How can I be happy with me when I’m broken? This question has haunted me for the best part of years. Most people would respond that none of us is perfect or whole, but to a girl growing up ill, it seemed too simplistic. It felt like some of us are just more broken than others, more dinks, scratches, chips and shattered, to dream of ever being repaired. My body and brain had let me down, I felt like I had failed in life before the age of thirteen. This got better with age but it still crops up.
Living with a chronic illness means that for me where traditionally, you would have the opportunities to build self-esteem are gone. The examples of your physical appearance to the career you are so proud to have worked for, or your academic successes. I have had none of those to boost me.
I have to rely on myself for that earning of confidence, which is a scary prospect. If I took all the things that make you feel good about yourself, what could you think of that you could fall back on that felt as important as your success or talents as a person? Harder than it seems isn’t it?
About a year ago, I came across a wonderful form of art which felt like it conjured a much more positive spin on my ‘broken’ state. Kintsukuroi is a Japanese art form of taking broken pottery and mending it, gilding the joins. The theory is that the pottery is more beautiful for being broken, as each section repaired, is mended with gold or silver lacquer. Being broken brings a celebrated beauty to each ceramic.
I openly admit that I am a better version of me, due to the unique struggles I have encountered with this illness. So, if I were to consider myself gilded back together, more beautiful and stronger than I was before being shattered. Isn’t that a better homage to the daily struggles that make me who I am? Constant illness and the obstacles may have broken me, but I continue to mend myself. So I use this as motivation to keep going, the thought of becoming decadently shiny with each challenge solved.
With this outlook, I try to be kinder and more patient with myself and give more credit when due. The struggle with self-worth is ever changing yet ever present in my life, that much is normal. Being broken on the good days doesn’t seem so bad. Being a metallic art form? Even better haha.