Reminiscing Revisited

Daily Prompt: From You to You

Write a letter to your 14-year-old self.

~*~

Sally gazed thoughtfully through the kitchen window toward the hammock strung between maples where her 12-year-old niece, Manda, was once again happily swinging. The sweet tones of the young girl’s voice reverberated into the summer stillness, singing the tune to Reminiscing even though she’d only heard it for the first time a few minutes earlier. What a remarkable ear for music the young girl had, her aunt mused. A chip off the old family block, that’s for sure.

Sally smiled as Manda stopped to take a breath and inhaled chocolate ice cream. Oh, to be young again.

She returned to sit at the kitchen table with her glass of iced tea and sighed, remembering how much less idyllic her life had been at that age. And then her thoughts shifted to that favourite song and being 14 years old, and she sighed some more. Fourteen. What a torturous year that had been.

Sally reached for a notepad in the middle of the circular pine table, kept there for random thoughts, and dug for the fountain pen she always carried in her apron pocket. Perhaps it was time she wrote her 14-year-old self a letter. For some reason she felt prompted. Taking another sip of iced tea she set to work.

~*~

Dear 14-year-old Sally,

(She hesitated, not knowing where to start and then decided it was best to free write and see what happened … )

Oh, I remember you so well. Does that please you? To have not been forgotten? I hope so, because there are so many other periods of my life that have disappeared from memory liked clouds in the ether. But I remember you, and I wish it was for completely happy reasons.

(Sally took another sip of iced tea and peeked out the window. Manda was still happy. Returning to her missive, Sally continued to write … )

Having said that, I remember only part of that year ~ a time where you ought to have been most happy and were, instead, most traumatized. I know how you loved to visit your grandmother; to be in the small town where she lived, so close to the countryside where you and she and your brother would take long drives up to the old family homestead and stop for ice cream at the greasy spoon. I know you loved that. It helped you to feel rooted to hear the family stories of homesteading and hardship and ultimately, family success.

However, I also remember the terror you felt of  …

(Sally stopped. Was it too painful a memory? She took a deep breath and continued …)

Oh, if not for that dreadful man your whole life might have been different. If only people had known how despicable he was. If only gran had understood she would never have continued to let him visit knowing what he’d done and how much you feared him. Did she just not see? I know you were never able to tell her about what had happened eight years before ~ he’d made you promise. And you, being the good girl you were, kept your promises. But at such a cost! No wonder you ran away to your friend’s farm for weeks at a time to escape the prospect of him dropping by unexpectedly for tea.

Such terrible arguments you and gran had about your absence, but she never understood why.

If only you’d been able to tell her. 

(A deep swelling sigh freed itself from the depths of Sally’s chest. If only … )

I know you did what was necessary to protect yourself. Made yourself invisible; escaped however you could. It was no way to live. You missed so much, and I am sorry for that. What ought to have been the most care-free time of your life was made complicated by the sins of a nefarious heart. I’m so sorry.

(She wiped a tear as it trickled down her left cheek.)

All the trauma you felt lingered for years, and though I did as well in life as my invisible self would allow, I had to get help eventually. Your pain, I’m sad to say, crippled me emotionally. Still, the worst is behind us.

(Sally smiled to herself. Of course her 14-year-old self should know this!)

While your tenacity and sense of self-preservation served as a form of protection it also put obstacles in the way. I’ve been clearing those obstacles so we can both be free of suffering. I say “we” because you will always be a part of me. “We” are free to experience life fully and completely, now. It is such a wonderful gift. And I want to help Manda to do the same.

Thank you for taking such good care of yourself the best way you knew how. Perhaps now we can start to reminisce about more of the good ol’ days … like being on the track team at school, or spending time with the horses, or those lovely drives in the country with gran. You know, she did her best, too, with the limited understanding she had. We must always remember this.

