My ability to sense other beings jumped dramatically in 2001; that November I fell and suffered a traumatic brain injury on the job. It was life changing on a number of levels. I was off work for more than a month and on light duty for six months, leaving me with plenty of time to re-evaluate my professional and personal life. The upshot of all my soul-searching led me to quit my job and move away to totally change career paths in less than a year.
The first inkling I had that something was different came in September 2002 on a family trip to the U.K. After a previous trip to England, I often told friends it was the most haunted place I’d ever been. I was looking forward to more ghostly encounters on this second trip.
I was amply rewarded. Our first lodging, in Edinburgh, was a bed and breakfast situated at the very top of what had once been a townhouse. The rooms were cramped and had been the servant’s quarters in other times. A young maidservant as well as a boy and a girl put in several appearances with waving curtains, knocks and footsteps, childish giggles and the sound of a ball bouncing. A few times the little girl whispered, “Will you come and play with me?”
From there we moved south to London and used it as a base to roam about southern England, staying in a small apartment. We took ghost tours, more on those later.
I can only use one word to describe the Tower of London; overwhelming.
Even the apartment we stayed in was haunted.
My skin started tingling as soon as I walked into the apartment and the woman who still resided there made her presence known that night. In the bathroom, blithely brushing my teeth and planning the next day’s events I felt the skin tingle and hair-raising tactile sensations of a spirit presence nearby. The tub and shower behind me was clearly reflected in the mirror over the sink and she was standing in it, glaring at me. She was all grey, like she was in a black and white photograph, dark-haired but colorless. A dark smoky fog billowed in the shower like cold steam, surrounding her.
“I don’t want you here.”
Now, I’d talked to some ghosts in my time and wasn’t really afraid of her, but she was ferociously unhappy with us being in her space and was working hard to project all sorts of heavy emotions. Anger, bitterness, jealousy and more just sort of boiled off her. I closed my eyes, which really didn’t stop the vision of her, or her narrowed, glaring stare and held my ground.
“I’m sorry about that. But we are going to stay here. We’ll try and be respectful of you.”
“I don’t want you here. I want you to leave.” She was getting more insistent and the energies in the bathroom were getting more prickly. I felt the urge to run, like I was being prodded in my fear center with a thorny stick. I was strongly reminded of being chased down the stairs as a kid. Somehow I didn’t think this woman was playing, she had my childhood friend beat in the malevolence department.
I gritted my teeth and fought against the emotions sweeping over me that screamed ‘RUN! Get OUT!’
“I’m sorry.” I repeated. “But, you’ll just have to resign yourself. We’ll try not to bother you.”
“Just you being here bothers me.” She flung a wave of emotions at me then. Jealousy, that I was alive and she was dead. Hate, too was mixed in there. “I just want to be left alone.” But the deep loneliness that accompanied this statement made it a lie. She radiated pain and heartbreak.
“I don’t want ANYONE here. GO!” Now she was shouting at me, and I got the sense I wasn’t the first she’d yelled at. But I was the first to react by talking back to her.
Well, I was done and ready to go to bed. She shot these dagger looks at me as I sauntered out that hit like dull psychic darts.
After a few more encounters with her unpleasant emanations I tried reasoning with her.
“Look, we’re gone most of the day and some of the nights. We only eat and sleep here, so it’s yours most of the time. We don’t watch much TV and we don’t make a lot of noise so, would you kindly tone down your angry vibes?” She was quiet for a while then and stayed out of the shower when I was using it. I only felt mild glares now and then in the bathroom so it seemed she’d taken what I said under consideration.
Until one night I decided to soak in the tub for a bit. She took that opportunity to show me how she died. It wasn’t pretty.
Her husband had been cheating on her, lying to her. She was jealous and decided to ‘show him’ by slitting her wrists and bleeding out in the tub. My vision wavered with the billowing steam and I saw her body in the water instead of my own. Rounder, plumper with saggy breasts and two long gashes running up fleshy forearms, filling the tub with red.
Deep down though, she didn’t really want to die.
She wanted her husband to love her again. When he came home she was already gone and so she blamed him twice; for cheating on her and failing to save her. She showed me how he just stood in the doorway, saying her name over and over. Stella.
“It was all his fault. All his fault.” She whispered. She wasn’t sounding quite so angry, but it and all her other heavy emotions were still there.
After that, all I could feel for her was pity and nothing she did was frightening. She soon saw that her scary act wasn’t having its intended effect on me. None of which stopped her from trying, or pacing the hall at night. I did my best to soothe her and tried to talk her into ‘going into the light’ but she would have none of it.
The day before we were to leave, the subject came up between my sister-in-law and I. She admitted to sensing a female in the apartment. We both looked at mom who only said.
“I thought it was you getting up in the middle of the night. I could see a shadow walking up and down the hall. I called your name but you never answered.”
Prior to 2001 I wasn’t always able to put a face, personality or sometimes even gender on the spirits I sensed, frequently it was just a sensation on my skin, a half-heard whisper, a flash of emotion. Visions of the spirit were typically brief and I often questioned their veracity. This trip was notably different. I heard and sensed what the spirits was saying more readily. Visions were clear and now the dead frequently used sentences when talking. I was less doubtful of what I was seeing and experiencing and it was easier to distinguish between a separate entity and my own imagination.
Which at the time, I thought was really cool. It still is. When I got home, my new sensitivities did not fade and two years later I learned the term psychopomp.