Today I am sharing my review of Ever Faithful to His Lead — My Journey Away from Emotional Abuse, and a short interview with the author, Kathleen Pooler. Since I wrote my first memoir, I’ve been following Kathleen’s blog at Memoir Writer’s Journey.
Kathleen Pooler is an author and a retired Family Nurse Practitioner. Her memoir, Ever Faithful to His Lead: My Journey Away From Emotional Abuse was published in the summer of 2014. She is currently working on a sequel, Hope Matters: A Memoir.
Both books are about how the power of hope through her faith in God helped her to transform, heal, and transcend life’s obstacles and disappointments to live a life of joy and contentment. . The issues she tackles are domestic abuse, divorce, single parenting, loving and letting go of an alcoholic son, cancer and heart failure.
Pooler believes that hope matters and that we are all strengthened and enlightened when we share our stories.
She lives with her husband Wayne in eastern New York.
Ever Faithful to His Lead — My Journey Away from Emotional Abuse is an important story for anyone who is in an emotionally abusive relationship. It is very courageous writing, insightful into important gender issues, and powerful in its potential to help others.
Kathleen Pooler’s brutally honest and at times self-berating memoir about her not one, but two successive, emotionally abusive marriages is an important read for anyone in a similar situation. It is an important read for anyone who suspects a friend or relative of being in a similar emotionally abusive relationship.
Pooler questions herself, “What I ask myself now is why did I tolerate so much for so long?” Although readers may think that Pooler has a flaw or weakness of character by today’s standards, it is important to remember the times and social constructs and gender expectations that were in play during the 1960s to 1980s era. In some ways, Ever Faithful to His Lead is a good study in gender issues.
Importantly, this is a success story. Through it all Pooler diligently stays on a path to independence. She earns an advanced degree in nursing while raising two children and coping with an alcoholic, at times absentee, husband. Pooler berates herself for tolerating first one and then a second husband who was unsupportive and volatile because she perceived a need for a man in her life and a father for her children. But eventually she takes the necessary steps to independence and self-reliance.
This is a story of resilience, fortitude, and overcoming self-defeating tendencies.
By sharing her story, Pooler has the capacity to help not only herself, but others who may be in a similar situation. We can all learn from Pooler’s experience.
I applaud her courage in telling her story.
Six questions for Kathleen:
1. On your website, Memoir Writer’s Journey, you write, ” We are all strengthened and enlightened when we share our stories.” Can you tell us a little more about this concept and how, in particular, this statement applies to you and to readers of Ever Faithful to His Lead?
This mantra about sharing our stories came to me when I was honing in on the main theme of my website. Hope has always played a powerful role in my life and I personally have found hope and strength from sharing my own stories and from hearing the stories of others. I wanted to create a welcoming atmosphere where people would feel comfortable sharing their stories and envisioned my blog as a kitchen table where people could gather and share. In the case of my memoir, Ever Faithful to His Lead, breaking the silence helped me to heal and forgive.
2. You write,” I grew up with Walt Disney’s myth of dreaming, hoping, praying that someday my prince would come…” How do you think your life might have been different if you would have been born thirty or forty years later than you were? Do you think young women today are better prepared to deal with some of the challenges you faced, or not?
Interesting question. I say this because I have had younger readers tell me they cannot relate to the Boomer issues of societal pressure to marry from the 60’s and 70’s. It’s a different time now and expectations of women and their roles in society have changed dramatically with the Women’s Movement. Abuse still happens but it occurs within a different framework. Yes, I do think the women of today are better prepared to take care of themselves and forge independent lives.
3. Your description of hiding in the closet, on more than one occasion, when you heard your first husband, Ed, returning from a night out drinking is chilling. As you often mention in your memoir, a lot of factors fed into your decision not to leave your marriage before you did. Knowing what you know now, what would you have done differently? How would you advise another young wife who may be cowering in a closet somewhere, or pretending to be asleep to avoid a confrontation?
Of course, hindsight always seems to highlight issues that were not apparent at the time. I had a blind and naïve faith that all would work out in time, despite evidence to the contrary. Knowing what I know now, I would heed all those red flags before the wedding and walk away sooner. I would take my inner doubts seriously and take action. My advice to another young wife—value yourself enough to not tolerate abuse of any kind. Listen to your inner voice and claim you inner strength sooner than later. Reach out for support and get out.
