Life’s Puzzle Pieces
Every human being is born with a foundation (biological, genetic, neurological, etc.) of who they will be as they grow. It’s like we are a vessel that contains the pieces to the puzzle that will be our life. Our life experiences influence what pieces we use, what goes where, and sometimes whether there is a piece.
It’s like having a jigsaw puzzle. When you are first starting and dump all of the pieces out of the box, it is a jumbled mess. As you begin to work on that puzzle, as life progresses, you pick up a piece, determining that piece will be the cornerstone of putting the puzzle together. You sift throughout, trying to find the next piece, beginning with that one piece.
You pick up a piece, turn it around, look at what the part of the picture is that, and ask, ‘does it match?’ Is that the piece that I am looking for next? If not, you put that piece back and go onto the next piece. You will go through that process until you have more and more pieces fitting together.
The advantage of real jigsaw puzzles is a picture of the finished product. That picture acts as a guide. But, unfortunately, that guide is missing from the puzzle of our lives. I wish there had been a guide to know where I was supposed to go and what I was supposed to do.
Childhood abuse and trauma disrupt building that puzzle, that foundation upon which sits the rest of our lives. Yes, at times, the very foundation itself. Those pieces within the vessel are jostled and broken. They may not be able to use to develop the life that would have been under better circumstances. Or different circumstances. I cringe using the word normal, but perhaps that is the best word here.
Within non-abusive circumstances, with non-abusive parents, those pieces used to build a life of who we will be, are influenced and encouraged by our parents. There is grace given to move those pieces around within those more functional families or reject some pieces entirely. That is not how it works in dysfunctional and abusive family dynamics.
Especially growing up with pathological narcissistic parents as I did. My parents forced life puzzle pieces upon me that weren’t mine and didn’t fit within who I was, beginning to see myself as a person. It was a systematic stripping away of who I was starting to be. And forcing those puzzle pieces that soothed their ego upon me because their burdens were too significant to bear.
Square Peg, Round Hole
They stole MY PUZZLE PIECES. Then they tried to replace it with one that benefited them—stripping me of any chance that I had to develop MY LIFE. And now, as a forty-six-year-old, I am picking up the puzzle pieces. I am creating new ones when I have to, which, let’s face it, is what I am doing all of the time. So I am taking back what should have been MINE from the day I was born.
I have realized (just in this moment) that I used to wish there was a guide to life, something that would provide me with some outline. I used to think about that because the puzzle pieces forced upon me were so contrary to me. But unfortunately, there is no guide, only a bunch of puzzle pieces. And the only way to put those pieces together is to look within yourself and determine whether you want that piece there.
What happened to me was those pieces forced upon me that I tried for years to fit into my life puzzle, but they didn’t. And so there are pieces that have been crammed to fit, damaging the original space to the point that the genuine me pieces won’t fit yet, but with patience, I know I will find those pieces once again and find their space.
I am trying to figure out years later where those pieces fit, even if they no longer do fit because of time and having the wrong thing piece in that place. I feel that they don’t necessarily fit, or maybe they do because each puzzle piece builds on the other. So when one piece is in the wrong place, the next piece won’t fit.
Perhaps it is pulling those pieces together, reminding myself that it will take a while to figure out not what picture the pieces of my life would have created, but what picture do I now want? What do I want my life to look like? And what are or where are the pieces that I need to create that picture.
Maybe there is a gift here for me. And that is that I get to put the pieces of my life puzzle together now. I have more experience and knowledge now than ever before in my life. So I can create that picture, putting the puzzle pieces together with strategy and purpose, which I would not have had when I was younger.
That could also remind me to take it easy and not try to put all of that pieces together right away. Life is the entire puzzle, and when that last piece fits, that completes the picture of your life is the whole puzzle. And when that last piece fits? That is when we die. Only in our final moments will we have a complete picture of our lives.