The Courage to Love the Broken

Courage means different things to different people.

For some, it takes courage to just get out of bed and face the day.

For others, it is about breaking another barrier or limiting belief in themselves.

To me, nothing demands more courage than opening my heart to love and allowing someone else in.
That is the scariest thing to me.

Because opening up requires a certain shedding of the soul. Becoming bare and raw. I may end up falling too deeply or quickly. I may come undone and lose control.

Notice how my mind works here. I start to rationalize it. I want to regain some sort of sanity over my emotions. I think that if I reign over my heart, I won’t be led down paths I dread to go. I think that I would dread them, because all of my past experiences with men and love have caused me more pain than joy. So, I am suspicious and cautious about anything that sets my heart aflutter. I am so conditioned by my past experiences that I do not even realize that I am doing this. It has become my second nature. What’s worse – I actually allow my past trauma to imprison me, and I stay in that twisted cage like a “domesticated pet”.

I believed I was safer in that cage.

Does this sound familiar? Does any of it ring some bells?

This is what we do to ourselves when we let our past define and entrap us. This is why we remain broken. This is how we put ourselves into a cage and clip off our wings. This is how we cease believing in love and start to live fractured lives.

We tell ourselves that we are being strong, but what we are really doing is numbing ourselves from love and life. Here, I am not referring to just romantic love, or sexual love. I mean, love in all its splendour.

If you have read my old blog post, “My Confession”, you’ll understand why I had such a turbulent relationship with men, sexual identity and love. It took me a long time to crawl out of that dark hole. It wasn’t about just wanting to feel good about myself. It wasn’t merely about finding my own self-worth, or believing that my sexuality was not a curse but a gift. It was an entire journey of becoming that took me many years of self-realization, surrender and final acceptance. The process of becoming the person I am meant to be without shame and apology was wrought with internal carnage. It is only in reclaiming my identity and dignity that I became truly liberated.

As Chani Nicholas said, Becoming is a process. One that is never over. One that is always daunting, delicious and decisively ours to do. No one can tell us who or what we are.”

So, if you have no real empathy or understanding of the journey I had to make to arrive to where I am today; it would be very hard for you to appreciate someone like me.

The truth is – every single person has had gone through a certain process of becoming, or is going through it as we speak. Broken or otherwise. Broken people are especially adept in masking their true feelings. If you don’t know them well, their smiles could hide the saddest secrets. They could disguise their depression and tears through laughter and songs.

There are many splintered men, women and children all around the world. I am no exception. Every milestone achieved in someone’s life is etched in strife, and dripped with his or her blood, sweat and tears. Until we learn to recognize each individual’s unique journey of becoming, we won’t fully value the glorious person they have become today.

Like everyone else, broken people do yearn for love and happiness. However, they may think that they are not worthy of love. At times, they would try to convince themselves that it is their fate to be alone. They will create all sorts of reasons and excuses even before there is a chance for love to appear in their lives. The walls they’ve built have served to protect them, as well as, to shut people out. Yet, at the back of their minds, there lingers a sliver of hope. They would always hope beyond hope that one day someone might be strong enough to break down all those walls and meet them halfway. It is a hope they dare not utter or even indulge in. It is buried deep in the recesses of their tattered hearts. Sometimes, they too might forget that their hearts are capable of loving deeply and completely.

Here, please do not misunderstand – broken people are not waiting to be saved. They are not helpless victims. They may be waiting to be proven wrong about love. They may need to see it often enough before they start to believe in it. They may even require more persistent convincing than normal people. In reality, they are just over-protective about their hearts.


It takes persistence, strength and patience.

If you are not persistent, you’ll reinforce their already distorted belief that no love lasts and everyone will abandon them.

If you are not strong enough, you might end up just as broken as they are.

If you are not patient, you’ll give up too soon.

So, why would you want to love a broken individual?

Because everyone is worthy of love and care. Just like you and me. The broken needs more love and care than anyone else. Because when they do love you back, they love absolutely and completely. Their love is the limitless kind.

Because at the end of the day, we do not really choose who we love. Sometimes, it is chosen for us. Sometimes, it happens when we least expect it.

Everyone deserves someone who can make him or her forget how his or her heart was ever broken.

This is how we heal as individuals, and as humankind.
Through Love. And in Love.

