How Kintsugi Helped Me Overcome Childhood Abuse

Putting the years of abuse into words is not an easy task. For me, it means reliving all aspects of my life that were most horrific. To some extent, it means having to accept the neglect I suffered at my own mother’s hands. It requires that I face the fact that my mother denied everything that was happening under her eyes. It is not an easy feat to accomplish. Yet this is what Kintsugi teaches.

An ancient Japanese art, Kintsugi uses gold and resin to reconstruct broken pottery and create something new. Rather than just discarding the broken pieces, they are reassembled with new and perhaps an even better function. Nowhere is this concept more applicable than in the reality of tragedies in human life. It promotes the idea of reaching deep within oneself to find the strength to transform and change what a dark shadow was. It shows how to remold gruesome sadness into a window full of brightness and hope.

At the tender age of five, the one person who I should have been able to run to for safety became my tormentor. My stepfather started to abuse me at the tender age of five sexually. The first attack came on the night of my mother’s bridal shower. My nightmare continued for the next twelve years. My mother refused to acknowledge the physical evidence, the bruises she saw as a matter of routine throughout this time. The worst part, when she found me naked in his bed at the age of 9, it was I who got a scolding! Tenderness or essential adult responsibilities like taking me to the dentist or ensuring that I had personal hygiene items like a toothbrush were a foreign concept to my mother.

My parents are well known in our town. It was the type of place where everyone knew everyone else’s business. If someone in our town sneezed, the whole town discussed it. Yet everyone turned a blind eye to the filth that encompassed my whole body. 

There wasn’t a single person I could confide in and no safe place to run to.        

My ordeal continued throughout the 1980s. While society was becoming more open and talkative, no one dared challenge the monster that was my stepfather. Each night I lay in fear and hoped against all odds that he would not find his way into my room. I particularly remember one night, when in an attempt to avert the molestation, I wore my brother’s pajamas and pretended to be him. I endured two hours of beatings for that little antic! Over time I became accustomed to the violence. It took me down of path of more than twenty years of domestic violence. Each relationship was just another opportunity for someone to use me as a punching bag. 

I never needed to come across Kintsugi, nor was I aware of any such philosophy. That is until, through the recommendations of some acquaintances, I learned about it. 

In one of the initial lessons, all attendees were asked to take a bowl and break it. Horrified at the thought of just picking up a perfect piece and breaking it, it did not make any sense to me. However, as time passed, the pieces came together, and I saw the light at the end of the tunnel. That class made a significant impression on me. It started my healing process. 

The Kintsugi Philosophy: 

Kintsugi is a Japanese art of fixing broken ceramics by patching the breakage with gold. Wabi-sabi is an ancient Japanese philosophy with roots in Zen Buddhism. It is more specifically linked with the tea ceremony. In this ritual, the uneven and haphazardly shaped tea bowls were highly valued by the masters.  

This age-old philosophical concept underscores imperfections rather than trying to eradicate them. It teaches humanity to be optimistic, even when everything goes south, and to embrace the flaws and injustices in life. The philosophy states with patience and tolerance, we can learn to see the aberrant beauty in an imperfect life.

My Revival with Kintsugi:

Kintsugi did wonders for my life; it taught me to remain calm and dig deep into my strength. It taught me to accept what I cannot change and view the events in my life differently. Over time it allowed me to gain my confidence again. Initially, when I started making my Kintsugi pieces, the art released my stress and increased my hope. I felt pride in making something excellent for myself, regardless of whether anyone else saw it or not. I was not sharing my craft with anyone. 

Eventually, I acquired that degree of wellbeing where I was able to communicate my actual sentiments. As time passed, I opened up to show some of what I made. When individuals saw my bowls, vases, and dishes, they remarked how dazzling my pieces were. It made me immensely happy. The ability to create something worthy of praise went a long way in regaining my confidence and self-worth. Finally, I reached the point where I was confident enough to educate others about Kintsugi.