4. What made you decide to write your story now?
This is not the story I wanted to write or started out writing. But as I kept writing, this is the story that revealed itself to me. I had to break my own silence by facing the guilt and shame I hid behind for years. I started out writing about the simultaneous battle of a cancer diagnosis and my young son’s spiral into substance abuse (my W-I-P memoir) but soon realized I couldn’t tell that story until I told the story before me. When I looked at the life of peace and joy I was living, I connected with my purpose for writing it—to share hope that no matter how far down into the abyss you go, there’s always hope for a better life—there was no stopping. If my story touches one other person and gives them hope to find freedom from abuse, I will have achieved my purpose in writing it.
5. In one or two sentences, what is the most important advice you would give to someone suffering from emotional abuse based on your own experience?
Love yourself enough to want and demand respect and love in return. Emotional abuse is not as obvious as physical abuse and yet it can be just as devastating. Power and control are at the root of any abuse situation. Trust your feelings, claim your inner strength and have an escape plan. Seek support from trusted family and friends. There are many community resources available but one has to break through the denial that abuse is occurring. Knowledge is power.
6. Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about your book or your memoir-writing experience?
The positive responses to my memoir have been beyond my expectations. So often we question if our personal stories will be of interest to others, if writing our truths will be worth it in terms of possibly offending others who may disagree with our version of the truth. Publishing Ever Faithful to his Lead has validated for me the power of memoir to transform and heal, both the writer and the reader. Not only was I able to forgive those whom I felt hurt me but I was able to forgive myself. That is the freedom I want to share with others. Our stories do matter.
Links to contact Kathleen:
I’ve entered the marketing stage of self-publishing project, although I really don’t like to use the word marketing. The whole point is that I have to somehow, in this noisy, crazy, over-stimulating, cyberworld, let readers, who might be interested in my book about Alzheimer’s, know that it exists. It’s not all that easy to get a book on someone’s radar screen.
That said, I want to thank Beth Ann Chiles at It’s Just Life, for posting about Where Memories Meet today. I met Beth Ann early in my blogging experience in 2011 and she has been a friend ever since. She writes an assortment of interesting posts on a frequent basis. I always enjoy her Teapot Tuesday where she shares a teapot from her extensive collection. She has been doing this for a while. I have no idea how or where she keeps all these beautiful items. But what I think makes Beth most special, is that every month she picks a worthy cause to feature in her Comments for a Cause. At the end of the month, she donates money to the cause based on how many comments she received throughout the month. It’s a double-win for the cause: money and exposure. Well done, Beth Ann.
Now, it would be great if you could go visit It’s Just Life and read all the wonderful things Beth Ann said about Where Memories Meet. The results of a short interview with me are posted there as well. Here’s a sample question:
1. What is your favorite thing about sharing such personal stories about your family? Or maybe a better question is what was your motivation?
For the answer to this and other questions visit It’s Just Life.
I was looking at the online UD Quickly Magazine. They have an alumni bookshelf. I submitted Dancing in Heaven there and it was put on the shelf in June of 2012. So, I was trying to find out how to submit Where Memories Meet – Reclaiming my father after Alzheimer’s. I was scanning down the current edition of the UD Quickly Bookshelf that was published in September and was surprised to see this blog mentioned. Although I shouldn’t have been. This summer I was contacted by the editor who told me the magazine wanted to feature blogs as well as books. I met her at the local Panera where we had a nice conversation and she interviewed me.
Check it out here. You’re all part of this. I wouldn’t have continued this blog without you.
Originally posted on Christine M Grote:
As my father tells in his narrative in Where Memories Meet — Reclaiming my father after Alzheimer’s, he was stationed at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, when he was first drafted into the army. While he was away from home serving in the US Military, he sent photographs back to my mother.
Here are some photographs from Dad’s time in Columbia, South Carolina: at Fort Jackson, in town, and on a trip to Myrtle Beach. Mouse over a photo to see the caption. Click on a photo to see a larger version, and a manual slideshow.
You may already be acquainted with Sue Dreamwalker’s blog. Dreamwalker’s Sanctuary. Her byline is “A Sanctuary for Enlightenment and Peace through Poetry and Inspirational Thoughts as we go through Life.” I often leave her posts feeling uplifted in some way.
I wanted to share her blog today because she recently posted about a topic near and dear to my heart: spiders. You may have read my Facing my Fears – Starting Small. A couple of days ago, Sue’s blog post, All Things Connect, features of all things – spiders and their webs. She has some terrific photos of stunning spider webs that she saw in her garden plot. So I think reading and sharing this post is a step in the right direction for me as I try to face my fear of spiders.
