Kintsugi: How the Broken Pieces Come Back Together

I spent many years in denial that I was broken. Instead, I stayed in an endless, tiring cycle: chasing my goals and achieving big things, then crashing into depressive episodes where I felt tired and meaningless and listless, trying to re-ignite that spark I had just a few days earlier. After days in bed, I would wake up one day, energetic and ready to be back to my “real” self. I believed deep down this dark and moody part of myself was a parasite that came to rob me of my life from time to time, and I leaved in fear of when it would strike again. It was terrifying that I could go from highly successful business woman to disturbed and wanting to kill myself and then back again in the span of a week. I was convinced if I just worked hard enough, ate the right things and exercised enough, that this would stop happening. But it never did.

I had essentially idealized this motivated, energetic part of me, and demonized the tired and moody part. I had cut myself off from my negative emotions to the extent that they would have to “flare up” to get my attention (this became clearer as it started to happen with emotions like anger). At the peak of my disintegration, I started dividing and demonizing even more — my anger was now a Dragon I had to hold back from others by avoiding eye contact lest they get burned (and thus all the fire scorched my belly). My lust was a tiger that I had to keep caged (and became an unhealthy source of self-attachment instead of others-attachment). All of my unruly natural instincts were enemies I had to hold back, and I was losing the ability to do so while maintaining a consistent external persona. My internal system of self-regulation had become an unmanageable circus gone wrong, but I still frantically kept going deeper inside myself to keep it all together, trying to find the charlatan that was responsible for all of the trouble. It even got to the point where I was using drugs to access my subconscious and literally tried to put myself back together from within. Nothing worked.

A few weeks ago, in the peak of my heartbreak, I had a moment which in AA would be referred to as submission to my Higher Power, God. I felt that he showed me an image of a kintsugi bowl — a bowl that once had been broken but was beautifully put back together with gold — and asked my soul if I was ready for Him to do that. Tired, defeated, an abandoned baby craving nourishment — I reached out and said yes, please. There was an immediate change. Suddenly there were no more characters inside my head fighting to house my feelings. There was quiet. It was just me, feeling my pain. And it no longer physically hurt to make eye contact with others. It was nothing short of a miracle.

There have been a lot of realizations since then, and I’m sure there will be plenty more, but here is the wisdom I can share for now:

  1. Love (which shows) is the integrator and Shame (which hides) is the disintegrator.
  2. The system which allows for the most Love is the one with the most freedom, which means it also the system that allows for the most Pain/Suffering/Evil.
  3. This is why I felt at times I was literally living in Hell. Our personal perception means we can see Heaven or Hell in the exact same situation because they are all overlayed, including internally. Integration is not only seeing good, but seeing everything.
  4. The parts of myself that are capable of the greatest good (in this case, my imagination and capacity for love) are also capable of the greatest destruction.
  5. A lot of my frantic activity was actually coming from a place of feeling unloved and needing to “prove myself worthy,” just as much as my depression was. Looking for healthy connection to others and embodying Love will help me stay closer to center rather than wildly swinging both ways.

I hope this helps you all on your journeys to re-integration.

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