My friend John called me the other day to talk to me about a girl he's been dating and to ask my advice. (And while I don't hold myself out as a dating expert AT ALL, I am pretty good with the unsolicited-advice-giving, so when someone actually asks for my advice, I'm all for it.) Anyway, John was concerned because both he and Terri (the new girl, no not her real name) have been dating for a while, both are divorced, and both came from prior relationships where they had been hurt by their partners emotionally. Both felt a little wounded coming out of those past relationships, both felt a little guarded, but both were also optimistic about meeting someone great in the future and riding off into the sunset. (Ok, maybe just Terri thought that; for some reason, I never get the feeling that guys think about riding off into the sunset with a girl- seems much more like a chick-thing. But I digress...)

John was worried that because they had both been through the emotional wringer in the past, that maybe they were too hurt to open up to someone new in the future. I disagree. See, here's the thing: when you get to a certain age (over 35), chances are you have been through a relationship or two and have a couple of battle scars to prove it. You have probably put yourself out there, been in a committed relationship, been hurt or been hurtful, made mistakes, made great stories, made yourself who you are today.

Being a little broken is not a bad thing. They say that a broken bone is stronger after it heals. I think the same thing about emotional breaks. When you have been through a difficult time, when you have loved and been hurt, you are a little broken, you are a little wounded, you are more careful of yourself and your feelings, but you're also probably more concerned and more considerate of the other person too. You will probably let your guard down slower but when you do, you will be rewarded- being able to be who you truly are, not putting up a front, not trying to be something you're not. Having been broken in the past, you will revel in who you are- totally and completely and without pretense- and you will revel in who someone else is- their true self and not who they think you want them to be.

When you are broken you learn to be stronger and more self-sufficient but also more willing to ask for help when you need it. You will open up when you feel ready and comfortable and sure and solid and when you do the floodgates of laughter and intimacy and raw emotion will come pouring through. Being broken means you may not open up as easily, you may not blindly trust immediately, you may not jump into something new without caution; but being broken also means that you will walk away from the battle knowing you can tackle more and embrace more and love more and show more affection and be more you and be all in and be true to yourself. Being broken is a gift.

This is the life.
- a