Today my guest is Kathy Pooler, author of Ever Faithful to His Lead: My Journey Away from Emotional Abuse. My review of Kathy’s memoir is here. As part of her WOW! Women on Writing blog tour, Kathy shares her thoughts and beliefs about writing as a pathway to healing. Join us in the comment section to share your own thoughts about the relationship between writing and healing.
I know from personal experience that writing has a healing effect.
From the age of eleven when I received a pink journal with a lock and key, I have written my way through my life challenges. Writing in my journal always makes me feel like I have a safe place to go to unload my concerns and fears. And when I do, I can make sense out of what I am feeling. It feels like my concerns take on a different shape once they land on the pages. Often times when I go back to read my entries over, I will see something I haven’t seen before—a new insight or idea that might help me understand myself a little better.
What I didn’t know when I started writing but have since found out is there is scientific evidence that what I experience intuitively has a tangible health benefits.
Dr. James Pennebaker (http://www.utexas.edu/features/2005/writing/) is a noted psychotherapist who has studied the therapeutic effects of writing on health. Now a professor of psychology at the University of Texas and the author of Opening Up, he chronicled his own journey of healing from depression through writing.
Recent research suggests writing may even ease the symptoms of serious non-psychiatric diseases. For example, blood tests show that subjects have more robust immune systems several weeks after completing writing exercises. http://www.apa.org/monitor/jun02/writing.aspx this link refers to all material through quote on next page.)
Another leading researcher in this field of writing to heal is Dr. Joshua Smyth of Syracuse University. He is quoted by Bridget Murray, in this article as saying:
There is emerging evidence that the key to writing’s effectiveness is in the way people use to interpret their experiences, right down to the words they choose. Venting emotions alone—whether through writing or talking –is not enough t relieve stress. To tap writing’s healing power, people must use it to better understand and learn from their emotions.
In a landmark study which appeared in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA, 1999), involving 107 asthma and rheumatoid arthritis patients, Dr. Smyth discovered that
70 patients in the stressful-writing group (wrote 20 minutes /day for three consecutive days) showed improvement on objective, clinical evaluation than the control group. He concluded that “writing helped patients get better and also kept them from getting worse.
Both Drs. Pennebaker and Smyth acknowledge that writing’s effectiveness in healing will be dependent upon several factors, including a person’s willingness to find meaning in the memory and integrate it into a healing process.
Writing’s power to heal lies not in the pen and paper, but in the mind of the writer.
The journals I wrote in throughout my trials became the seeds for my memoir. Writing my way through the painful memories helped me to get on the other side of them and find a new meaning for the part they played in shaping me into the person I am today.
But there were many days, I put my manuscript aside; walked away and came back to it when I felt strong enough to face my past mistakes. I’m not the same person I was back then and it was excruciating to re-visit those times when I could have, should have made different choices…
Eventually, with the support of mentors and fellow writers, I did find my way to the other side. I began to forgive the young woman in my story who made so many self-defeating choices that had led to untold heartache for not only her but her children. I shed the guilt and shame I had carried around for twenty-five years and started feeling compassion for her. She did the best she could. She acted in good faith, albeit naïvely.
Writing my memoir helped me find my pathway to healing. My greatest hope is that others who have struggled or are still struggling will find hope for their own healing on the pages of my story.
And, if and when I have the chance to talk with my readers, I will tell them that writing helped me to find my pathway to healing. It’s research-based.
Get to Know Kathy Pooler:
Kathleen (Kathy) Pooler is an author and a retired Family Nurse Practitioner whose memoir, Ever Faithful to His Lead: My Journey Away From Emotional Abuse, published on July 28.2014 and work-in-progress sequel, Hope Matters: A Memoir are about how the power of hope through her faith in God helped her to transform, heal and transcend life’s obstacles and disappointments: domestic abuse, divorce, single parenting, loving and letting go of an alcoholic son, cancer and heart failure to live a life of joy and contentment. She 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.
