A musing on Brokenness, addictions, and Joy.

 Liza Minnelli

Catherine Zeta-Jones

Demi Moore

Charlie Sheen

Sheila Walsh



What do all of these people have in common?

They all came to a place of brokenness.

A place where they put their hands in the air and said,

“The gig’s up.”

“I need help.”

Someone challenged me recently, to consider going a little deeper when I write.

My hesitancy in going deeper is two-fold.  Protect the confidentiality of others that intersect with my life and secondly, there are still parts of me that are tender.

I am on the mend.

I’ve dealt with 2 major issues head on since the Fall of 2013 and would have no trouble talking about it with any of you one on one.  Where once lived shame, there is now soundness in my soul.

To give you a word picture…

Christmas eve 1985. We’d just moved to New Jersey that August.   I was picking at a little spot on the tip of my  finger as I waited for the Christmas eve turkey to come out of the oven.

Suddenly, out  popped  an inch long splinter.  It  had been buried ever since the day I had helped  Joe V. install a  set of new pine steps in a condo that previous September.    I had pulled a large splinter out of my finger at the time, not realizing a much larger piece was still buried.




Emotional pain can be like that.

Honestly,  I don’t think we even  know some of the times when we are still carrying around buried emotional splinters.

I will give you one example.

For years I have not been able to cry.  I could even trace it back to a specific incident.  I was  16 years old.  My 15-year-old brother and I got into a good-natured wrestling match in our front yard.  Mom and dad were sitting on the porch.  All of a sudden the wrestling match turned into a knock down drag out fist fight, with my younger brother,  kicking my butt.

Right in front of mom and dad.

I wept.

Tears of shame and humiliation.

16 years old, crying like a baby in front of  my parents.


I swore I would never, ever find myself in that sort of situation ever again.  What I didn’t realize however, was I had somehow flipped a switch in the recesses of my soul.  I completely lost the ability to cry, and I did not have a clue as to how to flip it back on later as an adult.

Flash forward 35 years…

The Fall of 2012 I found myself at a men’s conference, dealing with various addictive behaviors.  In that safe setting we were encouraged to call to mind any old hurts we might be still carrying around, because addictive behaviors are often times linked to emotional pain.  The rest of the weekend was spent learning how to identify buried  hurts, bring them into the open/ into the light,  process them, talk about them, etc.

I wept.

Yea me 🙂

One of the most powerful tools I came away from that weekend was a little  ditty that goes like this:

“I am not defined by the darkness…”

In other words, yea, there may be some dark things in my past I wished that were not there, but you know what, going forward, I choose not allow them to define who I am.

Those words continue to bear fruit 3 years later.  I am not and do not carry around the shame  of several life experiences.

Most of us are  carrying around at least one or two ( dozen? ;-)) deep dark things nobody knows about except us…and unless (and until) something forces us to deal with them head on, we will continue to pack them around like a donkey under a load of rocks.

Let’s face it,  dealing with emotional pain takes work. It takes courage.  Something has to be motivating me to change…a crisis… unexplained emotional upheaval..something…

I don’t think you have to relive every painful thing to get freedom, but I do think you need to at least bring the pain into the open.

Let the puss out, drain the wound. and give your heart time to heal.   There very well may be a scar…and even that is not a bad thing.  You may find yourself w/ a deeper sensitivity and compassion for others in the same boat.. You will definitely have a wisdom and insight not acquired from a book.


I’m convinced that most of the depression and emotional pain people fight is directly related to carrying around unresolved wounds that can be healed, if only they knew how.  DM




8 thoughts on “A musing on Brokenness, addictions, and Joy.

  1. Powerful, DM. I have learned more from my scars and broken-ness than all the triumphs! And having those has helped me realize others do, too. It’s amazing the things that come to the surface if only we let it … MJ

    Liked by 1 person

  2. And it is true that even the worst experiences can be drained of pain, so to speak. Like everyone, I’ve had an experience or two that wasn’t particularly enjoyable at the time, but when I remember those experiences now, I remember them, I don’t relive them.

    A little distance can be good for the soul, too.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I had goosebumps reading this. Experiencing pain is something we all share. “I am not defined by the darkness…” this is such a powerful message isn’t it? How we choose to respond to the events in our life can change everything. I am grateful for the pain I have experienced because those events have helped shape the person I am today. It sounds like you have grown from your experiences, and I am so glad you have shared some of it with us today.

    Liked by 1 person

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