Diane Gottlieb writes open-hearted stories about people in pain who choose to grow.

Get Out of The Car — Letting Go Of Trauma

WomanPause in September, and that amazing woman has helped me grow until it hurt! What may come as a surprise, however, is that in addition to my lovely life coach—and my wonderful therapist (I can’t forget about her!)—I have an intuition coach. He’s a clairvoyant; his name is Michael Frontier, and he, too, has “saved” my life.

Never Be Afraid to Ask for Help

I first spoke to Michael about a year and a half ago, when I scheduled a reading with him. I have a long history of going to intuitives, psychics, and mediums, with varying amounts of satisfaction. Some have wowed me; others not so much. (I myself have studied Tarot and have a deep attachment to the cards.) But Michael … he is the real deal. We had a phone session because he lives in Chicago and I live in New York. He knew nothing about me before our first call but my name, phone number, and what I looked like on the best of days. (I had attached a picture of myself that I really like to an email I sent him the week before we met on the phone.)   Michael and I started our session with a chakra meditation.[1] He immediately noted that I was a teacher and that I helped people tell their stories (I have an English tutoring business and one of my favorite gigs is helping college seniors craft their college essays.)

“It’s Time for You to Tell Your Own Story”

So, my teacher/story-helper energy came across for Michael loud and clear. I was impressed! But then, he told me that it was time for me to tell my own story. That blew me away. (I had just returned to writing short memoir pieces after taking a hiatus of several years.)   Michael has since helped me deal with living with my then 93-year-old mother-in-law. (Living with Sita is definitely a topic for another blog.) He was the impetus for my applying for my MFA in creative writing, and he also inspired my dive into fiction writing: “Diane, you have a murder mystery in you,” he said one day during a session. I laughed. I had never tried my hand at fiction—thought it would be way too hard. Besides, murder mystery? My least favorite genre! And then … less than a week later, Sunny, Sal, Lena, Tio, and lovely Esperanza visited me from the murder mystery muses. They are all characters in a novel that I’m writing that includes young adult love, ghosts from the past, human trafficking, and yes, murder.  

All I Had to Do Was to Pay Attention to What I Was Feeling, Thinking, Hearing, Smelling, Tasting

    But today, I want to share what happened in our session on the Monday of Thanksgiving week. Michael has lately been helping me develop my own intuition. To that end, he had sent me a letter a few days earlier and instructed me not to open it until we had our FaceTime session. In the letter was one question written on the inside fold of a piece of paper. During our call, Michael asked me to close my eyes and meditate on the “hidden” question for three minutes. He timed me. Within that three minutes, I could hold the paper to my heart, my head, my belly, or anywhere else that I was drawn to place it. All I had to do was to pay attention to what I was feeling, thinking, hearing, smelling, tasting—listen to any of the senses that wanted to send me a message.

I Kept Thinking “Threes.” I Had Always Heard That Things Happen in Threes.

I placed the paper onto my heart and immediately went deep—very deep. It was as if I was in a far-away trance. I immediately began thinking/seeing/feeling accidents—car accidents. My first husband and my mother, both died on the road. But I kept thinking “threes.” I had always heard that things happen in threes. There were already two fatal car accidents in my family. Would I be next? I kept going deeper into my trance-travel. Two minutes left.   Accidents. I began thinking/seeing/feeling accidents at birth. I thought of the other book I’m writing, about formerly incarcerated men. The men I’ve befriended for this book have all spent huge numbers of years behind bars. I thought about their beginnings, their rough childhoods. There-by-the grace-of-God go I, I thought. Had I been born into their homes, lived their lives, would I have made different choices?

I Kept Going.

  My first husband, Jay, died in a car accident on a rural road in upstate, New York. We had been living in Woodstock at the time, and he was commuting home from work. Jay had been driving a little thing, a Honda S2000, with rear wheel drive—not a great brake system for wet roads. It had been raining, and since it was November, the road was also lined with slick leaves. Cut off by a small red car that left the scene, he hit a guardrail that sent him and the Honda over an embankment. They landed 50 feet below.

The Only Sound I Heard Was the Music of Rustling Leaves and Crunching Twigs, as Little Creatures Scurried or Light Winds Blew.

