Present and In Attendance

The house has always been creepy. Benign in the daylight, the setting of the sun brings on a wakeful presence. Being in a rural location, the surrounding darkness is unbroken by light and the windows, eyes that look out on the beauty of nature by day, turn inwards at night. Only the inner rooms are reflected, and you within them. I have learned to close the curtains when it is dark, partly because the windows are a movie screen for anyone outside, and also because I am afraid to catch not only my own reflection, but whatever…else…might be there with me.

I guess it all started when I was 4 1/2…at least the first memory I have is during the summer after we first moved there. Although it was still light out, I was in bed, listening to the faint voices of my family and neighbors in the kitchen. We had settled easily into our new life, having relocated from an ever-smoggier Anaheim. I had already become accustomed to the dry grass, the oak trees, our horse in the pasture, the sound of the ongoing basketball game in the driveway between my brother and the next door boys. I liked my room with its closet wall of mirrors, the gold carpet, my brother’s room right next door. I had yet to be afraid of the dark, or the house.

As I was drifting off to sleep, I heard my name called.


It was loud and startling. My eyes flew open and I looked towards the ceiling, where it seemed to emanate from. Nothing. I closed my eyes again.


Frightened, I called out for my Mother, who, like all good mothers after a child’s bad dream, assured me it was nothing more. Again I drifted off to sleep.


Wide awake and staring, I watched as a face came quickly out of the ceiling and said,

I am God.

Then it was gone. And I’m not sure what I did next, but it probably involved screaming. I remember more admonishments to just go back to sleep. I must have, although as an adult I can only marvel at a child’s ability to trust in the grown-ups around them. Because as a grown-up myself now, I would have packed my bags and never come back.

Fast forward to age 5 or 6. I awoke in the middle of the night from a bad dream involving the old stuffed rabbit that used to belong to my Mother. I only remember being very, very frightened, and also very, very thirsty. For whatever reason, I was terrified to get out of bed and the door seemed impossibly far away. I finally gathered enough courage to make the leap away from arms length under the bed (you did the same, avoiding those arms, I know it.) and approached the door. As my hand reached out for the handle, I felt a large hand on my chest, and it pushed me away. Hard.

Again, I don’t remember what happened next. I think I may have called for help, and I also vaguely remember still getting the cup of water. I do know that I never slept with that toy rabbit again.

Episodes of phenomena cut out at this point, except I just had a growing sense of fear. I was afraid to close my eyes in the shower, I had to always have a night light, I kept the radio on for company. Like most children, I believed what I was told…that it was just my imagination. Even when the darkness of my room would start to coalesce as bright lines, forming shapes and figures standing by my bed. Even when I became so terrified and would scream at a slightly open closet. Even when I froze like a statue in the garden, surrounded by a force I could not explain, screaming until our next door neighbor ran across to help me move. Even through all that happened as a teen, even until just a couple of weeks ago, I let “rationale” prevail.

As a teenager, I struggled with deep depression, brought on by the culmination of years of being bullied in elementary school, and the trauma of a friend’s passing at age 15. I spent a lot of time alone in my room, listening to music and crying on my bed. After my friend passed, I became afraid of the dark again. And then…it…came back. The radio that I counted on for company became an instrument of my torture. Too attached to the sound, I kept it on, even though each night the songs and voices would begin to morph as I fell asleep. Deep, scary, demonic type voices with threatening gibberish came out of my little boom box. I tried to go it alone, although one night I finally had to wake my parents and beg for them to let me sleep in the living room. I stopped playing the radio after that.

Apparently not to be deterred, whateveritis looked for other outlets. As 2am would roll around each night, my bed would begin to vibrate, and then shake. Kind of like those old hotel beds that you could drop a nickel in for a “massage”. I tried to use the rationale, thought maybe I was just waking myself up with those body jerks that we all do as we “fall” into sleep. Except that the vibration and shaking grew stronger, continuing well into my wakefulness.

