For a very long period of time – years – my emotions were frozen into a block of ice. I remember the day that I made the decision to seal myself up. It was the day my dad capitulated to our next door neighbour, and gave away my cat.
It was the day my dad betrayed all of my trust in him, and took the side of someone who cared more about his prize-winning gladiolas than the heart of a little girl whose best friend was a animal who had been with her since she was seven.
My cat’s only crime was being a cat. He wandered through our neighbour’s garden. He dug a few holes. He peed and pooped. He wasn’t the only cat who visited our neighbour’s back yard, but he was the one our neighbour focused on because he lived next door.
And even though I saw other cats there, and even though I pleaded my case to our neighbour, describing them in detail, he chose not to believe me, and told my father that if he didn’t get rid of my cat, he’d never book his Hawaiian holidays through my dad’s travel agency again.
Commerce prevailed. My cat was removed.
I wasn’t home when the SPCA came to take him. I was at school. And when I came back, he was gone, and there was a hole in my heart and I cried so hard, I thought I was going to die.
And then I went for a walk. I walked along the dirt banks of Wascana Creek, which was a muddy little river that meandered around the neighbourhood where I lived, not good for much except skating in the winter, when it froze over, and flooding in the summer, when all the ice melted at once and sent the creek’s contents into our basement.
There was a song on the radio that year, 1966. “I am a Rock”, by Simon and Garfunkel. I sang it to myself as I walked with my head down, swallowing my anger and sorrow, sealing it inside.
A winter’s day
In a deep and dark December;
I am alone,
Gazing from my window to the streets below
On a freshly fallen silent shroud of snow.
I am a rock,
I am an island.
I’ve built walls,
A fortress deep and mighty,
That none may penetrate.
I have no need of friendship; friendship causes pain.
It’s laughter and it’s loving I disdain.
I am a rock,
I am an island.
Don’t talk of love,
But I’ve heard the words before;
It’s sleeping in my memory.
I won’t disturb the slumber of feelings that have died.
If I never loved I never would have cried.
I am a rock,
I am an island.
I have my books
And my poetry to protect me;
I am shielded in my armor,
Hiding in my room, safe within my womb.
I touch no one and no one touches me.
I am a rock,
I am an island.
And a rock feels no pain;
And an island never cries.
I sang it to myself, over and over, until I believed every word of it, until I was absolutely certain that I could do it. I would henceforth not feel anything for anyone, for anything. I would never have to deal with that kind of pain again.
And I stayed faithful to that promise. If I felt anything over the next 10 years, I deflected it, skillfully. Nobody looking at me would have been able to tell. But, I never cried. I existed in a kind of emotional void, safe from suffering, safe from anything that could lead to suffering – like love, because love could be skewered and trampled and betrayed.
I ended up, at the age of 21, with the emotions of an 11 year old – the emotions that I’d locked away, never allowing them to grow alongside me as I went from puberty to adulthood. The reason I discovered this was because I thawed. I allowed the ice block to melt. I met someone – a young man – who didn’t terrify me, who made me burst into laughter when he came out of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” – our first date movie – doing imitations of Jack Nicholson after his lobotomy. I met someone who, in spite of all of my struggling attempts at self-protection, I fell in love with.
I intended this blog to be about me being psychic, and instead I’ve written rather a lot about emotions. But one goes hand in hand with the other.
I’ve recently discovered I’m an empath. I’m also highly intuitive. When I was a child – before my cat was given away – I knew what people were feeling. And thinking. I thought everybody had that skill, and was actually extremely relieved when I discovered that they couldn’t look into my eyes and know what I thought about them. Because I certainly knew what they thought about me!
All that was blocked out for 10 years. And then, a few days after that Jack Nicholson imitation, I had a dream. A plane was crashing. It was a small plane – painted yellow – and it dropped out of the sky, plunging into a farmer’s field, exploding into a black plume of smoke that rose high into the deep blue Saskatchewan sky.
