Breaking isn’t one of the most coveted processes around.
We talk about “back breaking work” when it is labour intensive. We associate seven years of bad luck with breaking a mirror. We even go as far as to introduce a paradox for wishing someone luck on their performance on stage by hoping they “break a leg”. What a funny tradition that one is.
Kim Kardashian “broke the internet” and others claim to be breaking the bank or to being broke. It is somewhat of an attention demanding headline. Almost as if we as human beings are drawn to the implied destruction or danger that comes with the territory.
“Breaking news!” – flashing in bold print and bright colours as something astonishing just took place. Think of 9/11 or Covid-19, an earthquake or wild bushfire, or if you prefer to be less doom and gloom, maybe as simple as the latest shocking football transfer.
Breaking and entering is another one not associated with the fondest of ideas. My car breaking down. But then on reflection it seems that breaking isn’t all bad.
Breaking bad, or rather breaking the bad of breaking.
Because it seems like we also have terms like it being a breakthrough, breaking records or to just take a break and have a Kit-Kat. Which is obviously more positive and just plain delicious. Or playing your next round of golf and shanking it against the tree, onto the green for a tap in birdie (pure bliss, surely you must be the most skilled golfer in the world?) – what a lucky break!
Up until this point it seems to be two opposing ideas that make use of the same term. But is it maybe one term that describes a full triad of dynamics? Where it implies broken (destructive), a break (constructive) and breaking (process of both).
Being broken, getting a break and breaking all form part of an intricate process called life. This process is also mimicked in the therapeutic environment. Or let me rephrase that so it can more accurately reflect my own experience. This process of breaking forms an integral part of psychotherapy.
It reads difficult. It sounds strange, surreal, almost upsetting. Is psychotherapy not supposed to be of help? To improve my functioning? To assist me with this ongoing issue, this problem, this feeling of being stuck? Well, yes. And no.
The function of psychotherapy, at least in how I view it, is to create a space with the potential for change. The actual change, or the onus of change being with whoever then decides to enter and engage with this space. This space can also be outside of the office where you attend therapy, which also makes a break in sessions so important.
This process was beautifully illustrated in a film I recently watched where the therapeutic change could only take place once the client/patient/mental healthcare user reached a point of complete brokenness (To the bone, Netflix, 2017).
Many only enter the space of psychotherapy once they feel like they are completely broken. Others seek therapy in the process of breaking and this breaking is further facilitated in the process of therapy. To reach a point of brokenness. For it is this breaking point, this moment, that captures and defines the triad of breaking in its whole. And it is crucial for change. It should be embraced and not avoided. For my breaking point is the exact same moment as my breakthrough.
When I am broken, it is then when I can experience my break and continue with breaking what is dysfunctional to become more congruently, authentically me. It is similar to a concept taken from Dark (Netflix, 2017) where the “end is the beginning and the beginning is the end”. For any integration to take place, disintegration needs to precede it.
Or if I may, needing to fall into pieces so that everything can fall into place.