I was fortunate at this point to be seeing a psychiatrist, who I resisted at first and whom I now credit with saving me from suicidal darkness. My good luck emerged as I realized that my burgeoning spirituality and interest in earth based religions was not only not pathologized, but embraced by my doctor, who it turns out was as Woo Woo as they come. This was Redding in 1987, otherwise known as the Republican/Libertarian hotbed of Northern California, so you can imagine how remarkable it was to find a doctor with “New Age” leanings. After I gathered up the courage to tell him about my vibrating bed, he helped me problem solve. “Where have you done most of your crying in your room? Perhaps your bed has soaked up so much negative energy that it is now manifesting as shaking. Have you ever heard of smudging?”. Upon his instruction, I bought some frankincense and myrrh, some self-igniting charcoal, and a metal bowl. I fumigated my room…and my bed never shook again.

I moved away to college in the 90’s, and left my fear of the dark behind. Even though I eventually moved back to our house, and stayed there, often by myself for months at a time, I ceased to experience the threatening, thick presence that had haunted my childhood. But in my late 20s, another kind of presence violated our home in the form of a burglar. During a summertime visit with a boyfriend, I awoke to find our belongings scattered and some things missing…including my car when I looked in the driveway. The latch on the front door screen broken, and the inner door left open on a hot night, he had swiped our backpacks and my keys. My car was later found an hour away on a dirt road, only a blackened shell, having been set on fire. The burglar was found too, weeks later when his fingerprints were matched after the murder of his downstairs elderly neighbor. My sense of rural safety shattered, I always locked the deadbolt from then on out.

With experiences such as this, or the one from last April, it would stand to reason that perhaps I am traumatized, with some kind of unconscious story looking for resolution. That sounds completely reasonable. Completely…rational. Except what happens next, what keeps happening, doesn’t feel like left over trauma. It feels exactly the same as it always has…like something is awake in the house. Like something that feeds on fear and grief, something that is not neutral and something that is way, way too interested in me.

To be continued…


18 thoughts on “Present and In Attendance

  1. WOW! This is crazy, but I understand it as I have dealt with similar issues and believe that it’s a major spiritual battle that you happen to be very in tune with. Not sure what your beliefs are but I’m intrigued and saddened for you because this sounds as though it’s taking such a toll on you!!! I’d love to talk more about it with you if you’re interested! Looking forward to the continuation of the story!

  2. oh my dear. most of all, I’m so frightened for the little you, you sound like you were so damn alone. and terrified. Thank heavens for woo woo therapists; I’m glad you’re still here Mary.
    As you know I had a similar experience when i was younger…but have since put it down to imagination…and uh….my tried and true happy thoughts system came from the therapist from way back then. That didn’t stop me being scared, but it helped me to fall to sleep; reading your post makes me wonder if it was just in my head or really happening. I’m glad you wrote about this and shared. I’ve had two strange otherworldly happenings in the past 6 months… I’d like your opinion. much love and looking forward to reading more, but also kind of scared to. xoxoxo

  3. yikes, terrifying! i am on the edge of my seat for the rest of the story…and so sad that it has (is still?) actually happened to YOU. i do feel like there is a reason for it, a spiritual openness on your part that allows you to be some conduit for energies both dark and light. my heart aches for you but i also honor and appreciate your stance and experience.

    1. hey sweet friends! i am so touched by your empathy and concern for me…it hadn’t even occurred to me that any of this is sad! i thought it was just spooky…but this is also the first time i have ever really talked about these experiences all linked together, and as a summation, they truly are quite scary and i feel badly for the little me too! i just want you all to know that i’m ok! hold out for the second part of the story, and then i would LOVE your feedback and theories on what the heck is going on. xoxoxo

  4. it’s a little weird how much i relate to this story…..but maybe not at all really. i feel like i could write an epic comment here right now, and in the end you would feel like we were twins, spiritual twins of sorts, you would feel very much l e s s alone. not that you’re saying you feel alone. really it seems you are just reporting a fucking potentially really disturbing lifelong experience. i feel like i can hardly write anymore right now cuz i am having a very strong urge to go and sage myself. safe sage. sage makes me feel safe. well, i too look very forward to the rest of the story. i haven’t felt the energy of his time of year as strongly as i am this year, for maybe 7 or so years i think. it is so strong this year for me! my dad seems to be here. holy stuff, right? wtf. sage sage sage. friends are the best.

