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
Want more stories like this? Sign up for our weekly newsletter here to receive our latest articles and news straight to your inbox.
After being a regular contributor for about four years and being (eh hem) MIA in 2022, Shellie is back penning for the platform (did you miss her? LOL).
In some ways, nothing has changed and in others, everything has. For now, she'll just say that she's working on the 20th anniversary edition of her first book, she's in school to take life coaching to another level and she's putting together a platform that supports and encourages Black men because she loves them from head to toe.
Other than that, she still works with couples, she's still a doula, she's still not on social media and her email contact (firstname.lastname@example.org) still hasn't changed (neither has her request to contact her ONLY for personal reasons; pitch to the platform if you have story ideas).
Life is a funny thing but if you stay calm, moments can come full circle and this is one of them. No doubt about it.
Chief Mom Officer: 23 Quotes From Working Moms Finding Their Balance
The truth is, Black moms create magic every single day. Whether we're juggling motherhood with a busy 9-5, a thriving business, or staying at home to run a household, no day is short of amazing when you're managing life as a mommy. This Mother's Day, xoNecole is giving flowers to CMOs (Chief Mom Officers) in business who exemplify the strength it takes to balance work with motherhood.
We've commissioned these ladies, who are pillars in their respective industries, for tidbits of advice to get you through the best and worst days of mothering. Here, they share their "secret sauce" and advice for other moms trying to find their rhythm.
Emmelie De La Cruz, Chief Strategist at One Day CMO
"My mom friends and I all laugh and agree: Motherhood is the ghettoest thing you will ever do. It's beautiful and hard all at the same time, but one day you will wake up and feel like 'I got this' and you will get the hang of it. After 4 months, I finally felt like I found my footing to keep my kid and myself alive, but it took vulnerability to take off the cape and be honest about the areas that I didn't have it all together. The healing (physically and emotionally) truly does happen in community - whatever and whoever that looks like for you."
Alizè V. Garcia, Director Of Social & Community Impact at Nike
"I would tell a new mom or a prospective mother that they must give themselves grace, understand and remember there is no right way to do this thing and have fun! When I had my daughter three and a half years ago, I was petrified! I truly had no clue about what to do and how I was going to do it. But with time, my confidence grew and I realized quickly that I have all the tools I need to be the mother I want to be."
Nikki Osei-Barrett, Publicist + Co-Founder of The Momference
"There's no balance. I'm dropping sh*t everywhere! However, my secret sauce is pursuing interests and hobbies outside of what's required of me and finding time to workout. Stronger body equals = stronger mind."
Lauren Grove, Chief Experience Architect, The Grant Access, LLC
"I try to give myself grace. That’s my mantra for this phase of motherhood…grace. I won’t be able to get everything done. To have a spotless house. To not lose my cool after an exhausting day. Those things can’t happen all of the time. But I can take a deep breath and know tomorrow is another day and my blessings are more plentiful than my pitfalls."
Rachel Nicks, Founder & CEO of Birth Queen
"You have the answers within you. Don’t compare yourself to others. Curate your life to work for you. Ask for help."
Tanisha Colon-Bibb, Founder + CEO Rebelle Agency + Rebelle Management
"I know love doesn't pay bills but when I am overwhelmed with work or client demands I take a moment to play with my baby and be reminded of the love, energy, science, and Godliness that went into his birth. I am brightened by his smile and laugh. I remember I am someone's parent and not just a work horse. That at the end of the day everything will work out for the good of my sanity and the love within my life."
Christina Brown, Founder of LoveBrownSugar & BabyBrownSugar
"Learning your rhythm as a mom takes time and can be uncomfortable when you’re in a season of overwhelm. Constantly check in with yourself and assess what’s working and what’s not. Get the help you need without feeling guilty or ashamed of needing it."
Mecca Tartt, Executive Director of Startup Runway Foundation
"I want to be the best for myself, my husband, children and company. However, the reality is you can have it all but not at the same time. My secret sauce is outsourcing and realizing that it’s okay to have help in order for me to perform at the highest level."
Jen Hayes Lee, Head Of Marketing at The Bump (The Knot Worldwide)
"My secret sauce is being direct and honest with everyone around me about what I need to be successful in all of my various "jobs". Setting boundaries is one thing, but if you're the only one who knows they exist, your partners at home and on the job can't help you maintain them. I also talk to my kids like adults and let them know why mommy needs to go to this conference or get this massage...they need to build an appreciation for my needs too!"
Whitney Gayle-Benta, Chief Music Officer JKBX
"What helps me push through each day is the motivation to continue by thinking about my son. All my efforts, though exhausting, are to create a wonderful life for him."
Ezinne Okoro, Global Chief Inclusion, Equity, & Diversity Officer at Wunderman Thompson,
"The advice I received that I’ll pass on is, you will continue to figure it out and find your rhythm as your child grows into new stages. Trust your nurturing intuition, parent on your terms, and listen to your child."
Jovian Zayne, CEO of The OnPurpose Movement
"I live by the personal mantra: 'You can’t be your best self by yourself.' My life feels more balanced when I offer the help I can give and ask for the help I need. This might mean outsourcing housecleaning for my home, or hiring additional project management support for my business."
Simona Noce Wright, Co-Founder of District Motherhued and The Momference
"Each season of motherhood (depending on age, grade, workload) requires a different rhythm. With that said, be open to learning, to change, and understand that what worked for one season may not work the other...and that's okay."
Janaye Ingram, Director of Community Partner Programs and Engagement at Airbnb
"My daughter's smile and sweet spirit help me to feel gratitude when I'm overwhelmed. I want her to see a woman who doesn't quit when things get hard."
