Stories from my past: I am damaged goods

Stories from my past: I am damaged goods
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I once went on a date with a woman who was an attractive, intelligent and caring person. We had a great conversation and things were going very well. Then she said something that really surprised me, and made me think of it since.

“I used to be engaged to be married, but it didn’t work out. So that means I am damaged goods” she said.

“What does that mean?” I asked.

“I don’t want to talk about it” she replied.

I had never called or been called damaged goods before so I did some internet research about it. Apparently the idea is that if someone has been hurt like sexual, physical, emotional abuse, or they have had sex with other people they are not worth having a relationship with. This kind of thinking surprised me.

It has been my experience that the more that you can listen, empathize and ask kind questions, the more happy my life has become. I was not happy (or making anyone else happy) being judgmental, harsh, repeating my beliefs, and being a jerk. It sounds simple to hear, but we often make ourselves unhappy by thinking that being right is more important than respecting freedom of choice.

So the reason I am sharing this today is that I wanted to better understand the thinking that goes behind the statement she said. The idea that you are broken because of an experience seems incomplete to me. Certainly there are consequences for past behavior, but that doesn’t seem to me that you are defective for having that experience. I know that people sometimes blame themselves for the junk that happens to them in their lives. Sometimes this is valuable and allows them to grow, but sometimes junk happens just because this is life and others actions affect us.

I guess it is hard for me to accept that people have unhelpful and untrue ideas about themselves, and seem to fight to the death that belief system. I am no ones therapist, but as a friend and fellow human I would ask that people be kinder to themselves and others. Certainly we all make mistakes, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t intelligent or wise enough to learn from them.

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