Panic! My heart raced when my eyes opened on July 2nd 2016 at 2 am. I had no clear thoughts at the time. Just a persistent urge… get in my car. I lived alone just north of COP (Canada Olympic Park-Home of the 1988 Olympics) in an older neighbourhood in Calgary. I grabbed my keys and started driving. To this day I still do not know why I needed to get in my car and drive. I think back to this moment of raw intuition, of trusting my gut, and this is something I have reflected back on time and time again trying to make sense of who I am and what I am capable of.
I called my boyfriend on repeat. Over and over again! I drove along my favourite road in Calgary (Memorial Dr.) until I came upon red and blue flashing lights, still calling my boyfriend on repeat and hoping for an answer but, his kids’ voicemail message came on instead. The police had rerouted Memorial down a side street, so I followed the signage, still calling my boyfriend on repeat praying for an answer. As I drove along these side streets that I had never travelled before, I was looking up towards Memorial Dr. looking to see if I could make sense of the closure still calling my boyfriend incessantly.
In the corner of my eye I saw it.
A blue car.
Wrapped around a tree.
Still I called his phone praying for an answer but, the answer I got was one that still makes me sick. “Hello, this is Constable so and so with CPS, do you know the owner of this phone?” My heart sunk. I stopped in the middle of the road and went completely silent, dead silent. That 15 minute conversation is a blur. I remember telling him my boyfriend’s name, the officer asking me if I knew who he was with that night, who was in his car with him, what he had been doing that evening, the officer telling me that the passenger in the vehicle had passed away on impact, I remember barfing on the side of the road while talking on the phone and I remember a police officer meeting me on the side street to escort me to the hospital.
That 10 minute drive to the hospital was a whirlwind in my head. I was living in a nightmare.
We’ve all seen those scenes in a movie where the actress, holding the wheel with both hands, silently scream-cries in emotional pain… but, I did something else. I drove, stoic to the hospital, I think it’s the closest thing to looking dead you can get.
My heart raced, my head was in a tornado. My body was still and calm, I blinked slower, I could feel my heart beat in my ear lobes, I swallowed constantly, my limbs weighed a thousand pounds and my movements felt in slow motion. It’s a sinking feeling that you cannot describe. I felt submerged in quicksand where you have no control of your body just some greater force pulling you downward (of course I can’t be sure of this because I’ve never actually been in quicksand).
I walked to the front desk in the emergency department and when the lady at the desk asked me how she could help, the voice that came out of me, as I said his name wasn’t mine. It was a voice that I didn’t recognize. In that moment I was a new person, I wasn’t Michelle anymore. I was a new version of me.
I was led down a hall to a curtained off room where I saw his feet when I came around the corner.
He saw me, I saw him and we said nothing. I knew our lives were changed forever. I think he did too.
This is a memory that I go back to over and over again. I have spent so much of my life disregarding my inner strengths and intuitions and suppressing what I know is right. I have told myself that I am not smart enough or brave enough to make choices that are good for me both consciously and subconsciously. This event forced me to see that I have good instincts. I have good intuition. I know when something is wrong.
That morning on July 2nd, 2016 my body forced me to act on “something beyond mental” intuitions that I had; I believe that this happened because I probably would have told myself “oh Michelle, you’re just being dumb again”. “Michelle, you have anxiety and it’s fear not reality”. “Michelle you’re in your head again, overthinking things that are untrue”. I would have disregarded my thoughts because I would worry OTHER people would have thought I was insane. I genuinely believe that my brain went into over-ride mode and it forced my body to get to him because I knew I had to. The over-ride had to happen because I would have avoided or ignored what I knew in my gut.
Since that traumatic morning, I have worked tirelessly on believing myself and trusting myself and my intuitions. Talking with like-minded people over the last 4 and a half years, I have learned that it is something that most of us struggle with and something that we pretend we are not good at. I have learned that often we push down the inner voice that tells us to act and behave differently to make others comfortable. Pretending or acting our way through situations and trauma, often propelling us in a different direction than where we should be. That moment called my attention loudly – my body went into a robotic-trance and forced me to attend to my “gut”.
I am instinctual. I am smart. I do have vibes and feelings that are right. I am right! I AM RIGHT!
It has been a long road of trusting myself. That morning wasn’t the end of my story where I find myself and fall in love with who I am. After that morning, the years of trauma, of anxiety, self-loathing, mistrust and deep sadness led me to my pursuit of developing a loving and trusting relationship with me!
I have accepted the gut-wrenching, bring you to your knees pain as the catalyst to listen to myself, trust myself and believe in myself. It’s so much a part of who I am. I am grateful for that. I want that for you too.
You are no ordinary force. You are an instrument of the universe. Powerful beyond measure. You are an influence. Remember this when the storms come for you.– Erin Van Vuren
I am a 33 year old Step-Mom to three kids who would describe me as a dramatic, fun-loving hopeless romantic (insert eyeroll). Transplanted from Pickering, Ontario and currently living in Calgary, Alberta. My friends would describe me as an open-book, a safe space and an ever evolving shoulder to cry on (my friend told me to say that). I work with children with special needs; a career inspired by my involvement with Willowjak. I have been thrown some pretty big curve balls in my short time here on this planet but, have faced them with a good book in hand and a cup of tea on my night stand. My hope is that what I have experienced in my life can be of use to others. Some support to prove that we are not alone; though we may feel like we are, that we are seen; though we feel invisible and that we have a voice; though we may not know we have one yet.
You can hear more about Michelle’s story when she appeared as a guest on Willowjak’s ‘Choose Your Own After’, by listening HERE.