No one is exempted from sin, and everyone is blessed with virtues. We are all flawed, vulnerable and fragile. Yet, we are also capable of SUBLIME BEAUTY. Therefore, we need to guide and help one another in a kind loving respectful manner.

Love is the heart of our collective humanity.

I must admit that after being alone for so long, it does become rather comfortable. It is too easy to sit within the safety of the sidelines and watch the ups and downs of other people’s intimate relationships. I’ve become rather lazy and don’t want to deal with the “messiness” of having someone in my life.

That said, I know that I may be losing out in not sharing my life with someone who may truly like being with me. I may never know if having the right person by my side could further enrich my life or not. More than anything else, the right person may even help me to become much more than I am now. I would never know.

This may well be my biggest challenge – to allow someone into my heart and life; and to engage in an intimate relationship.

So, yes – to love demands courage. To live takes courage. To fulfil our fullest potential involves courage.

Until we learn to love, we won’t know how to live in all its depth and breadth. And until we have lived fully and deeply, we won’t become the person we are meant to be.

“COURAGE does not mean you stop being afraid. It means you no longer let your fear stop you.” 

If we do not find the courage now, we will never live out the fullness and richness of our lives. We will never witness our greatness arise. We will never discover how real happiness feels or looks like.

I have begun by opening my heart to allow others into my life in varying degrees. I am loving them as families, friends, brothers and sisters. I try to add value and meaning into every friendship or relationship I have formed. Be it in real life or social media – I am making a sincere effort in getting to know others, and allowing them to know me in an honest manner. Yes, I am slowly working my way to my biggest challenge. This is my fearless start.

To all the broken people out there –

Don’t be defined by the painful past and the negativity of others.

Don’t be diminished by the damage, loss and grief.

Don’t write Love off just because someone couldn’t or wouldn’t love you in the right way. A few failed relationships or marriages do not make you unfit and doomed to be unloved.

Discover how love works for you and make it yours to behold. Because everyone loves differently. At the same time, learn how the other person wishes to be loved, and listen with an understanding heart.

Separate fantasy and false expectations from reality. Be genuine and honest with all your fears, needs, and desires. Getting to know someone else’s fears, needs and desires takes time as well as trust. So, nurture that trust in one another consistently over time.

Communicate openly and truthfully with those you want to have a meaningful relationship with at all times. Establish integrity, dignity and beauty into intimacy from the very beginning.


You are so much more than you can ever imagine. You are an ever-evolving spectacular being with the potential to blaze across the skies like stars. Don’t ever impede your own growth and development.

Always choose the path that helps you to become a greater man or woman. Don’t succumb to a lesser you or a lesser life. You deserve to become all that you are, and experience your own triumph.

This is what The Art of Fearless Living is all about – summoning the courage to take the necessary steps to break through self-imposed barriers, restrictions, and limitations that stop you from experiencing your authentic self. It’s about inspiring you towards uncaging your own greatness so that you can make an impact in your life and those around you in a way that is wholly and uniquely YOU.

At the heart of Fearless Living is the art of FEARLESS LOVING.

So, mobilise your courage, compassion and conviction to show up, in all your beauty and magnificence, AND TAKE A LEAP OF FAITH!

Let LOVE in, and allow yourself to love in return.



Being Afraid Is Human, But Staying Afraid Is A Choice.

  • M@ri@n Forever
    April 21, 2015

    This is one of the most beautiful blogs/articles I have ever read. I can relate to this. Soooo inspiring…Please write more…I will follow. Thank you

    • shirleymaya
      April 22, 2015

      Hi Marion, thank you for your encouraging words. Please do feel free to subscribe to my blog and you will not miss a single article or post I write. Just click on the link –
      All the very best to you! 🙂

  • Mélanie
    April 22, 2015

    excellent, as usually… you’re pretty and smart = la femme totale! 🙂 my very best and cheers, Mélanie – another HuffPost fan… 😉

    • shirleymaya
      April 22, 2015

      Thank so much for your kind words, Melanie. They are deeply appreciated. Wishing you all the very best too! 🙂

  • WPA.
    April 22, 2015

    Every word is beautiful. For the past years I have been struggling. I tried to get up. I tried to be free from all this misery. I told myself that I’d make 2015 an awesome and one of the best years. But these past 3 weeks have been making me feeling so miserable, helpless and dirty. I do not know what to do anymore. I came across your blog. Every word is so beautiful that I’d like to believe that I would be able to get up again…that I’d be able to find inner peace and joy…that I’d be able to find myself…But it’s just so hard. I cannot find courage. I cannot find the light…I just cannot find anything that’s worth living..I feel like I am stuck in this…I feel so incomplete. I feel like I am dying a thousand times. I wish I could find courage..I wish I could be as tough as you are…I wish I could find the missing pieces that have left me so incomplete..

