On June 10, 2007, Carmen Tarleton’s estranged husband broke into her rural Vermont home, beat her with a baseball bat, and doused her with industrial-strength lye.

Doctors called it “the most horrific injury a human being could suffer.”


Category: Biography / Autobiography
Category: Memoir
Publishing Date: February 27, 2013

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On September 23, I woke up for real. Immediately, memories rushed: Hannah’s deep and terrible crying, her premonition of “something bad” happening; the falcon and its omen of change; my desperate prayer for guidance; and the attack. Finally, I remembered my dream: life is a choice. The pieces crashed together.

“Hi, Kess,” I said. My voice was clear and normal.
There was a full beat of startled silence. I couldn’t see her, but Kess exchanged a dazed, dumfounded look with my nurse, Julie, who sat in a chair by the door. Julie returned the look with equal surprise, and Kess laughed and rushed to me.

“I’ve been down for quite a while,” I said. “What is it—July?”
“No, Carm,” Kess said, as though she’d answered this question before. “It’s September.”
“September!” I cried. “What day? I don’t want to miss the kids’ birthdays.”
That was when Kess knew, absolutely, that I was back.
“It’s only the twenty-third.” She kept her voice calm and deliberate, which I appreciated. As a nurse, I’d seen families overjoyed at the outcome of an operation or test and then devastated when the patient, who might still be suffering, didn’t share their enthusiasm. I knew Kess was happy I was awake, but she didn’t want to burden me with her excitement.

“Okay.” I had five days until Liza’s birthday and ten until Hannah’s. “I can’t see. Do they have my eyes sewn shut?”
“Am I going to be able to see again?”
“They think so.”
“Okay,” I said, quelling panic. After seeing for thirty-nine years, the prospect of being blind was horrifying, so I didn’t let myself consider it. “Did they have to code me?”

“No. You had a bad twenty-four hours in July, but you made it through.”
I sighed with relief. To me, life was worth fighting for but only to a certain point. When Kess told me no one had intervened to save me, I felt certain that I had made that choice. My dream, I was sure, was the moment I had chosen to stay, and it had to be for a reason. It all did. With so little power over anything else, that conviction meant something to me.

How This Book Was Created

Carmen Blandin Tarleton’s indelible Overcome: Burned, Blinded, and Blessed is the result of heartfelt collaboration between Carmen and the Round Table Companies (RTC) storytelling team. To create this book, RTC executive editor Katie Gutierrez and Director of Author Support Kristin Westberg conducted a series of intensive interviews with Carmen over a period of several months, using those to help craft the book you now read. Throughout the process, the book touched the hands of RTC’s writers, editors, proofreaders, transcriptionists, designers, and executive team. We are grateful to Carmen for inviting us into her journey, for bravely revisiting heartrending memories, and for sharing so authentically how happiness can come from struggle. Carmen is an extraordinary spirit, a force that entered the lives of the RTC team and changed them all. It is our hope that in reading this book, you will feel the energy of everyone who contributed to its creation. We also hope you will feel as though Carmen is speaking as directly to you as she did with us—because she is.

To read more about the experience click here.