I have a weird story to tell, and it isn't a spooky one so much as it's about the spookiness of human behavior in the paranormal field. I've decided, with much encouragement from Ryan, to get the past in plain sight. I'm going to write what anthropologists call a life history. However, mine will be abbreviated to just the years 2011 to 2015, and consist of my time working in the paranormal. Another inspiration for this endeavor is that I'm nearly 40 years old, so if I don't do this now, I will literally forget and details will slip.
Let's open the book of Amy's Weird Past (Joining a Local Paranormal Team)
No, jerks, I won't throw names down, but if you google hard enough you will find out all you need, naturally.
This one's from 2011, and it takes place in and around Albany, NY. It's a memory of Halloween night, and a side quest-style adventure to a weird looking old house that you'll see in The Haunted House Oracle deck if you keep your eyes peeled. It's a fairly significant house for me, and has been for many years, even well before joining this team. There's three total times I've visited this house and the property it sits on, and yet none of those times have I been able to go inside.
Diving right in, then.
Me and someone I'll call Claire decided on Halloween 2011 we'd just drive right over to a house that has sat abandoned my whole life and continues to do so until this second (as far as I know), and see if we can't walk around the property (yes, I know this is illegal, and we knew it then, and that was that, thank you) to see what we feel or experience. Listen, we had no other Halloween plans so this was as exciting as a couple 26 and 30-year-olds would get up to, really.
What was I going to do, go to a club downtown dressed up as something *sexy*? Have you seen downtown Albany, let alone me?
So we drive to this house about 20 minutes from my apartment, park across the street in some gravel lot and plainly as fuck walk up the long unpaved driveway to see the house. It's from the mid-1800's, it's got a tower, it's LOVELY. It's also dark out where we are. We make it to the front corner where the gravel turns to grass, and went a short way along the side of the house below a raised wrap-around porch (also lovely, btw) and down a short hill to the back. We were near what looked like a short cement flower box feature shaped like a hexagon, and we weren't sure in the shadows quite what it was, but there were also a lot of shrubs and trees and tall grass. It was more unkempt than it is now, and we'd been standing there quietly saying what we felt (a little uneasy, dark, etc ...).
Keep in mind in 2011 I was pretty easily influenced, and emotionally vulnerable as fuck so I had a tendency to overthink experiences more than reflect on them accurately. So we didn't feel all that great about what could be potentially haunting that house and making us feel that way, but I don't think I was outright scared or anything, and I remember wanting to go further. So right then, Claire apparently sees something dark and tall and shadowy with eyes to it, near or behind the cement planter and a small tree. She freaks out enough to want to leave, and I saw nothing so I just followed her out of there and we drove home. No police involved, see? Fine.
So the behavioral fuckery has nothing to do with Claire. What she experienced is for her alone, and it affected her for a time after that night as well. I can't take that experience from her, or deny it on her behalf, you know? That's her life experience, and her story to tell. The fuckery is when Claire and I are back at the sidewalk outside my apartment, it's now like 11:30 at night and we decide to call the team leader of the paranormal group we were part of. We considered this person a friend at least, and yet at the time this person was actively manipulating both Claire and I to their own ends/needs, so that's actually a loaded sentence. IYKYK.
The team leader listened to what we did and what Claire experienced, and got upset with us immediately. They were angry and exasperated that they had to use their own psychic protection power for their wife, their kids, the two of us and all the team members at the same time, especially on Halloween. The veil being so thin that night, we were told that it took extra energy and extra work to keep us all protected from ... dark entities? Evil? Who knows what they said verbatim but that is the exact gist. They also didn't like us trespassing in case it reflected badly on the paranormal team (which is a volunteer team that hosted a pedophile or two, so believe me when I say that their worry was pretty grossly unfounded). It's not like we were in team t-shirts, blaring the name or any other identifying items, so that makes very little sense altogether.
But really, it's the "I have to use my ability to protect you, even at a distance" and "now you've put yourself in danger because of how I interpret your experience within my beliefs" lines that make such an oversized flag of searing crimson for straight up narcissism. Did you know the affliction of narcissism runs rampant in the paranormal? You probably did, unless you live under literally any rock. Power move, right there. Exerting some sort of control over the situation and placating Claire's fears of what she saw by alleging that they can take care of it through their own expert abilities in psychic phenomena and doing battle with evil.
What's unfortunate is that Claire and I felt guilty for that night, what we'd done, and how we'd upset the supreme leader. In 2011 I was not aware of how to read the behavioral cues or accurately perceive the intentions of someone like them for what it really was. Narcissism. I can confidently say this is a narcissist that came with an outstanding ability to lie. They are so proficient in bullshit it still blows me away. So bold. So unrefined.
Claire and my reactions to that scolding and ridiculous phone call on Halloween allowed that team leader's behavior to continue for several more years before a very slow, uncertain, and then sudden unraveling. They got what they wanted from us, which is to shrink and not challenge their claims, beliefs, and thus their "truth". They planted another seed of their alleged "psychic power", or, "what makes them more special and in control than anyone else". Remember, this was all within the context of a paranormal team of primarily strangers who simply wanted to experience the paranormal for themselves in some way. When you've got toxicity at the top, it trickles down easier than any economic model. 💯
I told you this was a weird story.
What do *you* think of that response to our caper of all of 10 minutes down the driveway and back to an empty house in the woods? A little clear need to control, nah? That was one of the first instances of "something's weird here" when it comes to the first time I tried a "professional" foray into the paranormal instead of dragging friends through the woods of Upstate NY with a voice recorder that took tiny tapes and had no USB port. They didn't used to have USB ports built in! I joined an established, local paranormal team founded by an intriguingly fucked up individual, and it lead to some of the most bizarre and disturbing experiences I've had in the paranormal. They're all explainable, is the thing. So I'll explain.
Thanks for reading,
Nostalgia, Morty! Time loops! And awaaay we go!