Broken

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Yesterday was a very significant day for my husband.  It’s the birth date of his brother who died at 42 in 2000.

It is significant not because they were very close and best friends.  In fact, after a childhood and young years of conflict, they’d just started repairing their relationship; talking occasionally; being able to hang out or have dinner together without fighting.

That was probably the worst of it, because there are no words as bitter in the world as “it might have been.”

Dan wrote about it here.

I have friends going through other types of life transitions right now, some good, some not and I myself have been going through something I might some day be able to talk about in public (it does not involve family in any way, certainly not divorce.  But it involves other people even though it’s central to MY identity/life, so I can’t talk about it, not yet.  Maybe some day) which is a transition, a loss, a gain and a sort of “it might have been.”  (But isn’t, and never will be and it’s time to let it go.)

We were talking in this blog about predestination, free choice and the things humans choose to do or not to do, and how free they might be or not.  As you know, I believe in individual freedom.

I was thinking of that because of what Dan said, in his post, that given an infinite possibility of universes there is some place where his brother turned sixty yesterday, and maybe we flew out for the party, because they’ve become best friends.  Weirdly, if he’d lived that’s not even a strange outcome.  It was sort of going that way, despite their starting out very antagonistic and being very different people.

Of course I don’t know if there are multiple universes.  It’s an interesting thought to play with.  Perhaps the whole reeincarnation thing is a misunderstanding and we actually live multiple lives concurrently, all of them as us, and are then weighed on the balance of those lives.

Of maybe none of this makes any sense, since we’re talking in a human language about things beyond time and space.

What came to me, though, is that yeah, your choices might be narrower as you live.  Or not.  Sure, reverting the choices and bad habits of a lifetime might be near-impossible.  BUT not impossible because you’re human, and humans can can change.

We’re like a piece of pottery that gets used and used and thins out or loses glaze or even gets broken.  After some time, there’s only so much you can do with it.

Or you can use kintsugi, the Japanese art of repairing those cracks and hurts, owning them and making something beautiful out of them.

You can’t unlive your past, but you can integrate your broken bits into a new and wonderful whole.

There is no human who lived who didn’t make mistakes, doesn’t have regrets and isn’t broken.  It’s part of your history.  But it doesn’t dictate your future.

Accept it, integrate it, and be who you really want to be.

You’re broken.  So what?  It’s the breakage that makes you you.  Fix it to make it better than it was.  And live on.

Let go of hate, resentment and regret.  Build.  We’ll get there.

44 responses to “Broken

  1. Reblogged this on Cyn Bagley's Shadowland and commented:
    I’ve been trying to use kintsugi– the Japanese art of repairing cracks– Good advice

  2. Perhaps in some of those other universes, they are both the kind of men each of them wants to call his best friend.

    Between the Catholic communion of saints, and exposure to Okinawan culture and their honoring of the dead; my attitude toward death is the body is dead, the spirit lives on. We can talk to them, and rarely, every once in a great while, they can talk back to us.

    • I like to think Dad hung around a little bit after he died, especially during the funeral. The sheer amount of griping in his voice (about his hair) that I was hearing was just too loud to be imagination.

      • EWTN has a nifty theology/science nerd show called Father Spitzer’s Universe. (It is on late at night, but there is an On Demand section on their website.) The last few eps included discussions of near death experiences and what theologians call the “trans-physical” nature of the soul. Lots and lots of story fodder, including some ghost stuff.

        EWTN is a very mixed bag, because it targets everybody; but it is unapologetically geeky on its geeky shows. I will say that Pearce is the Tolkien theorist who drives me craziest, because I so almost agree with the stuff he says. But that does not mean he isn’t a good source; and he is good at research and digging.

        • I liked EWTN when I could watch it back in the Philippines. I liked Mother Angelica. Tough bird, in the old fashioned way that I respect.

          *sigh* if only me internet connectivity weren’t so crap, I’d stream stuff, but I’ll pass the suggestion on to my Mom who would probably find it as fascinating as I would.

  3. slightly over a year ago my son suddenly died due to a sudden heart attack. I am dealing with it the best I can. His widow, however has found great support with a group called “No More Tears,” which is a support group for wives who have lost their Husbands. There is a Chapter in San Jose and other cities.

