There is a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in.
The Japanese have a beautiful term for mending broken pottery. Kintsukuroi or Kintsugi literally means "to repair with gold." It refers to the practice of repairing beloved pots with gold or silver lacquer. The thing I like best about the definition of Kintsugi is that the repair is done with the "understanding that the piece is more beautiful for having been broken." The gold or silver honors that breakage, one might even say it celebrates it.
A few days ago, this process came to my mind. I couldn't remember the Japanese word, but, with some persistence, I tracked it down. The reason why kitsugi was on my mind was because two days ago the new glass turntable that I'd ordered for our microwave arrived. I was delighted. The original turntable had been broken for several years. It still turned though and I hadn't bothered to try to replace it. Then, while I was away in Michigan someone - either my son or my husband - broke it again. This time, it was so broken that it wouldn't turn anymore and everytime I microwaved something, or thought about microwaving something, I was annoyed to see the sad broken turntable. It was a bit like having a pebble in your shoe. Not big enough to hurt, but big enough to be annoying. So, one day about two weeks ago, I got on the phone and after making four or five calls, I tracked down the company that makes the turntables - thankfully located in North America - and gave the person I spoke to the microwave's model number and brand and she took my Visa information and my new turntable was on the way. It took longer than I thought it would to arrive, but when it did I was delighted to see that it was packaged very carefully, tenderly one might even say. I took off the layers of paper in the large cardboard box and discovered a smaller box inside the larger box and inside that box - wrapped in bubble wrap - was the new turntable. I carefully cleaned the microwave, installed the turntable - which fit perfectly - and stepped back with satisfaction to survey a job well done.
So, you might be wondering what does this have to do with kintsugi or PTSD. It has to do with valuing damaged things, whether they be microwaves or people. I could have just as easily thrown the old microwave away and bought another one cheaply or even got one for free on craigslist. But I didn't want to. I hate to throw anything usable away or give up on people. Repairing the microwave resonated for me because, in a way, that's what my husband has done. He's discarded me - for lack of a better word - because, in his own words, "he couldn't deal with my PTSD anymore." That's the trouble with North American culture. We worship perfection and can't be bothered to see the beauty in imperfect things. That's what the Zen concept of wabi-sabi, which is related to kintsugi, is all about: celebrating the ephemeral and the imperfect. Wabi-sabi is a wise philosophy. It recognizes that all of life is ephemeral and also imperfect, yet beautiful in its imperfection. I like to think of myself as a wabi-sabi person. I allow myself to see, and celebrate, my imperfections and the signs of healing trauma. I'm getting better at it anyway. That's not to say that my husband leaving doesn't hurt. It hurts a lot. Some days more than other days. Still, I'm getting better at realizing that I've spent too much of my life trying to be "good enough" for him and not letting myself just be who I am. The truth is that I'm good enough and I always have been. Even if my husband can't love me, I can love myself. I don't mean to sound too smug here. It's taken long, long years of pounding on the door of my husband's heart before I finally gave up. Here's a great fragment of a Spanish folk song translated by W.S. Merwin.
Heart, I told you before,
and twice, and three times,
don't knock at that door.
No one will answer.
Some truths are hard but necessary to see. Now, I am trying to get my life back on track - heartbreak, PTSD, and all.