The One with the Broken Record

The other day I heard someone say “Well even a broken clock is right twice a day” to which someone responded, “no its still a broken clock…”. Now a broken record is a little different than a broken clock but at the end of the day the same thing is still true. It’s still a broken record.

Now if you are young or you are not trendy in this new hip young generation that is trying to bring back records and record players then maybe you don’t entirely know what a broken record sounds like. Its the stuff that puts you in a mental facility let me tell you. Go on youtube and you can find some great examples that replay one phrase or one line of a song. Its a part of the song that maybe you even previously loved and would happily belt out. But if you let the broken record keep playing then eventually that one phrase is going to drive you out of your mind- not only because you keep hearing the same thing over and over again (crazy enough on its own) but the feeling of not being able to move past a certain part to me is almost more infuriating.

In my mind it would be like never getting to hear the belted out notes of a Whitney song after all that build up. Freaking torture I tell you.

Now in my personal life, I have found that I am someone who seems to love living in torturous places such as this. Apparently. Like give 3-4 years of listening to the same line of the same song and by then I may, or may not, be ready to be done with the torture.

This is actually something I’ve been thinking alot about in this season of my life. It seems crazy sometimes to recognize the ways that trauma and insecurity and low self-esteem can leave us with these giant glaring areas where we are accepting something less than we want, something less than we deserve. Especially if in other areas you are totally killing it and owning your life with confidence.

Like I will be climbing the ladder and impressing everyone at work and yet when it comes to my own dating life, I’ll be hung up on a guy for 3 years who only flirts with me when its convenient for him. I’ll be willing to put a crappy grad program on hold because I’m not getting the education I think I deserve but I’ll be obsessed with some dreamy “dream” guy who has put me in the friend-zone without fail or faltering once. But I’ll be convinced that someone forgetting my birthday isn’t really a big deal. Or that I don’t really care that he’s not only not showing interest but he’s really not a great friend to me either- this one glaring blindness that destroys my objectivity.

So why do we keep listening to the broken record? It’s scratched, it’s damaged and frankly it’s starting to drive me batty! This is the question that I’ve been really working through during recent months.

  1. The fear that nothing will sound better.

    Fear is a really, really sucky way to live. And in dating is certainly no exception. Lack mentality, orphan spirit, poverty mentality- whatever you want to call it, is rooted in fear. And honestly I get it. I think about kids who have lived with food insecurity, who aren’t sure where their next meal is coming from and an intrinsic fear then leads them to steal food, hoard food- long after they are able to always know where their next meal is coming from. I think alot of us, myself included tend to act like finding a good partner is like the last broken record on the planet. Even if we were to go to a record store and see hundreds of them on the shelves, the fear would still resound and we’d come home and turn the record back on just to make sure that its still there. Never mind that it sucks to listen to. I guess it better than silence, better than singleness?
  2. Never having heard anything better.

    This one. Maybe you grew up in a home where your mom screeched at your dad and your dad put your mom down. Maybe you only saw love that was distant and cold. Maybe you saw horrific toxicity and abuse and that has left you in the place where what you see or are hoping for, holding onto is really one of the best things you’ve seen. I mean a boy who doesn’t prioritize you is better than someone who beats you right? And that girl who manipulates and puts you down all the time is better than someone who cheats right?

    If thats the reason you keep listening to your broken record, then my heart is going out to you right now. I feel this so deeply and I still fight on the regular to believe for better than some of the early messages of love I learned. My prayer for you is that God will send you some examples to see something BETTER. Not just better than those examples you saw early on that wrecked you, but something that makes you think that maybe fairytales are true- requiring hard work of course but fairytales of joy and love nontheless.

    I remember when I went through a “phase” (can you call it a phase if its close to a decade?) where I really thought that the greatest and truly only thing that I wanted in a husband was friendship. Because in my mind we would eventually fall out of love but I could spend my life with someone who’s my best friend and have no need for love and romance and intimacy. It was some good ol therapy and friends and examples and prophetic prayer that made me realize that I don’t want it if its not the whole shebang. Not settling for a comfortable friendship because most of the marriages I saw fell apart and didn’t even have that as a base level.

