January 2020


There are so many ways in which to explain the feeling of being broken, it’s an empty place within a void and however hard we may try, it still feels as if that void can never be filled. In truth, it’s a factor of life that we all experience at some point within our lifetime, times in which we feel as if the bottom of our world has just fallen out. When we lose something we feel is irreplaceable or we are denied access to those that we love through control or bitterness of others. Life can be a rocky road and everyone has to walk that road in a forward fashion when there is no turning around, but that knowledge does not make that journey any easier and it’s a bitter pill to swallow. But for an adult child abuse survivor they have been endlessly living within that scenario and the bottom of their world? Well, it has been missing far longer than ever being present. As they precariously try to find a position of safety, without the complete collapse into that darkened pit below them. That road in which is so very familiar to them has been endlessly trodden upon in the struggle to survive life it’s self.

The word broken can seem as final, but in truth, there are many ways in which this is not the case. It’s a mental image which has been placed within our understanding that creates that finality. The reason for this is that if something looks as if it’s not salvageable it’s then discarded. There is no longer a place in which it can sit be that an object an emotion or life it’s self. But there is another mindset that is so very often overlooked in which a choice still exists, one in which the defects are accepted and those broken pieces are reassembled. Although it may alter the way something looks or feels it’s where our stance can be altered which doesn’t call for perfection. It’s a place where an adult child abuse survivor can pick up those broken pieces and start to rebuild that which was taken from them, it’s a place where those broken pieces can be embraced held and loved.

There is a Japanese art form called kintsugi which practises a method of repair to ceramics with a special lacquer of gold silver or platinum, the philosophy behind this is to recognise the history of the object and to visibly incorporate a repair. It’s where that no longer discarded piece although slightly altered is renewed, by using those broken fragments because without any doubt for the artist it’s beauty is still very much there. This art is never thought of by them as being a repair in their mind eye but an opportunity to create and to disguise is never the artist’s intention. This now crafted piece is very much seen as a transition to enhance its beauty, it’s where each broken fragment still has merit simply by embracing its past and history. The old is incorporated within the mix of the new because it still has true value nothing has been lost only rearranged, as each fragment combines and finds it centre adjusting to it’s a new position. Welcoming the application of the material in which is now being applied, by embracing the touch of the artist as his care flows throughout that different mind-set. The artistry of that master will not only be rejoiced but revered, he had started with little more than that cracked and discarded item, and in more severe cases just a jigsaw puzzle placed in front of him. Nevertheless, he was still able to see the full potential that others may miss, Why? The vision in front of him is viewed within the complete acceptance of what others may see as being flawed.

A child abuse recovering adult will very much recognise the above they will have spent years just trying to rehabilitate those pieces, although unlike the artist any reconstruction sought out has been an emotional mind field. It takes time to see those once shattered emotions as being able to fit and come together in the here and now, whilst suffering throughout their child abuse all trust had been taken from them. Those emotions have been scrambled and pulled so far apart that the task ahead is much the same as trying to defeat a Rubik cube. Life has taken so much from them to imagine that those emotions can be reunited will feel as if being a step too far, just where do they start to untangle this mess within the pain in which each emotion brings with it? It will feel somewhat like a rodeo from hell. It’s not quite as easy within emotions as within the art of kintsugi, that said, without taking anything away from the skill of the artist. The artist is assisted by a visual gaze with everything somewhat assembled before him to aid it’s enhanced reconstruction. The materials required are at hand although subjective thought is required to complete the task they are freely available and at hands reach. For a child abuse survivor that particular aid is impossible to give and that bronco in which they find themselves straddling will have never before been broken. Their only aid will need to be found within the strength of their imagination of a different life, and the strength of their conviction bounced against and co-shared with that child within.

