Featured image by David Pike© (found here)
All my life I’ve seen the people around me profess that the undeniable truth about trust is that once it has been broken, it cannot be mended and has been irreversibly damaged forever. And it makes sense, in a way. When you let yourself fall, and the person you trusted to catch you doesn’t – and maybe wasn’t even looking in your direction or noticing that you were falling, -, the relationship (be it romantic, platonic, or familial) suffers a metaphorical but very real blunt force trauma.
It is as if a connective fiber in your heart is brutally severed, either all of a sudden without warning, or through small cuts that were delivered over time, through small lies, misunderstandings, refusals to listen, to understand, to be better.
When that connection of trust is severed, letting oneself fall again is very near to impossible. We’re scared. We don’t trust. We don’t have reasons to. We’ve been hurt, either by betrayal, lack of communication or appreciation, an unwillingness to understand and improve. We deny ourselves the possibility of going back to the way things were before. We’re not sure of anything. How can we ever let ourselves fall again when that person was just. not. there?
It is no wonder that it appears obvious to most people that breaking a bond of trust is much like breaking a glass or a ceramic bowl. Irreparable. But the thing is, the latter isn’t. Not necessarily. There are ways to mend broken things, without trying to erase the fact that they have been broken.
I fell in love with the concept of Kintsugi from the very first moment I learned what it was. It is “the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum.” It is most commonly known for the beautiful images of pieces of pottery with golden streaks, such as the one used at the top of this post, and as a philosophy, “it treats breakage and repair as part of the history of an object, rather than something to disguise”. And that’s where they get me.
Because it’s so true for people as well. Breakage, pain, sorrow and the path of recovery we tread on, all those things are in the history of us, and we should show the marks – be it physical or mental – with pride, because they are a part of us, and they are part of the fabric of who we became because (or in spite) of the adversities we’ve faced.
Recently, I’ve been thinking about this philosophy in broader terms; can we apply it, then, to things like broken trust? Wilted love? Is it possible to repair a severed bond of trust to the point where it becomes whole again, in spite of the marks of its breakage being visible? Can we even make them beautiful in their frailty, like rivers of gold spreading across porcelain?
As an empath (and therefore someone who always tries to consider both sides of a situation even when I’m in pain and hurt) and a bit of a fearful optimist myself, I’ve always liked to think that people are capable of a lot more than they thought they were when it comes to loving someone.
When I was younger I liked to think that as long as two people are crazy about each other, or love each other more than words can measure, anything was possible. They could get through everything and overcome all differences.
But life and love are not linear, and the heart is not a broken porcelain cup. Maybe some bonds are too shattered to salvage, and maybe some differences are too far apart to overcome. How does one even mend broken trust? (When, of course, we have reasons to believe it is worth taking the chance.)
The only answer seems to be promesses and blind faith. Cautious, perhaps, but blind nonetheless. You have to have faith that the other person will be better and try to make things right, that you will not let yourself willfully ignore again the things that broke the trust in the first place. It means you will have to learn to trust again, and to believe that with each small step of faith you give, a new particle of your severed bond will be regenerated and healed.
I’m still in the path of trying to understand whether I can do that myself.
I’m still trying to understand what is it that I absolutely need to maintain a relationship of any kind. What is it that I unconditionally require to be healthy and true to myself while sharing my life – or parts of it – with someone else. Things from physical affection and emotional intimacy, to the the ability to communicate honestly and the certainty of a safe space to express myself and be understood and respected, even with my often strange idiosyncrasies.
I’m trying to figure out which differences I can overcome for love, and which I can’t – at least not without sacrificing a vital part of who I am. I want the ones I love to be happy as much as I want to be happy myself but, sometimes, realizing that something doesn’t work and letting it go is the necessary step to allow that happiness to blossom in the future for both, even if apart.
I ‘m still learning. To love, to break, to pick up the pieces, and to understand which fractures I can repair and celebrate with golden love, and which ones I should simply allow myself to forget.