I met Michelle a few weeks before our interview and had noticed that when she’s not smiling, she can look rather serious. Her eyes are narrowed, but it is clear she is simply listening and observing with her entire being to the gestures, tone, vibration and, as it turns out, aura of the person she’s talking to. When her eyes soften and the corners of her mouth turn up, her smile exudes a sense of calm and joy permeating the entire atmosphere around her. Happiness oozes out of every pore. Speaking with her on anything from her art exhibitions, incredible psychic abilities, life with her loving husband and their beautiful blended family and even the challenges of motherhood, is an absolute joy.
So, when she begins our official interview by casually mentioning she was a victim of domestic violence for two traumatic years, I’m immediately off balance. This information is completely incongruous with the positive, blissful person in front of me. But as we delve further into her story, it becomes clear that riding out of the pits of tragedy into a light and joyful space is something of a superpower for Michelle.
She lost her first husband in her early twenties, suffered domestic violence at the hands of her children’s biological father, only to have her daughter disappear with that same abusive man years after Michelle left him. She counts the years spent in family law courts, fighting for custody of her children and her daughter’s absence during that time as some of her darkest days. Michelle grins and quips, ‘It can be easy to fall off the cracker, and slide down into that hole of grief.’ But she hasn’t.
How has she overcome this trauma and woe and remained authentically joyful? Which deep well does she draw this positivity from? How has she navigated each painful and devastating period to emerge from a dark hole, into a more beautiful and happier life?
It begins with a spiritual journey after her first husband’s death, seeking answers to ‘life’s big questions,’ and finding comfort in meditation, a supportive network of friends and an untapped ability in psychic and tarot card reading. Meditation, tarot and feeling into her passion as an artist have allowed Michelle to rebuild her self-esteem after each tragedy, to find her way out of a terrible darkness and back into joy and light. But it’s not a super power: finding your strength and positivity can be as gentle as focussing on a brush, colours and canvas. In this way, art and creativity have been Michelle’s saviour during her lengthy, yet ultimately successful battle with the family law courts.
It’s no great surprise that Michelle now has a strong practice teaching and guiding others, is a trusted psychic medium, has literally written a book on the art of reading oracle cards and has painted and published her own deck of cards, the Gold Lotus Oracle. The events of her past have not become a woeful story of pity and angst, just storms before brilliant sunshine.
This is how she hopes to inspire others: to show that there can be a beautiful life after domestic violence, tragedy and heartbreak. Michelle knows, because she’s been there, she’s experienced it, and she’s come out the other side stronger and happier than ever.
Extract from the Women Inspired Book, purchase the full book here. Conceptualised by Josanna Falla. Words by Melinda Uys. Image by Jaya MacIntyre.