But now I’m all smiles
The good little shots must be winning
Yes, they crank my dial
My motor is stalled but my wheels are still spinning….
All my friends live on the floor
Tiny legs and tiny eyes
They’re free to crawl under the door
And, and someday soon so will I
–Alice Cooper ~ Wind up toy
Our path takes us through many perils, many rapids in the river. The thrill of adventure lies in the risk, yet the waters are treacherous. The rocks we bounce past on our way down are sharp and do not leave us unscathed. Jagged, ripped pieces torn from us as we race past on currents we didn’t comprehend when we entered the alluring shallows.
Where once we had a level of bounce, of resilience, sometimes too many traumas together lay us low. Unexpected blows stop the story from being one where our heroine cries ‘plot twist’ and merrily engages with her new, unimagined adventure, into the seeming flurry of fists to the face from every direction she turns. We try to cling on to whatever we have left, use it as a solace and shield, then watch these last remnants of life and love shatter under the sudden strain.
Abandoned, alone, lost. Damaged, dysfunctional, broken. Shattered dreams, hearts, minds. Walking wounded. Disoriented, spun about. Seeking direction.
There is a saying: no one here gets out alive.
It is, one imagines, intended to instil a carpe diem, time is limited, life-affirming spin to whatever situation it might be applied to. Yet it has a darker side.
We all take damage. Life gives us damage. Love, loss, endless grief. Nightmares or sleepless nights. Vengeance or apathy.
A little pot of purity, of joy, potential. Gradually spilled or smashed and stolen. Left empty, ruined. Sharp shards of anger and ugliness where once smooth, trusting and perfect, our skins lay seamless. The flawless beauty of youth is lost from more than our outer layers.
We look in the mirror after our world is shaken. We see a cracked, broken thing stare back. Unrecognisable. Lost. Altered. Unfixable.
Maybe not. Maybe we are in need of rescue- teetering but not quite fallen. A cry for help, a faint with handkerchief. A surrender of control when all has gone so terribly wrong. The call for a warm arm, placed protectively around us. A brotherly rescue. A soft, soothing male voice to guide us when we are lost. To listen when we are down. To be the friend, the protector, the understanding replacement for the ear we could never again obtain from the one who broke us. The hero who will listen, lift us up from tragedy, make it right.
No, no, my fallen angels. Fairy tales were not written to uplift you, but to keep you down and waiting. Your search for a white knight will never save you, and here is why:
Your cry for help will only attract the other broken souls, looking for a way to make sense of their own pain. They cannot fix you. They can only sit with you and keep you in an endlessly broken, lamenting state. The crab bucket of grief.
The protective attentions and explanations of other friendly suitors will never substitute for the person who is gone. It will only keep alive the dysfunctional, poisonous memories you endlessly relive, trapped in the dark prison dimensions of your mind.
The piteous, calling bird with a broken wing will not only bring help- it will bring predators. So, so many. They may come wearing the faces of wolves, they may come in the guise of support. But they will take whatever they want from you and leave you nothing in return. So hush your calling, my damaged darlings. Hush your calling, and silence your surprise when the predators fail to pull you safely from the pit. They have not come to rescue you. They have come to snatch an easy bite.
When we wait in darkness, broken and afraid, we don’t scrutinise that which comes our way with the care that we would while we dwell in greener pastures. Surely every shadow is our rescuer? Every slight movement, however small, signifies the arrival of our hero who will lift us from the tar pit we’ve fallen into? Our desperation is to return, to be mended, to be back on the path we staggered from due the unexpected push from someone we trusted?
‘Abandon all hope, ye who enter here’
Nobody is going to save you, my darlings. Nobody can. They all stagger lost, following mirages and myths, playing roles that were thrust upon them, or that feel easy to wear. We all seek to make sense of tragedy.
There is no white knight on the horizon. Not for long. Of the few genuine rescuers that walk the world, there is this much to be said of them: they may appear in a gleam of brightness at the very darkest moment, but they will rapidly hear the call of the next damsel in distress over your own. It is simply their nature. There is no happy ending to be had here.
There is no going back. You cannot unbreak a heart. You cannot erase a memory. You cannot unfracture a mind. The journey of your soul moves on whether you were ready or not.
Seeing the reflection of your altered, broken self, day after day, unfixed and un-rescued, waiting to be repaired and made whole by your wrong-doer or their replacement; the one who would have validated your grief and perspective, simply sets the vision in stone. A glass coffin. A wilted flower, unchanging yet ever destroyed. The broken doll.
The frightening, altered and terrifying version of yourself that you never wanted to be. Pitiful, hateful, dangerous. Helpless, small, needy. The victim. The angry princess. The shattered and discarded plaything, come to haunt the living. For vengeance. For justice. For peace. For attention. For the need to be saved from that which you have been forced to become.
How long will you haunt the survivors, trying to pull them into your world of pain? How can anyone ever be strong enough to save you, to repair you and make you new again?
The Japanese art of kintsugi fixes broken plates. Not by mending them seamlessly, but by highlighting the cracks, filling them with gold. The plate functions as a whole again. Not as walking wounded, and not as an unblemished canvas. As a thing which has been broken and made beautiful because of it. There is no one who holds the gold and skill to do this with you but yourself.
The damage you feel has been done to you is simply the cracking of your cocoon. Never lament your untarnished, untested former self. Without these stressors, the cracks you needed to escape would never have formed. Stagger from the blows, lost momentarily in a bright alien world not of your choosing, and then examine your new self. Slowly, unfurl your soft, wet wings. Feel them ripple in the wind. Unfamiliar to you, yet now firmly a part of you. Open them wide, feeling the new currents or sweet air flow past; ever there, unnoticed before. Feel how you have changed, your new form in the world. Your new shape. Breathe in, leap outward, and take flight.
Show your colours and be the vision who inspires the other broken dolls, climbing bewildered from their own shattered cocoons, awaiting a hero.
We are all broken; that’s how the light gets in
All happens as it must, my baby ducklings. Let go of your broken shell and look at your beautiful new wings. The world awaits the shadow of your magnificent new form cast upon them.