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How To Navigate Brokenness | Healing From The Pain of Trauma

Updated: Jan 10, 2022

The battle we all face in the mind is real. Some days are better than others. While we struggle to fight through the warfare in the mind, we are also faced with trying to be present for our family and friends. The reality is, what our friends and family experience or engage with, is the person we want them to experience, not necessarily, the manifestation of what’s internal. Only a select few, get an opportunity to experience the real you. The “you” that’s hurting and broken. The “you” that’s screaming from the top of the lungs, hoping someone sees and hears. But the truth is, you feel nobody sees and understands you. But why?

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Let’s talk about a “mental prison''. A mental prison is

a mental state of confinement, where your purpose is held imprisoned.

-Samuel Tolbert

In other words, this mental space kills dreams, frustrates purpose, and keeps you from being who God has called you to be on the earth. The reality is, we were all made on purpose, with purpose. The problem we face is, we’ve allowed trauma, and brokenness to hold us captive. Our true selves won’t break free because of fear and anxiety. Understand, It’s hard to love properly when you are mentally imprisoned. Now, you’re placed in the position of trying to love people from a broken place.

There are so many reasons why some of us are experiencing a mental prison. This can range from childhood traumas to even brokenness experienced in our adulthood. These painful experiences have placed some in a position where they may feel unloved, heard, or even felt. But what if I told you that God hears you. He sees your hurt and pain. Matter of fact, the door of that prison is already unlocked but it’s up to us if we’re going to walk through or not. The prison doors of our mind can be wide open but we fail to take the necessary steps. Understand that true healing and deliverance requires you to make up your mind that you won’t allow fear to paralyze you from walking out of that mental prison.

Freedom is our portion!

But what happens when we enter relationships, mentally imprisoned? We decided that we wanted to get married. What tends to happen is, someone who’s broken, has to now try to love their spouse from a broken place. You end up loving from a place of fear. In many cases, when you become married, your spouse is faced with trying to love the person you’re presenting to them and not the person you were called to be. The truth is, that person is being held captive, but the question is, how should we respond to that place?

How do I become free? How do I find the confidence to walk in true freedom? And if you’re married, as their spouse, how do you influence their healing and wholeness process? If your spouse isn’t encouraging you to come out of your mental cage to step into who God proposed you to be, something is wrong. As married people, it’s our responsibility to assist each other in the healing process. You must learn to heal together. Let’s take it a step further when understanding a mental prison.

The Physical Prison

Let’s explore what a physical prison is. These buildings are designed to legally hold people that have committed a crime. People who break the law are held there until they complete their sentence. From experience, I’ve worked at a prison as a correctional officer. Let me tell you, It’s nothing like what you see in movies. I had the opportunity to speak to some of the younger inmates during my shift. I would ask some of them what they do to get in there.

What I noticed about some of their responses was, a lot of them admitted to being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Some of the inmates went on to say, they didn’t want to snitch, so they decided to stay silent. Staying silent has cost some of them five, ten, or even fifteen years of their life. Isolated from the world. Being controlled by the systems set in place inside the prison. Having to be told what to do and when to do it. They didn’t have the freedom to move like they wanted to move. There were restrictions. There were limitations.

Mental Prisons

Just like a physical prison, mental prisons have similar characteristics. Instead of being controlled by a man-made system that’s put in place, you are controlled by fear. Fear tells you how to move and when to move. Fear causes you to push the right people out of your life while holding on to people that look familiar. You even become too afraid to speak. You decide it’s easier to just keep it to yourself. While the individuals who hurt you appear to be free or unbothered, you’re now being tormented by the secrets of your past. The very thoughts of the pain end up pushing you further into isolation. You then begin to find comfort in your brokenness. This mental prison has now become your reality.

If you’re not careful, you end up imposing your reality or perspective on your children. This is where generational cycles come from. Your inability to heal properly can really affect the generations coming after you. You end up raising your children from a place of fear. Your fears and anxieties begin to shape your worldview. You start leading your family from a broken position. Instead of pouring into your children from a healed place, you’re now pouring your hurt and pain upon them. Understand, it doesn’t matter how much you try, your brokenness tends to bleed through. You can put on the biggest smile, there will always be tension and conflict between who God has called you to be and what your broken has shaped you to be. Our response should be to embrace healing and freedom. But what does that process look like? What steps do I need to take, in order to walk out of this mental prison?