In my meditation, holding the folded-up question close to my heart, I had a vision. I found myself sitting in a crashed-up car, still smoking from the impact, in the quiet of a surrounding woods. Sun streamed trough the  breaks in the trees in lovely, welcoming rays of warmth. The hint of pine and the dense smell of damp earth, of bark and fallen leaves, gently filled my lungs. The only sound I heard was the music of rustling leaves and crunching twigs, as little creatures scurried or light winds blew. It was peaceful, beautiful. I wanted to stay.  

“It’s Time to Come Out of the Car,” He Said, as He Waited with His Outstretched Arm.

  But then, I saw an outstretched arm, reaching out to me. The arm belonged to Steven, my husband of four and a half years. Steven had appeared in the woods, suddenly, and he was holding out his hand. Beckoning. “It’s time to come out of the car,” he said, as he waited with his outstretched arm. That’s where we were when Michael told me the three minutes were up. Steven words are right. It is time to for me to come out of the car. And what a loving gift he is offering me. Steven is willing to hold my hand as I take that journey.

I Have Been Holding onto Trauma. And Trauma Has Been Holding onto Me—Holding Me Back.

What keeps us from moving forward? When we’ve been hurt before, we don’t want to be hurt again. For Steven, it’s been past relationship woes. For me it’s the shock that can still physically rock my body, even fourteen years after the fact. Here’s the question that Michael folded over and sent to me in the mail, the question I held close to my heart last Monday: “GUIDE ME: WHAT IS THE HEALTHIEST WAY FOR ME TO SHARE MY TALENT WITH THE WORLD?” I knew that to find the answer I would have to stop holding back—but I just didn’t know how.

So, I Asked for Help.

Michael, I asked, “How do I come out of the car? “Love bigger,” he said, without hesitation. “Love bigger.” And then he added, “Show up. Be. We need to see you.” So, here I am. My vision ended with a choice, and I have made my decision. I am hereby committing to showing up. Later that evening, I shared my vision with Steven, shared how sometimes I keep my full self a half-step back. And … I warned him … to be ready for 100% of me. I don’t even know what 100% of me looks like, but he and I will discover that together. Always new discoveries, new paths to travel. I am also not sure what “coming out of the car” will mean for my writing. But I am very excited to find out!   It is hard to reach the age of 50 without having lived through so sort of traumatic event. I think that this is probably even more true for women than for men. We carry our traumas in our bodies and in our thoughts.

Is There Past Trauma That Remains a Present Force in Your Life? What Is the “Car” That You Need to Step Out of? How Do You Hold Yourself Back? And What Is the Healthiest Way for You to Share Your Talent with the World?


I would love to hear your thoughts. Post a comment, send me an email.

Let’s be each other’s outstretched arms!

See you next Friday! Diane Diane Gottlieb [caption id="attachment_477" align="alignright" width="117"] Michael Frontier[/caption] P.S. If you’d like to learn more about Michael Frontier, please visit his website: https://www.michaelfrontier.com. Also, Michael, his husband Terry Opalek, and two amazing women—under 50—Mary Pat Bohan and Jen Stanley create a wonderfully inspiring, very funny, weekly podcast about personal growth called “Jumping the Fence.” It is available on most podcast apps including iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify, and Soundcloud. https://soundcloud.com/jumping-the-fence I highly recommend it!               [1] For those unfamiliar with chakras, here’s a definition from the Chopra Center https://chopra.com/articles/what-is-a-chakra: “The Sanskrit word Chakra literally translates to wheel or disk … this term refers to wheels of energy throughout the body… There are seven main chakras, which align the spine, starting from the base of the spine through to the crown of the head … This invisible energy, called Prana, is vital life force, which keeps us vibrant, healthy, and alive.”]]>


  1. Jay Cook on December 3, 2018 at 3:17 pm

    Hello, Diane. First of all you write beautifully. I loved reading your words. The story itself, the reality of it, is overwhelmingly sad. Second, the story brought tears to my eyes. But they were tears of joy. Reading this was a great way to start my week. Monday’s are always “do-over” days for me: a new week, a new start. Thanks to you, mine is starting off with hope and inspiration. So, Thank You.

    PS: I’m a client of Michael’s also. He, and Terry, are amazing people. Such gifts in my life.

