Once upon a present day time, an Adult Child (named Linda) found herself wanting to test her cleverness concerning her existence. She had countless skills and wanted to combine those talents with newfound ingenuity to solve the riddle of her life.

Life had always puzzled Linda. She was baffled by certain events that had occurred. Painful and perplexing memories from her past bewildered her.

The ingenious Adult Child chose to build a miniature, 3-D puzzle of her life.  Linda knew that once all the pieces were in place, she would be able “to see the bigger picture,” and finally understand these experiences. She set about purchasing the needed materials and tools, construction paper, paints and Balsa Wood.  Setting a card table in the middle of her room, she quietly sat, questioning herself whether she was truly willing to tackle such a project? She knew if she began, she would have to complete it.

Linda made a silent commitment to do whatever it took, whether it took years of her life or but a short amount of time. Memories filled her mind from long ago, of a friend who wanted to lose weight. The friend had failed on every diet she had tried, overwhelming herself with the end result of losing 30 extra pounds. It wasn’t until the friend discovered that, in reality, she only had to lose a pound, at a time. In reaching her short-term goal, it built her friend’s confidence and the weight loss was no longer difficult.  Her goal was a personal rewarded effort that she could always use and be proud of.

Linda gave silent thanks to be reminded of this memory to establish a short-term goal and work towards it. In doing so, she wouldn’t overwhelm herself with the project at hand. A day at a time, the Adult Child would work on solving the puzzle.

She laid a 4′ X 4′ thin sheet of wood atop a card table, which would be the foundation for the story of her life to unfold upon. Before she began cutting, pasting and building, Linda painted a landscape on the board.  Blues and whites for capped ocean waves, green meadows and brown, green, and golden mountains. Symbolically this would speak to her of the peaks and valleys of her life.

The days and weeks passed with Linda carefully cutting each piece of her life from the Balsa Wood, painting it or covering it with colored construction paper and attempting to fit each piece of the puzzle together.

As she returned to her childhood memories, she slowly cut a heart out of wood and colored it carefully in red. Holding it in her hands, she placed pressure on both oval, curved sides and broke the little heart in two. In remembering her pain, hot salty tears flowed down her cheeks. She silently questioned, “How could I have been so betrayed? What did I do to deserve to be hurt so badly?” Still hurting, she tucked the broken heart into the adjoining pieces, trusting that soon she would be able to see the whole picture of her life from a new perspective.

From deep within, Linda continued to build her 3-D puzzle.  Some days were harder than others to continue, but she persevered.

As a small child, Linda wet the bed and after the beatings from her father, she was forced to wash the sheets with a toothbrush in the bathtub. For this memory, she drew a monster uglier than any other she’d ever seen. She placed this piece of the puzzle next to the broken heart.

For a moment, the Adult Child smiled, remembering her special 7th birthday when she was given a shiny bike. She had felt so proud that she could ride with the wind!  The smile, however, quickly faded as the monster returned. The party was ruined as Linda’s mother was beaten. The child, and the shiny, new bike became the spoils of the monster.

The Adult Child drew and cut the bike from Balsa Wood.  She painted it with glossy, red paint and allowed it to dry and then cut the wheels from the bike before placing it within her puzzle. It would symbolize the loss of her freedom. Her broken toy joined the broken heart.

Linda soon discovered that the monster enjoyed hurting her and forced her to do things, which she knew in her heart, were bad. No adult, not even her mother attempted to rescue her. He took photos, which shamed her. Unbelievable pain filled her heart in remembering, as she cut a puppet from the Balsa Wood.  She looped black; yarn strings into the wood and glued them to the monster. At that time in her life, there was no escape.

Next to the bed they shared was a jar which housed gold fish and lying at the bottom, Linda could see silver dollars.  She would quietly fantasize, at night, that she could rob the jar and pay someone to take her to her mother. The monster lived the outlaw life, having guns for toys, exercising the right to shoot-outs in the presence of the child.

To combine these two memories, Linda drew a convict in black and white prison jerseys, holding a gun in a robbery of a bank teller. The monster had robbed her innocence and no amount of money could buy her happiness. The puzzle piece fit tightly and perfectly next to the others.

The monster forced Linda to take pills and threatened if she told anyone of the things he had done, he would kill her and the mother. He didn’t have to kill her, for inside, she already felt dead. The inner child had perished long ago.  For Linda’s 3-D puzzle, she cut a tombstone out of the Balsa Wood. In small lettering, she wrote her name; her birth and death date and cried aloud as she lettered, “Rest in Peace.”

At age 24, Linda broke the vow of silence (forced upon her by the monster) to her ex-husband, who accused her of lying.  Without the validation and necessary healing, she journeyed on a self-destructive mission.  A decade of drug addiction followed, as the young woman attracted abusive monsters to mentally, physically, emotionally and sexually resume where her daddy had left off.

For the 3-D puzzle, Linda cut a phonograph record out of the Balsa Wood.  She used a tool to make the grooves in the disk-shaped object and to fully complete the symbolized effort; she scratched the record deeply across the indentations.  This piece, like all the others, fit perfectly into place, which would heal the repeated painful and dysfunctional pattern she unknowingly recreated time and time again.

