July 27, 2016

It does not surprise me that a few days ago, before hearing of the news of Michelle’s health challenges, memories of Michelle’s impact on my life came randomly into my field of vision. I fondly remembered her bravery, her fierceness and her faith in me. Her wonderful laugh and stark honesty. But what struck me most was her caring and generosity and this realization came to mind.

When I first started seeing Michelle, I did not have the ability to pay for the true quality of her services. We remained on a pay-what-you-can plan for over a decade. When I didn’t see Michelle for a while she would call me or text me to check on me. She would encourage me to come in even if I couldn’t pay. She suggested one time I bring her a plant for payment which touched me so deeply. I brought her a beautiful tomato plant that I was so proud to pot up for one of my dearest allies. She promptly let it die and apologized for that, but that’s not the point. 🙂  She was an ally. She was a mother. She was a sister. She was a friend. She was a doctor and nurse.

She is a healer. She is intuitive. She seeks truth. With her I established a baseline of what was important to me. She helped me write my values. And I’m proud to say, because of her helping me rebuild my life, I was able to pay her her a decent rate this past year. You should have seen her face!

During the course of seeing Michelle, I was burnt clean white after several years of constant trauma. She never abandoned me or my dreams for a new life. She has laid down the gauntlet and said no more, when I could not find my voice. She guarded my boundaries. She interested herself in me. She took care of me. She claimed me when I was completely lost. She has been a tether and a witness. With her help, I wrote a new story. With her help, I cleaned house.With her help, I laughed through the worst of it. With her help, I came to recognize patterns in my life and accept what I couldn’t change. With her help, I identified my own personal strengths and weaknesses and gave voice to my challenges. I was able to speak again.

I hear her voice in my head all the time. Even when mulling over events from the past I hear her voice above the storm. Like I said, she was a gauntlet-thrower in my life. A line-drawer. She said, No more Erin. Don’t let people hurt you. Don’t accept things as they are. Don’t sit in that any longer. Don’t say those words. Don’t put yourself in harm’s way. Although she loved me and enjoyed our sessions, she didn’t want to see me on her couch. Not unless it was one of our friendly gossipy catch up sessions. Even then, she knew those meetings were just a precursor to the following serious, probing and sometimes painful sessions. But she honestly wanted to see me through with my pain and not see me create any new pain.

She talked me out of harming myself.
She told me to quit people who hurt me.
She gave me permission.

She told me blended families are the craziest and she wasn’t wrong.

She told me I wasn’t a mistake. She probably saved me from being killed in a head-on collision with a tractor-trailer. A day or two before leaving town Michelle and I had a breakthrough session about the word “mistake” and my beliefs around it. If I had gone into that accident believing as I did prior that I WAS a mistake, I think I would have met my maker that day. Instead my car was miraculously diverted to the back corner of the oncoming truck and I survived the accident with only bruising and a totaled car to show for it.

I brushed off the accident as just that and didn’t spend months chastising myself for driving too fast or driving in the rain or driving too fast in the rain or leaving town to visit friends for the first time since the separation or leaving my kids with their dad for their first weekend or again devastating myself financially. “Mistakes” aren’t people. Mistakes happen to everyone and are a part of life and growth and failure and rebirth.

I literally and figuratively walked away from that accident because I found out through Michelle that God didn’t want me to think of myself as an accident. He didn’t see me that way. He loved me. He CHOSE me. I was not a “mistake” or an “accident.” Just the opposite.

The details of my birth, early babyhood and adoption were not symbolic of my worth. The details didn’t mean anything. That was just my itinerary. The journey was up to me.

These early assumptions I had about myself, all the choices I have made in the past and the ongoing calamity of life, do not define me today; and that is a credit to the courageous work Michelle and I have done together. I still have to tell myself I’m not a mistake. I still have to tell myself lots of things. But I have access to this conversation because of Michelle. Because of you, Barone, I have a powerful will to be happy and productive, and the voice in my head is laughing.

Michelle you have always been an angel. Thank you my love.


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