On Saturdays, beginning when I turned 12, I began working at my Dad’s funeral home doing the cleaning, answering the phone and babysitting my three younger siblings. They came over to the funeral home once my chores were done, usually just in time for lunch. I loved it so much, as they gave me some company to play cards, cribbage and hide and seek with.
One Saturday my sister Allyson came alone, leaving my two younger brothers at home with the remainder of my five older siblings. We enjoyed playing house using the whole funeral home as our make-believe home. I think we loved it because it was huge and our real home was filled with eleven people all of the time. On this particular Saturday, however, Allyson and I were to have a special visitor.
I was no longer seeing dead people, nor was I talking to them anymore. Dad had explained to me one day as I stood on the kneeler in front of a casket as he was putting makeup on a body that they had “gone to heaven”. My Catholic father was only repeating what he had been told thousands of times by the church leaders. He didn’t know this first hand….he was repeating what another person told him. And boy did he believe them. So when I asked why the dead person was in the casket but also walking around and talking to me, he told me only what he was told to say “That isn’t happening….they are not here……they are gone to a better place……their spirit is resting…….they are peaceful……they are in the clouds….they are gone…..repeat (until you are numb, saddened, depressed, anxious, quiet, obedient and CONFUSED).
What a mess for a child growing up in a funeral home. What a difficult situation. Does a young teenager believe her parent or herself and what her own eyes and ears tell her and show her to be true? This is the beginning of a pattern of denying your own reality and replacing it with another person’s version of their reality.
So totally successful in obliterating a person’s ability to think and evaluate a situation.
This Saturday brought all of this crashing down around me. I had been able to avoid any collision with my spiritual self entirely. By the age of thirteen, I had learned how to disconnect.
As Allyson played house, I ran into one of the visitation rooms and saw a spirit woman as clear as if she was a human being. She had brown hair, brown eyes, was short and slim, wore a soft dress tied at the waist, nude pantyhose, black, thick heeled shoes and red lipstick. She seemed totally aware that I would run into her and was not upset with me appearing in her world at all.
I did not feel the same. I could not afford to see her. There were rules.
So I ran.
I found Allyson as fast as I could and made her run up the stairs to the lounge area where the ladies room is. I don’t know why.
I made Allyson hide with me under the vanity in the ladies washroom that Saturday until our father arrived. We huddled together while I prayed the spirit lady wouldn’t know how to come into the washroom and talk to me. What could she want from me that was any good? Didn’t all spirits want to kill you slowly and painfully? It would have never occurred to me to think she might be kind, loving or helpful. The church had taught me that she shouldn’t be here at all; so something was terribly wrong. The media taught me that she was pure evil and that she would only want to harm me and the people I loved in some way. They taught me she would be angry and vengeful or she would be in heaven. If she presented herself to me, then she would certainly want to injure me or kill me. Nothing good could come of this; those were my two take-away teachings that had become solid beliefs. At thirteen these were set in stone.
Many people are still in this place today. As a matter of fact, most people are still here, solidly locked in these core beliefs. The good, nice spirits would only be found in heaven or with wings. We have so many old, dysfunctional beliefs but continue to hold onto them. We are “skeptical” or “science-based believers” because of two old systems that were not accurate, kind or truthful.
It seemed to me the nightmares were coming true. How does a young teenager explain to her parents about the never-ending nightmares about dead people wanting to talk to her and then seeing them for real in the funeral home? My parents didn’t have a belief system to allow for any of these problems to be heard, let alone to problem solve them with me.
I feel absolutely no shame because I had been given no tools or support whatsoever to deal with my ability. My desire to break people pleasing patterns would not begin for several decades. At thirteen my goal was to fit into the patterns family, school, community, and church were dictating to me.
And this is why individuation is critical, healthy and necessary. It is also why it is so hard and why some adults of all ages avoid it completely.
You must know all of this to know how I define beings. In part, it is making my way back to who I am through all of these layers of other people’s beliefs, rules, and expectations for themselves and for me. I was taught that children are just extensions of adults; humans who must believe what we were told to believe. Being spiritual means the opposite; to discover who you are, what you choose to believe, what holds importance for yourself and at times, in spite of what other people choose to believe.
My thirteen-year-old self-ran away and hid that day because it is what she was expected to do. With no other options, running and hiding and waiting for someone else to handle it seems normal. Maturing is the process by which we change, grow, and develop throughout life. The opportunity to mature was presented to me many times for many decades. The spirit world is generous, patient and kind as it waits for us to mature. My spirit guides were all of these things as I discovered, tested and re-learned how to connect, speak, see, feel and intimately know them again.
The lady in the soft dress wearing red lipstick that day has always stuck in my mind….a reminder that at one time in my life I was without awareness, choice, and support.
We are all bombarded by another person’s opinions, thoughts, experiences, and perceptions of their reality. We are challenged and given the opportunity every moment of each day to form our own or to accept someone’s else. I learned this is my choice and my opportunity to create a process to develop my own. Some people believe this is “too hard” or “too much work”. I think it is self-discovery and it’s worth it. It is the only way I can be me and the only way someone can actually love or like me. Otherwise, they are liking and loving my version of someone else.
So much has changed over the decades. We are in a time now where we are allowed and encouraged to seek, discover and process. We are encouraged to share, to talk to each other, to listen to each other and respect each other. These are the key actions and qualities spiritual people provide for each other so that we can mature and create our own, individual relationship with our spirit world.
My Saturday visitor was an important lady in my life. I don’t forget her. I remember the choice I made that day and all of the consequences. She is a powerful memory that I value because she keeps me centered in myself and reminds me not to anchor myself in another again. What a powerful lady and lesson.