You Can Still Drink From a Chipped Mug
Not everything is fixable ... and maybe that's okay
I made a mistake this week.
I sent out a post that had some extra writing at the bottom. And when I read it — there, published in my newsletter for paid subscribers — it hit me hard in the gut.
This was the passage I didn’t mean to share with the world (but I did):
When I was a kid there were many of us and not much money so you learned not to need things. Whatever you got had to be okay because that was all you were getting. And if you asked for more? You were marked as weak.
Learn to get along with less. Strong people don’t need.
Oh, the Yankee ways of New England could be brutal on little writer kids with thick glasses and big brains.
Okay, I’ll just learn not to need. And so I’ll learn not to want either.
And suddenly there she was for everyone to see: my little pig-tailed girl. The 7-year-old still inside of me.
Yup, that little girl. The one who needed and didn’t get.
The one who decided at an early age that it was easier to hide some things inside than to speak up and be picked on. It was back then that she started to bury feelings in notebooks, away from the world that hurt like a daily burn. Pick up the pen and put salve on the wound. Wait it out. Do the same thing again tomorrow.
That’s how she became a writer.
And maybe that’s how she stayed in the closet for 44 years.
But you know what? She survived. She did exactly what she needed to get by. And when she learned better, she did better. And that’s why she’s still typing, all these years later.
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So How Do You Get Rid of Your Baggage?
Maybe you don’t. Maybe not all of it. (I obviously haven’t.)
Because you never will really get over all the stuff that happened to you in this life. Even with time and therapy, it will still kinda be there. Like words at the bottom of a post that somehow make it through.
And maybe that’s okay.
We can still drink from a mug with a chipped handle … or play basketball with a repaired ACL. (I happen to do both of these things.) Like my man Bruce sings, “[Got a] steel rod in my leg but it walks me home.”
The Japanese art of kintsugi — repairing broken pottery with golden lacquer to not only create a bond but also make the piece more beautiful — comes to mind. I think it would be fabulous if we could all see the beauty in our brokenness.
Pick the Stories You Tell
So maybe a great skill is to learn to be okay with who you are, scars and all. Continue. Work on your stuff but let it become part of you. And then it’s just a story you tell.
A story YOU tell.
How you want to and when you want to. And a story that you don’t tell when you don’t care to. And maybe some stories should just go to the graveyard and stay there. Replace them with the story you want to tell.
Then, hug that little kid inside of you. Thank them. They got you this far.
And if you’re wondering about that awkward little girl in the First Communion dress? Life turned out okay for her. She speaks up now and asks for what she needs and for what she wants. And she hasn’t worn a dress in 16 years.