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Hands Off

*Trigger Warning*

Hands Off by Jacqueline Cioffa

I am not a patient person, no I am not. I bide my time, and busy myself with stuff. I should be writing, working, playing, struggling, worrying, and I am. I’m also waiting which is never good for an over active mind.

Yet here I am, hurtling forward going nowhere. Jumping ahead to anticipate the future. The past sneaks in, memories I cannot escape. They stick to me like a parasite drawing blood all around and everywhere I turn.

Can a five-year-old understand the meaning of true love?

I believed magic lived inside my daddy’s big, round, jovial belly instead of plain old spaghetti and meatballs. The sparkling lights on the Christmas tree, snowflakes stuck to the window, felt warm and fuzzy. Childlike wonder, tossing and turning the night excitedly awaiting the dawn and Santa. The yellow kick and go with the humongous red bow sat under the tree, brought raised electric hair of emotion. Spring couldn’t come fast enough, I’d be seven by then. A big girl, big enough to hit the streets. The alarm clock with the FM radio and ice cream cake at thirteen made me feel special. I believed that was L.O.V.E.

Seventeen came with an attitude, and a too expensive, fancy pink and white crepe silk al la ‘Dynasty’ dress complete with 80’s shoulder pads.

On to the first, real honest-to-God date. He was ‘hot-shit’ about town a decade older and he liked me. I had to beg, cry and cajole my parents to give in. They caved, eventually. High school was miserable. I left slivers of happy go star dust lucky  behind, the lights flickered and dimmed. When the date with the man-boy got too steamy, I was the scared little girl way out of her comfort zone. I panicked, jumped, slithered, smoothed out the bougie fuchsia floral wrinkles and called home. My daddy was there in minutes, at 2:00 a.m. to scoop me up. No questions asked. It was easy to leave another piece behind.

By twenty I was a smart mouth grownup living on my own. I met a guy who said all the right things, bought roses, sweet treats and diamond rings. He promised to take care of me. I shrugged my shoulders, and believed the hype.

Until he punched me in the ribs full fist, split my lip and blackened my eye. Yeah it was real easy to let go of love, for good. Again. And again.

To discard myself like some frivolous afterthought, no good soiled trash. To give away yet another piece of my damaged soul. To give in, to give up, to give way.

What did I do instead?

I married the tick infested nuisance, to silence the noise despising every single thing about him. Stupid girl, you can’t wiggle your way out of white orchid floral arrangements, church bells, and silk crepe clouded visions against the skin. Too late to turn back.

The only good, kind, sweet, solid, funny man who never judged me walked down the aisle squeezing my trembling hand in his steadied way and whispered, “I love you.”

I let go.

How? Why? When?

I simply let go of his hand. I let go of his hand shaking and unsteady. I let go of his hand and mine entwined, for all the wrong reasons.

I plain forgot. I shut down, shut off leaving a trail of stale rice dreams behind. Crummy crummy, unholy crumbs for the birds. I let go of love, and walked towards compromise. The capacity, belief and desire to give away the sparkly pixie dust parts died with each passing step.

Thirty came and went, the dizzying panicked blur of regret. Poof. Dissipated, time wasted, more and more wasted time. Eyes closed, heart closed, mind closed, brick walls crushing down heavy on my iron clad lung and cement filled suffocation.

Of course I made feeble, wobbly attempts to come and go.

Weak, strong, strong, weak, nauseating and top spinning heartbroken. Time clouded by shrouded veil, dense fog illusion, and stowed away dollhouse dreams. Denial, muddied, muddled, shredded eight foot faded ivory train-wreck and vows long forgotten.

Pummel my face as hard as you can, I don’t care. The wet, warm blood feels warm and soothing dribbling down my chin and tastes oh so sweet, so much better than numb nothing.

I am alive and bleeding crimson red.


I can no longer want, ask, believe nor care about little girl dreams. I must pull up my big girl boy shorts and act like a man. The five dollar frivolous, white horse prince saviors, and romantic cowboy brass buckles, burr boot straps dead and buried inside little house on the prairie garish fantasies.

Ride along, move along, mosey along this is my dime store fantasy flick. I have no idle minutes left for regret, I’m riding shotgun.

