There is a transitioning forum that may be helpful to you. I've worn my hair curly for the last 35 years, so can't help you there. As long as you aren't pulling your hair tightly and using a loose fastener, you shouldn't be doing more damage that way. Though the flat iron is doing damage. You need to be treating your hair with TLC until you can do the BC.
Your hair properties, and not your curl type, will determine where you should start with products/ingredients. Here's a link to help Live Curly Live Free - Home
Once you determine your hair properties, you can look for folks with hair like yours and see what they use (in signatures.)
As long as you have that damaged straight hair, you'll have issues. If it's chin length curly, I suggest that you look at the curly bob thread Curly Bobs Unite! What's to like about it.
A lot of us have, and love, them. It may be a great way to let your hair grow out--and have a style.
3a (Corkicelli), highlighted, fine, low porosity
modified CG, since April '07
CG since 3/11/08
HGs: Anything Sevi; Curly Kinks Satin Roots, Curlycue ReNew and Coil Jam; homemade FSG and okra gel; soap bars; UFD Curly Magic; Botanical Spirits Jellies, CJ Repair Me