NOTE: Commentary is made as a private citizen and not as Regional Coordinator for Silent No More or Leader of Rachel's Hope, unless otherwise stated.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Assigning Blame - A Mother's Day Tribute

It’s 1:30 a.m.  Everyone else in the house is tucked in and sound asleep.  I’ve been sitting here in the recliner, listening to the dogs snore and the house creak for the last couple of hours …  struggling to find the perfect words for a Mother’s Day tribute.  You might be thinking, “For crying out loud, Patti.  You’re a writer it should be easy.”  Well, I’ll tell you a secret:  There are times when words hide in the recesses of my heart … preventing the raw emotions from surfacing and damming up a lake of tears.  This is one of those times, but through prayer, some gentle prodding from the Holy Spirit and a box of Kleenex nearby, I think I’m ready.

As most of you know by now, I was not the perfect daughter by any means.  The one word that comes to mind to describe my past behavior is “reprehensible.”  During those “dark days,” I would lash out at my mother and blame her for my actions.  Why?  Because in my booze-soaked, self-pitying, self-indulgent brain I was convinced she hated me and considered me a failure.   She would encourage me to strive for a better life, and all I heard was, “You aren’t good enough.” She would invite me to come home to work things out, and all I heard was, “You are not capable of being on your own.”   She would suggest I go back to church and all I heard was, “You’re going to hell.” I twisted all of her words of love and support into a declaration of my inadequacies. I would thank her by spewing out a mouthful of vile and demeaning comments. 

Praise God those days are long gone.  I am so grateful to have had many years of clarity before she passed away to realize and tell her what an incredible mother she was.  Blame turned into gratitude.  Gratitude for a life that overflows with blessings beyond belief.  A life that would have otherwise continued down the path of self-destruction had it not been for her faith, strength and unconditional love.

Thank you, mom, for never giving up on me.  Not a day goes by that I don’t think of you, miss you and thank God for being your daughter. 

It’s now 3:00 a.m.  The dam broke, and tears are flowing – but that’s okay.  My mom is worth each and every one.  

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

In the Hills of Malibu - A True Story

One of my favorites
My son, bless his pea-pickin’ heart, has a habit of reminding me from time to time how I was before I got sober. Thankfully, most of the stories he brings up are humorous.
His favorite is the time my ex-husband convinced me of the existence of "dry-land tuna"... fish that lived in the hills of Malibu sans water (I'm turning red already).  My beer brain grabbed on to that little piece of Animal Kingdom trivia, and my slurred motor mouth shared it with family and friends.  It was only after I revealed my gullibility to the masses that my ex told me the truth...while he, my son and step-sons laughed hysterically. I was mortified at first but very quickly became infuriated and humiliated and yes...felt betrayed ....which totally justified my downing a beer or twelve then lashing out in retribution.

I learned early on in rehab that one of my biggest problems was I took myself too seriously. I wanted to be in control every minute, and heaven help those who stood in my way.  In time, I was able to give myself a break.  I found that laughing at myself actually brought me a sense of joy ... and peace.  God wants me to be happy, and I know when I laugh at myself, He's laughing right along with me.

By the way....did you know there's a man in Wyoming that sells jackalopes?

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Prisoners of Choice

I've shared this experience before, but thought it was appropriate to repost.

Three of us stood at a bulletproof window separating us from an armed, uniformed receptionist.  She slid a sign-in sheet and black pen through a small opening and asked us to sign it and exchange our driver's licenses for a visitor's badge.  All the while I thought back to what I heard in orientation:  In the case of lock-down, visitors will be escorted out; however, under certain circumstances, they may be required to stay until the situation is resolved.  What was I getting myself into?  Maybe my husband was right, and I should have declined the invitation to co-lead one of the post-abortion healing retreats Rachel's Hope takes into the local women's jail. 

The metal door opened and for security reasons, we had to go through one at a time.  I was first, and as the door thundered shut behind me, I faced another.  Being claustrophobic, I started breathing heavily in this little portal, even though it was only seconds before the second door opened. 

The chaplain and biggest supporter of bringing post-abortion healing to incarcerated women waited for us on the other side.  The retreat was being held in the library on the opposite side of the facility.  Curious eyes followed us as we passed the high chain link fences that enclosed small yard areas outside each dorm-style cell.  From my viewpoint, the cells were absent any form of comfort or hominess; only bunk beds and bare walls.

We arrived at the library and began to set up, making the room less institutionalized and more inviting and calming; something that would help the participants forget for a while where they were.  Open flames were not allowed, so battery operated candles were scattered around the room.  The chaplain provided pencils the tiny ones used by golfers because larger ones are potential weapons.  We brought in a variety of snacks, a special treat for participating in the program and one more way to make the women feel special.

