Forgiveness …

The pain is deep ~

You put it there.

Not that you knew it,

You were simply sailing

Your oblivious sea

And I, being an innocent,

Was caught in your toxic

Wake; my life line

The place in my Soul you

Could not reach.

*

I forgive you.

I forgive because

Drowning in the pain

Of you hurts only me,

I forgive because

The power is within me.

I forgive to be the peace

I want to see.

I forgive to be

Free.

~*~

Personal freedom begins with forgiveness.

May we all be the peace we wish to see in the world.

Be well,

Dorothy

~*~

©Dorothy Chiotti … All Rights Reserved 2015

The Heart Knows

Daily Prompt: Too Big to Fail

Tell us about something you would attempt if you were guaranteed not to fail (and tell us why you haven’t tried it yet).

~*~

You ask what is too big to fail?

Life.

Life is too big to fail.

To live from the heart;

To be free of emotional encumbrances

And the pains of past times

That swell inside because they will not be

Set free.

And why are they not set free?

Fear.

Fear of feeling.

Fear of failure.

Fear of imperfection.

Fear of death.

~*~

This is old.

Old lies plastered over

Real truth.

The truth that resides inside and says,

“Anything is possible. Believe.”

Thus, there is no heart’s desire so big

I will not throw my whole heart into it.

The heart knows what is truth.

And truth knows that all that stands

Between success and failure is

Fear.

~*~

Thanks for visiting …

Dorothy

©Dorothy Chiotti … Aimwell CreativeWorks 2015 

Freeze and Thaw

Daily Prompt: Fight or Flight

Write about your strongest memory of heart-pounding, belly-twisting nervousness: what caused the adrenaline? Was it justified? How did you respond?

~*~

As someone who’s spent her life surviving the slings and arrows of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to the point of almost burning out my adrenal glands, I suppose I could speak volumes on this subject.

To the overwhelmed nervous system almost anything can trigger the heart-pounding, belly-twisting nervousness of the adrenal rush … and not in a good way.

My adrenalin responses have rarely been justified, but when you grow up  feeling constantly under threat of something you lose sight of what constitutes an appropriate adrenal response. Not that you’re even in control of it. It just is, stimulated by whatever trigger pokes its way into a painful point of subconscious memory.

A life time of living in chronic survival mode is hard on the adrenal glands. (As is a life spent chugging down energy drinks, but that’s a discussion for another day.) They do burn out, and chronic anxiety is one of the results. Until I became aware of what was happening beneath the surface of my anxiety there was no way I could change it.

This awareness was finally raised during a trip to Sarajevo in March 2009, when the war-wounded city reflected the incredibly deep wounds of my own emotional trauma. Anxiety attacks in benign circumstances triggered three flight and freeze reactions during our one-week stay, reactions over which I had no control. Since we were travelling with a group of virtual strangers there was the added stress of shame attached to it.

Yes, you need to know that freezing is also a response to trauma.

In simple, primitive terms, this is when prey under pursuit will drop to the ground and play dead so the predator will lose interest and leave them alone.

My freeze ~ the clamp of anxiety. The desperate need to getaway without knowing where is safe to go. Stuck. Immovable. Traumatized. Invisible. On a continuous playback loop.

Since Sarajevo it’s taken years of therapy to get my frozen emotional core to finally thaw. The experience is a bit like the sensation of regaining feeling in your hands and feet after a bout of frost bite. Years of frozen feelings melt into a stinging liquid form. The pain all too present … but it must be felt to be acknowledged and, ultimately, released.

I’m reminded of the time I attended an NFL game in Buffalo with my ex-husband and his family, maybe 20 years ago. It was December, 15 below and snowing, and I was not dressed properly for the occasion. By the fourth quarter I was in the first aid room with thermal blankets wrapped around frozen feet (and a husband angered by the fact he’d had to miss that last quarter).

The agony of the thaw was indescribable. There were a few moments there where I felt like I’d rather die than endure the grief of feeling my limbs come back to life. However, once the worst of it had passed, and I could feel my feet and hands again, the pain of the experience became nothing more than a passing memory. I can recall the incident now as the source for a funny story or, for that matter, a teaching moment.

Feelings that come up while thawing are painful, but they must be felt in order for us to be completely free of them.

The first step, however, is awareness.

I learned ~ through psychotherapy, naturopathy, hormone therapy, equine therapy and other important sources ~ that the freeze response, which had become my go-to place when overwhelmed by circumstances beyond my control (rooted in early childhood trauma), had created a debilitating life pattern affecting mind, body and spirit.