  4. If only more people would do just that, rather than retreating into their shells and shutting out the world…

  5. Extending your pottery analogy, most people don’t know the composition of clay. Something like porcelain is almost pure kaolin, but the more common stoneware is a combination of kaolin, slip (clay and water, very thin slurry), and grog, which is shattered and ground fired pottery. The grog gives strength and stability to the clay to help it stand under the pressures of being made.

    You can’t have strong pottery without broken bits.

  6. I believe in multiple universes. There are points in my life that I can point back to and it feels like the universe twinned and in the other one, I made a different decision. I don’t know what happened after that decision. All I can do is ponder if I’m happy where I’m at and if so, accept the decisions I’ve made because all of them led here. But it would be nice to get a glimpse into those other universes.

    • Yes, sometimes I get a feeling I slipped between “close universes.”

      • My younger son and I joke that his brother slips across universes frequently, because we swear he changes his opinion on things (I’m not speaking so much of political or interpersonal opinions, but concrete things, like whether he likes a certain spice), and then insists that his opinion on it is the same as it’s always been.

        • same with younger son. But I know stuff has changed around me, like the numbers of certain houses/establishments. Mandella effect stuff.

          • There are things-personal enough not to put on the internet-that make me nearly certain that there are or were more than one reality.
            It makes me wonder if all of those dreams are real somewhere. Which means the other us are probably all dead, honestly, like the one where ebola took off worldwide a few years ago instead of being stopped. So for the purpose of going on with, this reality will serve.

  7. Reminds me of something said by the late and very great blogger Neptunus Lex (attack pilot and USN Captain)..”.I’ve often wished that you could split at each important choice in life. Go both ways, each time a fork in the road came up. Compare notes at the end, those of us that made it to the clearing at the end of the path. Tell it all over a tumbler of smokey, single malt.”

  8. There is an obligatory Kipling on the subject. For the Julia Ecklar and Leslie Fish rendition, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pEwxguHUi_U

  9. been patching things with my little sister since moving back to VA, my older sister wants me to come visit… we’ll see.

  10. I’ve been extraordinarily lucky to be close to all my brothers most of our lives. Not so lucky to have lost two in the last five years. Overall though, I’d still count as being to the positive side of that exchange.

    • I was lucky in that I managed to make friends with my Parents when I was still in my teens. There was a patch when I wasn’t in close communication with them (I’d dropped out of College, was bumming around, and thought I’d disappointed them), but we reconnected early in my 20’s. I didn’t go through the ‘My Parents are square, they don’t understand anything’ period that so many people I know had to wade through. I miss them both, but they were old and both ready for The Nest Thing (in which they firmly believed. Probably believe).

      My Lady’s Family is another matter. Her mother has some wonderful characteristics, but is deeply narcissistic and has the mothering instincts of a brick. My Lady has a VERY cautious relationship with her, because they can share a love of gardening, or craft and art, but Phyllis will not be a Mother, and if My Lady lets herself expect it she will be hurt.

      Fortunately My Lady’s Step-Mother is a wonderful person. Not perfect, but if she were Catholic instead of Jewish there might well be a movement to have her sainted.

      *grin*

      Her sister grew into a friend gradually, which is great. As teens they could barely tolerate each-other.

      But the one that really hurts is her maternal grandmother. When My Lady was small Nana Rain was a nurturing presence. It was only later that it became clear that she was a toxic old biddy, every bit as narcissistic as her daughter, and far more ruthless about it. So My last has memories of a woman she loved, combined with a knowledge that that woman was attempting to pass along the family disfunction pattern and was an enabler for her even more toxic son (who was an abuser).

      Uncle Alexi (nee Bobby) was the first person I knew to die of AIDS. We didn’t, at the time, know he had been My Lady’s abuser, (she recovered those memories in later therapy, but they were entirely consistent with reality, and no drugs or hypnotism was involved. Not al recovered memories are bullshit) but we were well aware that this was a user, a thief, and generally scummy. He richly deserved AIDS. Hell, he richly deserved Ebola, except that then the family would have been exposed.