    • Diane Gottlieb on December 5, 2018 at 4:17 am

      Thank you Jay, for you kind words! I am so glad that my post started off your week on a positive note. Please visit the blog again–or better yet, sign up! I would love to have you aboard! And, yes, Michael and Terry are gifts.
      Have a wonderful week.

  2. Terry Opalek on December 1, 2018 at 7:36 pm

    Thank you for sharing your story, Diane. Your voice is powerful, not only in writing but also in energy. I believe that when we tell our stories, the whole story, the ugly and difficult, challenging and painful, as well as the pretty and fun stuff – we automatically give permission to and hopefully inspire others to tell their story. That’s what creates authentic connection. And isn’t that what we all truly long for? To belong, rather than fit in. XO

    • Diane Gottlieb on December 5, 2018 at 4:18 am

      Terry–I couldn’t agree with you more! Telling our stories does open up the space for others to do the same. And that is what connection is all about. Yay for belonging!

  3. Nicky Mendenhall on December 1, 2018 at 1:42 am

    Diane –

    Thanks for sharing your story. I like how clear the direction you heard was: Get out of the car. I love how many ways you are hearing it and working with it.

    I will keep paying attention to what unfolds in you. Very inspiring.

    Thanks again,

    • Diane Gottlieb on December 5, 2018 at 4:20 am

      Thank you, Nicky! Sometimes the directions are just that clear! I’m glad this one was. I will keep you posted!

  4. Sarita K Sid on December 1, 2018 at 12:58 am

    What a beautiful, moving, brilliantly-narrated story! I was eager to find out what was written on the paper, but didn’t want to miss any of the wisdom along the way.
    Thank you for sharing this with us, for inviting us to be each other’s outstretched arms :))
    After writing my current blog post I felt a little anxious about being judged for practicing Reiki. Your post gives me the courage to worry less about what others think. And the courage to take my second foot out of the car.
    You are such a gift, my dear. See you next week in LA!! xoxo

    • Diane Gottlieb on December 1, 2018 at 1:27 am

      Thank you, Sarita! I am so glad that you’re sharing an important part of yourself–your Reiki practice. You are taking that step! And what a special gift you are! Can’t wait to see you too!!

  5. Dorothy on November 30, 2018 at 4:33 pm

    Simply said Diane “your test is your testimony” overcoming trauma is extremely difficult. Yet imperative to spiritual health and growth. Kudos on challenging yourself, and inspiring me to dig deep to embrace my place.

    • Diane Gottlieb on November 30, 2018 at 5:46 pm

      Thank you, Dorothy! Digging and digging–that’s what we do!

  6. Greta Holt on November 30, 2018 at 4:26 pm

    I am so sorry for your loss. A husband’s sudden death in the prime of life would make the wife exist at either a permanently depressed or an elevated level. You seem to lean into life with intentionality. Bless you and your courage. I can only imagine how difficult it must be, even now.

    My car? Honestly, at 70, not 50, I may not be stuck in a car, just pushing forward. Boy, I surely was stuck earlier, but something happens when you feel the struggle of life coming to an end. You find yourself bouncing back faster, just because time is shorter.

    Hmmm. A few years ago, in therapy, I decided to accomplish five things: a better relationship with my mom (done, before she passed); start singing again (done, with membership in a Bach choral group); eat right (done, with the help of Health One meal replacements and fruits/veggies; exercise (done, with my gym visits three-four times a week)–yesterday, I hit the 50 pound mark for weight loss, since starting the diet in March; so, I’m waiting on the publishing part of my goals to take place, and dammit, I can do that–the waiting, I mean! I sent my novel off to an editor and it came back with so many suggestions for improvement that I’m back at the drawing board again.

    I wish that at age 50, and much before, I would have been more grateful and that I would have been able to see each day as precious time, not ‘have-to’ time; as flexible, not static.

    Thanks for a wonderful post.

    • Diane Gottlieb on November 30, 2018 at 5:58 pm

      Hi Greta. Pushing forward is right! Love your 5 things. Congrats on your journey and your accomplishments! As for the writing, back at that drawing board is where we all find ourselves sometimes! Thanks for those words of wisdom at the end of your comment. Each day is such very precious time–love that “not ‘have to’ time.”

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