Beyond the Tears: A True Survivor's Story is a memoir by Lynn C. Tolson. The story begins with her suicide attempt. In the aftermath, she commits to counseling. The reader accompanies the author through therapy sessions, where she reveals dysfunctional family relationships, including incest, domestic violence and mental illness. Her story illustrates physical, emotional, and spiritual transformation. In sharing her inspirational journey, she provides readers with a message of hope.
Leslie Morgan Steiner, a Harvard graduate with a coveted position at Seventeen magazine and a hip apartment in downtown New York City, seemed to have it all. She had already achieved sobriety, after determining she did not want to follow in her mother’s alcoholic lifestyle. Her father distanced himself from the family by immersing himself in his career. In her early twenties, Leslie had youth and independence to encourage romance. The handsome and charming Conor showed up at the right time.
Had Leslie been aware of the behaviors of a potentially abusive man, she might have realized that all that he said and did were manipulations designed to suit his needs. He was in it for himself. But she fell in love. She wanted to “help him overcome the years of abuse and neglect and pain…And if I could make him whole, we’d be one person. He’d be mine forever.” The foundation for relationship was faulty; it would require insight and experience to recognize the potential for collapse.
The reader learns the signs of an abuser, at first subtle, such as snide remarks about friends, and then covert, such as demanding forfeiture of her career. Leslie cannot make a decision without mentally challenging herself first, asking, “What will Conor think?” or “How will Conor react?” The problem is, he is so unpredictable, she can never anticipate his reaction.
Woven throughout this story is a dog that Conor insisted on having, yet Leslie was reluctant to acquire. Leslie nonetheless became attached to the dog. It was interesting to read the details of the dog’s behavior during the dynamics of the relationship.
The reader learns of unexpected betrayals during Leslie’s most difficult times, as well as a surprise redemption. Also, the reader learns how hard it is to live with abuse, to survive the physical and emotional wounds, to leave, to get restraining orders, make impossible choices, to move out, to move on. This book was well-written, incorporating information, insight, and depth of characters. We ask, “Why didn’t she leave?” and Leslie Morgan Steiner tells us. We might ask, “Why didn’t he stop?” Too often, he can’t.
This book reads like a psychological thriller, yet it is true life, and is only one of thousands of stories like it. Read it to know that someone you know may be at risk. Review written by Lynn C. Tolson, author of Beyond the Tears: A True Survivor's Story *Project4TEARS: Telling Everyone About Rape & Suicide to comfort victims, break the silence, challenge society