Broken

Daily Prompt: Childhood Revisited

Sure, you turned out pretty good, but is there anything you wish had been different about your childhood? If you have kids, is there anything you wish were different for them?

~*~

“You ask such loaded questions,” Valerie reacted with a hint of chilliness in her voice. “I’m not sure I want to go there.”

“I don’t mean anything by it,” Adam tried to explain innocently. “I just want to get to know you a little better, that’s all.”

Valerie shuffled in her tippy seat at the small cafe table situated on uneven paving stones and stared off into the distance. How could she tell this new lovely man in her life, with whom she’d already been so defensive, that her childhood had not been perfect. That emotional isolation and abuse had formed her and that every day she lived with the self-imposed shame that someone would find out. She took another deep breath and turned her attention back to the eager young suitor sitting opposite.

“Please forgive me, there are just some aspects of my life I’m not willing to share with you. Not yet anyway.” She curled her lips into a pout and took a sip of coffee. “We don’t know each other well enough for me to feel comfortable showing you …” she hesitated. Was the very thing she didn’t want to demonstrate about to reveal itself if she completed this spoken thought.

“Yes?” Adam looked into Valerie’s big, brown, softening eyes that both pleaded for and rejected empathy.

Valerie pinched her lips together and finally decided to take the direct route.

“Look, my childhood was troubled. I practically raised myself emotionally which is why I can be so volatile sometimes. So, if you wonder if I wish my formative years had been different I would say yes. I wish I’d had at least one emotionally stable adult in my life on a consistent basis. One I could trust. That would have made a huge difference. As it is, I’m in my 30s and still find myself floundering my way through stuff that should be really straight forward.” Trembling, she took another sip of coffee and looked him straight in the eye. “I have found that once I open myself up in this way men usually leave.”

Adam sighed. Clearly Valerie was a beautiful, yet complicated, woman. They were only on their third casual date but there was something intriguing about her, and even this obviously difficult revelation on her part could not dissuade him from pursuing her.

“You must think me shallow,” he observed sadly, his gaze never wavering. “But I assure you that as long as you’ll give me a chance, I’m not going anywhere.”

Valerie’s shoulders dropped, all tension seemingly released. She smiled weakly and struggled with her words.

“You must promise me one thing, Adam. … One thing … ”

“Yes, Valerie. Anything.”

Valerie considered for a moment. Was this a man worth giving a chance? There was only one way to find out.

“Okay, Adam, you must promise me you will always be a man of your word. That you will resist the temptation to make promises you cannot possibly keep, and never give me cause to doubt you.”

Adam watched the emotional machinations at work in Valerie’s face even though she was trying so hard to hold back. The twitching corners of her lips; the tears welling up in her eyes and spilling into pools in her mascara-laden eyelashes. Here was a tender soul searching for something he knew he could give ~ emotional strength and stability born out of love. Yes, he already knew it was love, but he had no intention of scaring her with that notion. It would wait.

“Valerie, I know we’re just starting out in our relationship,” he paused as she discreetly blew her nose and dabbed gently at the corners of her eyes, “but I want you to know that there is nothing I want more than to be a source of happiness for you. I understand you more than you know and I’m also aware, from my own experiences, of what it takes to allow yourself to be vulnerable to another. I will not abuse the trust you put in me. I promise.” Adam reached across the table for her hand and Valerie allowed him to take it.

“Thank you, Adam,” she smiled. “And I will do my best to … to be open with you. I promise.”

After a contemplative moment of silence Adam had a suggestion.

“Want to blow this popsicle stand and check out the fair in Schomberg? I hear there’s cotton candy.” He smiled widely, his eyes inviting her to step back in time and free the broken child.

Valerie’s own eyes brightened.

“Oh yes, let’s go!”

~*~

Thanks for visiting …

Dorothy

©Dorothy Chiotti … Aimwell CreativeWorks 2015

Staring Out The Window

 

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~*~

“Sadie!”

Young Sadie, lost in a haze of distracted thought, didn’t hear her name being called and continued to gaze absently through the classroom window toward the woods in the distance. She was looking at nothing in particular. It was an escape.

“Sadie Perkins! I’d like to see you outside. … Now!”

The double-barrelled effort to get her attention worked. Sadie snapped back to real time and turned to see a disappointed Mrs. Crowell pointing toward the door.

A chorus of “Ooh …” from Sadie’s classmates resonated about as she rose quietly from behind her desk and made the embarrassing walk across the classroom to the door.

“Quiet, all of you,” Mrs. Crowell admonished, “or you’ll be coming back after school.” She cast a concerned look in Sadie’s direction and opened the door. “After you.”

