The idea of people as objects of Kintsugi has been in my head a lot lately. I recently attended a continuing education seminar on trauma. During her presentation, the speaker gave the statistic that around 50% of people have faced trauma in their lives. She asked the group of predominantly psychotherapists, “Doesn’t that seem high to you?” Actually, to me, it seemed low.
In my opinion, by the time we reach midlife, almost all of us have faced trauma. Official statistics say one in four women have been sexually abused; I suspect that statistic is closer to one in two. Fifty percent of marriages end in divorce. Car accidents happen on a daily basis leading to the deaths of 1.3 million deaths globally each year. Natural disasters kill tens of thousands (and some years, hundreds of thousands) each year. Then there is war, one of the most horrific human-made events that also kills thousands each year and leaves millions more scarred for life.
Those who survive these tragedies are left to face the trauma of having lost loved ones and having endured horrific events. It’s very rare for a person not to have been affected by one of these by the time they reach 40. By old age, the statistic has to be close to 100% of us. Every one of us has “baggage.” For some, the baggage can be stowed in the overhead bin and/or under the seat in front of us. For others, the baggage overflows into neighboring seats and clogs the aisle. It’s rare, though, that we travel through life without any baggage along the ride.
Yet despite all of these traumas, each of us is an amazing human being. Each of us is lovable, even if we are a person who has done atrocious things. It may be harder to find those redeeming qualities in some of the most damaged members of society, but they are there, buried under the trauma and injury that we both create and sustain from others.
All of these traumas we face break us into pieces just as the pottery cracks when it hits the floor. So, too, are we works of Kintsugi if we choose to be. We all have been broken, but we can be repaired. If we chose to work on our traumas and we chose to move forward in life, we can heal. We will never be the same as the innocent child who was born into the world so many years ago. However, we can fill our cracks with gold to create a new and beautiful person. While the process is slow and difficult, we can attain a new state of beauty. Our repaired damage can make us even more beautiful than we were before we faced the most difficult challenges of our lives.
© 2017 Elizabeth Galen, Ph.D., Green Heart Guidance, LLC