For many, the holidays are a time to spend with family—for better or for worse. We dine together, we gift together, we shop together, and it’s likely we “drama” together. I spoke with Francesca Escoto, author, life coach,speaker, and radio host about how Latino families can learn to re-write their scripts, stop living out old patterns, and begin to enjoy being their best selves and best family members.
Escoto was born and raised in the Dominican Republic. The eldest of five siblings, her family moved to Massachusetts when she was a teenager. She went to college at the College of Wooster and studied technology and engineering—eventually landing work in corporate America with General Electric, in the IT and technical sales department.
Moving on to a job in the Career Services department at the University of Miami for two years, eventually she moved back to Massachusetts to work as Assistant Super Attendant of public schools and even a teaching stint for a year. Finally landing a job for ten years in the non-profit sector doing strategic planning.
At 30 years old, and the mother of three, Escoto says her life suddenly came to a halt. She began suffering from panic disorders. For a year, Escoto was paralyzed with fear. She says she knew it was time to take a real look at herself.
That was five years ago, and since then she’s became a certified life coach and solidified the changes she knew she needed to make in her life.
Today Escoto, who lives in Tampa, works in the tech world by day, and does her radio show and life coaching at night. She’s written a book about her new life’s calling, titled "Divorce Your Own Drama", available in stores January 2013.
Primarily focusing on the issues of Latinas, Escoto explains that her book is about taking a look at your culture, religion, and traditions and celebrating them, while also challenging yourself to create a space to be the woman you’d like to be, despite the feelings of being trapped by who our families are.
Her book describes 4 basic archetypal women she sees in her coaching practice and her own life a.k.a. lasnovelera’s, who Escoto says are roles Latinas play , but don’t have to.
1. The Martyr-The ‘whoa is me’ type…feel bad for me…my life is a mess and there’s nothing to do about it.
2. The Villain-She slashes her boyfriend’s car.
3. The Matriarch-She keeps it all together. Takes care of everyone and controls everything
4. The Superstar-She’s perfect. She’s the protagonist. The heroic man always rescues her.She’s beautiful and seems to have it all together.
Escoto says these types become the roles we play and then who we become. We begin to own these caricatures and we require all of the people around us to continue to support our often very sick vision of ourselves—and our families.
“Latinas begin to believe that these are her life destined roles and if they don’t play them, they’ll be shamed or they actually will feel defective. Then they walk out into the world feeling less-than. It’s scarier for many women to face up to making changes than it is to continue going in a direction that makes them unhappy and unfulfilled,” Escoto says.
Her niche is talking with Latinas and sharing with them the basic notion that although it may feel scary to break with traditions, not all cultural connections are best for them—particularly the parts that aren’t healthy.
“It’s not cute or acceptable for people to act sexually inappropriately or with violence. It’s also not shameful to acknowledge depression, lack of fidelity or intimacy, or mental illnesses like borderline personality disorder or narcissism," she said.
She said Latinos have trouble talking about these issues and tend to hide behind their traditions and culture.
"Let’s call it what it is, be brave, and get to the other side," she said. "It’s possible to feel happy and move beyond these illnesses--some of which have been in families for literally generations.” she says.
Rebekah Sager is a nationally published lifestyle and culture writer. She's a regular contributor to Fox News Latino. Follow Rebekah on Twitter @Rebekah_Sager.