Emptiness ~ The Dark Unknown

Emptiness
Source: WordPress

Emptiness.

A void waiting to be filled.

Fill it wisely, and be well.

~*~

A path familiar walked for too long a time.

Riddled with old perceptions and prejudices;

Delusions, illusions and self-sabotage.

It was all I knew; all I understood of life

Until one day I finally

Asked:

“Is this all there is?”

*

A wall to the right guides me forward;

To the left, escape.

But to escape is to runaway;

To avoid a truth which

Looks, oh dear, so dark.

Yet, I must know the dark secrets

Of this truth. My truth.

Surely it is more than the emptiness

I feel that suffocates.

I must know. I must make

The uncertain live and die in me so

I might live again.

*

All is uncertain. Even escape drags us

Into uncertainty. An uncertainty

Often darker than our own.

*

At the threshold I stand. Smile.

What is more intrepid; more adventurous;

More exciting than to advance into our own

Mystery with open heart and mind, and a

Desire to plumb the depths of our truth?

To feel what is real. To negotiate the joy;

The terror; the fear; the relief;

The pain; the sorrow; the love; the hate;

The sadness; the history of the ages that

Makes us who and why we are?

In the process, discovering a new self-respect,

A new joy in our being because we have found

What lies beyond the lies that have

Shaped how we perceive our world?

Trade that powerful roller coaster

Of healing for an escape

On a delusional fairground ride into the

Utter depths of another’s darkness?

I think not.

So, with courage and a will to seek

My truth boldly I step into that immeasurable

Abyss. The place from which I would

Run screaming for lack

Of understanding.

Stop. Breathe deeply. Feel its clamp around

My chest. Feel it mess with my mind.

My eyes blinded search for light; for

Relief; for the familiar.

Panic. Fear. The light!

Where is the light? The walls have

Closed in. For a moment I

Suffocate in that

Dark unknown. It cannot

Be escaped. It must be faced; met;

Addressed; wrestled with; felt.

Feeling? What is that? I who have

Numbed my way through life must

Suddenly feel? It is too much; it is

Too much; it is too much; it is …

Light!

Blinding darkness in a twinkling to

Blinding light. With one hand I

Shield my eyes while the other is

Gently held.

“Be at peace, dear one, the truth

Is not so hard when faced together.”

I catch my breath. My body floods

With awareness, or at least the

Desire for it. I am not alone in this

Dark place when the Good Heart

Upon it shines.

“See.

Acknowledge.

Understand.

Accept.

Release!

Be free.”

To be free of my past I must

Face it. And not just

My past, but the lives of those

Who came before and coloured

My world with all their

Grief and prejudices and

Suffering and pain.

Together the Good Heart and I

Walk this straight

And narrow way.

The gentle hand my guide;

The gentle voice my comfort.

No judgment.

My truth revealed in a loving

Way, leaving me weeping for

Joy at my survival of the

Slings and arrows life has

Thrown my way. Somehow

I made it here. And somehow,

Henceforth, I shall thrive.

Fill the emptiness created by a

Self-imposed, protective vacuum that

Had almost sucked the life

Right out of me. Fill it with love;

With beauty; with peace.

I am more than the misery of that

Dark unknown. My truth buried

Behind the heavy shroud of

Others’ suffering; imposed upon my

Will and accepted as my own as

I knew no better.

My truth reveals my authenticity.

Yet, I would never have heard its voice

Without first stepping boldly into that

Dark unknown.

~*~

This is written in response to the Weekly Writing Challenge: 1,000 Words. It started as a free writing exercise, calling upon the memory of a dream I had a couple of weeks ago, an experience in a restaurant where you eat in the dark and years of therapy.

Thanks for visiting,

Dorothy

~*~

©Dorothy Chiotti, Aimwell CreativeWorks 2014

More Emptiness from the 1,000 Word Challenge

Memoirs of an Unremarkable Man

Louie Behogan

Lita Doolan

Winter

~*~

Winter Sun

~*~

The cold of Winter hath the landscape gripped

And wrapped its frosted fingers good and tight.

And from the trees vast branches hath been ripped,

Their scars a sad and plaintive sign of plight.

And o’er the hills vast swathes of icy snow

A mass of crystal twinkling ‘neath the sun

A blesséd sign that e’en in ten below

The light still shines upon us, everyone.