I learned that what we harbour in the way of resentment, fear, jealousy and the like becomes our master and we its slave, and that this plays out in our lives in unhappy and insidious ways. Panic/anxiety attacks, addiction, lashing out or anything else that numbs the mind, body and spirit are all manifestations of the freeze response triggered by overwhelming events.

As horrible as those anxiety-ridden moments in Sarajevo were for me, they taught me it was time to be honest with myself and seek help. The kind of help that would allow the thaw, the healing, to begin and bring to life again the parts of me that had been playing dead.

Freezing was how I’d made myself invisible. If I was invisible, no one could see me; no one would abandon, reject, abuse or hurt me ever again. In the process I had become stuck in the pattern of abandoning, rejecting, abusing and hurting myself. It had to stop.

It’s been almost six years since my rigorous, sometimes hellish and incredibly cleansing journey began. A veritable trip through the refiner’s fire. Still, if I had to choose between who I am now and who I was before the thaw began, there’s no doubt what I’d do. Even knowing how tough it’s been I’d go through it all again to unearth my truth and free myself of the pain that had frozen me in chaos.

My heart and mind are open; my adrenal glands are functioning more optimally and thus my nervous system is becoming more robust. I’m finally able to live my life more on my terms. I’ve learned to live in the moment; to leave the past behind and to allow the future to be what it will be.

Finally, I feel free to be me.

Thanks for visiting …

Dorothy

~*~

Useful resources:
Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers: The acclaimed guide to stress, stress-related diseases and coping ~ Robert M. Sapolsky
Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma ~ Peter A. Levine
Riding Between The Worlds: Expanding our Potential Through the Way of the Horse ~ Linda Kohanov
In An Unspoken Voice: How the body releases trauma and restores goodness ~ Peter A. Levine
Mindsight: The new science of personal transformation ~ Dr. Dan Siegel
Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome ~ James L. Wilson

©Dorothy Chiotti … Aimwell CreativeWorks 2015

To read, or to write: that is the question …

Daily Prompt: Morton’s Fork

If you had to choose between being able to write a blog (but not read others’) and being able to read others’ blogs (but not write your own), which would you pick? Why?

~*~

Hmmm … such an interesting question to which I have only one answer: as a free spirit I do not succumb to such ultimatums.

You see, to me, one is not without the other.

My writing influences the blogs I read; the blogs I read influence, to one degree or another, my own writing and its presentation.

It’s give and take.

One could argue that books and magazines are an excellent alternate (and traditional) source of information … and they are. My senses still revel in the allure of a beautifully bound and printed book, and I have several on the go as I write.

The beauty of the blog, however, is it’s short format and the fact that I can interact with the author and share experiences based on common ground. For instance, I don’t feel so alone in my equestrian travails when I can read another horse person’s online account of having successfully managed an injury to her equine partner while I am in the midst of managing, and writing about, something similar. It gives me hope.

This kind of interaction expands my experience of the issue in an entirely different way than, say, reading about the injury in a clinical book and taking a stab at it. I love books, but I also love the accessibility and camaraderie inherent in the blog.

As well, my world is limitless when I can see it through the eyes of other blog writers with such immediacy.

And, writing from my own experience and imagination is cathartic and life-affirming. And, as a writer, I must write … and I must read!

Cornering me into making a decision about which I should give up for the sake of the other is not fair, nor is it realistic. All the great writers say you must read! read! read! in order to write! write! write!

Who am I to argue?

So you see, I will give up neither.

Thanks for visiting …

Dorothy 🙂

©Dorothy Chiotti … Aimwell CreativeWorks 2015

Night Terror(ist)

Night Light

~*~

Lights out …

Lurking,

Shadow dweller.

Haunting and predatory.

In the night

You cross the boundary.

Advance.

Faceless, but not

Formless.

Familiar.

Menacing.

Paralysis overwhelms.

Screams,

But no sound.

Terror’s creep keeps creeping.

Shallow, my breath.

*

{Breathe.}

*

Thoughts form.

{Be different.}

Words speak.

Low. Monotone.

Controlled, somehow.

“What do you want?”

I ask.

Silence.

Again.

“What do you want?”

Hovering o’er me,

Your whispered, jumbled words

Confuse; are

Meaningless.

Not even you are sure

Why it is you haunt

Me.

Silence.

“No …”

I say, calm.

Silence, then

A shift.

“I’m sorry,”

You say, contrite.

Your words surprise.

My breath then caught

By your tender,

Unexpected kiss

Upon my cheek

As you retreat.

Gone ~

Forever into the shadows.

Silence.

Lights on …

{Breathe}

~*~

This seems rather dark following my last post.

However without this, I hope, final dream-state encounter with the Night Terror(ist) who has haunted me at various times of my life and driven me to waking up in a full blown panic, my previous post What Changed? would not exist.

