Writing toward Love and Light

The Patience Trilogy: Courage in Patience, Hope in Patience, and Truth in Patience, are the story of a fifteen-year-old girl’s rocky path to recovery from a childhood of sexual abuse at the hands of her stepfather. I was inspired to write them by the therapist I worked with for six years as I fought to recover from a traumatic childhood with the same experiences.

I had been writing short stories and poems and sharing them with my doctor, and one day he suggested that I try writing a novel. I was struggling mightily to pull myself out of my grief, rage, and sense of disbelief at the fact that my mother turned her back on me–and it took about four months of stopping and starting, always ending up in the same place: asking “Why did this happen to me?!” and of course finding no answer.

I imagined what it would have been like if I had made an outcry when I was a teenager instead of keeping the secret for years until I broke, unable to manage my life any longer. (A better way to put it is this: I was batsh*t crazy, honey.)

Then I imagined a girl, Ashley, who had never known her biological father, and I created a situation in which the girl is removed from her abusive home and placed with this man. The only impression Ashley has of him is the horror stories she’s heard from her mother about his violent temper and alcoholism.

Ashley was unaware that her father, David, stopped drinking the day Ashley’s mother left him when Ashley was three months old, and that he carried great shame within himself for abdicating his duty as her father. When he finds out that his ex-wife’s husband is sexually abusing his daughter, he steps up and meets Ashley then brings her home to Patience, Texas.

That’s when Ashley’s path to recovery begins.

People are often surprised when they read The Patience Trilogy and find a lot of humor in the pages. I know, I know: how could I even think of anything funny related to Childhood Sexual Abuse (CSA)?

There is nothing funny about CSA, to be sure, but humans are funny creatures, and I populated fictional Patience, Texas with eccentric characters for comic relief.

There’s Billy Ray Sublett, Ashley’s classmate Dub’s stepfather, who has a racing lawnmower named “Bubba’s Dream.”

Kevin Cooper, another of Ashley’s classmates, is a mountain of a boy with a baby face, thinning blonde hair, a heart of gold (especially when it comes to his girlfriend, Roxanne Blake), but not a whole lot going on upstairs. That’s why Roxanne’s ready to kill him in Truth in Patience, when he whips out his wallet and shows everyone the condom he carries “just in case” when dating and relationships are the topic in Human Ecology class.

  1. C. Williamson, newly moved to Patience in Hope in Patience, has a mom who recently acquired a Bejeweler machine, which she uses, to K.C.’s horror, to create a sequined diaper on K.C.’s classic Nirvana t-shirt depicting the Nevermind album cover that features a nude baby boy in a swimming pool. Mrs. Williamson thinks the rainbow symbols K.C. collects are related to her loving her My Little Pony doll when she was little. But then, again, she also thinks that if she subs at the high school enough and keeps an eye on her daughter, K.C. won’t “keep” being gay.

Marvella Brown, the Patience High School secretary, can’t stand Mr. Walden, the principal, so whenever he does something especially repugnant or boneheaded, Marvella calls her friend, a newspaper reporter, and gets the story splashed on the front page.

Ashley’s best friend, Zaquoiah “Z.Z.” Freeman, is five-and-a-half feet of solid rock. Her beaded braids sound like rattlers when she’s especially put out with Pam Littlejohn, who acts as if she’s the only girl on their track team able to win. Pam will be lucky if Z.Z. doesn’t knock her upside the head, unless someone else does it first.

Ashley’s stepbrother, Ben, wears Christmas boxers all year round, and he and his cousin, Steven, conspire with Steven’s dad, Frank, to blow a toilet skyward with Fourth of July fireworks.

Finally, Ashley may be a mess, and she may have a long way to go, but she’s equipped with a dry sense of humor and perseverance that won’t quit. She’s not a sad sack, and the people in her life wouldn’t allow her to be one if she was so inclined. Ashley’s got a sharp sense of humor about her mental problems, for example, she wonders, when completing a school assignment about self-identity, if she can just list her disorders instead of personality traits that make her who she is. (Those of you with disorders are hearing a rim-shot (ba-dum-bum!) just about now. Hopefully.)

These are just some of the characters inhabiting Patience, Texas. I hope you’ll love them as much as I do, and find yourself laughing out loud at them the way I did when I wrote their stories.

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