Life Doesn’t Break Even (Neither Does Glass)

Anytime something breaks, there is residual mess.

Anytime something breaks, there is residual mess.

Ever noticed that when glass breaks it goes…

all over the place?

It doesn’t break even, it doesn’t have a predictable pattern.

Even when you try to clean it up, there’s a possibility of getting cut.

This morning my daughter knocked over a glass on the counter. It fell to the floor with a crash and shattered into lots of little pieces. After asking if everyone is okay and then having everyone (including the cat) back slowly away from the mess, I quickly begin to pick up the pieces.

First, I grab the broom to get as much as I can into one very sharp pile.

Then, I start picking the biggest pieces from the pile.

I put everything into a brown paper bag – a trick I learned from my dad.

Then I sweep the medium-sized and super small-sized pieces into the dustpan and dump the contents into the brown bag along with the big chunks.

I search not only the immediate area where the glass fell, but also start looking out towards the corners of the room, under tables, onto rugs and anywhere else the glass might be hiding. I always find pieces in the rug, near the baseboards and under the table.


I sweep one last time.

In this final sweep, I can see micro shards in the dust pile, small pieces of glass not readily visible to the eye, but when they catch the light just right, they shimmer in the sunshine (you know, like Edward in the clearing with Bella kind of shimmer).

Even though I’ve carefully cleaned up the mess so that no one gets hurt, inevitably someone’s bare foot finds a stray piece of glass. Might be a micro shard or a slightly bigger piece, but no matter how detailed I’ve been in cleaning the mess, there is always that possibility.

Life is filled with things that break. Relationships, careers, marriages, bodies, children, responsibilities, mental health, financial stability, sobriety, red hot anger…things break.

When we start picking up the mess, we start with the big pieces, because they are usually the easiest to see.

We sell the house.

We sign the divorce papers.

We use power of attorney.

We have the surgery, do the treatment.

We break off the engagement.

But there is still more to clean up. Even though the pieces are smaller, they can still cut – so, we move on to sweeping the smaller pieces into the dust pan.

We move into the 800 sq. ft. rental.

We sell off things we don’t need.

We work within a budget.

We take joint custody of the kids and take every other weekend.

We go to rehab.

But there is still more to clean up. Most of the mess is swept into the dustpan, but there are micro shards and although small, they can still cut.

We go to therapy.

We cry ourselves to sleep.

We grief the relationship or the loss.

We watch our kids struggle and we pray.

We fight temptation.

We isolate.

We withdraw.

We find the bottom of a bottle.

See, the big pieces are the first things we need to deal with. We know they can cut. We can see them. It’s not always easy to deal with them, but most of the time they are pretty obvious. It’s the smaller pieces and the micro-shards that aren’t always easy to see and, therefore, not the easiest to deal with.

It’s not until much later that our bare feet stumble upon a stray piece of glass that’s found it’s way from the corner of the room to the center of the room and under foot.

Something small still causing damage from the original mess.

Because glass doesn’t break even and neither does life.

Big messes take time to clean up.

Picking up the pieces isn’t a one step process.

And that’s okay.

Knowing after you’ve swept once, even twice that you may still stumble upon something painful is part of that process.

It’s growing, healing and keeping your eyes open to the small things to avoid any further cuts.

Sometimes growth hurts, but I promise you this…

healing never does.


Categories: All The Rest

2 replies

  1. May I please add that you can’t rush the clean up. I have tried to rush cleaning up problems, glass, and then spent weeks suffering more hurt because I rushed the clean up. Take the time and effort to make things right! If we hurry and rush we miss little things that can cause great pain. Great post!

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