are not victims to life or the shittiness on offer. We are complete in ourselves.

And, that is a radical, counter-cultural stand to take at this time, when victim culture is strong and enticing in the false removal of vulnerability that it offers.

Because at the end of the day, there are no guarantees, no surety, no absolutes. There never were and there never can be.

So, thank you A. I am deeply grateful to you for modelling what is possible when choosing to not be broken or a victim.

I’ll say it again, and I know that you are saying it with me:

We are not broken, and we do not need to be fixed. We are not victims to life or the shittiness on offer. We are complete in ourselves.

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