Weeks had now passed since she began this project and now as she looked at the puzzle, and seeing it in a more completed form, she recognized why her life had been so filled with pain. There had been nothing of beauty to look upon. There had been only sadness, pain, and misery.

Not blaming or hating, she could look back and now understand why she had made the choices she had. Being robbed, at a tender age, of innocence, self-esteem and self-confidence had modeled her present day world.

As she looked at the puzzle, she became aware of the ugliness.  Where was the love? The gentleness? The compassion and trust? Where was the closeness of a family, morals, bonding, and dreams? At that moment, Linda realized fully what she must do.

Immediately, she sat in silent prayer, not asking, nor telling the Divine anything of what she thought she needed or wanted. Rather, she sat with a listening attitude. Her prayer was this:

“I know now I’m a good girl and I don’t deserve to be abused in any way! I am worth loving, I am smart, I am pretty, and thanks to you, God, I feel very confident about the great unknown of the rest of my life. Fill me with Divine Ideas of what it is You want me to have and I open myself to receive. Amen.”

One-by-one, images were born in Linda’s mind.  A soft, white bunny with tall, floppy ears, a pink nose and black, strand whiskers. She remembered it as a stuffed toy she had admired as a child. The vision recaptured a memory of her innocence. She drew the bunny and fit the piece into the puzzle. She could see the bunny, ever-so-clearly in her mind.  She could almost feel the soft fur of its body as she brought it to life on the paper.

Next, she saw a Fawn in an open field. It was delicate and pure and she knew it symbolized gentleness, which she desperately wanted to feel from friends and a future man companion. She drew the Fawn, and it, like all the other pieces, fit perfectly into her puzzle.

A soft yellow rosebud, tinged with pink at the edges appeared in her mind, along with a sister seed of a full-grown rose.  As she drew the image, she had a vision that the bud was her when she was a child. Beautiful, but closed to prevent harm. Awareness and time had folded back the petals, with an ever-expanding consciousness that now beheld love, purity and beauty.  The puzzle was nearing completion.

Now, as her eyes rested upon beauty, her vision was filled with herself as a five­year-old child.  In a pink and white checked jumper and her eyes shining, the smile that appeared would have brought tears to anyone’s eyes!  The inner child hadn’t died afterall, she was alive and well and wanted to play!!! She wanted to run and swim, dance and sing, she wanted to look forward to holding hands with a boy and blushing from a first kiss!

Though Linda was now a grown woman, she was going to begin this day by allowing her inner child to experience those golden moments. She placed a before and after photo of herself in the puzzle.

The Adult Child looked at her puzzle of life and sighed as she saw past, present and future build a 3-D tapestry before her, however, she hesitated in announcing the project as complete. The pieces all fit; but somehow, she had this nagging feeling that there was still a missing piece. To all appearances, the puzzle was solved; it
was whole and complete.

Linda had a choice. She could trash the puzzle or she could search inwardly for the missing piece.

Again, she looked at what the entire picture was telling her. She saw her past for what it was. Her present offered recovery and acceptance.  Her future melted into the now by placing her attention upon beauty, kindness, gentleness, love and the purity of the rose.

What had been omitted? She closed her eyes and within her inner vision, she saw the missing piece.

A double rainbow, in all His Glory, arched across the sky.  It was the first one Linda had ever seen, coming at a time when she had admitted her entire life openly. She inwardly knew that the rainbows were a sign, especially for her, from God, telling her that everything would be all right.  Doubly all-right!

In watercolors, she painted the double rainbow and as it dried, she placed the final piece of the puzzle in place.

There is no ending to the pieces of life we’re given. The real beginning began the moment Linda chose to heal her perspective of her past experiences, and to understand her choices and decisions. Courageously, she was willing to “see the bigger picture,” understanding that she could help countless others. She had learned compassion, she had learned gentleness and self love.  She realized, too, that no matter what our life appears to be, we are each here to make a contribution to others within society…a contribution to the world as a whole… Linda’s riddle was solved. Life no longer remained a puzzle.

To The Reader:

Linda, at this time, (Spring of 1995) is serving her final months of incarceration in a minimum-security prison in California.  She was able, because of her incarceration, to locate friends of her father who had known him well. (Her father had been killed several years ago in a motorcycle accident.)

One of the things Linda learned via correspondence with a now, much older Outlaw friend who rode with and loved her father was that her father’s father was a monster, too. Unlike Linda, he was never able to pull the pieces of himself together in order to see the bigger picture.

Love surrounds Linda in the form of a husband who adores her two little boys that need her, friends that listen to and support her, and a few old Outlaws that care enough to help her reconstruct her past.

It is Linda’s dream to help others learn how to piece their lives together, to put their monsters to rest.

 Latest Update July, 2003:

Yearly, at Christmas time, I am remembered by Linda and her beautiful family with a photo and expression of gratitude. When Linda paroled, she managed a “half-way” apartment house for other ex-convicts.  Respected, compassionate, organized, and openhearted, she helped countless others, recovering from life in prison, gain a strong and steady foothold upon society.  I have had the pleasure of traveling to California on two occasions to meet her, hold her, express my pride, and to recapture the miracle of not only our meeting – but her recovery, as well.