Help, I Think I'm Being Haunted

I'm starting to wonder whether I might be a magnet for the supernatural. Boom, show me another blog with a post that starts with that sentence. All the people who've been snoozing their way through the last several months of pregnancy posts just suddenly woke up, like oh really? Is she finally going to write something that doesn't have to do with needing to pee all the time?

As I have mentioned in the past, I totally believe in ghosts. I like to say it a lot—and I especially like to say it out loud a lot—because not only do I believe in ghosts, but I also believe that the ghosts can hear you if you say you don't believe in ghosts and then they'll start doing things like opening squeaky doors in the middle of the night and turning your television on and off at will. (Most of my ghost-based knowledge comes from old episodes of Scooby Doo, apparently.) 

While I'd probably still believe in ghosts even if I hadn't had any weird experiences that got me wondering, some slightly creepy things have happened to me over the years to reinforce my belief in the paranormal. Let's relive them quickly, shall we? They include:

* The time my pearl earrings disappeared for weeks and then suddenly reappeared, out of nowhere, on my bedside table while I was home alone in the shower. 

* The time we camped on what was possibly once a Native American burial ground and Sean kept waking up with his arm pulled straight up in the air. 

* The time I watched Paranormal Activity and then woke up at 3am to the crash of a saucepan landing in the middle of my kitchen floor. (I may be willing to concede that this one was the work of a cat. Like, 50% maybe. We don't have to count it if you don't want to, although it was still pretty horrifying timing, you have to admit.) 

* And the time, which I don't think I've ever written about, when I stayed in a haunted B&B in Montana for work—I know it was haunted because I asked when I checked in, which feels like a hilarious thing to do at 2pm and a terrible thing to have done at 2am—and kept hearing lots of little feet running up and down the stairs. When I checked out the next morning, I found out there was only one other guy staying there. And he did not look like the type to be exercising in the middle of the night. 

Anyway, I have now had a fifth creepy thing happen to me and I'm going to tell you about it so that we can all agree that yes, ghosts exist and for some reason they like to mess with me. Either that, or I have a particularly active imagination. You decide. 

When I went to Scotland last month, my dad and I stayed with my sister at her house in St. Andrew's, which is a very, very old town and thus contains some very, very old stone cottages, one of which is the one Susie was living in. My dad took my sister's room, I took my sister's roommate's room—she went to stay with someone else for the weekend—and my sister rather magnanimously took the futon downstairs. On our first night there, I was lying in the roommate's bed in the dark around 12:45am, a few minutes away from sleep, when there was suddenly this super intense.......movement in the room, that felt like someone had simultaneously shaken the walls and jumped really hard up onto my bed.

There was no noise or anything, just a really strong shake, and my first thought was that there had been an earthquake. (In Scotland? What? I know, but I live in San Francisco, where this kind of thing is usually no big whoop, so that's where my mind went first.) I lay there for a while to see if my dad or sister would come out onto the landing and say anything, but no-one did, so then I started wondering if I should get up and explore. Like, what if my dad had fallen out of bed or something? Was that likely? Would he have shaken my entire room if he had? No and no—particularly not the last one, I should mention, since he's recently lost 30 pounds and is looking very svelte these days—but I couldn't think of another explanation for what had just happened.

And then ten minutes later, my heart still racing a little, something even weirder happened. As I lay in the pitch black, my head under the covers because the initial shake had sort of freaked me out, something started jumping on my bed. I swear to god, something started jumping on my bed. The entire mattress bounced up and down violently—with me on it—five or six times, as though a particularly rambunctious child had been let loose in a Best Western hotel room after ingesting a king-size packet of Skittles from the vending machine. 

I was so legitimately frightened at that point that I couldn't even bring myself to reach my hand out of the covers to flip on the bedside lamp or grab my phone to text my sister downstairs. I mean, what would I have said anyway? OMG YR HOUSE IS POSESSED BY DEMONS WTF COME UPSTAIRS :( :( :( 

Seriously, I was really, really scared. I would have placed a million dollar bet, at that point, that a person had just come into my room and bounced up and down on my bed. In the dark. In the middle of the night. In an old stone cottage in Scotland. 