But mostly, I also think that an appreciation of how all things connect is a pathway to a better life, world, and maybe universe.
Sue is also an incredible artist and a visit to her blog is a feast for your eyes. Enjoy.
Although I bragged about being an ebook wizard the last time, I have since been humbled, particularly after spending 2 or 3 full days revising my ebook (primarily because of photos, but more on that next time).
As I mentioned in my last post about this, I decided to use Smashwords to be able to provide multiple ebook formats in addition to publishing on Kindle.
One of the problems I found was that the ebook field is changing all the time. A lot of people have posted helpful advice on the web, but much of it is dated. If you start Googling for help, it can become very confusing, very rapidly. Trust me on this. You don’t need to know html. You just need to know how to format a document.
My advice is, start at Smashwords. The site is way more helpful than Amazon’s KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) in providing detailed information; the turnaround time is almost immediate so you are able to check your ebook right away and re-cycle if the changes you made didn’t work; and it is not a popular site (I’ve sold very few books there), so I can try things out and not jeopardize my Amazon Kindle product. Then, once you have a good document for your ebook, you can upload it to Kindle yourself.
At Smashwords, under the “publish” tab (the link above takes you there), you will find important, and helpful information. Start with the Style Guide by Mark Coker. It is free and will help you format your document. I downloaded a pdf of it.
The steps I took, as advised by Mark Coker, in a nutshell are:
- I made a backup of my Word document and saved it as a doc (not docx). I had been keeping my book in Scrivener, so I first had to generate a Word document there.
- I copied the document and pasted it into a text editing program. On pcs I think that is Notepad, since I have a mac I used TextEdit. This strips out all your formatting styles that you inserted intentionally or not .
- I opened a new Word document, making sure Word’s auto formatting, auto correcting, tracking changes were all turned off. Then I turned on the show/hide feature on Word. Mark Coker explains how to do all this in the Style Guide.
- I copied the TextEdit file and pasted it into the new Word document I had created.
- Everything in your document should now be under the “normal” formatting style. From here I defined styles for headings, the front matter paragraphs, the book’s body, and picture captions. Mark Coker gives you very specific advice on how to do this. I used many of his suggestions, and made up a few styles of my own.
- Then I scrolled through my document and applied the styles to the headings and picture captions. It’s a simple matter of highlighting the text involved, going to the style drop-down menu in the upper left corner, and clicking on the style you want. Again, it’s very well explained in the Style Guide.
- If you have an isolated word that is italicized or bolded, you can just format that manually. I kept a printed copy beside me as I worked to make sure I made all the formatting changes I originally intended.
Once you are happy with your document’s formatting, it is a simple matter to upload it to Smashwords where it will be made into a mobi, epub, etc. I downloaded the mobi and epub (free from Smashwords if you are the author), and checked the books on my computer screen and other devices. If I wasn’t satisfied, I recycled through the process. When I was satisfied, I published it on Amazon’s KDP as well.
The biggest challenge in this whole process is formatting the text. I have never adhered to using “styles” when I am writing. I’ve learned a lot about using styles through this process, and intend to use them in the future from the get-go. If you don’t already know, learn how to use and modify styles. You won’t regret it.
Here are some of the styles I used in Where Memories Meet:
Normal: For the body of the book. I modified whatever Word had assigned to “normal” so that the font was Times New Roman font at 12 pt, the first line of the paragraph indented at 0.3″, and the lines spaced at 1.5 lines.
Center: I used this for anything I wanted centered. The copyright page uses this style. I created a new style using normal as the base and modifying it to no indent on first line and centered text.
Front Matter: This makes the front matter, and end matter in my case, have a block paragraph look. I learned this directly from Mark Coker’s Style Guide. I used normal formatting to create a new style and modified it to no indent on first line, single line spacing, space after the paragraph at 6 pt.
Name: I used this name to define the headings of the chapters, which happen to be names, and used it for all similar headings like Preface, About the Author, etc. Defining the page break and the spacing before and after the name of the chapter ensures the chapters all start on a new page, a little down from the top. I used normal style to create a new style with arial font, 14 pt, bold. Indent 0″, Space before paragraph is 30 pt, space after is 18 pt, Page break before paragraph.
It’s really not difficult to format the text, it just takes a little time to assign the headings and special paragraphs their style. It’s rewarding work when the document ends up looking professional.
The photos I included in Where Memories Meet gave me a little more trouble. More on that next time.