I expected to be faced with cold-hearted criminals, smacking gum and sneering at the “church ladies,” but as the seven women entered, I was taken aback.  Although displaying pleasure with the d├ęcor and practically drooling over the snacks, they were visibly anxious, nervously chatting amongst themselves.  *Ann told me later she, as well as the others, avoided approaching “the ladies” in fear of saying something stupid or wrong.  In addition to their anxiety, their faces displayed defeat, sadness, and pain. 

The first activity involved going around the room and sharing our abortion stories, with we three co-leaders going first.  As we spoke, the women nodded their heads and exchanged knowing looks.  Although I was the only co-leader that suffered from alcoholism, albeit sixteen years sober, and institutionalized for depression, we all had demons in our past.  While we shared, the women were heard whispering, “Them too?”

Their offenses were primarily drug and alcohol related; possession, possession for sale and some cases of theft and assault. All but one in the group had obtained multiple abortions, including *Susan, who had over ten. They had either been encouraged to abort by parents or a significant other; felt it was best due to their living situation or as Susan candidly disclosed, “used it as a form of birth control.”  They tried to maintain a sense of “being cool” while sharing their stories, but it didn't take long before the dam of pain and remorse broke, releasing torrents of tears.  Regardless of the circumstances surrounding their pregnancies, they were not prepared for the havoc their “choice” would wreak on their lives.
Substance abuse is common among many women trying to deal with the emotional turmoil from abortion.  It's a perfect, but temporary, way to forget or minimize what we have done; however, the negative feelings continue to surface which leads to more and more self-medicating.  Dependence increases to the point of desperation and total loss of control.  These women were all involved with drugs and alcohol at some level, and when hearing their accounts, one phrase entered my mind: "There but for the grace of God, go I."  As I said earlier, I am a recovering alcoholic.  Abusing alcohol was the method I used to forget my two abortions. I drove drunk all the time, but luckily never got caught. I could have very easily caused an accident resulting in injury or death to another and ended up attending this jail retreat instead of co-leading.

While drugs and/or alcohol are used to numb emotional pain, they also disclosed other self-destructive behavior, such as promiscuity.  None served time for prostitution, but they all admitted to numerous sexual encounters. Again, the same applied to me, in fact, I had a nickname back in the day:  Pass around Patti.  Sex is a weapon to combat self-loathing. We are duped by the misguided notion that sex equals love, so the more love, the better.  Eventually, we come to our senses and end up demoralized and ashamed.  In an attempt to “settle down,” we try to become monogamous and end up in multiple unsatisfying or sometimes abusive relationships. I've been engaged too many times to count, entered into several affairs with married men and am on husband number three.  Due to a distorted self-image, we feel undeserving of being truly happy and “settle,” thus adding more misery to our already fragile emotional state.

Assaultive behavior can be attributed to suppressed feelings that can no longer be controlled and subsequently escape in the form of physical violence. The pain is transferred to another, and the relief is so great, it mimics a chemically induced “high”.  Just as with drugs and alcohol, however, the “high” eventually dissipates, and the need for relief returns.  For me, I resorted to verbal assaults, lashing out at loved ones for no reason, and the pain I inflicted left emotional scars as ugly as any physical ones. I spared no one in my family or circle of friends.

When discussing destructive behaviors and consequences, every one of these women disclosed something that had not even crossed my mind. In an odd twist of fate, their self-destructive methods of dealing with the emotional turmoil of abortion(s) eventually resulted in losing custody, temporarily or permanently, of the children they chose to keep.  But even then, it happens on the outside as well.  Self-destructive behavior does not always lead to illegal activity but threatens the well-being of children. As for me, I never lost custody of a child, but I did purposely lose the ability to have one.  I convinced a doctor to give me a tubal ligation at the age of thirty, and I know of other women that have been compelled to do the same.

All behaviors, illegal or otherwise, are not only a way of coping but reflect a form of self-punishment. In fact, three of the inmates admitted to having thoughts of suicide at one point or another, a permanent solution to end the pain and anguish.  Their admission brought back memories of the darkness I experienced before being institutionalized for being suicidal and my telling the psychiatrist I was already dead inside and just wanted to finish the job.

As the retreat progressed, we grew to love these women, and by the time it ended, we hated to say good-by.  Although we weren't supposed to have physical contact, hugs were in order. 

