What Are You Afraid of?

I am not afraid of much any more.

Height doesn’t bother me as long as it is not combined with speed, I’m good. Oh, I should clarify: speed as in roller coasters. That’s just nuts. I can’t even watch them on television.

All right, I can tolerate roller coasters if I have to because I figured out if I close my eyes the whole time, I don’t see the scary parts, and I’m okay. Now some people might say that’s wasting a great ride and the whole point of roller coaster riding. I’m just telling you how I coped with it when I had to ride.

I learned at a young age how to cope with my fears. I had a kind of claustrophobia that started when I was nine, and it was pretty serious. I felt as though I was going to faint or throw up. My stomach hurt and everything looked woozy to me. Woozy. Yes, that’s the best word I can think of because it is not easy to explain a panic attack. I told my family, and the doctor checked me out but couldn’t find anything. So! In the 1960s there was no support for this kind of mental problem. (At least I didn’t get locked up!) There were no medicines other than Valium, and that wasn’t what you give a nine-year-old.

The reaction I got from people around me was like the so-called “natural childbirth” method: Breathe Through It! Just breathe through it. Just breathe. As an aside, I did natural childbirth three times. I am, as we all were, a very strong woman.

So when I got dizzy, which was what I called my panic attacks, I had to figure out what to do. Fight or Flee? No. Usually, I was in a place where I could do neither.

What I could do, though, was sit on the end seat, so one side had a bit more breathing room, and I could always claim that at family dinners because I’m a lefty. Easy.

(Don’t get me started on being a lefty. That will be a later topic. There will be discussion afterwards.)

Elevators were hard unless I could manage to stay near the front. Most children are squished to the back. However, the ride is usually short.

Movie theaters and auditoriums were my bane, and I couldn’t always sit near an aisle. So, you can imagine how terrified I was of being ON stage. I was usually in a singing group, but the hot lights really bothered me. I kept breathing and breathing and never directed my eyes to the audience. I don’t think anyone in my family knew then or knows to this day how anxious I was.

We find our way through the forest that frightens us. As an adult, I became a teacher and stood in front of many students, some who wanted to learn and some who wanted to curse me out. We keep going, usually.

Today I shopped at IKEA, one of my favorite stores, and it was packed with more people than I have ever seen. Back to College? Already? I managed okay upstairs, but when I go to the lower level where all the lights are, I have to stop myself from running to the checkouts and into the parking lot.

So I guess you could say I have IKEA lights phobia. Or IKEA electricity phobia. But I think there may be something about all that lighting in one place. I remember watching a television show where the occupants of the house were sure there were ghosts, because they felt sick and dizzy every time they went to the basement. The specialists used an electronic device in the basement and it went off the scale near certain spots. They recommended the owners have an electrician check the wiring because some people are bothered by certain electromagnetic fields When the owners had an electrician check the wiring, he rerouted and replaced some of it. End of problem. (I was a bit disappointed no ghosts were found, but I was glad the owners knew what was wrong.)

So, to recap…ha! I began with fear of heights and ended with electricity.

My mind at work.




Spirits,anyone? Part 2

Before I tell this story, you need to know that I don’t walk around the world looking for ghosts; however, I am sensitive to energy around me, and since I’ve gotten older (sad face), I seem to be able to identify or sense more energy. For example, I live in a 118-year-old home in an older part of the city, so guess what? There’s energy here. I believe that we leave “remnant” pieces of ourselves in places when we have spent time, but that doesn’t mean that it is negative. Other people often think it’s fun to tell stories about evil ghosts, and I’m not denying their existence.

This story also takes place at the girls’ boarding school. This time we’re away from the classrooms, on the third floor of what was called the senior annex. The whole top floor was purposed for different things over time. When I was there part of the floor was a large classroom used for testing and study halls.

It was early September, and I was placement testing my international students for English ability. I did it every year, usually in this large room. I had proctored final exams and study halls many times in this room without noticing any energy, but in that particular year, the energy or ghosts removed all of my schedules and papers for school orientation.

I didn’t notice until the last student had left, and I was packing up everything.¬† I had the test booklets and answer keys, but what had happened to my notebook and all the orientation schedules? I tore apart the desk and room, but I could see the 25 desks had nothing in them. Where had I been? I thought. The little old-fashioned bathroom? Okay, but not likely. No, nothing there.

I walked all around the third floor, my steps seeming to creak more loudly as a went. I wondered. Would the girls have taken my stuff as a prank? Not likely. These students were new and nervous as me going to the dentist. Besides, most of them were not used to speaking English.

By the end of the afternoon, I had given up. I had spoken to faculty members but no one had seen any missing papers and a notebook. I checked my mailbox and my classroom. Sighing, I went back to the office, grabbed another schedule and carried on with the evening activities.

After a few days, I forgot about the missing papers. I just figured I had put them somewhere and forgot where that “logical” place was.

Weeks pass.

Randomly, one evening, I mention the “lost papers” to my husband, and he immediately suggests I go up to the study room when no one is there and talk to the ghosts.

“You’re kidding,” I said.

“No, just nicely ask the ghosts if you can have your papers back,” he said.

So, the next afternoon, when no one was around. I asked the ghosts if I could have my papers back. I felt silly, and I walked away thinking nothing more about it.

This was several months into the school year, and I really didn’t need those papers back, but to my alarm and surprise, the next day they showed up in my mailbox. Everything. I was shaking because I couldn’t believe what I was looking at. I ran to the admin secretary and quizzed her. Had she put these papers in my mailbox? No. I asked other faculty and staff, especially the dorm staff and housekeepers.

No. No. No. No one had put those papers in my mailbox.



Spirits, Anyone?

As promised, I have a ghost story from a boarding school. I worked there 16 years, and my classroom was either on the third or fourth floors of the old school building. This school is older than the United States, and during the Revolution, a nearby building housed injured soldiers.

Even after 16 years, I would balk at going upstairs to my classroom during study halls, and if I did, I turned on every single light as I went, practically running the whole way up and down. Why?

I believed my classroom to have extraordinary energy as it was a dormitory room many years ago. There were four separate closets which led me to think this was a room for four students. Perhaps that was why every time I walked next door to the copier (in a former teacher’s lounge), I heard definite footsteps in my classroom, although I knew no one was there!

I tried to debunk this. First of all, the footsteps were loud, and there was a stairway between my room and the copier room, so for years I told myself  it was the students going up and down the stairs, changing classes. That worked (at least in my mind) until I had a student watch for movement on the stairs. No one was using the stairs. The footsteps continued every time I left my classroom. I would even walk into the copier room and run back to my room as soon as a heard the steps. No one was there.

This got a little creepier when I began to hear furniture being moved around when I was making copies. I could never find anything out of place, but I confirmed both the steps and the furniture noises with several students and faculty. They heard it. too.

This was not all. I had a large poster hanging inside my door. The day after I hung it, I found it on the floor. Okay. I secured it better the second day, but the next morning, it was on the floor facing down. I tried again, using command strips. It was on the floor with the strips intact.

I finally decided whatever spirit, ghost, or energy that haunted the classroom did not like that poster, and I changed it. The new poster stayed on the wall exactly as I had hung it.

One day, I switched back to the previous poster. I found it on the floor the next morning.