Chances Are You're Not "Damaged", Just Broken


Damaged goods. I can't tell you how many times I've heard a man use this phrase to describe a woman in their life.

In fact, there's a couple I know who've been married for well over 20 years now but, according to the husband, only the first five years have been good (to him). He's even told me in a session (one which his wife was not present for) that if he could do life all over again, one thing he would do differently is not choose her to walk it out with. Hey, it might be harsh, but you'd be amazed how many married people—male and female alike—have said the same thing to me. Anyway, when I asked him why he felt that way, he said it was because she was "damaged goods".

When I asked him to explain to me what that meant, his response was, "Deep down, she's a good woman. But there is so much dysfunction on top of it all that it takes too much energy to get to it. It's draining. She's draining."

When I asked him to give me some examples of where he was coming from, he had plenty. She has serious trust issues. She's extremely insecure. She's got a mean jealous streak. She's addicted to being unhappy. Her overall view of men and sex are toxic. She's got unrealistic expectations. She's a game player (meaning, she's a manipulator). She always wants to be forgiven but rarely forgives. She's controlling. In her mind, she's never wrong. She's got a pretty serious Jezebel spirit going on (two informative articles on the topic are "Married to Jezebel: It's All About Control" and "25 Traits of a Jezebel Spirit"). Like I said, his list was long.

Although I know some of you are probably already seething and tempted to click out of this piece because you can't understand why a husband would "bash" his wife in this way, let me make two points first. One, do you think it would've been better if I shared how some wives talk about their husbands? I don't. Whenever anyone feels this way about their spouse, it's sad. There's no gender-specificity to it. And second, I'm a woman and what he said didn't offend me in the least. For one thing, I used to have some of those issues myself (insecure, unrealistic expectations and not the best forgiver). Secondly, I have done enough self-work and also worked with other individuals to know that we don't come out of the womb with these types of issues. Life happens and sometimes it leaves wounds (or even really deep scars) behind. And third, although the husband sees his wife as "damaged", I don't.

The word that I actually prefer is "broken".

I already know. Some of y'all are like, "That's basically splitting hairs, Shellie", but I don't think so. When someone is damaged, it literally means that so much injury or harm has come to them that they don't have the same amount of value or usefulness anymore. And honestly, that might be a part of the reason why some of you read what that husband said and you felt some type of way about it. Maybe it wasn't his wife's issues that bothered you so much as the label he put on her as a result of them. That because she has so much internal conflict and drama going on, while she still may have some "good" to her, what she is more than anything is damaged. Although he might have seen a lot of value in her in the beginning, so much has happened that it appears that she has lost a lot of her usefulness; at least in his eyes.

Meanwhile, me over here? I view things a bit differently. It took a while to get to the point and place that I'm about to share with you, but words cannot explain how freeing it is to not rely on another flawed human's perspective when it comes to establishing my own personal validation. What I mean by that is, when it comes to knowing my worth, one of my favorite verses in Scripture is, "For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother's womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well." (Psalm 139:13-14—NKJV)

I'm not saying that humans can't provide insight into what some of our character weaknesses and flaws are (of course, they can). However, what I am saying is the difference between fellow flawed folks and how God and I see me is while humans may chalk my "stuff" up to being what makes me damaged, I know that's not nearly close to being the case.

God made me and what he made was good. Very good. So no, no matter what is going on within, no matter what life threw my way that resulted in me having areas that need to mature and/or heal, my value remains the same.

I am not damaged. For a season, what I may be is broken. How are those things different? When something (or one) is broken, that means they are "not functioning properly". I can definitely attest to the fact that I've had moments—seasons even—of being that kind of individual. The last heartbreak I had, it had me so broken that it was a wonder how I was able to work on a daily basis (I'm not kidding). Some days, all I could do was cry—no, sob. I can't tell you how many times I looked up at the ceiling and begged God to let me get at least three hours of sleep where I didn't see "him" in my dreams.

To this day, on certain levels, I'm still trying to see "the moral to the story"—which is really more like the method to the madness—of that part of my journey. However, my pain hasn't reduced my value. Just because I had days and sometimes even weeks when I wasn't my best self, that didn't mean that I wasn't useful.


A pearl earring that has come out of its setting may not be working properly (it may be broken), but that doesn't mean it's still not a pearl (it retains its value). Same goes for a broken woman. Or man.

It might not be the most popular opinion on the planet, but I personally believe that a lot of us have a hard time hearing about ourselves and/or doing the work that's required to heal ourselves and/or our relationships either because we believe that we are nothing more than damaged or we think others only see us as that way. Yet the first step to accepting where we are so that we can make some positive changes is to remove the word "damaged" and embrace the word "broken".

All of what I just said, that's just what I told the husband who vented to me about his wife. Words have power and so long as he was declaring how much his spouse had lost her value, the more he was going to actually believe it. Instead, by incorporating the word "broken"—to her and the marriage—it's a reminder that things may not be functioning at 100 percent right now, but this is just a season. And, since it once did function well, surely there are things that can be done to restore it.

Now do you see why I think "damaged" and "broken" are worlds apart?

The first word, don't let anyone make you feel like you are that. You will always hold immense value. And, as far as brokenness goes, the Persian poet Rumi once said, "The wound is the place where the Light enters you" and, as author Munia Khan once said, "Sometimes a broken heart can mend something else's brokenness". I don't know about you but both of those sound pretty valuable to me.

Featured image by Getty Images

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