Michelle was isolated in the country, trapped in a failing relationship, and experiencing depression. Then her baby was diagnosed with cancer. Amid these traumatic experiences, she made a decision for peace, turned her life around, and found Ascension – a technique that has allowed her to be calm, ‘breathe easy’ and find love within. This is her story.
I was living in a very remote place in the far north of New Zealand – a rural area far from anyone and anything, without a phone, without my friends, without family support. I had grown up in Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city, but moved to the country to be with my partner.
The relationship wasn’t good. My partner didn’t seem to care about me or my needs, he began drinking, blaming me for everything. I was at home with two young daughters and my partner wasn’t supportive.Where we lived was so remote – there were no footpaths, and there were dodgy people in the neighbourhood. He wouldn’t give me money for gas so I couldn't get out of the house and go for a drive for my mental health or go out for a coffee. So I felt trapped and couldn’t see any way out.
A baby with cancer
When she was just under six months old my baby daughter,Winsome, developed a black eye. I thought she’d had a knock from her sister, but it didn't seem to go away. I went to the doctor and he advised us to wait for a specialist to come to the district.
About a month later she developed a second black eye, and she couldn’t take breast milk. I took her to the local hospital and they told me to take her home and give her pain relief. But I knew she was really sick, I wasn’t going to take her home. So I drove two hours to another hospital. They told me she had a massive tumour in her stomach, and the black eyes were signs of neuroblastoma cancer.
Life changed dramatically.We were taken to a children’s hospital in Auckland, and I didn't go home for a couple of months. My daughter ended up having four rounds of chemotherapy over a two-year period, and an operation to remove the tumour.
Every morning I would get up, put on my makeup, and try to get myself through the day – but I was bottling everything up. You’re devastated. Your child has been diagnosed with cancer and you don’t know the outcome of that, you don’t know if they’re going to survive or not. There’s a lot of emotions, a lot of self blame. I was trying to manage that without any tools, without any help or support.
It was also the first time I had ever been away from my older daughter Marvellous, who was 2-1/2 at the time. She stayed with her dad while I was in the hospital withWinsome.We went six weeks without seeing each other. It was very difficult for both of us – sadly she felt abandoned, she felt I’d left her.
The situation also pushed my partner further over the edge – he had a mental breakdown. So even though one child had cancer, the devastation went all the way through the family.
Even though things were very difficult there were also some positive sides. Winsome and I really bonded in the hospital. She was the happiest baby in the oncology ward. Throughout the entire time she was smiling, she was happy, she was this beautiful soul. I really believed she would be okay.
And while she was in hospital in the city it also gave me the opportunity to reconnect with my support network. I had been so far from the city that my friends couldn’t easily come and see me, and even when they did visit I didn’t feel I could tell them about how unhappy I was. Being in Auckland absolutely rekindled that network, and I didn’t let it go after that.
I hadn’t left my partner because my mind kept telling me that being a solo mum was the worst thing in the world – no-one’s going to want you, no-one’s going to love you, no-one’s going to want your children, blah blah. It does that dance with you.
Being a single mum was my worst fear. My mother was also a sole parent and she was really unhappy for a lot of the time, and depressed. My mind was telling me that a family is supposed to be a mum and a dad and the children. My dream was to be loved, to have a family. If I left I thought I would be to blame if it didn’t work out like that.
ButWinsome being sick made me see what was important. I needed to look after myself and my children. Even if I had no money, I could stay grounded and give them love. So there was a shift within me. I saw that nothing could be worse than where we were. AsWinsome’s health improved I made a decision to leave.
I have a very clear memory of looking out from the top story window of the house, and breaking down. I was crying, looking out over the hills, thinking ‘This is not my life. My life is bigger and more important than this.’ I knew then that I was going to leave and take my girls with me. I didn’t know where we were going. But I felt everything was going to be okay. Hard but okay. So I arranged for income support and found a house.. I left home with my daughters and $17 in the bank and a little bit of cash in my pocket.
The choice for peace
Since that shift, beautiful things started happening. I started to get in tune with myself, to look after myself. I started exercising and doing yoga, and trying to find anything that would soothe me within. Life was still crazy and hectic. I was constantly juggling, being a single mum, and it was easy to get swept up in the intensity and the responsibility of it. I wanted to be a calm mum, because from that calm place you can handle anything. For the first time in a long time, I was happy and open to whatever life was going to present.
