Made to Break
I titled my first blog post "She Who Is Never Not Broken."
That essay marks the dawn of my belief that I have a heart that was made to be broken, beautifully & purposefully designed to splinter and scatter its pieces across every floor.
I was taught that heartbreak was a death sentence.
To have your heart broken was shameful:
How could you offer yourself up so freely without fear or reservation?
How could you allow yourself to be rejected?
Where was your restraint?
Didn't you reserve your own piece of your heart?
I believed that my worth as a woman was contingent upon my ability to be aggressively, yet effortlessly altruistic. I had to give my heart, my body, my self. I had to offer it all up to be of service, and to be of service meant I had to be a walking sacrifice.
I didn't know there were other ways to exist. All of me, or outright rejection. I needed to be needed to be needed. And where did that leave me? Scattered across every floor.
I didn't know that it was a choice to break. I couldn't see that it wasn't the only option--that other hearts don't always allow themselves to get broken. Even though the choice is visible to me now, it isn't viable for me.
I am constitutionally incapable of giving some instead of or before giving all. I meet someone--anyone--and, after our first conversation, spend the drive home wondering if they'll want to come to my dog's birthday party (and if they'll bring a present) and the methods they'll employ to try to talk me out of my sneaky hate spiral. I don't dip my toe into friendships: I skinny dip at high noon when the sun will expose every freckled nook and cranny of my unruly body.
I speak my broken language without translation and wait for a response that sounds like the way I feel when I see light shine on a prism.
So how do I live with a beautifully broken heart?
First the breaking, then the filling.
In Japan, ceramic teapots are culturally significant mainstays in every home. Given that they are ubiquitous household objects, if one were to break, it wouldn't be a moment to mourn; another one could easily be purchased and life would go on. Buy another teapot and keep going. Keep calm and carry on and all that, right?
Four hundred years ago, discarding a crucial part of the home, a source of gathering and generosity, was not acceptable. Instead, the art of Kintsugi encouraged not only the repair of these teapots, but a celebration of their brokenness. Broken teapots were repaired using a lacquer made of an adhesive paired with a precious metal: gold, silver, or platinum. The very same metals we wear around our necks and fingers as symbols of a sacred bond are poured into these cracks to readhere and repair.
Kintsugi tells me that gold belongs in the ordinary objects of my life because breaking is inevitable and our sharing (visually and verbally) of that brokenness should bond us--we should marvel at our individual and collective brokenness. The gold and silver and platinum should be a beacon to attract the brokenhearted around us, signaling that we understand what it is to live with brokenness. We are safe places to land. We will show you the way.
Heartbreak is my divine right, a biological imperative that it has taken me a lifetime to claim as my own. I fill the sides of my heart's splintered pieces with gold, the most sacred practice of self-care. I know there will be other breaks. I fill. The despair dissipates as pieces become one whole again. I imagine what it will be like next time. I hold my heart in my hands, marveling at the masterpiece.