Codie Elaine Oliver, CEO & Founder of Black Love
"I try to listen to my body and simply take a break. With 3 kids and a business with 10+ team members, I often feel overwhelmed. I remind myself that I deserve grace for everything I'm juggling, I take a walk or have a snack or even head home to see my kids, and then I get back to whatever I need to get done."
Jewel Burks Solomon, Managing Partner at Collab Capital
"Get comfortable with the word ‘no’. Be very clear about your non-negotiables and communicate them to those around you."
Bridget Bogee, Marketing Lead At Meta
"Ask for help and always prioritize making time for you."
Julee Wilson, Executive Director at BeautyUnited and Beauty Editor-at-Large at Cosmopolitan
"Understand you can’t do it alone — and that’s ok. Relinquish the need to control everything. Create a village and lean on them."
Salwa Benyaich, Director Of Pricing and Planning at Premion
"Most days I really try to shut my computer off by 6 pm; there are always exceptions of course when it comes to big deals or larger projects but having this as a baseline allows me to be much more present with my kids. I love the fact that I can either help with homework or be the designated driver to at least one afterschool activity. Work can be draining but there is nothing more emotionally draining than when you feel as though you are missing out on moments with your kids."
Brooke Ellis, Head of Global Marketing & Product Launches at Amazon Music
My calendar, prayer, pilates class at Forma, a good playlist, and oatmilk lattes all help get me through any day.
Courtney Beauzile, Global Director of Client and Business Development at Shearman & Sterling
My husband is a partner who steps in when I just can’t. My mom and my MIL come through whenever and however I need. My kids have many uncles and aunts and they will lend an ear, go over homework, teach life lessons, be a presence or a prayer warrior depending on the day.
Robin Snipes, Chief of Staff at Meta
"Enjoy the time you have to yourself because once kids come those times will be few and far between."
Monique Bivens, CEO & Founder at Brazilian Babes LLC.
"For new moms, it is very important that you get back into a habit or routine of something you use to do before you were pregnant. Consider the actives and things that give you the most joy and make the time to do them."
Let’s make things inbox official! Sign up for the xoNecole newsletter for daily love, wellness, career, and exclusive content delivered straight to your inbox.
Featured image by Westend61/Getty Images
- 20 Inspirational Quotes That'll Motivate TF Out Of You ›
- Tracee Ellis Ross Breaks Down What ‘Wander, Ponder, And Be’ Means To Her ›
- 20 Quotes About Black Love That Will Make You A True Love Believer ›
- 14 Quotes From Black Feminists To Inspire You To Boss Up ›
- 10 Inspirational Issa Rae Quotes For When You Need Them Most ›
Tracee Ellis Ross On Why She Declined The Idea Of Someone Else Running Her Hair Company
Actress and entrepreneur Tracee Ellis Ross recently revealed the driving force behind her desire to become the owner of her haircare brand, Pattern.
According to its site, Pattern is a haircare company that provides a wide range of products, from shampoos, conditioners, oils, creams, and many more to individuals with curls, coils, and tight hair textures. Although Pattern would launch in 2019, the idea for the company first came to Ross a decade before --in 2008, when her hit show Girlfriends wrapped-- following a brief encounter at a beauty supply store and many wanting to recreate her past looks.
At the time, those individuals couldn't achieve the exact results because limited natural hair products were offered to the public. That instance became a pivotal moment in the star's life because she spent eleven years experimenting with professionals to create products that best suit those within the natural hair community.
In a May conference with Fortune's MPW Next Gen, Ross opened up about the struggles she faced early on as an entrepreneur trying to get Pattern off the ground and why she declined the offer to have the company be run by someone else.
Tracee On Past Struggles And Why She Chose To Run Her Company
During the discussion, the 50-year-old revealed that she is Pattern's "majority owner" because the company's overall mission to cater to those in the natural hair community was built from her "experiential knowledge."
"I'm a majority owner of my company. [Other celebrities with brands] aren't the founders of the company. Often, they join a company that exists," she said. "The mission [at Pattern] is born out of my experience. It's born out of my own experiential knowledge."
Further in the interview, Ross would add that she avoided partnering with an expert for Pattern because she felt she had gained enough knowledge experimenting with products in her bathroom.
"I didn't want to partner with an expert or a 'professional' because I felt—like so many—I had become my own best expert in my bathroom because the beauty industry was not catering to us," she stated.
Despite refusing to have a partner within her company, Ross found creative ways to build it. It includes paying a chemist with her own money to bring her visions of various products to life, and sending those samples to retail stores, ultimately leading to partnerships.
The final piece that helped Ross during her journey was receiving advice from business partners on ways to improve the brand, one of which came from Ulta Beauty CEO and Footlocker CEO Mary Dillon.
The black-ish star claimed that Dillon helped her realize how she could use her celebrity status and journey to promote Pattern, which she did. Because of that, Patten has now become a favorable haircare brand among many.
Tracee On How She Plans To Use Her Company To Create Opportunities For Others
Toward the end of the discussion, Ross disclosed how she plans to use the power of being Pattern's CEO to help others.
The High Note star explained that being an owner of a company has given her access to be around other CEOs interested in what appears to be becoming more profitable, and with that, she wants to expand that access to other people.
"I know that I have access to sit at a table with a CEO in a way that perhaps another founder doesn't. And when I do that, I make sure that those conversations are not only centered around Pattern," she said. "They're centered around creating and expanding the access for all of us."
Let’s make things inbox official! Sign up for the xoNecole newsletter for daily love, wellness, career, and exclusive content delivered straight to your inbox.
Feature image by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for The Webby Awards