When I walked through those metal doors, I expected to find a significant difference between “them” and “us.” What I realized is we are all sisters in suffering that fell prey to the pro-choice rhetoric.  We experienced the same pain, remorse, and regret and exhibited the same behaviors, just to different extents.  We used whatever means necessary in an attempt to find peace and regain control of our lives. 
The abortion industry uses the feminist movement as its primary marketing target by promoting “my body; my choice” as a source of empowerment.  To be empowered, a woman needs to be comfortable in her own skin; confident and at peace. Once a woman has an abortion, empowerment slowly slips away, leaving nothing but a gaping wound in her soul, back-filled with pain, self-hatred, guilt, shame, and remorse. 

The number of pro-life feminists is growing, and in all actuality, should be the rule rather than the exception.  They are the ones not only fighting for the rights of the unborn, but for the well-being of women. They are exposing the lies perpetuated by the abortion industry; the lies that lead women to believe that choosing abortion over life is a source of empowerment and has no ill-effects.  Really?  Take a walk with me behind that metal door. 

Note:  I am not claiming incarcerated women who have had an abortion(s) are there because they aborted their child(ren).  They are incarcerated due to their actions.  However, the psychological effects their "choice"  have on them could very easily exacerbate other contributing factors.   


Thursday, March 23, 2017

The "If Only" Zone

My mind is in overdrive (again) and the Holy Spirit nudged me to blog about beating myself up over past mistakes.

Although I confess my sins to a priest in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, there are times when I just cannot let go. The tapes of my mistakes keep playing in my mind, and I end up entering the "if only" zone, wishing I could turn back the hands of time. Yeah, like that's going to happen.

It is Satan that pulls out those old tapes and I can almost see him laughing as he hits the replay button, highlighting all the ugliness and shame. What saves me from self-destruction is turning to God. He fast forwards the tapes to lessons learned, and reminds me if I was able to turn back the hands of time, I would not be the person I am today ... defined by His mercy, not my mistakes.

I'm pasting this on my bathroom mirror.....

Monday, March 20, 2017

Spring Cleaning

The dreariness of winter is on its way out, making way for the sunlight of spring. This sunlight regenerates nature's beauty and becomes a gentle reminder to renew my faith life.

 I go through periods when I get distracted by so many earthly matters I end up neglecting God; a heart filled with the Holy Spirit quickly becomes one filled with discontent. The only way to get back on track is to “spring clean” my soul. I set aside time to reflect and journal about my successes and shortcomings. I find a multitude of reasons to rejoice as well as what needs to be purged through the sacrament of reconciliation. The words create a road map back to Him and the peace that had been evading me.

Once that spring cleaning is complete, I have the energy to tackle my closets and windows!

 He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness,
but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration
and renewal of the Holy Spirit. 
 (Titus 3:5)

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

I'm Not There - Another Casualty of Abortion

From September 2015 –

Being an active part of the pro-life community allows me the opportunity to meet and work with many dynamic and inspirational people.  Such was the case a while back when I had dinner with Father Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life/Pastoral Director of Silent No More Awareness Campaign and Georgette Forney, President of Anglicans forLife/Co-Founder of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign.

While enjoying outdoor dining on the beautiful San Diego Harbor, our light banter eventually turned to the Planned Parenthood videos and how they are exposing the truth about abortion.  It was during that conversation I shared a particular consequence of abortion recently realized. Georgette thought this revelation would be a good topic for a blog post, so here it is: 

One of the tragic repercussions experienced by women who have had abortions is self-destructive behavior.  This behavior can come in a variety of forms including drug/alcohol abuse and suicidal ideation/attempts, both of which I suffered.  In addition to those behaviors, I also permanently destroyed my fertility by having a tubal ligation at the age of thirty … a means to punish myself for the abortions. 

I eventually adopted a precious ten-year old son from foster care who blessed me with two beautiful granddaughters, and I love them dearly, but with that love is sadness.  When I look at my son’s face as well as those of my granddaughters, I’m not there.  They carry nothing of me biologically that can be passed on to future generations.  My hands are strikingly similar to my mom’s, and when I browse old photos of my grandparents, there’s no doubt I’m related.  Granted, my ear and forehead size is an attribute I used to hide, but in time, grew to embrace because it’s something our family shares … along with dark eyes and high cheekbones.  Unfortunately, to coin a phrase, “It’s the end of the line.”

I not only purposely took away the chance to experience the miracle of carrying a child and giving birth but also ended the passing on of physical traits.  As I terminated the life of two beautiful angels, I terminated the biological chain of life … a chance for a grandchild or great-grandchild to look at me and say, “Your hands are like mine,” or with a laugh exclaim, “Thanks for the forehead, granny!”  One more aspect of abortion loss realized after over thirty years. 

