I recently had to dress up for a Mexican Themed day at work. Because I really didn’t feel like wearing a poncho, I googled for inspiration. After a bit of a search, I discovered Frida Kahlo was in fact, Mexican.
I have been intrigued by Frida Kahlo for quite some time, but I’ve never gone to the trouble to find out who she really was. So when I started looking for pictures to perfect my impersonation of Frida Kahlo, I read quite a bit. I am pleased to say, I respect her as a person, I respect that she lived authentically. Let me explain…
A bit about Frida Kahlo
As a child, Frida contracted Polio which left her right leg much thinner than her left. She was a promising student headed for medical school, but a bus accident at age 18, made it impossible for her.
During the accident, an iron handrail pierced her abdomen and her uterus, causing injury that would make it impossible for her to bear children. Injuries including a broken spinal column, a broken collarbone, broken ribs, a broken pelvis, 11 fractures to her right leg, and a dislocated shoulder.
The bus accident caused her extreme amount of pain and medical problems for the rest of her life.
Kahlo began painting during the long recovery after the accident.
Pain and suffering is a constant topic in Frida’s painting. She had 30-plus surgeries, the last of which was the amputation of her right leg in 1953. Often the surgeries left her to complete bed rest. She knew what loneliness was and she made the best of it. That is what I call, leaning into the discomfort.
“I paint myself because I am so often alone and because I am the subject I know best,”
Love, Disappointment and Marriage
In 1928, Kahlo married Diego Rivera, a famous muralist. Even though they remained a couple until Kahlo’s death, their relationship was volatile. Both Kahlo and Riviera had extramarital affairs. Diego had an affair with Frida’s sister which caused her a great amount of pain and resulted in their divorce.
Frida completed the above painting, called “The Two Fridas” shortly after her divorce. Here’s what is said about the painting:
The portrait shows Frida’s two different personalities. One is the traditional Frida in Tehuana costume, with a broken heart, sitting next to an independent, modern-dressed Frida. In Frida’s diary, she wrote about this painting and said it is originated from her memory of an imaginary childhood friend. Later she admitted it expressed her desperation and loneliness with the separation from Diego. – Source
Frida and Diego remarried the following year.
Because of the accident, she was unable to bear children. Another enormous pain and despair she had to endure. I can only imagine the amount of anger she must have had, towards, whatever she believed in. She was an alcoholic and psychologically unstable. But listen to words – real, authentic words, that rang true in her world.
“I drank because I wanted to drown my sorrows, but now the damn things have learned to swim.”
Frida Kahlo died on July 13th, 1954, not long after the amputation of her right leg. Many insist that it was suicide by overdose of painkillers. The reason why they suspected suicide was the below quote found in her diary:
“I hope the exit is joyful and I hope never to return — Frida”.
Frida Kahlo living bravely in brokenness
I have a deep respect for Frida Kahlo. Who knows if she came to know God or if she experienced His grace that is so freely available to us. What I will say, is that I hope to live truthfully, through the pain I experience in my life. I don’t have to live with chronic pain nor have I experienced a miscarriage and I am so grateful for that!
I hope to tell my story with courage. To show up, even when I don’t feel brave enough to do so. And I trust that I will be honest about my pain. Leaning through the uncomfortable stretches of life and make something beautiful despite my circumstances.
Have you ever considered Frida’s life? If you had to nominate a person who lives bravely, in brokenness – who would that be?
I hope to share more examples of people living brave and broken lives. It may even become a regular feature. In the meanwhile, if you are wondering what the brave and broken lifestyle challenge is all about, click on the link. If you want to join the challenge, feel free to subscribe to my newsletter for further details.