  • shirleymaya
    April 22, 2015

    Dear WPA,

    Thanks for taking the time to write and share so openly.
    The road to being strong and fearless is paved with many ups and downs, many instances of being afraid and falling, then getting back up and again. Because we already know what it feels like, looks like being afraid. We have lived that fearful life before. What good has any of it done for us? The same drama and trauma repeat over and over again. So, although it is hard to get back up; we do it because it is far better than staying down, sad, miserable, dirty and unhappy. Because we do have a choice here. We are not completely helpless. It is a question of how badly you want to change yourself and your life for the better.
    I can honestly tell you that to this day, I still feel afraid about doing the things I find difficult to do. I still tremble and shake, but I will not stop doing what is right and best for me just because I am trembling and shaking. I offer you these two older posts I wrote – and

    May you truly be inspired to love and care for yourself more so that you will always do what is right and best for you. May you have the courage to love yourself in the right way so that you will push yourself to break through your own barriers and claim your own success, happiness and a become the best version of you!

    All the best!

  • Carol Balawyder
    April 22, 2015

    Shirley Maya, you are an inspiration.

    We must learn to trust. Not trust that we’ll will never be hurt again. We have no power over other people’s behaviours.

    God breaks the heart again and again and again until it stays open. – Hazrat Inayat Khan

    What we do have is power over ourselves. We can learn to trust that we are worthy of healthy love. Trust that we will walk away if the person does not give us the kind of love we want. And to reiterate the wisdom in your post:

    “Don’t be defined by the painful past and the negativity of others.
    Don’t be diminished by the damage, loss and grief”

    We can use our past to positively change ourselves. We have choices and attitudes. The child who has been abused confuses the abuse with love (You are my favorite. It’s is our secret, You’re special). These messages lodge into our minds and into our adult relationships.

    “The broken needs more love and care than anyone else. Because when they do love you back, they love absolutely and completely. Their love is the limitless kind.”

    Grief is so often the source of the spirit’s growth. – Rilke

    We learn that our love must be earned and it is not to be freely given. Our past traumas gives us the right to say, “I am a survivor and I am worthy of love.”

    We are fortunate to have plenty of models of successful and happy women who have chosen to remain single or not marry. Diane Keaton, Condoleezza Rice, Oprah Winfrey, Coco Chanel. Many women today are content to live on their own. For some, like me, it is because I haven’t yet found a man that I would like to share my life with. I have stopped waiting for a man so that I can begin my life. Or thinking that I need a man to make my life better.

    • shirleymaya
      May 11, 2015

      Dearest Carol, thank you so kindly for your encouraging words and sharing. It is always a pleasure to read your comments and sharing. Our lives should neither be better or worse with or without a mate. Our lives should be complete as we are. If someone special does come along, then he or she just adds to the richness of it all. 🙂

  • Katch
    October 26, 2015

    I don’t know how I stumbled upon your blog but it was at a time I needed it most. Your article brought me to tears. I felt like you were describing me. Your words painted my very own reality. It resonated with my very own fears and brokeness. It’s funny how I could relate to everything you said like I could have written it.

    I’m going thru a tough break up because I let my fears get the best of me. The worst part is, she’ll never know how much I really loved her. And I know it’s already too late because I feel I already ruined her. I know it’s something I will have to live with. If anything, your article gives me hope and courage to look within and confront my brokenness. I don’t want to be a prisoner of my fears or my past anymore. Thank you for giving me hope that it is possible.

    • shirleymaya
      February 21, 2016

      I sincerely hope that you are in a much better place now, Katch. All is possible when we choose happiness over fears. I wish you all the best! 🙂

  • Claire
    January 26, 2017

    This is really beautiful, I cried reading this.