  11. I wasn’t very much at odds with my father through high school, but there were rough patches. When I went to college, my folks visited one weekend. Dad may not have been happy with me growing a beard and smoking a pipe, but he didn’t get angry. (Mild surprise at the time; Dad had anger issues…)

    Several weeks later, we were coming up on Dad’s day weekend. A high school acquaintance was going home for the weekend, and on a spur of the moment, I got a ride with him. Surprised my folks, and the scene of my folks cuddling while watching TV that evening stuck in my mind. Went back to campus with my Dad and a family friend. Had a good weekend, and started to bond with my father as an aspiring adult. We saw the football game (the Frightening Illini probably lost; it was a grand tradition when I was there), but the cold wind was fierce and our seats were right in the path.. We walked to a concert that evening, and I saw him take some of his nitroglycerine pills. Despite the pain, he seemed to have a good time.

    That Wednesday night, he went bowling with the workplace league. He told Mom he wasn’t feeling good and slept in another bedroom. His third heart attack was his last.

    I could see our father-son relationship starting to go to another level, and I was rather angry at God for not giving me that chance. Over the years, I had occasions to talk to Mom about him, and from what I could tell, he was a hell of a guy. Bad temper, but willing and able to do the right thing. I’ll take that.

    • It is a shame that you lost him just as things were starting to take a turn for the better. But at the same time, it’s good that your last memories of him are positive ones.

  12. I have a character in my books. She’s 10,000 years old. The reason she’s there is to remind me of what’s important in life.

    What does this lady care about in life? Money, property, a country, a religion? She’s seen them come and go. What does she want?

    She wants someone to love her.

    • Continuing on, because Real Life interrupted my Internetting:

      She wants someone to love her. But they die. And to her, it doesn’t take long.
      What is 100 years to a 10,000 year old? A lazy weekend.

      So, to her, the people in her life are the most important thing. All the things we think matter, the stuff we write off family members over, she doesn’t care. It isn’t important. She holds nothing back. She gives it all, for as long as they live.

      Now, along with that comes the knowledge that other people choose things too. Sometimes they choose badly. She holds the olive branch and waits for them to take it.

      So, whenever the defecation hits the rotating blades, I wonder what that lady would do.

  13. There was some dark times that passed between my older brother and I. He did some things that caused me harm. Years later he realized what harm had been done and came to me as an adult and apologized, asked if I could forgive him. I did, not just because my faith obliges, but once we had been good friends. No matter what had happened, he was my brother and I loved him, and I still had problems seeing the flaws. I am happy to say that years before he left this world we had once again become the friends we had been as children.

  14. Kintsugi…there was an interesting post on this concept, which apparently means something like means something like ‘the art of the golden repair’ by manufacturing consultant Bill Waddell:

    “Not only does the kid (or husband) who breaks mom’s favorite dish try to fix it in a manner that makes the break impossible to find before she finds out, but we run factories by the same thinking. When there is a problem we do whatever we can to fix it – make up for the damage done as quickly as possible so that when and if the problem becomes known to the boss we can tell him it’s been taken care of with no harm done. We do that, of course, because both moms and bosses have a reputation for raining their wrath down upon the person responsible for the break.”

    Seems to me the basic concept is that when fixing something that has broken or gone wrong, you need to start with what now exists and what is best from that point, rather than necessarily resetting things to their original condition.

    http://www.bill-waddell.com/blog/99-embrace-the-breakdown

  15. Haven’t spoken to or heard from my brother or sister in over a decade. Won’t bother with details, but no great loss. Every so often I do a google search to see if they died yet.

    I will mention I’m Facebook friends with my step-brother and step-sister. Who both contacted me. Unlike my siblings, I don’t blame them for my parent’s divorce at all. Takes two to tango- and it was the adults.

  16. I had to cut both of my sisters out of my life permanently. I see a therapist for depression every few weeks; I’m much better than I was when I was at my worst. I’ve come to see that their behaviour towards me constituted emotional abuse and that they’ll never change. My therapist says that there are times when your emotional well being has to come first, and if the people who hurt you don’t change, you don’t have to have them in your life.