A motivational speaker and businesswoman recounts her journey through sexual abuse, drug addiction, health issues, and more in this memoir.
The only child of an unhappily married World War II widow and a prisoner of war, German-born Spencer-Devlin (The Iceberg Principles, 2013) writes that she was sexually molested by her older stepbrothers at an early age; set up on a date by her own father at age 12, during which she was raped; and became the girlfriend of a local pimp at 16. She experienced some success as a model but then relocated to the United States after an American beau proposed to her, although that marriage soon disintegrated. She spent years struggling with heroin addiction and several relationships, during which she participated in burglaries and spent time as a prostitute and in prison. Eventually settling in California, she started to stabilize her life with the support of church groups and rehab and then founded a successful mailing business with her second husband. After seeking out therapy during a stressful time in this marriage, Spencer-Devlin says she finally fully confronted her childhood abuse and embraced the gay identity she’d long suppressed. She eventually left her husband and pursued long-term lesbian relationships, including with professional golfer Muffin Spencer-Devlin, whom she married. By memoir’s end, she tells of suffering financial losses and dealing with health concerns, including hepatitis C, but she also says that she’s now in a “state of Enlightenment” thanks to her writing. The author, in her first memoir, has written a compelling account of acting-out, addiction, and other self-destructive actions that arose from her early childhood traumas. The fact that the act of writing has served as therapy for her is reflected in this narrative, in which she views the people, places, and events in her life in a cleareyed but also ultimately accepting way. However, Spencer-Devlin’s post-recovery activities, such as her time as a motivational speaker, may be of less interest to some readers; they’re also rather hurriedly addressed here and perhaps may be better developed in a future book. Overall, though, this book is full of insightful testimony.
An intense depiction of trauma and recovery.