Healing and forgiveness

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Kintsugi is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with gold or silver. The repair adds value to the pottery with each piece unique because no two breaks are the same. Kintsugi symbolises resilience, that trauma and even brokenness can create such beauty. In addition to serving as an aesthetic principle, Kintsugi has long represented philosophical ideas. The practice is related to the Japanese philosophy of wabi-sabi, which calls for seeing beauty in the flawed or imperfect. There is a lot of faulty thinking surrounding forgiveness. The act of forgiveness gets watered down, cheapened and abused. Forgiveness and love are intertwined because to my understanding and in my experience, one cannot happen without the other. There are some basic truths that we must understand and accept about what forgiveness is before we can move on.

  • Forgiveness is not conditional, forgiveness doesn’t say “I forgive you but you have to do so and so”.
  • Forgiveness doesn’t minimize the seriousness of the offence.
  • Forgiveness doesn’t require that a relationship is formed or continued.
  • Forgiveness doesn’t mean that we forget what happened.
  • You cannot forgive people on behalf of the people they’ve hurt.

Forgiveness is still something that I struggle to properly articulate and as time has passed and I have matured (and regressed) as a human being, my views toward healing and forgiveness have changed. Learning more about stuff in general causes (most) people to change their views, myself included. I still maintain that forgiveness is a necessary part of my healing and while that may not be the case with everyone, it was the case with me. I found that I couldn’t truly move past my trauma until I truly forgave.

Now, I’m not saying that the healing process will be the same for everyone because I do not know enough about forgiveness or healing for that matter to presume to tell everyone how to move on. There is no right way to heal. The right way to heal is your way, whether it is slowly or quickly. There is no timetable for how long it takes to recover from traumatic events. A loved one dying is traumatic, being abused is traumatic. These things hurt, some more than others, but pain is pain and in the words of John Green it demands to be felt.

The thing with emotional wounds is that there is this stigma attached to being hurt on the inside. You can hurt but not for too long, otherwise people will say you’re wimpy or weak as if weakness is something to be ashamed of. You can be mad but not too mad because then you’ll be crazy. You can be sad but not too sad because then you’ll be a killjoy. Emotional pain hurts worse than physical pain to my mind because when you break your body, the doctors give you drugs so you can heal better and everyone who sees your obvious external wound is sympathetic and helpful. When you hurt on the inside, however, no one cares. “You need to get over it, it really wasn’t that bad.” “So, it’s this small wound that is making you cry?”

It is not shameful to say that people have hurt you because vulnerability is not weakness, I think it takes an almost unbelievable amount of bravery to know that something or someone can hurt you and still opening yourself up anyway. Pain is not shameful and tears are not weakness. It is not brave to deny that you have been hurt.

My father is abusive and for a long time, I didn’t realize that the way he treated me and my siblings was abusive. I thought that all parent-children relations were like mine. He isolated and exerted a level of control on my life that bordered on psychopathic. He isolated us from friends and from extended family members. For a long time, I was too reluctant to talk about the trauma that I experienced because I was embarrassed and ashamed but I’ve come to realise that the shame and embarrassment is not mine to carry and I have laboured under its weight for long enough. The traumatic things that happened to me are not me, they are not the extent of my character. The trauma that I have experienced is not the most defining aspect of my character.

I am healing and for me, the most important part of my journey is still forgiving and it’s still just as hard as when I first started, some days are harder than others and the anger comes and goes. Sometimes I find myself wondering if he deserves my forgiveness but for me it’s not about being deserving, it’s about doing what is right for me and sometimes healing makes no sense but then again what about life does? I read about the Japanese art of putting broken pottery pieces back together with gold and how it treats the breakage and repair as part as the history of an object rather than something to disguise. The pottery becomes more beautiful after being broken and that’s how I see myself, I’ve been broken but I’m filling the cracks with gold.

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