I recently rediscovered a memory from when I was two.
When my brother was born, he was damaged at birth. The doctors tried to pull him out and squashed his head with forceps, damaging his eyes. They then pushed him back in and did a C-section.
My brother was hard work for my mother, due to the damage, and she was exhausted. My father never helped. When she became pregnant with me, she wished for a perfect baby every night whilst I was in the womb. She was on bed rest for six weeks due to nearly losing me.
When I came out, I became that perfect baby.
I slept through the night from the first night. And my mom often said that she did not know she had me until I was a teenager.
When I was two years old in Queensland, Australia, I pushed her teapot down some stairs and broke it. I wanted to be seen, not perfect. I wanted to make noise, not try play small to help others. I wanted to be loved for being a complicated human.
My mom was angry when I broke it. Inside, I felt like I could never be anything but perfect, so her suffering—and the world’s—became my responsibility to fix, at least in my head. I thought that as long as I was perfect and didn’t make a fuss, then I would be seen as a good person.
All I wanted in that moment was for my mom to sit with me and teach me about Kintsugi, the Japanese art of putting broken pottery pieces back together with gold. It is built on the idea that by embracing flaws and imperfections, we can create an even stronger, more beautiful piece of art.
I wanted my mother to see me, to give me permission to feel and live as imperfect me. But what I was really chasing was me giving myself permission, me giving myself space to be triggered, to learn to heal, to be messy and take up space. I wanted to be loved, not for my masks, ease, and grace, but for my goofy, sad, happy, struggling human side too.
For my whole life I have been trying to make everyone else feel okay for being imperfect. I have been trying to give them the Kintsugi experience, but I realized I need to do this for little me too.
It never felt like anyone was really here for me, but now I see I need to be here for me. I am the love I’ve been craving and it’s okay to be me—even if that isn’t perfect.
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