*

And so the winters of our lives unfold

Perchance a time to hibernate and grow.

When life seems hard; the world outside is cold

Yet in our hearts we warm to truth we know.

Soon beastly Winter, too, itself will sleep

As Spring time o’er the hills doth start to peep.

~*~

It’s actually -20C outside. Hibernation feels like a really good idea. 😉

Thanks for stopping by.

Happy New Year!

Dorothy

~*~

©Dorothy Chiotti, Aimwell CreativeWorks 2014

Some Things Are Not Meant To Be …

Here is this week’s Free Write Friday prompt from Kellie Elmore:

~*~

envelope-typewriter-words-favim-com-404175_large

~*~

Liberating for me, as a matter of fact …

Enjoy!

~*~

Some things are not meant to be

What do you think you could ever say

That would reach me?

I am not angry.

I simply wonder.

And why do you think

I could even trust your words?

After all the pain;

All the rejection;

All the hurt.

Yes, hurt.

How could you know what you could never tell me

When you don’t know your own heart?

And when you certainly don’t know mine.

You’ve bruised it such

That I can no longer entrust it to you.

So, whatever you think you could say

In such a simple missive

Cannot reach the tenderest part of me,

Padlocked and protected

Against the likes of you.

You had your chance.

You had my love.

And you squandered it.

*

Forgive you?

Certainly ~ on my terms.

Safer for my heart not

To know what you could never say.

You’d only colour it

With self-pity,

As always,

Anyway.

~*~

This highly-charged prompt brought the word “father” to mind.

Two fathers, actually. My Heavenly Father, with whom I have a good relationship and who has no need to write me such a letter.

And my Earthly father, who is a completely different story.

I do not wish to disparage him. Certainly, he had trials enough growing up that scarred his life. Still, as Iyanla Vanzant (@IyanlaVanzant) tweeted last evening … “Parents are people with hurts, wounds and stories – still children have the right to expect parents to be present.”

He was not present. Not in mind, body or spirit and, in fact, he declared during a phone call when I was 16 that if anyone was going to be hurt in this relationship it wasn’t going to be him.

So, is it possible that such a man, an intelligent one at that and a good writer, would ever know or understand my heart enough to know what to say in such a letter?

I doubt it.

And I have accepted it.

Our life paths have taken far different routes. He makes no effort to be in touch with me and I have no need to be in touch with someone who willfully hurts me.

Not all relationships are meant to be.

Conversely, I have always felt a strong connection to my Father in Heaven. He is the one, in the midst of life’s storms, who tells me everything will be alright. He is the one who wants only the best for me. He is the one who surrounds me with love and shows me my potential.

He is the one who wishes me peace.

Thanks for visiting …

Dorothy 🙂

©Dorothy Chiotti, Aimwell CreativeWorks 2013

~*~

Traces of Them; Traces of Me

Traces of Them

We are admonished by some that history belongs in the past. And perhaps it does.

I’m here to offer, however, that we ignore history at our peril, especially as it pertains to our family. The people who preceded us were shaped by world events and their experiences. How they were shaped, shapes us.

I believe that if we are to be able to move forward positively with our lives, and leave history behind, it is important to examine the past, how it effects us, and make peace with it.

Allow me to demonstrate, albeit scratching the surface, with my own experience.

~*~

I am well acquainted with my family history.

After a considerable amount of time spent in my early 20s researching through old family documents, records libraries and history books (in the days before the Internet, I might add), and with the help of professional genealogists, I managed to trace branches of my family tree back to the Middle Ages. Perhaps, more importantly, I began to see the ancestral story that is the backdrop to my life and learn to appreciate, for good or ill, its impact on me.

I began to recognize the sources of prejudice and the pain, of strength and courage. Began to see the talents and traits that had passed down the generations and landed on my doorstep. Ideas, beliefs and emotions that had been programmed into me and that I could examine, accept (or reject) according to my own sense of truth.

This is the story in a nutshell. You’ll likely notice some recurring themes:

My illustrious German and English ancestors settled in New England in the late 1600s, and made lives as magistrates, farmers and politicians. At the time of the American Revolution my branch of the family tree sided with the British (United Empire Loyalist (UEL)) and fought with the notorious Butler’s Rangers. With all their lands and possessions confiscated the remaining family walked from Poughkeepsie, NY, to Niagara, Ontario (Upper Canada at the time) to start a new life. My direct line ancestor was the first white settler in Middlesex County (the area now known as London).

