Owning Patricia - A Story Of Breaking Free
What if every woman had the courage to unveil the truth behind her story and look for the redemption on that path?
What woman hasn’t wished she could erase painful life events, challenging circumstances, and haunting memories? But what if, instead, every woman had the courage to unveil the truth behind her story and look for the redemption on that path?
Patricia Bonelli’s “Owning Patricia” is a raw, tender inspirational true story of a grown woman retracing her youthful missteps into darkness. Bonelli’s purpose of fully embracing her story, owning who she was in the past, in order to command her life in the present, provides inspiration for anyone who might themselves dare to illuminate a less than pristine past.
She writes, “By the age of 12, I found myself left to my own devices…With no sense of who I was or how I would provide for myself, I chose a series of degrading and desperate corridors to walk through.” Life as an out-of-control runaway living on the streets paved the way to prostitution and entrapment (“I had a seventh-grade education and the only way I knew how to make money was on my back.”); leading to being “rescued” by becoming the domestic partner of a drug runner. By age 23, Bonelli was a single mother of three, requiring refuge in the Witness Protection Program.
As Bonelli tells her tale of transcending her early circumstances to lead a rewarding life and successful career in law enforcement, and becoming the mother to her children that was never modeled for her, readers witness the unstoppable determination of a woman proving her worth and prioritizing connection to those she cares about.
At each chapter’s end, Bonelli has worked her memoir into a self-help format, providing thought-provoking questions for the reader to journal about. Bonelli is a seeker and a sage, showing how she transformd her life--and hopes to help others do the same--in a book that readers won’t put down, without learning life-lessons of their own along the way.
Bonelli invites readers into her story by saying, “Sometimes we need to relate our stories to one another to share the tragedies we have faced in life. We gain comfort in knowing we are not alone. There are universal struggles we each face with abandonment, rejection, loss, though through different unique sets of circumstances. By telling the unedited version of my story, I have realized, at a deep level, how much I have in common with women everywhere.”
Excerpt from Patricia Bonelli's memoir, "Owning Patricia: A Story of Breaking Free"
My mother liked to rescue people. I admire her for that. If she saw someone, anyone, hurting or in trouble, my mother would work until she dropped to find a solution for them. Usually this meant her taking over. This is where my admiration stops. When her rescued “babies” didn’t adhere to her plans for them, she’d drop them like they were scalding her. She dropped me when I was around seven or so, as soon as I began talking back and questioning the role she had assigned me as my brother’s keeper.
She was such an all-or-nothing person, my mother. You were good or bad, right or wrong. There was nothing in between. According to her, I was not what she ordered from the adoption menu. This is why she knew that once I became a teenage mother my daughter, Erica, needed rescuing. My mother took over with Erica when she was a baby, and never voluntarily relinquished her or recognized me as the “mother.”
In her defense, I was not a good mother when Erica was very young, even though I loved her and wanted to be a good parent. I was in distress, getting beaten regularly and desperate to save my child from the messed-up life I was living. Erica was better off with my mother, I knew. Given my opinion of my mother’s deeply flawed parental abilities, this was a huge admission of failure for me to make.
My mother agreed with me about what a failure I was as a mother. She made sure Erica saw me that way too. “Your mother isn’t coming back,” she told Erica over and over, even though I always did. “Don’t listen to your mother,” she said, “She doesn’t know what she’s doing.” She belittled me to Erica every chance she got. As a result, Erica didn’t know who to trust. She always looked at me as if she was weighing up whatever I told her, deciding whether to believe me. But she gave that same look to her grandmother, too. Even at a very young age, Erica was a grave old soul and nobody’s fool.
My mother probably would have tried to turn Tara and Ryan against me too, even though I was trying to be a super-mom when they were babies. She didn’t get the chance. The Federal Marshals’ from the Witness Protection whisked us away, and kept us hidden for nearly a year, keeping us all divided.
When we came back, I was different. The ironic thing was— so was she. She no longer had her youth or her health, and the son she’d idolized was so far gone by this time that even she had stopped making excuses for him. My father still adored her, but she had always discounted his love as of little value. Her grand- children became her reason for living, and the year we were gone was rough on her. She had no one outside herself to fix. She was ready to overlook my inadequacies as a mother, in return for a role in her grandchildren’s lives.
About Patricia Bonelli:
An adopted child from birth, Patricia Bonelli lost the happy innocence of childhood early. Being gang-raped at age 13 was merely the beginning of trouble stalking her at every turn: A school dropout in seventh grade. A runaway living on the streets. A prostitute for a pimp. A single teenage mother. All of this, she had experienced by the tender age of 18.
In 1984, Bonelli began working as a parole/probation officer, working with criminal offenders in places like San Quentin prison, whose choices, like her history, had led them to desperate places.
Patricia retired after 20 years in Law Enforcement and relocated from San Francisco to Maui, Hawaii, where she wrote her inspirational true story of courage and redemption, "Owning Patricia: A Story of Breaking Free", about her life as a teenage prostitute and single mother, to her triumph over adversity, and how she forged a successful career.
In 1998, Bonelli became a certified Life Coach, Mentor, and Motivational Speaker. Bonelli believes it is possible to overcome any hurdle in life by combining faith and optimism. She has appeared on numerous radio and TV shows in the U.S. Her passion is working on the The Affinity Center, a charitable foundation for young women in need of safe harbor. Money from proceeds of "Owning Patricia" will be used as seed money for a retreat center where young women will inspired, educated, and motivated about how to pursue their life goals.
Patricia Bonelli was born in San Francisco, California. She graduated from St. Mary's College in 1992 with a degree in Business Administration. She completed a Bachelor's Degree at Sonoma State in 1989, in Psychology and Criminology.
Patricia is the mother of 4 adult children, 3 daughters and one son. She resides in Laguna Beach, California.
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