Broken Heart & Broken Toe

I worked as a Costume Designer in the film industry for 25 years. First as a stylist for commercials & rock videos, then eventually  designing costumes for  movies  and  TV  series.

Ten years ago my mom passed, and I took another look at my life. The decision was that I should try writing.  Skipping ahead, it seems that (usually humorous) anecdotes from my design life stand out. With encouragement from blog pals, I have been writing some out.

Broken Heart & Broken Toe

Just over a decade ago, I designed the costumes for a movie titled “Our Fathers”. It’s based on the book by David France “The Secret Life of the Catholic Church in an Age of Scandal”.

     In this true story, Cardinal Law was the Church’s piece of hierarchy that covered up the sexual abuses of children by certain priests. It was very heartbreaking to work on this show: recreating pedophile scenes, depicting the turned upside down lives of victims & the denials by the church. Even the scenes of Cardinal Law testifying on the stand were not satisfying moments. Reality is: he eventually went to live in Rome, as a Cardinal, sanctioned by the Pope.

      Actual adult victims, survivors came to set while we were shooting. It was all quite eerily unnerving.

     Prior to starting prep on the movie, I read the book. It is the biggest hard cover book I’ve ever read. Humongous, I could barely hold it on my lap. The part of the book we made into the movie was a fraction of the book. The rest of it delved deeply into the Church’s very old history of sexual sins. It was bleak, even at the most optimistic points.

      One day, the book leapt from my lap, and attacked my right foot. It landed on the toe next to my big toe.  The toe broke. It’s possible that I accidentally dropped  the book.

     I hobbled through the ensuing 4 month prep & shoot with the broken toe taped to the toes on each side of it. There was constant pain, swelling & 14 or more hours to a working day. I had to buy sneakers in 2 different sizes, the larger size for my right foot. The doctor was adamant. I needed to put my foot up for a few weeks! I did exactly that after we were wrapped, & it eventually healed.

      In retrospect, I realize that nothing was going to stop me from helping to bring this story into movie format, and into the light of the many who didn’t know about it. I believed I was doing something important & good.

      In retrospect, I also think …. the book did attack my toe, after all.

The pic from the top of the post was the header for my writing blog, which is where I had originally written up this anecdote. This was much prior to my thinking of writing out more.

Anecdote & Photos © Resa McConaghy

121 thoughts on “Broken Heart & Broken Toe

  1. I’ve had big heavy books land on my toes and yikes, it hurts! I bet you have a lot of fascinating tales to tell! I have Catholic friends who actually believed that priests were beyond reproach of any sort. They totally bought into all of that even to this day.

    1. JT,
      Yes, the stories abound, but for some reason it wasn’t until recently that I began the memoir in anecdotes process.
      How brainwashed is someone who believes priests are beyond reproach? Would they feel/think the same if their child was the victim of pedophilia by their priest?

  2. So intense working on a movie like “Our Fathers,” Resa. The Catholic Church
    has some VERY guilty culprits, and the cover-ups are disgusting. Most other organized religions have some disturbing “leaders,” too.

    And dealing with that book-attacked broken toe. 😦 What an ordeal. 😦

    1. Hey Dave,
      Yeah, it was amazingly intense. It was quite tough on some of the more method actors. I believe Danny Baldwin was affected the most. He played the adult survivor of priest pedophilia.
      My heart went out to him.
      We also had Ellen Burstyn in for a couple of days. She played the mother of an adult survivor. She had some harsh work to do for the time she was in. I so admire her.
      All of the actors have my respect.
      It was worth enduring the broken toe.

  3. What a film to work on, Resa. I’ll bet it was a disturbing book and an intense story to see coming alive for the screen, but I can’t understand why it felt so important for the story to be told. Absolute power corrupts absolutely, and often there is little remorse or accountability. It’s heartbreaking. And must have been hard to see the real live victims on the set. I’ll bet that book broke your toe on purpose. But you persevered and showed it who’s tougher. ❤

    1. Diana,
      Yes, quite disturbing…
      Is “can’t” a typo? “I can’t understand why it felt so important for the story to be told.”

      Yes, often no accountability. This is one of the reasons I thought…I’m going to do this!
      It was a massive production technically, as well. I had 2 regular wardrobe trucks, and 1 small one, a regular staff of 12, and a plethora of daily help.
      I enjoyed the challenge in that regard.
      Darn rotten toe breaking book!
      Thank you for reading this!
      I’m somewhat stressed out from publishing my writing!
      LOL XO

      1. OH, Yes. A typo in the WORST possible sentence. Arrgh. How horrifying. Darn rotten toe-breaking book and darn typos. I’m glad you knew what I meant to say!

