Do you ever feel broken? Does it ever seem like your life or illness has left you in pieces? Like Humpty Dumpty, are you thinking you’ll never be whole again? Can you heal your broken pieces?
There’s no doubt that living with chronic and mental illness can be crushing. Constant pain can cause insomnia, and too many nights without sleep will bring on madness, even if you don’t have a mental disorder.
Take heart. You can put yourself together again.
Yes, those cracks may still show, but as you’ll see in this post, your scars are part of what makes you beautiful. You’ll also learn a little about the Japanese art of Kintsugi.
“Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.” – Khalil Gibran
What Is Kintsugi?
Have you ever heard of the Japanese art of Kintsugi? Kintsugi translates directly as “golden joinery.” The art form consists of collecting broken pieces of pottery to make them whole again.
The thing that stands out and makes Kintsugi so beautiful is what they use to put the pieces back together. Most of the time it’s gold, and those new gold seams add a whole new level of artistic appeal to the once broken item.
For the pottery, what was once a fragmented item ready to be discarded now becomes an attractive piece of art.
How Do You Put Yourself Back Together?
When you’re going to repair some broken pottery or a decorative plate, the first step is to gather all the pieces. To put yourself back together and heal your broken pieces you want to start with the same step.
Since you don’t literally have pieces of you lying around the house, what does that mean?
Start by taking an inventory of where you are right now. If your shattering blow was a chronic illness diagnosis, that inventory may mean reviewing what you already know about your condition and which questions you have that still need to be answered.
While you’re taking inventory, be sure to also note how you are doing, both mentally and physically. Allow yourself to grieve over the event that broke you and then try to come to terms with your new reality.
That is the definition of acceptance.
Acceptance is a vital tool in your recovery process. Recognizing where you are now and accepting it will go a long way in your recovery efforts.
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Say Goodbye to Yesterday
At times when pottery is broken, there are tiny pieces that can’t be glued back together. Those fragments are then discarded and more gold is put in their place.
Yesterday is your tiny pieces. Whatever happened, no matter what was said or done to you, there is nothing you can do to change yesterday. Nothing.
The scars of the past may always be with you. Even though they may heal, they may still leave their mark.
Those marks are your gold seams. Those scars are what makes you beautiful. They are proof that you learned to heal your broken pieces.
Choose to focus on today and tomorrow, and yesterday will become less painful.
Recognize That Things May Not Be The Same
When a vessel is repaired using the Kintsugi method, it’s usually not put back into use for its original purpose. A plate may never be used as a plate again. A vase may never hold water and flowers. However, that doesn’t make the items useless.
Whatever illness you are now coping with, you are likely not the same as you were. There may be things you can no longer do or places you can no longer go.
Those limitations do not define you.
As was discussed in How To Turn Your Obstacles Into Stepping Stones, Erik Weihenmayer (the blind teacher and mountain climber) is proof that difficulties don’t have to stop you from pursuing your dreams.
With that in mind, take the time to learn what things you can do. Find new paths to travel, and new experiences to share. Life isn’t over, so find new ways to live it.
Different is not necessarily bad. It’s just different.
For a final comparison, consider the value of pottery that is put back together by Kintsugi. The original item may have had little or limited value. The new piece, with its glittering gold stripes, is usually very valuable. In fact, many people collect these works of art.
In your case, think about how your struggles can help you and others. Is there someone you know going through a similar trial? Can you share your experience to help prop them up? How can you use your pain to offer validation or acceptance to someone else?
The truth is, our challenges make us more valuable as people. Most of us gain more empathy, more kindness, and more understanding. Put those new insights to work by improving the lives of the people around you.
Building up others, in turn, will help you heal your broken pieces.
Does It Work?
I won’t lie to you; I hate being sick. Really hate it. Waking up each day with trepidation about how my illnesses are going to dictate the day is frustrating and often makes me angry.
However, if it wasn’t for the pain I’ve experienced, the bad times that illness has knocked me down, I wouldn’t be able to write this blog. At the very least it would be a much different blog.
My pains, awful as there are, help me to reach out to others and to show them that things can be endured. Life really can get better. Your experiences are just as valuable.
Your Assignment: Heal Your Broken Pieces
This week, let’s all work to heal our broken pieces. Start putting them back together again.
Remember the keys:
- Pursue acceptance
- Say goodbye to yesterday
- Recognize that things are different
- Help others
Even if it’s just baby steps, do something this week to pour some gold between your broken pieces. Let that gold solidify you and make you stronger. Then, come back to this page and leave a comment on what you did and how it helped.
Each and every one of you is stronger than you know.
Don’t believe me? Let this song teach you how beautiful scars can be.
Until next time, keep fighting.
If you enjoyed this post, be sure to read How To Turn Your Obstacles Into Stepping Stones.