Thanks for stopping by …

Dorothy

~*~

©Dorothy Chiotti … Aimwell CreativeWorks 2014

 

 

Giving Voice to Anger

God's GrandeurAt this middle-age stage of life I wonder: “Is there time left for me to see and be my truth?”

Recently, at therapy, a discussion around anger. My anger suppressed and turned inward.

Emotionally-abandoned as a child, my MO became to hold all my hurt and anger in so as not to create any more reasons for the adults in my life to walk away.

When certain adults abused my trust I, as any child would, turned that inside and found fault with myself.

Of course, as I grew older I learned to understand that being in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong people when one is an innocent is not a fault. It just is. If we are fortunate enough to survive we continue on our life path, however diverted, the best we can until we find our compass once again and can move on.

Still, for many years I paid the price for others’ delusions. As the perps walked off into their miserable sunset I was left with a heap of baggage for which I didn’t ask. For years I struggled to find a way to walk my path with my head held high while bearing the additional burden of a heavy, uncertain heart.

All the while I held my anger. I turned it inside. Beat myself up. Disguised my pain with the quest for perfection demanding nothing less of myself. Nothing I did was ever good enough. I lived in a constant state of needy anxiety, expending my precious energy making good for everyone but myself.

Well, in recent years this has stopped for the most part. My guided journey to self-awareness has helped me to release a lot of the baggage and, to some degree, lifted the weight off my heart.

Perhaps now it is safe to express my anger in a wholesome and healing way. And perhaps by learning to freely express my anger I will finally secure my voice.

We’ll see …

 

Anger

The beginning of anger

Where does it start?

The abyss of the mind?

The depths of the heart?

Where does it live

When we can’t set it free,

When we turn it inside

So that no one will see?

~*~

Say nothing, I beg you,

No, don’t let them know

Don’t give them another

Bad reason to go.

~*~

So, down I suppress it

Down, down somewhere deep

Where no one will venture.

Still, I feel it creep

Like a deep-sea diversion

Off balance and old,

That feeds my self-loathing ~

My soul feeling sold.

~*~

Dark is this truth that

Resides deep within,

My anger derived

From another man’s sin.

The choices he made;

The energy he stole;

A childhood lost

Made this adult less whole.

~*~

Give voice to my anger?

Oh yes, it is time,

Through essay or story;

Through free verse or rhyme.

Free of the burden

Free of the pain

The loss of this misery

Surely my gain.

~*~

Thanks for visiting.

Dorothy

©Dorothy Chiotti, Aimwell CreativeWorks 2014

 

 

 

 

Just A Statue

“That’s a bit dark, isn’t it?” Mona screwed her mouth into a pouty knot and grimaced. “Miss Liberty looks like she’s had a few.”

“A few what?” asked Lisa.

“You know, molto vino.”

“Don’t be ridiculous! It’s a statue!”

“Whatever … she’s seen better days.”

“No doubt.”

Mona and Lisa stood together and studied the desolate rendering.

“I wonder what it means,” Mona offered a half smile only half interested.

Lisa withdrew into herself for a moment, an emptiness filling her eyes that Mona found profoundly disturbing.

“What’s up with you?” Mona asked between smacks of gum.

Lisa didn’t answer right away, trying to grasp the image’s message. Sharing how she felt was going to be a challenge. Mona was easily distracted.

“I’m trying to imagine myself empty, broken and as betrayed as that poor Miss Liberty,” Lisa explained. “I’m trying to imagine everything I represent crumbling on uncertain ground and me landing in a heap with my head smashed in.”

Mona wasn’t buying it.

“But it’s just a broken statue. It doesn’t mean anything,” she whined.

“It’s not the statue, it’s what it represents ~ liberty and freedom for all. What if we forget that freedom demands responsibility; demands it be supported by deeds and not just paid lip service.” A tear sprung to Lisa’s eye. “Imagine how you might feel if the very people who claimed to love you undermined everything you represented by their actions or, for that matter, inaction. When we forget who we truly are, when we forget what it truly means to be free and are unwilling to defend that to our deaths we are as fallen as that statue. We need to wake up. We need to wake up soon.”

Mona thought for a moment. Took another look at the image and sighed. She couldn’t see any meaning.

“You’re weird. It’s just an ugly piece of art.”

Lisa turned to face the friend she realized she hardly knew.

“Perhaps, but we’re both free … for now.”

~*~

1477384_696513200380722_443439577_nMy response to Kellie Elmore’s Free Write Friday challenge this week. Follow this link to find the image prompt.

Thanks for visiting …

Dorothy

©Dorothy Chiotti, Aimwell CreativeWorks 2014