And then there were the imaginary friends. They came and went from my young life; children, adults, people of all colors and shapes. People with funny accents. And animals. Lots of animals. The thing was, all of these friends of mine were even more vivid to me than the alive people I was surrounded by. They popped in when they felt like it - early morning, middle of the night, at school. And when I went new places, I met new friends. Some places, like when I was in the hospital for a week following an emergency appendectomy, had way more friends than others did. But I learned my friends were upsetting and off-putting to the real people in my life, and so I kept them to myself.
I was also a vivid dreamer. I still am; I always have been. As a child my dreams were so vivid that when I woke up, I often couldn't remember for a few moments whether the dream was real or the me who was in my bed waking from the dream was the real one. I remember one dream so vivid I got out of bed in the middle of the night, walked downstairs to my parents' bedroom, and told them I was ready to go home now. I remember how upset I was that they wouldn't take me home or even acknowledge that I wasn't home.
I learned quickly there was a right time and a right way to share my imagination, and there were most definitely wrong times and wrong ways. And so, while my imagination remained just as vivid as it always had, I kept it to myself unless I could find a "positive" way to express it in the "real" world. I also discovered that how I thought about it changed; what had once felt like such a natural part of me now felt like a deep, dark, dirty secret that I needed to suppress and make go away so others wouldn't think I was weird.
Perhaps not surprisingly, I was labeled an "anxious child" as soon as I was school aged. I was filled with fears and anxiety all of the time. I cried easily, and when I was around groups of people, such as in school, my emotions were all over the place. It was like emotions zoomed through me, tumbling and jumbling all together, one on top of the other, wrapping around each other in a messy cacophony.
My thoughts also tumbled and jumbled, with one thought layering over another. My mind was never quiet. I could be doing my math in class and thinking 20 other things at once. My senses were also overactive. It was as if I could hear people down the street playing music, feel even the slightest change in air pressure or temperature, or smell someone smoking a cigar from miles away. Physically, I also felt strange sensations moving through my body, sometimes several at once. A quick pain in my big toe that happened whenever a certain teacher was near. A sore back arose whenever I was in my first grade classroom until the day my teacher took a leave of absence to have back surgery. Pain to the head. Pain in my teeth. Pain in my stomach. Some of it was fleeting, coming and going as people approached and then walked away, and some of it lingering and setting into my body.
The only place where all of that noise was quiet was in my bedroom in my house on a quiet street in a quiet neighborhood. In my walk in closet at the very back, there was a quiet, dark nook behind the chimney where I could go and sit and just be. There, I could escape into my dreamy world without the noise of random pains, strange sensory input, and layers and layers of thoughts. My imaginary visitors still came while I was in my bedroom. My "imagination" still kicked in. But the rest was blissfully peaceful and quiet, and I could channel my vivid imagination into writing or daydreams. I could focus. If I wanted to escape even that, I could do so by taking a deep dive into a book. I became a lifelong reader and writer as a way to shut off the noise and focus my mind.
I'm certain a psychologist would read the above and offer a diagnosis or two; something such as ADD, sensory integration disorder, a mood disorder, or even schizophrenia. But the truth is, I was none of those things. What I thought was my imagination was natural, unmanaged psychic ability running rampant through my life.
As I got older, I developed strategies to manage my vivid imagination. I was able, for the most part, to suppress it and keep it at bay so I could at least give the appearance of being normal. In suppressing it, I was able to focus and block all of the information out as background noise. I did very well in school and then went on to college where I discovered that living in a dorm with so many people around constantly made it far more difficult to suppress the noise of my imagination because I had no safe, quiet space to which I could retreat as I'd had with my childhood bedroom in a single-family home in a quiet neighborhood. It was in college that I started running. I went to college in Eastern Washington, and I would run for miles in the early morning or evening, venturing far out along roads winding through wheat fields just so I could have some peace and quiet. On the weekends, I often hopped on my bike and headed out to a nearby wildlife preserve where I could be alone with my thoughts and feel blessed peace.
I managed in this fashion for more than 30 years. It was an imperfect science, but I learned to find spaces of relative quiet and calm where I could recharge, but it was difficult. I struggled with anxiety and my health was a mess, my body filled with constant aches, pains, and illness. It wasn't until I started to explore the spiritual, metaphysical, and paranormal that I started to make sense of my life and all of the experiences I'd had since I was a child. I began to realize that what I'd believed all of my life was my imagination was actually intuitive information. And as the realization dawned, I started to test this theory to see if it held water. What I noticed was that when I actually focused in on the thoughts and the feelings and the sensations, I received very accurate information about all sorts of things from aches and pains other people were experiencing, to deeply understanding others' emotions, to receiving accurate information about people who had died or things that were happening in the world.
As I started to recognize that what felt like imagination was, in fact, intuitive information, I developed genuine strategies for sorting, processing, and working with that information. I also developed strategies of self-care, spiritual hygiene, grounding, discernment, and energy work that were healthy and constructive. I learned to channel all that information into healthy outlets, how to act on information that needed more exploration, and how to release information that was just there because I was there to receive it.
With that understanding and effort, the last 15+ years of my life have brought profound changes for me. I no longer struggle with anxiety. I am able to be calm and focused. I am genuinely happy and feel a sense of purpose and joy for the life I have been gifted with. But it took work to get here, undoing years of social and religious conditioning about the acceptability of my gifts. It took me several years just to acknowledge my gifts to other people and be exactly who I was in their presence without trying to hide my gifts or worrying about they might perceive me as crazy.
With some people who have been very close to me my entire life, it's still a work in progress. While I don't hide my gifts and it's clear by reading practically anything I write that I have embraced my gifts and believe in them 100 percent, there are some relationships where it is still never acknowledged. I don't hide it, but they don't particularly want to know either. I'm okay with that. I am who I am, and I have the gifts I do. I love them and accept them regardless of what they may feel about my abilities, but I won't hide them or feel ashamed or embarrassed that the Source has given me these gifts any longer.
As I've written this, there's been a persistent voice in the back of my mind telling me this: "Tell them this is a portrait of a psychic child. Tell them to understand this so they can help their own psychic children through non-judgment, guidance, and unconditional love because it is a challenging and lonely path to walk as a child when the people around you are unable or unwilling to understand you."
And so, I acknowledge the voice by sharing that with you, since that wasn't where I thought I was going with this blog post. I was going to point this out: psychic information very often feels like imagination, so I offer this suggestion: Sit with it. Feel it. Allow it. And ask yourself how the information can serve the highest and greatest good. Then, act on it or release it, but don't ignore it. Never ignore it.
Even if it is imagination, it comes from somewhere. Look at all of the art, beauty, and advancement that has come from "imagination" and ask yourself this: where did these truly spectacular ideas come from? Did they originate in the firing of neurons responding to chemical signals in the physical brains of humans, or were they somehow Divinely inspired, coming from a source of higher intelligence into the energy field of a human creator who acted on it to create great beauty?
We belittle imagination, telling people things like, "Oh it's just your imagination" as a way to calm them or make them think differently. However, there is no such thing as "just imagination." Imagination is a higher function. It's a force for creativity. If it feels like imagination, it's probably inspiration. Don't let anyone talk you out of it. Don't let anyone take it away. Don't dismiss it yourself. Your intuitive self has things to tell you, and listening can not only change your life, but it can serve the highest and greatest good for the universe.