By some miracle I got to sleep—and by some other miracle I didn't wake up to pee in the night, because I would surely have just said screw it and wet the bed at that point and had the roommate send me the bill for both her drycleaning and her subsequent therapy—and in the morning, I convinced myself that it must have had something to do with, I don't know, the acoustics of the room or something. The dynamics of it. Maybe a particularly heavy lorry had driven past outside or a neighbor had hurled themselves against the shared wall or something. "You should ask Sarah about it," I told Susie, laughing dismissively at how freaked out I'd been the night before. "I bet she's felt the same thing a hundred times."

I forgot all about it—no such similar hauntings the next night, thank goodness—until a week or so after I got back from the UK and Susie messaged me. "I forgot to tell you," she said. "I asked Sarah about that shaking and bouncing you felt while you were in her bed, and she said she's never felt anything like it for the entire year we lived there. Also, I had that room the year before, and I'd never felt it either." 

And thus, dear Internet, I'm starting to believe that maybe it was something.......other. Was it a ghost? Was it my imagination? Was it something we don't know enough about to explain? It seems a little convenient—and so trite that you wouldn't believe it if you read it in a novel—to wonder if it was my recently departed grandmother, whose funeral I'd attended the day before, trying to get my attention in a particularly mischievous way. And yet you know what? It's not like I have a more feasible explanation. So sometimes I let myself believe it anyway.  

1
Jess
Jun 11, 2013

Was it definitely not Hamish? I felt pretty possessed at times during both my pregnancies. Now my babies really do just jump on me in the middle of the night. Still, I'll take a toddler or a small earthquake over a Scottish ghost any day.

2

I totally believe in ghosts as well and whenever I get spooked my eyes start tearing and by the end of this post I had tears streaming down my face it was so spooky! I grew up in California and often think I feel the bed move at night like a mini earthquake but since I now live in Sweden I wonder if I am just super sensitive to vibrations from always being prepared for earthquakes as a kid.

3

I totally believe in that sort of thing though after this story, I THANK MY LUCKY STARS that nothing that creepy has ever happened to me directly. I have no clue how you managed to fall asleep after that. No clue. At least it sounds like it was kind of a playful ghost..? :)

4
Stephanie
Jun 11, 2013

How asleep were you? I have had experiences with sleep paralysis when I've thought I was awake, but I actually wasn't. The shaking you describe can be something people with sleep paralysis experience. I've felt that same shaking only to realize later that I wasn't fully awake.

5
caroline
Jun 11, 2013

I completely believe you! I think that some people are more open to paranormal activity than others. Although I don't believe I am one of those people now, I think I was when I was younger. I think I've had two encounters with what I believe to be ghosts. One was when I was 10, sleeping in my bed and woke up to a fuzzy glowing silhouette that clearly had three heads. I think they were women. I was most definitely awake. They stood there staring at me and I put my head under the covers. I didn't want to scream because I was afraid of what it might do. I looked again and it was still there. I put my head under the covers again and waited a few more minutes and looked again, but it was gone. The lighting in the room hadn't changed at all, it just simply wasn't there anymore.
The second time was when I was 20 and working at an old restaurant in my home town. I was upstairs in a room that used to be used as an old bar the room was split in two by a wall with a door and a half round window that was now plugged up by a piece of plywood. Half of the room was used as a break room and half was used as a linen closet. I was leaning down near the window getting napkins to bring downstairs when the plywood came out of the window and the corner of it hit me square in the back of the head. You may say, why is this strange, so what it fell out. I was standing at least 3 or 4 feet away, there was no gust or breeze or even a draft to knock the plywood out of the window, it should have fell straight down, and the corner opposite of what should have hit me, hit me. Also, the former piano player that had a heart attack at the restaurant while playing one night and died at the hospital used to take naps up in the break room.
Sorry for the novel, but I like to share when people share their stories. It makes me feel like less of a crazy person.

6
nancy m.
Jun 11, 2013

WHOA! That's really scary! Jumping on the bed??!! You have every right to believe in ghosts!