        And what a production. You really are an amazing person, Resa, and I think your dedication shows in all you do. And your writing is wonderful. Don’t stress about it. Not only was it fascinating, but no typos. 😀 Hugs, my friend.

  4. A lovely anecdote Resa. I can’t imagine working on a film with such a vile storyline. Of course, if it helped bring a few to justice maybe it was worth it. I enjoyed your story and would like to read more.

    1. John!
      Yes, it was/is vile. Had it been fiction, I would have passed. However, the fact that it was a true story that needed to get out there caused me to rise to a higher self.
      Comedy is my fave genre to work on. All the actors are happy, cracking jokes. No jokes on this production.
      Okay, you will read more. I’ve written 11 anecdotes so far. I’m hoping to collect them into a book. I’ve got about 40 more.
      I’ll publish the odd one on this blog, time to time.
      I have a couple of pals who I throw the tales by, first.
      Perhaps you would allow me to send you stories that have passed the front lines, for more thoughts/advice?
      OX OX

  5. It’s obvious that the book attacked your toe! I can relate too! Very painful and uncomfortable! 2 shoe sizes! Hmm… why didn’t I think of that!
    Great writing, dahling and however grim, I’m sure you gained alot from that experience! Many hugs your way! xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo

    1. Yes, that effin book!
      If you had bought 2 sizes, you would be stuck with several shoes, all left feet! Lol!
      Thank you for your support, and yes, I gained a lot.

      On another note: I bought a new mailer package! I’m thinking Monday I will send out the DVD. Should I send it to the same address?
      This time you will get it for sure!
      I want you guys to see the movie!
      Love and hugs all around.

      1. ..effin book indeed!!!! 😡
        I think I’d throw the extra shoes away, just so my toes don’t get ideas!!!! 😉
        I’ve just sent you an email!
        MORE HUGS & LOVE!!!!!!!

        1. Lol…
          OR, perhaps Hera would enjoy a good shoe chew?
          Going to mail shortly!

  6. An amazing example of your tenacity and desire to follow through on the right thing to do. I broke my middle toe years ago and it’s not to be taken lightly. I would wake up from terrible dreams I was in so much pain.
    Hats off to you dear Resa. xoxoxo

    1. Dahling Meece,

      You have been 💯% for all my insanity from day 1.
      You became my muse.
      My first movie was “Black Roses” and my infatuation with Carmine. You caught that!
      Your kindness and poetry mean a lot to me. What would I do without you?
      Chapeau to you, too!
      Effin broken toes!!!!!

      1. Oh wow, that’s so lovely, I’ve adored and admired you from day one dear Meece. Your cup runneth over with love, kindness, generosity and amazing talent that is completely enchanting.
        Those effin broken toes better find another home… or foot! xoxoxo

  7. Resa – I am beyond excited that you are writing. You have a marvelous way of expressing your thoughts and emotions in a way that brings healing. Without question, the book attacked you. It almost seems like a metaphor. What was contained in the book was an attack on society, on all who look the other way, who turn away from justice. Thank you for a brilliant post.

  8. Timothy Price

    You have watch out for those spicy true stories they can be feisty, and aggressive as you discovered. Broken toes suck. Cool that you are writing.

    1. Thanks Tim!
      I gotta go make dinner. It won’t be as spicy as this story, though!
      I’ll send an email after dinner. I have an early update on Char’s gown!

  9. Resa, so sorry? Broken toes are bad news. I had one years ago. I’m glad you are writing about your design years, even about the controversial movie. Any abuse; church, school or family needs to be dealt with. The book probably did attack your toe, but maybe luck, it wasn’t the big toe; more pain and longer recovery. Looking forward to reading more of your writing. 📚 Christine

    Tried to post this on your blog and WordPress or FB wouldn’t open. 🙄 Happens a lot.


