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Michelle Oeltjen

Associate Editor at The Indie Chicks
Michelle is the published author of her memoir, Love, Lies & Lessons Learned. She hails from Nebraska where she obtained a bachelor's in Psychology and a a Master's in Business. She worked in corporate America for nine years and decided in May 2010 to leave to pursue her passion of writing. When she isn't traveling, reading, writing or silently correcting your grammar, Michelle enjoys spending time with friends and family (usually with a glass of wine) and cheering on her Husker football team—all from the sunny state of Arizona.
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My 28th birthday. A day that should have been spent celebrating by having lunch with co-workers and going to the drive-in movies with friends turned out to be one of the most horrific days of my life.

As I was getting ready to leave his apartment for work on the morning of May 14, 2003 my ex-boyfriend told me he had a surprise for me for my birthday. (Yes, I said “ex”—you can read more about the story in my memoir.)

I immediately felt guilty. I had ignored Nick on his birthday, and yet even while on house arrest and in the midst of more emotional turmoil than I could imagine, he found a way to get me a surprise for my birthday.

I must have looked anxious because he suddenly blurted out, “Are you ready for your surprise?”

“I guess”, I replied sheepishly, “but you really didn’t have to do anything for me.”

“Ok, well turn around and close your eyes,” Nick said this in the same way that an older brother might say, “Close your eyes—I’ve got a big surprise,” just before pouring something nasty over your head. This wasn’t new for Nick. He was the master of surprises, some fun, and many surprisingly romantic and sweet. I wasn’t sure which way he’d go this time.

I obeyed him and turned around, closing my eyes.

“Now, no peeking.”

“Ok!” I responded.

“I mean it!  Keep your eyes closed!”

“OK!”

A Fresh Start … Or So I Thought

I was looking forward to a fresh start of a new year without Nick in my life. I felt guilty for these thoughts, anxious as I was to leave, but still curious about the surprise. I couldn’t help it though. I’d had enough of him, his mood swings, and the flip-flopping between nice guy and flake. Whatever emotional hold he had on me would finally be broken. He would be in jail and I would be a free woman—able to start my 28th year with a clean slate.

“Ok”, he was directly standing behind me now, “are you ready for your surprise?”

Before I even had a chance to respond, an enormous, painful blow was delivered to the back of my head. It resonated throughout my body with such great force that I didn’t know what hit me. (I later learned from police it was a hammer.) The raw velocity of the blow forced me forward but before a scream could escape my mouth, Nick grabbed me in a choke hold from behind. This had to be an accident of some sort, I immediately thought. Surely, he’d lovingly lift me to my feet and set things right.

I was dead wrong. The next thing I remember was the two of us falling to the floor, me on my back, and Nick on top—both of his hands wrapped tightly around my throat.

I lay on the floor, completely in shock of the horror unfolding before me. Nick was straddling me, squeezing my throat with an ever-increasing fury with one hand, and silencing me with the other over my mouth. I felt enormous pressure building in my head. My eyes bulged and my temples throbbed. I desperately gasped for air, trying in vain to suck in what little precious oxygen I could.

Hysteria overtook me as my instincts kicked in. I jerked and thrashed my legs and arms, reaching out to hit, claw and tear at any part of Nick I could reach. I violently twisted my head from left to right, trying to loosen Nick’s hold. When I saw a black, thick liquid spreading out on the carpet from behind my head I wondered what it was. With a gut wrenching, sickening realization I knew—it was blood from my own head oozing out, slowly staining his carpet.

With a frenzied terror overcoming me, it finally struck me that I was fighting for my life. My screams remained silent however, unable to escape past Nick’s hand holding my face and mouth firmly to the ground. I knew I would die if something didn’t happen soon.

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  • http://joannerambling.wordpress.com/ Jo-Anne

    My life has never hit rock bottom the close I came was 8yrs ago I had a mini breakdown I was upset and went for a walk and just kept walking and it go dark and everyone was worried about me and when I answered the phone all I could do was cry it was not a good day for me.

    • Michelle Oeltjen

      Sometimes you gotta do whatever it takes to get by day to day – no matter what is bothering you. For me, some nights after the attack it was eating chocolate hostess cupcakes at midnight. ;-)

  • http://theindiechicks.com/ Julie Zantopoulos

    I remember reading this in print and being horrified and then awed. It cannot be easy to overcome something like that but I LOVE knowing that you did. I love knowing you now, working with you now, and knowing that there is NO stopping you, your ability to find love and happiness, and your drive. You are amazing! So proud to have had you in the first print as a contributor and the second one as my assistant. You kick so much ass, lady.

    • Michelle Oeltjen

      Aw thinks chica! It is because of badass chicks like you and other amazing women (and men) that I was able to get through it and have held on tight to my dreams and followed them no matter what sacrifices I have had to make. You and everyone at the IC continue to amaze and inspire me on a daily basis.

    • Michelle Oeltjen

      Aw thinks chica! It is because of badass chicks like you and other amazing women (and men) that I was able to get through it and have held on tight to my dreams and followed them no matter what sacrifices I have had to make. You and everyone at the IC continue to amaze and inspire me on a daily basis.

  • Carmen

    That is terrible what happened to you. I went through a similiar situation with my ex. I had few support. My family blamed me. We broken up at the time. They asked me, why did I go see him?
    I seeked counseling . I got through with it. I use to ask. why me?
    I am happy you pushed through and doing well. :)

    • Michelle Oeltjen

      Thanks for your kind, encouraging words Carmen. That SUCKS that you were treated like that. It is one of the BIGGEST reasons I chose and continue to tell my story. It is NOT your fault. DV is still such a “hush-hush” topic in our society and 99% of the people respond by saying “Why didn’t she just leave at the first sign?” It’s never as simple as that. I am SO glad you sought counseling – that is an absolute must. As for why you? You may never know but if you are alive, you are thriving and you can help others in similar situations. You’ve got my vote as one badass chick!

    • Michelle Oeltjen

      Thanks for your kind, encouraging words Carmen. That SUCKS that you were treated like that. It is one of the BIGGEST reasons I chose and continue to tell my story. It is NOT your fault. DV is still such a “hush-hush” topic in our society and 99% of the people respond by saying “Why didn’t she just leave at the first sign?” It’s never as simple as that. I am SO glad you sought counseling – that is an absolute must. As for why you? You may never know but if you are alive, you are thriving and you can help others in similar situations. You’ve got my vote as one badass chick!

  • Scary68

    Wow, that was a surprise hit the way you described your surprise hit, very effective writing & I’m still floored by what he did to you. It must have been really tough attempting to find some way to make it make sense for you and how are you EVER able to trust a guy again? I guess the psych degree at least helps with knowing what characteristics to look out for & I suppose at least you can identify and put a name to his, uh, mindset (trying not to “diagnose” all willy nilly on the web, hehe) as a way lessen the subjectivity of the experience, but DAMN, it’s still beyond the realm of sane understanding. You’ve been given a toughie there but you saw your why & you’re doing it and I, for one, benefited from your story.

    THANK YOU

    • Michelle Oeltjen

      THANK YOU for your comments. You never know your true strength until you absolutely must – my choice was to dwell on it or deal with it. Fortunately, I was raised to follow the later mantra. I think being raised on a farm where NOTHING came easy made a big difference in going through something like this. Faith, family and friends definitely made all the difference as well. And much like w/ 911 (not that my story is ANYWHERE near that horrific) but to not trust a guy again or date would be like letting my attacker (or the 911 terrorists) win. And with him 6 ft under, there was NO WAY IN HELL I was going to let that happen.