At an actual prison, inmates are identified by a number given to them. For the most part, you’re no longer identified by your name. Whenever someone experiences something traumatic in their life, they allow the pains from their brokenness to identify them. Instead of looking through the lens of who God called the individual to be, they now identify themselves by the broken pieces in their life. To be honest, your true identity becomes locked up and you begin to project who and what the trauma in your life says you are.

My Personal Experiences

Allow me to share with you my personal experience. When it comes to my marriage, my wife struggled to find good within herself and others. Although she projected who she wanted people to see, she also projected her hurt and pain onto them. This wasn’t necessarily done intentionally. At the end of the day, she allowed her distorted identity to guide her decisions. I would even say some of her decisions were the opposite of how God saw her as.

This is what a mental prison tends to do to many who have experienced trauma in their life. You start to approach every situation with a negative outlook. You must break free from your broken mind. Break free from the painful thoughts of your past. Begin to see yourself as God sees you. Look through the lens of promise and purpose. Ask God to reveal to you how He sees you. But how do I break free? This is a question that many of you may have.

Let’s look more into a prison. The biggest difference between a mental prison and a physical prison is, after you do your time given to you in an actual prison, you are free to return into the community as a “returning citizen”. But when it comes to mental isolation, you remain a prisoner to your mind, until you free yourself. Typically, this starts by being honest with yourself and being freed from who or what hurt you. But then again, that’s just the beginning. There is without question a process you have to go through. My wife explains this process more in her book, “Walking in Wholeness”.

Just like that individual who is exiting a physical prison for the last time, whenever someone is experiencing psychological freedom, they now step into a new beginning of their life. Your perspective began to change. Instead of being identified by your brokenness, you now identify yourself by purpose. You began to embrace the identity God designed for you. You no longer allow the memories of those painful experiences to keep you imprisoned. There’s no more fear and anxiety!

While God can do miracles in our life overnight, there’s a process to wholeness. Healing is our portion based on Isaiah 53:5 “By His stripes we are healed”, but wholeness becomes a process. My wife and I had to understand that the process of wholeness didn’t begin until we made up our mind that we wanted to be free. Once you make the effort of pursuing wholeness, then you have to have faith, patience, and the will to live. In my book “Loving a Fragile Woman”, I go more into details about breaking free from a mental prison.


Key Scripture: Romans 12:2 “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

Understand, the mental prison you’re in, becomes your “world”. That place is your reality. It’s time to transform that place “mindset” that you’re in. Freedom is your portion!


Begin to think about what you feel is holding you back from walking in freedom. Remember, oftentimes the doors of that mental prison could be open, but you allow fear to keep you there. I know what happened to you in your past was painful but know that freedom is your portion! You don’t have to live your life with the weight of your past resting on your shoulders. This is that moment where you become intentional about your healing and wholeness. Embrace the love of God, so that you’re able to show the love of real love to the people you’re connected to.


As the spouse, you play a major role in the healing process. In my book “Loving a Fragile Woman”, I share how I had to embrace my wife’s brokenness so that she could heal properly. When we both said “I do”, we were saying “I do” to each other's deepest pains. Her brokenness became my brokenness and her traumas became my traumas. Why? Because we became one! Sometimes, healing to a marriage can be delayed because the two haven’t fully become one. This is where understanding each other’s brokenness comes in. How do I pay attention to the silent cries? How do I position myself so that healing can flow to the marriage?

Take this moment to write down ways you can become more intentional about your spouse’s healing. What do you feel you need to give up so that you can be present for them? This goes beyond being present physically, but also emotionally and spiritually. How can you become an active listener to your spouse's pain and unspoken cry? For example, perhaps communication is something you can work on. Remember, a mental prison often causes the individual to project their brokenness on others. This could cause heavy tension in a marriage.

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