Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Ghost Stories

Today is one of those days when my vitality, my life force, is just so low. I'm so worn out by the pain and the pills that I have little motivation to do anything--even the basics, like paying bills and grocery shopping. It all has to get done HAS to. All that's in my fridge is butter, apple sauce and maple syrup.

But pain sucks the life energy right out of you. What little of it is left I use for flamenco classes, the occasional painting, even volunteering at the local shelter when I can. But activity of any kind, particularly dancing, can flatten me for a day or more. Maybe the fatigue is from the pills. I've actually been a little spooked lately that I may take one pain pill too many and inadvertently check out of this existence long before my scheduled departure.

On the one hand, a permanent rest sounds lovely, but there's also this sneaking suspicion that I'm supposed to meet this challenge, and I have absolutely no evidence as to why I feel this way.

Like other times in my life when something deep within my psyche was speaking to me, either overtly warning me of grave danger (to the extent that I made a decision that averted catastrophe) or providing me with a general premonition that something cataclysmic and unavoidable was about to occur (and then it would), there's something now nagging at me from my center that's telling me that there's more meaning to this experience than I'm willing to admit, and I wonder why I'm fighting it.

I'm guessing it's because it means more work on my part...more silence, more journal writing, more reading, more meditation...and frankly, I can't be bothered. I'd rather watch Ghost Hunters.

But if I'm ever going to get out of this mess, I've got to follow hunches and at least be open to the possibility that something else is going on in the dimensions all around me (hence my interest in shows about the paranormal). While we humans live in three, science has now mathematically proven the existence of nine (last I heard), and something is going on there.

Whether that something can be of any use to me is a mystery, but I need to review some crucial paranormal events in my own life, as they were as real as the hands I type this post with, and maybe they're the evidence I need to find some hope in this hornets' nest of pain and misery.

While I'm trying hard here to be a good newly-born atheist (letting go of all notions of inherent meaning to terrible events and the idea of any master plan), if I'm to give up my beliefs in an afterlife, then I basically have to erase certain experiences from my brain, and, of course, I can't.

There haven't been many, but they've been memorable. Here they are:

1) The first happened when I was 17. I was driving my dad's big old Cadillac at around 2 a.m. after dropping off a bunch of high school girlfriends at their respective homes. I remember being at a red light and feeling agitated, like I wanted to run it as there wasn't a soul around. But it was a main intersection, right by Seton Hall, and I figured it would be just my luck to run it just as a cop car came along.

So I decided to sit and wait, but when the light turned green, something bizarre occurred. Fully formed sentences in my head told me to not move, that someone was going to run the light, and I froze in position--not out of fear, but more as if I were paralyzed into a type of powerless obedience.

Sure enough, after a few long seconds, a large white van ran the red light at about 50 mph. Had I not listened to this voice, I would have been broadsided and killed instantly.

What's so striking about this event, other than its obvious strangeness, is that I thought nothing of it at the time. I had a type of "of course" response, like, "Of course someone would run the light; I knew it would." And then I just went home and never spoke of it until 20 years later, not because I feared anyone thinking me nuts, but because I just forgot about it.

What reminded me of it was my friend Lynda's very similar story, about an internal voice telling her (when she was a teenager) to step back from a curb. She obeyed and averted getting hit by an out-of-control car.

It was her story that awakened this very clear memory of my own. Perhaps not coincidentally, Lynda and I went on to become very dear friends in our adult lives, meeting all kinds of joys and challenges together. Did something intervene for us both at the same time in our lives to make sure this adult friendship would happen?


2) The next biggie wouldn't come until I was 43, quite a long time after my teenage experience. Interspersed in these years were extraordinary occurrences of synchronicity, but I'll leave that subject for another post. Synchronicity is very different from predictions or premonitions, which is what I'm sticking with here.

It was in August of 2002, just after the release of my second album, My Life of Crime. As I was planning for a trip to Los Angeles to do some shows, I remember being in the kitchen on the phone with my mom when this all-pervasive feeling of...well...nothingness wash over me.

