When we place our hearts, our happiness, our future into the hands of another person we give them the power to break us into a million pieces.
It’s been over a year since someone I loved with my entire being dropped my heart from the tallest tower and watched as I splintered into countless pieces of broken dreams and what-could-have-beens.
It was more painful than I could have imagined.
To be shattered is more than just to be hurt. It’s being unceremoniously broken. It’s having your realities, dreams and heart crumble into fragments. It’s the feeling of losing your wholeness in one fell swoop, left in a heap of dissonance on the ground.
There are so many ways a person can shatter us outside of the shattering of romantic love lost, like an absentee father or the cold betrayal of a friend.
Life can be so devasting, and make you feel so lost and alone.
I know personally after I experienced this kind of heart-shattering blow, I didn’t know what to do next.
Not at first, anyway.
There was a huge part of me that wanted to dump those shards into the hands of another to take away the pain and let me ignore the work I needed to do to piece myself back together.
There were people who would have gladly done so, who told me they were in love with the shattered Angela because they didn’t know she was shattered.
But I knew in my bones, this time, this time, I wasn’t going to bury the pieces or hold them tenuously together with scotch tape and the well-meaning love of someone else who I wasn’t ready to love in return. I was going to do the hard work all by myself.
So I have spent the past year carefully piecing myself back together.
There is a Japanese art called kintsugi 金継ぎ where broken pieces of pottery are mended with gold. As a philosophy, art, and practice it treats the breakage and repair as a part of the history of the object rather than something to disguise.
There is no one else who can scoop up the pieces and mend them back together with the golden light of our souls than our own damn selves.
We can lean on people for sure.
We can go to therapists who will help to teach us the tools to make the alchemy of the gold we spin to pour into the cracks all the more binding.
We can lean on our loved ones when the shards look like an unsolvable 10,000 piece jigsaw puzzle. They can point and say “Look! Look how perfectly this piece fits with that one. Let me help you pour your gold and we can hold the pieces together while it sets.”
We can also engage in self-destructive behaviors that will break us even more and can scatter some of our pieces to the wind. We can become addicts, gamblers, or practice self-harm. We can do anything not to sit in that quiet place and mend those sharp slivers of ourselves.
Because being numb is better than feeling that deep raw pain of those jagged pieces tearing at the very fabric of our being.
But this I know, of this I am certain.
There is an intense beauty in that healing process if we don’t let ourselves fall victim to the easy way out of numbing ourselves or placing our brokenness into the hands of another.
In the art of this meticulous repair process, my own kintsugi, I have learned more about myself than I ever thought possible.
That person who broke me started the avalanche of my self-discovery.
But everything after that, was all me.
I learned of my resilience. I met the truest version of me. This past year of personal growth has taken my breath away.
I recently quit my job because the whole, gold-laced woman who stood before me in the mirror a year after her shattering knew to her core that it wasn’t for her.
Someone told me I was radiant the other day. I have never been described that way in my life by another person.
But I am radiant. I am fearless. I am whole.
I am all I need.
I will never again give someone else the power to shatter me. I will share this radiant, brilliant, dazzling heart with someone but I will remember each and every day that the only person I will always spend my entire life with is myself.
It is a precious and awesome knowing.
We can never be whole if we have never been shattered.
Pain and struggle are a part of life.
The strong person who comes out on the other side, who spent countless hours painstakingly mending the broken pieces of themselves.
That’s the whole point.
To your own kintsugi, may your mended cracks shine with the bright gold of a thousand suns.
May your truth and your knowing light up a room, light up the whole world.
May you treat that breakage and repair process as a part of the history of yourself rather than something to disguise.
Wear it like a badge of honor.
When someone shatters you, may it begin the avalanche of your becoming.