A debut memoir and guidebook to help readers move beyond personal trauma toward self-acceptance.
Correa grew up in a dysfunctional family. When drunk, her father physically abused her and made lewd comments about her developing body. When sober, he resumed the role of supportive parent. Correa’s mother endured the same mercurial personality and abuse, but she blamed rather than rallied or helped her daughter. At 14, “I was the common denominator,” Correa says, shouldering shame and responsibility for her father’s actions. Believing she was unloved and unworthy, Correa developed ways to hide from current and future pain. In the memoir chapters of her book, she visualizes these protective mechanisms as separate people, embodied elements of her personality. She enters an imaginary conference room and welcomes rebellious Nanette, compulsively busy Superwoman, purposefully overweight Dolly and many other forms of her young self. Devoting roughly one chapter to each persona, Correa revisits her childhood to understand how she created these “bad” traits to compensate for a lack of parental affection and guidance. For readers who have experienced similar abuse, Correa’s story of self-hatred and fractured personality likely rings true. Her vivid, honest writing renders the characters and the events surrounding their creation believable. Through this visualization, Correa moves toward self-forgiveness—embodied as Francesca, which means free. In some chapters, however, this change comes too quickly. Prison Guard, for example, maintained the rules in Correa’s life and forced to her follow stringent diets leading to lifelong eating disorders. After Correa visualizes Prison Guard and recognizes her need for obsessive control, that element of her personality kicks off her boots, lets down her hair, and transforms into the positive Motivator. In the two final chapters, which read more as a guidebook, Correa wisely acknowledges that self-directed visualization may not be sufficient for deep “emotional wounds” and refers readers to professionals. Despite this caveat, Correa’s personal story, step-by-step process and extensive list of protective personality traits may offer solace and direction to readers wishing to shed traumatic memories and a negative self-image.
A well-written memoir that offers lessons on understanding and forgiving oneself.