It were as though I could no longer see my future, and the experience was so startling that I remember exactly where I was standing when it struck. I simply wrote it off as record-release jitters and the anticipation of travelling to L.A. and London to perform. But about two weeks later, I was overcome by abdominal pain, only to find out that the main vein in my liver had clotted, as well as the liver itself, and that my life was in grave danger.

I remember the doctor coming in to tell me the news with this look of shock on his face, as doctors almost never see this condition; one told me it's something they only read about in their medical textbooks.

Having been introduced to the works of Florence Scovel Shinn around this time (an author who first wrote about the Law of Attraction and the power of words in the 1920s), I kept a vision of myself in my head as an old lady planting tomatoes as a counter-measure to the premonition.

As for the feeling that I "couldn't see my future," years later I was to read an article about author Lucy Greely (Autobiography of a Face), who had told her best friend of those exact same feelings in that exact same language just weeks before she died.


3) This same futureless sensation overcame me about two years later, after having been in and out of the hospital for three months with an esophageal hemorrhage and its accompanying complications.

I wondered why in the world I was getting this feeling now, as it seemed that the worst was behind me and that I was now on the mend. But there it was...the feeling that there was no future before me. Nothing...just a blank slate, neither dark nor light, good nor evil, and nothing to be afraid of. It was just...empty.

Unlike the previous premonition of '02, which I didn't utter to a soul, I did tell friends and family about this one. And sure enough, a few weeks later I was in a psychiatric hospital with depression and suicidal ideation, which was to be the biggest threat to my life EVER.

Of all I've been through, I can attest that severe mental illness is the cruelest cut of all, as it so blights our subjectivity. When serotonin and dopamine aren't getting through, you can no longer choose your response to anything, and you feel like the walking dead, truly. The trick is to just HANG ON until the meds start to work.

What was particularly challenging at this time was to keep that positive old-lady image of myself in my head to again counter the premonition. It was so difficult, though, because every cell in my body was screaming to die, if for no other reason than just to end the screeching, untreatable pain in my face and jaw. I didn't want to live anymore, which made me feel that perhaps this current futureless feeling was more prediction than premonition.

The real point, though, is how did I know this was coming? How did I know any of these events were about to happen?

There've been other things, I guess, but nothing as big as these three. (I know there's a fourth, which escapes me at the moment.) While technically I haven't been visited by ghosts, I was certainly visited by something in these instances, or perhaps tripped on some space-time warp that gave me a vision of what was to come.

And then there's my mom, who just last month heard someone whisper her name late at night right next to her bed. She says in all her 75 years, she's never had a single thing like that ever happen to her. Suffice to say, she was freaked.

I watch science shows about phantom matter, dark matter, dark energy, black holes, etc., all the time. Will the paranormal all be scientifically explained one day by the mysteries of the universe that still baffle us? Even if it is, will we ever know how or why the universe was even created?

While there are no answers, I do know this: if I ever actually see a ghost, I'll crap my pants. Premonitions I can handle, but full-bodied apparitions? Get out the smelling salts.



Lisa said...

HI Mary Ann, I have lots to say to you about this blog post, but don't have the time at this moment to respond fully. Just keep remembering that you are an amazing and talented women, and highly intuitive. You are tapping into more than your 5 senses and it has saved your life. I find it amazing how I even know you...a fluke...there are no accidents. None. I know this is hard to swallow when you are in so much pain. I wish there was more that could be done to ease your pain. I send you love.

Dave Scriven said...

Good post, Mary Ann,

You describe an inner knowing of "something deep within my psyche" and the need to "follow hunches". Maybe that is God's way of speaking to you.

What if God placed the "fully formed sentences in my head told me to not move" at the stoplight when you were 17? If that is so, I'm guessing He preserved your life for a reason.

If God is involved in the "paranormal" events you describe, then this may also demonstrate that He loves you. And what's not to love? You are a talented artist who touches people's lives through your music, painting, and writing.

So if God is loving, why the suffering? I can only assume the richness and depth that is conveyed through any artistic venture depends upon a certain amount pain and struggle. At least, that is the kind of art that speaks to me.

Thanks for being so honest in your post. It spoke to me.