Sunday, October 13, 2019

Kintsugi

It's weird living in a society that doesn't value repair when you're damaged.

Fixing things isn't really a priority for "western" society — just replace things when they're damaged or broken. Most everyone I know does this, heck, I do this. When the transmission on my last car broke I traded it in for a newer model rather than dropping 5k and being without a car for a week.

Not everything can be replaced by something shiny and new.

If you're a human and you're damaged you can't just go out and replace whatever was damaged. You can't buy a new arm. Can't buy a new psyche. We can't just walk into Rekall and overwrite or replace damaging memories, can't buy a vacation to Mars to overwrite the trauma.

I have a lot of trauma, a lot of damage. It would be very easy to categorize myself as a broken person. The person I could have been before the trauma and damage is gone. It hurts to know she's gone, dead, lost. Accepting that and letting go of who I could have been has been… almost but not quite insurmountably difficult. I think I finally accepted the loss and let go of the pain recently while driving around on Mount Hood. Goodbye me that I lost, long, long ago, in 2003 but desperately tried to hang onto.

In my minds eye I tend to view myself as a broken piece of… I'm not sure. It fluctuates between stoneware, pottery, porcelain, bone china. It's always some sort of vessel, a cup, a bowl, a vase, something that can hold liquid. Regardless of the form, there's my ego, shattered into a number of pieces.

Putting myself back together is a slow process. I have to address the damage, grinding down the sharp edges to make it easier to rejoin the breaks with lacquer, and filling gaps and missing parts with layer upon layer of lacquer. It's slow, methodical work. As I make progress there's a terror at the back of my mind that something catastrophic will happen, that new, worse damage will ruin all of the work I've done so far.

I hope that the work I'm doing qualifies as kintsugi. Taking something damaged and repairing it into a new form where the repairs are celebrated, glittering parts of the whole. I can't and won't hide my damage anymore. I want to celebrate the accomplishments I've made in repairing myself. I want to show the process of this growth and change, and have it be visible, even if it makes others uncomfortable.

I can't help that I'm a patchwork of scars — that's a given based on my physical and psychological damage. But instead of trying to hide and conceal them I can celebrate them. I survived the things that hurt me. I grew, I healed. I changed.

Becoming myself isn't something that can happen quickly. Reintegrating all of the broken shards will take quite a while, because I've got a lot of damage.

I look forward to seeing the spiderweb patchwork of kintsugi I become.

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