How To Save a Dying Relationship: A Kintsukoroi Guide

Kintsugi, also known as kintsukuroi, is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery by mending the areas of breakage with lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum. Kintsukuroi teaches us to embrace the flawed and imperfect, it treats brokenness and the repair of brokenness as part of a history that should be cherished and celebrated as opposed to treating it as something that must be hidden, disguised, or denied.

Have you ever watched something shatter to bits? The thing about shattered glass is that no matter what you do, sometimes the piece will never be whole again. Our instinct is to discard — to throw the unfixable, the unimportant. But when it comes to things we love, things that mean something to us we try to fix what we can.

And so, we do whatever it takes to fix it — gold, glue tape to make it stay. However, the fact is that underneath all the gold, the glass will always be glass, jagged, dangerous, and ready to cut. Sometimes not all pieces return to the place they were. The tiniest, sharpest piece finds its way to your skin and it will cut you because that is all it knows.

Some pieces get swept away and lost forever. And those things that were never a part of the plate are now what holds it together. If only we could add a little tape to fix everything that goes wrong. It is human nature to want to fix things, and even more human to want to control the uncontrollable. It is even more human, the way we think a little love and gold can fix it all but the truth is it can’t.

The hardest part is learning that sometimes all the stitches, staples, and glue cannot hold together some wounds forever. They spring open at any time vulnerable and dangerous all at once. Over the years I have learned that it is the same with people too, sometimes the edges that you connected with will have grown and mutated into something else. The bits of you that clicked together exist no longer.

So how do you fix a dying relationship? How do you fix someone piece by piece with seams of gold?

You don’t.

Instead, you stand beside the workbench and hand them little flakes of gold whenever you can, tape the edges when they try to dry, and leave them alone as all the tears, the gold dries and becomes a part of them no matter how long it takes. The anticipation of waiting for them to return to you again makes you feel something. The wait for the time when they heal, when they mix gold and pour it in their veins and pick the pieces up is when you realixe that this is something worth waiting for – no matter the result.

Sometimes you have to realise that people simply aren’t cutlery and vases and that even though romance all around the world tells us about partners fixing each other to become better, that is what makes people think that all that breaks can be fixed with love. Sometimes all the gold and sparkle in the world cannot fix them — or all the things you can do for them cannot make them what they were once, someone you knew and loved. Maybe all you are left behind is memories, a list of things to never do again, and shards of broken glass. And maybe, just maybe it’s for the best.

Featured image: Pixabay

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