I was asked a question yesterday. “How do you see yourself? Broken, or wounded?”.
The answer was simple, I think of myself as broken, and I’m familiar with that, it isn’t a definition of my soul that makes me cringe or question, it just is. But what if I am wrong? What if I need to challenge my familiarity and reassess it? What if redefining how I see myself is imperative to my being able to heal?
By definition the very word broken means to be defeated.
I have felt all those things, but are they who I am now? Am I still broken? Am I still defeated, beaten, shattered, or ruined? Somewhat, maybe, but not completely. My past is a huge part of who I am and who I have become, part of me will always carry these feelings. What about incomplete? I’m not sure, maybe, probably, most likely.
To be honest, I don’t have a problem with seeing myself as broken, I think that broken things can still have worth, that they can be repaired. I love the Japanese philosophy of Kintsugi, where they mend broken pottery with a special glue mixed with gold, restoring the use of the vessel, and celebrating the beauty of it’s cracks, instead of trying to hide them. Yet, there is the potential that you could then see such a pot as now being “wounded” sooner than “broken”, as it has been put back together though much care and patience.
What is the difference and why is it important? Something that is truly broken is useless while it remains that way. A broken cup doesn’t hold water, a broken leg cannot hold weight. But once they are repaired they are now stronger again, potentially you must be careful with it to not shatter in the same place again, there will be a fault line, a stress point.
A person who has been broken can be put back together too, with love and care, time and patience. They can be mended. But they remain wounded, the scars or cracks are still there, hidden away, but they are functional.
Something wounded has been hurt, and damaged, harmed, and injured. But it is not shattered, it is not broken apart, although parts of it may have been broken, or fractured. It is capable of healing, and becoming whole again. A bit like the beautifully mended Kintsugi pottery, the cracks filled and set with gold, possibly stronger and more beautiful than it was at the beginning, more valuable.
So am I broken? Or am I wounded?
Maybe, just maybe, I am simply wounded! Wounds are painful, deep, slow to heal, they are dark and glaring, caused by substantial trauma in most cases. Yes, the scars are there, I carry them within me each and every day. Most of them are invisible, hidden away on my heart and mind, etched on my soul, some are visible, where the pain has seeped through my skin, but they do not make me less of a person, less useful, less valuable.
Wounds heal. Sometimes they need to be scrubbed and scraped to let out the infection that has formed in them, sometimes they become large vivid scars, but they do heal. It takes time, courage, patience, and a large dose of care and kindness to repair a wound properly, yet once it has healed it is worth the effort that went into the process.
Scars remain, they always will, but “wounded” is certainly better than being completely “broken and shattered”.