I'm not really sure how to talk about the paranormal, especially my own experience. My dad's a complete non-believer, my mom took a religious look to it (something I shied away from), my sister has only recently conceded that I wasn't being hysterical or imaginative and my friends only know half the story. I guess a little bit of background might help.
I was born in Kirkland, Washington, just outside of Seattle and grew up in a small ranch-style house that was haunted. My mom would hear footsteps and find nobody there and my sister felt a man's hand on her back when she was trying to get to sleep, as if someone was trying to soothe her. The fact that both my mom and my sister had experiences infuriated me when I was a kid since I was the one that knew about the paranormal and wanted paranormal experiences, not them. I'd sit in the library for hours just reading books on ghosts and, despite my mom telling me not to, would watch shows about the paranormal.
When we moved I just got more and more interested in ghosts. I never went beyond book reading or television watching: no Ouija boards or seances. I was just really fascinated by ghosts and ghost stories. Not that anyone would've joined me in Ouija boarding or a seance. My mom had a very strict rule about that and even today I try to pick my battles with her on just about everything.
After moving when I was nine to Eugene, Oregon, we found a house, bought it, and moved in. I continued watching, reading and enjoying ghost stories, still wanting desperately for something to happen. I honestly can't say when stuff finally did start to happen. It was so small, smells, sensations, feeling like I was being watched, feeling like someone angry was downstairs, small items disappearing, etc. Like most people, I just brushed off these feelings because everyone gets them for one reason or another, and items disappearing are frustrating but aren't undeniable evidence of the paranormal.
The first real concrete thing that stands out in my memory was when I was 11 I think, and my sister and her friend were in the living room. I was in the family room, both rooms open and connected by a hallway that, between the two, has some stairs. I was on the computer and was half listening to what they were talking about, half looking at a website where there were soundbites of EVPs (the website is still up if you're curious. It's called "Coffee Pot Ghost"). Whether they were real or not, after a while I'd gotten just too spooked and had clicked out of the website and moved onto another one. Five minutes later I was doing my own thing, the previous website barely a thought when the headphones said something. Mind you, this was before youtube (or at least before I was on youtube or knew about it) and I was on a website that was completely silent. The only reason I had the headphones on at all was because I hadn't bothered to take them off after the EVPs. If it'd been an add it would've been instantly recognizable as an add voice and would've gone on and on about whatever product they were selling. All I heard was the word "great" in a male's voice. I nearly threw the headphones off of my head and raced upstairs.
I was so scared I refused to return to the "Coffee Pot Ghost" website for several weeks until a friend, via phone, practically begged me to tell her the url. So, very reluctantly, I did but was sure to turn the speakers off. I didn't want anything talking to me. However, after giving her the url and reassuring her that the website was still up, in the middle of a sentence, the speakers made a noise. I'm not a technician so I can't describe what sound they made other than it sounded like someone was fiddling with wires and had pressed something wrong together, that "computery" sound that makes you jump then scowl. I screamed, dropped the phone, scrambled away, then grabbed the phone again and started sobbing. I doubt ghosts can be transmuted through the web and I'm more inclined to think that someone or something was using an opportunity to mess with me, but it was enough to make me think.
Whenever anyone asks about my experience (if they even find out I had one) I only say that it's not like the movies, where things are happening rapid fire and are big, like seeing chairs balanced on one another in the dining room, then turning around and having to duck because a plate is thrown at your head. This was stretched out from half way through Middle School to half-way through High School.
Usually it was only small things, as I said before. One example that stood out was that I was about to go camping but for the life of me couldn't find my MP3 player. I grabbed my old broken one that still worked but I couldn't see what was being played, figuring I might as well use that, when I saw my new one sitting on the back of the computer. My dad scolded me for putting it there, but I didn't. There's no reason to put it there (I would've kept it in my pocket or put under the monitor and next to the keyboard, not on top of the monitor and a little back so it sat where hot air left the computer) and I'd last seen it in my room.