    1. Thank you, Christine!
      Yeah, it was a bit sickening to work on the show, but it was the right project for me at the time.
      For a long time I didn’t want to write about my interesting (lol) film career, because it seemed like reliving my life.
      However, through anecdotes that slip out of me when the muse so instructs, it feels more fun.
      I know, there are odd issues that pop up, all the time, on WP.
      No worries. I got your comment and appreciate it! xo

      1. Thank you, Resa. Now I know I can make a comment & send it by email. Your film life and design life is interesting! Write about all your experiences, past & present. Your blog is the best! Who doesn’t need color & flair in their life? 🧡🎶 Christine

  10. Extremely important film, to those who actually changed because of it. Unfortunately, no matter how often this happens people still sacrifice their children to the priests, et al. You did a fantastic job, and this is a wonderful post. I’m so happy you are doing these (meaning…more please. Important film and ow, for your broken toe.

    1. The priests, coaches and doctors who are sexually deviant keep being brought out of the woodwork by brave people.
      What about all those female Olympic athletes who that scummy doctor perpetrated?
      I will keep writing. I have 12 stories now. xoxo

  11. Working on that movie must have been incredibly difficult. The damage those priests did to their victims is incaluculable. The fact that the chuch allowed it to go on and tried to cover it up when it came to light is unconscionable, beyond the pale.

    1. It was a strange, and eye opening experience!

      It’s still going on, and not just at the Catholic Church. Boy Scouts, the female Olympic Medalists who spoke out against that perp doctor, young boys on sports teams being molested by coaches.
      All beyond the pale.

      1. Absolutely. There have been numerous cases of sexual abuse at boarding schools and youth facilities in New Hampshire. When I was at Granite State College, I had to take over the art history instructor’s course after he was arrested for sexual misconduct with a minor and witness tampering.

          1. I don’t think I have the stomach for it. One of the members of a writing group I’m in is writing a memoir about his sister’s abuse while she attended a school for the deaf. Just the details so far and the egregious betrayal of trust are devastating to read.

                1. UCH! It’s an endless nightmare.
                  Can you imagine how women are treated in 3rd world countries… all the women being raped in Ukraine right now.
                  Good men need to step up!!!!

  12. Hello Resa, I’m so grateful that there are dedicated and brave actors, producers, directors (and Costume Designers) that bring these stories and events to public attention. They may not be the glamorous side of movie making but are essential if we hope to develop and grow as a society.
    And well done on toughing out an injury like you did – I have seen pro sports people take up bed rest for lesser injuries!

    1. Thanks Tyeth!
      It was my most intense personal experience on film. However, the producers and all crew were right on.
      I had worse experiences (not many) when the producers and director were difficult.
      Anyway, toe got better. Okay, it’s somewhat bent, but works just fine!

  13. You continued despite the physical pain for a bigger purpose – And I commend you for it! PS I’m glad you’re writing down the stories over the course of your career. If they’re anything like this one, I want to read lots and lots more! xo

    1. Aww, thank s Christy!
      Well, the stories are all different. Some are quite hilarious.
      I’ll just keep going until I have enough for a book.
      In the meantime, I’ll post the odd one here.

  14. Horsefeathers, Resa. I can understand how that must have been for you (better than most could), because of my own personal nightmares. It took true courage for an empathetic caring person to work on that set. Your work history really is fascinating. Hugs on the wing.

    1. Thanks Teagan!
      I hope you have recovered from all of your personal nightmares, or at least have them in a good place, for you.
      Yeah, working in film was fascinating, tiring and well paying.
      Might as well get a second round from the best parts! {{{hugs}}}

  15. I’d read also. The story and that it has happened so frequently is truly horrific but your toe story is a nice bit of balancing humor, balancing for the telling of the story not against the actual events, if that makes sense. It doesn’t even take a heavy book to hurt a toe!

    1. Thank you, Janet!
      Without the toe story, I’d have nothing to write the horror around.
      You are right! This piece was a balancing act.
      Happy you would read more!

  16. Yay! Yay! Yay! Sorceress! I am so glad you are sharing all these wonderful (albeit occasionally painful) anecdotes.

    This was an important movie to be part of and I am glad you had the tenacity to go through such pain to finish the job. And then rest.

    Your anecdotes will make a fantabulous book. I second John and would gladly beta read for you, too 🙂

    1. I adore you, dear Thunder.

      You are right on. It is time to share. I’m removed enough now, and have found the breath of courage.
      You will be, and are already a Beta reader with John.
      Who is my Alpha reader? I think you know!

