Insights from a woman who never should have made it but did...

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Just like most mornings, my husband was brushing his teeth at the sink while I was toweling myself off after stepping out of the shower. My naked body was nothing new to me, but being naked in front of a man was still very new to me. Having never even so much as held hands with a man, much less been naked in front of a man, prior to being with my husband, my husband’s opinion of my body was, at that point in my life, my only point of reference for its attractiveness. As I turned to hang up my wet towel, I caught my naked reflection in the bathroom mirror. I twisted around to appraise my backside, and with a momentary flash of self-approval, I said to my husband, “I have a nice ass, don’t I?”

After straightening up from where he was leaning over the sink, he grabbed a hand towel, wiped his mouth dry, and impatiently asked, “What did you say?” With my naked backside turned toward him, I wiggled my hips side to side and tentatively repeated, “I have a nice ass, don’t I?” Without hesitation, he hooked each of his index fingers under the outer edges of the curve of each of my butt cheeks, lifted my butt cheeks a few inches higher, and ungraciously said, “Well, it could be a bit more like this.” He dropped my butt cheeks and walked out of the bathroom, leaving me in shock. Tears stung my eyes as I repeated his motion with my own fingers, watching my butt cheeks rise to where he said they should be, and wondering how I could get them there so that he would want me.

My journey of transformation from brokenness to empowerment

Author Aideen T. Finnola’s life has consisted of a series of trials and obstacles. She was raised by abusive parents who joined a Christian cult when she was eight. She left the cult at twenty-three only to go straight into a twenty-year marriage with an abusive husband who, as a closeted gay man, had falsely represented himself from the start.

In My Exquisite Purple Life, Finnola offers a collection of stories from her life that share the many challenges she’s faced, and the lessons learned after healing. She tells how, by her middle thirties, after having suffered decades of abuse, neglect, and rejection from even before she was born, she was a broken woman. Finnola was a pack-a-day smoker, a daily drinker, chronically overweight, had had two extramarital affairs, and was on a high dose of antidepressants because she seriously contemplated suicide more than once. By all rights and reasons, she never should have made it, but she did.


In My Exquisite Purple Life, Finnola shares the wisdom she’s gained through healing her pain. She reveals the techniques and realizations that aided her transformation, offering others encouragement, hope, and inspiration.

Kirkus Review

A child abuse survivor recounts a youth mired in rigid fundamentalist rule and a resultant dysfunctional adulthood.  

“I was raised by hippies turned Jesus freaks,” writes author and motivational speaker Finnola of her parents, whose fanatical behavior dramatically changed direction when she was a young girl. Her harrowing debut memoir begins with early recollections of parents who cooked everything from scratch and rummaged through thrift store bins to clothe her and her sister. The family abandoned the Midwest for San Francisco once her parents became staunch followers of what the author describes as an “ecumenical, fundamentalist, charismatic, evangelical Christian cult.” At age 8, she attended her first prayer meeting, and from there, became drowned in religious dogma, apocalyptic beliefs, regular beatings, and constant distress that her sins “made me vile” in God’s sight. She was taught that secular culture was sinful, and was home-schooled in eighth grade. After college, she met and married a closeted gay man, and during their decades-long relationship, she endured cruel degradation, verbal abuse, and misery so extreme she rebelled with excessive smoking, overeating, extramarital affairs, and a barrage of antidepressant medication. Vividly written and often difficult to read, the memoir is a raw, intensive chronicle of a bleak life yet also forms a true testament to the durability of the human spirit and how perseverance and self-love can work wonders and renew a broken soul. Finnola’s 30s and early 40s admittedly became her darkest days as she embraced her “victim identity” and contemplated suicide, even though a spiritual teacher she’d met and a support group helped buoy her. Her betrayal and anger at her duplicitous marriage are palpable and repeatedly addressed. Her ultimate recovery in mind, body, and spirit took many years as the author eventually vanquished her “inner terrorist” and forgave herself enough to begin the arduous journey to rebuild her self-esteem, embrace motherhood to two daughters, and love again. The author is proud to write that she is now “healthy, happy, and whole,” and the book’s subtitle describing Finnola is fitting and suits this epiphanic, unsettling, and still-evolving life story well. 

A moving, greatly ruminative, cathartic autobiography.