7
susan
Jun 11, 2013

I believe you as well....we have a resident ghost - my father. My dog loved him, and will often sit in one corner and "talk" to the ceiling, wagging her tail the whole time.
We even ahve a polaroid photo of my youngest son with what appears to be someone behind him with an arm draped over his shoulder - my dads favorite pose of pictures.
I consider ourselves blessed that he visits now and tehn...

8

Holy shit.

9
Tamara
Jun 11, 2013

I've watched way too many horror movies because my first thought was, "that ghost wanted to get in her baby!" Which is a thought I had when I was pregnant and visiting creepy old Germn churches. There does not seem to be a ghost in my now 11 month old baby but I will keep you posted.

10
Kait
Jun 11, 2013

I always thought ghost stories were ridiculous. Then, when I was just out of high school, a friend and I were driving to her house one night. You could see the house from the road although it was set far back and it looked all lit up, like her entire family was home. We saw the figures of little kids, who we assumed were her siblings, playing in the basement.

But when we got up to the house, it was dark and empty. There's only one way in or out so it's not like everyone left in the few minutes it took us to get up from the road while the house was out of view.

And, of course, the house happened to be a giant old farm house in rural northwest Michigan. So that wasn't terrifying at all.

I totally believe in ghosts now. I also believe your theory that if we say we don't believe in them they pick us to mess with.

11
Kelsey
Jun 11, 2013

First time commenter, but absolutely love the blog!

Hearing real-life stories from other people with ghostly experiences is one of my favorites.

I too have had suspicious experiences that I mainly attribute to the very, very old house we were living in at the time. It was only during that timeframe that I have felt unsettled in my own home and witnessed things that have no other explanation.

It is my hope that our ghostly friends inhabit places instead of following certain people. In all stories I have ever heard this seems to be the case… very old residences/buildings, places that have experienced tragic or unexpected deaths, etc.

Thanks for sharing!!

12
Meghan
Jun 11, 2013

Why are they messing with you?! You clearly believe! I'd already read the other posts about your ghost encounters, but hadn't read the one about the earrings. So. Freaky. I go around thinking "Ghosts? Meh. I don't know..." then I hear stories like this and get all freaked out. I do like your explination that it was your grandmother. Certainly the sweetest and least creepy possibility.

13
jen
Jun 11, 2013

In our first home, the original owner died in the house (of old age) and the lights would turn off and then back on, hear creaks on the steps, our cat would stare at a corner of the room with his hair up, etc. We would just say "hi patty! we hope you like the new paint color/kitchen cabinets/carpet!" and go on with it.
When we first moved into this house, older and with two former owners dying in the property (again, of old age) - our dogs refused to go into the attic and doors will sometimes just click open and I just say "hello nathan or agnes!" I like to think they are friendly and just checking things out. Never had anyone jumping on my bed though, that would scare the crap out of me.

14
Emily
Jun 11, 2013

I don't know why I read this because your camping story really creeped me out, but I read this anyway (and the comments!) and now I am REALLY creeped out. And it just got dark and stormy outside. I don't know why I do this to myself, but I might have to go back and read the earring story because I have not yet!

15
NothingButBonfires
Jun 11, 2013

Jess: It definitely wasn't Hamish! He's been bumping around a bit, but this was so definitely EXTERNAL, rather than internal. It was way more movement than a baby could make!

Stephanie: I was pretty awake for the first shake -- I'd had trouble getting to sleep because of jetlag and had just kind of been lying awake thinking about things, although I could feel myself getting a bit sleepier -- but I was WIDE awake for the jumping, mainly because I'd been so startled by the first shaking and was lying there rigid with fear! Definitely wasn't a half-asleep-maybe-dreaming sort of thing.

16
Jenny
Jun 11, 2013

Yikes, I live in St. Andrews, so I hope this ghost stays away from my house!

I'm a big fan of your blog, and it's been fun hearing what you think of St. Andrews and seeing your photos of the places I walk past every day :)

17
Cee
Jun 11, 2013

Oh, man that is creepy!! I am very impressed you were able to fall asleep again, that night, or EVER. I went and read your awesome earring post as well, and I highly recommend you listen to this podcast when your ears have 16 minutes to spare. http://www.thestory.org/stories/2012-10/man-attic It is all kinds of creepy. Not sure it will make you feel less scared or more scared, but there ya go (spoiler--the weird things moving around was because there was a man living in her attic!!!)

