I have a secret. There’s a hateful little man inside of me.
I keep him hidden far away—locked up in a deep, dark hole where no one will see. I smile on the outside and only let others see the sweet nice girl that’s known as me.
So I started to wonder and be concerned—which one of them is really me? What if my authentic self is not as good as I’d thought? What if when I really get to the truth—I’m an evil monster inside? It hurts to let in the darkness—it ruins my illusion.
Well, now that I’ve started, there is no turning back. We cannot un-see something once it has been shown to us—so here goes. I have to dive down in that hole, and look that hateful little man in the eyes.
It’s time to get it all out there—no matter how horrible he is.
Here are the things I learned, when I jumped deep down and came face to face with him:
He curses. He hates some people. He gets angry. He thinks bad thoughts. He is selfish. He is mean. He likes to pig out. He is scared. He is ashamed. He feels like he is no good and not enough. He is gross. He is ugly. He is disgusting. He has his feelings hurt. He feels small. He is a coward. He avoids connection. He is embarrassed. He is dirty. He is lazy. He hurts. He is useless and incompetent. He is weak. He has no control. He is insignificant. He is alone. He judges people.
He is broken.
When I wrote this list, I was sitting in the car outside of the homeless shelter where my husband works. As I was writing it, I looked up and saw a homeless man limping by in front of me.
He was dirty. He looked angry, defeated, ashamed, alone and broken. I fought my urge to look away from his pain and made eye contact with him. I recognized him instantly. It was him—my little man inside!
In that moment, it hit me like a ton of bricks—he is me, and I am him.
We are one and the same—we are connected.
Maybe we are all broken.
Maybe we all have a hateful little man inside of us.
Maybe, as Mark Nepo said, “If I go so deep within me, I will also find you.” Maybe the broken place is where the compassion comes from. Maybe we have to come face to face with our own darkness, before we can reach a place of real empathy with others.
Perhaps we have to go to the bottom depths of the hole—down in the dark, where the shameful little man sits—in order to reach our true authentic self. We have to know our own pain before we can feel true authentic empathy for another. Maybe we have to get familiar with our angry shameful little man—to let him out of his cage a little and into the light. Look right at him at his very worst. Connect with him. Be with him—even love him—because he is really just made out of pain.
Maybe all this time I have been going about things the wrong way. We don’t find connection and truth in the light—we have to go down into the darkness to find it.
I went into the dark to find what was really there. I was scared and ashamed—dreading what I might find. And to my surprise, deep in that hole was not only the hard ugly truth—but the beautiful truth was there too.
The truth is that when I look into the ugliest and most shameful part of myself, that’s where I find you. That is where the love is—the real connection. We are all connected in our deepest pain. Deep down, we are all broken—but that is where we find each other.
We try so hard not to see the ugly parts inside of us. It scares us so much that we don’t even want to look. We keep them hidden away—but we have to go to our broken place, and truly see it, before we can find our authentic selves.
So don’t avert your eyes when you see a broken soul—that broken soul is also in you.
Author: Sarah Powers
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina
Photo: Author’s own.