They are experiences that have truly led me to question my understanding of the scientific world. They have led me to question my own belief that demons don't actually exist - because part of me thinks maybe they do. Don't believe in such nonsense, then read on and see if I can change your mind.
|The Nightmare by John Henry Fuseli 1781 - a painting that |
conveys my experiences with unnerving similarity.
My mother had always told me that she dreamed differently to other people; she would recount tales of waking in the night to look out of her window across the familiar landscape outside her window. She'd feel a sense of calm and wonder, and then something curious and beautiful would catch her eye - she'd turn around to tell my father of it, and discover that her body was still in bed alongside him- sleeping. She would walk up to herself and watch for a while - knowing she was neither asleep or awake, but somehow she had slipped through the dimensions of consciousness into some in-between place. On other nights, she would 'float' through the house, happily.
She informed me she had looked it up on the internet, and discovered after all these years that she has Sleep Paralysis, but she wasn't worried because she liked the episodes, there was something restful about them, and she'd always had them.
This always bemused me, you see I rarely recall my dreams. In fact I'm not sure I dream at all - mostly. I can probably recall the only five dreams I can ever remember having. When I put the sleep monitoring app on my phone, I discovered I hit 'deep' sleep - as in right at the bottom of the scale - within several minutes of getting into bed, and I pretty much stay there, down at the bottom like a river trout, pretty much flat-lining until the alarm wakes me.
This is much to the annoyance of my light sleeping husband, who has undertaken years of milk runs to the babies.
But when I was pregnant with my first child, the most horrendous event happened, one which still haunts me to this day. To call it a dream - even a nightmare, is an inadequate name for what happened.
Understand that in my daily life I am a great pragmatist - I am an evolutionist, I am a curious atheist who calls themselves a Christian because I believe that the values of Christ were a good model to pin my humanity on. I have an amateur interest in science, and in another life, I would love to have studied Quantum Physics. I have an understanding of human psychology and transference and trauma responses. I am a lazy fair-weather follower of Plato - I value reason, science and rationalisation - and yet...
In all three incidences of what they call Sleep Paralysis, I can not fully accept that I wasn't truly visited by a demon.
The impact of these three events over my life have been unsettling to say the least. They are truly the material of a terrifying psychological horror film - indeed, when I watched the film 'Insidious' I could not shake the frightening level of shared experience and understanding it conveyed.
What is really fascinating about this type of Sleep Paralysis is that when you go onto the worldwide forums, regardless of apparent cultural influences, there are startling similarities in people's experiences. In some cases, the accounts state exactly the same words being spoken, and physical properties of the manifestation. Strange don't you think?
I was eight months pregnant. I had not been sleeping as well (a new experience) and I became aware of being awake - but not yet with eyes open. I felt a presence at the side of my bed - bodily warmth, some living being - and then large firm hands pushing in from the side between the mattress and my back. They were firm hands, real hands - man's hands. I opened my eyes and saw my husband sleeping soundly beside me. I daren't look around to face my assailant.
All at once I was lifted into the air by incredibly strong arms, the cold winter air rushing in under my back. My husband becoming further away. I neared the ceiling. I began to cry out - but no sound would come out. I was turned ninety degrees and then hurled with full force towards the far wall of our bedroom - I braced myself, wrapping my arms around my baby bump - knowing that when the contact was made with the wall, the baby would be harmed.
I didn't make the wall - I landed in a crumpled heap at the end of the bed - limbs, hair and tears in one big knot.
I tried to orientate myself and pull myself back up the bed - only there was somebody asleep in my space. I rocked back on my heels and watched myself asleep in bed.
In that moment, I had no idea how I was ever going to get 'back inside' my own body. Sensing my disturbance the hubby called out my name, and I opened my eyes to be suffering a near panic attack - tears streaming down my face.
For days afterwards, I was dazed by the event. It was no different in my head to having been violently assaulted in reality.
Six years passed and thankfully, there were no other incidences. I put it down to hormones and latent fears etc.
We were staying in an old fisherman's cottage. The bed was aligned with the door so I could see right down the hallway from my pillow. Our daughter was two years old and in the room at the bottom of the hall. I woke in the night, thinking I had been disturbed by our daughter. I lay there, completely awake, watching the hallway, convinced that there was somebody standing in the night gloom but not able to actually make out a full form. I sensed a female presence.
I shivered. It was freezing cold, but it was February and the house was old. I sensed a grey movement. I started to worry. I went to get out of bed and couldn't - I was too heavy, as if made of lead. I turned to my husband. A horrible pressure filled the room, like when it's about to break a thunder storm.
My chest began to tighten and I couldn't breathe. It was as if my lungs had simply decided to give up working.
Then she manifested. This old crone dressed in black. She pressed her hand down onto my chest, squeezing the air out of my chest. Laughing.
In her other hand, she held a gleaming syringe, which I knew contained a heart-stopping poison. The weight on my chest was crushing, and I felt my self go dizzy, and then the tip of the syringe pricked my heart space and I woke screaming and sobbing.
About six months ago (and no, I wasn't pregnant) I found myself waking in the night. My eyes were open (of that I was convinced) Our bedroom was exactly as it is. I was awake. I cursed, thinking how irritating it was to wake in the night and feel 'perky'. I was just about to swing my legs out of bed when I discovered that I couldn't.
Quickly I discovered that despite being awake, I was entirely paralysed. My heart rate burst into a rapid staccato. I tried desperately to move my fingers. I began to panic, thinking that maybe I had had a terrible stroke in my sleep. I slid my eyes to see the hubby asleep.
A terrible pressure started to mount in my chest. Something had entered the room. Something dark - something seriously malevolent - something that wanted me to die. I tried to call out my hubby's name, but my voice just wouldn't work, I couldn't even croak.
I knew that from the corner of the room, that something was watching me.
I began to feel tears sliding down my cheek. I knew it was approaching me.
I screamed silently - begging the hubby to hear me, desperate to move my hand to alert him.
Then all at once, there was something by the side of my bed. I can not express in words the sense of dread I felt. I honestly believed my heart was going to stop.
Slowly, I slid my eyes to the left (I sleep on the left) and there was a form, a mass of white face and blood red lips, of dark black eyes, but deformed, just as if an oil-painter had streaked their fingers through a portrait whilst the oils were still wet.
It was only a momentary glance, but I knew she, for I was certain it was a woman, was truly a demon from some other world. There was a great whooshing sound as she flew up over my body and disappeared.
I breathed a heavy sigh of relief - began to feel the movement in my fingers return. Then from the corner of the room came a voice - a voice not human - a voice not of the real world, but something earthly, elemental, primitive. It travelled from the shadows towards me.
"I'M. RIGHT. HERE!" it growled.
I shot upright in bed, soaked in sweat - realising that I had not been awake at all - but I hadn't been asleep either.
I had been trapped between two worlds.
I woke the next morning, feeling literally traumatised. The sound of the voice, the words 'it' had spoken refused to leave. It was like they had stained me - they have ever since.