Very often the weak character of others instills great doubt in me because my tendency is to blame myself. And the hurt coming with being blamed (by me) goes deep as if my insides might crack.

Since beginning the journey of learning to love and accept myself, with it comes a wiser eye to the truth. Others who do not like my truth or my need to tell it, seek revenge in the form of niceties that sound so sweet yet cut to the bone.

That is the social norm; don’t yell, don’t tell the truth, cover it up with lies, but do harm anyway and don’t get caught.

People closest to me do the most harm, and go to the greatest lengths to conceal what they do. Flower it with lies that sound believable but aren’t true. There is no way to confront such brilliant masqueraders.

I despise liars, manipulators, and vengeful people disguising themselves as something other that. And no wonder considering what was learned early in childhood.

Tom, who spent his life putting me down so skillfully that even intelligent people in the group of people I was unfortunate to be born into (origin family) didn’t realize they too began treating me badly because of the light cast on me. Tom made it OK.

And Chet who threw the pack of Wrigley’s Chicklets down the hall, “Get it, if you get there first you can have it.”

I did, it was empty, then he plowed into me dragging me down the hall to my mother’s bed half-way suffocating me as he yanked down my pants rubbing his penis up and down on me then ejaculating.

Who would like being lied to after that? Deceived? Manipulated? And everyone does it to some extent, but some are masters at it.

My quiet life suits me. People ARE dangerous.


Home-made apple pie for Don & Seth

It’s always a danger asking two siblings to visit from the city, but felt the risk was worth it. And it did kick me in the butt during the night after waking to use the bathroom.

Tossing restlessly in bed for a few hours, going through the moments of the visit. Really? Do you have to? Great effort was put into NOT doing that, yet when soul speaks it is often in the middle of night.

Feelings of self-worth tend to plummet around those called ‘family.’ And this time was no different, crackers in my hand before bed letting the carbs melt on my tongue satisfyingly. Carbs produce happy chemicals neutralizing those negative feelings about ‘self.’

Food has always been about a different kind of hunger, that of self-love and care, a desperate lack of both until recently when gentleness, kindness, and acceptance of ‘self’ magically dissolved the cravings for something to numb that cloying need.

It is hard labor being around those who are loved yet not trusted, and who cause such toxicity in their insistence of treating me like they once knew me; malleable, pleasing, and unassertive for my own needs.

It took herculean effort to stay inside myself, losing that groundedness momentarily but mostly feeling whole.

So, it isn’t an occurrence that will happen often, but this time progress was made. And sleep came finally, waking a few hours past my normal waking time.

The body has a way of giving itself what it needs if my mind makes room for it by cutting through the gnarled jungle of memories and old habits to discover my true (worthy) self, finding peace.  


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.


“I’m glad you came out of hibernation,” Chris said gaily after our shopping excursion in the little second-hand craft store after a warm lunch.

“Me too,” I said, adding, “Just got in the habit during the pandemic of not going out but can’t stand it anymore.”

“Three years,” she said.

That’s a long time to go without ‘girlfriend’ time. A feeling of full satisfaction sustained me the rest of day after being dropped off with a warm hug and kiss.

The love of friends drifted off into the background during the seclusion of the pandemic, my life already solitary except for the occasional outing with a friend.

But that is so needed, nurturing, and sustaining. It is good to be ‘back in the saddle’ again. As she drove, I was able to enjoy the vibrant trees dotting the roadside and hilly doldrums beyond. The early frost brought out the reds heightening all other hues too, making for a brilliant feast of eye candy.

Becoming so rutted in displeasure at summer’s end, feeling my nose and hands cold much of time, complaining all the while about lack of sun, the splendor of fall popped wide open without me.

With what little time remains it’s my intention to get out and soak it up. A trip to the Apple Farm for cider and a half bushel of seconds for Nana’s well-known applesauce the grandchildren love. Even the ones living in the neighboring state ask for it.

Tis time for our annual trip to the hills along the lake where colors overwhelm in their glory, then lunch at our favorite little soup and sandwich shop attached to a bakery that supplies the crusty bread for the meals.

And just kicking around our own meadow. The back hill has come alive even more prominently than anywhere else. So, like Dorothy in Oz, “If I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again, I won’t look any further than my own back yard. Because if it isn’t there, I never really lost it to begin with… There’s no place like home.” 


 So, another day, another after a day of feeling sorry for myself for sleep issues cropping up again over seemingly innocuous events after a nice lull from them. Having fun with friends?

Our monthly gathering has been going on for years so how could that be? It may be deeper than that, as one friend is causing some doubts after years of feeling secure in her friendship.

She no longer resides on the pedestal I put her on, but is surely as human as me. Though she outlines her life as a do-gooder, it isn’t always good that she does. And at times of late has taken a piece of me with her sharp words of warning.

Is that because she feels that my adoration of her has lessened? That is enough to keep me awake. Feeling more secure in myself improves my ability to see people as they are, not the saints they may once have been thought to be.

Friendship changes over time. We have moved apart, and maybe there’s no chance of recovery other than meeting monthly as a group. We haven’t done anything together in a very long time, other than stopping in at her house a few times. But she has not come here. The pandemic is partly to blame, but there’s more to it than that. She’s just busier, and unless I ask for more, more isn’t coming. So ask.

It’s hard to accept that her time is used elsewhere. That we’ve drifted apart. It feels that way with one brother too. Indebtedness for their kindnesses in the past can’t make for connections now. Could it be that more effort needs to be put in the asking, because both have been invited to visit but don’t. More encouragement, a phone call?

Change, growth, leaps from one chasm to another if dared. But who will catch me if I fall? And who will give the answers about what to do?


