Several months ago, an eternity in recovery time, I wrote about finding it difficult to let go of anger and resentment towards the people I felt had treated me unfairly in life. I’ve come a very VERY long way since then, but occasionally I still question and doubt and backslide.
One of the things I’ve learned from the internet since the dawn of Pinterest is that there is an ancient Japanese art, Kintsugi or Kintsukuroi, of repairing broken pottery with gold, making the pottery more beautiful and more valuable because it had been broken.
This sounds great in theory. It says that there is no shame in being broken and it can result in making us better, more valuable, more beautiful once repaired. But one of the things we talk about a lot in groups is that we are not actually “broken.” We are not “damaged.” We are struggling with an illness, but we are and have always been good enough to be just the way we are. And we should be able to be happy in our bodies without having to wait until we have been “repaired.” So as much as it is meant to be a beautiful message, I rejected it.
But earlier today one of my dearest, most supportive, truest friends (I could go on and on) posted the below comment in response to that Unrequested Forgiveness post and it was so profound to me that I wanted to share it. Even though I may have known these things on some level, seeing it put so eloquently gave me a new perspective. A new hope that there is meaning in everything. EVERYTHING. Even the things that don’t feel good in the moment. Or maybe ESPECIALLY those things (case and point: sandpaper). And that the purpose of this struggle will reveal itself when the time is right.
Well, when you achieve the self-love thing (or perhaps you already have) you may share my sentiment that everything – good and bad – has occurred to shape you into the awesome person you are today. You are stronger, you are wiser, you are a greater help to others. And that couldn’t have happened without those who God/the universe put in your path as the sandpaper that has shaped you. And who are we to be angry at God/the universe for the tools sent to shape us? And who are we to be angry at the tools that others lacked to shape them into better, less hurtful people? If I know that there are others who I can now proudly and happily help with divorce, or abuse, I can’t at the same time hold my abuser responsible for my pain or my recovery. If I do, what help will I be to other victims? What positivity can I honestly share if I’m busy grasping on to negative and angry feelings? If you’ve been abused, God has allowed it for a reason. And some of that reason is for you to understand and help other victims. And the rest of that reason is for you to understand and discourage abusers from abusing others in the future. But NONE of that reason is because God wants to punish your heart for the rest of your life by filling you with resentment. It’s an affront to the universe that is working to make you a beautiful blessing to others. You simply can’t carry angry baggage and God’s blessings at the same time. So getting to drop those burden bags and pick up blessing boxes becomes a joy!
UPDATE: After talking to one of my fellow recovering girls about the difference between these two metaphors, I felt compelled to add the following:
For me, the difference between the gold and the sandpaper is that you start out whole either way, but with the kintsugi you are then broken and if/when you are repaired, the gold holding the cracks together will make you more valuable/beautiful.
With the sandpaper, you start out as a whole piece of wood in a given form. This form is functional and whole and beautiful in its own unique way. Then the sandpaper of life is applied and the piece of wood takes on a new, smooth, intentional shape that has a specific purpose or ability. Some people get sanded and shaped more than others and some people never have the privilege at all, but whether you believe in God, or the universe, or destiny, or some other greater power, the point is that there is purpose and meaning in the sanding.