The following experience was not my first encounter with unexplained events, or my last, but it is the one I would most like to discuss with others. I consider this to be unexplained and though I suspect "ghostly" activity behind it, I am not by any means 100% sold on that explanation. Further, if it was ghostly I do not presume to understand what that means. I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas, both mundane and supernatural.
When I was around 12 years old, in the late 80s, my family rented an old farmhouse in rural Ohio from an older gentleman who had been a friend of my father's family for several years. The house had been built by his grandfather around 1900. Some member of his family had lived there until a few years before when he built a smaller home for himself about 3 miles away. It had been rented to one person before us.
The house was pretty large; all three girls (I & my two sisters) finally had our own rooms, all on the second floor, as was my parent's room. My bedroom was directly across from the stairs to the first floor. I immediately noticed a few strange things there. After I went to bed I heard footsteps coming up the stairs. I assumed it was my mother staying up late to unpack until I noticed that not only did they not stop, the sound was only footsteps coming up the stairs never going down.
The footsteps continued all night until I fell asleep. But there was something else keeping me awake, all around my bed there were shadows of people, as if they were gathering to stare at me. It is somewhat difficult to describe what they looked like. They were the size of average adults, and looked like a shadow of someone standing in front of a fairly bright light, but with a strange blue "aura." The aura pulsed and had an electric look about it. Feeling quite unnerved I curled up in the middle of the bed, covered my head with my pillow and went to sleep telling myself I was just weirded out by new surroundings.
As both things continued to happen every night after about a week I decided I had to try to figure it out. I experimented a bit. If I left my light on would the shadows show up, if I moved my curtains or if I stayed sitting in bed instead of lying down would I still see them, etc. I found that I could see the shadows unless I had a lot of light on in the room and I could hear the footsteps unless I closed my door or left my radio on fairly loud. None of these were good options for getting good nights sleep; I have always had a thing about closed doors so even that wasn't a good option. I also found that the footsteps would not start until everyone in the house was in bed but the shadows appeared the instant I turned out my light no matter what else was going on in the house.
I was very frightened so I had to come up with some kind of logical explanation for these things. I decided that they were optical / aural illusions. That my eyes and ears were just affected by the dark and silence and I continued to hear things that I had heard during the day and see "residue" of people I had seen during the day. Sort of like the spots you see when you close your eyes after encountering a bright light. After all, I was pretty sure I had seen glimpses of these shadowy things before, though never like this. I was still a little scared but I had something to tell myself each night to help me get to sleep.
Shortly after moving in my little sister, about 5 years old, started having night terrors. Not just nightmares, but real terrors. About 3 or 4 times a week she would wake the household screaming and crying. It would take a few minutes to wake her up and get her to stop reacting to the dream, and several minutes more to get her calmed down enough to get back to sleep. Many of the nights that she did not wake us up with night terrors she would eventually come to my room saying she was scared and couldn't sleep, so I let her sleep with me. I am not convinced these were in any way connected to the house or the things I was experiencing, plenty of kids experience night terrors, but as you will see coincidences make me wonder.
We moved out of that house when I was 17. Immediately upon moving I noticed that I did not hear footsteps anymore which seemed odd considering my theory. There were also far fewer shadows, instead of seeing several every night I would only see one every once in a while. Unnerved, I decided it was simply a change in conditions that changed these illusions. Shortly after we moved my mother told me that at the old house she had been disturbed at night by the constant rattling of the attic door which led up from her bedroom. She firmly believes in ghosts and had wondered about it but we agreed it was probably just a draft.
It wasn't until about 5 years later when my confidence in my theory was seriously challenged in my mind. My sister was about 16 years old, her night terrors had significantly lessened as she got older, and coincidentally dwindling after we moved, but she still had them about once a month or so and refused to sleep without the TV in her room on. We were discussing her nighttime issues and she mentioned the people around her bed. Taken aback, I asked her what she meant and she described the same thing I had seen, and still saw on occasion.
I told her they weren't real they were just optical illusions, it happened to everyone sometimes. She informed me that she did not believe that to be the case, she had asked several of her friends over the years, all of whom had no idea what she was talking about. We decided to ask my mother about it, my (then) husband (now ex), and my friends. All of whom said they had never seen anything like that or heard of anyone else who had. At that point I was feeling serious doubts about my illusion theory; I mean optical illusions are pretty consistent with people. So I began to meditate before bed each night telling myself I would not see these things, whatever they were, anymore. It worked and I didn't see the shadows for several years.
About 5 years later my daughter was 8 years old and she began having nightmares, which she had never seemed to have before. I tried talking to her to soothe her fears so I asked her what she was dreaming about, monsters, etc... She said she was dreaming about black and blue people coming to get her. This frightened me, but I didn't want her to know that so I did not ask her for more details. I bought her a dream catcher, empowered it to protect her from anything that would harm or frighten her and the nightmares stopped immediately. Recently, as she is now a teenager, I told her about what I saw when I was younger and what she told me when she was 8 years old. She says she does not remember it clearly enough to say if what she was seeing looked the same. She has kept the dream catcher hung above her bed all of these years but has decided not to take it with her when she goes to college in a few weeks.
I don't know what to think about the footsteps. Perhaps they were the result of something completely mundane, but I have never been able to shake the idea that they were always coming up the stairs. The shadows are more of an issue for me. I have sought out accounts of "shadow people" and other apparitions but nothing seems to sound like what I experienced. I am not sure if they felt threatening or if I was just scared because I didn't know what they were. A year or two ago I decided I wanted to remove the mental blocks I put up to see if I would see them again. I have caught occasional shadows in the night but they seem to be further away than they were when I was younger. As I said I would love to hear your thoughts and theories.