So Much More Than Damaged Goods

I know you’ve been through a lot. I know you’re still not ready to come out and can’t see yourself the way everybody else sees you.

And, I can also understand that you view yourself as damaged goods, never worth the value you’re able to provide to others, even if you’d be able to encourage somebody else to see how worthy they are in close-enough-to-equal scenarios.

But bear me a few questions, if you will. How does your being damaged have anything to do with your ability to provide value to other people? Have you ever considered that you’re able to deliver such value not despite your being damaged but because you’re damaged?

No one knows how to heal others better than someone who’s been truly, deeply hurt and has lived the life that others can’t imagine. No one knows how to heal as much as someone who’s been in a hopeless, dark pit of despair and managed to crawl out of it.

Your reply by now is either that others helped you out of that hole or that, in very substantial ways, you’re still in there and your ability to walk among us is a precarious facade that may blow away with the slightest uncomfortable social breeze.

Look, I understand and support your ability to really, truly feel however you feel and I’ll stand in this space with you until the end of days. At the same time, I refuse to validate the fiction you’ve created that says you’re not able to be happy, seen, and a fully worthy member of our community. The objective truth is that you bring a quintessential value that we cannot be fully human without.

We’re all damaged goods. We’ve all been cut – some of us deeper than others. Some of us are beautiful precisely because of the way our imperfection reminds us of our transcendence. (Click to tweet – thanks!)

All of our lives are too short to be lived as damaged goods. All throughout our lives, we are damaged goods. The human condition is full of apparent paradoxes.

How you choose to write the story from here is up to you, but know that the pen is in your hands. Will your story be of damage or transcendence?

p.s. The emotional maelstrom that this may have triggered doesn’t change the fact that the pen is still in your hands.


    • CharlieGilkey says

      @jenwaak Lol. But sometimes the magic happens after the tears. I’d rather have some tears followed by magic than … more bottled-upness. :)

  1. desireeadaway says

    This is so moving and so beautiful and anchored in so much truth. Thank you for writing it and thank you for being you.

  2. says

    What an important message! It is so true and I know what I am talking about. My brother did unimaginable things to me that led me into a 14-year long battle with anorexia, but I made it out of there and I am now stronger than ever. I am taking the lessons I have learned to help others and to show them that there is always hope no matter what you been through. Yes, I am a damaged good, but I chose to take my life in my own hands. 

  3. says

    So true – but such a battle.  It’s similar to the push now to call people with autism “people will autism” instead of “autistic people” or “autists.”  The more you see yourself as “a problem in the form of a person” instead of simply “a person who happens to have a problem” – the more you limit yourself.

  4. CoachSherrill says

    Ah, Charlie.  I had to stop reading after the second sentence and come back later, because you saw into my heart, and it’s a bit raw.
    Thank you for this…it’s what I’ve been coming to, slowly. I’m working on listening to this voice, and not the inner critic voice whispering, “Flawed!”
    Beautiful post.

  5. SoniaMQuinones says

    Aw wow. This is my first time on your site and already you’ve made the rest of my day so much better. A heartfelt thank you.

    • charliegilkey says

       @pensANDlenses I’m glad it helped keep you afloat, Ken. Thanks for letting me know it did.

  6. AmandaMachina says

    this…. was a great article.
    Because of the things I’ve been through, I’m more compassionate, patient, and understanding. I wouldn’t trade it for the world, because it’s an essential part of who I am. That’s what I offer to my students and clients. It’s hard to be vulnerable, but it feels really good, and it’s honest and essential.

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