Sunday, July 6, 2014

Tolson 4 TEARS* Reviews "God, If You're Not Up There"

Darrell Hammond has offered our society a story about pop-culture by describing his work as a comedian. He has also generously shared that which we don’t see beneath the mask of entertainer: the depths to which child abuse destroys the psyche. A writer who can tell this story of trauma, its ramifications, and recovery is generous enough to let others know that they are not alone. It is significant to solving social problems when a celebrity reveals that all that glitters is not gold; breaking the silence of child abuse is a courageous step toward awareness of the need for prevention. Mr. Hammond describes the crisis ridden life he led, which he fed with alcohol, drugs, and a constant need for intervention.
The audience of Saturday Night Live may enjoy the behind-the-scenes activity of Hammond’s career on the show. However, audiences of his award-winning acting may not have known the origin of his genius. Apparently, his voice was not heard as a child, until he noticed that his mother would often stop abusing him when he mimicked others’ voices. He tells the readers how he developed this talent as a means of self-protection. Hammond writes poignantly about his father and their relationship, or lack thereof. Meanwhile, Hammond felt scared to death of the world at large. The fear shadowed him, and showered him with insecurities that led to multiple self-destructive behaviors. The pressurized public life as an entertainer and the intense private life as a trauma victim was his reality in paradox.
The writing style seems appropriate for the man and the material. There is no sensationalizing of the trauma he endured; he tells this story as it unfolds for him, in unbearable explosions of flashbacks and nightmares. Hammond is tortured, as was his cold father and cruel mother, but he does not torment the reader with unnecessary scenarios of abuse. He gives the reader enough details of the child abuse to understand his inner hell. After countless rehabs and psych wards, misdiagnosis and medications, he also gives the reader reason to hope for Hammond’s continuation in recovery and contentment in relationships.

Review completed by Lynn C. Tolson, author of Beyond the Tears: A True Survivor's Story

*Tolson 4 TEARS: Telling Everyone About Rape & Suicide, so no shed tear is wasted

Friday, June 27, 2014

Tolson 4 TEARS Reviews "How I Stayed Alive When My Brain..."

On the jacket of the hardcover, Susan Rose Blauner @sblauner writes, “I searched for a book like this, but found none, so I wrote one.” The first edition was printed in 2002, when there were few books about suicide. What was available lacked a story of recovery, and Ms. Blauner filled that void. Making oneself vulnerable by writing about one’s own suicidal thinking takes courage.
It’s brave for an author to state that she has borderline personality disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and major depression. It’s difficult to continue the cycle of life under these conditions. Blauner says that she was a victim of sexual abuse. (Rape victims are 13 times more likely to have attempted suicide than their non-assaulted counterparts.) Blauner shares her personal journey from suicidal thinking to hope and healing.
The premise of the book is that most people who think about suicide don’t want to die; they want relief from emotional pain. Blauner was responsible to the readers by doing her homework. Included in her book are notations from specialists who study suicide, thereby offering research as a foundation for her statements. (Those who experience the suicidal thoughts are also experts on the topic.)
In the “Tricks of the Trade” section, Susan shares sources of help, as well as skills developed in therapy. Blauner explains the difference between statements such as “I am depressed” versus “I feel depressed.” She uses analogies to illustrate the “Neuron Superhighway,” simplifying a complex neurological pattern. She offers numerous suggestions for the reader to explore. Sometimes, when one is suicidal, there are no other options. She encourages the reader to explore an activity, such as journal writing. It’s not the answer, but each bit of information is a step toward life.
If you are looking for a book that will help you help someone with suicidal thoughts, How I Stayed Alive has specific instructions, including how to listen well and respond appropriately.
Blauner put an enormous amount of work into this book. Part Seven includes hotlines, websites, and resources. There is a sectioned bibliography, references to citations, permissions, and an index. It takes effort to convey this helpful information to readers.
Susan Blauner structured her intangible journey into a book that has substance for therapists, suicidal thinkers, and those around them. A portion of the proceeds of the book go to the National Hopeline Network 1-800-SUICIDE. If you are in crisis, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) Suicide Prevention Lifeline

Review completed by Lynn C. Tolson, author of Beyond the Tears: A True Survivor Story

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Beyond the Tears Receives 5 Star Review

Positive Outcome!

