” I feel like at certain moments in my life, I lost little pieces of myself; one here, one there, over and over through the years…and I never got those pieces back. I want them back but I don’t know how to get them. I keep thinking that if I could go back to all the places where I lost a piece, maybe I could collect them all again and put myself back together.” The moment I said these words was a turning point.
I made this statement to my husband about a year ago, during what proved to be one of the most difficult times in my life. Since then, I have collected many of those missing pieces; the ones lost forever I covered with new pieces, little heart and anchor shaped patches to bring me love and grounding.
I don’t really know why I stopped writing for such a long time. I know when I stopped, and that it had something to do with serious problems that I couldn’t solve. For years I just lost the heart to be creative, to sit down and pour it out on paper. I lost me for a while, drifted through life in the emptiness created by all my missing pieces. I read a quote recently about how grief is a silent scream that echoes in your mind. At my lowest point, the scream was a never-ending howl of anguish that haunted me in the waking hours and devoured all my energy, leaving me an angry, exhausted, empty shell.
Then one day, the pieces returned. I cannot say exactly how this happened, but I remember where I was and I remember having a feeling of finally being a whole person again. Did that mean everything in my life was perfect? Oh, hell no! In fact, life got harder, and it hasn’t let up. But I had changed. I was full again, and stronger, more capable to handle the tough times. I felt repaired; some spots are still vulnerable, some have been patched over so much that they are no longer recognizable. A year ago when I looked in the mirror, I was so grief stricken that I did not recognize “myself”. Now I look in the mirror and I no longer recognize that grief stricken woman. I know she was me, but she doesn’t have to be me anymore. I’ve moved forward. I’ve aged. My face is different, maybe more strained from a hard life, but my eyes are happy.
The featured photos in this post are of my very favorite sculpture in all the world. This beautiful work, by artist Wayne Porter, is located at the Wayne Porter Sculpture Park near Montrose, South Dakota. The first time I encountered this woman, I was a small child and she was not yet painted, yet even without a fresh coat of paint, she was mesmerizing. Her condition touched me profoundly on a subconscious level. When I looked closely at her, I could see that she was missing tiles, little pieces of herself, and she was quietly sweeping them back up to collect in her bucket.
Even as a child I understood that when life takes from us, it is our responsibility to work on recovering what is lost, or in failing to do so, to repair our wounds and keep moving forward. I’d lie to be there when she finishes sweeping up her missing pieces, puts herself back together, and stands up tall to face the sunrise.