Slowly "big" things began to happen, things that I was both spooked and excited over. We used to have two TVs, one new and one old. My mom used to watch soap operas on the old TV and it was common place to come home from school, grab some cookies for snack, turn on the new TV and half listen to my mom watching the old TV. I'm sure it's no surprise that the old TV broke and we simply didn't have enough spare money to buy another new TV, or care enough to look for other TVs that we might afford.
One day I came home, tossed my backpack down, grabbed some cookies and plopped down in front of the TV for 5, 10 minutes of watching before I did my homework. I heard the old TV turn on and simply ignored it, too caught up in whatever I was watching to really care. About half an hour later (despite my promise to myself to turn it off after a few minutes so I could do school work) I suddenly realized we didn't have an old TV anymore, or anything in that room that could've made the sound of a TV. The computer was off and any speakers and CD players were in the same room as me. By then the noise had died away (I hadn't noticed if it'd stopped abruptly or if it'd faded away) and when I stood to look in the other room there was nobody there.
Another time I was on the computer. We'd just recently gotten cats and had, even more recently, let them out of my room to explore the house. One of the cats, Brie, is a calico with a diva's personality and is very vocal. She and the other cat, Boz, are always jumping on something, sniffing something, or simply getting into trouble. So when I heard something in the kitchen/pantry fall, I just sighed, pushed the headphones off and moved to look. Brie stood in the kitchen, meowing as she always does and I said "Brie? Did you knock something over? Huh? Did ya?" and began to scratch at her tail. Nothing appeared to have fallen over, despite the loud sound I'd heard and I was prepared to just shrug it off seeing as I wanted to get back to whatever I was doing on the computer and nothing had broken and nothing had been spilled. No big deal.
As I turned to go back to the computer I saw the sliding glass door that leads out to the balcony we have above our driveway. It was late and sometimes when it's late I'll go up to it and just look at the city since it's really pretty at night. However, when I looked at it I suddenly felt scared, then stupid because why on earth would I feel scared? It was a balcony and I'm not living in a movie where the wolfman will launch through it. So I forced myself to get closer and closer to the door, and each step made me more and more frightened. I couldn't even bring myself to touch it and finally lost my nerve, ran to the computer, turned it off and launched myself upstairs. The best way to describe what I felt was that it was like I was a rabbit and knew a fox was coming towards me. I've never, ever, felt that before or after, even when I was hit by a car. I'll be grateful if I never do feel it again.
During the Summer Olympics there was a thunderstorm in our area. My dad was watching the Olympics and I couldn't care less, finding them boring and much more interested in the storm. So I went outside and sat on the balcony, something my family sometimes does during thunderstorms. I was enjoying it until I saw something white out of the corner of my eye. I looked down and didn't see anything, but waited for a car to drive by, thinking it might've been the headlights of a car on a tree or our fence. A car never drove by. So then, I reasoned, it was probably lightning seeing as that's what I was sitting outside for. But there wasn't a single peel of thunder afterwards. The storm had already been dying down but if there's lightning there's almost always thunder. Then I became irrationally afraid, like when I'd gone up to the sliding glass door before. It wasn't nearly as bad as before, but it was enough that I ran inside and had to watch the Olympics for a while just to calm myself down.
Things seemed to happen mostly in the bathroom, especially when I was taking a shower. I always felt as if someone was watching me, never something somebody wants to feel when naked and with their eyes closed. I switched between my bathroom and my parents' bathroom four different times, always finding a short respite until I'd suddenly have the same feeling of being watched. After a while I began to see things on the inside of my eyes when I'd close them. At first it was a skull, then after a few weeks it was a little girl, similar to the one from The Ring with long black hair and a white dress but no face (not in a gory, violent way but I never had any indication as to what her face looked like). Then I began to have the impression of red eyes, a beard, and claws watching me when I showered. Now, I'm an imaginative person, always have been and I'll readily admit it, but I've always been able to separate my imagination from reality. I've never had an imaginary friend. I've never done well with pretending there's a world there that isn't and then interacting with that world, or anything of the like. I write and I draw and channel my imagination into that and nothing else.
