We Love Soaps: When you came back to DAYS in 1992, the publicity department was giving you the star treatment. It was a very big deal that Kimberly Brady was coming back. Did you have any idea what that story line was going to entail?
Patsy Pease: No. Clueless. Just clueless. The only thing I knew was that I was going back to work to support my family.
We Love Soaps: Prior to returning in 1992, you had given some interviews to Soap Opera Digest and other media outlets describing some of your childhood abuse and trauma, and your concerns as an adult.
Patsy Pease: I did. A lot of my memories came back with the birth of my second child. Sometimes abusers will give a threat, “If you ever tell then this or that will happen.” And it’s almost like a mantra, a subliminal message, but I didn’t get in touch with what that threat was until my own child’s life was in danger. When he was eleven hours old he had his first surgery.
We Love Soaps: What was his condition?
Patsy Pease: He had arthrogryposis. It’s a connective tissue disorder. His is very, very mild. It's either that all the connective tissues are shortened and children can't straighten their limbs, or they are shortened and they can't bend their limbs. So he had 14 surgeries before the age of 15. He has a steel rod which runs down from the nape of his neck down to the bottom of his thigh. And this young man achieved a black belt in Tae Kwan Do at the age of 12. A very wise pediatrician told me, “If you ever teach him there is something wrong with him, he will grow up thinking he’s a victim. And he needs all the strength and the spirit that you can give to him. Do not ever look at your child with pity. Look at his strengths, and not his weaknesses.” And that was the best advice anybody could have given me.
We Love Soaps: So here you are in 1992, supporting two children, one with special medical needs, and you’re coping with your own memories...
Patsy Pease: ...With my own memories that have just come back. My second son was given a 10% chance of life at birth. And I might add, if I had stayed to play the story line the way it was presented there’s no way on earth....I would have blamed my self. You couldn’t convince me the two didn’t have something to do with each other and I would have been eaten alive with guilt.
We Love Soaps: Then you came back, and they saddled you unexpectantly with a story line in which Kimberly would become severely mentally ill.
Patsy Pease: Yeah. [Laughs] So I was not in great shape to begin with. Again, at the time, I wasn’t being true to myself. I was not capable of going back to work and dealing with that kind of story line and having my past and present life without such a struggle. There wasn’t enough of me to go around. I think when you’re tired and worn out and full of fear...I’ve made some very unwise decisions that are fear-based. I was afraid of losing my job, I was afraid of not being able to support my children. I was afraid of my son’s needs being unmet. And I was afraid that if I didn’t come through to meet those medical needs that it would jeopardize his health.
We Love Soaps: So you threw yourself into that part with all these issues going on. I don’t think anyone publicly knew what you were going through.
Patsy Pease: No. And here’s the other thing—I saw single mothers under extraordinary circumstances go to work every day and I thought, “What’s wrong with you? Why can’t you rise to the occasion too?” We were over at Children’s Hospital all the time where I could see people dealing with much worse situations. Sometimes when I looked around me and saw the severity of what other people had to deal with, I felt almost guilty because my son was so functional in comparison. So I asked myself, “If these women are dealing with things much worse than me, and they’ve got three and four children, and they go to work, what’s wrong me with me?”
We Love Soaps: As a viewer, I and many others thought we were seeing you do some of your best work taking on three different personalities. What do you make of that?
Patsy Pease: You know, it’s funny. Charles Shaughnessy (Shane) and I used to joke about this. He said, “Sometimes our best work came out when we were so tired we didn’t know what we were doing.” (Laughs) Because sometimes when you’re so exhausted, all your defenses are down, you’re totally vulnerable. You don’t have any energy to have any walls up. You’re just raw, exposed. There’s nothing in your tired exhausted system that can pretend or put up a fake front.
We Love Soaps: And then by the end of 1992, you were gone again. What happened?
Patsy Pease: I couldn’t do it anymore. One thing that didn’t work for me was seeing another woman raise my children - a nanny, because that’s who I’d have to leave them with. And I thought, “this is success?” I don’t get it. Why did I have children? So I can hand them over to another woman? Not me. See, I didn’t really realize this. I wanted to be a mother my whole life. More than fame, more than accolades, more than a career, more than anything. I just wanted to be a mom.
We Love Soaps: Many in the media speculated that you had left the show because you had a breakdown. Is there anything you want to say about that?
Patsy Pease: Well I had to get out someway. [Laughs] I mean nobody was going to believe me when I said I just wanted to go home and take care of my kids.
We Love Soaps: What happened?
Patsy Pease: I just said, “I can’t do it anymore!”
We Love Soaps: In other times when someone left during a contract they have retaliated in court and/or the media. Were you concerned about that?
Patsy Pease: No. I said, “Even if they take me to court, so be it. We’ll figure out a way. Because I know as long as I put my children first I’ll be okay. If my home and children don’t come first, nothing matters anyway. So take the money, take the house, take everything, it’s not going to make me happy.”
We Love Soaps: Looking back at your run as Kimberly, where you came and went three different times, do you have any anger or resentment?
Patsy Pease: No. I think I go through periods where...it depends on the time of the day. When you come from a background of having a victimized situation, you have to constantly remind yourself, “You are not a victim of anything.” I’ll tell you what brings up bad feelings about DAYS is that when I get into a financial insecurity or fear. The thought goes through my head, “If you were still there, you wouldn’t have this fear. If you had made different choices you wouldn’t have to struggle just to get by.” It’s a fear-based mentality which comes and goes. And then I remind myself, “Wait a minute. For all these years, you have somehow managed to not only get by, but to have serenity, peace, great kids, great community, great fun. What are you so afraid of?” I haven’t been brought this far just to be dumped.
Stay tuned for Part Five of our interview with Patsy Pease.