With much love,

Your Self as a woman-of-a-certain-age,

Sally

~*~

Sally put the pen down and read over her letter. She smiled and pressed it to her heart. Somehow the exercise had been healing. Lovingly, she folded the piece of paper into quarters and slipped it into her apron pocket along with her lidded fountain pen. She would save the letter in her journal later. But now it was time to give that vivacious 12-year-old girl with those big, brown, sparkly eyes and the innocence of youth a big hug. Manda would always know who she could trust.

~*~

Thanks for visiting,

Dorothy

©Dorothy Chiotti 2015

Lies

Daily Prompt: Whoa!

~*~

“I don’t understand you. What are you saying?”

The delinquent one stares me down with vacancy in his eyes. It’s as if I’m looking at a ghost; an empty shell of a man I once knew who is no more. He’s returned following weeks away studying for his masters degree. It’s Christmas break, and my birthday, and he’s made this haunting pronouncement.

“I don’t know if I love you anymore. I don’t know if I’ve ever really loved you.”

The world I know is crumbling beneath my feet.

“What? What do you mean?” I clutch the bannister for support.

“I haven’t thought about you at all while I’ve been away. You don’t mean anything to me anymore.”

Now the room is spinning.

Five years! Five years of my life; my heart; my devotion given to a man who doesn’t know if he’s ever really loved me. My knees wobble. What is happening? After all that I’ve done. All that I’ve sacrificed. What have I been living? An illusion? Did I marry an ideal and not a man?

“I can’t be here,” I mutter to myself. Brush past him and run upstairs. Slam the door to our room, throw myself on the non-marital bed. He’s been home two days and detonated a bomb of lies in my heart. I am blown away by his deceit. My carefully protected world falling in shrapnel pieces about me.

A torrent of pain floods the plains of my face as my mind spins with the surreal knowledge I am not loved. Not loved by a man who’d said for years he’d loved me.

Lies!! All lies ~ the memory of which tears at what’s left of my broken heart and plunges me into an abyss of despair the depths of which cannot be measured.

And he’s so not worth it.

~*~

In my experience life appears surreal after some kind of shock, good or otherwise, to the system.

I’ve known both. This fictional rendition of a real event is the first that came to mind.

Thanks for visiting …

Dorothy

©Dorothy Chiotti … Aimwell CreativeWorks 2015

 

My Life Teacher

Daily Prompt: Teacher’s Pet

~*~

Dance Like No One’s Watching

I was never teacher’s pet. Or, if I was I never knew it. School was a nightmare for me.

At the time I wasn’t aware of it, but I was a child with abandonment issues lugging around a good deal of emotional trauma. My trust had been broken at an early age by the adults I was supposed to be able to rely on the most, so trusting that anyone else, including a teacher, would have my best interests at heart was next to impossible.

And when you can’t trust anyone, who can teach you?

It’s not that I wasn’t loved. I know my mother loved me, but she was so wrapped up in her music career while putting food on the table that I inadvertently became a shadow dweller ~ lost; lonely and invisible.

I didn’t begin to understand my early history and how it created the misshapen patterns of my life until I checked myself into therapy in spring 2009. Feeling stuck in survival mode I needed someone to help sort me out.

Coincidentally, or not, it was about this time the symptoms of adrenal fatigue, complicated by early-onset menopause (or the other way around, it doesn’t matter, it was brutal) began to manifest. Anxiety and panic attacks, extreme fatigue, unexplained weight gain, et al, drove me to near distraction. I wanted explanations. I needed to know what was going on. I needed to address underlying issues and give myself life again.

Like most people I was hesitant about jumping into the mental health abyss. Psychotherapy still has such a stigma attached to it ~ as if it is a weakness to step up to the plate and ask a specially-trained objective third-party, “Why am I this way and what can be done about it?” Still, it became clear after a tumultuous trip to Sarajevo in February that year, during which I had three separate and inexplicable panic attacks, that something needed to change. And anti-depressants, or any their kin, were not the answer.

So, with my husband’s support, I found a good, trustworthy therapist. I prefer to call her my life teacher ~ a person who can safely reflect back to me who I was/am ~ for good or ill ~ and show me how to embrace what works and re-configure what doesn’t it.