18
Gimmy
Jun 11, 2013

It was quite possibly a hypnogogic hallucination. Usually happens in the transition period between being awake and asleep. My brother had it for years. He would wake up and swear there was a huge black woman in his room chanting, "79! 79! 79!" His roommate found him cowering in the corner. Once awakened, he would just go back to bed and go to sleep.

Another time he awoke to find his bed covered in snakes. He flipped out until his wife woke him. Then there was the time he shared a room with one of my other brothers over Christmas break. He awoke sure that my other brother was an intruder, there to cut off his junk. He was backing away toward an open window in terror. My other brother wanted to keep him from falling out, which my first brother interpreted as a sign of aggression. The two fought until brother #1 awoke and then calmly went back to sleep.

You could just have had a milder version of that. It's OK, it goes away with time. You just may have been stressed at the time. :)

19
agirlandaboy
Jun 11, 2013

Several members of my family fancy themselves ghost whisperers, and one of the things they get upon the death of a loved one is the feeling of someone sitting down on the bed next to them. So.

(The other thing they get is knocks on the door, and now I kind of want to drive to your house and knock on the door one dark and foggy night. I promise I won't, though, so if you start getting that too, it's totally not me and probably just Omi.

20
Ceci Bean
Jun 11, 2013

How did you stay put?? I would have run screaming!

21
April
Jun 11, 2013

My in-laws are Indian (from India) and believe that when you are pregnant you are closer to the spirt world because of reincarnation. This also extends to newborns and infants. I went to India to deliver and at one point my husband had to leave for business. The first night he was gone I woke up to a woman's voice shouting at me in hindi. I opened my eyes expecting to find my mother in law, but there wasn't anyone there. It kept happening night after night. Then I'd wake up to the sound of moving furniture. I thought it was from the flat above us. I kept complaining to my MIL about all this and finally she told me that her MIL had died in the room I was staying in! She then filled me in with some of the superstitions. That night when the noise started up again I sat up and said out loud that my husband was coming back in a few days and she needed to knock it off. Don't you know it didn't happen again after that? When I told my SIL the story, she said she heard the furniture moving before when she was visiting with her then infant son, but thought it was the flat upstairs too! Then added, I thought it was weird they moved furniture at 3am.
All that being said, it was probably your grandmother just having some little girl fun jumping on your bed.

22
Emily
Jun 11, 2013

I probably would have crapped the bed. In our last house Dave and I both had an experience that we didn't talk about until the next morning, but we both heard something breathing loudly in the corner of our ceiling. It woke us both up, and both of us just laid there frozen in place, too terrified to move. Then the next morning it was all, "Uh, last night... did you?" And he was all, "HEAR BREATHING OMG YES WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT" and it was FUH-REAKY.

I would have CRAPPED THE BED HOLLY.

23
Nothing But Bonfires
Jun 11, 2013

April: That is SUPER weird because one of the other things that kept happening at my sister's house is that I'd hear footsteps walking around above us all day when we were downstairs.....except it was only a two-floor house and no-one else was upstairs. I kept saying to my sister "it sounds like there are people walking around upstairs in your house!" and she'd say "nah, it's just the people next door." I took her word for it, but that combined with the bed shaking/jumping makes me wonder....

24
April
Jun 11, 2013

JINKIES!

25
Megan
Jun 11, 2013

Hey! First time commenter. I second a couple of the people above. This sounds like a hypnogogic hallucination/sleep paralysis. Your mind has the power to play some very serious tricks on you when you are in that funny place between awake and asleep. I used to have terrible hallucinations, sometimes with the bed shaking, and this sounds really similar.

