A Spectacle for a Skeptical

We all have special gifts. I’ve run from mine pretty much my entire life. It’s been with me ever since I can remember. Sometimes I just know things. I really hate the word “Psychic”. It has such a negative connotation. I prefer to use the term “spiritually gifted”. It’s more cost effective that way. It means that I don’t have to buy any cheap, heavy jewelry or a crystal ball. Who would want to carry all that crap around anyway? Less is more!

When I was a teenager my close friends used to ask me to do “readings” at parties. I never used tarot cards or anything like that. For one, I didn’t want a picture on a card to subconsciously influence whatever image I was getting mentally. Secondly, I felt that it was a very fine line into the occult. I was too afraid that using them would be like buying a one-way bus ticket straight to hell. I’ve always been just a little skeptical about certain aspects of religion, but even I wasn’t willing to risk my soul for a card. It was better to be safe than sorry!

In my early 20’s, my cousin threw a party and invited me. All of her friends were there, and I knew none of them. She asked me to do some readings, and I went along just for fun. What harm could it do? I never charged anyone. Somehow I just felt like that was wrong. The volunteer who raised his hand was a really good looking blonde with a phenomenal smile. I didn’t know him. As soon as I saw him, I saw a beach house with a broken wooden fence in my mind’s eye. I told him that he spent summers there with his Grandparents. I saw the dunes in the background. He just nodded his head. When he started to elaborate, I cut him off. I didn’t want him to say anything other than “yes” or “no” until I was done. Even I had a hard time swallowing the fact that what I was saying was real. I’m still like that.

All of a sudden I “heard” an elderly woman. She said to me “Please tell him I am sorry”. I just sat there thinking to myself “Why would she apologize? What is she sorry for”? I somehow knew it was his grandmother. I said to him “Your Grandmother just told me to tell you that she is sorry”. The funny part was that I didn’t ask him if his Grandmother was even still alive! The color immediately drained from his face, and he could barely even speak. When he did, he said to me “You really see that stuff? You really hear her?” Of course being the smartass that I am I just said “Well yeah, haven’t you been listening to me for the past ten minutes?” I didn’t audibly hear her. I think if I did, I’d probably freak out! A party goer who had witnessed the entire exchange piped up and said “Well, why is she sorry?” As soon as those words were out of her mouth and my brain processed it, I just KNEW why. His grandfather had molested him, and his grandmother suspected it but did nothing about it. The guy just looked at me completely wide-eyed and said only one word, “Don’t”!

That was his secret, not mine. I certainly wasn’t about to open my mouth and spill it to a roomful of people. It was far too personal. I knew that I wasn’t going to answer that question even before he told me not to. He immediately jumped up from the couch, grabbed his coat, and literally ran to the front door and left before anyone could say another word. I didn’t think that I could possibly feel any worse than I did at that moment. People kept asking me why he left, and what happened. All I could say was “nothing, don’t worry about it”. It wasn’t my place. Several people got angry with me for not telling but I stood firm. That was just the right thing to do. It was the only thing that I could do to respect him, even though he had already left. That party was the last time that I ever did readings. It became the day that I bought my spiritual running shoes. Only my close friends knew, but I never mentioned my “gifts” to anyone else for quite a long time. They were no longer “gifts”, they were curses as far as I was concerned.

Years later, I believe sometime in late February of 2008, I had the most disturbing dream. In it, my stepdad’s mom died. Her cancer had come back, and he got the phone call about it shortly after he and my mom had crossed the border into Canada. I knew that they were planning that trip and were going to leave later that summer. When I woke up the next morning, I went straight downstairs and called my mom. The dream was that real for me. My mom told me that his mom had been in remission for years and that she was perfectly fine. She did tell me to tell my stepdad about it though. At the time I thought that was odd. I did it anyway, even though I really didn’t want to.

Of course, he confirmed that his mom had been in remission for years and she was perfectly fine and healthy. I love him, but I love his skepticism even more! He said “It was just a dream”. I knew deep down that it wasn’t, but I had no proof and frankly I didn’t want any. Months went by. That dream stuck with me though. Every time I would call my mom I’d ask her if my stepdad’s mom was ok. It irritated him so much that at some point, he said to me “My mom is fine! I just spoke with her and she was playing bridge with her friends. Would you please forget about that damn dream”? I respected his wishes but it still bothered me. I just had this feeling in the pit of my stomach and each day that went by the feeling of dread grew worse.

A few weeks before my parents were to leave for the trip, my mom called to say that her mother-in-law had the flu. I knew that it wasn’t the flu, but I said nothing. The night before the trip to Canada I drove over to my parent’s house. I went to get last minute house sitting instructions. By then, the feeling in my stomach was so overwhelming that it was difficult for me to sit in the same room with my stepdad. He went outside on the deck for a cigar and I followed him. I had to.

Somehow I found the courage to bring up the topic of his mom again. He just looked at me and rolled his eyes. I asked him to delay the trip for a few days. I even offered to pay him for the expenses. At that point, it didn’t matter to me. He looked at me and said “I am not going to cancel a trip that I’ve already paid for based on information from a dream. That’s just ridiculous!” He was absolutely correct. How could I even argue that point? If that had been me, I probably would’ve said the same thing! And like him, I also would’ve thrown in the eye roll just for added measure. I decided just to let it go. There was nothing else that I could do.

A few days later I was sitting on my front porch when the phone rang. It was my mom. I felt sick. When she said “Beth?” I already knew what was coming next. She said simply “mom passed away last night.” What was I even supposed to say to that? She handed my stepdad the phone. The only thing that I could even say to him was “I’m just so sorry”. I was wrong about one thing, and that was my parents had not yet reached Canada. It’s a good thing that I don’t do readings for a living. I’d probably have to give out some sort of apology prize.

We later learned that his mom’s cancer had in fact come back. She chose to tell no one about it for whatever reason. I can only speculate that she didn’t want her sons to worry. It was one of those moments in my life when being mostly right just felt so incredibly wrong and horrible.

For the most part, I’ve tried very hard to be respectful of other people’s personal space. Not everyone is open to that sort of thing. I understand that. Sometimes though, I find myself blurting out things before I can help it. I took a trip recently where I met someone. It was the weirdest thing. As soon as I saw that stranger a friend of mine immediately popped into my head. Before I knew it, I found myself talking about that friend. The even weirder thing is that I hadn’t seen that friend in person in ages. “Gift vs curse”. Sometimes they equal. Despite everything, I’ve learned a very valuable lesson; and that is acceptance and respect. I embrace my inner weirdo. It’s a part of me. It’s not my job to convince people. They either accept me or they don’t. The only way to get through life is to love yourself for who you are. Accept yourself, and others will as well. If they don’t, then they probably were only a lesson for you. It’s how you use those life lessons that is the most important thing at the end of the day. That is what truly counts, and the only thing that matters.

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