Sadie, unaccustomed to being singled out for any reason, let alone to be told off, walked timidly into the corridor. She was trembling inside. Her defences rising.

Mrs. Crowell, the school’s deputy headmistress and a kindly, well-put together but stern woman of late middle years, closed the door behind them. The hallway was empty and quiet. She stopped.

“Sadie, please look at me,” she said to the pretty brown-haired girl with the big, sad brown eyes.

Sadie could already feel tears welling up, but couldn’t understand why. All she’d done was stare out the window. With hesitation she looked into Mrs. Crowell’s steely blue eyes.

“What’s wrong, Sadie?” The usually intimidating deputy headmistress asked with a gentleness Sadie had not been expecting. “Why do you stare out the window?Why don’t you pay attention in class? I’m concerned about your progress in math, but I’m also worried about you. Is something wrong?”

The 15-year-old girl choked back her tears. Something was wrong. Something was definitely wrong, but there was no way to speak of it. She coped with her deep agony by drifting away, far away in her mind to far off thoughts she never reached. To dreams she could not identify.

“Such a good and responsible girl, is our Sadie,” people would say about her ability to cook meals, care for her siblings and housekeep all while trying to maintain an active school and social life. Long days putting others needs first.

Sadie’s thoughts wandered off the edge of the world in search of something lost. Innocence, perhaps? She did not know. She could never find it.

She was exhausted, so much so her ability to focus and discipline herself at school was next to impossible. She was as smart as any of the other kids in her top-tier class at school, but too distant, too distracted to make anything of it. Many of her marks reflected this.

She escaped the weight of her responsibilities at home by staring out of windows.

“Sadie … are you there?”

Tears poured down young Sadie’s pink cheeks.

“Yes, Miss.”

Mrs.Crowell pulled a clean tissue from her pocket and handed it over.

“Listen, whatever it is I would like to help you. Would that be okay? Would you be willing to meet with me in my office tomorrow at lunch time?”

Sadie wiped away the cheap mascara gathering in pools beneath her eyes and sniffed. It didn’t sound like an order but she didn’t feel like she could, or even wanted to, refuse. Somewhere deep inside she felt something positive stir.

“Yes, Miss.”

“Good. I’m glad. You are an intelligent girl and deserve to do better in school. Let’s see what we can sort out for you. In the meantime, do you think you could try to focus a little more during my lessons?”

As math was Sadie’s weakest subject she wasn’t sure what she could promise.

“I’ll try.”

Mrs. Crowell smiled and patted Sadie on the arm.

“Okay, then. Let’s go back inside and start things fresh.”

Sadie wiped away her tears and took a deep breath. How unfamiliar it was to feel this pat on the back. Could she trust it? Dare she?

Mrs. Crowell opened the door and ushered Sadie back to her seat. But for the scratching of pencils on paper, while students worked out their sums, all was quiet.

The next day, Sadie went to Mrs. Crowell’s office, and they talked. There was the promise of more lunch hour meetings and for once in her life Sadie began to feel something resembling hope. The teacher who had once intimidated her was becoming something new; something she’d never experienced ~ someone who genuinely cared about her needs and wanted to help her grow. A mentor.

Two months later the kindly teacher was claimed by cancer.

Sadie returned to staring out the window.

~*~

1477384_696513200380722_443439577_nMy response to this week’s Free Write Friday challenge from Kellie Elmore. Ends on a bit of a downer but who knows where the free write will take us.

Thanks for visiting …

Dorothy

~*~

©Dorothy Chiotti, Aimwell CreativeWorks 2014

 

 

Go Away!

 

 

to-love

 

~*~

“What the hell does that even mean?” Cynthia glares at me with raccoon eyes and wails. “What do you know of my pain? My suffering? You who have everything. You think my life can be fixed with empty platitudes? Go away!”

She slumps her fashionable thirty-something frame into the sofa and sobs like thunder.

Sobs I remember.

I know her pain. She only assumes that because I am older and seem to have my life together that I have never walked through the valley of shadows. But, she doesn’t know me. She only sees the illusion of me.

I recognize Cynthia as the woman I was 20 years ago ~ broken, confused, stuck, desperate, angry, frustrated, bitter ~ all hidden behind a finely applied mask of pretty lies that fit so tightly it almost suffocated the life right out of me.

With the ignorance of those who know only their own pain she doesn’t realize that the rutted and pot holed path I’ve walked is not so far from her own. A path bordered with noxious weeds and pretty plants that poison, overshadowing the cheerful flowers clinging to the healing rays of the sun.

She doesn’t realize that I know what it’s like to be in the choking embrace of another’s misery; to watch the petals fall from a once blossoming life; to have my fondest dreams lopped at the first branch or, most often, not even have a chance to take root.

