I suppose, one could say, that I've had my share of odd experiences, some of which are chronicled on this site.
What I haven't shared, until now, is just how far back it goes.
I suppose I first noticed it when I would, on rare occasions, watch my oldest sister's three children; this would have been in the late 1960's, and it was limited to an apartment she and her family occupied at the time.
I was always fine there until I was left alone with the children, a girl and two boys whose ages were about four, three, and one at the time.
While they were awake and playing, things seemed to be fine, but once they were in bed I'd suffer from real feelings of panic. What was worse, I always felt that something was trying to choke me.
I recall telling my mother about this; in spite of her own experience (to be found in the post "Mr. X's Story"), she kind of shrugged it off with a comment that still seems a trifle strange to me: "Maybe you're afraid of being choked to death." I remember thinking it was an unexpected kind of reaction, and if fear of choking was the cause, shouldn't I feel the same thing at other places?
I was in my teens at this time, and I'll admit that I was more than a little relieved when my sister and her family moved away from that apartment. Interestingly enough, I've had the same choking feeling on other occasions and at other places--apparently it's something that kicks in rarely, along with the panicky feeling, when something or other about a place just isn't quite "right."
I've even had a couple of weird dreams that proved to be premonitions of a sort.
The first occurred when I was 14, staying at a friend's house. The first night I was there, I dreamed of another house, one I'd never been to and had never seen. Two things struck me about it: the way it was built, there were two staircases, a front stair and a back stair (not unusual in a number of houses in the area where we lived, and this one was particularly large) that, rather than being built in such a way that one could go up one flight, walk a few steps, and go down the other flight, these were side by side, separated by a wall. Also, the back staircase was spiral.
Then I saw a room, and the first thing that hit me was the enormous quantity of books on shelves. There was also a desk and a bed in this room.
The following day, my friend I was staying with suggested that we walk over to a mutual friend's house, which was a place I'd never been.
When we arrived, we went up to our friend's room. On reaching the second floor, I glanced to my right--there was the same spiral staircase. When we went into her room, I was struck to see that it was the same room I'd dreamed of the night before--right down to the books and the bedspread on the bed. The books were hardly a surprise, because our friend was an extremely precocious and well-read young lady.
The other dream I had that proved to be a warning wasn't nearly so pleasant or amusing.
It was late May of 1990. I had a dream of someone coming through my bedroom door holding a knife over his head. I put it down to anniversary syndrome, because I'd been the victim of a break-in and rape around the same time of the month a year before. This occurred on a Friday night.
The following weekend was Memorial Day, and early on that Saturday morning my dog barking insanely awakened me. I woke up, pushed myself to a sitting position, only to see someone coming through my doorway, holding a knife, my loyal German shepherd/lab mix behind him, barking for all she was worth.
Well, the thought hit me, 'You are NOT going to do this to me again!' and I began fighting back. The dog stayed there, barking, and the assailant said to do something with her and I said, "I can't do anything about her--she's afraid for me." I sustained a number of defensive wounds to my arms and one of my legs, but he still managed to stab me in the upper right abdomen, wounding me in the liver. It was then that my dog grabbed his arm and he began to chase her.
I took advantage of this, ran to the living room where my sons, ages eight and fourteen at the time, were sleeping (the older one is autistic and the younger later had a story of his own to tell me about that morning), hit the front door and yelled for them to come with me.
My neighbour called 911 and I was taken to the hospital and had emergency surgery done to sew my liver back together.
On talking with a friend from church following my discharge from the hospital, I mentioned the dream I'd had a week before. His comment was, "Wow--he must've been giving off pretty strong vibes for you to pick up on it a week ahead of time!"
The story my younger son told me some time later was as follows:
"Mommy, I heard you yelling and I head Fizz barking--you were hollering 'Get him, Fizz! Get him!' and I thought maybe a field rat or possum had gotten into your room. I tried to get up, but I felt something holding me down..."
Hmmm. A fortuitous case of sleep paralysis, perhaps? Or was it something else protecting him?
It's been nineteen years since the morning I was almost murdered, so I can assure you that I don't feel any anxiety on that score. For one thing, I no longer live anywhere in the vicinity of where it happened, and for another my assailant was arrested about six years after the assault for doing a slice and dice on his girlfriend. A local judge, reviewing his record, saw that he'd done a similar thing to me and decided then and there that this time there would be no plea bargain. The upshot was that the judge decreed that he either would plead guilty or face trial. My assailant has been a guest of the state ever since, due for release sometime this year.
At the time this unfortunate incident occurred, my older son was 14 and his little brother was only 8. My younger son is now 27 and has managed to let go of a great deal of the (misplaced) guilt he felt
--even at that age, someone explained to me, boys are just hard-wired to want to protect the women they love, and he felt that he'd failed in that. This led to other issues as he grew up, including a pretty close brush with alcoholism and serious anger issues. AA nipped the former and anger management counseling took care of the other, and he's grown into a young man that any mother would be proud of.
Lastly, my husband of 13 years once asked me if I ever felt afraid that he'd come looking for me. I thought a moment and told him no, because a) if he figured out I no longer lived in the neighborhood he'd probably also have heard through the grapevine that I'm married and b) he's a coward. He's tough enough to break into a house and assault a woman with a disabled teenager and a little boy, but he'd never come within shouting distance of another man.
So, my dear, as I told my little boy many years ago when he said he'd thought I was yelling for my dog to attack an animal, "Well, I guess, in a way I was--only this animal walked on two feet, not four!"