Irish PastoralA couple of generations down the road this family linked up with my Irish ancestors who, in the 1850s, fled the effects of the great potato famine to start a new life as farmers in southern Ontario. My Irish great, great grandmother is purported to have been mad (which looks about right when I consult the old photo in the family archives). Her mental instability left its mark on my great grandfather who grew up to be a rather unpleasant man. The upside ~ being Irish, of course, music was part of the way of life so wherever they settled they became a part of the local music scene. In northern Michigan, where they were farmers for a time, they proudly played in the local brass bands.

A generation or two later, in the late 1800s, the family left Michigan and trekked west across the northern US, helping to build the Great Northern Railway along the way. Eventually they settled in Montana, where the railroad ended, and successfully ran a railroad cafe. My great aunt Margaret, an artist in her own right, studied painting with iconic Western painter, Charles Russell. (A little name dropping never hurts. 😉 ) Her natural forté, however, was apple sculpture.

Around 1920 my great grandparents headed north to Canada, settling in southern Alberta. My great grandfather owned a barber shop and pool hall in town as well as farmed. They did well for a few years before losing everything during the Great Depression and Dust Bowl of the 30s. This took a terrible emotional and financial toll from which they, and their three teenage sons, including my grandfather, never fully recovered. They, like many other families in the area, moved hundreds of miles to northern Alberta to clear more land and start again. Music was the main social outlet and a positive focal point in a home filled with strife. My grandfather, a charismatic (mad) drifter, could play any instrument you handed him.

Alberta PrairieIn the early 1920s my genteel Scottish great grandparents, well into middle age, left their comfortable life in Glasgow, Scotland, to give their eight children a chance at a better life in Canada. (My great grandfather was a retired soldier in the Black Watch.) With a 100-acre land grant from the Canadian government at their disposal they made the uncomfortable journey by boat across the pond and then by train across the prairies to begin a new life as homesteaders in northern Alberta. (I am told that my great grandmother once confessed that if she’d known how hard the life was going to be she would have stayed in Scotland.)

It was a rude awakening from Old World charm to New World insanity ~ clearing fields, building barns and log homes, battling hungry mosquitoes in the summer and enduring long and fiercely cold winters. It was a difficult life that tested the family in many ways. My grandmother, an independent spirit and therefore considered the “black sheep” of the family, adored her horse and sang like a bird. She married the charismatic (mad) musician of Irish descent and endured 27 years of emotional abuse before leaving him and striking out to successfully rebuild her own life. It was at this time she discovered her talent for oil painting. (Theirs is a compelling story that I started to put in a novel some time ago. I might finish it one day.)

They had one daughter, my mother, who excelled as a singer and miraculously found her place on the international operatic stage based in London, England, which is where I grew up. You’d have to know her parents’ story to understand why it was such a miracle she had this career. I wish she’d write a memoir.

My Hungarian roots were planted in southern Alberta in the 1920s. Peasant stock seeking a new life in a new land. Hardworking but dysfunctional. My nagymama was not allowed to learn English. I recall, however (and I only saw her twice when I was a little girl) she had a lovely productive garden, was a wonderful cook and created the most beautiful lace work. Still, like my other grandmother, hers was a troubled marriage. Nagypapa was a troubled soul. My father ran away from home when he was 14. He became writer; a musician; jack of all trades and master of none. A deadbeat dad. (Though I doubt he’d ever see it that way. If he ever disputes me on this I’ll be happy to engage.)

~*~

Again, this is the tip of the iceberg but, perhaps, you notice the general themes: a lot of starting over; a lot of emotional and financial hardship. Good, hardworking, industrious people with their share of trials and tribulations. People of courage, strength and character. Music, the panacea; the source of joy, of laughter and relief.

Traces of Me

And here I am ~ a veritable melting pot of all of this, plus everything I brought to the world, plus all the things I’ve experienced since I was born.

The marvellous thing is that understanding my family’s story has helped me to understand myself.

Dance Like No One's Watching
Dance Like No One’s Watching by Dorothy Chiotti

Coming from a long line of musicians, artists and writers has been a great blessing. I have sung in one of the world’s great symphonic choirs. Performed in my own vocal group and recorded three CDs. I have been a commissioned animal portrait artist and produced a number of veil paintings. I have written all my life and presently pour my creative focus into the writer’s path.