This is a definite must read book, [Beyond the Tears: A True Survivor's Story] the author keeps your attention throughout and you don't want to put it down. She opens up her heart and soul as she writes, her courage and strength to change her life around and become positive in a very negative environment growing up is admirable to say the least. She shares things about her life and the people in it that lets you experience the tragedy of a dysfunctional family environment, the abuse of drugs, horrors of being molested and being raped. When most people would never be able to turn their life around she has, it's a big difference in finding the right therapist and creating a more positive environment around you.

I can't say enough about this book or the author, you have to read it and I know you'll come away a better person for it. I know it would be very beneficial for psychology majors and counselors to read and learn about a persons life that would benefit them in their profession.

To give this five stars is my only regret wish I could give it a lot more and then some. I not only purchased the e-book version but also the printed version and have already recommended it to several friends across the country. I probably will be purchasing at least four more copies to give as gifts to friends I know that would enjoy the positive outcome and help them in their own lives as well. 

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Beyond the Tears Receives 5 Star Review

Insights and Reflections

My first encounter with Lynn C Tolson was actually on Facebook. As I became involved in groups and pages about childhood sexual abuse, Lynn's name kept popping up everywhere. Who was this woman? My research revealed she was an author, herself once a victim of sexual abuse, and currently a social worker and speaker who gives a great deal of her time and self to helping other victims, both on and offline. I got the impression she was well-known and I felt dwarfed by her achievements. But at that point, she was still just a name with a nice Facebook photo. 

Now, having read Lynn's book, if it were possible, the one thing I'd love to do is meet her in person. I want to meet this woman who at the opening of her book was on her way to commit suicide. She'd had it! She couldn't take any more. She hauled into a motel, swallowed all the pills she could find and waited for death to come. But life wasn't done with her yet because she had a mission to fulfill: to heal from her own devastating and lonely past; to conquer her drug-addicted lifestyle; to rid herself of an older husband who was using her low self-esteem to victimize her further, and ultimately to share her path to recovery with the thousands of other victims out there who might also think that taking their own lives is the only solution. Thank heaven Lynn's attempt to end it all failed or Beyond the Tears wouldn't have been written. 

The one thing that stood out for me as I got further and further into Lynn's story of sexual abuse by both her schizophrenic biological father, and later, by her older brother, was her extreme isolation, even as a young child, in a family of several members. Like all victims of sexual abuse, she couldn't bring herself to tell her own mother of the abuse. Why? Because her mother was too delicate, too fragile. So to save her mother from heartache, she let her own heart ache with her ugly secret. Intimidated by her step-father, confused by her own father, ignored by her mother and scorned and berated by her abusive brother, Lynn wandered through her teens dulling her pain on street drugs. She watched a soul-mate die from an overdose and still couldn't help herself. After compounding the mess of her life by marrying a mentally and verbally abusive husband, suicide seemed the only out till fate stepped in. Lynn met Karen and with love, caring and wise counsel, Karen got Lynn to open up and tell all.

As all abuse victims come to realiize sooner or later, healing begins in finally telling someone, but it is journalling, writing, that ultimately closes the wounds. Karen encouraged Lynn to do that. Lynn took another 20 years before putting pen to paper and further heal, but it is her readers, especially those who are victims of childhood sexual abuse who benefit from her writing. Lynn not only shares her life with us in an easy to read, semi-fictional style, but she peppers her story with insights and reflections on the personalities of her family and how they contributed to her isolation, an isolation I sense she still feels today but is able to live with. Every so often, she throws in some touching poetry that is short and poignant. And by sharing Karen's words of counsel and wisdom with us, Lynn offers the reader concepts that truly help one heal. 

If there's one thing I love about the internet and social networking sites like Facebook, it's that it clarifies perceptions we form of people when we only meet them in print, as in their blogs, poems or books. Read their words and you form a picture of them. Look at their photos and we see what the words don't show. Listen to their voices, as I did recently in a blog talk show with Lynn and the image sharpens. Watch a video (Lynn has one on her own blog site at, and you suddenly know a lot more about this person who till now was just a name on a book.

Getting to know Lynn C Tolson begins with reading Beyond the Tears, but don't stop there! Visit her blog, read her posts, check out her other reviews and videos at Goodreads, and come to know this strong woman who was once a victim of child sexual abuse but is today a survivor and thriver. As Karen told her: "When you lose your identity as a victim, you gain an identity as a survivor". Beyond the Tears is a guide to doing just that.

