Tuesday, July 14, 2015


If only you had known me before the accident
For with that grand collision came a grave consequence
Receptors overloaded, they burst and disconnect
'Till there is little feeling, please work with what is left

~Death Cab for Cutie: Ghosts of Beverly Drive

When my mother was 11 yrs old, she suffered an accident that resulted in her being burned in over 70% of her body. As legend goes, she went to refill a lighter, spilling some of the lighter fluid on her clothing and then tested it to make sure it worked. My grandfather found her engulfed in flames, covering her with his body to extinguish them. At 11 yrs old, she suffered physical pain most never will know, with the burns being so bad that she was given last rites as even the doctors believed she wouldn't survive.

Miraculously my mother did survive. But the scars from the trauma, both physical, psychological and emotional, have haunted her ever since. For the most part she has risen above this experience, going on to find love and build a family. Outwardly it has appeared to all that she conquered this trauma.

But I can tell you as her daughter, the demons from this experience remained. I won't begin to imagine I can speak for my mother as I don't live with these scars, but I will speak to being the child from one who survived something so traumatic. That even though my mother's physical scars were rarely at the forefront, how my own body issues were exacerbated by the pain caused by them. How the control she tried to maintain over everything being "normal" negatively impacted me, causing me to put great amounts of physical distance between us. How ultimately all of this lead to me cutting her out of my life as it was far less painful then living with the abuse and rejection from my diagnosis. How I'm still so angry at her for how she hurt me.

And how I'm also so sad. So incredibly sad because now, after surviving my own trauma complete with its own scars, I know things didn't have to be this way.

In the summer of 2012, before my final round of treatment and before a clear road ahead became apparent, I was faced with the reality that I needed to find a way to begin healing from infertility in order to save my sanity. Since learning about the existence of the Beats, there's been even more of an urgency as I've worried about repeating the cycle I learned from my mother's trauma; tainting their lives with the demons that haunt me. As painful as it was, I began looking at the shattered pieces of life and began the process of sorting and placing them back together. In some areas those pieces came together quite nicely, with only fine cracks visible, but in other areas the holes that existed needed to be filled.

The question was, how does one fill those holes? In most cases, what is promoted is filling them in a manner to mask the scars. Repair the damage so as not to highlight the trauma. But I knew from the beginning that this method wasn't for me. Hiding the scars seemed counter to what I had learned and what Grey and I had gained. Minimizing the damage from infertility and all the loss associated with it made it feel like we should be ashamed.

A few days ago, while browsing Pinterest, I came upon the following image, which made me catch my breath. Following the link, I began reading about a Japanese art form called Kintsukuroi. As I read about this art form for repairing broken pottery, I learned about the philosophy behind the practice: treating breakage and repair as part of the history of the object, rather than something to disguise.

Image from Wikipedia 

Kintsugi has recently been embraced by popular culture, with Seattle in particular being abuzz. The philosophy, though, is an ancient one where embracing flaws and imperfects is celebrated. Quite counter to what most in our society were educated to do. By highlighting the damage and wear, instead of hiding it, one is demonstrating the potency of the experience. The change that can come about. And the beauty of the scars.

Unknowingly, Grey and I have been embracing Kintsugi for the past 3 years. It's easily argued that we can do so because our journey ended the way it did, almost fairytale like. But the truth is, trying to heal the other way wasn't for either of us. Granted there are moments where the road to healing this way has been extremely rocky. I know I've stumbled and fallen a lot along the way, but I've been lucky to have so many mentors who've shared their own journey.

The journey towards healing isn't over. With new chips and cracks surfacing along the way. But I'm learning to do more than simply live with my scars; I'm learning to marvel at their beauty.


  1. Wow I love this post and I love how you are not trying to brush infertility under the rug for the Beats. I was thinking about this lately as most of our friends and family don't know that we are infertile....but when my daughter gets older I would like to talk to her about what we went through to have her and how much she was wanted.

  2. I love this so much. Infertility will always be a small part of our family given that Q will have to know about the DE part of his history, but I hope he sees the beauty in it too. Plus that pottery is gorgeous!

  3. Wow, your posts are always so eloquent. Andino and I have always been really open about infertility because all those experiences really had a profound effect on us. Trying to hide them just didn't feel right for us.

    I am sorry for everything you've been through with your Mom, that must be so hard.

  4. I really like the pottery as a metaphor for how you live your life. I believe that every story deserves to be told. People should not be hidden nor their lives. So this feels right to me on a fundamental level. It is a great gift to children when parents are honest with them about what they value and why they live their lives as they do, instead of trying to promote "normal" which is a slippery concept at best.

  5. I live this, especially that last paragraph. Chills.

  6. Gah! You are such a good writer! I love this metaphor and can't believe how perfectly it fits with infertility. What a story about your mom. I'm so sorry for all that you've been through with her.

  7. This is perfect. Isn't there a saying about the cracks are how the light gets in? It's along the same lines, and I love that. We are all scarred in our different ways. Taking those scars and making something beautiful is the best way to honour ourselves and the journey we've been through, and the only way to fully heal.

  8. This is a beautiful post that demonstrates the creativity and beauty of what it is to transform life's struggles, not just survive them.

  9. What a beautiful post. I love the metaphor between your life (and your mother's) and the art of mending broken pottery without disguising the seams where the breaks occurred. I'm sorry that you have these scars, but I love that you find a way to make them beautiful.


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