And, what a journey it has been …

I have learned more about myself and my world (and my place in it) in the last few years than I’d known in a lifetime up to the point of sitting down in that therapist’s office. My therapist is the life teacher I’d never had, shining a light on a window to my world that I would never have been able to look through, let alone begin to enjoy the view.

She has shown me my strength; helped me to see my successes more clearly; opened the way for me to have the courage to recognize my pain without dwelling on it. Naturally it has not been easy, but facing my truth has given me the strength to see myself so longer as a victim but as a woman who can share the wisdom of her life experiences in profound and empathic ways.

I can say, in all honesty, that I am not the person I was when I walked into my life teacher’s office nearly six years ago. I’m thriving more than surviving.

Of course, the journey continues. There is much more to sort through; much more to learn but, truth be told, I have always looked forward to that hour and a half per week where I can sit down and sift through my emotions and issues with someone who does not judge me for the absurdities (self-judgement) that trips from my lips. Every visit my life teacher shows me how to see myself through a softer, less judgemental lens; to take life as it comes and let the past be where it lives ~ in memory only as a teaching tool. And to take what I learn of, and from, my past and recognize the strength of character that brought me through those experiences to this point.

My life teacher has taught me that my past is not my present, or my future. That I can reprogram my dysfunctional ways to create a new more holistic way of being. A way of being that integrates past experiences with present realities to support deeply-held and beautiful personal truths that have no attachment to my early childhood trauma and the illusion I’d lived under for so long.

So, you ask who my most important teacher was … and still is?

The person who has taught me to see, be, and love, my Self ~ my therapist; my life teacher.

Thanks for visiting …

Dorothy

~*~

©Dorothy Chiotti … Aimwell CreativeWorks 2015

Why even go there?

Daily Prompt: Burnt

~*~

Gone, but not forgotten

Ashes of another time,

Things missed but not

Lamented.

For, should I die tomorrow

I would leave you all

Anyway to your fate,

Whatever that might be.

I’m sorry I could not

Save you, but in my

Heart you will ever live

As a glowing memory.

No regrets. I loved you

As I could and now

We must part.

Be well.

~*~

Too much of my life has been lived in regret and second guessing. Saying goodbye to what was and moving forward is an important life lesson, so to dwell on things that I cannot, or could not, control, is something I prefer not to do. Why even go there?

Books and music are the only things I might be sad about leaving behind, but even these are replaceable.

Thanks for visiting …

Dorothy

~*~

©Dorothy Chiotti … Aimwell CreativeWorks 2015

Lost and Found … Part III

gypsy

~*~

The gentle gypsy gestures for me to stand beside her. I move over yet keep my distance, still feeling my uncertainty.

“Good,” Erzebet’s voice is comforting. “Just a few things I would say before you enter the Sacred Circle of Hidden Wisdom.” She smiles reassuringly, noting my discomfiture. “Don’t worry, you are perfectly safe as long as you follow my instruction.”

I offer a loose smile, my thoughts wandering to wondering what on earth I’m doing here.

“Grace, please … your attention.”

I bring myself back, embarrassed.

“Good … thank you,” Erzebet says without the least bit of impatience or reprimand in her voice. She shows me a long twig the end of which is held firmly in her hand. “With this wand you have the power to establish a protective boundary through which Chiron may not pass.” She demonstrates how to use it by forcefully drawing an arc in the dirt in front of her. “You stand your ground, creating a space for Chiron to respect. Only when you invite him may he enter. You understand?”

I nod my head. She gives me the twig. “You try.”

With the end of the wand firmly in my grasp I sweep the tip of it through the dirt to make an impressive arc. It feels good. Empowering. I sigh and smile. Erzebet smiles back and shares more.

“The safest spot for you is in the centre ~ the heart ~ of the Circle. From here you can see wherever Chiron moves. You can follow him simply by turning your body wherever he goes. You hold this space. Move if you wish but return here for grounding. Do not get trapped between him and the edge of the Circle where there is no escape. There is danger there. You understand?”