          1. There actually is! The Alpha reader is the first one who reads your very rough draft. Beta readers are the ones who read what you’ve done after the Alpha has gone through it and you’ve cleaned it up. They will give you feedback on the flow, stuff like repetitive things, etc. The Gamma reader is the final proof reader (spelling, grammar, etc.) before you send it to an editor. The few times I’ve been an Alpha or a Beta reader, I was asked to NOT focus on the typos and stuff like that – which drove me nuts because they scream at me. I don’t know that all writers go through the whole process, truth be told.
            By the way, I just googled it to be able to respond intelligently because I didn’t realise there were terms for the Alpha and Gamma!!
            We shall both go to bed tonight a little smarter 😉 xoxo

  17. Hi Resa, working on a project like the one you described is very mentally and emotionally taxing. At least, it would be for me because I am a very sympathetic person and react to emotion around me. I am sure that book did attack your toe and I am glad to hear it healed up okay when you rested. Unfortunately, life doesn’t always allow us to rest when we are sick or injured and need to.

    1. That’s true, life doesn’t always cut us a break.
      I was determined not to sit this project out.
      Hard as it was, I just kept thinking that this had to be done.
      In the ned, it was very worth it!

  18. I imagine it must have been a profound and moving experience to work on this movie. I have not seen it or read the book. And to have survivors on the set–I can imagine everyone involved wanted to make certain the movie told their stories well.

    I did read the Boston Globe’s Spotlight series on the coverup of priests’ sexual abusing people when I was working on one of my books, and when we saw the movie “Spotlight” in the theater, there was silence, then applause when it was over.

    As for your toe–once a coffee table attacked my husband’s toe, so I totally believe your story. I can understand how you needed to finish this important project, and I’m glad your toe did heal eventually.

    1. Yes, profound is the right word Merril!
      And yes, I had to finish it!
      The Boston Globe series was part of the movie. They really helped usurp Cardinal Law, who was relocating priests, and telling parishioners , “it’s taken care of.”

      One of the producers was from Boston. She told me the whole experience literally changed the face of Boston.

      Only 1 priest from that fiasco went to jail. However, the lawsuits (Ted Danson played their lawyer) by survivors was so large, the church was forced to sell off many dioceses.

      The churches/cathedrals were magnificent edifices, and the grounds were massive, green, gardened, lush and added a natural beauty to Boston.
      She said now all the green is gone, high rises had begun replacing the grounds, and churches were now Starbucks, etc.

      Wow, your husband must have said something nasty to that coffee table.
      Broken toe people unite!

  19. Oh wow! I never know you are so famous. I’m flattered to know you, dear Resa.
    Sorry for your toe. I sometimes wonder why some books are so heavy, though this time it was the holy devil, I suppose!! Hugs.

    1. Well, I had a great career. Now I have my Art Gowns and art. Although, if the right project was offered, I would do it. Of course Covid would have to be gone. There are many, many people working in close quarters on a film crew.
      Ah, the holy devil! Yes, he was all over inside that book! You might be right. {{Hugs}}

  20. I can only imagine the trauma of working upon a film set like that each day on such a dark topic. Knowing that true to life victims were also seeing the exposure of an ordeal no child should be exploited to..
    Unfortunately we know , or at least many awakened soul knows that these rings are preying still within these so called protected cloaks of the cloth, right to the Top..

    Your book and broken toe experience doesn’t surprise me either, (( ” In retrospect, I also think …. the book did attack my toe, after all.”)) for lots of Dark mystical magic is thrown at those whose hearts are pure in intention on seeking to inform others of evil within this world..

    Your talent however in your designs is something else, and I have always admired your gift Resa… Let us pray as we move foreword such films are reminders of the depth of corruption which is hidden underground and under the guise of such organisations

    The planets are in that alignment right now Resa whereby more knowledge on such subject matter is surfacing.. It is time for people to share their love and light.. And we are witnessing more and more exposure as people share and speak their truth.

    Thank you for also being a beacon….

    Much love.
    Sue x ❤

    1. It’s crazy, Sue. Is sex that important? Is it a domination sickness?
      The Pope himself brought Cardinal Law to Rome. Here he remained a Cardinal, no repercussions.

      It was a difficult project, especially after the book attacked my toe. Yes, there was evil on almost every page in that book.

      The actors had a hard time too, especially Danny Baldwin. He played an adult survivor. In some ways I say he was lucky to survive the movie.

