Lost in the thicket of my mind, the past, the inability to make the present perfect, or at least better in my own eyes. Rather than failing at a relationship, maybe it is the other person not willing to meet me halfway.

Maybe Don wants the ‘Patty’ of before, the clinging, needing, pleasing ‘Patty,’ not the woman I’ve become today.

It is Don, the twin who survived, who once fathered me, taking me into his home during my early twenties after his twin, sibling Danny, succeeded at taking his own life.

The confusing mess of a family was all over the place, and so was I. Living at home after leaving college one course short of my AA degree. Mom was heavy into alcohol.

Don took me in with his wife and young daughter. Supported me as the pieces of my life were temporarily patched together; a job, signing up for the Army, then eventually my own apartment.

During my mother’s decline and subsequent death 13 years ago there was friction between us that hasn’t resolved, nor is likely to. Taking me out to the hallway of her apartment because I’d said something wrong, he chastised me on making things worse. That moment a rip tore inside me that won’t be mended.

The father-like figure disappeared. There’s not been a way to establish a new balance since. I become a cowering puppy who did wrong. During her last illness I did make things harder which wasn’t my intention. I became frantic losing the only place where a morsel of love could be found, from my mom. It came with strings, but having no love inside myself, it was all there was.

Am I the failure, or is it just to be? That in his gathering of the two other brothers, and a cousin or two, in his efforts to make a ‘family’ which also includes a fourth brother, the last surviving abuser of my child’s body and a torment to my mental health throughout adulthood, that I just don’t ‘fit’ in.

That I don’t want to, because ‘fitting in’ means going backwards, way, way, back to the invisible doormat I once was. I don’t know how to be with ‘them’ and still be me. Every try I become a dithering drooling pleaser.

Yes, me, Private First Class 50 years ago.

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