I nod my head again. She hasn’t finished.

“When you feel secure, place the wand on the ground beside you. It will be there if you need it. Time slows in this reflective space; it is on your side. From the heart of the Circle, and when you feel ready, grounded, you express your heart’s desire to Chiron. The same desire you expressed to me. Through your breathing seek a heart connection. He is waiting for it. When the connection is made … and you will sense it … you may begin your dialogue.”

I nod my head in understanding, sort of. Even though I have spent a life time with horses this is all so new; so unfamiliar. Still, I am here, drawn into this moment by something I know not. When the student is ready the teacher will appear, comes to mind. Something my mother used to say. Regardless, somehow I am unworried. It feels right. And besides, I don’t want to leave.

“Oh, and another thing,” notes Erzebet firmly, “No judgement; no agenda. Be in the moment and allow it to unfold. The ego has no place here. It will sabotage the true nature of your experience, your true Self. Do you understand?”

Turn off my tornado thoughts? Wow! There’s a notion. Still, I nod my head, and sigh.

“And lastly,” she adds with utmost importance, “thank Chiron before you leave the Circle, which you may do at any time.” She smiles a broad, comforting smile. “Are you ready?”

“Yes.” The word comes out choked. “Yes.” I repeat more firmly.

The beautiful gypsy ushers me into the Sacred Circle of Hidden Wisdom and, taking a deep breath, I walk alone to the heart of it. Chiron stands at the far edge, quiet and attentive. For a moment I close my eyes; take a deep cleansing breath remembering the odd pressure in my jaw. Finally, I place the wand on the ground beside me and wait. After several minutes Chiron has still made no attempt to acknowledge my presence.

I feel sad. Still, I continue to breathe into what I believe to be a heart connection and without speaking make a misguided attempt to convey my heart’s desire by some weird sense of osmosis ~ as if Chiron should be able to read my mind. Erzebet hovers quietly in the background, observing.

Chiron ignores me and ambles over to the spot where I entered the Circle. He paws at the ground, the sound of crackling twigs and sticks and leaves shredding the air. I don’t understand. Not knowing what else to do, I walk over to him and stop a few feet away. His pawing stops but beyond that he doesn’t acknowledge my presence.

The judge in me brings down the hammer of disappointment. Confused, I start to walk around the Circle away from Chiron, hoping he’ll follow. I clutch at my lucky labradorite pendant, an intuitive stone, hanging on a white gold chain around my neck and wonder what the heck I’m doing.

When my walk around the Sacred Circle is complete I return to its heart and wait, wishing, hoping for something, some sign of acknowledgment from Chiron. But he has not moved. I feel numb; a verdict of failure delivered by that inner, unwelcome judge.

Dejected, I collect the wand from the ground and walk over to Chiron again. When I reach out a hand to touch his silken mane he walks away. I thank him anyway and leave the Sacred Circle with a singular feeling of unworthiness. A nearby fallen tree trunk invites me to sit.

Erzebet takes a seat beside me. “When you are ready, tell me of your experience,” she says plainly.

For a moment I have no words. That lump in my throat is back, my jaw tighter than ever. The beautiful gypsy waits patiently for a few moments and then asks a question.

“Why did you not speak openly with Chiron?”

I sigh. I don’t know.

“I see it is difficult for you. Have courage. Feel the heart connection; express your heart’s desire,” she says with a firm kindness that buoys me a little. “Chiron reads your body, not your mind. Speak. He hears your words and reads your intent. As you are closed so he too closes. It is up to you.”

A tear springs to my eye. Erzebet continues:

“When Chiron was standing at the entrance and pawing at the ground making all that noise he was inviting you to a new way of being. To me he was telling you to ‘make noise.’ And yet the entire time you spent with him you said nothing.” She admonishes me gently, “If you want to be able to speak freely and without judgement you must first speak. Yes?”