For a child abuse recovering adult nothing is on view and the struggle to find those dismembered pieces? Well, they are working almost completely unassisted. Each piece they find will also bring immense pain and holding on to it will feel as if impossible, even before any thought is applied as to where each piece fit’s to enable that repair to begin. Each broken emotion which is unearthed will need to be held in place with immense clarity of thought if there is to be any real chance to succeed. Piece by piece will need to stay just where it’s placed within the search for another because letting go is not an option. The appreciation of their work and the dedication required to move forward is internal, they will never have the option of standing back to admire their work, unlike that artist. There will be no time to walk away and to contemplate the order of things once the construction has begun, and the overspill of emotions once in motion can arrive at an alarming rate.

When your soul has been consumed within such a dark place the search in which to regain that which was lost is indescribable, but without each piece being rediscovered, sadly, nothing will ever really seem to fit. The search for the whole can take many years in which to achieve, and the only hoped for or any possible assistance will need to come from that scared and terrified child within. To the outside world looking in this may be seen as if both cruel and without justice, but in truth, justice has avoided them for a lifetime. That sensation is so very familiar to them. Sadly, at the onset of this venture that territory they must enter alone but it’s also one in which fit’s very much like a glove. There is nothing fair or just within child abuse and the journey to recovery is no different, and yes aid can be placed where it’s possible to do so. But the real art in becoming that kintsugi master of their emotions and the child abuse suffered is ultimately through their own endeavours, the pieces may be available and sitting within but it’s far from an easy skill-set in which to graduate

If we reflect upon the art of kintsugi we are then able to adapt our way of thinking because broken doesn’t necessarily lead to the result of discarding, it merely means that by expanding our consciousness we can see that there is another way. Just by doing so an adult child abuse survivor can move towards recovery just as painstakingly as the kintsugi master of the art. The rebuilt of course is that of their emotions and not those of the ceramic, but with this mental adjustment, both are then seen as salvageable. With the added cosmetic difference altered by the artist, it enhances the beauty of the object whilst still holding on to it’s past, for that survivor that beauty will need to be found from within but be in no doubt all is possible. For a survivor that lacquer of gold silver or platinum becomes that of movement and the art form of that movement is just as magical if not more so.

There are so many ways in which the word broken has meaning, shattered damaged cracked or fragmented to state just a few even without my direction. It’s an understanding that simply doesn’t need direction from another. In contrast, surviving child abuse can never be directed by another in any real state of understanding because to understand child abuse in its entirety, will mean that it is personal and it has been held felt and lived through. It’s where sleep alludes you it’s where your soul has been locked away it’s where peace is never felt, it’s a place where that so often quoted verse of walking in another man’s shoes could have meaning? But in truth, it takes that quote to a completely different level. The shoe here was always intended to be bespoke a one-off which can’t ever be worn by another, every child who has suffered the horror of child abuse will have their own complexity. It’s unique to that individual and any template if it were to exist has to be within the wider understanding of the pain and suffering of child abuse as a whole. It will never be within its entirety to fully feel that survivors exposure to their abuse it’s just not possible to see their immense suffering whilst looking from the outside in.

Being broken for a child abuse surviving adult takes on a whole new meaning and goes so far beyond any thesaurus for reference of the word broken at our disposal. As much as they have learnt to live within the shadow of child abuse because it’s known to them, the fear of the journey they must take is catastrophically magnified through that knowledge. To stand at the entrance of fear without the light of guidance and still enter takes an abundance of immense strength, and to do so they have to be ready and able to study and to embrace that art. With a mindset that embraces that difference in which the art of kintsugi has adapted as being possible, it will then hale the acceptance of that different reassembled structure which in turn nurtures self-love. There is a beauty within the acceptance of one’s self and overly more self-love sits within the acceptance of that difference. For an adult child abuse survivor understanding the art of kintsugi lends all to that mindset in which is required, that master has always resided within to overcome that doubt when the trust to believe is tapped into. Those emotional if thought about broken pieces are still within although dislodged because it was a necessity at that time to retreat to a place of safety. Within a darkened recess of the mind, they may still cower within that choice to reunite until that art is seen and achieved, but that only gives testimony to the inner strength of holding on to each emotion whilst apart and that should never be forgotten.

Broken? I think not…….