I hope you don't have to experience this often, as many of us do. It can be really frightening. It helps knowing the science though, so I recommend reading up on sleep paralysis.

p.s. I love your blog. :)

26
Linda
Jun 11, 2013

Have you heard of the app called Ghost Radar Classic. It shows when a spirit is near you and also gives words, sometimes names. I have no idea if it's just random stuff or not but sometimes I will see something on the screen and ask a question and it gives me an answer. Once there was a spirit and I said, "Dad?" and the answer came back "Lake" which might not mean anything but my Dad, who recently died, loved fishing. In fact, I had a dream right after he died that he was fishing wearing his favorite hat. Was it him? No idea. Just sort of fun and interesting.

27
Jo
Jun 12, 2013

I don't believe in ghosts... because then I would have to believe in ghosts and they freak me out. Plus, there have been several tales about ghosts in my own house that I would rather ignore - most are innocent (sounds of footsteps), but others are more disturbing (a clown doll that 'drove' my sister car out into the street).

My dad owns some farm property that he rents out. Many years ago there was a woman and her daughter that lived there, but went missing (oddly all their belongings were left in one large pile in the front yard). Years later my sister lived in the farm house and would often hear a woman and small child talking upstairs and her kid's rocking horse rocking at 2:30 in the afternoon.

So, yeah, I'd rather not believe in ghosts, but sometimes they are hard to deny.

PS. Not sure how you stayed in that room and fell asleep. Amazing.

28
glschneider
Jun 12, 2013

Yeah, we have a ghost...its my dad. Some strange things happened immediately after he died and continue to happen in my mother's house (where he passed away) and my daughter was born 6 years after he passed away and has been able to identify jewelry he gave my mother ("pop pop gave you that") and his picture (even though nobody had told her who he was at the time). Its creepy and strangely comforting at the same time.

29
jasmine
Jun 12, 2013

I believe in ghosts too....except I haven't had the good fortune of having had any contact with them. *knock on wood* I do believe, however, that it is the sensitive souls that actually do manage to feel their presence. So that's it holly, you are a sensitive soul and that's why you felt the ghost while your sister did not. or it could be that your sister and her roommate are just heavy sleepers and you are a light sleeper and felt it when a plane flew overhead or a truck drove past. in which case...good luck with the baby.

30
Leigh
Jun 12, 2013

I used to believe in ghosts *in theory* because it sounded plausible, and, well, of course there ARE ghosts, right?. But then I moved into an old Victorian home, and it was theory no more -- there were definitely ghosts. I never got the sense that they were out to harm or scare me, but there were a lot of *things* going on. And I saw when they left, too. I was upstairs, flossing my teeth (yeah, really) and this big ball of golden light floated up the staircase and went up and through the ceiling. OMFG, I almost shipped my pants! After that, no more ghosts. I always believed they went to Florida to retire.

31
Saucepan Man
Jun 12, 2013

Could have been your grandmother. If the thump had been preceded by a shuffling sound - like somebody changing their shoes, say - and you'd caught a whiff of cigarette smoke...then I'd say you were on to something.

32
Lori
Jun 12, 2013

I don't know how you slept there again the next night. I would have crawled into bed with your dad or sister. I've had some weird things happen, too, and I remember reading your earring story when you posted it years ago. It probably was your grandmother, and you probably are extra sensitive right now because of the baby. I am all sorts of superstitious. I also probably won't sleep well tonight, after reading this. :)

33
Sarah Brown
Jun 13, 2013

Oh god. Remind me to tell you some stories the next time I see you.

While reading these comments, I thought "I wish there was a ghost podcast, where people could share their stories every week!" Then I thought, Wait, no I don't.

34
CharlieSue
Jun 13, 2013

Well, that's it. I'm never ever sleeping again.

(AhhhhhhHHHHHH!)

35
Marcheline
Jun 16, 2013

Yep, it was a ghost. Or entity. Or spirit. Or energy of some sort. Since it was jumping on the bed, maybe it was a child. Come to think of it, you heard little feet on the stairs in the other place. Maybe you have a child spirit that accompanies you (sounds less creepy than "haunts you", right?) wherever you go. Ever considered that? A little kid would think it was funny to drop a pan in the middle of your kitchen, and to steal your earrings and then put them back, right?

So - if you actually decide NOT to name your baby Hamish, perhaps you can call your wee child spirit Hamish. Because maybe that was really his name.

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