I nod my head, acutely aware of the fact that even now I am afraid to share how I feel and what I am thinking.

“Grace, would you be willing to visit with Chiron again and speak to him?”

I smile weakly and manage a “Yes …” and, with a deep breath, draw myself up from the tree trunk and walk once again to the edge of the Sacred Circle.

“Enter when you are ready. Remember what I have told you. Speak your heart, freely and without judgement. Where’s your wand?”

I retrieve it from the ground where I’m standing and wave it at her.

“Good … now proceed.”

Taking a deep, cleansing breath I move to the heart of the Circle. As I ground I notice Chiron is standing where he was the last time I entered, however this time he moves to the entrance almost immediately, and waits. A second chance. I drop the wand at my feet. Gather myself. Here goes …

“Chiron …” His name comes out garbled. I clear my throat, say it again and continue, “Chiron … you are such a beautiful boy … It is such an honour to stand in this Circle with you today.” He begins to chew.

“A good sign,” calls the gypsy gently. “He is acknowledging your authenticity. Continue … ”

“Chiron,” I continue, “You are named after the Wounded Healer. I don’t know what your wounds are but I’m here to ask for your help with mine.” I hesitate. “My heart’s desire, Chiron, is … ” I struggle with the words ” … is to be able to express myself freely and without judgement.” I take a breath, a knot in my stomach seems to release as I forget I’m being watched. My throat clears. “The problem is really old and I’m weary with it.”

A tear of weariness masks my vision. With the back of a hand I wipe it away and then focus my eyes on the gleaming black and white of his beautiful piebald colouring for a moment. “The dark patches of your coat remind me of the shadow I’ve been dwelling in all my life and how so desperately I wish to move into the light; to shine … to be heard.”

There is movement in the noble one. From his position by the entrance where he has been standing so quietly licking and chewing affirmations of peace, he turns to face me, as if to acknowledge some kind of understanding. My heart leaps. Has it been heard? He starts lumbering calmly toward me. The sobs of my soul begin to rise from deep within until I can contain them no longer. I double over in the most exquisite emotional pain as the tension of my self-enforced silence is finally released.

Chiron stands still beside me, his head lowered, his body relaxed, as if to honour this moment with me. His quiet manner soon calms me.

“Be the light you are,” he seems to say to me. “Speak and be heard by those who would listen.”

A profound feeling of peace fills me. Somehow in this quiet place, in these quiet but intense moments, something has changed. I seek his permission to stroke his neck. He stands quietly, waiting. Gently I run my hand along the smooth white hair that runs almost the full length of his muscled neck before it turns dark at his shoulder. It is soft and warm, glistening in the last light of the day’s dying sun. We stand like this for a couple of minutes, basking in an open exchange of heart and soul and then, as if to signal his work is done, Chiron walks away quietly, leaving me to stand alone and strong in this healed emotional space we have created together.

In awe of the gentle power of this moment, I turn to thank him as he rests once again at the edge of the Sacred Circle. I leave feeling lighter and somehow more present. My tears dried. The pressure in my jaw gone. My lost voice found; my heart heard.

Erzebet joins me at the tree trunk and we sit quietly for a moment.

“You are okay?” she asks.

“I feel marvellous,” I answer.

Erzebet smiles. “Tea?”

“Yes, please,” I respond, and then stop, overwhelmed by her generosity of spirit. “How can I ever repay you for how you have helped me today?”

“You must remember first that is it I who repaid you for bringing home my wandering Chiron,” she reminds me, smiling and patting the handsome horse. “You have the soul of the Wounded Healer also. Now your voice is free use it wisely and to good purpose. It is a great gift.”

Chiron snorts in agreement.

“Extra carrots for you, my darling boy.”

THE END

~*~

The final instalment of Lost and Found ~ my response to a free writing exercise prompted by Kellie Elmore’s Free Write Friday two weeks ago. If you’re interested in reading the first two parts, click on the links below.

Part I

Part II

Your comments are welcome. This last part became a bit of a marathon.