Eventually I went to my mom, the only one of my family who I felt would actually believe me. She said a prayer and I just felt silly since I couldn't feel anything change and she seemed... I dunno. My mom and I don't see eye to eye when it comes to religion, and it doesn't help my trust in her with the spiritual that she's hopped from various Christian sects in my lifetime, looking for one that felt right, before finally choosing Judaism (partly, I think, because that was the path my sister and I both felt was for us and she wanted something that she could share with us). Nothing changed and things continued to happen. I'd look down in the shower and would find pink scratches across my breasts and my stomach, usually three of them in a straight line. I've since tried to do them to myself in an attempt to see if I could've done it by accident and just not have noticed, but so far I have been unsuccessful. If I itch, it looks more like a pink spot, similar to a rash (only because of the steam) and if I run a fingernail across my skin either nothing appears or it's simply too light to notice.
Now, I'd been bullied in school before and my mom had enrolled me in a type of martial art called AiKiDo. In AiKiDo you learn mostly how to defend yourself without breaking the other person's arms and using their attacks against you. However, you also learn how to control your ki/chi, the energy inside yourself as well as the energy in the other person. I discussed this with a friend and he commented that when he meditates he imagines his chi to be in a cage and he releases the cage and just let's it flow through his body. Some time after I joined my dojo I was laying in bed trying to sleep when I felt the red eyed, bearded, clawed whatever-it-was in my room. Forcing myself to stay calm, I kept my eyes closed and reached out my ki towards what I felt was the ball of... Whatever it was. I tried to curl my ki around it and squeeze, try to overpower it and make it smaller and smaller so it didn't exist. It didn't work and when I couldn't hold onto my ki any longer, the thing made the room feel so much darker and it felt almost like it grew. So I did what anybody does in that situation. I prayed.
Now, if there's anything you should know about me, it is that I'm not an overly religious person. I believe there's a god and that it's G-d, the one true god and that one day he will deliver to us a messiah, etc. However, I try to be as respectful of other religions as I can. Just because I believe what I believe doesn't mean you don't have a right to believe what you believe. I will never try to convert anyone or tell them their beliefs aren't valid or suddenly throw religion where it's not needed. So when I say I prayed and got a response, I don't want anyone to roll their eyes, sigh, and mutter about someone being over dramatic because, honestly, half the time I'm under dramatic about most everything, especially any form of touchy subject (religion being about as touchy a subject as you can get when handled wrong).
So when I prayed, I got a response. I can't explain it other than an angel entered my room. Where the dark mass of energy made me feel like I wanted to cry and curl up and beg and hope that whatever it did didn't hurt too much or last too long or have any lasting affects. This presence... It was white but not like the color. More like light and warmth. It's difficult to explain. And it felt so kind. Also while the dark energy had definite edges like most everything in this world, the angel didn't. Almost instantly the thing was gone and I was sure the angel was going to go after it. Without really thinking, I gathered my ki and imagined myself gripping the bottom of the angel's light, almost as if it was robes and chanted in my head that I didn't want it to go. By then I was crying and I could feel it look at me. I fell asleep like that, curled in a ball, crying, and mentally begging for the feeling of safety and kindness to not go away.
After that night I've never felt like something was watching me in the shower. I've only rarely found my items in odd places (I still lose things occasionally but that's also kind of life) and when I do it's more helpful than anything and I say thank you just in case it was something. I confessed what I'd happened to my mom and she commented that the smell in my room had gone as well. When I responded with a "What smell?" and considered whether or not I should be insulted, she said that she'd put bowls of something that was supposed to replace bad smells and even car fresheners in my room in an attempt to make something I couldn't smell go away. And sure enough, when I thought about it, I remembered the bowl but had simply ignored it and gone about my day and let it become part of the background of my room. I haven't had any scratches since. I stopped reading and watching ghost stuff for a very long time, not wanting to invite anything back or be reminded of what happened, but slowly eased myself back into it as I do love a good ghost story.
So, as I said, nothing really big happened. I saw shadows, both white and black (and both only once), heard noises and had a bad experience. I'll sometimes joke that I wanted something nice and friendly, like Casper, not something as mean as what I'd gotten. But you can't choose what you get, and while I still sometimes get the feeling something's there in particular parts of town and wonder if my sister's right about me being a little sensitive to spirits, I try to be very careful not to want an experience. I don't think I could handle another one.