      It’s not just priests. It’s coaches of young boys on sports teams and Boy Scouts. It’s the female Olympic medalists who spoke up about the doctor. (now in jail)

      It is also all of the men, and a few women who are accomplices by simply not saying anything. Men especially need to step up to the plate.

      Yes, let’s share the light! Let it shine so bright, that those who we are speaking of here and now are blinded…… by the light.

      Thank you for saying I am a beacon.
      I have found many fab souls here on WP. Together we can/are making a beacon.

      Love and light to you, Sue!

      1. The infiltration now within schools on sex education along with normalising transgenderism not to mention drag queens, in nursery schools. Its beyond me Resa how as a society the education system thinks its okay to teach such things at such young ages..
        Evil has its roots in many organisations as you perhaps know..
        I know we could talk for a long long while on the world and what needs putting to rights..
        Its now that time though to be speaking out and not keeping quiet because if no one stops this thread of evil it will only continue to branch out in every direction..
        And people will soon be very shocked indeed as to the amount of evil young children have been subjected to in the world..
        Much love Resa.. ❤ and thank you for your voice.. ❤

      2. These assaults are heartbreaking, as assaults always are. IMHO, it’s not sex – but criminal acts. Sex is voluntary between equal persons, not coercion and exploitation – where one part cannot say no.

        No doubt there are certainly many of us who would like to blow and bring relief to your sweet toe. 🙂

  21. These stories resonate Resa. You don’t have to have been in the biz to get hooked on the stories you share, because your soul is telling them and that’s what makes it. This is a keeper, as was Fay Wray’s Happy Birthday song . . . as are all the stories you share. Thank you for doing this.

        1. Lol!
          Well I did the hairbrush story. Do I have another Loggia?
          Not sure, but I have: Danny Baldwin, Sir Christopher Plummer, Holly Hunter, Ted Danson, Take Me to Honeyland – (you’ll love this one), Eric Stoltz, Peter Fonda, Rowdy Roddy Piper, Billy Zane, Bobby Canavale, Spun Out, Valerie Bertanelli… I’m going to copy this as a reminder… Hendrix (the movie), Delroy Lindo…

  22. OH, Honey I am with you! Truly so many despicable animals out there feeding on others being a Boston girl you know I know who Cardinal Law is and when the story broke it was sickening. Scouts, cheering etc. they are everywhere so bad we have a page on our NH State Police website we can punch in a town and see where all these sex predators live in a town so we can keep the towns children safer they say but children walk by these areas all the time alone. How many really know or care. You and I have lived a life for sure I am also writing my Memoir/Book of Short stories not sure what fits right I will let the professional writers decide 🙂 Happy Fall have you seen snow yet?

  23. Hey Eunice!

    Yes, the whole pedophile thing is sickening.
    How great that there is a page for tracking sex predators.
    I know you have had an interesting life. When I met you, you were not that long away from driving the big rigs. You had said to me that it would be great to hit the road, you & me in a big rig and head to Alaska.
    It was not to be, as you were not well enough; & I was thrilled by the offer, but still working 24/7 on movies.
    I wish we would have met earlier. I would have rode with you all the way to Alaska and back.
    What an adventure we would have had!!!!!
    Keep writing, and keep tracking those sex offenders. xoxo

  24. I am so sorry about your toe, but honestly, I was cracking up. You need to write more, you have a great delivery to go with your great sense of humour. ❤ xox

  25. Your toes are very important, lady, so look after them! Keep them protected in furry moon boots or some such.

    And yes, you need to keep writing! A novel. A short story? A novella. A Canadian version of Ab Fab would be pretty cool.

    Or dish the dirt on your insider knowledge! I’d buy that.

  26. Well done battling on at the time, broken toes are soooo painful 😖 . Does it still trouble you now, the toe not the book? Fingers crossed this comment is allowed, I’ve had problems leaving comments! Charlotte xx

        1. OMG!!!! Opening night!!!!!
          You are going to be fabulous!!!!!!
          I got your lovely emails. I didn’t want to bother you until the run was over.
          Was working on the skirt today, and tried a couple of things with the sequin fabric…. to be used as trim, or… just in the experimental stage.
          The ideas won’t stop until everything is locked in, usually around 75% done! XX

  27. Your thoughts are great resa I hope now you and your toe both are fine and please take care from next time of yourself and your toe and never take tensions of these things, This doesn’t matter what matters is how positive you are.So, stay happy and take care.

Speak your art mind!

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