Have you ever had those days, weeks, months, years where it feels like it just breaks you? I know, the canned response is “Don’t worry. It won’t break you.” I have a different perspective for you to consider. What if breaking is necessary? What if it is part of the transformation process?
I don’t know if we are born with shells. I don’t think we are. Instead, I think they develop with time and experience.
I think the shell is made from many layers, each so thin as to be translucent. While collecting them one by one, they may feel nourishing or protective. Some might even be shimmery and golden-hued. Like nail polish. Each liquid layer, fluidly enveloping each curve and crevice and barely perceptible, hardening to something solid and strong. One by one, experience by experience, should by should, the layers ossify.
You may not even notice it at first. Just a nice shine to you. And, later, once you do, they’ve become a part of you. A part that does not feel separate from yourself. A part you rely on. A part you come to depend on for safety, despite your confinement.
So, each of us goes out into the world each day with our shells on. Suits of armor. And, some days, something shatters them. You take an assignment that stretches you to a breaking point. You run into a relationship that is tough, with sharp edges. You spread yourself so thin to help others in times of need or times of crisis that the structure cannot hold.
We talk about breaking as if it’s a bad thing. But, maybe these shells are supposed to be broken.
I’ve begun to notice that the times when it’s felt as though something has broken me, it has also unearthed me in a way that was perhaps long overdue. Like, in its breaking, I am able to see that I am not the shell. I am the creature beneath the shell. Eager to spread its wings. Finally sing its song.
I don’t know if I believe that we can ever be truly broken. But I do believe that the shells can. And that, in many ways, when we feel as if something has broken us or we are broken ourselves, it is really this shell, collected and calcified over time, that is breaking. And, if we can see that, we can see the opportunity to emerge from it freer.
Some days, it breaks you… And that’s the start of something new.