An actress and producer chronicles the process of how she turned overcoming childhood trauma into a career.
As the youngest of 13 children of a seemingly devout Catholic family, Allen harbored many secrets from members of her family and eventually shared a crucial one with her father. He had been knighted by the pope, insisted on being called “Sir John,” and had a few secrets of his own. The one that bonded father and daughter was their shared homosexuality, which he recognized in her, confessed to her, and said they should never reveal to anyone else in the family. Long after she discovered that it was her secrets that were keeping her sick, she devoted her stage career to a one-woman show in which she played her father. “I took on his shame, his guilt, his poor decisions, his charm and his goodness in front of a live audience,” she writes. “Daughter into father, transformed. I was him. I wasn’t acting him. I really felt I became him.” This memoir is the next step in that creative process, as she reveals the difficult secrets that have plagued her: how two of her older brothers began sexually abusing her when she was 9; how her first lover was her middle school teacher; how she continued with her attraction to older women as a scholarship college basketball player, when her main lover was her softball coach; how she and her father went to gay bars together and bonded over their secret; how her father told her, “this is not information that the world needs to know. But it’s important that someone knows.” The author shares all this after settling into a monogamous relationship that has lasted some 25 years and quitting the drinking that was such a fixture of her father’s life and her relationship with him. Ultimately, it’s not the story of who she is but of who she was.
A writer candidly confronts her personal truth in her quest for transformation, transcendence, and redemption.