This is the final part of my interview with the one and only Patsy Pease. It was such a profound honor to speak with Patsy, and bring her unique voice back to her fans. I learned a lot from talking with her and hope her wisdom continues to inspire all of us to overcome the obstacles and challenges we face in our personal and professional lives.
We Love Soaps: So what have you been doing since you left DAYS OF OUR LIVES to bring peace and light into your life?
Patsy Pease: Lots of therapy! Everybody Mamba (laughs). Lots of therapy, lots of asking for help. The three magic words, I use them often, are “I need help.” I never think that I have everything made, that I know how to do all. I don’t! But I did learn how to ask for help along the way and that’s really been the most beneficial part of me growing up as an adult, and my kids growing up with me. They’ve seen that if I don’t know how to do something I’ll go out and ask someone that does know, and we’ll work on it together. And yes, I try and I fall on my face and I get back up, and then I try and fall on my face again. But the thing is, I keep getting back up. I’ve also got 23 years of sobriety. Going to 12-step meetings, and having a support team has just been awesome. They are some of the finest people I have run across my entire life. I know I came into this world broken. And I’m okay with that. I’m not broken today. But I know if I stop doing the things that I love, that the brokenness is just standing in the doorway.
We Love Soaps: I like how you have said that when we blame others or play the victim, it is completely a fear-based response.
Patsy Pease: Yes, it’s like a knee-jerk reaction. It’s like saying, “Oooh, I don’t want this feeling, oooh I don’t want this reaction, so it’s their fault!” I’ve got what I call a “little brat” inside me. And sometimes that little brat comes out and says, “Oh, those Big Bad Producers.” And I stop and say, “Wait a minute, how old are we today? Nobody held a gun to your head, Pats.” You know, the funny thing about taking responsibility is that I always thought it would be such a chore. But instead, it’s freeing. As long as I’m blaming someone else, I give them all the power. The minute I take responsibility I have all these options and choices and power to and choose the way I want to make things work.
We Love Soaps: For some people, taking responsibility is so threatening. Yet you are able to see how advantageous and wonderful it is.
Patsy Pease: And even when I know it’s advantageous and wonderful, I still drift in and out of it. But if I start bad mouthing or name calling then I know I’m doing it out of fear. And my favorite question to ask myself at that point is, “Patsy, where is your part?”
We Love Soaps: If we don’t recognize our part, we are doomed to repeat it over and over.
Patsy Pease: Yes, and then I wonder why nothing changes. I just want to really clarify that there are children who don’t have a part in it. But my part in it is that once the abuse stopped I continued to treat myself abusively. That was my part because I didn’t become my own victor, I became a victim to my own destructive behavior. Long after the others had gone.
We Love Soaps: And that’s where you’ve stopped the cycle.
Patsy Pease: Yes, it’s not a blame thing in saying, “What’s my part?” It’s actually a very loving question to say, “What can I do to own my own power, and give myself the best options that I can give myself today.” If I’m continuing the abuse in any way shape or form, then I want to love myself into change. That’s what I mean by, “What’s my part?”
We Love Soaps: This summer is the 25th anniversary of Kimberly Brady coming to Salem.
Patsy Pease: I know! It was 1984, in Tony DiMera’s apartment.
We Love Soaps: She was sleeping naked in the wrong bed.
Patsy Pease: [Laughs] I can’t think of a better entrance into daytime.
We Love Soaps: If you could go back to that first scene in 1984, knowing what you know now, what would you tell Patsy Pease that day?
Patsy Pease: I would tell her to take everything with a grain of salt, that it’s not serious, this is not life or death, to wear it like a loose cloak.
We Love Soaps: Is there anyone from the show you have kept in touch with?
Patsy Pease: Jim Reynolds (Abe), I love. Peggy McCay (Caroline), Frank Parker (Shawn), they are just (pause), you know Peggy and Frank were truly my family. It’s all I knew. Even if I told myself, “Don’t make show people your family,” it was kind of hard not to because these people are genuinely good good people. And Peggy, I don’t know if I would have made it through some days without Peggy.
We Love Soaps: What did Peggy do for you?
Patsy Pease: She had a way of making me laugh. She always had a way of making things lighter and brighter and funnier. So did Frank and Jim. One thing they all had in common was the ability to get me to lighten up and have fun. Literally, their insistence on having a sense of humor saved my sanity many days on that show. It taught me a great life lesson too that without a sense of humor you are doomed.
We Love Soaps: Is there anything I have not asked you that you would like to convey to the people that have missed you so much over the years?
Patsy Pease: Even though I chose being a mom, it doesn’t mean that I don’t have a place in my heart every day that I miss acting. I do. I think once you’ve had a creative outlet, it’s just part of who you are. I express it now through writing. And I teach acting at The American Film Institute. But there’s always a part of me that misses connecting with the fans. I miss going to the autograph signings, the question and answer [sessions] with the fans. I miss that.
We Love Soaps: Well my hope is that someday when you write your life story, and legions of fans read it, that you will have that interaction again.
Patsy Pease: You know what, I just got a visual when you said that. That’s pretty strong. From your mouth to God’s ears. I think that is something in the near future.
We Love Soaps: I certainly hope you do. For the DAYS fans, for survivors of childhood trauma, for single mothers, you continue to be an inspiration.
Patsy Pease: Well, I’ll tell you who inspired me. There’s a book written by Victor Frankl called, “Man’s Search For Meaning.” And he so beautifully, eloquently, and simply, describes how he survived Auschwitz - because he had a purpose. And his purpose was that someday he would help others in their own survival. That, in and of itself, can make anything bearable.
Damon L. Jacobs is a Marriage Family Therapist practicing in New York City, and the author of "Absolutely Should-less: The Secret to Living the Stress-Free Life You Deserve." He blogs regularly at www.shouldless.com.