The Japanese have a form of art known as Kintsugi. This entails a piece of broken pottery being repaired with either gold or silver. The gold or silver is placed in the cracks of the broken pottery and in some cases whole pieces are replaced with one of the two. This technique embraces the imperfection or flaw in an object. Such as how we should embrace our own imperfections, flaws, or scars. Because those scars tell our stories.
As with the gold enhancing the pottery our scars enhance us. Our scars show our perseverance, fortitude, and courage. It allows people to know that we have been broken but put back together and are stronger because of it, we’ve had our breakthrough. Yes, it’s the cliche “what doesn’t kill us only makes us stronger.” It actually does make us stronger because we learn from it. We learn that we have strength we never knew existed; with this newfound strength we are allowed to grow.
A while back, I saw a video on Facebook and it had a man with a prosthetic leg doing tire lifts and a young boy next to him with a prosthetic leg as well lifting a smaller tire. The video spoke volumes to me and to all the others who watched it as it went viral. Not only did this man embrace his own flaw as you would say, he empowered a child to do the same. And they were both stronger because of it — physically and emotionally. I could see the gold in both of them shining brightly.
Lately on the internet, whether its Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, people have been more open about sharing their “scars” whether it is a prosthetic limb, a burn, or some accident and the story behind it. I believe this process helps them overcome the trauma but also helps others with their own trauma and story. It allows others who have similar experiences know they are not alone.
Being a therapist, I naturally began to think about the people who carry around scars that are not visible to the world. These people can be survivors of abuse, rape, or mental illness. Just by looking at them you would not necessarily know what they have experienced. They have taken that crack in their soul and have filled it with gold so to speak. Everyday they wake up and LIVE and it is a victory. It’s a victory because it is not easy to do. It takes a great deal of strength and perseverance to continue to move on with life. For people dealing with trauma or mental illness, it’s a one day at a time mentality, some cases it is hour by hour. But everyday you live you win.
Personally, I thought it was great when Cleveland Cavalier forward Kevin Love wrote in the Players’ Tribune his struggles with panic attacks and Toronto Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan disclosed his battles with depression. And let’s not forget all the women who came forward behind the #metoo movement. It allows others to relate and know that they are not alone. Especially, the children who look up to them.
In life what are some of the other cracks that may need to be filled? Some might be thoughts of failure. People may feel like a failure from a loss of job, divorce, or an estranged relationship. These feelings are natural, I would even say experiencing the 5 stages of grief are okay and necessary. However, when all is said and done and you are able to survive and learn from the situation then you have become a fine piece of art.
If you are struggling with trauma here are some tips to help:
- Accept your feelings. After experiencing a traumatic event, you may experience an array of emotions. These emotions can include guilt, shock, and anger. This are normal emotions to experience. Do not deny yourself these feelings, they are necessary in the healing process. Do not rush yourself to feel better, give yourself respect and love and allow yourself to heal. You will be happy for it.
- Seek therapy. Do not be afraid to seek professional help, it does not make you weak. There are times when we need others to help us, especially those trained in helping people recover from trauma.
- Connect with others. After experiencing trauma you may want to be alone and isolate yourself, this may actually makes things worse. It’s important to connect with family and friends, these relationships can help you heal.
- Self-Disclose. Self-disclosure may not only help you but it might help someone in a similar situation. I feel there is always a time and a place to self-disclose. You may want to share your experience when you notice someone is going through something and they can benefit emotionally and mentally from your disclosure.
- Challenge yourself. The scars we have tell our story. They also remind us of what we have been through, with that we may carry fear, sadness, or helplessness. Our newfound strength comes from challenging these fears, not allowing ourselves to be sad and helpless. You survived, now show everyone including yourself.
So whatever it is that you may have experienced in your life or you may experience in the future. Trust me it won’t completely break you. Fill your cracks with gold of strength, humility, and courage. Show your uniqueness off to the world, because the strength you show in yourself may be the strength someone else needs.