Advanced Reviews of Ever Faithful to His Lead: My Journey Away From Emotional Abuse
When the author asked me to be a beta-reader, I expected her memoir to be interesting and well-written; I had been following her blog posts. The unexpected surprise, though, was how her story would move me so deeply on a personal level.
Ever Faithful to His Lead is a compelling true story that was difficult to read from one standpoint only: how did this woman, so incredibly successful with responsible managerial positions in her nursing career, end up in two devastatingly abusive marriages? It was discovering the answers to my question that made this memoir so poignantly dynamic. Pooler skillfully constructs the turbulent aspects of two failed marriages in juxtaposition with the introspection going on incessantly within her mind. Although the abusive dynamics that play out within the two marriages are distressing to read, the author’s resolute responses during the more turbulent episodes are cause enough for cheer.
Despite the ongoing turmoil within her marriages, Pooler forges ahead with her education, obtaining a master’s degree in nursing though pregnant at the time. The author’s reflections about her strong attention to career while the chaos of her marriage swirls around her brought me some clarity on a personal level. She wrote, “I couldn’t explain my need to grow and learn, but it had been a force that carried me through any obstacles that I faced.”
This memoir is remarkable for its portrayal of the courage, resilience and perseverance wrought by the author in the face of daunting odds. I say ‘daunting’ because of the deep layers within her relating to religious upbringing, family expectations and an innate caring personality. I was strongly engaged with and impressed by the clarity expressed by Pooler as regards the conflicting influences of her stable Christian upbringing. On the one hand, she speaks often of the hope and faith that sustain her while caught in an abyss of self-defeating emotions that ensue from the choices she has made. On the other, she recognizes the detrimental side of her religion and states, “The faith and roots that grounded me also served to sabotage my ability to set healthy boundaries.”
Ever Faithful to His Lead will resonate with and provide hope for all who have been caught in a spiral of guilt, confusion and indecision because of codependent issues or waning faith. The author’s words that strongly resonated with me were, “Perhaps the most important lessonof all is that my happiness depends on my choices and is therefore in my control.”
Doreen Cox, Author of The Adventures of Mother-Sitting and A Sacred Journey
In this beautifully written memoir, Kathleen Pooler covers the important topic of emotional abuse in a marriage, and questions her choices in life. Her story is so compelling and engaging that I quickly become her friend, rooting for her from the very start.
After her first divorce, Kathleen feels like a failure and wants nothing more than a loving and stable family like the one she grew up with herself. She longs to find a partner who will love her the way her father loved her mother.
I sense her inner conflict, yearning for a predictable and quiet home, yet admitting that sometimes her life is “boring.” I get the impression that she is a good daughter who loves to please her parents and make them proud, yet part of her also longs for a little “danger,” which conflicts with the safety and stability of her own childhood.
Although very successful in school and with her nursing career, Kathleen longs for “the man of her dreams.” She often mentions her “prince” showing up one day.
I sense her impatience and her desire to “break free of convention,” and to rebel. “Breaking free,” is a term she often uses, and being perfect seems to be a curse.
Kathleen weaves in her reflections masterfully, and with such honesty that I find myself listening and speaking to her whenever she doubts or questions herself.
When Kathleen makes poor choices in her marriages, I want to scream, “Why did you not listen to your inner gut feeling?” I care so much about her that I want to defend her, and make her realize how much she had to offer as a wife and a mother, and not to settle for a jerk.
After her second marriage fails, Kathleen realizes the power of choice, and to depend on herself. She discovers a personal relationship with God and begins to take responsibility for her choices.
Kathleen’s inspiring memoir showed me why some women get into emotionally abusive marriages and how she was able to transform her own life after her two failed marriages.
Sonia Marsh, author of Freeway to Flip-Flops and My Gutsy Story Anthology
Having grown up in an ideal family filled with love and faith in God, Kathy imagines that all marriages are like her parents’. Seeking a bit more excitement, she says yes to her first offer of marriage to a funny, handsome, popular man. Though she has doubts and small hints that all is not well with her fiancé, she goes ahead with the wedding anyway. She discovers that her “Knight in Shining Armor” is an alcoholic, coming home many nights drunk and abusive, often bringing along his drinking buddies. Kathy begins asking herself why she’s sticking around. That they have two small children and her belief that he’ll eventually get his life together, keep her hanging on until she can no longer cope with the situation. She takes their kids and escapes to a safe house provided by friends.
A few years later after entering a promising career in nursing, Kathy falls in love again, with a divorced man who seems much more stable and mature than her first husband. Eager to find a good man who’ll provide a good home for her children, she says yes, when he pops the question. Though she hears doubts about the promise of this union in her head, she pays them little heed. She then finds herself married to a man with serious psychological issues. Again, she hangs on, keeping her angst, feelings of shame, and guilt to herself.
Worrying that her husband will go further than his emotional abuse and hurt her physically, she meets with a friend whose spiritual journey inspires and reminds Kathy of her own forgotten path. She begins to consider what she’s done with her life, worrying about her kids, especially her son, who has been beaten and disciplined severely by her husband. When her parents witness the way Kathy and the kids are being treated, they promise to never step foot in their home again. Despite her spouse’s promises to be a better husband and father, Kathy leaves, moving back to upstate New York, close to family and friends.
On this heart wrenching journey, Kathy learns to listen to her own doubts, her wisdom, and her courage to move forward and make a stable life for herself and her kids. She is her own heroine, making the right choices, and better for the difficulties she endured.
Joan Z Rough, Memoir Writer and Blogger