Although I carry deep regret and sadness, I’m equally filled with gratitude that God, in His infinite mercy, gave me another chance at motherhood.  The love I have for my son and granddaughters goes beyond words and biology.   Adoption is a wonderful way to enrich families and bring joy to infertile couples.  I applaud the courage and selflessness of those faced with an unplanned pregnancy who either keep their children or place them for adoption and adoptive parents who open their hearts and homes, not just through private adoption, but through foster care. 

All children deserve life, love and the opportunity to thrive.
Georgette Forney, Fr. Frank Pavone and Me

Sunday, January 22, 2017

REAL WOMEN RESPOND to the March for "Some Women"

We want to thank the “For Some Women” March for providing material for this blog post.   

According to the March’s website:  “In the spirit of democracy and honoring the champions of human rights, dignity, and justice who have come before us, we join in diversity to show our presence in numbers too great to ignore.  The Women’s March on Washington will send a bold message to our new government on their first day in office, and to the world that women’s rights are human rights.  We stand together, recognizing that defending the most marginalized among us is defending all of us…”  “We call on all defenders of human rights to join us.” 

Wow!  What a mission!  We totally agree with it.  But, not so fast, Patti and Leslie.  You are pro-life, you defend the human rights of babies, so you can’t come.  Who, if not the unborn, are more marginalized?     

After suffering through Madonna and Ashley Judd’s comments, we can now understand why our country has been in such a miserable state.  People actually applauded them!  People actually cheered!  People actually agreed with them?  We have the right to assemble, and to free speech; we will defend those rights to the very end.  However, their speeches - fraught with expletives, hate-filled attacks, and downright threats do nothing to promote progress for women, or for anyone for that matter.  They were vile, meaningless rants that made them look foolish, childish and frankly, totally ignorant.   

We’ve been on both sides of this issue for decades.  We used to be radical feminazis angrily arguing about a woman's right to choose...helping elect pro choice candidates, etc.  We drank the koolaid of the progressive feminist propaganda for way too long... The aftermath has been devastating to women, men, our families, and our culture. All that sexual freedom had consequences, and many lives have been destroyed.   We finally realized we couldn’t live in peace and live a lie.  We broke the silence and allowed the truth to set us free and now speak publicly about the regret of our abortions.   

By bravely sharing our testimonies, Silent No More brings broken hearts to hope and healing. Please read from the thousands of testimonies on the Silent No More Awareness website.  Share it with others who are hurting.  To quote Theresa Bonapartis of Lumina,  The one thing that is different is there is more of them...the walking wounded from over 40 years of legal abortion. Women desperate to stay in denial, rationalization, and justification to the extent that they have reduced themselves to their vaginas by wearing "Pu--y hats," some baring their breasts and shouting all kinds of degrading chants." 

To the women who marched on Washington, you didn’t march for us, but we will march for you on January 27th

Patti J. Smith and Leslie Davis-Blackwell

Tuesday, January 17, 2017


This coming Saturday, I will be at the San Diego Walk for Life.   The theme for the walk is, “Real People, Real Stories,” and it will be my honor to be one of the real people sharing a real story about abortion.  Then five days later I’ll be jetting off to Washington, D.C. to do the same alongside some of my Silent No More sisters and brothers on the steps of the Supreme Court building at the March for  Life.

Preparing for these events always reminds me of something that happened while attending the West Coast Walk for Life a few years ago.  After giving our testimonies at the pre-walk rally, my friend Leslie and I were asked if we would be willing to join in a panel discussion on Immaculate Heart Radio and talk about life before, but most importantly, after our abortions.  

After the segment finished, a priest on the panel thanked us for having the courage to tell our stories in front of so many people then again on national radio.  Others have made similar comments, and some have even asked me if I get embarrassed because my past is consumed by so many ugly excesses.  

I'm not courageous by any means.  I'm a nervous wreck when speaking.  I've considered backing out on several occasions, but God is quite persuasive. He has called me to share because, unfortunately, there are many women out there just like me.  It's an opportunity to reach out to them and give them comfort knowing they are not alone and no matter how bad they think they are ... nothing is unforgivable in God's eyes.  

As far as being ashamed or embarrassed Yes, I was,  but found the more I shared my past; I realized it was a blessing.  As a caterpillar morphs into a beautiful butterfly, evil miraculously emerges as good.  God saved me from total self-destruction for a reason. He's using me as well as all my Silent No More sisters and brothers as beacons of hope for those suffering in silence - guiding them towards hope and healing.  

I pray each and every day I don't let Him down. 

“So do not be ashamed of your testimony to our Lord, nor of me, a prisoner for his sake; but bear your share of hardship for the gospel with the strength that comes from God.”

2 Timothy 1:8