I always try to convince others that the force of exploring your life is within you. You can broaden your horizons by getting advice from counselors. Gather information, motivation, and mindfulness, but it is your life at the end of the day, and you will be living with the results of the moves you make.

person doing handcrafts

How Kintsugi Helped me Overcome My Addiction to Alcohol & Drugs

To say that my childhood was normal would be an exaggeration in the extreme. I grew up in a household where male visitors, weed and loud argument between my parents was the “norm.” The unwanted attention and caress by my parent’s visitors was something I loathed. I learned how to serve a Coke and rum before I learned how to read. Even at that age, I am confident I was the only dependable individual living within the four walls of our humble abode.
There was no nice little routine of dinner time, homework time, or bedtime. My early years were spent not knowing what to expect next. Everything was always last minute and random. Perhaps that is the root of the anxiety and nervousness I have to deal with even today. To escape my parents’ excessively loud arguments, I would hide under my blanket and absorb myself in music.

My grandmother was the one constant in my life, that is, as long as she lived. She is the one individual who cheered me up and offered words of comfort. It was she who comforted me when I got beaten so severely that I needed stitches. It was she who tried to intervene on my behalf and tried to talk sense into my parents. Unfortunately, they paid no attention. Things took a turn for the worse when my baby brother passed unexpectedly. My mother was beyond consolation. So deep was her grief that she retracted from the family only to spend most of her time sobbing. Heaven forbid, if I tried to approach or hug her, she would shove me away or throw things at me.

Ultimately my parents separated, and I was shipped to live with my father and his new wife. I was always made to feel like an unwelcome guest at their house. Certain areas of the house were off-limits to me. I was made to feel as if the necessities I was given were not good enough for the likes of me. Once again, I fell into my old coping mechanism of trying to block everything out. I shut myself in my room with music as my companion. My first taste of alcohol was at the age of fifteen. The calming, warm feeling gave me the confidence to go from a shy, reserved individual to someone confident and self-assured. The single drink turned into a weekly thing with friends, of whom I had many now, and drugs were just a step away. Beyond feeling good, drugs and alcohol now became an escape mechanism. These circumstances led to me being evicted from my father’s house.

With nowhere to go, I moved in with my boyfriend, who was in his early twenties, a good four years my senior. Before reaching my twenties, I was left seeking shelter in a domestic abuse center with my son of nine months. Minor cosmetic surgery became necessary to treat the injuries due to abuse. A combination of Valium and Oxycodone is prescribed to help with insomnia, anxiety, and pain. My dependence on these drugs took hold quickly, and when the doctor refused to provide a prescription, I turned to a drug dealer. Since he couldn’t provide my drugs of choice, he promised something better. Being desperate, I took his offer of Xanax bars. The combination of Xanax and alcohol is dangerous and frequently fatal! I was in a very dark place, and my life was out of control. In my more sober moments, I felt disgusted and ashamed of myself. I saw my son slipping away from me. When under the influence, I was incapable of taking care of him. Eventually, the fear that I may lose him forced me to consider the direction my life was taking. I was not going to let my son suffer the way I did. I was determined not to repeat the mistakes of my parents.

After several unsuccessful attempts using different techniques to stay sober, I came across the concept of Kintsugi – a centuries-old Japanese practice of mending broken pottery using epoxy blended with silver, gold, or platinum. However, the ideology it imparts is that your shattered spaces make you more challenging and improve you. It teaches you to accept the cracks life has endowed you with and come out with an improved and better version of yourself.
The practice of Kintsugi emphasizes rebuilding rather than throwing something away because it is broken. A broken bowl is still an assortment of the bowl. Mending it with a mixture of metals, glue, and liquor enhances its beauty and adds more substance. Its essence is not lost; it is still a bowl. Out of every weakness comes new strength.

