Paulette awoke with an ache in her heart, a grinding in her gut. If there really was a God, why would He have let anyone put a child through that? …She had survived, but at what cost? She was an itinerant professor, living in her head, not her heart. She had broken away, but abandoned her sister; hadn’t contacted her family in years.Paulette wondered what she was looking for in these weekend workshops. Absolution wasn’t on the curriculum. What could she possibly hope to accomplish? To be a healer you need to connect with people. You need to touch, and let yourself be touched. And not just with your hands.Watching these nurses, she envied them their friendships. Here were real buddies truly caring about each other, taking jabs, sharing private jokes and fears. She’d never had that. Even witnessing it from across a room, or a yard, only made her feel that much more lonely.She got along with people well enough. Agreed with whatever they said, watched their pets, helped them move from one apartment to another. But no one really knew her.Paulette had never been flush with self-confidence. People took that as humility, but humility isn’t painful and crippling. She hadn’t yet learned that humble and self-destructive aren’t the same thing at all. They’re not even on the same team.And now here she was at a workshop for healers. Had she come here to heal; or to be healed?It was one of those warm, charming days that write poems about themselves, and then settle these very softly into your mind. Paulette sensed what felt like a rain-laced breeze stirring her soul; sodden, and yet beautiful; laden with both the dismal, and the promising.- From “The Gardens of Ailana”, a fiction largely based around adults still traumatized by having been abused as children, in the name of their parents’ religion.