In this richly told story of one woman’s courageous journey, the author reveals the heartbreak and destruction of her sexual abuse, from age four to thirteen, by her father. Told in vignettes relative to markers of age and experience, Patricia exposes her father’s anger and her mother’s complacency with his abusive behavior. In efforts to survive, she uses dissociation and numbing in response to the abuse, sex, pregnancies, and relationships, and as a way to block her own sense of self.
How does a child confused by episodes of abuse come to know what is safe or unsafe, right or wrong, normal or abnormal? How does a young woman learn the difference between real love and a desire for sexual pleasure stimulated by abusive childhood sexual experiences? Careening through life, Patricia wonders how to trust others and, most importantly, herself. As a mature woman struggling to understand and live with her past, she remains earnest in her pursuit of clarity, compassion, and trust to build a stronger life.
Being Mean is about blocking sexual abuse memories, having them surface, then learning how to acknowledge and live with incomprehensible experiences in the healthiest ways possible.
When I first began speaking of my sexual abuse, I looked for just one woman who had relived her experiences and her feelings and who had survived and thrived. I became that woman whom I was looking for, and Patricia Eagle can now count as another.Marilyn Van Derbur author, Miss America By Day
Patricia Eagle’s extraordinary memoir, Being Mean, is a testament to the power of the human spirit to prevail over childhood sexual trauma, heal itself in the act of truth-telling, and emerge from the depths of confusion with survivor’s wisdom and an open, generous heart. Eagle’s humor, candor, and determination to bring compassionate understanding to the darkest of crimes separates this book from the majority of abuse memoirs; so does her spirited refusal to sacrifice sexual freedom and pleasure to the fire of childhood incest. Daring, beautifully written, and filled with unforgettable moments, Being Mean is one brave woman’s story of soul retrieval and finding her way through the mysteries of love. It deserves a place on your bookshelf next to Kathryn Harrison’s The Kiss, Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues, and Bass-Davis’s The Courage to Heal. I could not recommend it more highly.Mark Matousek, author of The Boy He Left Behind and When You’re Falling, Dive
This is a deep, fearless, hopeful dive. Patricia maintains a level of honesty at all times. Her stories are tender, accurate, and positive, with pages of lovely writing. The timing of this book is exquisite.Kate Munger, Founder of Threshold Choir
Not since Alice Sebold’s Lucky have I read a memoir that leans into the soul-shattering experience of early sexual trauma with such courage and intelligence. Patricia Eagle elevates the difficulty of her subject matter through her clear prose and a cohesive narrative that weaves recurring themes of betrayal, devotion, the secrets that keep us, and the redemptive wisdom of love. I wept real tears at the complexity and beauty of the healing. This book will rinse you clean.Kathleen Adams, LPC, author of Journal to the Self and Expressive Writing: Foundations of Practice, and founder/director of Center for Journal Therapy Inc., Denver, CO