Sheila Skillman sent me her account of two strange experiences to which I can relate. As Sheila says, such stories, on their own, may be explained away by those who look to psychology or physiology… there is always a plausible explanation if you want one badly enough, just as there is always a supernatural or paranormal explanation to be found, if that is what you seek. Much depends on what we are willing to accept as possible and we will each bring our own experience of life and its stranger aspects to bear on that decision.
Whatever the true nature of these experiences and encounters, they are undeniably real to those who live them and their effects may be far-reaching. The more I read and learn of the experiences of others, the more convinced I am that we know only a fraction of what is truly possible. It is in spirit that I will continue to share those experiences that are sent to me for this series.
Although I haven’t experienced ghosts personally I have heard and read many convincing stories in my life of a range of paranormal experiences. Also my own fascination with the paranormal has influenced my two published novels as well as my current WIP.
I had two unusual experiences in the past – the type you don’t talk about much until you are invited to by someone with similar stories, as the body of stories gains more power from the cumulative effect. Otherwise, an individual story can come over as inconclusive or possibly of a naturalistic explanation.
In the first experience I was aged about twelve and I was on holiday in Ireland with my family. We were staying in a guest house and my bedroom was on the first or second floor, I don’t remember which. One day I had a migraine and my family went out without me while I stayed in bed. I remember I locked the door from my side because I felt more secure that way. Several hours later they came back, and they knocked on my door.
I lay in bed, and I was in a state midway between sleeping and waking, a state of curious clarity yet not full consciousness.
In a detached, faintly interested, and slightly curious way, I listened to my parents and sister banging on the door and calling my name. And yet I did not identify that name as mine or consider it referred to me. For several minutes I lay and listened, as they banged on the door again and again, calling, “Sheila! Sheila!”
As I relate the story now I can imagine how panicked they were, thinking something awful had happened to me.
Some time later, a ladder came up against the window outside, and a policewoman appeared on the top rung, and she forced the window open and climbed in, anxious to see what had happened to me.
All the while this was happening I lay in a curious trancelike state in which I was fully aware of all that was happening yet I remained detached from it as if it had nothing to do with me.
As she climbed through the window, I said, “Hello,” in a calm and pleasant way – as if there was nothing unusual at all about my family members hammering on the door and shrieking my name, and a policewoman coming in through the window.
There probably is some physiological explanation for the state I was in, and yet I have never forgotten it, have never experienced anything exactly like it again (though I have suffered from many other migraines since then), remain convinced it was akin to an out-of-the-body experience, and cannot otherwise account for why I wasn’t shocked into a fully awake state by loud bangs and repeated calling of my name. It also tunes in with other ideas I have long had about the spiritual and creative potential of that state midway between sleep and wakefulness, which is the alpha state.
The second experience took place when I was living in a London flat several years later, in my twenties. The flat was in the roof of the house, and could be reached by four flights of stairs. After going through the front door of the flat there was another staircase to climb, with a landing.
One day I opened the door and stepped through, then stopped just inside the door, looking up the staircase. I saw myself standing at the top of the stairs, on the landing. I stood for a few seconds, looking at myself.
Again, a psychological blip perhaps. Yet another experience I have never forgotten, which I don’t talk about, and which strikes me as significant, and in which I am convinced that I somehow split away from my physical body, and observed myself from another point in space.
Many thanks for letting me tell these stories.
About the author
I was born and brought up in Orpington, near south London. As a child I was inspired by Enid Blyton. I started writing adventure stories at the age of seven; the love of writing that her stories first instilled into me has strengthened over the years.
I studied English Literature at Lancaster University, and my first permanent job was as a production secretary with the BBC. Later I lived for nearly five years in Australia before returning to live in the UK. I now live in Warwickshire with my husband David, son Jamie and daughter Abigail. Nearby are three of England’s most famous destinations: the Royal Shakespeare Theatre at Stratford-upon Avon and the two great castles at Kenilworth and Warwick.
My two thriller suspense novels Mystical Circles and A Passionate Spirit are set in the beautiful Cotswolds hills, not far from my present home. I’ve also written Perilous Path: A Writer’s Journey, a book of encouraging advice, tips and reminders for authors.
I am currently working on the second draft of my new novel, A Director’s Cut. I’ve always been fascinated by the interaction of different complex personalities, an inexhaustible source of inspiration for a writer!
And my advice to anyone who wants to be a writer? Read a lot, listen to people’s conversations, be observant about the details of your world, and especially about human behaviour and interaction, and persist in your writing, being single-minded to the point of obsession… never give up, always believe in yourself despite all evidence to the contrary, and hold out for what you first dreamed of.
Find and Follow S.C. Skillman
Books by S.C.Skillman
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“Hi, you in crowded, stressed old London from me in the peaceful, perfect Cotswolds. Massive change of plan. I’m in love. Craig’s gorgeous, sexy, intelligent. Paradise here. Staying forever.”
Juliet, concerned that her younger sister has fallen in love with the charismatic Craig, leader of the Wheel of Love, sets off for the Cotswolds to investigate, fearful that Zoe has become entangled with a religious cult. She arrives at Craig’s community hoping to rescue Zoe. But intrigues, liaisons and relationships flare and flourish or fizzle out quickly within this close circle, and despite her reservations, Juliet is drawn into the Wheel of Love… with completely unforeseen consequences.
How do you find courage and motivation when your novel sinks in the middle?
How do you stay focused as a writer through success and disappointment?
How can great artists, musicians and psychologists give you inspiration?
You’ll find the answers to these questions and many others in this book. SC Skillman offers valuable insight into the faith and hope that is vital for one who walks the perilous path into the ‘promised land’ of the writing profession.
Every chapter is an article previously published on the author’s blog Inside the Mind of a Writer, in answer to FAQs aspiring writers type into search engines.
It’s a dream come true for 25 year old Zoe when she and her new husband, unconventional priest Theo, move to the Cotswold hills. But fearsome dreams about a young girl running for her life disturb Zoe and she can’t shake off the idea that a child’s life is in danger…and so is hers. When two unexpected guests arrive, James and Natasha, Zoe’s friend Alice immediately senses something amiss with them – and particularly Natasha; but no-one except Zoe agrees with her. Natasha embarks on a series of mysterious healings which astonish other guests and convince them that she is a miracle worker. But Zoe can’t abandon her feelings of unease. Then a series of disturbing events hits the centre; Zoe fears that Theo has been unfaithful to her, and Theo falls into severe depression for which Zoe believes Natasha to be responsible. When Zoe confronts her she is completely unprepared for the terror she is about to face. Zoe will need more than the loyalty and strength of Alice to survive the frightening paranormal forces that are unleashed against her…A Passionate Spirit is a fast-paced and thrilling novel that will keep readers in suspense throughout. Inspired by Susan Howatch and Barbara Erskine, this book will appeal to readers who enjoy paranormal thrillers.
If you have had a strange experience or encounter that you would like to share, please get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org (or my usual email if you already have it) and we can discuss a guest post.
I am not looking for sensationalism or fictional tales… but in light of the response to some recent posts, I think it would be both useful and reassuring to others to realise that none of us are alone in these strange encounters and experiences and perhaps we can open discussion on what they may be or may mean.
If you would like to share your story but prefer to remain anonymous, we can discuss that too. If you would like to share your beliefs and opinions on the nature of these experiences, I would be happy to talk about a guest post. Through sharing with respect we may learn to understand our world and each other a little better.