It was just the way he walked, with that self-assured, cocky stance that said he was in control. Or was it his ready smile and quick wit that reminded me of his father? Vern’s comment made me realize that Brian was not just another normal kid, like Vern’s kids were. He was Ed’s son. It was just the way he walked.
In her second memoir, Kathy Pooler tackles two difficult issues in her life. She refers to poor personal choices made in her marital life. These choices affected not only the author but also the lives of her children, Brian and Leigh Ann. Here she tells the story of her son Brian’s addiction and her simultaneous battle with cancer. It is a love story, one filled with hope and healing.
Concerned about Brian’s addiction, Pooler worries Brian will end up like his father, Ed. This is a common worry among parents of children in a marriage or partnership with an addicted partner. But how to watch and help turn a person away from what another presents as normal?
Pooler tries as hard as a parent can try to help Brian, but we all know the various emotional stages of growth. The “I’m wholly knowledgeable” teen years, the “I’m an adult now” years, and the “I don’t need you in my life anymore” years. How does a single parent cope with knowing a child is struggling with addiction of any type? Coping with this problem alone is difficult, as Pooler shares in Just the Way He Walked. She holds back nothing.
The strength of her faith is a bolster for her hopes and desires to help Brian. Helpful is a stepfather willing to step up and help Pooler with both battles. Pooler shows how at times we have to let someone step in to help through strengths we may not have. She shares her use of journaling, belief in prayer, and strong faith—a powerful toolbox.
Pooler’s memoir is well written. Her story is written with others in mind trying to help a family member or friend struggling with addiction. Descriptions of her emotions are honest and painful for the reader. But, we must expect reality to shine through in a tough story such as this.
In the synopsis of Just the Way He Walked, Pooler shares the goal in writing this book:
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.
I recommend Just the Way He Walked to those looking for the hope of helping an addict to turn his or her life around.
It is rare that I give a 5-star rating to books I review. Yet, often I make exceptions as I have done with Pooler’s new memoir. It is indeed a 5-star book.
I received a copy of this book from the author for an honest review and nothing more. Opinions expressed here are solely mine.
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Today I’m visiting with Mary Gottschalk on her blog with an essay I wrote on the topic of adolescents and divorce and how that combination impacts a family. My essay dovetails with a novel-in-progress Mary is working on where just such a situation is making life difficult for a mother and her 13-year old daughter. I do hope you will come and visit Mary’s blog and join in the discussion.
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Divorce and teens don’t mix well.
Carl Pickhardt, Ph.D., a psychologist in Austin, TX, wrote in an article published in Psychology Today in 2009:
Because the adolescent is at a more disaffected and rebellious stage with parents, divorce can intensifies [sic] their grievances. Rather than cling, the adolescent tends to pull away. Adolescents often feel betrayed by the broken parental commitment to family and become angrier and less communicative. (Emphasis mine.)
I know from experience that something changes during adolescence, creating a resurgence of memories from childhood layered onto the present.
I saw this with my stepdaughter, who was almost six when her parents divorced. By the time Leah (not her real name) reached adolescence, her life experiences included (1) learning she was adopted, (2) seeing her adoptive parents divorce, and (3) watching daddy remarry.
In her memory bank, each of these events directly linked to a woman who had let her down – her birth mother, her adoptive mother, and me. Leah’s adolescent rage centered on a distrust of women.
Leah’s solution: Bring Mom and Dad back together again and all will be right with the world. How to make this happen? Destroy Dad’s new marriage.
Around 15, Leah convinced us her life at home with Mom and Mom’s boyfriends was miserable, and she needed stability. We believed her every word.