My friend Dawn died at the scene and my then-boyfriend suffered head injuries and was in a coma for a number of weeks.
Me? I walked away with a ripped earlobe and some torn ligaments.
"We saw the car," said the police when they came to my house a few days later to interview me. "It was a total wreck," they said. "I don't know how anyone managed to survive that crash."
Damn straight. The roof had to be cut off the car and the front end was basically squashed under a truck. It was a mangled wreck to say the least so I'm not surprised the cops were amazed at how I survived.
But I know exactly how that happened.
About a month before the accident I was temping as a receptionist for a construction company. I had been working as a temp since the age of 16. After leaving school in year 10 I had skipped college and gone straight into the workplace. I wanted to be a temp and had managed to manifest that dream despite having nothing but a couple of O-levels (certificates of achievement in English and maths) and a bucket full of confidence.
My confidence wasn't just teenage arrogance. I'd harboured a very cool "secret" since the age of about 3 when I realised that I could "smell" whether someone was trustworthy or not. That secret evolved into a deep knowing. I somehow always knew what was the right path to follow, or if someone was being deceitful or dishonest.
Now, obviously at the age of 3 I wasn't able to articulate what I have just explained to you, but I do know that from as young as I can remember, I had a very strong sense of knowing what was "right" and what was "wrong". It didn't necessarily mean I never did anything "wrong", because wrong means all kinds of different things to different people depending on the circumstance and their own version of what's "good" and "bad". But I definitely had an inner compass that sensed whether I should do X, Y or Z.
"Go and sit on so-and-so's lap" my parents might say.
Not on your nelly, I would think to myself.
"Eat your beetroot" said the dinner lady.
But I'll be sick.
"Eat it," she insisted.
So I ate it and promptly vomited bright purple spew all over the classroom.
Those are two very general examples but what I'm trying to point out here is that even as a very young child – when you're expected to listen to and believe what teachers, aunts, uncles and parents tell you – I had an inner barometer that would sometimes tell me a very different story, and lucky for me, I knew when to listen to that voice instead.
I became such good friends with that voice (which is most often actually a feeling), that when I got to the age of 18 and heard it even louder than ever before, I knew I had to sit up and listen.
And thank God I did.
"Hannah, be careful."
This was the voice I heard every time I got into my car during the month that led up to the accident.
True. Every single time I got behind the wheel of my bright yellow Ford Fiesta, (my first car), a voice, as clear as day would "appear" over my right shoulder and tell me to be careful.
At first, despite it being a very loud voice (one that I knew no-one else would be able to hear), I was surprised. Because despite being highly intuitive, most of my intuition arrived in the form of a feeling. Yes, there would be a thought attached but it was more of a sensation followed by some inner dialogue where as this was like a real person standing over my shoulder and speaking VERY LOUDLY.
I couldn't ignore it.
I'm not sure if I remember telling one of my friends or if I've since made that up, but I think I told a girlfriend because even as someone who relied on their intuition all the time, it was a bit weird. The memory I have is that I told a friend, "Hey, I keep getting this voice telling me to be careful every time I get into my car, so I'm just telling you incase anything happens and you'll know I wasn't going mad."
Whether I really did tell her or not, I'm not 100% sure.
But I am 100% sure that the voice existed. Because on the night of the accident I heard it again.
Only this time, I wasn't the one driving.
On the way to pick up D, I was sitting in the front passenger seat of my boyfriend's car. I wasn't wearing a seatbelt. This was 1989 and wearing a seatbelt had (I think) only fairly recently been made compulsory. Sometimes I would wear it, sometimes not. And there were definitely no seat belts in the back seat of the car. Or if there were, there were no laws saying you should wear them.
So, driving to Dawn's house I did not have my seatbelt on. I didn't even think about it. I often didn't wear it.
When we pulled up at Dawn's house, I jumped out and let her into the backseat. We were in a 2-door car so she had to climb past the front seat to get in the back.
As soon as I sat back down I heard the voice saying "Put your seatbelt on."
I didn't think about it. I didn't question it. And I didn't hesitate. I simply put my seatbelt on.
You know the rest of the story so I won't go through it all again. But suffice to say, had I not paid heed to that voice and fastened my seatbelt, I think it's reasonable to assume that I would not be here today.
At the very least (or most), I would probably be a vegetable.
There's no way of knowing of course, but going by the wreckage that cost my friend her life and left my boyfriend with severe injuries, I can take a fair punt in the assumption that I would have been flung out of my seat, hit the dashboard and been thrown around in such a way that would have most likely resulted in my being severely physically damaged. There were no airbags in those days so the only thing between me and the windscreen was the dashboard.
My friend Dawn was in the backseat (with no seatbelt) and was flung past me straight into the windscreen. She hit me on the way past which twisted my seat round to the left and caused me to feel as though I'd been hit by a baseball bat on the right side of my head.
If I hadn't been strapped in, (thanks to the voice that told me to do so, I was), the collision – not only of our car and the truck – but of Dawn and I, would probably have been a lot worse for me.
In fact, I'm pretty sure I'd be dead.
It sounds dramatic to say all this, and maybe it is because there's no way of knowing what would have happened. And there's no need to even go there except that it's healing for me. But the reason I'm writing this is not to shock or to retread the past, it's to show how important listening to our instinct is.
Had I not learned to listen to my inner voice, to my gut, to my inner barometer, I may not have listened to that voice that night. And had I been someone with less trust in myself and the Universe, I may have heard the voice but hesitated, or questioned it, or not paid attention, thinking it was just me being silly.
But the voices we hear are not silly. We all have an inner voice. You might hear it as a voice, or you might just feel things, or maybe you see stuff? I get all three, but feelings are the most common sensation for me.
Truly, I am certain that all the guidance we need is within us. Right in the palm of our hands and the centre of our chest. In our hearts. All you have to do is learn to trust those feelings. To listen to what your body and your heart is telling you.
I'm lucky in the sense that when I get a feeling that something isn't right, or that I should take thatroad instead, or not get on that bus, or fasten my seatbelt, that I listen. I trust my heart. I always have. And lucky for me, I have proof that those inner messages are for real. That they are there to serve us and keep us safe.
Because if it wasn't for that voice that told me to put my seatbelt on that night of December 8, 1989 there's a very high chance I wouldn't be writing this blog and you wouldn't be reading it.
So learn to trust your inner voice.
It might just save your life x