Photo by Patricia

Losing my way, the forest thickens, darkness creeps in. It’s no wonder being scared happens so easily; a toad suddenly hopping before me makes my heart leap, then chastising myself for it.

My world caves in when hearing from Seth in the city, the pull to try to make more of those ‘family’ feelings, to have a family or origin. Swirling ‘ifs,’ all conclusive to one thought of the critic’s choice, you’re fault.

It’s because of me that no closeness exists between Seth, Stevie, or Don. But is it? Isn’t it more so than any interaction with them, and the standard treatment tossed my way, brings me back into the darkness of my soul, a place where most of my life existed?

That terror was the closest thing to me, living with monsters who attack is terrorizing, and those that lived with it and did nothing, even to this day do nothing, certainly do not stand by me in loyalty and testament to what was done- all are reason to be wary of.

Of course trust is an issue. So, take all my love and give it to those who are trustworthy, the family built on my own.


It is a foreign concept to care for myself and my own needs over the guilt my mother instilled. The urge for clan is primal, and after several weeks of calm, the pull erupts again, so much there are dreams about interactions.

My mind plays out scenarios of our ‘family’ being loving, caring, and connected. But each attempt made fails, bringing me backwards to the sister they knew who was malleable and molded into an invisible ghost.

It is like tearing my spirit away, yet in doing so, my spirit freely becomes who I was meant to be, thinking, or believing all along I’d lost her to the unwanted hands upon me as a child.

She is still there. In saying no to others who have pressured me throughout life to do and be who they want, and instead choose more healthy ways of being, this admirable person emerges- me.  


A covid scare sends me to the telephone waiting over ten minutes for someone to answer while on hold. My hands shake, my body shakes, as a brother had recently relayed that a friend, though vaccinated and double boosted, spent two weeks in dire sickness.

My monthly group of women had just spent an afternoon at my house around the table playing cards. Oh yes, how those gatherings are loved, full of laughter, friendship, warmth, and good food. But? Covid.

Mary emailed that she tested positive five days after the event. One must wait 5 days after exposure to receive an accurate test, so my call to the doctor was immediate.

Anything out of the ordinary with my body scares me, sending adrenaline rockets off, the buzz shooting right down to my toes and out my head. While waiting, my pen sent my thoughts to paper so no confusion would be occurring when pressing for a test. Usually the doctor sends people to urgent care, or a pharmacy that does the testing which isn’t everywhere. One more step would prolong the anxiety.

My hope was to have it there. Once she finally picked up, my shaking had lessoned as a plan of action helped calm it. Once explaining that not only my age, but a comprised immune system from decades of an overactive startle response due to PTSD issues from childhood made me more vulnerable, she took me seriously.

“Yes, the Doctor will have you come so that the nurse can test you curbside,” adding, “and if you test positive, we will start you on a medication to lesson any possible symptoms.”

That helped relieve my anxiety considerably. By the next morning a negative result was reported. Whew! But the scare?

Becoming much too lax, while Samuel has donned his mask in busy stores, it is time to be more careful. Though my friends are more blasé about it, because they still go weekly to chorale, and also are involved in many other peopled activities, my interaction with humans is with them and occasionally my son and grandchildren. That’s it.

Opening their mouths in a small room heaving air in and out while singing… of course one of them would contract Covid. Do I stop going to this one group of friends? Or risk another exposure by going?


Pay the price of rejection or disapproval for being real. It may hurt, especially during very vulnerable time of which there are many. Go forward with truth and work at believing in yourself.

Not a new concept. One that’s been worked on since my life shattered, but more so in middle age when one begins to see that what you believe of yourself has more worth than what anyone else believes. You need you.

This is not easy. This feels treacherous, like a gnarly path that trips with roots pulling me down in a crash. Get up, breathe, pick off the moss and keep going.

Yes, others will be shocked at your quiet yet changed demeanor, one that exudes autonomy and self-reliance, trying to retrieve that person they could more easily mold to their liking and wants.

Yet, how does that turn out, doing what others want, not meeting your own needs which have heightened significantly with age and deterioration? As wisdom and feelings of self-worth deepen, expand, and grow, this body requires more care.

When filling the wants of others, my own self does not thrive. And we each must look out for ourselves first because if not, there’s not much left useful to anyone especially me.

If caring for self means the inability to care for others, it has to be, because it is. Acceptance, and with acceptance comes peace, that is, if you truly do follow through with meeting your needs.

Cocooning myself on our little plot of land often makes me wonder about my life. Is it odd, or finally a life that is self-caring? Self-caring of course, and no wonder that feels odd.

Taught that even tragedy, repeated traumas, and pain were to be kept secret within my child’s body, mind, and psyche, it feels wrong and unfamiliar to take care of myself.

But do so. Rebel by learning all about self-love. Rise up and be free.


And slowly she came forward, this real being, being me. It doesn’t pay to be otherwise, but this is the life lead, being what you want- not me.

Decades of pleasing, being underground, steamrolled, lying dormant while being squashed. Allowing it, inviting it with self-apologetic ways.

But then? It came up, a flash of anger, that spark that fumed in silence like a bomb smoldering but never erupting, the friendship over.

Too many ended this way, adding to the failures of just living, feeling since age 8 that I had no right to be here. Yet deep down my real feelings mother didn’t want or allow, nor anyone else in that group called ‘family.’

To live inauthentically is not life, nor coming with the drive or passion to live. Daily thoughts of death came to visit instead.

Late in life, after mother died, the one who silenced me, truth. And with truth my being began to come alive, and moments of magic came with it. Authenticity. Wholeness. Worthiness. Love.