Kintsugi is the Japanese art of repairing a broken piece of pottery with lacquer that is mixed with powdered gold. I love thinking about this and the idea that something broken can be made whole again with a delicate golden glue. An imperfect kind of beautiful is a perfectly lovely sort of thing.
I have added new helpers to my regime in knocking out PTSD. The one I have been working with most right now focuses on trauma with an emphasis on domestic violence. Her name is Anne and she treats trauma with a therapy called EMDR. It’s untraditional to say the least and involves a long set of lights that my eyes follow from left to right. It took a leap of faith to give it a try, especially with someone I didn’t know. If you are at all interested in learning about it, do a quick google search. I would do a pretty awful job of explaining it.
Anne and I recently talked about forgiveness. I actually brought it up as I am a firm believer in forgiveness but did not know how I could ever forgive James. She thought about this for a minute and said, “Jenny, I know you will forgive him because I believe that is part of who you are. You do not, however, have the luxury of feeling tender toward him. Ever. Any time you find your mind thinking back on the first three weeks of kindness, remind yourself of the 63 others when he freely abused you.”
I took that in and asked, “But why did he have to do this to me? ” Her response reminded me of the absolute opposite of kintsugi. “Somebody broke him. Lots of somebodys, actually. And they broke him, probably over and over, and he could not be fixed. He cannot be fixed. Most abusive men will tell you that after you? They will get better. That YOU were the one who brought this behavior out in them. That for the next woman? He’ll be different, just you wait and see. She will get the loving, gentle “three week version” every single day of the year. It’s one of the most predictable things that an abuser says when a high value relationship to them ends. It’s also 100% wrong. James is broken. And like so many abusive men before him, they find a way to get into your psyche. It’s where they live long after they are gone so that they can continue to haunt you. But it is a lie. He is a lie. His broken pieces can never be put back together.”
After she said that I started to cry. He did tell me that he would be fixed for the next woman to cross his path. And I do feel tender to anything he suffered that caused him to be broken. I do wish that he had never been hurt by anyone. But as Anne leaned close to me to hand me a box of Kleenex she said, “Jenny, you were broken, too. Not just by James, but when you were a little girl. And it was over and over and by different people. You had a choice on how you were going to live your life and you were able to choose kindness and repairing what was broken. James’ ability to choose is limited. And he operates by leaving a path of destruction. Let the tenderness go. You have to. Because if you hold onto it, you will not heal from what he has done to you.”
As I sit here now and write while I should be working, I struggle with that. It is not how I am wired, I suppose? But Anne is not telling me to live with anger. She is not telling me I can’t forgive James. She is telling me to see the abuse for what it was. Deliberate, cruel, humiliating and causing complex trauma. She is also telling me to see me for who I am. Someone who has faced very hard things before James and was able to heal. And someone who specificially because of James is very broken but will get through this and made whole again. I like that idea and I trust in it. Although I will most certainly not look like a pretty piece of Japanese pottery. I think modge podge is more apt. But I will happily take that version.