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  • Writer's picturecoralrivera

Embracing Damage

“Translated to “golden joinery,” Kintsugi (or Kintsukuroi, which means “golden repair”) is the centuries-old Japanese art of fixing broken pottery with a special lacquer dusted with powdered gold, silver, or platinum. Beautiful seams of gold glint in the cracks of ceramic ware, giving a unique appearance to the piece.

This repair method celebrates each artifact’s unique history by emphasizing its fractures and breaks instead of hiding or disguising them. Kintsugi often makes the repaired piece even more beautiful than the original, revitalizing it with new life.” - source


I want it to not hurt so much.

A mirror seems like a simple, ordinary, everyday thing. The glass, when not peppered with dust, makes everything clear and definitive, like the untouched surface of glacier water.

But its surface, and everything it shows me, weighs all of my thoughts down like hardening concrete. It pinpoints all of my scars and stretch marks, bringing them to life as snakes and vines, choking all of the stories behind them -

The ongoing years of fighting anxiety, depression, impulse disorder, and body dysmorphia which I have not lost, despite the hurt of the fight.

The reminder that I grew and birthed another human life. The blessing of having food and sustenance to begin with, when others are not so lucky.

The battles, while few, which I have won, my skin reminding me in wrinkled lines.

I have not forgotten or forsaken these things. I am grateful for how they have shaped me emotionally and mentally. Physically speaking, it’s another burdensome beast. For now, I know only this -

I am the heaviest I have ever been in my life. I know this in the silence of my family and peers, despite my ongoing efforts to look presentable to the world. I know this in the amount of space I take in the glass, in the seams I’ve stretched and ripped. There are days when I don’t want to leave the comfort of my bed, but the nightmares make me feel as if the sheets are there to swallow me whole. There are days of wearing heavy sweaters two sizes too large and long sleeved shirts and pants in the bleak of summer in order to feel small, my body not worthy of meeting sunshine. I cringe at every photo, seeing a monster instead of a human being. I want to fade away from the photograph as if I’ve changed time.

My eyes gravitate to every bump and roundness, sneering with disgust; as if our bodies should be made of nothing but sharp points and flat surfaces. But we are not paper. We cannot simply dissolve or crumple with the slightest touch. We are not just lines and corners, we are circles too.

The mirror does not know this. It ridicules me with its two-dimensional portrayal. It is a foe I have to fight every day. It tells me I am unworthy of many things.

This is life living with depression and BDD. Reflections become monsters and negative thoughts are parasites, overpowering your own voice with overlapping whispers of doubt.

“You are ugly. You are stupid. You are not good enough. No one cares about you. Your partner will leave you. Your friends will abandon you. You will amount to nothing. You are alone and always will be.”

And I am tired, so very tired.

Some days, my tears wash away the hourglass sand building up in my throat, others they just congeal together to keep me silent.

No more.

I am sharing this for two reasons - to be held accountable for the change I am implementing, and because I know I am not alone.

My perception is only a fragment of the entire reflection. I need to stop seeing imperfections as constricting ropes but instead as wayward rivers and lunar marias, war medals instead of battle scars - things to take pride in instead of covering with cosmetics or thick fabric. All of this takes work; the physical change is only a small part. Reshaping my mind to see a new image is the hardest part of all.

While I reshape, I choose to embrace the damage. I still want my scars and marks because they tell the stories of who I am. Instead of hiding them, I want to texture them in gold and goodness. I want to accept myself more than I want others to accept me. I want to know what self-love feels like, instead of hurt.

So for you, dear reader, I offer you this:

My support. To those who feel this same darkness, who wake up wanting to feel that small bit of beauty in the world again, you have my hand, my shoulder, my voice to help you keep going.

Resources. Some things I’ve utilized which have helped so far: * Shine App -

Used for daily self-care, meditation, and affirmations. This is a great app with informative articles and one of the very, very few apps which I actually pay for (it’s free, but you can pay a small monthly fee for the premium content. Worth every penny).

Fabulous & Wysa (AI daily check in buddy) are both great as well

* Write it down -

My biggest flaw is commitment to an exercise/diet/self-care plan. If I have a planner or keep a notebook, put post-it notes or torn pages on my mirror to visibly remind me of what I need to do, I’m less likely to stray from those plans.

* Cut out the toxic -

Listen to me carefully. Life it too short to keep negative people around. If there is someone in your life who is always on the downside - whether it’s negative speech, passive aggressive notes, abandonment, or complete dismissal or redirection of your feelings - cut them out. Defriend. Block. Mark out. It will hurt for awhile, and make no mistake, you will look back on it occasionally wondering if it was the right decision, but it will be worth not having to deal with unnecessary drama. True friends will let you speak but most importantly, they will listen. Keep around only those who truly love you for you, no matter what shape you hold.

* Keep positive images -

Don’t focus on things that you want to be; instead keep photos of people and items that make you happy and who have made you who you are.

* Feel good music -

It is easy and cathartic to retreat in melancholic music. There’s nothing wrong with that. When you’ve wiped it all away, make (and keep) a playlist of songs that put a smile on your face. Come back to this whenever you need the smallest boost.

And finally, and most important tip of it all -

There is no weakness in crying. Whether it’s a moment, or a day, or longer, it’s your body expelling all of those things that tell you you are not worthy. Listen to it. Wipe it away and start anew. Embrace the damage and fill the cracks with something that makes you shine, because despite what you see in the mirror, happiness can exist in all of the imperfections.

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