She blogs weekly at her Memoir Writer’s Journey blog: http://krpooler.com
LinkedIn: Kathleen Pooler
Google+: Kathleen Pooler
Personal page, Kathy Pooler : https://www.facebook.com/kathleen.pooler
Author page: Kathleen Pooler/Memoir Writer’s Journey: https://www.facebook.com/memoirwritersjourney
One of her stories “The Stone on the Shore” is published in the anthology: “The Woman I’ve Become: 37 Women Share Their Journeys From Toxic Relationships to Self-Empowerment” by Pat LaPointe, 2012.
Another story: “Choices and Chances” is published in the “My Gutsy Story Anthology” by Sonia Marsh, September, 2013.
Take a Look at Her Memoir:
Ever Faithful to His Lead Cover
Ever Faithful To His Lead : My Journey Away From Emotional Abuse is a memoir, a true life tears to triumph story of self-defeating detours and dreams lost and found.
A young woman who loses sight of the faith she has been brought up with attempts to find her way in the world, rejecting her stable roots in lieu of finding adventure and romance. Despite periods of spiritual renewal in which she receives a prophecy, she slides back, taking several self-defeating detours that take her through a series of heartbreaking events.
When Kathy’s second husband, Dan’s verbal abuse escalates, Kathy finally realizes she must move on before she and her children become a statistic.
How does a young woman who came from a stable, loving family make so many wise choices when it came to career, but so many wrong choices when it came to love, so that she ended up sacrificing career and having to flee in broad daylight with her children from an abusive marriage? What is getting in her way and why does she keep taking so many self-defeating detours?
The story opens up the day Kathy feels physically threatened for the first time in her three-year marriage to her second husband. This sends her on a journey to make sense of her life and discern what part she has played in the vulnerable circumstance she finds herself in.
She must make a decision–face her self-defeating patterns that have led to this situation and move on or repeat her mistakes. Her life and the lives of her two children are dependent upon the choices she makes and the chances she takes from this point forward.
Paperback: 242 Pages
Publisher: Open Books Press (July 22, 2014)
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The remainder of Kathy’s tour:
Monday, October 13 @ Women’s Writing Circle
Kathleen Pooler sits down with Susan Weidener for a friendly conversation about how Kathleen crowdfunded her memoir, Ever Faithful To His Lead: My Journey Away from Emotional Abuse.
Tuesday, October 14 @ Lauren Scharhag
Don’t miss Kathleen Pooler’s interview with Lauren Scharhag as these ladies discuss the hot topic of memoir. Find out more about Kathleen and her own Ever Faithful To His Lead: My Journey Away from Emotional Abuse.
Tuesday, October 14 @ Vera’s Version
Join Kathleen Pooler as she guest blogs about “How Writing Memoir Helped Me Find Self-Forgiveness” at Vera’s Version and shares insight into her memoir Ever Faithful To His Lead: My Journey Away from Emotional Abuse.
Wednesday, October 15 @ About Amish
Kathleen Pooler and her memoir Ever Faithful To His Lead: My Journey Away from Emotional Abuse makes a stop to visit Saloma Furlong at About Amish where you can read Saloma’s review and get in a giveaway for an opportunity to read Ever Faithful To His Lead for yourself!
Thursday, October 16 @ Lisa Haselton
Join Lisa Haselton as she interviews Kathleen Pooler and we all learn more about Kathleen’s memoir Ever Faithful To His Lead: My Journey Away from Emotional Abuse.
Friday, October 17 @ Jerry Waxler
Author, Friend, and Fellow Memoir Writer Jerry Waxler reviews Kathleen Pooler’s Ever Faithful To His Lead: My Journey Away from Emotional Abuse This is a blog stop you won’t want to miss!
Monday, October 20 @ Romance Junkies
Join Kathleen Pooler as she stops at Romance Junkies for an insightful interview about herself and her memoir, Ever Faithful To His Lead: My Journey Away from Emotional Abuse.
Tuesday, October 21 @ Mary Gottschalk
Kathleen Pooler shares her latest project: Ever Faithful To His Lead: My Journey Away from Emotional Abuse as she visits with friend and fellow author Mary Gottschalk and fittingly writes about “Girlfriends Matter”. This is a blog stop you won’t want to miss!
