I’ve written before about the term “damaged goods” and why I disagree with its use. But it seems that this idea that people can be and are damaged is more pervasive than I thought. Some people seem to think it’s empowering to imagine themselves damaged. But it’s not. It’s denigrating the human experience and reducing people to objects. No one is damaged. Humans cannot be damaged. We are not lamps.
The thing that bothers me the most about this idea is that people are willing to insist that I’m damaged because of my mental illness. Just like I was not okay with the term disabled for my illness, I am not okay with people calling me damaged. I’m not breakable. I’m a human being and I am fluid, resilient, and malleable. No matter what happens to me, it’s part of my life and part of my history and even if it changes me, it doesn’t damage me.
My main objection to this line of thinking is that it objectifies human beings and turns them into items that can be broken. You can break a chair, you can break a dish, you can break a Playstation, but you can’t break a human being. Sure, human beings have meltdowns and reach psychological points of epic can’t even at times. But just because something traumatic happened to you doesn’t mean that you are forever doomed to carry around the label of a broken person.
I remember reading New Moon and after Edward Cullen left his ladylove, Bella Swan, she lamented for the rest of the goddamn book that she was a broken person and should be considered damaged goods and unfit to love again. All because a man had left her and hurt her feelings. I have never rolled my eyes harder. A girl goes through a breakup and her life is forever scarred? Come on. Way to tell teenagers your life is over if a guy you really like leaves you, Stephanie Meyer. If she had an ounce of self-esteem or confidence she would have realized that she’s a person, independent of that relationship, and moved on with her life like a boss. But I think we all know what happened in that series…
It’s a fact that everyone in the world will go through hardships during their lives. Everyone will. Just because someone encounters problems, perhaps more serious problems than the average person, does not mean that their life is tainted or they deserve to be relegated to a separate part of society away from everyone whose biggest problem was not being asked to the middle school dance. People who already have problems do not need to feel isolated and left out all because of the problems, most of which are not even their doing or their fault.
When it comes to humanity, no one should feel like less than all because they’ve suffered through trauma. Life is not kind and if we start ruling out people who have faced adversity in their lives I’m pretty sure that the minority would be the “normal” people. Unless you’re an object, you can’t be broken and no one should tell themselves that they have been.