Who needs some hot-shot, horseshoe, horse-shit, five o’clock stubble smooth talker on a Harley to whisk you away? Take the keys, turn the ignition, and drive. Don’t look back, don’t look over you shoulder, don’t ask and don’t give yourself away. Keep self-esteem in check, and your holy womanhood held high. Little girls, do not give your heart away. Keep it, share it, love it, dance around and around in twirly girly pretty sparkly shimmery circles. Your heart is not a bargain basement sale, it’s gold glitter and swirls of magic. The key to your heart should be kept close and cherished inside your tiny, innocent, girlie hands and extended, graceful feminine forever curious fingers. The lines and maps etched on your palms are forever yours to reach further, hold tighter and aim higher. The hands, funny face little one are yours to reach for the heavens, feel the tickle from a blade of grass, and massage away the rough, coarse granite experiences and, to understand.

To love with your fingers outstretched and wipe the tears from your eyes.

Your fragile, pretty girl pink hands were never meant to cover your face and hide, in shame.

There is something else, something better, something bigger, something precious.
There is something tangible to hold onto when you close your eyes and dare to dream.
There is something mysterious pulsating inside, that never lies.

Do not ever forget how safe the world felt holding the right, kind gentleman’s hand. And do not ever let go of the love.

Don’t forget to love the hands attached to the arms and a direct line to your heart. Love comes in many beguiling and bewitching forms, unloved is something different, something not whole.

Sometimes love is a jovial round belly filled with spaghetti and meatballs. Others, it’s quieting, stoic, stubborn, and unwavering. A mother’s illogical love that does not give up on you, and your trembling hands. Maybe, it lives inside the gasp of an unexpected hiccup or giggle, or the perfect timing of a handwritten note from a friend in the post with three simple words imbibed, thinking of you.

Sometimes, it’s finding your way home.

Sometimes it’s finding your way back home.

And sometimes it’s finding your own way back home.

To love.

That five-year old was wise.

She understood she held the key in her hands, never too tight and always close to her heart.

“To love oneself is the beginning of a life-long romance” – Oscar Wilde



    • jackiecioffa jackiecioffa

      Thank you, Shawna for reading and commenting.
      It hurt, but it doesn’t anymore. And, that is the beauty of time and learning to love oneself.
      <3 I've added a *Trigger Warning* to the post.
      love and light. Jackie

  1. I read this in awe, Jackie.. How did you make it through? Somehow you did. I had a loving daddy who died when I was 12. About 15 years ago, an old man hit me with a feeble punch in the face when I visited my mother in an Alzheimer’s residence. It “struck” me that I’d always trusted men’s hands. It makes me happy to know you’re learning to love yourself.

  2. jackiecioffa jackiecioffa

    Hi Elaine,
    Thank you for sharing your story with me. I’m sorry you lost your father so very young,
    and happy to know he was a kind man who left you with loving memories. I was blessed to have a gentle, kind father who adored me. The human spirit is strong and resilient, and I was very young when I fell into wrong hands. It took a long time to leave, and when I managed to leave for good I never looked back. I hardly think about it now.
    I have a loving family who have always supported me good and bad decisions, I’m blessed.
    I’m sorry an elder struck you and your mother was unwell. Getting old is hard work.
    Blessings, Jackie

  3. Like Shawna, Jackie, I literally hurt while reading this. Your advice to women is invaluable, though, and I hope many will read it and learn from your wisdom. You are a beautiful, courageous person. xoxoo

  4. I never thought I would be ‘that’ girl, I was loud, opinionated and independent and overly naive, yet I found myself in the worst possible situation. Abused, manipulated and broken. It can happen to anyone, and I was not immune.. I hope many someones read this and it gives them strength,comfort, and the courage to just say no. Recovery and joy are indeed possible, and self love is the ultimate goal. Thank you, Mary. We’re all broken, the cracks mend in time.

  5. Luanne Luanne

    Your words you write…come from your heartYou are an awesome,inspiring and strong woman.Your Father loved his little girl.Your Mom,a wonderful woman ,with much strength and unconditional love.Keep writing and putting the pen to the paper…you inspire many.Much love and Light

    • jackiecioffa jackiecioffa

      Thank you Luanne for your amazing strength, steadfast support,
      and friendship. You are a blessing to me and my family.
      I’ll keep writing, and help someone along the way.
      That’s the best I can hope for, and that’s a lot.

      Xx Miss you!

  6. Karen Karen

    You’ve found your true courage. Thank you for sharing. This should be mandatory reading for all young people. May God bless you and keep you my friend. xoxo

    • jackiecioffa jackiecioffa

      I don’t know about finding my true courage it waxes and wanes, but I am a fighter. I love your wonderful idea about young people reading this. I would be honored to think some young person or persons stumble across my story and
      find the hope and courage they need. Faith and divine intervention carry us through the dark days.
      Love and light to you my friend, always.

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