    Let me listen to my broken record and not know better?

Nope. Give me my freaking fairy tale

3. You think its your fault its broken and skipping so you’ve earned the misery

Man this is the hard one. Feeling like you deserve the sucky or mediocre is a hard one for you to move past without some healing. And I do get it. We live in a broken world. We aren’t perfect and are just as messy at times as the people that messed us up. Maybe you are like me and you look at the pieces of the puzzle and feel unworthy. Maybe because of your own past- family history, dating history, whatever. You look at the scratched record in your hands and remember that you didn’t take care of it very well so thats probably why its scratched. No matter that you inherited and it no one ever taught you how to take care of it. Its your fault, you deserve it.

Its really funny and probably something I should cringe at sharing but I’ve definitely found myself at times doing something like googling “how to increase low self-esteem”. I recognized then, and still do at times, that I think pretty poorly of myself. I can think I’m an awesome employee, leader, pastor, friend, and student but still have places or moments when I feel in my deepest feels that I’m not good enough for someone to want to be with- because of my trauma and family wounds (cause in my head who wants to date or marry the girl with family baggage), because of my own past and struggles such as with pornography, because of stupid things like I don’t care enough about my appearance to put on makeup, fix my hair, or dress fashionably. In my head and feelings those are all things that disqualify me from good things such as a handsome, well put-together, God loving partner.

If that sounds incredibly harsh then that little peak into my own internal world hopefully lets you let yourself off the hook too. We all have our areas of insecurity and struggles with self-esteem and though yours may differ from mine, your inner voice is likely just as critical and just as wrong as mine. The truth of the matter is that like all things- Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

Take a step back from feeling like its something you have to earn. Period. Its not. Life is not fair, and that includes getting things that we don’t always earn and haven’t “qualified for”. It doesn’t negate our need to continue to try and grow and heal so we can be our best selves. But its not becoming your best self that earns you the good things you are hoping, praying, and believing for. That happens just because you have a Father who loves you and loves to give you good gifts because he loves you.

And lastly, take a minute to challenge those thoughts and beliefs that you aren’t worthy of good things. We often hold our flaws list under our pillow but our strengths and attributes list has been long lost and our perspective of ourselves is distorted by the list we hold close. But if you pulled out that list would those be things the people who love and admire about you would see as your value and worth? No! Vehemently no!!

A while back I had a very vulnerable marco polo session with my best friends when I sent them my list of things that I felt made me unworthy for the person I currently admired. Some of them were deep wounds and some of them were silly things (I say silly now but they didn’t feel silly then) like being so tall and gangly. I remember poignantly as tears rolled down my face, my heart hurting and then to hear in return:

“Desiree, you feel tall and awkward but I don’t think you recognize the attention you command when you walk into the room. You feel gangly but I don’t think you recognize how truly stunning you are. You feel your pain marks you as not good enough but anyone who has known you knows that your pain makes you one of the strongest and most inviting people”

So I took some time- and I still do whenever the list of my insecurities starts sleeping under my pillow again- to write those things down and keep writing more. The more that I wrote down the more that I realized my worth is so much greater than those “bad” things that I tend to think define me. You are the same. You are not your weakness and you are not your flaws. You are so much more than that.

And when you begin to realize you deserve to hear more than a broken record then maybe you can turn that one off and switch it out. Or even enjoy the silence for a moment!

Thats the moment I’ve been coming into recently. I had my moment where I realized this is the only area that I would choose voluntarily to accept something mediocre and heart wrenching. And so here I am a few weeks later, sitting in the silence and contemplating what is the album that I want to put on next. Leaning towards some Ella Fitzgerald at the moment.

Whatever comes next, my life will always be filled with good music and I will choose to put the skipping records aside and rather than lose my mind, hopefully I’ll lose my insecurities and find a dance partner along the way 😉

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