I wanted to say the other day to someone, to the ether, to Twitter: two brokens don’t make a fixed. But that’s a useless statement to contribute to the world. Everyone is broken.
What helped me realize that is a recent episode of Dear Sugar, Cheryl Strayed and Steve Almond’s show on WBUR, which is inspired by Strayed’s column on The Rumpus (she also released a book of collected Sugar advice columns in 2012––I reviewed it here).
In the episode, which is part of a three-episode series called “Looking for the One” (highly recommend listening to the whole thing–it features some great people who know what they’re talking about when it comes to relationships, including Kate Bolick and Lena Dunham), Almond touches on this idea of brokenness. He talks about his own marriage, and about how much a pairing up, a relationship, a marriage, is dependent on timing. A person has to want to take on someone’s brokenness and accept that the other person is going to see theirs. Is this rote and obvious? It honestly didn’t occur to me until recently, or else I was just trying to get away with not abiding by this.
Of course, all relationships–familial, platonic, romantic–are mirrors, but the mirror of marriage is billboard-sized.
It’s fun, when you’re young, to pretend romantic relationships are not mirrors but screens projecting some glowing version of reality that you couldn’t otherwise access. That is a worthy exercise, in some ways. It is instructive. It helps you figure out who you want to be, just as friendships, family, work, your interests and where you live help you figure out who you want to be.
I think most of my relationships have consisted of me just sitting there in the dark trying to eat my popcorn without disturbing the other moviegoers. And it goes without saying, I’ve walked out of every one before the film was over.