She doesn’t know because she never looks beyond her own suffering.

Yes, I know her pain, and as I watch her sobbing there I feel it all over again ~ the heart-burning, gut-wrenching, headache-inducing dismay of disappointment and sadness rolled into one ugly ball of torpid feeling. A numbness that acts out like this. Cold. Hard. Stinging. Selfish.

As I witness her anguish, however, my awareness reminds me of triumph over adversity. It reminds me of how I am able, now, to look life in the eye and tell it “I love you” just because it is … and just because I am.

Cynthia cannot see this yet, and perhaps she never will. Perhaps she will wallow in her divorce, or lament her poor choices or berate her appearance and spout profanities to her dimming light until the end of her days. I cannot know for sure.

Still, what I do know is this ~ not I or anyone else can hold her hand and lead her down a path to healing until she is ready; until she opens her eyes and chooses to move beyond her pain.

I don’t know what that will take for her. Everyone’s wake-up call is different.

In the meantime, all I can do is listen and love her, my daughter, and pray she will be alright. That one day she will learn to love her life for the precious gift it is.

And that is all.

And as she bids, I go away.

~*~

My response to the Free Write Friday challenge from Kellie Elmore.

Thanks for visiting …

Dorothy

©Dorothy Chiotti, Aimwell CreativeWorks 2014

Trust

Trust

~*~

A precious, fragile gift

To you, from me.

Unseen to the eye,

Yet ever present in the heart.

Handle with care.

If you break it,

Don’t come back for more.

~*~

My response to Kellie Elmore’s Free Write Friday challenge for this week.

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Yes, I know it’s Sunday. 😉

Thanks for visiting …

Dorothy

~*~

©Dorothy Chiotti, Aimwell CreativeWorks 2014

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#FWF: Life Changers … My Sarajevo

Here is today’s prompt, courtesy of Kelley Rose, for Free Write Friday:

free-write-friday-kellie-elmore

” … what was that pivotal moment for you [in your life], and most importantly, how did it change you?”

~*~

Interestingly, I addressed this at great length in my last post ~ A Life Unravelled.

If I have to zero in on one life changing moment in my recent history, however, I guess it would be this.

Sarajevo

My Sarajevo

A war-torn urban landscape

Potholed and Bullet-ridden.

Skeletal remains

Of blasted buildings.

Ghosts.

I can’t look, yet

Cannot look

Away.

Derelict remains

Of panic and pain.

Haunted eyes

Reflecting lost

Ones lost

Forever.

Sadness.

Grief.

*

Anxiety; panic

Drafts me. Terrors

Arise from

Depths unplumbed,

Besieging;

Overwhelming.

My broken-ness

Revealed by another’s

Devastation.

Much like the great city,

Rebuild I must.

Take action.

Make

Peace with my

Self.

Heal my own

Sarajevo.

~*~

Sarajevo

The broken city that forced me to face my broken self. A catalyst for positive change in my life.

One week in February 2009, amongst the physical and emotional scars of the war torn. Evidence of the Siege of Sarajevo everywhere to be seen.

Panic attacks the reverberations of my own inner battles rising to the surface; stating cases I could no longer ignore.

Buoyed by the spirit and quiet strength of the citizens of that ancient city, and with professional help, I rise to the challenge of reclaiming my life.

Thank you, Sarajevo.

~*~

Thanks for visiting …

Dorothy

©Dorothy Chiotti, Aimwell CreativeWorks 2013

A Life Unravelled

A Life Unravelled

I am of an age

When the formative years

Speak.

“Remember me?”

They ask.

It starts with

Music.

A song.

A memory.

A feeling.

Hmmm …

I had forgotten.

Lost in

Tumultuous times of

Twenty-plus years.

Tumult covered by more

Tumult.

A child overwhelmed;

A teenager confused;

A twenty-something

Ungrounded,

Until in the thirties

Unravelling begins.

As it must ~

Or die bitter.

~*~

I’ve made no secret of the fact that I’m seeking professional help to unravel and make peace with my life.

Starting in my late 20s I began to experience wake-up calls. People and events emerged to shake things up, most often sending me into an emotional tailspin.

My initial response was always that of the victim.

“Why me? What did I do?”

Then one day something started to happen.

I started to wake up.

My grandmother’s death when I was in my early thirties snapped me out of a career malaise. Instead of being bitter about the loss of someone I loved I was going to honour her memory by honouring my heart’s desire.

I embarked on my true journey with the horse. Granny would like this, I thought, as she was also passionate about horses. More importantly, however, she’d want me to be happy.

My two years as an equestrian coaching intern were a refiner’s fire. The veneer of my “happy” married life began to be stripped away until I could finally see the truth of its dysfunction. The victim was alive and well and absorbed into the drama of another who, I quickly realized, resembled my emotionally distant, self-absorbed and delinquent father.