Thank you for visiting,

Dorothy

©Dorothy Chiotti … Aimwell CreativeWorks 2014

Lost and Found … Part II

The pathMy heart leaps. What could this exotic woodland gypsy possibly mean?

She doesn’t stop to explain, but continues her slow march through an archway of Sumac and into the thicket with the noble Chiron by her side.

This twist in our encounter intrigues me. My power to resist squelched. Chiron has shot his golden arrow into my heart and hit a bullseye. I am hooked. Whatever medicine the Wounded Healer has to offer is worth my curiosity.

So, I follow.

The walk becomes a meditation. I don’t know where we are going. I lose all track of time becoming acutely and, perhaps, even primitively aware of my surroundings. Not in a fearful flight and fight way, but with a feeling of wonder. Shards of late afternoon sunlight flash warmly through the trees. Leaves and twigs crunch underfoot along the grassy trail leading I don’t know where. Squirrels scurry in the branches overhead while crows caw their eerie cries somewhere off in the distance.

And still I follow deeper into the woods, the legion of maples and ash and pines standing sentry-like, protective and true.  Finally, we enter a large circular clearing ~ a small meadow, perhaps ~ which appears almost as if carved out for a purpose. The gypsy and her noble companion stop in the centre of the circle and turn to face me. I stand my ground some 20 feet away. A shaft of light illuminates her countenance in an ethereal, angelic way I find astonishing. I sense empathy there. Tears well. I dam them.

Chiron stands quietly beside her, his tail relaxed and brushing away the flies that dare to alight upon his muscled rump. He, too, is aglow with an energy which, though it comforts me I find difficult to comprehend. I feel a lump in my throat, and then hear the gypsy speak.

“I am Erzebet. This is Chiron. What is your name?”

I hesitate. Confused. Why is she talking to me as if we’ve never spoken before?

She repeats.

“I am Erzebet. This is Chiron. What is your name?”

Still I hesitate.

She sees my confusion and responds.

“We are now in the Sacred Circle of Chiron, the Place of Hidden Wisdom. Out of respect it is customary to introduce ourselves to each other, and thus this sacred place, before we begin. Please … ” she repeats again, ” … I am Erzebet. This is Chiron. What is your name?”

I swallow once in an attempt to clear the lump from my throat. “Grace,” I finally choke out with a degree of reluctance and then repeat for clarity … “Grace.”

Erzebet nods.

“Greetings, beautiful Grace. You are welcome in this Sacred Circle where the healing powers of love and truth are gifted to you inasmuch as you are able to receive them.”

“Whose love? Whose truth?” I ask, confused.

Erzebet looks at me quizzically.

“Why yours … of course.”

She smiles and nods her head gently in my direction to acknowledge our connection and steps away from Chiron toward the edge of the circle.

For a moment confusion continues to reign. While the horse stands quietly but for the occasional toss of his head to disarm the flies my heart beats profoundly against my rib cage as though it might burst through. I gasp for breath.

“Breathe, dear Grace,” the beautiful gypsy bids as she glides calmly toward me in a cloud of lavender perfume. “You must breathe, deeply. In through your nose to the full capacity of your lungs and out through your mouth to a complete exhale. It is the first step to healing. Come … breathe with me.”

Erzebet stops a few feet away and begins to breathe in a way that compels me to follow her lead. Her intonation is that of a soothing chant. “In … through … your … nose … breathe … into … your … heart … release …” And as we proceed and after a few of these deep, clarifying breaths my body begins to fill with an unfamiliar warmth. My feet feel heavy and glued to Mother Earth. I am grounded. My eyes closed. Feeling.

“Send your awareness to your feeling,” the gypsy directs. “Where do you feel? What do you feel? What is it telling you?”

For a moment I’m unsure what she means. I hesitate and then offer, “My jaw feels tight for some reason.”

“Good. Now,” she continues, “this tightness in your jaw … it brings with it a message, yes?”

I shrug.

