I Used to Be Afraid of My Own Shadow—Now I Reach and Help Hundreds
by Michelle Nagel
I am an adult survivor of childhood abuse.
Growing up, I stifled any indignation or rebellion at the way I was being treated by my abusers because I was afraid.
As I grew older, a cold rage sparked to life in my belly, fueled to blazing hot with each incident. Somewhere deep inside I knew my life was wrong, but I didn’t know how to change it.
By the time I made it into adulthood, I was angry, had no self-esteem, believed I was worthless, and had been trained that my only task in life was to have babies and take care of my husband.
True to my training, I married a man who continued the abusive patterns. He believed his word was law, and that my responsibility was to obey his every whim. I meekly complied, but the rage that had begun in childhood smoldered ever hotter.
After bringing a beautiful baby girl into the world and seeing some disturbing behavior on the part of my husband toward her, I determined I would protect her in all the ways my parents never protected me.
I divorced my husband and began learning everything I could about why people do the things they do, and why child abuse is perpetuated through the generations. I learned why abuse victims stay in abusive relationships once they are adults. Most importantly, I began to heal from my own deadly programming.
I tried marriage again—after all, that was supposedly my only purpose in life.
I thought I had chosen well, but the next 12 years were painful and difficult as early on it became evident that my second husband also had some very serious issues. While to outsiders we looked like the perfect couple, in the privacy of our home things were very different. I looked like I had it all together, yet felt like I was dying on the inside.
I finally decided it was better to be alone than to continue to raise my children in an atmosphere of fear and emotional abuse.
Finally time to take my quantum leap
So there I was, a single mom with three kids, running a small, but successful business from home. I determined to get serious about healing my life, so my children could have better patterning.
I tried many methods of healing—counseling, antidepressants, books, alternative healing modalities, and more. Some methods worked, and some didn’t.
After a horrific adverse reaction to antidepressants, I searched for a natural alternative to drugs. I studied at The School of Natural Healing, became a Master Herbalist, and taught people the traditional and historical use of medicinal herbs. I became a great amalgamator, teaching the methods I knew worked, and began guiding others through their healing journeys.
My own healing brought a wonderful man into my life. He adopted my children and gave me another son. We have been married for more than 20 years.
When working with clients, I noticed people could do everything they were “supposed” to do, yet not get well. My studies took me deeper into the realm of emotions. I became an energy therapist specializing in emotional release.
My clients and I had life-changing experiences; however, if you don’t replace old negative habits with new positive ones, you will fall right back into the old patterns. I learned about Jack Canfield’s Success Principles and decided to become one of his trainers.
While I was excited and confident about teaching the materials I was learning, one of the things that kept rattling around in the back of my brain was, “How on earth am I going to market myself?”
I had no idea where to begin. Nothing in my life experience prepared me for this new skill.
During the training, Jack often asked us, “What would be your quantum leap?”
I had been following Steve Harrison’s work for about 15 years. I was always yearning after the things he was teaching, but was not willing to make the monetary commitment. Between the kids growing like weeds, needing new clothes every time I turned around, and the refrigerator magically emptying every time they walked past it, there never seemed to be enough money to go around. But to me, the phrase “Quantum Leap” has always been associated with Steve’s program.
Thus, when Jack asked that question, I knew it was time for me to take advantage of Steve’s brilliance and consider it my college education.
I signed up at the Diamond level and began listening to every call and getting help with the coaches.
I didn't want to die without making a difference
Initially I thought I would just use the program to get more speaking opportunities. I had some distant fantasy I might one day write a book, but I never thought I could write non-fiction.
As I finished my certification as a Jack Canfield trainer, I got the strong impression I needed to pay attention to some signals my body had been giving me. I paid a visit to a doctor. She began running tests. Within a whirlwind two weeks, I had undergone exploratory surgery, with a biopsy. The doctor said she was optimistic.
The next week, I was flying to Philadelphia to attend my very first Quantum Leap meeting, thinking everything was going to be OK. As I stepped off the plane, I glanced at my phone and saw a call from my doctor.
