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How I Learned to Treasure the Broken Porcelain of My Mental Health

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Sometimes, you will want to climb a mountain just to let yourself fall from its very top. Sometimes, you will try your best only to find out you didn’t even like what you were doing in the first place. Sometimes, you will end up in the middle of a deserted row asking yourself why is it that no one is there to help you out. And right there, in the middle of chaos, loneliness and struggles, is where you’ll find yourself.

I found myself in the darkest moment of my life, where I found out that all the pretty things I had hoarded inside myself for years didn’t belong to me anymore. They belonged to him, and he didn’t care about them. He didn’t know how to water my flowers and I, too, had long forgotten how to do it.

So I started again. I started again because I had no other option. There was no choice to be made: I had to learn how to nurture myself, and that was it. There was no other way for me. No “waiting for the right one;” no “one day, maybe…” and no, “what if I just stay here?” I picked my shattered pieces up from the ground one by one, and it took time to gather them all. Some days they were harder to find, scattered as they were. Some days I picked one up and the sharp edges hurt my hands and I had to take some time off to heal these new wounds. Some days I picked two in a row, other days three fell from my embrace. But no matter what, wounded and shaken, I kept on going.

And one day, my hands were full of the broken pieces of the porcelain doll I used to be. Ecstatic, I took them all to my personal workshop to glue them together, only to find out that the cracks were impossible to hide. They shone brightly for everyone else’s eyes to see, and I was scared that the doll was less beautiful because of this. I tried it all to conceal the cracks, putting more glue on top of them, painting them, filing them, but nothing worked. They were still there, if not more noticeable than before.

I don’t remember the point in which I decided I was too tired to keep on hiding. I just let them be, out of the dreading feeling that I couldn’t do anything else. I had failed to conceal my cracks, and no one would ever let me forget that. But sooner than later I’d learn a valuable lesson when I decided to show people this wonderful doll that had withstood hurricanes and suns, earthquakes and tsunamis, rain and fire. I was proud of her no matter what, because it still existed, I could still carry her in my hands and it still held in one piece, even if it was a compilation of several other pieces glued together.

To my great surprise, what people talked about when I showed them my recovered porcelain doll was not how cracked up she looked, or how beautiful she used to be and wasn’t anymore, or what a stupid doll she had been for letting people mistreat her to the point of breaking her to pieces. They saw what I was not yet ready to see: that my doll and the work I had put into it were more beautiful than the ones on magazines and media, the ones that looked “whole.” They asked me how I had managed to find all the broken pieces and put them together again, amazed at the craftsmanship of my hands. They wanted to congratulate me and the doll for our journey, for our acquired wisdom, for our faith of life. They begged me to give them advice on how to fix cracks on their own, with the tools each of them had at home… and I was shocked. They, too, had dolls filled with cracks? So it was my turn to ask them for something: I asked to see their dolls. Each of them, one by one, showed me the dolls they carried behind their backs. Some of them had blank spaces of pieces still missing, others had as many cracks as mine, others had even more. Others were just a pile of shattered porcelain, waiting.

Tears filled my eyes as I hugged my little doll so tightly against my chest that I thought one of us was ought to break once again, but we didn’t. We were stronger than we both thought. I looked at her, at her tiny hands and petite frame, long lashes and pink cheeks, short fringe and pouty lips. We were more than alike, we were the same, and the cracks that showed upon her body were war veteran scars she was wearing proudly, life tattoos she’d treasure forever. And since that day, I learned how to treasure them, too.

Getty Images photo via Spoorloos

Originally published: March 6, 2018
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