Beyond the Tears: A True Survivor's Story is a memoir by Lynn C. Tolson. The story begins with her suicide attempt at age twenty-five. In the aftermath, she commits to counseling to recover from anxiety and depression. The reader accompanies the author through therapy sessions where she reveals dysfunctional family relationships, including domestic violence, sexual abuse, and mental illness. Due to the therapeutic process, she discovers the value of life. In sharing this inspirational journey, the author provides a message of hope and healing.
Tolson used the craft of creative non-fiction to write her book. The story is non-fiction, yet the style reads like a novel. By incorporating prose and poetry, Tolson is able to hold the reader's attention during a harrowing story. Through first-person narrative, the reader sees the flashbacks, nightmares, daydreams, and memories that define the author's childhood. Privy to Tolson's intense therapy sessions, the reader discovers the ways Tolson changed her life. The reader also becomes both informed and inspired.
With each chapter, she gives the reader even more to contemplate by using relevant quotes.
This is our purpose: to make as meaningful as possible this life This that has been bestowed upon us…to live in such a way that we may be proud of ourselves, to act in such a way that some part of us lives on.
Beyond the Tears: A True Survivor's Story by Lynn C. Tolson
"Pills and Prayers"
December 20, 1978, the radio reported the most rain in Phoenix in one hundred years. Broadcasters called it the "flood of the century." While I was driving, I listened to reports of accumulated rainfall and road closures. Seasonal garlands, heavy with the weight of rainwater, drooped to the gutters. There were four days until Christmas. I felt a pressure as intense as the rain that pounded on the windshield.
I drove until the high beams of my Chevy formed a solitary tunnel of light. The roads were as dark as the thoughts driving me to an undetermined destination. The vehicle transporting me through the desolate desert was as isolated as the body that entrapped me on earth. I longed to be on the other side, in another realm. I could no longer live with myself.
My hand shook as I reached for the glove compartment that contained vials of pain medication. My doctor had prescribed them for the headaches that never ceased. I planned on using this mix of pills to put me out of my misery.
I pulled up to a Holiday Inn. After turning off the engine, I sat behind the wheel to think. Drops of rain were pelting the roof like pebbles: ping, ping, ping. I was trying to collect my thoughts.
I ran to the office. As I checked in, the desk clerk politely handed over a key tag. In the motel room, I crawled into the bed. I placed the prescription bottles around me. Dumping the pills into my mouth, I found they went down with an easy gulp. As I succumbed to drowsiness, I waited for death. At twenty-four years old, I deserved to die.
Be prepared to be captivated...and up all night
During my research on domestic violence to feature in Sisters in the Lord Magazine for October, which happens to be Domestic Violence Awareness Month, I ran across Lynn C. Tolson's, Beyond the Tears: A True Survivor's Story.
By the second paragraph of Beyond the Tears: A True Survivor's Story I was transported into the mind of a young woman bent on suicide and traveled with her through her suicide attempt, discovery, revival in a cold hospital room and transfer to a psyche ward. This was just in the first chapter.
The remainder of my night was shot as I stayed awake, reading each page as quickly as possible so that I might know this woman was okay. That she recovered. That she escaped her abuser and survived.
Intense doesn't begin to describe Beyond the Tears. This writer's true story reads like a best-selling thriller - but it's not fiction. It's Tolson's nightmare that begins the story and her victorious survival that ends it.
Peopled with characters we all know in our own lives, Tolson brings her own cast alive with crisp dialogue and action - oftentimes breathtaking with brutal honesty. Tolson's abuse cycle started as a child and continued through her marriage. The pages turn on their own as this compelling true story shows the cycle of abuse, the mindset of the victim, the actions of the abuser, the betrayal of relatives and friends and finally, the first steps toward healing.
As I suspected when reading Tolson's story, her true calling was to be a writer, which she revealed in a subsequent interview. She is now working on her second survival story - this time she has survived breast cancer.
Beyond the Tears: A True Survivor's Story is critical reading for victims of abuse. Through Tolson's story, many will recognize themselves, their families, their spouses, their friends, and from there, recognize that they, too, can heal-even when death seems like the best solution.
Tolson says it best in this quote from her website, "In the meantime, know that my purpose as Lynn C. Tolson is in my initials: LCT, Learning, Creating, Teaching, to provide empowerment of our minds, bodies, and spirits. May this generation break the silence that surrounds sexual assault and incest so that future generations may live in peace." Review completed by E. Dian Moore
Superb book for male survivors
As a male survivor of child abuse, I found this to be an inspiring story of one person's courage to heal from her traumatic upbringing. Child abuse knows no gender. It causes pain and suffering to all those who endure it. Lynn C. Tolson writes in a clear and driving prose that allows the reader to clearly see life through her eyes. This book shows no bias towards anyone other than the individuals who were abusive to the writer. It took enormous courage to write and publish this book. It has been a healing and uplifting experience for me to read it. I hope that all survivors of abuse will buy and read this. I also hope that those in and interested in the Mental Health field take the time to read and digest this work. If you want to know the type of trauma that befalls a person to attempt suicide, read this story. If you want to believe you can heal from this type of nightmare, I also encourage you to read this book. I'm thankful it was written.
A Therapist Reads Beyond the Tears
Beyond The Tears: A True Survivor's Story, by Lynn C. Tolson, is a book that needs to be read by anyone who has ever thought about suicide, has experienced abuse or is running from the painful memories of their past. Tolson provides a powerful story as she takes you down the painful path of her last suicide attempt that almost killed her. The strange thing is she doesn't know why she wants to die, she only knows that she wants the pain to stop. It is only by the grace of God that she survives. Having been given a reprieve, Tolson finds a special therapist named Karen she can begin her journey of healing with. It is her special relationship with Karen that gives her the permission and freedom to talk about the painful memories. Tolson reveals her innermost secret about being sexually abused by her father and then her brother. She tells how lonely she felt as a child in her overwhelmingly dysfunctional family and how she just wanted someone to love her. "That's what I felt like, a tattered book that had been thrown away before anyone bothered to read beyond the cover" Tolson writes. Lynn was in therapy, revealing everything that had happened to her. She received invaluable hope and support from the counselor. In the end, Tolson overcomes her past, confronts her perpetrators and stops just existing, and begins living. She then courageously writes her story, offering hope to anyone who is a survivor of childhood abuse, neglect and/or trauma. She shares her inspiration and hope with anyone who feels hopeless and unworthy. Read her story and you will find that no matter how bleak a situation or family may look, there is always hope and the potential for healing. Review by Sandra P. Riggin, MEd, LPC, CCM, CVE