“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.” -Maya Angelou
In an instant, lickidy split; trauma changed me.
In a flash, I was broken-wide open, emptied, stripped.
Months later when I looked in the mirror I was confused. That is me? My loved ones seem to think so….
I’ve welcomed her. Acknowledged her. I’ve said to her, “Come sit with me, I feel your pain.” I’ve tried not to mend the brokenness and just be still.
There are many pieces of me that have been shattered. I’m gluing myself back together bit by bit.
When I think about the mechanism of my injury, I can’t narrow it down to that single incident. It’s cumulative, blow after blow, painful hit after painful hit, shock after shock. We cover up injuries with gauze thinking this saves ourselves from further suffering. But the pain resurfaces when you rip that bandage off. That hurts like hell because we don’t want to face what’s underneath, the wound might still be wide open or maybe it’s actually healing….either way, we’re still suffering.
It’s so clear to me now that we shortchange ourselves when we are not honest. Showing my true self helps me see that person in the mirror as more than the sum of my mistakes; to remember my beauty; to celebrate my wholeness; to repair my innocence; and to remind myself of my goodness and purpose.
The fact is that there is a level of discomfort and pain, a level of sensitivity, that perhaps we should not hide ourselves from. It is part of the human experience. It makes us who we are. What if we embrace it? Our pain gives us unique insight. The language of the heart is a universal language, an orientation of trust and love-for-no-reason. I’m caressing her.
The Japanese Zen Buddhist philosophy Wabi-sabi celebrates beauty; believing in its imperfections, impermanence, and incompleteness. I’m learning to prize this person staring back at me in the mirror.
What we see as less than perfect IS our beauty, those Wabi-sabi parts; the frayed edges and the lived experience they represent. It’s learning to embrace our imperfections and trust the process; the simple, slow, and messy process that is so hard. When we see cracks and crevices; I see all the beauty that life and love left behind; the frayed edges and the march of time they represent.
Wabi-sabi is the kind of quiet, undeclared beauty that blooms boldly once exposed. It sees my light and my strengths, and challenges me to let those “unconventional” aspects shine through. I still struggle with loving all of myself, recognizing that there are many integral parts to me, all essential to my wholeness. Wabi-sabi admires authenticity above everything else; and finds courage in vulnerability and being quintessentially real. Is that who this new person staring back at me is? My authentic self?
Or is she an African teacher telling me that “those who love you are not fooled by mistakes you have made or dark images you hold about yourself. They remember your beauty when you feel ugly; your wholeness when you are broken; your innocence when you feel guilty; and your purpose when you are confused.”
Or is she the Beloved Buddhist teacher Pema Chodron, gently reminding me that there is more room in a broken heart because “when you begin to touch your heart, or let your heart be touched, you begin to discover that it is bottomless.”
Each experience brings me closer to myself. Each search enables me to grow. I am learning to remove my protective caterpillar shell, spread my wings and fly like a beautiful, graceful butterfly.
Angela Farmer gives me hope that “like a tree you have to find your roots and then you can bend in the wind.” I was uprooted. And woke up to find myself on a beautiful quest.