It wasn't long after that someone gifted me a First Sphere course in Ascension, because they could see there was something in me – I was wanting it and in need of it. All of the trauma had got me to the point where I was ready for change, ready to welcome the Ishayas and Ascension into my life.
“For anyone who is going through any illness or trauma, this practice could greatly benefit them to lighten and balance that heavy load.” - Michelle
The moment I walked into the course, I knew it had changed my life. Even before I learned the Ascension techniques, I just felt the presence, the openness, the welcome, and the understanding of the people who already had this in their life. I had just met the Ishayas, but they loved me and cared for me and were open to me. I felt like I'd come home.
And the techniques were so easy. I couldn't believe how easy they were; it was crazy. They were so simple, and the impact was so instant. It blew my mind. I started Ascending every day from the moment I learned. And, every day, I found myself opening up to beautiful things that had not been there before.
I was able to be calm and be grounded and not believe everything my mind was trying to tell me. I felt empowered and confident and positive. So really it was a beautiful shift. I’ve just found myself sitting back and watching my experience expand.
Noticing the changes
I received confirmation that my daughter’s cancer was in remission.With this particular cancer, if it hasn't returned three years after the last chemo session, it won’t come back. That was a year and a half ago.
Ascension has made me a better parent. Instead of being head down, stumbling through life, sometimes being reactive, I'm able to have fun with it, fun with my children. I can disengage from all the responsibility and mind chatter.
When I meditate in my children's presence, I notice a shift within me. The Ascension techniques are calming. I’m less reactive. I can sit there and feel the change, and allow the situation to unfold instead of trying to control it. Because as a mum that's what I'd naturally try to do – control the situation.
I can more easily let go of the past.When you go through a traumatic experience as a parent, the mind will keep playing on it. Even though Winsome is healthy now it doesn't stop the mind from reliving moments and taking you down that dark path. Meditation has helped so much with that. It’s like unloading a backpack or dissolving the big cloud around that period of time. As a mum it’s been so, so helpful.
It’s also allowed me to be kinder to myself, by giving me the tools to switch my mind off.
I value myself more. I get up early and meditate before my children wake up. It puts me in a calm space to start the day.
Then, through the rest of the day, I Ascend whenever I can. Even if I can't do a 20-minute meditation, I can use the techniques with my eyes open. Because if I'm calm, everything changes. It's an empowering and humbling set of tools that have helped me be a better parent. It’s powerful to have a tool to balance that internal monologue. For anyone who is going through any illness or trauma, this practice could greatly benefit them to lighten and balance that heavy load.
Dealing with challenges
Of course there are still challenges. Life throws challenges at you. It is how you respond to them that makes the difference.Winsome has to have annual checkups to manage ongoing effects from the chemotherapy. But in general she’s good. There is something special about her – she’s loving, she’s fun, she’s very charismatic and just connects with people, she is an old soul. Part of me says she’s a little warrior, and part of me says she’s an angel. I really feel that she saved me, as I saved her.
For my older daughter Marvellous, things can be challenging. There’s some jealousy and competition.When a child is sick, the siblings feel left out, the attention goes on the child who is unwell and the sibling gets pushed aside. She asks ‘why did you leave me mum?’ I understand why she is upset, it deeply saddens me at the same time it can also trigger my own experiences of that time. I wanted to tell her everything so she could understand how much it pained me to be apart from her, but how deathly sick her sister was and how I had to do what needed to be done. Unfortunately she is still too young to understand the magnitude of the situation.
Ascension has helped with that. It’s given me a place of peace and calm so I can respond and not react to my daughter, I can create a safe space for us to talk. I can step outside my own experience and respond to the hurt my daughter is feeling, and reassure her that everything is okay; it’s okay to feel upset, and wonderful to be able to talk about it.
So I have a different approach to challenges now. I'm learning and will continue to learn from every experience. That changes everything. Ascending has changed my relationship with the world around me. I'm getting to see that everything comes from within and ripples out.
I was so lonely and now I have got a network of people who are just amazing and so full of love, and will be there for you without any question. I’m now in a happy, healthy relationship. I run a small home business. I’m on the school PTA and get involved in the community whenever I can. And I host monthly Ascension meetings in my home. My life has changed so much. All of these beautiful things are coming to me – all this kindness and love that I didn't see or feel before.
When I think an Ascension technique now, what I experience is love, and calm. Everything is going to be okay. That's how I feel when I say the Attitude in my mind. It’s going to be okay and I can breathe easy.