This I Believe

Michaela - Glendale, California
Entered on October 19, 2006
Age Group: 30 - 50

I believe that I can do anything I need to do.

In the 37 years I’ve been alive – 31 of which I’ve been making conscious decisions, I have been able to get through feelings of distress, fear, and repugnance to do what needs to be done.

When I was nine, a neighbor’s dog strayed onto our property and was threatening my 1-year-old brother. This dog had a mean reputation and had attacked other people in the area. As the dog launched its attack, calmness descended over me as I interposed my body between it and my brother. I knew in that split second that I could withstand the attack much better than a toddler. I still bear the scars on my arm that kept the dog’s teeth from my throat.

When I was 10, my alcoholic stepfather, attacked my mother – pushing her onto the surface of a wood-burning stove. My fear of this man had kept me paralyzed until that moment – but with her cries of pain in my ears and the smell of burnt flesh in my nose, I attacked him and managed to distract him long enough for her to escape out-side. That same night, bare foot and bruised, I ran through the snow to get a neighbor’s help in getting my mother to the hospital.

Another instance of frozen terror happened when I was 12. My stepfather in a drunken rage aimed his loaded riffle at me. As his finger squeezed the trigger, time slowed and I found that my feet were no longer frozen in terror and ducked and scurried away as the bullet whizzed past my head to burry itself in the ground inches from my head. I have never run so fast or so far in my life.

When I was 22 – a drunk driver smashed into a companion and me as we were walking across a street. I woke up in an emergency room cold, dazed, and in more pain than I could ever remember being in. I put all this aside as I went through my mind on who I was, and who my friend was so that I could answer clearly when questioned.

Three months ago I had what I first believed to be a case of indigestion. As the day progressed I kept getting sicker and sicker until I was unable to move from the pain and kept blacking out. At one lucid point, I realized that I was pretty ill and made myself stay conscious long enough to call a friend to get me to the emergency room. When she arrived – I put away my pain and walked to her car and directed her to the nearest hospital where I admitted myself. Much later, my physician told me that I had been hours away from organ failure and was amazed that I had been able to stay conscious through the pain.

And this morning, I sit on the kitchen floor with my constant companion of 17 years in my lap and a needle attached to a saline bag in my trembling hands. Years of hospital stays, IVs and shots bring tears to my eyes and nausea to my throat. As I plunged the needle into the skin of her neck, I don’t just believe anymore – I know that I can do anything I need to do.