Hemingway wrote, “the world breaks everyone…”
I certainly felt broken after being arrested by the FBI and serving two years of federal prison.
With every ounce of my being, I believed,
“I’m undeserving of love, happiness, forgiveness, and peace. I destroyed love and will never be worthy of it again. I deserve a lifetime of punishment.”
The power of shame is undeniable; it envelops us with emptiness and unworthiness.
Shame lives and breeds in the dark; it’s an insidious disease that will eat us alive from the inside out if we hide it. Shame consumed me to the point of planning my suicide.
If we allow it, shame will break us.
There is an ancient Japanese art form called Kintsugi. When a piece of pottery is broken-it’s not thrown away, it’s carefully and meticulously put back together – piece by piece.
The artist uses a lacquer mixed with silver, gold, sometimes even platinum.
The reassembled piece is more beautiful than the original.
The reassembled piece doesn’t hide its cracks – It celebrates them – It puts them on display for all to see
As part of the human condition, we spend so much time hiding our cracks. Events from our past that can’t be anything other than what they are.
When we hide our cracks, we give birth to shame.
What if we adopted the mindset of the ancient art of Kintsugi?
What if, as we put ourselves back together and create the lives we want to create, we shine a light on our broken places?
Because something extraordinary happens when we shine a light on shame.
We take away its power.
When I published my book and delivered my TEDx, I went deep into the shame I was experiencing and my suicide ideation. I shined a light on the darkest part of me only to find it didn’t even cast a shadow.
I saw it for what it was:
Nothing more than an elaborately crafted machination of the mind.
Expressing the things I’m afraid to express has provided a freedom and expansion, unlike anything I’ve ever known.
I’m not proud of my crime or of the suffering I caused
But to deny it is to deny a piece of who I am.
When I was rebuilding and reinventing my life after prison, I asked myself,
“How will I ever be whole? How will I ever be enough if I deny a piece of what has made me, me?”
I know some of the most beautiful souls that I am grateful to call my friends – the world broke them too.
They share their cracks; they do not hide them – they’re poets, writers, coaches – they write poems and books so beautiful, so raw and vulnerable – when I read their work, I feel as though I am peeking behind the curtain, I catch a glimpse of their soul.
When we embrace our cracks, we practice acceptance.
And when we practice acceptance, we create the extraordinary.
There is a second half to the Hemingway quote,
“The world breaks everyone, and afterward, many are stronger at the broken places.”
Our cracks do not define us – they are what make us whole.