Wednesday, October 22 @ CMash Reads
Join memoir writer Kathleen Pooler as she guest posts at CMash Reads. Kathleen will share her story of “Writing Through the Pain” and tell more about her popular memoir Ever Faithful To His Lead: My Journey Away from Emotional Abuse.
Thursday, October 23 @ Bring on Lemons
Hear what Crystal Otto has to say as she reviews Kathleen Pooler’s Ever Faithful To His Lead: My Journey Away from Emotional Abuse Don’t miss this blog stop as Kathleen Pooler has graciously provided a copy of her memoir for one lucky reader to win via a giveaway!
I am happy to see the message of hope going out far and wide – so heart-warming and affirming. Thank you Sherrey and Kathy!
Marian, I think we all get hope from one another when we share our stories. Thanks, as always, for your support and cheers!
I agree with Kathy on sharing our stories. Sending a message of hope by affirming that others have walked the same path goes a long way to helping someone else break the chains of abuse. Always appreciate your part in the discussion, Marian.
Both of you know as well as I do that writing is a healing process, and it’s important to get this message out to those who are considering writing a memoir or even keeping a journal. Thanks for getting the word out, Kathy and Sherrey.
Joan, I agree. Writing can the best medicine for all we have to endure in this life. And, for those just starting out and wanting to write a memoir, just the act of getting your emotions out and down on paper can open the door and provide the seeds for your story. I appreciate you stopping by and sharing your thoughts, as always.
Joan, I could not agree more! I know by the mere jotting down the first ragged notes of my story how quickly the tiniest bits of healing began. It is my hope here, and I know Kathy feels the same about her blog, is to spread the word as far and wide as possible to others about writing and healing. Thanks for stopping by!
Sherrey, you are a most gracious hostess for my tour and it’s an honor to be your guest. Thank you!
And Kathy, you are a gracious and hope-giving guest. Thank you for writing on a topic near and dear to my heart and yours. Together, we’ve walked a pathway so many others have, and we’ve survived to tell our stories.
What a wonderful, insightful, and encouraging post! You are so right,Kathy (and Sherrey, I know you concur). I suspect since people first
put quill to papyrus and pen to paper, writing–whether in memoirs,
journals, letters, therapy exercises, or even, for some, research
papers–has been a tool for self-discovery and healing for the very
reason you have discovered: it works! Psychotherapists often talk
about the need for clients (or patients, depending on your preferred
perspective) to “externalize” their problems, taking what
is inside and placing it outside where there is light rather than
murky darkness. When written down, issues and concerns can be more
clearly perceived, considered, and productively worked with. Once
externalized, not only is there more cognitive clarity, but the
emotional weight of the problem is made lighter, easier to carry.
This, in turn, frees up more energy toward problem resolution. And
there is the added benefit, which your memoirs so beautifully
demonstrate, of having helpful and inspiring published writing to
share with others trying to make sense of their lives. Maya Angelou
said, “A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer. It sings
because it has a song.” The same might be said about why humans
write; we do so not because we have
answers, but because through our unfolding stories, the insights and
answers we need are revealed. I’m sure this post, like your memoirs,
will resonate for many. Thank you so much!
Martta, so good to see you here. Thanks for joining the discussion with such insightful and wise observations. I know Kathy will agree with me when I say that you have captured the essence of our experiences and writing lives. Look forward to seeing you soon!
It was such a pleasure to read Kathy’s post. I look forward to reading more of your blog, and, as well, to seeing you again.
Thanks so much!
Dear Martta, I am so intrigued by your rich description of the healing aspect of writing. Once the words are on the page, the emotions related to those words seem to take on a new shape, offering clarity and focus. You have , indeed, captured the essence of the writing experience as Sherrey mentioned. It’s so nice to meet you on Sherrey’s wonderful blog. Thank you for stopping by and sharing your insights.
Kathy and Martta, I do wish the two of you could meet. I see and feel so many similarities in your intellect and thought processes it gives me goosebumps. Kathy, you’ll just have to travel from NY to Portland for a visit with us!
Kathy and Sherrey, such a lovely conversation! There are so many ways that writing generates connection, community, as well as the understanding of oneself and, through reading, others. What a pleasure!
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