When I was 14 years old, I got in a huge fight with my dad.
We were standing in the landing space between the living room and the kitchen, the same place I was standing just one night prior, when I had seen an apparition in the living room, on my way to a late night bathroom trip.
Somewhere in the mix of the screaming, the arguing and the crying, he told me that if I ever brought up Spirits again, that I wouldn’t be allowed to live there (in my home) anymore.
At that point in my life, I was hardly home, anyway. I had school all day and an afternoon and weekend job which kept me busy and out of the house on purpose.
I didn’t want to be home.
My parents fought a lot and when they weren’t fighting, it was the night time and everyone was sleeping except me.
At night is when I visited by Spirits.
So, as a teen, I did my best to make myself scarce.
When I was at home, I, like every other teen, wanted to be myself - and now, even this was no longer welcome at home.
I felt like I didn’t have anywhere I could go to be myself.
I couldn’t talk about Spirits. I couldn’t tell my parents why I was afraid to shower alone in the mornings and why I was too scared to go to the bathroom at night. I couldn’t explain why I wanted to sleep with the lights on, or the real reason why I was on the phone so late - it wasn’t the same reason as normal teen girls - while I was interested in boys - my motivation was more about making sure I was never alone.
The more I was alone, the more I was visited by Spirits.
So I kept busy. Real busy.
I worked between 2-3 jobs in high school and at least 3 simultaneous jobs throughout college.
I stayed on the phone late at night with boys and I sometimes snuck out, also so I didn’t have to be alone late at night when the Spirits would visit me.
It was that one conversation - that one interaction with my dad - that I decided then and there that I didn’t want my curse anymore.
What previously was something I put up with and tried to deal with on my own, was now something I didn’t want to deal with at all.
My Gifts Weren't Cool
They were weird. In fact, no one really thought they were cool or interesting except me. People looked at you funny when you brought it up and they made it so that other people didn’t want to be around me or hear what I had to say . . . or so I thought.
And as a teenage girl, entering her first year of high school, the last thing I wanted in my life was to be unlikeable.
My dad already had a habit of moving us from town to town, always pursuing the next big thing in his career, and always being the new girl was hard enough as it was.
Forget being the new girl + the weird one who talked about Spirits + people hate that + I’m probably destined to be a loner.
So, when I was 14, I decided to quit my abilities. I decided it was all over. Spirits were out of my life - and that was that. In my opinion, they had nothing to offer but a one way ticket to teenage homelessness and friendlessness.
Quitting My Gifts
To quit, I stopped talking about Spirits, I stopped looking at Spirits and I stopped reacting to anything they did. I blocked out all interactions by refusing to make eye contact, and I bought a portable CD player and listened to music on loud and on repeat to fall asleep. When my twin sister would allow it, I’d put on the television in our room and keep it on all night - even if it was just the blue screen after a movie was done.
The TV was enough to illuminate the room so that I never saw Spirits.
And the Discman was enough sound, so that I never had to hear them either.
To make certain Spirits never interacted with me, I also:
Slept with a pillow over my head (so they couldn’t touch my face or stare at me in the face to wake me up)
Double locked all bedroom doors (so there was no way they would swing open, when a Spirit wanted to get in)
Had no pictures or paintings on my bedroom walls (so they don’t fall off in the night, due to a Spirit trying to get my attention and making a ruckus)
After a while, I got really good at ignoring Spirits and making sure they couldn’t get in touch with me in any way. I became a Spirit-avoidance expert before my 18th birthday and I was so proud of my accomplishment.
Unfortunately, I had no one to share my triumph with.
Because at this point, my entire family had forgotten about my ‘Spirit phase’ and none of my friends at the time even knew about the inner-hardships I’d been facing in regards to falling asleep and keeping Spirits at bay. I never told anyone anymore.
Despite this, I declared myself cured - completely, 100% curse free.
And I was stoked. But by this time, I was in college and I started dating boys seriously.
The College Years
Unfortunately, my cure tactics uncomfortably impacted my dating life once things got serious.
My nighttime sleeping techniques were never acceptable with anyone I was in a serious relationship with.
In fact, pretty much none of my strategies worked for sleep overs at another person’s house. Not all of my boyfriends approved of falling asleep with the TV on and almost none of them, thought it was appropriate to sleep in the same bed with someone, wearing an iPod shuffle clipped onto their bedtime tank top.
One of my boyfriends declared my music with headphones idea a choking hazard. He took my iPod away, and placed it on a very high shelf that I couldn’t reach, then climbed back into bed - thinking he’d done both of us a favor. He declared that I didn’t have to be scared, and he’d keep me ‘safe.’
All I could think was, ‘you have no idea.’
I didn’t sleep a wink that night as three Spirits stood at the foot of my bed.
I stared at them all night, not blinking, frozen in fear under the covers until sunrise. At which point, I gathered my things and ran out of there as fast (and as gracefully) as possible.
Spirits came back into my life during college, namely because I couldn’t completely control my sleeping environment in all of the crazy college sleeping situations that we face during that time.
My Abilities Returned
They came back because I couldn’t avoid being alone as an adult.
So much for my cured lifestyle.
As a teenager, I shared a room with my twin sister and a house with 5 other people.
In college, my roommates weren’t always home. I didn’t always have an escort to walk me back late from the library. I didn’t always have money for a non-stop stream of cable television to blast through my bedroom at night.
I lost some, if not all of my avoidance tactics once adulthood set in.
This is why now, as a actual adult, I don’t find it all that strange that many of the mediums contacting me now are college age, between 18-23 - my same age - when my abilities came back.
And if you are now, where I was then, here is what I have to say:
You aren’t alone, even though it may feel like it now. You aren’t cursed and you aren’t going crazy.
No, it’s not from the drinking. No, it’s not because you haven’t gotten enough sleep, and no, it’s not a side effect of the new prescription anxiety meditation that you’re on.
Think back to your childhood. Your gifts likely have roots here. Did you have imaginary friends? Did you see things as a kid? Did you have weird dreams? Were you afraid to sleep alone? Ask your mom about it.
Find out what your history was in childhood because when you do, your new, foreign gifts and experiences, may not sound so foreign after all.
And it’s going to be okay.
When I was 14, I was convinced Spirits were out to ruin my life.
And the truth is, they really aren’t.
If you are being bothered by those in the Spirit world, it’s not because they want to ruin you or keep you from having a normal life - it’s because they want to show you evidence of how strong your abilities really are.
Turn off the iPod. Take a deep breath. And sit down.
They probably have something important to say.