  5. it wrote his time. i meant to type this time. his time almost makes better sense. weird stuff mary. and you know, it’s not just potentially disturbing. it’s also potentially enlightening and healing. right? especially with a clan of sisters, and brothers, all around you.

  6. Whoa girl. I read this post last night and am SO GLAD you wrote in that reassurance reply, for because this is kind of a truly terrifying read. I can’t wait to hear the rest and more importantly, what your interpretation of the situation is. Certainly some ideas come to mind, but what do you yourself think, I wonder? It’s interesting too, because it reminds me of something Sara wrote a while back. I wonder how many folks really have these kinds of experiences. I’m off to check the acumulation of Mary goodness (pun intended) that must await me now.

  7. wow! i REALLY want to hear the rest of this compelling story! i have experienced some similar situations and i believe these feelings and events to be very real! i can’t wait to hear what your thoughts are!

  8. wow mary…..i had to go away and come back to this because the first time i read through i had too many feelings/thoughts whirling around! whew…..i can’t really explain it, but even though these events are chilling and SCARY, your story has a familiarity that is making me feel assured (?) …..don’t know if that’s the right term in this situation, but it’s somewhere in there. although i never felt my bed shake, i had many similar experiences and fears that i kept to myself and chalked up as imagination. and i thought that was just the way it was… gram’s house was FULL of spirits, we would play in the creepy cellars(east coast houses), my friend and i would spend hours after school playing with the ouija board, etc. maybe i thought i brought it on myself? but i was scared. even as a little girl, i had extensive rituals that i would complete before bed each night that i thought would help settle the energy. i also went to sleep with my walkman on every night….and i too can remember a time when that started working against me. i always had a vague sense that something was out to get me.
    i don’t know if it’s something you’d share here, but i would love to hear more about the bullying you experienced. i was traumatized in grades 5-8 by bullying. the real life/awake fact that people were out to get me…combined with the sense that spiritually ‘something’ was out there after me…..well, it made me nuts…..and a very anxious little girl.
    on another note…..i’m going to repeat the compliment you receive here a lot that you are a fan-freakin-tastic storyteller. i felt like i was reading a stephen king novel. (i haven’t read one in a long time, but i used to enjoy them immensely!)
    love to you mary!
    with everyone else hanging on the edge of their seat……..
    kim ♥

    1. eesh! i read recently from someone with a lot of haunted house experience that you should never, ever play with ouija boards, as it invites bad folk in. poor scared little you!!!

      my heart aches to know that you were bullied, and to hear about your experience as an anxious little girl is so sad…and it also feels heartbreakingly familiar. i’m not at a place yet where i can talk about the bullying on here (i feel vulnerable knowing that schoolmates might find this blog and i’m also still dealing with the shame) but even to just know this tiny bit, that you experienced something similar, offers a piece of healing. love to you kim.

  9. I also encountered spirits as a child – though my experience was very different; memorable but not fear inducing. I did have a scary experience as an adult in a house in San Francisco – waking from sleep in the middle of the night, I felt the bed behind me tilt and the covers pull tight across my back as if the weight of another person was moving the bed as they sat. As I processed the experience in my sleepy haze and opened my eyes, a masculine voice from behind me said: don’t move or I’ll kill you. I jolted up in my bed and there was no one in the room. Soon after, I did a space clearing ritual, saging the house and putting white candles in water on all the windowsills. The house’s power tripped and all the lights went out as I was saging the last room – the one that the door happened to be open to from my bedroom the night I felt someone sit on my bed. I finished saging the last room in the dark and had no more creepy nighttime experiences, but still kept the door to the other closed at night after that. Various cultures have space clearing and protection rituals. I learned several years later when I was studying Feng Shui.

  10. Hi Mary, I know someone who had a similar problem in a particular house – he ended up calling a woman who can work on these cases over the phone. She found out (in one session) who the spirit was & why she was not happy – then she let the spirit away from the house, and it never came back. If you want, I could put you in contact with my friend :o)

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