I didn’t think a lot about the dream. It didn’t affect me. I wasn’t on the plane – I was only watching it. And I didn’t know anybody who flew planes, nor anyone who, in the dream, had been aboard it.
But the oddest thing happened, two days later. My new boyfriend was gassing up his car at the service station down the road from us. I was with him. There was a dull, loud, resounding thud off to our left, and when we looked over, we saw a black plume of smoke, rising into the sky at the edge of the city.
A Snowbird trainer plane had crashed. The Snowbirds were – and are – the aviation demonstration team of the Canadian Armed Forces. They’re based in Moose Jaw, 75km to the west of Regina, where we lived at the time. One of their training aircraft hit a duck on its initial climb. The two pilots veered away from the city to avoid crashing into a schoolyard, but they used up crucial seconds and didn’t have enough time to eject. They saved the lives of many children, but lost their own.
You can read it about it here: http://aviation-safety.net/wikibase/wiki.php?id=56791
I don’t know what colour the plane was. I suspect it was silver and red. Although in looking up the crash story just now, I discovered, a little eerily, that they used to be painted gold.
I haven’t lived a life of constant predictions and premonitions. But I have grown, over the years, to be more and more aware of what I know. It’s been a slow kind of journey, punctuated by a deep two year depression in the early 1980s, from which I emerged a different person, literally and figuratively.
One of the things that happened just before I tumbled into the depression terrified me. I was with my husband, and we were at a concert. I think it was a concert – it was some kind of gig, a rock band, in a large arena kind of place. We waded in to a crowd of people, and I suddenly felt like I was suffocating. I’d never been bad in crowds before. And this was horrible. It was worse than suffocation – I was being assaulted. Not physically, but mentally. I was aware that I was drowning in an ocean of thoughts and emotions, and I had nothing to protect myself. It was as if I was reading hundreds of minds at the same time, it was the loudest noise in the world, it was static, it was daggers and blades and flowers and pins and needles and dirt and everything else you can imagine – coming at me at warp speed.
I ran outside. I couldn’t stay. My husband – the guy who’d made me laugh with his Jack Nicholson imitations five years earlier – was nonplussed, but understood.
And I learned that I could no longer function in crowds.
I’m still not much good in crowds, but at least I’ve learned how to “switch off”, how to close down my brain so that it doesn’t intercept everything coming its way.
I want to mention three things which stand out in my memory, from the many “psychic” experiences I’ve had over the years.
The first was a trip to the Czech Republic, in 1996, for a family reunion. My dad’s side of the family is Jewish, and many of them perished in the Holocaust. Our family was scattered all over the world as a result of World War 2, and in 1996, a cousin organized a get-together for us, so that we could all meet – some of us for the first time. We gathered in the Czech Republic, where the family had started, back in the 1700s. We visited ancestral homes, a synagogue my cousin had taken it upon herself to renovate, a concentration camp (Theresienstadt), and the Jewish ghetto in Prague.
We visited the Pinkas Synagogue, where the names and birth and death dates of all of the Czech victims of the Holocaust are painted on the walls in a silent, moving epitaph. My great-grandmother’s name is there, somewhere. I didn’t see it – and the reason why I didn’t see it is because I couldn’t go inside. I tried. It’s a beautiful building, light and bright, not at all oppressive.
I stepped inside, and found myself so immediately overwhelmed by a sense of sorrow and sadness, I could go no further. It wasn’t anger, and it wasn’t fury. It wasn’t a sense of retribution or outrage. It was sorrow, and it was so deep and so overpowering that I gasped. I had to leave. If I’d stayed, I’d have collapsed.
The second experience I had was a few years later. I was sitting at my computer, updating the website I was running for the British actor, Sean Bean. Into my email Inbox came a message. It was from a woman whose name I can’t even remember anymore. I think it was Debra. I’ll call her Debra. In her message, Debra told me she was psychic, and that she had no idea why she was drawn to me, except that she followed her instincts, and embarked on journeys, and that this particular journey had led her to Sean Bean – who she found interesting, though she certainly wasn’t a fan – and then, to me.
