Full Circle: A Memoir

Full Circle: A Memoir Full Circle: A Memoir by Pamela Lombana
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Alcoholism and domestic abuse creep silently into people’s lives, shattering dreams. For Pamela Lombana, the excitement of marriage turned into paralysing fear as alcohol became her husband’s best friend. Surviving the daily physical and emotional abuse was the norm for her and their children. Full Circle tells the story of how love and God’s abiding grace helped Pamela find the strength to leave her husband, Fernando. During this journey, healing and forgiveness allowed her and the children to be there for him when he needed them the most

I knew from the introduction that this book would probably pull out some long-buried emotions regarding my upbringing.  The waiting for the pain to begin.  The moments when you pray to God for help only to realize nothing has changed and you're still there...in that prison of pain and fear.  As Lombana is describing the early years of her parents' marriage and the moves they made i.e. moving to Medellin to secure work and a better future for their growing family, the author did a great job of pulling me into her home life. However, like many families, they were living paycheck to paycheck. Arguments over finances and can often lead to the demise of what was once a healthy relationship, which as Lombana would soon find out just as she was to embark on her own journey into adulthood.

Upon meeting her future husband, who was also in the medical field, she describes the ease with which they connected. Through a detailed timeline of events, the author shows how alcohol crept into her relationship and took control. It's amazing how without the "false courage" alcohol gives some that they revert back to someone we once loved. For a time, it lulls us back into a false sense of contentment like when her husband rented a limo after the birth of their first child. Lombana would soon see that those moments would be replaced with betrayal and fear.

What I like about the way the story was written is that Lombana drew the parallels in her father's behavior as he removed himself from the family and Fernando taking the steps i.e. staying away from home for a day or two,  erratic behavior, the increased anger at perceived slights and of course the drinking. I cheered when Lombana spoke honestly to her children about her fear and that they must leave, especially after witnessing him clean his guns regularly. The author sharing the letters she wrote to her children as she moved from wife to divorcee, to single mom attempting to date, to a widower and heal added more insight to where her mind was as she grew into her own and discovered her own voice.  Even after all the turmoil, Fernando caused her and their children long after the divorce, she forgave and was still there for him as the father of her children. This takes strength. 

Lombana pulls no punches as her description of the domestic violence she endured and eventually overcame.   This firsthand account leaves you raw and open. It hits home for me on a personal level as well.  I think the author did a fantastic job of not only telling her story but educating the masses on the "red flags" are often overlooked i.e. the rapid descent into alcoholism by her spouse. Lombana's memoir will also give others hope that the path to healing is one that is necessary and able to attain. I recommend this to those who have experienced domestic violence directly or indirectly. 

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