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EAL #10 – Broken and Beautiful

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I’m Broken and I’m Beautiful (Broken and Beautiful, Kelly Clarkson)

Somewhere, somehow, I learned I wasn’t beautiful. Somewhere, somehow, I learned to hide myself away, stuffing slices of my soul into dark corners.

I started pretending, performing for each person to match their conception of the beautiful. The irony of life — we’re all performing for people who are performing for other people (or performing for us). It’s turtles all the way down my friends.

Nature or nurture or otherwise, it kind of doesn’t really matter why. Contra to our Western addiction to psychotherapy, you don’t need to unravel the Gordian knot of how you became who you are in order to bring your exiled selves back together. Your history is something to assimilate, but the simplified stories we tell about it often trap us in limited perspectives that get in the way of finding our wholeness.

(I’m not not a fan of psychotherapy — it’s a tool in the toolkit, or more accurately a mixed bag of tools, and also very dependent on the particular therapist — but I believe that as the painter of your own life, you must ultimately claim the brush as your own. You can’t outsource this ownership overseas or to one hour a week in an office. Okay, I stepped in the beehive. Run!)

Each of us has parts of ourselves that we hide away, pieces of ourselves that we think are so loathsome, we push them into the darkest recesses of our minds lest someone discover “who we really are.” For those watching Shadow and Bone, each of us has our inner Fold where we believe the hideous volcra hide. These parts remain in perpetual suspension and we remain less than fully alive.

We’re all greedy. We’re all jealous. We desire and crave and lust. We are impulsive, get angry, have disturbing thoughts, and are ashamed. We hate and judge and are biased and self-centered. We get sad and confused and lost and numb and terrified.

The bud stands for all things,

even for those things that don’t flower,

for everything flowers, from within, of self-blessing;

though sometimes it is necessary

to reteach a thing its loveliness,

to put a hand on the brow of the flower

and retell it in words and in touch it is lovely

until it flowers again from within, of self-blessing

(Galway Kinell)

The dark places are lovely to. They are the parts of yourself that worry about you and try to protect you and look out for you. They are the soft parts of yourself, the gentle primitives upon which all our complexity is built and which we deny out of misplaced embarrassment.

Rather than recoil from the dark places, we need to cuddle up with them. We need to lean into them, scary and charged as they may be, and remind them they are lovely. We need to reteach them their loveliness. We need to look at them gently and whisper to them: it’s okay, you’re okay, you’re lovely, I’m here with you. We give them permission to be, to arise. We give them license to be seen, to be known.

With all our chaos, with all our confusion and human fallibility, we are lovely. There’s no use pretending anyway. You don’t have to hold it all together.

We are broken and we are beautiful.

Let all the broken pieces shine . (Broken Pieces Shine, Evanescence)


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