Within a few years we divorced. I sought my first round of counselling and avoided dating once I realized I was attracting variations on a negative theme. I was determined to relinquish emotional baggage and find a healthier way of being.

My eyes were opening.

Eighteen months later I met my future husband. A kind, gentle, thoughtful, caring and emotionally mature man. (What he was doing with me took me a long time to understand.) The road was rocky. I’d had no experience being with such a person. But  unlike the previously dysfunctional men in my life, he was genuinely interested in my well-being and demonstrated through deed, and not just word, his devotion.

I learned to accept I might be worthy of something different than my normal experience.

My eyes opened further.

Two years later, tragedy in the riding arena as a school horse I’d been riding died following a freak jumping accident. Getting back in the saddle was difficult. The silver lining came a few months later with the opportunity to part-board a beautiful thoroughbred mare, Murphy. This lasted nearly three years.

And then Murphy died of cancer. More blinding misery, but the courage to look for a silver lining.

Five months later, a dream come true when Bear entered my life. Finally, a horse to call my own. But I wanted to be an aware horse owner. I wanted to build a relationship based on trust. I turned to natural horsemanship and enrolled in Chris Irwin‘s Train the Trainer program. While I was fine tuning my horsemanship skills the horses were reflecting back to me how broken I was, my insecurities rearing their ugly heads and demanding my unbridled attention.

Another wake up call; another realization that I needed more help.

Wise Old Equus

Enter art therapy and meditation. I became more grounded and a beautiful collection of veil paintings was born of my unburdening. This journey lasted about 18 months.

And I was still working with Bear ~ the experience of self-awareness around him bringing greater depth and meaning to our relationship. A new self-confidence was emerging; the victim was beginning her retreat.

And then my eyes opened some more.

A week in Sarajevo in February 2009. Panic attacks. Anxiety. My inner personal hell rising to the surface and reflected in the sad, unhappy state of a recovering war-torn city.

Within weeks I was sitting in a therapist’s office, the depression and anxiety, the feeling of being stuck and weighted down by things beyond my understanding more than I could bear.

The true work of unravelling a lifetime began sitting in a chair opposite a stranger whose only desire was to help me along the road to wellness.

The pain, anger, bitterness, grief, shame, the trauma of abuse laid bare. The broken-ness of my life lying before me like the scattered pieces of a puzzle waiting to be re-assembled, but with awareness.

Eyes ever opening.

And with this a sense of liberty. The freedom to begin to see myself differently. The triumph of survival and a new-found understanding of what it means to thrive. The tools to rebuild the puzzle of my life into something more functional. An opportunity to create a clearer picture of who I really am while releasing the illusion forced upon me when I had no concept of self and no choice but to absorb and reflect the drama and dysfunction of the adults around me.

A life unravelled.

A life reclaimed.

~*~

Thanks for visiting,

Dorothy

©Dorothy Chiotti, Aimwell CreativeWorks 2013

Broken Record

When we embark on our healing journey it’s a bold step. We are energized by the idea that with appropriate professional help we can wrap our past up in a neat little package and fire it off into a universe where we need never meet up with it again.

And perhaps if we did not think this way we would never take that first liberating step toward a new way of being.

The truth is, while we travel the bumpy road to wholeness we bump into our old selves all the time. With guidance and growing strength we are able to tip our hat to that old part of ourselves and keep moving on.

Sometimes, however, we can get stuck in that old place ~ that old way of being that says we aren’t good enough; no one cares; you belong in the shadows; asks “who the hell do you think you are?” … and on.

I’ve been going through a bit of that lately, and have remained largely silent as a writer because of it. These moments get in the way of my creativity and my sense of place in the world.

Today, however, following an intense tête à tête with my amazing therapist yesterday, I’m ready to step out of that malaise and get on once again.

Doing my best to remove that broken record from the turntable of my life.

Herewith a verse inspired by this experience.

Enjoy and thanks for visiting …

Dorothy

~*~

Broken Record

Old familiar

Broken place

I let you go …

Honestly!

Yet, here you are …

Again, like some

Broken record

I’d forgotten.

The needle slipped

To a broken,

Repetitive

Debilitating

Groove

That torments,

Taunts and

Irritates until

I can no longer

Bear your

Broken voice

Telling me over

And over how

Broken I was

And still am …

Am … Am … Am …

Not!

Enough!

I remove the needle

That pierces my

Broken soul

And smash that

Broken record of

My Self. It is

No longer my

Truth. Time to

Dance to a

Different tune.

Play on!

Carefree

~*~

©Dorothy Chiotti, All Rights Reserved 2013