Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Book Review: In Search of Teressa: A Journey Into The Mind Of A Woman With Many Personalities by Lynette Louise



Background: My mom wrote this book. Actually, she talked this book into audio recordings, sent them to me to transcribe, then read it to Teressa who made a few clarification requests, then made those changes and sent it to all the people talked about in the book for their thoughts and requests, then made changes, then allowed an editor and publisher to play with it, then helped design a cover, and then it was published. But, ya. My mom wrote this book.:D

My mom has been writing since my earliest memories (hers, too). She writes poetry, songs, academic abstracts and articles, books, shows, theater, and comedy shows. Almost always her stories are created with the intention to inspire and teach, to learn and grow, to surprise and submit uncommon perspectives. Almost always she writes stories based on her own life and those of us closest to her.

This new book is her first written through the lens of someone else’s life and memories.

In partnership with Teressa, a woman who has been diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder and has been suspected as having anywhere between twelve and twenty-three alters (alternate personalities), In Search of Teressa is written in two parts. 

The first part describes Teressa's memories. Her childhood, her life as a wife and mother, her attempts at creating and discovering herself as a woman via retreats, counseling, and religion. It is written from Teressa's point of view, from her idea of how it was and what was done. There is a childhood of malnutrition, alcoholism, physical illnesses, and memory loss. There is an adulthood with murder, true love, family vacations, and alters.

Her story is not told chronologically, and actually begins with the murder of her adult daughter. As readers bounce back and forth from Teressa’s later years to her early years and back again, it is reminiscent of how Teressa’s life is lived in her mind. A continuous bringing to the present slights from her past.

The second part of the book is my mom's story, alongside Teressa. It includes my brother, Dar, who is autistic and almost always at her side. My grandchildren are there. Mom interviews the people in Teressa's life and they are mostly accommodating. 

During mom's first meeting with Teressa's brother he sits in the sunshine outside of the house with the door open while mom and Teressa sit inside. It was during the COVID-19 lock-down and I suppose accommodations were the norm, yet it is a memorable scene: socially distancing siblings discussing a childhood of playing dick detective (hiding in the backseat of their drunk dad's car to see if he cheated on mom, per mom's orders), sharing one onion between them and feeling tangible guilt over not sharing with the other children, putting poop in the backyard cesspool due to broken pluming, and so many other memories. Often their memories would match in terms of what happened. Often, though, they would disagree on the reasons, the meaning, the why or message of the memories. 

My mom is an international brain and behavior expert so she is qualified to understand what is going on in the brain and how it is influenced by the people guiding it as well as by the body it is in. The hormones and chemicals as well as the story it is being told. This second part of the book is the piecing together of Teressa's truth as mom helps her find the path to becoming one unique person.

There are many parallels in the lives of both my mom and Teressa, yet the people they become have stark differences. This is something that shines throughout the book. The hand we can play in creating ourselves even as we are not in control of all the elements.

By the end of book two my mom and Teressa have made giant strides toward a unified Teressa, a happy Teressa, and made plans for ever more growth. Along the way, readers learn much about how memory works, how we are building ourselves with the beliefs we hold, how we can take advantage of the brain’s plasticity for our own benefit by purposely changing certain behaviors, and how we can be kinder to each other without being so supportive we push our loved ones deeper into unhealthy mental states.

 The entire book is fantastic. It is engaging and informative. It is poetic and scientific. It answers and asks. It is a story that makes us question our own memories as it tells us how to remember.

I highly recommend this one! 

Follow this link to view the book on Amazon: In Search of Teressa 

Hugs, smiles, and love!!