“I’m out of plans.” –House
Only after a terrible tragedy, House begins to realize how much deeper his emotional problems lie than a Vicodin addiction. This marked his final stage of fully bottoming out. To finally reach a place where he is tired of fighting, worn out by the struggle to do better, losing hope that you’ll ever find wholeness or the light. Feeling broken, beyond repair, as if something is fundamentally wrong with you and you don’t know if you’ll ever be fixed. Afraid to be around others for fear of saddling them with all of your baggage; or worse, letting your disgust and anger with yourself pour out over them. You’re not where you wish to be, realizing the clash between what you believe and say you are about versus how you are living. Your life and circumstances not playing out the way you had imagined. Hitting bottom means we would rather die that continue to live the way we’ve been living. Reaches the end of his self, sense of independence and need to control when he admits that “I need help.”
“I want to get better. Whatever the hell that means. I’m sick of being miserable.” –House
Only from this place could he face his demons, or put another way, sometimes you have to lose everything to find the “ground of your being.” For one thing, he had walled himself off from everyone one around him. The thing about walls is that you can’t live behind walls and love as you should. Feel loved like we should. People can’t experience you loving them from inside your walls. You can’t living behind them grow closer to God. But you have to come to that conclusion on your own and decide that you want to risk living life in a broken and fallen world that could hurt you. You have to risk experiencing the pain that comes with that world. And that’s a scary proposition. You have to risk knowing and being known. And the more you experience someone who knows you, especially in your sinfulness, it exposes the lie. And that’s a scary proposition.
There is also the core belief that we can’t live without the self-medication. Life shifts. Gaining and losing people, places, and things leaving feelings of resentment, anger, self-protection, and abandonment in its wake, losses remind us that all isn’t as it should be. They remind us that life is painful. How do we experience and react to that pain? Sometimes we numb ourselves, medicate, act out sexually. Old wounds, be they lies we’ve come to believe about ourselves or quietly trying to please a distant father (because his opinion of you has shaped who you are and how you are) need to be confronted. Expecting something from certain relationships that never materialized, disillusioned with losses. Each loss presents a choice: passage to anger, blame, depression, resentment or passage to a greater life and freedom. Growing in love.
“You need to get better.” –Dr. Nolan
The thing is, brokenness can be redeemed. Real love risks and offers redemption and when loved well, we’re taught about God. In all of our brokenness and (self-) deception, in all of our brokenness and desperation, we can come before the Lord and be fully accepted. Fellow writer, Carole McDonnell, said this about laying things at the cross of Christ: “I’ve learned to not ask God to make me what I would’ve been if life hadn’t gone as badly as it has. In Christ, we are restored from whatever pain we had…but the restoration is not to bring us back to the great might-have-been self. True restoration carries the pain and brokenness still, but also Christ’s light. For those in dark to know that we understand some of their pain, and that God-with-us.”
There is a power to putting our feelings to words through prayer, sharing our stories of woundedness, and finding healing as we push one another forward. Moving forward is the key. As Dr. Nolan reminds him, “You’re not God, House. You’re just another screwed up human being.” Apology and confession allows him to acknowledge his failure, move on, and maybe begin feel better about himself.
So he sets out on the path of figuring out how to get from the place where he is to where he wants to be. It’s like starting life all over again: learning how to trust people, how to open up to people; trying to make connections rather than deflecting. Because as House raps (yeah, you read that correctly) “if you don’t make connections, then your whole life is a mess.” Because he can’t do it alone. Eventually he will need the support of others to walk alongside him along the path (not the false piety that comes from an inability to let go of past griefs and hurts).
And even as he goes through the process of shedding the lies he’d wrapped himself in and other people’s expectations of him; at the same time, he (re-)discovers who he is and what he was meant to be: a healer. The thing about wounded healers, is that they understand the pain so intimately. They know what to ask and they know when the “pain meds” aren’t working. They are living reminders to not let the past define you, but to always be working toward who you were meant to be. And that there is hope of becoming whole.
“We’re proud of him, we wish him well, and we hope to never see him again.”–Dr. Nolan
In short, “Broken”, which feels a lot like House M.D.: the movie, may be the best episode in the show’s five-plus season run. And that’s quite a bar that it’s clearing.