By Kenneth Stepp
Hello, my name is Kenneth and I am damaged. Like an alcoholic at an AA meeting, I stand before a small crowd in a DP (damaged people) meeting. Here I stand and admit, I am damaged. Lately I have weighed myself in the balance of what I have to offer my forever and what parts of me are forever gone. The outcome has been revealing to me. Scary even. Who’s to say I’m right though? Maybe my fears are overblown and I’m just in a weird place in life. Or maybe over the last few years I’ve given pieces of my heart away to those who did not guard it for me and I have no pieces left. The fear is real, the timing is off for everything. Processing these deep and important questions correctly will decide my future. The outcome may well be out of my control.
“I was damaged goods and I took that damage and damaged others because that’s what damaged people do” – Kenneth Stepp
Years ago and another lifetime ago, I led a life that carried more risk in moments than most people risked in decades. I was a professional fighter, a brutal sport without referees or rules. I rode and wrecked more motorcycles than I can honestly remember. I took new risks every time I could. In my service to several federal agencies over time, I had shootouts and physical altercations too numerous to count or remember. About five and a half years ago I became single after twenty four years of marital bliss. What I found was a new world. The singles community had gone through many changes over those twenty four years I’d been away from it. People were self centered, self absorbed, and enjoyed being a bit trickier than I remembered.
“It’s been my experience with damaged people: they don’t wake up every day and wallow in the bad things that have happened to them” – Patty Jenkins
Life is good! It’s been a long time since I first said that. I remember in long ago hindsight what that meant. I was a father, husband, and a leader in my community. An influencer no less. Today that looks so different. Life is good these days means I wake up everyday and survive. Life is good these days means I live in a house that I love, in an area I love, with a roommate that I can honestly say, I love. Relationships are more valuable to me now. Love means something so much deeper to me now. Years back I made a solemn vow to myself that I would never judge another human being as long as I live. I wish I could say I win that every day, but I can say I win it more often than not. Extending grace to others has been a fruit of not judging others. That and having to face loneliness that I never believed could exist. Damage had a few good side effects I guess. Learning to love is amazing.
“Everybody’s damaged. It’s just a question of how badly, and whether you’re healing or still bleeding.” ― Angela N. Blount
Have you been damaged? If you have been single more that twenty minutes, your honest answer will be yes. Damage happens to all of us. The difference I am dealing with now rather than five years ago, is the weariness that comes with time and being knocked down over and over again. For me my first hurt was my worst hurt. I was a newbie to being single. I met an amazing person. The damage that came from us not making it was intense, but being new, I rallied, and I moved on. So many hurts, near misses, and confusing promises later, and here I am. Lost and wondering if too many pieces of my heart are gone to offer anyone what’s left. Today my doubts are anyone would want what’s left. My heart is in two states and spread all over the place. It’s not in my control any longer. It may not be under anyone’s control. One thing I know though. When I’m at my lowest, when I’m lost, when I feel too alone. My mind goes back to my first hurt. I wish this would be helpful, but it isn’t. Am I alone in this? Is there one that haunts every lonely person on this journey?
“…an obsession is a way for damaged people to damage themselves more.”
― Mark Barrowcliffe
Figure it out my friends. Love is real and love is forever. Give your heart to someone who does not know it’s worth and you will pay for it for the rest of your life. My two most powerful desires are to be able to find her, the one who will find my broken heart and hold it forever. And be able to give every broken piece of it to her.