I believe in boasting in weakness. I believe there is a radical power in shouting about your shortcomings and a hope in humility. Over the past couple of years I have gone from the girl who was mortified to be in therapy to the girl who stands up and tells everyone who will listen how broken she is. I am saying this because there is a very gentle balance in this; when I talk about my experiences I do not aim to complain or to self-deprecate, I aim to share.
When you boast in weakness and share all your broken pieces something very special happens; the person you are sharing with will reveal some of their cracks to you. Not always verbally. Sometimes, after explaining my experiences I have been met in return with a long, and often tragic story but other times I see it in just the silence or the gloss on someone’s eyes. Like fine china, you pick up a few shards from the rubble around me and I take a few from you.
If the past four years have taught me anything it is that we are all broken people. I wish my situation wasn’t relatable, that I could talk about depression and get nothing but blank stares in return but that has never happened which is why I keep talking. The simple fact is too many people have experienced this, and I’m not just talking about clinical depression here, I’m talking about sorrow, I’m talking about loss, I talking about pain. I have seen too many scars and too many tears to believe in an undamaged human. I am yet to meet a single individual who doesn’t have a story. I have a theory that every person on earth has an experience which could move me to tears and I am willing to bet that you, my reader, do too.
Don’t shy away from your brokenness. I know that the world we live in tells us to hide all our imperfections; that they are ugly and that love depends on us being whole. But love doesn’t care if you’re perfect or shattered into thousands of pieces, love is reckless and irrational and love sees beauty in every chip and every crack. In Japan there is an art form called ‘kintsugi’ where the cracks in pottery are repaired with gold. The cracks and brokenness are not shame to be hidden, but a beauty to celebrate. The marks in the china are a part of its history and show its experience. So please, if you feel broken, by all means put yourself back together but don’t do it with glue, do it with gold.
This idea is comforting on the surface but there is a challenge alongside it. This is a tough one because it involves understanding. It means seeing and accepting the breaks in people we don’t like too. It means filling in those breaks with gold. It is easy to dismiss the people who hurt us a faceless monsters but the truth is that they are broken too. Have you ever injured yourself on broken glass or crockery? When things break they can hurt people. I struggle with this. Empathising with someone who hurt you and trying to understand their own struggles is a very difficult thing but like all difficult things, with enough practice and determination it does get easier. I know I can’t fill my own broken pieces with gold whilst degrading others’ breaks as ugly. And I am trying. I am trying to see the gold in everyone.
Depression has taught me the fragility of humanity, a lesson I believe I will be learning for the rest of my life. It’s a lesson that demands empathy and forgiveness and not an easy one to swallow and I don’t expect to perfect it any time soon. For now though, I will leave you with this: aim to treat each person with the gentleness and understanding you would with a broken person and the respect and love you would with a perfect person.
Love Helga xxx