It took me many years to realize that since I was so focused on my next drink or fix, I had fallen between the cracks in my life. That did not mean I was no longer me, something useless, something to be discarded. While that is how I felt, I was still a part of this world. Practicing the Kintsugi way of life was a slow, painstaking process. It started with a lot of self-control and examinations of the inner self. At the start, I could only stay sober for days at a time. However, as I become more proficient at using the coping tools, I could abstain totally without missing it. Kintsugi saved my life and helped me to give my son a better one.

woman holding paint brush

The Art of Kintsugi: Learning the Japanese Craft of Beautiful Repair

By: Alexandra Kitty

Suppose you are not looking to grab the idea of Kintsugi merely but are more interested in learning the technique. In that case, you should get this book by journalist Kitty.

Kitty would walk you through the step-by-step process of Kintsugi and help you learn the use of the technique on ceramics, jewelry, and sculpture. She would also guide you through painting the noticeable gold lines on cracked surfaces of the objects so they can glow and present as visually appealing. In addition, Kitty pours in some thoughtful suggestions to use the technique on different things that will undoubtedly appeal to many crafters. Besides, She also seems to highlight the rational underpinnings of the Japanese craft to deliver its long-forgotten message.

The Kintsugi Kid

By: Allison Mathis Jones’

Kintsugi is a crafting idea that no one would understand overnight. It takes time and patience to repair broken things, giving hope of new life to the brokenness.

Allison Jones beautifully interprets the pearl story of re-discovery, which clatters due to the unusual habit of twirling everything. It explicitly introduces the Kintsugi technique with kids and young readers.

The author strives to teach youngsters about strength, confidence, self-love even after getting shattered. Allison aims to deliver the message of embracing and celebrating their wounds as they make them unique. In addition, this is the top-selling Kintsugi-inspired book for kids and our youth and grabbed attention worldwide.

Kintsugi The Art of Repairing with Gold

By: Chiara Lorenzetti

That is another top-selling Kintsugi-inspired book by a famous Chiara Lorenzetti. The writer breaks the book into two parts, and the entire story revolves around a Japanese shogun and his broken teacup.

In the book’s first half, the author introduces the repairing journey of the broken teacup inspired by the Kintsugi method. Furthermore, you will read many interesting things, including drawing with black ink to cover the messiness.

But, in the next half, the story takes a different route and explores the original wabi-sabi Japanese Kintsugi technique using the actual materials and sheds some light on its philosophical stance. It is an enjoyable 66 pages long book in the English language that will keep you occupied throughout the reading and inspire you to challenge yourself by giving life to the brokenness.

Kintsugi – A novel

By: Anukrti Upadhyay

Anukrti is a Mumbai-based writer, and Kintsugi is her third novel after securing hype in the previous two top-selling stories. It is an incredible book that highlights the Kintsugi craft and sheds light on the beauty of broken things. Also, the whole book is beautifully written, portraying the beauty of Japan and Jaipur.

Her story revolves around fascinating characters like Haruko and Leela. They belong to the goldsmith family but are forbidden to explore any crafts. Leela realizes her interest in the art and starts practicing Kintsugi methods until she becomes an artisan with the help of two cousins, Munnaji and Madanji. In addition, there are other interconnected stories of characters that puzzle over broken lines of love, freedom, bonds, and expectations in the novel.

The Japanese Art of Embracing the Imperfections and Loving your Flaws

By: Tomas Navarro

Kintsugi is a Japanese craft technique to mend broken ceramics with gold. But, this book focuses on its philosophical stance. The author reveals that sometimes it’s hard for us to embrace our failing and shattering when we lose our job, a loved one, or something we adore the most.

However, in the lights of the Japanese art of Kintsugi, this is where the beauty begins. His sensitive reflection on engaging with our wounds and shine through them to make a real difference in life makes the book worth reading.

Kintsugi – Finding Strength in Imperfection

By: Celine Santini

It is quite a self-help book that wouldn’t encourage you to practice the art form of Kintsugi. Instead, it directs the life journey of broken pottery, which cleanses, grooms, and heal by applying gold at cracks. It gives the idea that hope is a powerful thing, and Kintsugi has the power to mend the scars that would take the hope otherwise.

Furthermore, this 2019 Golden Nautilus book award winner becomes a therapy metaphor for people going through rough patches in their lives. This book offers generous help to heal, overcome wounds, and embrace scars to get back on the life track.