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  • Writer's pictureAnjum Madan

The Problem with Kintsugi

The idea of kintsugi seems like the perfect metaphor for the healing journey, doesn’t it?

The idea that something that is broken can be put back together again and somehow end up being even more beautiful – that’s the dream, right?

That’s why when my art therapist suggested we do an exercise around the principles of kintsugi, I was on board right away. I grabbed a mug from my cupboard, a tea towel, and a mallet and smashed it. It broke into 10 pieces and at first, each piece was going to represent a different person in my life. Then I remembered a scene from Once Upon A Time, where Regina is about to crush the Evil Queen’s heat and destroy her. Instead, she chooses to combine both their hearts – the bad and the good – and then give them both a heart that has both good and bad (here’s a link to the scene, in case you don’t know what I’m talking about).

I decided that I wanted each piece would represent a different facet of myself. I chose 5 things I like about myself (determined, respectful, kind, loyal, and creative) and 5 I don’t (people pleaser, critical, messy, rigid, and cold/numb).

The next step of the process was to find a way to depict those pieces of myself on the interior of the piece.

I love the way the pieces turned out. I was proud of myself for picking a balance of words and finding a way to represent each one in an authentic way. Now it was time for the next step - putting the pieces back together.

I did some research and found that you can get gold sticks to use in a hot glue gun, and I thought that it would be the perfect way to put these pieces back together again. It started off pretty well – I started with the two biggest pieces (determined and respectful) and worked my way around the mug.

And then it went downhill in a hurry. The pieces no longer fit together properly. I struggled to put my hand (and the glue gun) in the right position. It became a big mess.

Now, when I look at this mug, I don't see what I wanted to see. The pieces don't fit together perfectly. There aren't any neat gold lines filling in the cracks. It isn't more beautiful than when I started.

Instead, what I see is a mess. The shape of the mug isn't round. The top lip isn't a consistent height. And it feels like a failure. It feels like a reminder that no matter how hard I try to take the broken pieces of myself and make it something beautiful - it will never be beautiful. I will never be that person who is healed, healthy and happy. I will forever be a mess.

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