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Saturday, March 31, 2012

I Love the Broken Ones

     How can you love them?  They are broken, used, discarded, abused, and lost.  It's so much easier to love the ones that are happy, smart, kind, talented, and mature.  How can I love them?  How could I not?  I love the broken ones.
     I was a broken one.  The shy girl who never talked.  The one who cut herself and picked at scabs.  The head banger.  Hiding in silence and downcast eyes, blending in and not standing out; avoiding the danger of being noticed.  The broken one who nearly died.  The perfect girl.  The one everyone loved but no one knew.
     I love a broken man.  Depression is a constant companion, but other mental illnesses often tag along.  Lost and lonely no matter how much love I give. If there was any way to wish or pray or or love or think your way out of the darkness, he would already be home.
     I love a broken boy who fears the deaths of everyone he loves.  Ghosts clamor for his attention and death meets him when he is alone.  A shy boy who lives in books and video games where he can conquer death every time.
     I love a broken girl who lives every day in excruciating pain.  Struggling to just be a teenager when she can barely climb up the stairs.  Battling her own mental illness.  An empathy so strong she literally feels the pain of the people she loves.
     I love the broken ones.  All of them.  I live their lives every day.
     All week people have asked me the same questions with different words.  "How can you love the broken ones?"  It's easy.  They've never been loved enough.  If no one ever loves you unconditionally, you never learn to love.  There are already enough people in the world unable to love.  They need my love the most.
     "Why do you keep trying when it's obvious they don't care?"  When you are broken, years of lies and broken promises line your heart.  Pain masked by indifference.  They lash out and push you away, lie, steal, anything to prove you are just like everyone else who gave up and walked away.  They can't believe you love them when no one else does.  The hardest, non-caring kids are the ones who want to be loved the most.  Keep loving them when they are most unlovable and a miracle occurs.  They become the people you knew they would be.
     "Why do you keep trying when it won't make a difference?"  It takes years to get over being broken and some of us never do.  Emotional scars heal on their own time frame.  I would have been the broken one you gave up on.  My love may not make a noticeable difference today or tomorrow or by June 1st, but love makes a difference.  I don't have to be there when it happens.  It is enough to know that their lives will be better because they were loved for the 180 days we shared.  180 more days than they would have had without love.  That is enough for me.
     "Why bother when no one notices what you are doing?"  I am glad no one notices.  I don't like the attention.  I don't care who gets credit as long as my kids are taken care of.  For me, it is not about the fame or the accolades or the money.  I was a broken child and a teacher's love saved me from myself.  I honor her by paying it forward.
      I've been disappointed, angered, hurt, and frustrated, especially at the beginning of each year.  Love is hard.  Love is messy.  Love is scary.  No one has more power over you than the ones you love.  But, I have laughed and sung and danced and rejoiced in their love.  
     "How can you leave the classroom and become an administrator?  It is tragic to lose a good teacher."  I will always be me, wherever I go.  That won't change.  Now I can teach others how to love the broken ones and help so many more people who need me.  It might be worth not giving up on the broken ones like me.  We need the most love when we are most unlovable.
     "The Broken Ones" by Dia Frampton is my teaching theme song.  

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