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Most of us enjoy a good bone-tingling scare. As a whole, we spend millions of dollars each year trying to satisfy our darker side. We like our horror movies, can't wait to get on death-defying rides, and we spend countless hours reading the latest thrillers. So let's be honest—fear sells, and there's nothing quite like the idea of ghosts to give us the spine-chilling terror we crave. After all, ghosts make the perfect adversary. According to the movies, you won't even know they are there until the creepy music starts and you see an ax flying at your head.
Even though I've never witnessed blood dripping out of my walls or had my windows explode from some unseen force, I have shared my home with ghosts for the past twenty-eight years. I can't say with any certainty that other people haven't experienced the terrifying encounters that we've all heard about. All I can say is it hasn't happened here. At times, I have been startled and yes, even scared, but in large I have found living with ghosts to be an enjoyable, and oftentimes, comforting experience. Even if I could change the fact that ghosts live in my house, I wouldn't.
After writing On Haunted Ground, a true story of my family's experience of living with ghosts, I started a blog in hopes of creating a place where people could get together and openly discuss their own experiences (http://talkingaboutghost.blogspot.com/). Through this blog, I've met many people who think having an encounter with a ghost would be a bone-jarring, life-changing experience. Personally, I don't think it is—at least not always. I will even go as far to say that you may have had a ghostly encounter yourself without even realizing it.
At this point you may be shaking your head saying, "Me? No not me." How sure are you, I wonder? Let me give a few examples. When most of us are in a public place, we can "feel it" if someone is watching us. We may even turn around and lock eyes on the person who is looking at us. Generally, the person will nod and look away as if to acknowledge, "Yeah that was me." Have you ever had that same feeling when you're alone? If your answer is yes, after the shiver finishes running down your spine, ask yourself, why would you feel that if no one were there?
Even though experiencing this feeling of someone watching you when you're alone is a little creepy, it generally isn't anything to get too alarmed about. In my opinion, like us, ghosts just want to be acknowledged; that's why they are sometimes notorious for opening and closing doors, and turning lights and appliances off and on. Ask yourself, would they have a need to do this other than wanting attention? How many times have you walked into a room and said, "I thought I turned that light off." Well… maybe you did.
While we've been conditioned to think of ghosts as some terrifying beings dripping ooze down the stairs, realistically most encounters are very subtle. Personally, I think ghosts are fairly common, and as we rush through our busy lives they're quite easy to ignore if you choose to do so. Instead of envisioning the bold flashing sign that warns us to BEWARE, I try to think more on the lines of "be aware;" sometimes we miss what is right under our noses.
I think it's safe to say that most of us have misplaced an item at one time or another, but have you ever lost something and then found it in the exact place you already looked? Talking to others who live with ghosts, I've found this to be quite common; my home was no different. I once had an entity that seemed to take great joy in playing this game. It not only took things that belonged to those of us who lived in the home, but occasionally our guests fell prey to the game as well. Seeing this play out multiple times over the years, it's always surprised me that none of these "victims" actually stopped and considered how their missing item was found in a spot where they had just looked for it. Without fail, our guests have always just been thankful they found their item and went on blissfully unaware that they'd just had a ghostly prank pulled on them.
Sharing your space with a ghost doesn't necessarily mean that something catastrophic is going to happen. If we take the time to be more aware of our surroundings, evidence of paranormal activity can often be found. We need to work on changing our mindsets. There may be another side to "the other side" that the entertainment industry doesn't often show.
After having different experiences in my home, my sister has accepted the fact that my house is haunted. However, even after witnessing a few "strange things" in her own home, she never considered the possibility that her house might have a few unseen guests as well. I don't spend enough time at my sister's house to be able to say that she has ghosts, but she recently told me a story that I found, well, interesting.
Soon after winning a new television, my sister complained that something was wrong with it. She said that the TV would either switch channels or turn itself off while they were watching it. Even though they could easily turn it back on or put it back on the right channel, they were getting frustrated with having their shows interrupted. After dealing with the "faulty" set for a while, they decided it probably wasn't worth fixing and they decided it was time to get a new one.
Knowing that their son was wanting a secondary TV, they told him he could have the one they'd won if he wanted to take it into a repair shop and see about getting it fixed. Taking them up on their offer, he was baffled when the technician called and told him he couldn't find anything wrong with the set. He said he had turned it on and had let it play for an entire day with no problems. It never turned off or switched channels. My nephew picked up the television, took it to his house, and hasn't had any problems with it.
After hearing this story and finding out that my sister's new TV was working fine even though it was plugged into the same outlet as her "faulty" set, I wondered if she might be experiencing something paranormal, but this thought never crossed her mind.
People are often blind to what they don't want to see, and I think this sometimes stems from fear. I began this article claiming that ghosts comforted me. I understand that for those who have only encountered ghosts through horror movies and novels, this may be hard to comprehend, so I'd like to leave you with another example that recently happened in my home.
I take care of my grandson while his parents are at work. A month or so ago we were playing on the living room floor when he toddled off and went up the step that leads into the hall where I keep his toy box. Even though he was only ten months old at the time, I knew going up the step wasn't a problem for him, but I also knew he wasn't capable of coming down by himself.
Thinking he was going to get a toy, I assumed I had plenty of time to get up and help him, but for some reason as soon as he went up the step, he turned around. As I saw him lean over the unforgiving ceramic tile floor below, I struggled to get up, but I knew I wasn't going to catch him in time. However, instead of seeing him face-plant onto the hard floor as I expected him to do, I watched him shoot backwards as unseen hands pulled him to safety. Of course, this sudden movement terrified him and he screamed out (which set my already frayed nerves on end). Pulling his shaking little body up to me, I became furious with the ghost for scaring him.
At the end of the day when I explained the events to my husband, and later to my daughter, they both immediately did what I hadn't: they thanked the ghost for looking out for the baby. Later, I thanked our ghost as well. After all, he or she did save my grandbaby from a nasty fall.
I don't really expect one article to undo a lifetime of misunderstandings in the area of ghosts, and I am certainly not trying to do away with a good old-fashioned ghost story. But I do ask that you will at least consider the possibility that not all hauntings are terrifying things. Perhaps ghosts are a lot like us, and a few bad apples have ruined the reputation of the whole.