Loving your imperfections

Transforming yourself from the inside-out

Image: excerpted from my book Cement Fresco: The Art of Serendipity. Artwork: I AM HERE

Image: excerpted from my book Cement Fresco: The Art of Serendipity. Artwork: I AM HERE

"Centered and complete: These are not the conditions for creativity. Creative people ship remarkable work because they seek to complete something, to heal something, to change something for the better. To move from where they are now to a more centered, more complete place. You don't get creative once everything is okay. In fact, we are creative because everything isn't okay (yet)." — Seth Godin

 

Kintsukuroi is the Japanese art of repaired pottery. When a potter makes a bowl and it breaks, the bowl is repaired with gold. As a philosophy, kintsukuroi treats breakage and repair as part of the history of an object, rather than as a flaw requiring disguise. And here's the best part: the bowl is considered more beautiful for having been broken because the true life of the bowl began the moment it was dropped!

In other words, while you're different after breaking, you are now more beautiful!

Treat your scars as sacred because those cracks are, as Rumi wrote, the places where the light has entered you. Scars do not define you; they are merely markers of the path taken. They are what make you beautiful and unique.

Use the wounds to shape yourself. Accept the lesson and the scar, but let go of the emotional baggage.

"Let come what comes, let go what goes. See what remains." —Ramana Maharshi

 

Creation -- whether that be making an artwork, flower arrangement, a beautiful meal, or a photograph -- is an act of reaffirming life. If you allow it, creation can take you on a journey that is well beyond what you might have thought possible. And it might even show you that you are, indeed, already whole. The secret I've found is to let go. (Read that post here.)

It has taken me a few decades to arrive at the conclusion that I am already whole, thus perfect in all the glory of my flaws, quirks, and imperfections. All those wounds are what formed my path: the love from others that I had had and lost...and the pain of that rejection.

The thing is, you can't receive something from others if you can't give it to yourself. And I was seeking love and acceptance...and not finding it. Seeing and understanding that was a big breakthrough moment for me. Ah, the beauty of aging!

When I peeled back the layers and looked at the pain that had driven me to seek perfection for so many years, I found a belief that I wasn't "good enough". And who hasn't felt "not good enough" at some point or another? It feels awful!

I finally let go of that belief in January 2013.

I had reached my personal breaking point and didn't know how to move forward. So what did I do? I asked for divorce, even though I didn't want it. It wasn't a reflection upon him; it was a reflection upon me.

Armand loves me with every fiber of his being. He loves me unconditionally, flaws and all. And I know that to my core. The problem was...I couldn't receive all his love. Just didn't know how. Plus I was terrified to let all that love in because, deep down, I was afraid to live. (If you read the chapter about me in my book Breakout! you'll know what I'm talking about.)

I'm happy to tell you that we did not divorce. Armand loved me through the process of my breaking open. He treated me with nothing but compassion and love throughout my tirades, stone-cold silence, and all the times when I was acting like a wounded, wild animal because the emotional pain was so intense. It was hard for him to see me so tortured. That's how breaking open felt. Torturous. Because I fought it every step of the way.

I was like a lobster that has outgrown its shell. My shell had to crack and break open so I could break out...

This is the process of growth. You can fight it or not.

While I was lying on my side barely able to breathe for those six months, I finally faced the pain I'd stuffed deep down over the years that I hadn't wanted to feel. Facing the pain of loss and rejection was cathartic. Yes, there were days I could barely sit up, so intense was the emotional pain, but there were also moments of great clarity.

During those six months, girlfriends came to my rescue. Some gave me emotional support, others gave me refuge by allowing me to stay with them. They provided the shelter for this lobster to lie under as my new shell grew. I began to love myself. And to nurture myself. As my love for myself grew, there came a point when I could fully receive all of Armand's love, too. Not only did we reconcile, we have a brand new marriage!

What came out of this process of breaking open is LIVING An Artful Life.

Each issue reflects the stages of healing I went through: Reflection. Courage. Rebirth. New Life. Passion.

 

"Centered and complete: These are not the conditions for creativity. Creative people ship remarkable work because they seek to complete something, to heal something, to change something for the better. To move from where they are now to a more centered, more complete place. You don't get creative once everything is okay. In fact, we are creative because everything isn't okay (yet)." — Seth Godin

 

Recently, I found this from Brené Brown:

"As it turns out, shame is the birthplace of perfectionism. If we want to understand what drives the 'never good enough' feeling, we have to understand perfectionism. If we want to practice authenticity – a prerequisite for connection – we have to understand how perfectionism gets in our way. Until we start embracing our imperfections and vulnerabilities, we will struggle to engage with the world from a place of worthiness.”

Yeah, what she said.

The secret is to stop finding fault with ourselves and to see that there is no such thing as "wrong". Because if you're not "wrong", then you're "right". And if you're right, then it's easier to treat yourself with kindness and understanding, which leads to greater self-acceptance and self-compassion.

It really is that simple. The doing takes dedicated practice though. Commit to feeling good.

Accepting yourself can be hard if the people you surround yourself with are constantly criticizing you, shaming you, or asking you to change or be something other than who you are. It's much easier to accept love from those who accept and love you unconditionally. Here's the crux: you need to love yourself to be able to accept THEIR love.

Break away from the people who cut into you with shame, criticism, rejection.
Nurture yourself.
Learn to speak gently to yourself.
Seek and find others who treat you right and learn to accept their compliments.

The secret is to love yourself, first. When you love yourself unconditionally, scars and all, then you can give and receive unconditional love, too.

"The greatest gift that you can give to others is the gift of unconditional love and acceptance." - Brian Tracy