Mental & Emotional Health
Finding Beauty in the Broken Pieces
“Fall apart into a million pieces”.
These are just a few of the many commonplace metaphors that we all use when life-altering circumstances touch us – and curiously, all of them involve breakage. But what happens to these broken pieces that comprise our lives? How do we begin to recover if everything is indeed broken? Can anything that has been broken ever truly be fixed?
It seems impossible.
Moreover, when you are in that broken place, it feels impossible.
But is it?
Some of the most beautiful art in the world is in mosaic form – which begins its life in small pieces.
Is it possible to view our lives in the same way?
How do we not only “pick up the broken pieces”, but find beauty and possibility in those pieces as well?
There was once a time when I felt so broken, I could not see any future from where I was; sitting on a couch in a darkened living room, surrounded by the complete physical, financial and emotional wreckage that was once a wonderful life. It was December 22, 2000 and I had just buried my late husband after his over two-year battle with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) had come to an end. To say that I was “broken” would be an understatement.
So much ruin.
So many pieces.
Where does one even begin to pick up the pieces?
As I slowly began my healing journey, I took baby steps. I listened to my heart and instincts and tuned out negative influences (of which there were plenty). I celebrated victories, no matter how small or insignificant those victories may have seemed to anyone else. I took control over a situation where I’d had virtually no control up to that point, as is generally the case when dealing with catastrophic illness and subsequent death. I committed to getting healthy in every way possible and helping my then eleven year old daughter do the same. I designed a healing journey that, while not without mistakes and hiccups, nonetheless propelled both of us forward to a place of peace.
Though I did not realize it at the time, our broken pieces began to come together; forming the mosaic of a new life
Five years after Mike passed away, I found myself thinking about how little there was in the way of education, guidance and support for the bereaved. I grabbed a pen and began making notes on a legal pad and when I’d finished, I had written what eventually became the Table of Contents of my first book. One year after scribbling notes onto that pad, I founded one of the first online bereavement support organizations of its kind. Three years later, my first book was published and two more have since followed. Better still, I continue teaching those who have been touched by life-challenging situations how to create mosaics out of their broken pieces and design their own pathways to healing.
There indeed was beauty in those horribly broken pieces of December 22, 2000. I just had to find the beauty – and then do something with it.
Teddie is my best friend, my “sister of the soul” and certainly the creative yin to my not-so-creative yang. If you asked her to do so, she could create something amazing from toothpicks, white glue and Windex…whereas I’m the one who always manages to put wrinkles into peel-and-stick mailing labels.
Following both her passion and her otherworldly-given gifts, Teddie became a brilliant and successful clothing and jewelry designer, who not only found beauty in the broken, torn, well-worn and discarded – she could craft something magical from it. While I’d typically throw away a piece of broken jewelry (bearing in mind that I have the creative prowess of a dial tone), Teddie could take anything that was broken – old jewelry, a vase, a shoe ornament, a picture frame, a zipper on a jacket – and repurpose it into something fabulous. Each newly-fashioned piece always had a wonderful story behind it – how she created it, the places from where each piece originated, how old those pieces were and how the pieces eventually coalesced into the newfound beauty of a necklace, a bracelet, a picture frame, a candle holder or a dress.
On March 23, 2016, Teddie unexpectedly died; her incredible talent stilled, her beautiful spirit silenced and leaving her husband, her daughter and a lengthy trail of brokenhearted loved ones in her wake.
After Teddie’s death, I once more found myself broken into approximately one-million devastated, tear-soaked pieces; wondering yet again how I was going to go on when to my mind, the master of finding beauty in the broken was no longer here. It is a new healing journey on which I have only begun to travel; bolstered by the loving presence of our two daughters and the certain knowledge that Teddie always looked for and discovered beauty in anything that was broken – and that it is now incumbent upon us to do the same; even if what is broken is our collective spirit.
Every single one of us has “broken pieces” – including you. We have all bade good-bye to loved ones and despaired at how we were going to continue forward. We have all heartily trusted another; only to have been shattered by betrayal and left wondering how we would ever be able to trust again. We have lost homes, careers, businesses, financial security and relationships of all manner; left to start over again. We have suffered through health challenges; be they ours or those of people we love and fear what tomorrow may bring because of what yesterday wrought. All of these scenarios (and many more) may very well have resulted in your own broken pieces. I challenge you to honestly question yourself. What beauty can be found in your broken pieces? What will you create or fashion from the experience(s)? Who will you help? What are the positive takeaways and take-forwards? What will you do with your broken pieces as you move forward in your healing processes?
Finally, though you may even right now be feeling heartbroken, shattered, fractured or as though you too have fallen apart into one-million pieces, know this:
As much as we would like to believe otherwise, our lives are not perfect works of art that are impeccably painted onto a canvas or precisely sculpted from marble, bronze or clay; free from imperfection, blemish, flaw or occlusion.
Rather, our lives are indeed mosaics made up of the broken pieces of life’s journey and intricately combined to form one beautiful work of art.
Look carefully at your broken pieces and create your mosaic of beauty.
Because in and amongst what appears to be mountains of broken pieces…
…the beauty of your mosaic resides.
Carole Brody Fleet is the award-winning author of the #1 ranked new release in its genre, “When Bad Things Happen to Good Women…” (Viva Editions). She is also the author of “Happily EVEN After… “(Viva Editions); winner of the prestigious Books for a Better Life Award, one of the top national awards in publishing; as well as the critically praised, national bestseller, “Widows Wear Stilettos…” (New Horizon Press). A two-time contributor to the iconic Chicken Soup for the Soul book series, Ms. Fleet regularly appears as a media expert on numerous television and radio programs nationally and internationally; as well as in national and international print media. To learn more, please visit www.carolefleetspeaker.com and www.widowswearstilettos.com