Humpty Dumpty and Me At least once a week, my son will grab the musical storybook of Humpty Dumpty off the bookshelf and brings it to me to read. He comes and sits on my lap, pressing the buttons to hear the sound effects to this age-old story.
Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall.
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the king’s horses and all the king’s men
Couldn’t put Humpty Dumpty together again.
I love watching his expressions as he reads this book; but long after he is tucked in bed, I often still hear the catchy tune of the riddle. One night in particular, I could not get the tune out of my head. I began to think about what a funny story this is that we read to our kids. Think about it: an egg shaped man falls down and suffers from some irreversible cracks. Weird.
The more I thought over this tale, however, the more I began to see its treasure. I think Humpty Dumpty has a lot to say about the human race. But first hear what I have to say and then evaluate it for yourself.
I believe a lot of us are trying really hard to hide our cracks. We, like Humpty Dumpty, are trying to fix our cracks, ignore them, or desperately hoping that someone can put us back together again. We hide our flaws and falls with success and achievement. On social media we always seem to want to put our best foot forward, with photos of smiling families and cheerful friends. In conversations with others, we tend to not want to be seen as weak or vulnerable or sad. We think we must be strong and happy or else we run the risk of losing friendship and connection!
But what if it were the other way around? What if we got it all backwards? What if being weak and vulnerable was actually what we need to be in relation with others? Well according to the work of Brene Brown, a talented researcher, vulnerability gives healthy space for people to connect to their whole self. Wait, what? We need our cracks to be whole? “The bravest among us will always be the most broken-hearted” Brene says.
This metaphor of Humpty Dumpty is not meant to be exhaustive, but I do believe it sheds some light into our brokenness. Basically, the message of Humpty Dumpty is this: we all have great falls that will forever change who we are. We all have weaknesses that leave us vulnerable. Cracks are permanent. This is not to say that I do not believe in healing. Healing is possible. I have seen it; I have personally healed. What I am getting at is that our wounds shape us. We are not the same after we get cracked open. I think, though, that many of us believe that we can go back to the way things were before the fall. We are sitting and waiting for the king’s horses and men to put us back together.
Early in the morning with Humpty Dumpty still stuck in my head I drew this picture (I’m not an artist so no judgement).
This is my response to these questions...
My questions and challenges stemming from Humpty Dumpty are this: Can I accept the cracks life has given me? Can I embrace my brokenness to find my wholeness? Can I let others see my cracks, see my brokenness, so that they can accept their brokenness too? And like the top image shows, can I have a new relationship, a friendship with my brokenness that is filled with self-compassion and tenderness?
This is always one of our main goals through counselling at Re.Pose, to continue to create new relationships with parts of ourselves that still feel pain and brokenness. As a team at Re.Pose, we are committed to continually doing this work for ourselves when it's needed, so we can come along side those we are privileged to journey with.
Julia Wiens - MAMFT Student Therapist