I was raised in a very religious environment. Aggressively religious would be the best description. You know those people who fling tracts at you in Walmart and gibber about the Rapture? That was us. If it wasn't of God it was of Satan, there are no ghosts, only demons in disguise, no nature spirits, only demons in disguise. Even Santa was really Satan, rearrange the letters, it proves it! At 14, I was sent to church school, and graduated from there, although they threatened to expel me for rebellion frequently. Apparently, reading anything other than the school curriculum was of the Devil.
So, that gives some idea of my teenage mindset. I believed what I was told, even though I secretly wished Santa wasn't evil.
I started having strange things happen to me when I was 14, the same year I was sent to the church school. The stress from school was bad. The stress at home worse. I spawned a poltergeist, which used to stand behind me breathing heavily. The details of that are in another story on here. I hated that thing.
I stopped sleeping. I could sense, but couldn't see, something standing in the corner of my room at night. Every night. It was probably just the result of too much tension and too little sleep, but I was terrified. I spent my nights praying, reading my Bible by flashlight, watching the corner and listening for any little sound that might mean something was advancing on me.
My parents both worked, one or the other would pick me up from school, drop me off at home, then leave for work. I usually loved days they were both at work, gave me a chance to read what I wanted, hike in the woods, talk on the phone with my friend. I looked forward to being home alone. One day I was changing for my afternoon hike and saw these balls of light in the hallway. Quick detail, I didn't have a door on my room, wasn't allowed a door because there's just no telling what a kid might do behind closed doors. Told you we were whackadoodles. So, there are balls of light which were dancing through the air. They were various shades of yellow and orange, the biggest about the size of a nickel. At first I thought it was dust, but then realized they were farther down the hall than light from the window could illuminate dust, not to mention too big for dust. The light balls, maybe a half dozen, were in the darkest corner of the hall where no light hit. My programming kicked in, I realized it had to be demonic, so I grabbed my cat off the bed and bailed out through my window to avoid going through the hall.
The light balls became a regular sighting. I got good at getting out through my window at top speed.
I finally worked up the nerve to talk to my mom, and ask her about paranormal activity. She told me there's no such thing, pray more. I asked a teacher at my school, she snarkily advised me to get saved or get my head checked. I asked my best friend, she cried and told me to read my Bible. I quit looking for help, but finally managed to get the doorway of my room covered. I was permitted a curtain, not as good as a door but I couldn't see the light balls anymore. Good enough.
On the nights my dad was away, I would watch tv with my mom. I would lay on the couch, my cat, Mav, laying on my stomach. The couch was against the wall facing the front hallway. My mom's chair faced away from the hall. One night Mav started growling at the hall. Mom was concerned, this was out of character for Mav. He was just a huge, mellow, even tempered guy who never growled, hissed, or behaved aggressively at all. Mom asked what was in the hall, and I couldn't see anything. We're getting more and more frightened, Mav was getting more defensive. He moved onto my chest and crouched down, ears laid back and hair on end, growling at thin air. Mom begged me to make him stop, but he was in full guard cat mode and wouldn't stop. Eventually whatever was in the hall left, Mav settled down on my belly again to nap.
This also became "normal." Anytime I was in the living room, Mav flipped out growling at the hall. We never could see anything, but one night Mom said "It's like he's trying to protect you."
So, at this point I'm dealing with a poltergeist, orbs, something in my room at night that could have been my imagination, and something in the hallway sending my cat into a frenzy. Praying wasn't working, reading my Bible wasn't working, I had no one to turn to, but finally Mom was getting weirded out, too, so maybe I wasn't crazy.
When I was 16, I had my first real ghost encounter. Everything up to that point I hadn't known what to think, but hadn't wanted to think "ghost." On top of everything else, I'm now haunted by a Confederate soldier. Super.
After high school, when I was 18, the poltergeist stopped. Yay! Still had the other stuff though. I started working at a Walmart, and met a friend, a sensitive. One evening, out of the blue, she just abruptly said "so who is the soldier following you around?" My brilliant response was "huh?" She had shaken me, and I didn't want to give anything away. She says "The Confederate guy, he follows you everywhere. He's here now." Ok, I was officially unnerved. She then described a couple of other presences, and told me I had a strong lifeforce that drew ghosts. That was scary, yet a relief. I wasn't crazy! Woot!
Over the years I've accepted the existence of ghosts, gotten used to having odd experiences, and quit jumping out of windows like my hair was on fire. Looking back on the stuff that happened to me as a teen, I believe I made a bad situation into a waking nightmare by letting my fear control me. The orbs were harmless, I realize now that they were just a collection of energy. There was energy, mostly negative, to spare in that house. The poltergeist activity ended, and I was no worse off for it. Better off, actually, it kept me aware and alert. Whatever was in the front hall, well, that stayed but I quit panicking and it seemed to be weaker once I got a little tougher. The thing that seemed to be in my room at night left, it probably was just my imagination. I'm not a religious whackadoodle anymore, I found a spiritual path that doesn't embrace fear. I still have moments of "wth was that?" But now I try to figure out what it was instead of yelling "demon" and wetting myself. More often than not I can find an explanation, now that I have the guts to look.