I have a passion for the land because it is in my blood. We were never city people. My passion for horses rises from this love of the land.

Several years ago, while I was going through divorce, I had an intense dream about my ancestors and awoke in the early morning to write a 20-page journal entry about family history. In the process I realized my purpose ~ to stop the pain. To give myself a chance of a new life unencumbered by the weight of the past. In the ensuing years I have worked tirelessly to make this happen.

As I have no children (my brother and I are the last twigs on this particular branch of our family tree) my focus must be to blossom to my full potential while reclaiming my right to thrive. To go out in a blaze of glory, honouring my place in the world while remembering those who came before and made my journey on the planet possible, is my sincere desire.

Me and BearI have worked extremely hard over the past several years to release the past, so the traces of me that live on in the lives of those I influence are positive, uplifting, meaningful and joyful.

My own journey of moving on and rebuilding a life is not, perhaps, the arduous geographic and physical challenge of my ancestors. Nevertheless it tests my mettle and proves my character, and it is my choice to reclaim the triumph of spirit demonstrated by generations past who lead me by their example.

My mother and late grandmother, each in their own way, escaped emotional tyranny to rebuild their lives on their terms. They are my inspiration as I continue to rebuild my life and endeavour to inspire and move, through art, music and the written word.

Traces of me leaving traces of inspiration in others.

At least, that is my wish.

Thanks for visiting …

Dorothy

~*~

©Dorothy Chiotti, Aimwell CreativeWorks 2013

Other Traces

WEEKLY WRITING CHALLENGE: FADING TRACES AND OLD MEMORIES | SERENDIPITY
Traces | Kansa Muse
Breadcrumbs | Master Of Disaster
The Art of War | K beezy is viral
Wet cement | Margaret Rose Stringer
She was a memory | thinkerscap
Traces: DP Challenge | Lead us from the Unreal to the Real
Arrogance Insults My Intelligence | Bumblepuppies
The Lavender Flowers | Stories From My Mind
Trace | MindMeld
Lavender and Rain | So This Is Writing?
Like Flowers on a Grave | loveletterstoaghost
Day Twenty-Four: Veteran At Death | Clearing My Voice
it’s veterans day | Musings of a Random Mind

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

Trust and the Broken Four-Year-Old

~*~

A free writing exercise inspired by a dream …

Trust Bear

Trust and the Broken Four-Year-Old

The light had gone from her eyes by the time she was four. A vacuous wary stare filled the big, dark eyes with an expression of distrust.

“I cannot trust you,” she seemed to say.

Not a word was spoken but I could tell, as she gazed vacantly in my direction, that nothing was registering. It was as if she was looking right through me, her gaze distant; her aspect disengaged.

She would not be hurt again.

At least I could see this was her intent. But, sadly, it was not her truth. For even if she were able to defend herself completely from the predators that prey on such as she, her defences would also seperate her from those whom might help; might love.

But she trusted no one.

What choice had she but to take care of herself the only way she knew ~ like the tortured animal fight back, run, hide ~ anything to stay out of harm’s way.

It does not make her happy.

It doesn’t even keep her safe. For though she might avoid the demons without, the demons within linger, and torment. They are already there ~ already telling her she’s not good enough to be loved; not pretty enough to be adored; not smart enough to be successful; not loud enough to be heard.

The well-meaning voices she doesn’t trust out there cannot quell the dissenting voices she hears in here.

She searches for her truth, but cannot find it cloaked, as it is, in a blanket of carelessly woven lies that have already, at such a tender age, defined her destiny.

The burden of it suffocates her, and yet she has no idea ~ yet ~ that she cannot breathe. Breath means nothing because it is as if she is not living. She exists. She already survives. She bears the weariness of the aged … and she is four.

I can see in her eyes how she longs for release. She longs for something she does not understand; doesn’t know … yet.

She longs to trust someone but doesn’t know where to turn.

She turns to me.

“Can you be trusted?” she seems to ask, silently, vacantly, as if she’s already made up her mind that I cannot.

Will she understand that if I reach to hug her and say “Yes!” that this is truth?

Our truth together?

How long does it take to reason with a broken four-year-old?

~*~

©Dorothy Chiotti, Aimwell CreativeWorks 2013