Review completed by Viga Boland, author of No Tears for my Father: A True Story of Incest

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Tolson 4 TEARS* on Religion & Growing Up Catholic

My blog post illustrates how religious institutions demand blind obedience from parishioners trained from childhood to defer to the established patriarchal principles of society. Conforming to the religious standards without being able to think for oneself and form individual opinions is a set up for oppression and submission for the sake of a feeling of belongingness.

Adapted from Beyond the Tears: A True Survivor's Story © by Lynn C. Tolson
Like many Americans of Italian descent, my family was of the Roman Catholic religion. My grandmother had statues of saints on her dresser, and a picture of the Pope over her bed. My mother prayed with me, on our knees, before bed: If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take. Our family activities were based on the religious calendar.
In parochial school, Mass was mandatory on Holy Days of Obligation. Each class marched single file to the church; nuns in habits led children in plaid uniforms. I learned words such as hypocrite and contradict and excommunication, and the language of the Catholic congregation: catechism, confession, contrition, communion, confirmation, and the rituals of the Catholic church: The stations of the Cross, the Cross on the Rosary, and the Sign of the Cross: In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. That included all the important people, but what category did little girls fall into? There seemed to be no place for me, so whenever I was in church, I never felt right or good. I always felt guilty, because, I'd been taught, we were born with Original Sin.
Lynn C. Tolson
First Holy Communion
Confession was a real dilemma. What sins could an eight-year-old commit? Often I did not sin at all, but since Confession was mandatory, I invented sins, such as fibbing. To perform the rites of a good Catholic, I lied to the priest about how I had fibbed to my mother. How could premeditated lies be righteous? It took the wisdom of the ages to realize the blind obedience to doctrine and dictates was a precursor for the passive and vulnerable victim personality that developed sooner rather than later. 
When I could decide for myself, I realized that a religious rituals were not for me. Some people feel stifled by institutions and some use church just to gain status. Religion may be a source of strength to others. The principles of religion, such as The Golden Rule or The Ten Commandments, serve to instill love. What if traditional religion had no significance to me? Would I live without love?
I learned that there is a difference between religion and spirituality. The main premise of spirituality is the belief in a Higher Power. With spirituality, humans attain an awareness that acknowledges the soul because we are intrinsically spiritual beings in human form. I once thought the soul hovered above or around the body, but not quite in it. Then, I learned that the body is a vessel for the soul to inhabit. The soul is the essence of love as it manifests in the world.
God’s love (your personal vision) is alive and present in your soul. Our spiritual connection is our unity with God, and the love of God in the universe. Every soul finds redemption as a child in God’s family because love is perfect and pure within all of us.

Spirituality took on a new meaning, not as a means to get to Heaven, but as a way to get through each day on earth. The love of God is not reserved for special people who perform certain acts. Love is not a matter of deserving. No list of accomplishments is needed to earn love. There is a purpose to life, which is as simple as experiencing love and extending that love to others.
Lynn C. Tolson

*Tolson 4 TEARS: Telling Everyone About Rape & Suicide, so no shed tear is wasted

Monday, May 19, 2014

Tolson 4 TEARS* Claims "I AM" via Neil Diamond

*Tolson 4 TEARS means Telling Everyone About Rape & Suicide: to break the silence, comfort other victims, and challenge our society. It's important to note that statistics reveal that an estimated 14 percent of those who experienced sexual assault may attempt suicide.  This accounts for only those who made the connection obvious. I wonder about the empty percentage of those who make no association between rape and suicide.

How could I know that my deep despair, overwhelming despondency, and desire to end my life was related to rape? After all, I trained my brain to "remember...nothing" as I had been instructed by the perpetrators. 

The following is a paragraph in Beyond the Tears: A True Survivor's Story. I was 23 and had admitted myself to a psychiatric unit because I could no longer bear to live with the suicidal thoughts/activities. Something somewhere somehow was trying to help me save myself.  I had taken it upon myself to finish the job rape started, obliterating my soul with lies of worthlessness.

As I sat on the bed in the psych ward a Neil Diamond song played on the tape recorder. “I am . . . I said, to no one there, and no one heard at all not even the chair.” My interpretation of the lyrics evolved into: I am a chair! I am an object! A memory formed as corporeal as that contained under the influence of truth serum: Could that really have been my big brother using me as an inanimate sex object? I am a chair! I am an object! I shoved the ambiguous memory down just as quickly as it had floated up."

However, it would take another 20 years before I could admit to my SELF that my brother had sexually assaulted me, threatened me with my life, and tried to eliminate my spirit with dead silence. To hear my voice, nourish my spirit, and claim my identity, I wrote the truth.