Dealing With Emotional Scars: A Lesson From Art
Scars are a manifestation of the healing process and are widely used as metaphors to describe the results of emotional trauma on the human psyche...
Everybody has a scar somewhere and I have a few myself. Every scar tells a story and I remember the event associated with each scar as vividly as the day it happened. My biggest one is quite large at the top of my forehead at my hairline which I got when I fell riding a bicycle as a teenager. Every scar leaves behind a lesson and ever since that accident, I never rode a bicycle ever again wearing my Scholl sandals!
Scars are a manifestation of the healing process.
The damage heals but the scar remains as a reminder of the event and physical pain endured. Over time we forget the pain we felt but we remember what and how it happened. Some choose to try ways to remove the physical scars of some event from their history, from traditional home remedies to modern day creams and aesthetic procedures.
Even though scars are widely used as metaphors to describe the results of emotional trauma on the human psyche, like the loss of a loved one, surviving a mishap or disaster, experiencing a bad phase at work or losing a job, getting out of an abusive or dysfunctional relationship, it is very different from a physical scar. Emotional scars manifest themselves in the expression of grief, anger, sadness, hurt, betrayal and the results are much more serious than a skin “disfigurement” – often depression, loss of self-image and self-esteem, shame, loss of trust, passion and confidence, to name a few.
Emotional scars also tend to linger on long after the event has occurred. Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness overwhelm the scarred amidst a longing for peace and a yearning for resolution. For some, it results in a whole new view of the world. There is a moment of breakthrough when some recognise that the past is gone and they elevate themselves to live in the present and look to the future. Some don’t or can’t get themselves out of the darkness and live with the scars of untold resentment and a sense of being victimised.
Emotional scars are different for different people, yet the scars are there for life and difficult to remove.
The Japanese have used this metaphor with beauty and clarity in the art of Kintsugi (or kintsukuroi). Kintsugi is the art and practice of repairing broken porcelain with urushi (lacquer) and rice glue. Gold powder is then applied to the joint before the urushi has dried. It is based on the philosophy that breakages and repairs are part of the history of the object and should be displayed, not hidden or disguised.
Kintsugi manifests the transformations of the broken object, and the scars created beautify the object. The art usually results in an object which is much more beautiful than the original.
Events that happen to us shape and colour our lives. Our experiences make each of us unique and everyone’s take on each experience is different.
Just like the breakage of a favourite piece of porcelain, it may be difficult to accept at first, yet the lesson we learn from the art and spirit of Kintsugi is that something, once broken can be turned into an object more beautiful and unique than it was before it broke.