Q. How did you find writing the book?
It was an immensely difficult but cathartic experience. I had to revisit many painful memories and experiences that, even though to a great extent I have worked hard to achieve some kind of peace and understanding around, I had, up until the publication of this book, kept private. The task was made easier by the fact that I have always kept detailed diaries and had spent many hours conducting taped interviews with my mother before she died in an attempt to understand what makes us the people that we are.
Q. So why did you write it?
Despite the presence of Lucy during my childhood and teenage years I felt so alone. As an adult and mother myself I can understand that my own mother was just doing the best she could. I also grew up during a time when there was a growing awareness about the extent of child abuse in this country but there was really nowhere for me to turn for help and to a large extent I was just seen as a difficult child and teenager by the adults around me who could have intervened in what was happening. I think that even those who knew felt helpless to do anything about it. Like many children who experience abuse, I swung between a passive acceptance of what became a horrific daily reality and a fury that manifested in me fighting everyone, including myself. Looking back, I can see that I was desperately seeking answers and an escape but it felt as though there was nowhere to turn. Sadly, I know that such abuse continues today and I wrote this in part so that I could reach those who have been or are being abused. Much of my work today is about empowering people to transcend their own problems and circumstances, showing them that there is hope, that there is a way out, that there are people who care. It’s hard to express but I know that when I was going through the worst of things I would have done anything to have heard from someone who had gone through the same things and was out the other side and in many ways I think of this book as a personal letter to anyone who is struggling against the odds to create a life of happiness, joy and peace so that they don’t have to feel alone. It isn’t easy to talk about such things in the public arena. I do accept that I’m going to upset a great many people, but if I can help just one it will be worth it.
Q. Some of the events you relate – the transformation of the scarab into a living thing during your mother’s evocations, the hurricane in Italy, the presence of Lucy – seem so far fetched.
I know! And if it’s hard to read and take seriously, you should try living it and making sense of it! I really hope that such additions don’t undermine the credibility of the equally important messages contained within the book. Remember twenty years ago it would have been hard enough to talk openly about abuse. Hopefully, in twenty years time we’ll be able to respond to stories such as what happened with the scarab in a slightly different way. I could have left all of those things out but I think that when it’s time to tell the truth you tell the whole truth. Nothing is included that I haven’t done everything I can to verify in the most appropriate way.
Q. What about the title of the book? Do you really think that you were touched by evil?
The title came from the publishers who need to do their job in their way. I absolutely do not think of myself like that. I think of myself more as someone who has to experienced the darker sides of human nature so that I could learn and transform and help others. When you meet someone who is vulnerable or weak or in need of protection, you can allow the best in you to shine, or you can act out the baser aspects of human experience. I don’t think our fate is something that is set as a concrete series of events that will happen. We are all constantly co-creating the present and the future. Even though I was abused many times I also describe moments when I actually managed to achieve some sort of connection with someone who was up until that moment intent on rape or violence who then turned away. I really hope that in that moment they realised that they were more than they had been doing up until then and changed their path. Really, you can read this book in many ways. You can read it as a list and litany of woes, but honestly, even during the parts that were the most difficult for me, I didn’t experience it like that.I always trusted that life would bring happiness and that people were inherently good. I hope this book can also be read as a powerful message that you can transform in any given moment no matter what. I never gave up on people. I never gave up on the power of love. When I was in what seemed like absolute darkness, I kept my attention fixed firmly on whatever light there was and just kept moving towards that.
Q. But not everyone has your abilities, Michele.
That’s what’s so wonderful. We do. You could say that I had a little head start as I was born with certain psychic gifts but I’ve also worked hard to develop myself. That’s why I put myself through studies and training of all kinds, from attending workshops on crystals and healing to the academic route of a degree in anthropology. I’ve also had a considerable amount of therapy, some of which has been extremely helpful. It was important to me that, whatever else, I broke the abuse cycle. It isn’t about becoming perfect, or psychic, or a media astrologer, or any one thing. It’s about doing what we can given the circumstances we find ourselves in to transcend and transform.
Q. How do you feel now about that younger you who went through all of that?
I tried to destroy myself so many times and I am so glad I didn’t succeed. Someone said to me a little while ago that if I was so psychic why hadn’t I won the lottery and I said, excuse me, I have! I have created a life from nothing where I get to study and develop those things that fill me with fascination and joy, everything from spiritual texts to the history of the Pre-Raphaelites, I get to help people and I get to share all that with someone I love. From this position as an adult, I look back at that younger me who had all of those experiences with a lot of compassion, love and admiration at her bravery and strength. It’s also a great lesson. The next time you meet someone who is bristling with rage or anger, you can start by wondering just what they’ve been through or are going through to make them like that instead of responding in kind. Of course you do that from a safe distance when you need to!
Q. So is this a happy ending?
Absolutely not. It’s a happy beginning.
If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in my book here are some useful resources.
www.twinlesstwins.org – Twinless Twins Support Group International.
www.nspcc.org.uk – National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children – NSPCC.
www.childline.org.uk – Childline 0800 1111.
www.imperialfengshui.info – Richard Ashworth is a dear friend – and one of the countries foremost experts on Feng Shui.