Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Personal Validation

Years ago a strange thing happened to me. I didn't understand what was going on. It didn't seem possible, but it certainly felt real.

In the past I've only told certain people about it, because I figured they would just look at me strangely. But recently I read an article that let me know I'm not the only one who has experienced this sort of thing.

At the time, an elderly aunt was living in the local nursing home. She was a spinster lady, as she often called herself, and had gotten to the point where she needed care. She had phoned me numerous times a day to tell me that, until I eventually found her a spot in the home near me.

Every day I would walk over there and visit with her for an hour or more.  It became obvious that she was suffering from some kind of dementia, as she sometimes forgot where she was or how long she had been there.  Other members of my family either stopped visiting or refused to go because they preferred to remember her as she once was.  But I went, day after day.  She had always been important in my life, and it bothered me terribly to watch her decline. I had no one to share that burden with.

Then it happened.  I was sitting alone in my living room when this feeling came over me.  It was like I was enveloped in love. There is no other way to describe it.  It was absolutely marvelous.  I was overcome with this sensation of being totally surrounded, by nothing but love. It happened a couple of times over the period of a week or so, and then it was gone.

Today I feel like someone, my father perhaps, had come back to thank me for looking after his sister.  I can't be sure it was him, but I do know I didn't imagine the experience. If I could, I'd imagine it as often as I could manage.  It was that wonderful.  There is just no way to conjure up that feeling again.  It came out of nowhere, and then it was gone, as was my aunt not too long afterwards. 

The article I read was in the March issue of Elle magazine. Scientists actually call this type of episode the "sensed presence." Though not necessarily the spiritual hug I received, apparently otherwise normal, healthy people do sense someone with them in times of stress. It lets them know they will be alright if they just persevere. I was certainly stressed as, not only was I dealing with this elderly relative alone, the staff at the home had told me that they could not legally stop my aunt from leaving the building if she decided to walk out the door.  She had not yet been deemed incompetent, and she often asked me which way my house was. 

While this sensed presence, or "third man" as climbers call it, is known to come to people in isolated or dangerous situations, the author soon learned that it could happen to anyone living with stress. Even him.

If you want to know more about this sort of experience, read The Third Man Factor by John Geiger. Actually, I think the excerpt available at the top of the linked page is the same piece I read in the magazine. For me, it was just validation that I did experience this special phenomenon, and it's nice to know I'm not alone.....in any sense of the word.


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