Not too long ago my strength training class had a substitute trainer. I’d been taking the class to rehab my body that has been damaged by years of playing high impact competitive sports, various injuries, a couple of orthopedic surgeries, and most surprisingly from the constant sitting that comes with my job. I guess I have very tight hip flexors and I have learned a lot about chronic pain. When the substitute trainer was going over some exercise adaptations to not further injure me, he said the regular trainer described me as “a little broken.”
Although the trainer meant physically broken, over time and with the wear and tear of life, we all get “a little broken” both physically and emotionally. Psychological injuries can result in coping with life in maladaptive ways and can cause chronic suffering. These psychological traumas most often occur in the context of relationships. It might be witnessing or experiencing painful experiences such as childhood abuse, rejection and bullying in the school years, failed romantic attachments including divorce, or the loss of a love one through death. The earlier and more frequent these experiences the more we may feel broken.
The good news is that other loving relationships can help one repair from life’s traumas. Unfortunately, many people do not experience enough healing love in their life. Sometimes one can end up so hurt by relationships that they no longer trust that the love of another will not harm them. They end up protecting themselves so well that their response to another’s attempt to love precludes them from experiencing the healing and curative factors of love. Effective psychotherapy can help one learn to accept love and repair the damage that causes so much emotional pain and isolation.
If you are struggling with chronic emotional pain and are not experiencing the benefits of love, please know you are not alone. There is help for you that can result in profound changes in your life. And there are benefits resulting from your suffering. I know it sounds counter intuitive. But as the great song writer and poet Leonard Cohen sings, “There is a crack, a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”