Learning to Build Mosaics: A Reflection on Recovery
By Miriam Vogel
Head down, eyes toward the ground. All I used to see was broken glass, shards of something once whole laying in hundreds of pieces on the floor. I didn’t know what to do with them other than let a shattered mountain grow—thing after thing broken and what seemed to me beyond repair. It’s like all I wanted to do was to put it all back together. Or maybe I didn’t. Maybe I just kept falling further, trying to fix a problem in all the ways I shouldn’t. Maybe I was the thing that was shattering. Maybe I was sweeping away pieces of myself, building a mountain of shards with remnants of a person I hadn’t even had time to really meet.
I don’t know how long it took. It’s been a long and sometimes agonizing process. But this year, I finally faced that pile of glass. I finally gathered the pieces of a history I was ashamed of and I learned to create. Because recovery isn’t about fixing a problem or finding the “why?” behind years of self-destruction. It’s more than just getting to the bottom of causes and factors and turning them all around. It is so much more than anything I ever imagined.
Recovery is an explosion of color. It’s realizing that each and every imperfection comes together with all of your broken pieces and builds a mosaic. It’s beauty out of sharp edges and portions of your story that maybe you wanted to forget. It’s that pile of glass in the corner and the scars that come along with it. There are shards that maybe aren’t reparable. But who’s to say they ever needed to be made whole again. Who’s to say that brokenness is an inevitable ending. That cracked and broken mountain is an ongoing discovery of purpose and potential for greatness because it is filled to the brim with opportunities to create. It’s not worthless and it never was.
Looking at this differently has brought breath to my lungs as if I’m finally, truly alive. This mosaic I’ve built along the walls of my true home is built on so much more than brokenness. Those phrases “it gets better” and “recovery is worth it” that for so long were stale and felt overused, are now more true to me than they’ve ever been.
Recovery is a mosaic. It’s built with confidence and standing up for yourself and what you believe in. It’s laughter and joy and knowing that you’re bound to make mistakes and you’ve made so many already, but it will be okay. It’s recognizing that you will fall flat on your face covered in tears, scraped up, scarred, and ready to quit, because hard things are real and fear is present, but through all of that, you grow, and you do it anyway. It’s knowing that fear may not be unavoidable but it’s not impossible, and you are capable of moving forward. It’s being gentle with yourself when things get hard, but also challenging the doubt that it will always be that way, even when the minutes feel like hours and the hours feel like days. It’s finding connection and reaching for opportunities, and it’s the idiosyncrasies you never used to be proud of. It’s learning that you are enough and seeing yourself as someone who needs to take care of yourself, because your body is your home and that home houses something so incredible, and so full of life. These pieces are everything. All of them. Even the ones you’d rather leave behind. This mosaic is built on chaos and pain and growth and strength and softness. It’s a masterpiece that embraces everything that goes wrong along with the moments when something goes right. Recovery is more than an 8 letter word that we fantasize about in moments of motivation, and it’s more than the glimpses of something we sometimes see in hopes that the patterns and habits we’ve immersed ourselves in for so long will someday fade away. It’s a spectrum that one word doesn’t do justice. One word I never understood and simply grasped at aimlessly. A word that is constantly evolving and becoming. A word that is different for each and every person.
We are so much more than our struggles. I am so much more than my struggle.
I’m no longer that girl who thought “sick” was a personality trait because it’s not and it never will be no matter what you struggle with. I am more. I’ve unraveled, I’ve broken, I’ve shattered, and sometimes I still do, but now I’m picking up the pieces and creating, because I believe in the strength that comes from mending an uncertainty that clouded my mind for far too long. Hope is real. Build mosaics from the good, the bad, and everything in-between. Because you are worth it. I am worth it. I am marvelously imperfect. I am broken and cracked, yet I am healing. And there’s something so colorful and intricate about creating with the things you once thought would destroy you.
I’m so glad I found reasons to stay and damn am I proud of the woman I’ve become and am still becoming, because it’s nice to finallymeet me, and it was worth the wait.
About the author:
Miriam Vogel lives and creates in Indianapolis, IN, with her two cats. Currently, she is pursuing an apprenticeship in electrician work, but she also roasts coffee and works as a barista on the side. Otherwise, you’ll find her drawing, baking, dancing, exploring, and experiencing the beautiful chaos of life.