Kathy Pooler has been a blog friend and writing buddy since we met at a writer’s retreat in 2015. Now we are both publishing memoirs this year: her second, my first. I call her a Steel Magnolia because she has indomitable fortitude, yet she travels the world as a gentle soul, revealing a beautiful spirit, like the petals of a magnolia.
As far as I can tell, she has never staged a Pity Party, certainly not publicly. Though she has survived two abusive marriages, the pressures of an addicted son, she has not complained. And though she has had numerous physical challenges, heart failure (relieved with a pace maker) and kidney failure (managed via dialysis), she clings to hope. Soon she will make another hard transition – from a beloved 130-acre farm to senior independent living.
Kathy is a survivor. And that’s why I call her a steel magnolia!
Her New Book
“When love is not enough, hope steps in”
Just the Way He Walked: A Mother’s Story of Hope and Healing is a story of how one woman’s simultaneous battles of Stage Four Non–Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and her young adult son’s addiction to alcohol and drugs test her resolve to never, ever give up hope. Written for parents, particularly mothers, of children who are addicted, this is a story of love, faith, hope, and breaking the cycle of addiction. Family relationships, father-son, mother-son, single parenting, the impact of addiction on families, and the need for education in breaking the cycle of addiction are all explored.
The message of resilience and faith in the face of insurmountable odds serves as a testament to what is possible when one dares to hope.
Ten Things My Son Taught Me About Addiction and Sobriety
Addiction is a family disease that storms in like a tornado and leaves its victims shattered. I know because I, along with many other mothers, have witnessed my own son’s struggle with drugs and alcohol.
I am no expert in addiction but my personal struggle with my son’s addiction taught me the importance of loving my child and never giving up hope. When love isn’t enough, hope steps in.
Ten things my son taught me about addiction and sobriety:
- Addiction is a family disease that affects everyone. When addiction struck our family, my time and energy were used to monitor my son, leaving his older sister to fend for herself. We all suffered in our own ways. Extended family, not understanding the nature of addiction, worried about us as they watched us struggle from afar. No one in our family was left unscathed.
- Addiction is a brain disease, not a moral failing. This took me years to discern as I took on the shame and guilt of having an addicted child. I had to learn about the insidious nature of addiction and develop coping skills to deal with my addicted child through counseling and Al-anon.
- I had no control over my son’s behavior. No amount of lecturing or stepping in and doing for him what he should and could be doing for himself, could make him quit drinking. I was the typical codependent mother who thought I could pull strings and make things better for him. If I help him pay his bills, maybe he’ll get back on track. As he grew into adulthood, I had to learn to let go of monitoring his day to day activities and let him take responsibility for his actions. Many of my responses were based in fear—that he would die.
- The best thing I could do to help my son was to take good care of myself. It took me many years to realize that setting healthy boundaries for myself and my son would benefit both of us. I learned that letting go did not have to mean giving up. I could still love my son but I had to let go on my need to fix him.
- Tough love doesn’t work. I mean the line of thinking that you have to let your loved one hit rock bottom by not helping him at all. This was the strategy that was popular when my son was in and out of rehab facilities. While I had to learn the difference between loving him and enabling him, I kept the lines of communication open and always let him know that I loved him. I also learned that when love was not enough, hope stepped in.
- Relapse is part of recovery. With each relapse, my son told me he learned something more about himself. He had frequent relapses and while each relapse seemed worse, each recovery seemed better.
- My son was the only one who could decide to stop drinking. He did it in his own time and fortunately before anything tragic happened. He was in active addiction for twenty-three years and achieved sobriety at the age of thirty-seven.
- Spirituality is the cornerstone for recovery. Believing in a Higher Power guided us both in our recoveries.
- Sobriety takes courage every day. It takes courage to live in sobriety. Service is an important part of sobriety. As the AA saying goes: “In order to keep it, you have to give it away”. My son had been active in AA and has stated his commitment to sobriety one day at a time.
- Living a sober life is an amazing adventure. My son has told me that he loves his life now that he is sober. He has given himself a second chance and is grateful to his Higher Power and to all the people along the way who have supported him in his recovery.
The reality is that addiction is always there waiting in the trenches to steal your loved one away. It is by the grace of God and the sheer day-to-day struggle that the addict can live life on his own terms and the loved ones can ultimately find peace and serenity. Recovery is possible. Don’t ever give up hope in your child.
Kathleen Pooler is a retired family nurse practitioner and author of the memoir Ever Faithful to His Lead: My Journey Away From Emotional Abuse, published on July 28, 2014, and upcoming sequel, Just the Way He Walked : A Mother’s Story of Hope and Healing. She writes about how she tapped into her faith in God during her biggest obstacles and disappointments to transform and heal from life’s greatest challenges. She believes that every little bit of hope matters and that we are all strengthened and enlightened when sharing our stories.
She lives with her husband Wayne and their golden retriever Max in eastern New York, and blogs weekly at her Memoir Writer’s Journey blog : https://krpooler.com.
Buy Kathy’s book Just the Way He Walked, here.
Where else to Find Kathy:
Twitter @kathypooler https://twitter.com/KathyPooler
LinkedIn: Kathleen Pooler: https://www.linkedin.com/pub/ kathleen-pooler/16/a95/20a
Google+: Kathleen Pooler: https://plus.google. com/109860737182349547026/posts
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/user/ show/4812560-kathleen-pooler
Personal page, Kathy Pooler: https://www.facebook.com/ kathleen.pooler
Author page: Kathleen Pooler/Memoir Writer’s Journey:
Stories by Kathy Pooler
“The Stone on the Shore” in the anthology: The Woman I’ve Become: 37 Women Share Their Journeys From Toxic Relationships to Self-Empowerment, published by Pat LaPointe, 2012.
“Choices and Chances” in the My Gutsy Story Anthology, by Sonia Marsh, September, 2013.
Do you know Kathy? What do you have to say to her?
What tips can you add to her list?
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