“Focus gently … this pressure in your jaw has a message. It is your heart’s desire for you, in this moment. Speak it … please.”

The notion of listening to my heart through my jaw seems strange at first. How is such a thing possible?

“Do not judge, dear Grace. Let the mind go so your heart may speak freely.”

With another deep breath I make the conscious effort to clear my head and focus on this tightness in my jaw. I am impatient, I can feel that too, but again, that is my mind getting in the way. Another breath, the prison of thought cleared, a moment of peace and then … dare I speak it?

“Go on, Grace … you have something to say, I think. Please, you are safe in this place. With me. With Chiron.”

Chiron is close behind me now. I feel the warmth of his breath against the back of my neck, comforting somehow, as I exhale deeply. “I want to be able to speak freely and without judgement … that is self-judgement.” Tears mist my eyes. I choke them back. Not even these are free.

“Thank you, Grace,” assures Erzebet. “Now … we meet with Chiron. He waits.”

~*~

You asked, I delivered … here is Part II of a free writing piece started last week courtesy of Kellie Elmore’s Free Write Friday.

For Part I click here.

Yes, it seems there will be a Part III.

Thanks for stopping by … and a sincere thank you to those of you who encouraged a next step in the story. I hope you have enjoyed it.

Dorothy

©Dorothy Chiotti … Aimwell CreativeWorks 2014

 

 

A Simple Message

This post is written in response to a challenge offered by Lana of Living with Post Concussion Syndrome. Please take a moment to visit her inspiring blog.

The challenge: What Dreams Are Made Of … For this writing event, share a dream or two that’s had a great effect ~ even after waking.

~*~

Full moon

I always pay attention to my night time dreams. I write them down. Review the more dynamic ones with my therapist to find the meaning and application to my life. The subconscious has a lot to say and I want to know what it is.

There have been a few times in my life ~ when I was at my most distressed, as it happens ~ when my dreams have actually proven to be of some comfort.

The first one I recall occurred when I was 12 years old.

I was staying at my grandmother’s at the time and one night had gone to bed quite distressed. A much anticipated trip to a farm to see horses and make a new friend had been cancelled at the last minute by my second cousin who had arranged the excursion. Her husband wasn’t able to go so they’d decided to postpone and arrange to go another time.

I was grief-stricken, sobbing myself to sleep on the couch that served as my bed for the two months of that summer at granny’s trailer home. Inconsolable, actually. Burdened heavily by my life in survival mode (though I didn’t know it at the time) I looked at the chance to be with horses, and maybe even ride, as an escape from the unhappy circumstances in which I found myself.

During the night, a dream. Nothing elaborate. A simple message. An angel, it seems to me, appeared as an ethereal, comforting presence and a gentle voice spoke the words “everything will be alright.”

The next morning I awoke feeling much better; my heart lighter. I recall getting off the couch and going over to my grandmother, who was making breakfast in the galley kitchen, and telling her about my dream and how I felt that everything would, indeed, be okay.

Within moments the telephone rang. Granny answered. It was for me.

It was my cousin. She had changed her mind. We were going to the farm after all. Her husband could go another time.

To this young distraught girl it was a total miracle. Just as the voice in my dream had spoken, everything was going to be alright.

We did go to the farm. I did spend time with, and ride, the horses. And I met a girl the same age whose friendship I would enjoy until several years later when life got in the way.

It has occurred to me since that my grandmother, realizing how distraught I was by the change of plans, may have called my cousin after I went to bed and asked her to reconsider. And that it might have been her standing over me in the night, the angel that she was, with a reassuring voice telling me everything was going to be okay.

It doesn’t matter how it transpired. I have never forgotten those gentle and oh, so important words ~ words that have comforted, guided and consoled ever since, during times of sorrow, grief, uncertainty and pain. At times that simple message was the only thing I had to hold on to, giving me the strength and the understanding to know that whatever happened I would be fine.