We chatted over the course of a few more messages, during which I told her that I’d written a novel, and I was trying to find an agent for it in London. The manuscript was with one particular agent at that moment – he’d had it for about a week. Debra said to me: “He’s going to sign you.”
I said to Debra: “You’re kidding.”
Debra said to me: “I call it as I see it. Don’t worry. He’s going to sign you.”
“OK,” I said to Debra, skeptically. Because although I was intuitive, and although I was “tuned in” to what I knew…I had never actually had someone predict something for me like that. And I wasn’t entirely convinced.
“Don’t celebrate too hard,” she advised me, before disappearing for three days, on the second of which, I was advised by the agent in London that he wanted to sign me.
But Debra wasn’t quite finished. When she reappeared, it was to tell me that something very bad was going to happen to my sister. She knew only that my sister worked on a cruise ship – because I’d told her.
“What’s going to happen?” I asked, now very very worried. “Is she going to die?”
“No, don’t worry, it’s not going to take her out,” Debra said. “But it’s going to be something really serious. It’s something…too much. I can’t define it. But it’s “too much” – too many people? I don’t know – too much something.”
I sent a frantic email to my sister, who was working as the Captain’s Secretary on board a ship that was sailing the Mexican Riviera. For three weeks, my sister watched her step on stairs, was extra careful when embarking and disembarking, did everything she possibly could to avoid a dreadful accident that could result in the end of her career at sea – though, thankfully, not her life (because she did believe what I was telling her).
And then, at the end of the three weeks, I got a phonecall at work. My sister had collapsed and was being medivac’d off the ship, and flown to a hospital in Los Angeles. Chronically suffering from fibroids and excessive bleeding each month, she had ignored doctor’s advice and warning signs, and her red blood count had finally dropped so low, along with her blood pressure, that she was near death.
Too much blood.
And she didn’t die, though she was in hospital for three weeks after an emergency hysterectomy, and my mother had to fly down for a further six weeks to help her recover in a hotel, all paid for (thankfully) by the cruise line.
Over the past five years or so, I have been exploring my own intuitiveness, and my own ability to “be psychic”, for want of a better term. The people I’ve met on this journey have mostly been by accident, but they’ve all tended to share the ability. We seem to be able to find one another in crowds – which doesn’t surprise me in the least.
What I’ve learned on this journey – is that I’m a psychic infant. I have nowhere near the powers, or skills, or whatever you want to call them, that my mentors have. I’m not sure I ever will develop them. I still have training wheels on, and I’m wrong as much as I’m right. But that also means – I’m right as much as I’m wrong.
But I did want to say that I recently experienced something so profound and so meaningful to me, that I’m still shaking. I helped someone.
All I did was ask a few simple questions, and listen to the answers, and offer some answers back – but as I listened, and responded, I found myself “feeling” what that person was feeling…sadness, frustration, anger, sorrow, shame, helplessness and finally, a little blossom of happiness that I hope – I really hope – is going turn into something much, much more.
The experience utterly drained me. I’m sure it had nothing like that kind of effect on the person I was talking to – though there may have been some degree of complete fright.
I’m told now, by those who know, that doing this sort of thing is exhausting, that it pulls the energy out of you and that I must now learn how to “shut myself down” – the same way I learned how to protect myself in crowds.
But in doing this, it was as if I was paying something forward – perhaps a gift Debra gave to me, dropping into my life for a few weeks and then disappearing, just as mysteriously.
It was as if I was finally acknowledging the feelings that I had locked away when I was 11, honouring something that I’d put on ice for so many many years. The love and benevolence I felt for this person, as we spoke, was overwhelming.
And if this person is reading this – and I do hope you are – I want you to know that you were my “first”. I’m fairly certain you won’t be my “last”… but because you were my first, this will always be incredibly special, and very very humbling, for me.
You gave me something wonderful.