A few days ago my daughter and I were quickly unloading the dishwasher together before leaving for soccer practice when sadly, a plate slipped through her little hands and shattered across the floor. It was loud and propelled her into a fit of frightened upset. I comforted her as I swept up the mess and threw away the broken pieces just in time for us to bolt out the door. It wasn’t a big deal. After all the plate, a gift from our wedding registry, was over ten years old. It had served its purpose. Just as swiftly as we made it to practice I soon forgot the whole plate breaking debacle and went on with my afternoon. Later that evening as I caught up on some Instagram scrolling I noticed a picture of a broken bowl with ribbons of gold holding it together. Below it were these words, “Kintsukuroi — to repair with gold. In Japan, broken objects are often repaired with gold. The flaw is seen as a unique piece of the object’s history, which adds to its beauty. Consider this.”
Consider this? I couldn’t keep my mind off it and it had nothing to do with the broken plate from earlier that day. It had to do with me. Just like that fractured and mended bowl in the photograph I too have those golden seams running through my heart and head. Piecing together what trauma and PTSD have left behind. I’ve spent the last six years of my life tirelessly filling in the fissure in my life’s bowl. A crack so great I never thought I’d be able to live my life again, more importantly, live the beautiful life I had planned for myself when I twirled around in dress-up clothes as a child, walked down the aisle to my groom, and held my newborn babies tight.
My crack signifies a life that was taken from me nearly six years ago when I stood at the finish line of the Boston Marathon and witnessed two bombs explode leaving behind shattered lives. It symbolizes the mental and physical anguish I went through on a daily basis and the nightmares that kept me from sleep each night. Anxiety and depression had chipped away at me until there wasn’t much left and I plead for help. Even in the psychiatric hospital, where I’d hoped to be put back together, my cracks grew deeper. But it was there, at my very bottom, that I found the strength and courage to start mending my life on my own terms. I had never thought of that process as beautiful before but knew it was worth more than gold — because I am worth more than gold.
The gold that has pieced me back together is strong. It’s made me resilient. My gold is made up of everything that has helped me heal. Not just the therapy and tools I have leaned on or the therapists and specialists who have cared for me; it’s made from the belief I never lost in myself, the gentle care I gave myself, and the faith I always had that tomorrow would be better. Those gleaming ribbons are made brighter by the people who held my hand along the way and knew I would pull through when I doubted the process. All of this, the fracture and the glue, have made me whole again. Not whole in the way I was before my trauma, but restored in a different, stronger, and more beautiful way.
Though I am imperfect and flawed, I can now step back and admire the workmanship that I did to rebuild me again. Aside from my children — it’s my best work to date and I am proud to be sharing it with others.
I encourage you to consider your own “kintsukuroi” story as you examine the challenges and trials in your life. How can you embrace those injuries, grow, and make them shine? What will it take for you to make beautiful what is broken in your life? I can’t promise you that when you start this process you won’t feel like the ruined plate I so carelessly discarded. I do know that as you grow and find your cracks filled with precious healing, you too will see beauty in what is left behind.