In recent years I have come to admire the supremely talented Canadian singer/songwriter Jacob Moon who, a few years ago, penned a song called, believe it or not, “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright.” When I first heard it I was reduced to tears by its simple melody and moving words. Jacob had put to music the song in my heart. Now whenever I hear it I am moved to remember that moment, long ago, when a simple message comforted the heart of a distraught young girl. Words I continue to lean on as my life unfolds and realize that in my trials I am not alone.

Here’s a link to Jacob Moon performing “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright” via YouTube. Please take a moment to listen and hear the beautiful words.

Thanks for visiting. And thank you, Lana, for the opportunity to share this special moment from my life …

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

 

 

 

 

Staring Out The Window

 

2014-04-08-09-52-48

 

~*~

“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

 

 

Resurrection

 Lambs in Spring

Little white balls of beautiful fluff,

Bouncing and prancing and that kind of stuff.

Baaing and whimpering here and there

Sometimes they’ll do nothing but stop and stare.

Crying for mother on a lovely spring day,

Mother comes running; decides to stay.

Bounding and twisting round and round,

Looking for something no other lamb’s found.

~*~

This is the first poem I remember writing.

I was 10 years old at the time and my form teacher at school had issued a challenge during an English lesson to write a poem for spring. It would have been this time of year, in fact.

I wrote it. Handed it in.

A few days later the teacher was distributing the marks and asking some of us to read our poems to the class.

On my paper he’d written “Very Good!” but in front of the class he asked me, “Are you sure you didn’t copy this from somewhere?”

I was a tender and insecure child being raised in a broken home and in the shadow of my mother’s operatic glory. To have the light shone on me at all was difficult enough but to be accused, perhaps even in jest, that the work I’d handed in was not my own totally mortified me. I defended myself, of course, and he seemed to accept it, but I have never forgotten how ill it made me feel to have someone question my integrity as a writer.

I know this poem by memory. To me it is one of my greatest early writing achievements. If I ever publish a proper book of my best poems this will have pride of place on the first page.

All other writing has sprung from this creative moment. It was the first time I saw myself as a writer and, ironically, the first time (and hopefully the last time) I was accused of plagiarism.

There was a huge gap of time before I was able to see myself as a writer in adulthood. Though I kept journals and occasionally wrote poetry I had disassociated when I was growing up so pursuing dreams and cultivating my talents was beyond my comprehension or ability.

It wasn’t until a kindly woman, my boss at the time, gave me a good, swift kick in the proverbial derriere (I was in my late 20s) that I began to awaken from my deep creative malaise and see myself as a writer, perhaps for the first time. I was working as her administrative assistant in the corporate relations department of a real estate association, and she saw something in me she thought needed cultivating. However, she had to threaten to fire me before I was able to wake up enough to see it myself.

This incredible woman waded through the muck of my unconsciousness to find something long hidden and almost lost, and gave me the opportunity to reclaim it. She taught me how to build an employee newsletter ~ research, write, edit, produce. It started at four pages and, as I got the hang of it, quickly grew to eight pages. Circulation about 150. I learned quickly and loved doing it. In time I was promoted to Editor of the association newsletter ~ a weekly publication circulated to more than 25,000 realtors in the Greater Toronto Area.

I suppose I share this to demonstrate the difference people can make in our lives, and to demonstrate that if we can only get out of our own way we might resurrect an important piece of our life puzzle.

Had my school teacher been more supportive and understood me and my life situation better he might not have been so free with his accusation and I might have had more confidence to pursue this obvious talent. There was no one at home to do this, so left to my own devices, confused and with nowhere to turn, my only alternative was to let it go. Even as a child it hurt too much to have my integrity questioned.

But, as I’ve learned, it takes just one person to see potential and show you what’s possible for you to start believing in yourself. And, as I am learning again in these middle years while pursuing a long-lost equestrian dream with a new coach, this can happen at any time in your life.

Thanks for visiting …

Dorothy

©Dorothy Chiotti, Aimwell CreativeWorks 2014

Written in response to the Weekly Writing Challenge: Writerly Reflections