Guest in Your Heart / Writing

Open NOT Broken

Month: September, 2012

Broken Butterfly

I have a broken butterfly. Four wings she has but two are torn. She is flaky and dry. Her legs have folded in and under. What once must have looked like the crafted panes of bright orange window glass on veined wings are now faded, scuffed and inglorious.

But didn’t she too fly once? Wasn’t she brilliant, young and whole?

My neighbor spotted her first as we walked. She had found another one last week, dead, but still perfect for a wreath. “Here’s another,” she said today bending to pick her up. But this one was too damaged, marred and old to be displayed or kept so she put her down.

“She’s still beautiful,” I said, noticing one angle where she looked mostly whole.

“You keep her,” she said and I bent to pick her up.

I was a broken butterfly with wings that worked but afraid to fly. It seemed I hid under blankets, held tight to things, clenched in upon myself while my eyes darted searched for openings in windows, doors and books. I needed to pollinate on hope. I was incubating and ashamed of my weakness, lack of mobility or daring. I didn’t see how I was building courage and that even fearful things can be transformative and beautiful.

I was slow to venture out. I had been alive for decades but not truly living. I let the warm of the sun bake me from the safety of my back porch, started to watch the rain fall while leaning over the back of my couch. I joined my daughter doing puddle jump dances in the street. Eventually, alone I went to the end of the street where I could walk the beach and hunt sea glass.

It’s hard to remember being afraid as I soar through wind and the rain. I open my mouth to taste the snow. Grass growing under my bare heels and toes. I look down on landscapes from mountain tops where I have climbed embracing love without certainty or  promises of forever.

This butterfly now in the palm of my hands is dead but I can feel her soft still wings. Antenna are dried and folded backwards down her head, thorax and abdomen.  White spots stand out among the edges of black.

She will not be crunched under careless foot – this corpse of beauty, this memory of my former self. I will place her outside on the purple bloom of my butterfly bush. I picked her up to let her go and placed her high so she could be at home to fold back into herself.

Her soul like mine, hovering over us and free.



The Exquisite Beauty of Honesty

I’ve watched this video several times. It’s gut-wrenching and painful and makes me cry. But more, it touches me and is healing and in a strange way makes me happy.

It’s gut-wrenching because of what this man is speaking about (watch it, I won’t give it away) but it makes me happy because he’s telling the raw and honest truth about his experience. To me, this is exactly why art in whatever form (music, writing, storytelling) is necessary. We live in a culture where we smile a lot even if we are hurt, where we have to perform in various ways even when it’s difficult to handle day-to-day tasks. When someone pierces through the going through motions and is truthful it is a rare gift that says we are all human. And in that raw pain, there is such strength and honor and bravery and I’m not sure why we hide that from one another? It’s beautiful, stunning and staggering and it is intimate. Even over the internet. Even on this blog.

Thank you Katelyn for posting this on facebook. I’m so glad I didn’t miss seeing this. I’m glad I was able to share it with another father in my life who also is living in colliding worlds of his own. And it makes me desperately ache to keep writing. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

From Suicidal to Gold Medalist:Hope for Teens with Troubles

Published in Beth O’Malley’s Lifebook newsletter. Beth O’Malley’ is a national lifebook expert and author of Lifebooks Creating a Treasure for the Adopted Child. She is also an adoptee, adoptive parent and an adoption social worker. To sign up for her newsletter, go to

From Suicidal to Gold Medalist:Hope for Teens with Troubles

Seeing pictures of Kayla Harrison now, smiling and triumphant as an Olympic gold medalist, it is hard to imagine she was suicidal a few years ago. Her current coach, Jimmy Pedro of Pedro’s Judo Center in Wakefield, MA found her ready to jump off of a two-story building soon after he began training her.

What had caused her depression was enduring four years of sexual abuse by another coach, Daniel Doyle, which started when Kayla was 13 years old.

“Every day was a lie inside. I was in constant turmoil,” Harrison said in a CNN article on August 2nd, 2012. She almost left the sport saying it was hard to compete or even to feel normal.

It wasn’t until she confided what was happening to a friend, who in turn told Harrison’s mother that the abuse ended. Harrison’s mother pressed charges immediately. Daniele Doyle is now serving a ten-year sentence in Federal prison.

Kayla credits her new coach, Pedro, as well as family, friends and other judo students with keeping her alive. Harrison had people who believed her immediately and supported her after she disclosed.

Unfortunately, that is not the norm for victims of sexual abuse. According to psychoanalyst Gerald Schoenewolf, “the molestation is often only part of the problem… How parents react when they are told their child has been molested by a relative or friend makes all of the difference.” (1)

“One of the things that can cause sexual molestation to have the most damaging effect,” Schoenewolf said, “is when the child tries to tell adults what has happened and the child is not believed.”

If a supportive adult offers to listen to abuse-related thoughts, feelings or memories related he/she can show the child their experiences aren’t too scary for the adult to handle. In addition, they give the message to the child that such thoughts, feelings and memories are normal and need not be dealt with alone.

This type of support can change or even save a life. For Harrison, support came from her mother, coach and friends. For others, support may come from a social worker, foster parent, teacher, or close neighbor. Believing a person and also believing in their ability to heal is a life-affirming gift any of us can give a teen in turmoil.

For athletes, it’s the fact that Kayla Harrison is the first American ever to win gold in the sport of judo at the Olympics that is awe-inspiring. To me, it’s the fact that she survived four years of sexual abuse by her coach and worked through her trauma. The abuse did not rob her of her goals, dreams or life. Kayla Harrison is a role model for teens everywhere, struggling with any type of abuse.

1. Footnote (1) Full article by Gerald Schoenewolf–oly.html


Great Song. Great Story

You’ve probably heard the song but have you heard this story? I had not until today and am so glad I did.

Nancy Slonim Aronie and Women Who Write at Mobius Oct. 11

Each member of our writing group will share a short piece of writing following a talk by Nancy Slonim-Aronie on October 11, 2012. Please come if you can. She is an inspirational speaker and a talented writer. For the introverted writers in my writing group (like me) this performing is a big step outside the comfort zone but life is too short to give the keys to the car to fear, right?

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