There’s a beautiful Japanese practise called Kintsugi, the art of repairing broken objects, with gold.
Traditionally, gold lacquer is used to piece shards together again, creating a more beautiful object through the acts of breaking and repair.
Have you ever heard of a more profound metaphor for life?
The ability to go through the pain, the heartache, the trauma, the grief of life and feel utterly and completely broken. To be lying in that pit of despair, thinking we can never put ourselves back together. We can never heal. Feeling damaged beyond repair. The pieces of us shattered. Our cracks so visible, we don’t know how to hide them.
Applying Kintsugi to our lives means we don’t have to hide our cracks, our pain, our heartache, our grief; instead, we allow ourselves to feel them. Move through them. Acknowledge them. And navigate new parts of ourselves with this new understanding of who we are.
I would never have understood this five years ago. I went through a period of time where I felt I was being battered from every angle. Everything came at me at once. I was nearing 50 and I was terrified at the thought that I would need to start over. But I also knew there could be something worse than death and that was not truly living. That simply existing was a form of death whilst you were still alive. That even though you were breathing and going through the motions of life, the passion had disappeared. The energy had lost its buzz.
I had no idea what my purpose was. I had no idea who I was. My spark was gone. My cracks were not only visible, they were expanding. They were growing, and I feared they would split me in two. I felt broken, and I thought I would be forever damaged.
Have you ever felt like that? Have you ever felt that the person staring back at you from the mirror was a stranger? A shell of who you once were, or who you thought you should be?
Five years ago, I jumped without a parachute. I dove into the murky depths of the ocean without a life raft, and I had no idea if I would drown or be eaten alive by sharks. I had no idea whether those cracks would stretch so far that they would completely engulf me. What I did know was doing nothing was not an option. Doing nothing would mean losing myself further. Doing nothing out of fear would inevitably destroy me.
There were days I felt my heart and soul had been ripped clean out of my body. There were days I thought the ground would open up and swallow me alive, as I lay curled up on the floor, my tear-stained face unrecognisable, with puffy eyes and dry lips. There were days I couldn’t see the light. It scared me.
I questioned my whole life. Every decision. Every path I chose. Every f*ck up. I questioned: did I like the person I was? Was I damaged? Who was I?
It was in this mess, this f*cking pit of despair, that I understood nobody could save me. Nobody could tell me who I was or what I needed. It was nobody else’s job. I was responsible for my healing. My growing. Any life changes. It was in this darkness that I realised I wasn’t completely broken. Bruised, yes. In pain, yes. But I knew if I dug deep, I would find a way to put myself back together.
I booked an appointment for a therapist the next day. I focused on mindfulness. I moved my body. I learnt that by sitting in my pain and my grief, they felt acknowledged. Seen. Heard. And their power begun to subside.
I learnt by going within and facing my shadows, I showed up for myself. I met myself, the new version and the old version. Each day, I grew into the woman I wanted to be. Reinvented? Rediscovered? I think I found the parts of me that I hid or put aside because I didn’t think that’s who I was supposed to be. Conditioning and conforming were destructive to my authenticity. And over the years, they insidiously sliced those cracks into me. Each one scarring.
Walking the path of insight and facing my own toxicity was the beginning of finding myself. Finding my purpose. Finding my passion. Finding my self-belief. Finding my self-love. Finding the blessings in the harshest of lessons. Finding what was not only possible but doing it.
Along this path of insight, healing, and growth, I discovered the gold. I didn’t notice it at first because honestly, my vision was blurred with darkness and shadows. With unresolved pain and grief. With lessons I wasn’t sure what the learnings were meant to be. With questions I didn’t know the answers to.
But slowly, like the sun glinting through the clouds on an overcast day, I began to see things more clearly. And what I saw was the beauty in my cracks. The shards I thought were misplaced, with ugly jagged edges, were still holding together. I ran a finger over those wounds and scars, and whilst some were still raw and others were risen, I was still in one piece. I was whole. I was always whole but couldn’t see it.
These days, I don’t hide those cracks, those cracks that have now been glued together with the glimmer of gold. Those cracks that are part of me. Part of my past. My pain. My grief. My losses. My hurt. My heartbreak. My f*ckups. They are everything that has created the person I am today. They are wisdom. Compassion. Empathy. Healing. Growth. My heart. My soul. They are my Kintsugi.
There is so much beauty in our scars. The once broken bits now put back together. Differently. Perhaps a little messy. Maybe not how I imagined, but spectacularly beautiful nonetheless.
“There’s a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.” ~ Leonard Cohen