This is a freaky story. I’m curious to hear your feedback (that’s my code word to encourage you [yes, YOU] to reply to this posting). I am curious if anyone has had a similar experience and how they interpreted it.
In 1999, Scott & I lived in Raleigh, NC (this was not the curious experience – however, if you’ve heard me talk of North Carolina, you might just well think it was). It was a stressful time in my life. It was the first time I’d moved from my family and friends and I had just finished graduate school and landed my first ‘big girl’ job. Unfortunately, Raleigh and The Mercenary Researcher were not a great fit (it felt kind of weird to refer to myself in the 3rd person). And to say I was just stressed is the understatement of the century. I was insanely stressed and felt like I might have been on the verge of a mental breakdown. Fun times, eh? Oh you bettcha! Let me tell ya, stress triggers some weird shit in your brain.
Given the amount of change I was not coping with in a healthy manner, you can imagine how it affected my sleep patterns. The adverb ‘severely’ comes to mind. And then to compound the stress of my day life, I was convinced that I was the victim of a malicious spirit during the night.
Now when it comes to the supernatural world, I am of the opinion that I don’t believe or disbelieve anything and nothing surprises me. Basically, I’m wishy-washy about the whole thing. Sometimes I believe something might be out there; but other times I get annoyed with everyone always having to look beyond what’s in front of their face – as if the world itself is not amazing enough. I often think this saying is quite apropos: Isn’t it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?”
But again, I digress –
Soooo whilst we’re living in Raleigh my sleep pattern takes a nose dive. I start waking up all night long and Scott is a snorer. I can go to sleep during a hurricane, but if I’m woken up in the middle of the night, the sound of cotton balls rubbing together is apt to keep awake. So I start to migrate to the couch. I love couch sleeping – it’s a trait I inherited from my Mom. One night I had fallen asleep on the couch and I suddenly woke up. My eyes flew open but I was completely unable to move – I was totally paralyzed. I couldn’t even YELL – and it felt like something was crushing my chest. I truly thought it was a malicious spirit. I can’t even DESCRIBE the terror coursing through my body. I’ve had nightmares where I’m so scared about a situation that I’m unable to call for help – it felt a lot like that.
The only thing I could do was close my eyes. I must have fallen asleep because when I opened my eyes again, everything was normal. I FLUNG myself from the couch and made a beeline for the bed. I crushed myself against Scott and just shook for a while.
The next day I debated with myself (and I always win) if I was going to tell Scott or not. He was already worried about me and my endless bouts of homesickness and I didn’t want to add to the inventory of his wife’s neurosis. I decided to keep that little experience to myself and see what transpired in the days to come. I figured it would take another encounter or two before I started calling around for an exorcism priest.
So a few weeks later the exact same thing happens again. This time I told Scott and decided that I would NEVER sleep on the couch again. That was the week I discovered ear plugs. I suggest making this investment for anyone that sleeps with a snorer – it’s much easier if you can just block out the sound than expect them to not snore – especially since they will deny snoring until the bitter end.
It ended up happening one more time after that – when we were staying in Pinehurst, NC with my in-laws. Since it happened at a hotel and not in our apartment, I was convinced then and there that maybe I was possessed. That added a whole new layer of stress on my stressed out brain. Homesick and possessed – what’s a girl to do?
Well, watching PBS might help.
As with all coincidences in my world, I was in the right place at the right time. During that trip to Pinehurst (so within the week of the most recent ‘possession’) I happened to catch a documentary on PBS about a phenomena called “Sleep Paralysis”. It seems that I was NOT possessed – but many people over the centuries had experienced what I had and they, too, thought themselves the victim of a malicious spirit. Turns out we were wrong. What was really happening was rooted in science – not fairies at the bottom of the garden. It was described thusly on WebMD:
Sleep paralysis is a feeling of being conscious but unable to move. It occurs when a person passes between stages of wakefulness and sleep. During these transitions, you may be unable to move or speak for a few seconds up to a few minutes. Some people may also feel pressure or a sense of choking.
Over the centuries, symptoms of sleep paralysis have been described in many ways and often attributed to an “evil” presence: unseen night demons in ancient times, the old hag in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, and alien abductors. Almost every culture throughout history has had stories of shadowy evil creatures that terrify helpless humans at night. People have long sought explanations for this mysterious sleep-time paralysis and the accompanying feelings of terror.
Can you imagine my relief? I wasn’t possessed! I was so stressed my brain freaked out and woke me up before for my body knew I was awake. Luckily that was the last time I had that weirdness happen and we moved from Raleigh the day after Thanksgiving in the year of our lord, 1999. I lasted 10 months in the South.
And that’s my story…