This post of part of a series on the subtle gifts of kintsugi gold. In this series, I am sharing some of the gifts I have discovered in the gold of my own healing in the hopes that it will help others identify the quiet gifts available to them. All people are different, however, and all forms of brokenness and healing are likewise unique, so my experience may or may not resemble yours. I hope it can still be a starting point for searching for and discovering your own gifts hidden in your healed scars.
When my world first fell apart several years ago, my greatest need was to tell the story of what was happening to me.
I told the story seeking to understand what was happening and why. I told it to express the anguish I was experiencing. I told it to process my grief and anger and pain. I told it to search for meaning in what seemed like chaos. I told it as I sought for a place to lay the blame. I told it as means of trying to push the pain out of me.
Sometimes I told parts of the story to others, but mostly I told the story to myself through journaling and rehearsing it in my mind over and over again. Each time I told it, I waited for some grand healing epiphany to finally explain it all and end the pain.
It never did.
Yes, there was some catharsis in telling the story sometimes, at least initially. But I eventually realized that each re-telling of the story was digging a hole that just kept me more and more stuck in the mess and the pain.
I was increasingly become someone I didn't like very much as I grew more bitter, angry, and resentful with each re-telling. It was time for something to change.
It was time to start letting go of the story.
Releasing the need to know why
One of the biggest drivers for me in rehearsing the story again and again was wanting to understand why things had happened the way they did.
I was convinced that if I could just thoroughly understand the why, then I could ensure nothing like that would ever happen to me again.
Oh, that wasn't a fully conscious idea, but as I explored my obsession with understanding why, I eventually found that conviction buried down in the roots.
Once I saw that underlying belief clearly, it was easy to see that it was a false premise. There is nothing I can ever do that will keep me 100% safe in this world. Ever.
Not only that, but I will never know all of the why of anything. There are too many interconnected factors in my life, the lives of others, the larger system in which I am embedded, and the universe as a whole for me to ever fully know all of the reasons why anything happens the way it does.
That realization allowed me to finally start releasing my obsession with why and focus on the obvious lessons I could learn from the experience (and there were plenty of those) and move on.
Releasing the blame and resentment
As I let go of my obsession with knowing why, I came face to face with just how much effort I had been putting into determining who to blame for everything that happened.
I had found plenty of blame to go around. I blamed myself for parts of it. I blamed others for their contributions. I blamed society in general for the way it shaped the roles we all played. I blamed God for not preventing it.
I was angry. I was bitter. And resentment was eating me alive.
With each re-telling of the story, that swamp of resentment sucked me in a little deeper, and I really didn't like the person I was becoming as a result.
It was time to let go of the need to blame altogether. What if blame were completely meaningless?
To start, I focused on re-telling the story in ways that dropped blame out of it, telling it ways that were sympathetic to each person I had blamed (including myself). As I did this, I found my resentment and bitterness slowly melting.
I found space to feel compassion for even those who I believed had done me wrong. Even more noteworthy, I found compassion for my own poor choices that had contributed to the situation or made the aftermath more difficult.
And this brought me to finally face the difficult F-word: forgiveness.
As I dropped the need to blame and moved toward compassion, forgiveness not only became easier, it often became a moot point. If there was no blame, there was nothing to forgive.
And that choice lightened the load I was carrying more than I would have imagined.
Releasing the story itself
With the release of the obsession to know why and to place blame, the story itself became rather boring.
I was not just feeling less compulsion to tell it, I actually started to find myself avoiding it. It was old territory that I just didn't want to go over again.
I seldom tell it now—to myself or to anyone else—because I'm thoroughly bored with it altogether. And when there is a need to tell it all, I find myself struggling to recall enough to put all the pieces together in a coherent narrative because I'm so done with it all.
That period of my life will always be something that shaped me in profound ways, but I'm so much more interested now in the story of how I've grown and blossomed since that time than in the details of how things fell apart.
Healing is so much more fascinating to me now that brokenness ever will be.
Telling a better story
Finding the image of kintsugi as a way of living was a key part of learning to tell a better story.
This focus on how to move from life's broken places in to the gold of healing and growth completely re-oriented my attention away from the past and toward the future. It moved me from the bitter, resentful person I was becoming toward a focus on growing into the person I wanted to be.
The story I tell now is all about growth and healing and who I am becoming. The details of the brokenness have ceased to matter. They only provided the opportunity for me to choose growth.
Letting go of that story of brokenness and all of the baggage that went with it to create a story of healing and growth has been one of the most powerful gifts of kintsugi gold that has fueled so many of the other gifts I've found along the way.
What story are you telling?
Telling our stories of pain and brokenness can be an important part of the healing process, but there comes a time when those stories are keeping us stuck. How do you recognize for yourself when it's time to shift from telling the story of brokenness toward telling a story of healing and growth?
What keeps you telling your stories of brokenness? Are you still finding healing and release in those stories? Or are they starting to trap you in bitterness or resentment?
Are you still searching for why things happened the way they did? If so, is that helping you or keeping you stuck? How might you let go of the need to know why?
Are you focused on placing blame for what happened? If so, how might you start dropping blame from your story? Where might you move toward greater compassion? What might you be ready to start thinking about forgiving and letting go?
How might your story shift if you began focusing on telling a story of your kintsugi gold with a focus on your healing and growth instead of on the details of the brokenness? How does it feel to tell that new story?
Other posts in this series
- The subtle gifts of kintsugi gold
- Uncovering hidden strength: A gift of kintsugi gold
- A fresh perspective on challenges: A gift of kintsugi gold
- The hardest kind of compassion: A gift of kintsugi gold
- Breaking the tyranny of emotions: A gift of kintsugi gold
- The winds of freedom: A gift of kintsugi gold
- Curiosity of the heart: A gift of kintsugi gold
- The quiet courage that matters most: A gift of kintsugi gold
- Savoring life's sweetness: A gift of kintsugi gold
- Taking the right responsibility: A gift of kintsugi gold
- Clearer vision in the mirror: A gift of kintsugi gold
- A bedrock of trust: A gift of kintsugi gold
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