With a feeling of dread, I found a quiet spot to return the call. She informed me the biopsy had come back, and I had cancer. Before leaving the airport, I made some calls to meet with a specialist and to schedule surgery.
Needless to say, I found it difficult to focus during the meeting. I returned home, and within two weeks had major surgery.
After the surgery, there were several complications. I was allergic to the pain medications, and then I got a terrible infection. My healing seemed to take forever.
While I was lying on the couch trying to remain positive emotionally and heal physically, I listened to Steve’s calls. I knew I would not be able to train others for the next several months because of my health.
I had a lot of time to contemplate my life, what I had overcome, and how close I had come to dying. I did not want to die without making a difference in the world. The vague fantasy of writing a book became a burning desire. I put together an outline and typed up several chapters.
Though I was still weak from the infection, I attended the next Quantum Leap meeting.
I enjoyed meeting new people there and talking to the media personnel Steve had invited. Because I didn’t have anything but an idea to pitch, it became obvious really quickly I needed to actually get the book written.
Upon returning home, I began writing in earnest. I was grateful for help from Geoffrey Berwind, coach Martha, a local editor. and a fabulous book designer Martha recommended.
Jack hated my book title... and I am glad he did!
With a rough manuscript, working title, and spiffy cover design, I attended Jack and Steve's Mastermind Retreat.
When it was my turn in the hot seat, I announced the title of my book, only to have Jack tell me he hated it. His reasons made sense, but as titles are not my forte, I was really discouraged.
He also didn’t like the artwork. He did say he liked the titles of my chapters and what he read of my writing in a quick look-over, but that I needed to go back to the drawing board.
I thought really hard about going home and forgetting about the entire thing.
The redeeming part of the mastermind, however, was the interview with Jack. It was so professionally executed; it was worth the entire experience. Much of the success I have achieved has been as a direct result of that interview.
I had a conversation with a good friend and fellow Quantum Leaper (who actually joined at my suggestion). He made some sort of sarcastic suggestion for a title for my book. The idea sounded good, but I’m not as comfortable with sarcasm as he is.
I tweaked his idea, ran it past Jack, refined it further, and Suffering is Optional: Step Out of Darkness Into the Light was born.
The cover designer came up with a gorgeous cover, and my book was published less than a year after the cancer diagnosis and surgery.
Using Martha’s expert recommendations, I chose the categories for my book. I have made it to #24 on Amazon in my categories.
I know I could not have done any of this had it not been for the help of the people from Quantum Leap. I would not have known where to begin.
My life is completely different than I ever dreamed
I know I keep repeating that I would not have known how to do any of this.
I mean, how would I have learned to self-publish a book, make media pitches, do a speaker one-sheet, a media one-sheet, and all the other amazing things I have done as a member of Quantum Leap?
While everything I have learned in Quantum Leap has been amazing, the one thing that I hear in my head over and over is Steve saying, “You have to own your expertise. Step into who you are and own it.”
So who am I?
- I am a published author of a book that makes a difference in the lives of the people who read it. Because of the tools I have learned from Quantum Leap, I know how to get it to bestselling status.
- I am an expert guide who helps people clear their emotional baggage and replace it with Success Principles. I am an expert because I have walked my own path from broken to wholeness.
- I have much more confidence in my ability to market myself. I have gone from being a woman who was afraid of her own shadow to one who confidently stands on the stage and teaches before hundreds of people.
As a result of what I have learned in Quantum Leap, I have given author talks, done book signings, been interviewed on national radio, and spoken at events. I am thrilled when a stranger asks for my autograph and tells me the difference I have made in their life.
Thanks to Steve and Bill Harrison and their amazing staff and coaches, I have been Quantum hopping and leaping all over the place!
I am astonished at what I have accomplished in spite of everything I’ve gone through. I feel I’ve been given the tools to make my dreams come true.
My life is completely different than I ever dreamed, and I will be forever grateful for this incredible program.
This post is adapted from an essay Michelle wrote as her entry in our "How I Made My Quantum Leap" contest, in which Quantum Leap members wrote about the difference the program made for them and their careers.