A bit for someone here.
A bit there.
And sometimes they don’t add up to anything whole.
But you are so busy dancing.
You don’t have time to notice.
Or are afraid to notice.
And then one day you have to look.
And it’s true.
All of your pieces fill up other people’s holes.
But they don’t fill
~ Mary E. Pearson
I always thought he came into my life as the missing pieces of my jigsaw.
I had been working hard building my jigsaw, over many years.
All jigsaws take concentration and time. They take focus on all the little pieces and where they need to perfectly fit.
Sometimes you realise there are some missing pieces, or pieces that were previously there have now disappeared. So you search and search, trying to find these pieces, replace these pieces. Your puzzle is incomplete without them. It doesn’t look right or feel right. It just isn’t whole.
Jigsaw puzzles are so much like life.
He came into my life holding all these pieces. They were colourful and beautiful. They seemed to have the perfect texture and shape. All these pieces with their smooth edges and a vibrancy that drew me in. I wanted to touch them—hold them. They made me smile because I knew that they would fit just right to complete my puzzle. It was like he was sent to me so that my puzzle could finally be finished. It would be done. It would be whole. It would be a masterpiece after all.
He was so willing to hand me these pieces, eager even. I was in awe that he was so excited, even anxious to hand them to me. He was nervous I may not want them. Worried that my puzzle was complete without his pieces. But he needn’t have bothered with the worry because from the moment he offered them, I wanted nothing more.
These pieces from him, of him, captivated me. They engulfed me in a cloud of love, happiness, desire, passion. Had I ever felt this full before, this alive? These pieces made me feel enough.
Until they didn’t.
Those pieces were incredible and they did fit just right. But I soon discovered other pieces. They had rough edges, some with sharp angles. These pieces had lost their colour; they were darker. Sometimes they cut or bruised me with their harshness. Other times, he would give me the beautiful pieces that fit in my puzzle but quickly take them away and replace them with the uglier pieces, the ones that no matter how hard I tried to smooth, warm, in the hope they would change into those other pieces, it didn’t work.
Then he would offer more pieces. And I would want to see them, know them, and fit them together.
All the while, I was so busy thinking I needed to take these precious pieces to complete my jigsaw that I didn’t notice the pieces disappearing. My jigsaw was losing pieces faster than they were being replaced. I sat there one day surveying my puzzle, perplexed at what had happened to it. This puzzle I had spent years on, and painstakingly tried to complete, seemed to be missing chunks. Where had they gone? Why did my puzzle seem so complete and now so messy? A little broken even.
The realisation of what was happening was brutally stark and not without a painful awareness that I had just learnt an agonising lesson. Several in fact.
I had slowly given so many of my pieces to him. The piece that allowed him to climb over, go around, and dive under any boundary that I had. The piece that encouraged him to take me for granted. The piece that told him his needs were more important than mine. The piece that said, “I’ll be your punching bag,” so you can project all onto me. The piece that gave him permission to justify his control and jealousy as loving me more. But most importantly, that piece that he hangs onto, never fully letting go.
But I didn’t just give him these pieces, I lost pieces along the way. They didn’t just disappear—I gave them up. It was a despairingly honest epiphany when I understood what I had done.
As I tried to reconstruct my jigsaw, I was overwhelmed that I could have so easily given these pieces away. At what price?
At some point upon receiving the beautiful and ugly pieces of him, and giving him my precious pieces, I also gave away a piece of my self-respect, a piece of my dignity, a piece of my worth, a piece of my courage, a piece of faith in myself, a piece of trust in myself. I gave away a part of my soul.
I was trying to count the cost of the loss of these pieces when it struck me: it’s not about the cost. It was never about the cost or those damn pieces. It was about what those pieces represent. It was about what those pieces have taught me and are still teaching me. It’s about the blessings within those pieces. It’s about the pieces of him that for a moment completed my jigsaw. They made my puzzle whole. It was stunning in its beauty. And just because those other jagged and messy pieces appeared, it didn’t take those other pieces away. Those pieces he offered in the beginning were the gift. All those pieces taught me what I want, what I don’t want, how to heal, how to grow, how to find my wings and who I am.
It was never his responsibility to complete my jigsaw. It was never his job to give me the perfectly fitting pieces. It was my responsibility to complete my own jigsaw and to find my own pieces. How did I not know this? Because I’ve been building that damn jigsaw puzzle in the only way I knew how—the way I had been taught, the way I learnt to as a child, the way I believed I was supposed to.
Those pieces of him—they made me find another way. They built my jigsaw and then they broke it, and I needed to learn a new way, a better way to put it back together.
All these pieces I was trying so hard to hang onto so I could create the most exquisite puzzle were not all mine to keep. They were not mine to use in my puzzle. They were shown to me as a guide to finally teach me how to make my puzzle whole with my very own pieces. They were a reminder that not all the pieces have to be perfect, in fact, there should be imperfection. And that perhaps the puzzle won’t always have every piece, and that’s okay because when we understand ourselves, we know how to find those pieces within us.
Those pieces of him taught me about the pieces of me. Those pieces of him allowed me to put my pieces back differently. I will cherish those pieces he gave me, as even though I’ve returned them to him, they live inside of me, reminding me I have everything I need to complete my own jigsaw puzzle.
And for a moment he gave that to me.
Pieces of him.