Tuesday 31 August 2010

Part 1: Postcard from the edge

We're just back from a week in France: Dirk, myself, my brother David and my sister-in-law Orla.  And I haven't laughed so much in my entire life.  It was the gite that Basil Fawlty would aspire to run if he turned his hand to holiday lettings!

There are two things that stood out for me on the holiday.  The first is subject of this posting: the ghost.  Ok, so many don't believe in ghosts, but I've seen at least one, so I do.  However, I digress...

On the first night, the temperature in our bedroom ran to about 38C, with only a rickety, ineffective fan for relief.  I woke frequently during the night and, although I didn't like the 'feel' of the room, I decided to be grown up and stop imagining things...

The next morning we found Orla and David asleep on the sofa in the living room: a loud noise followed by an eerie feeling had kept them awake most of the night... 'Well,' I thought smugly, 'I can contain my fear better'.  How the mighty fall...!

On the second night I awoke to a loud noise... followed by sounds throughout the room.  The window I had shut before going to bed was open and the sounds were very real.  I sat bolt upright.  The blood pumped in my ears and my fear grew as my imagination came to life.  Suddenly, a long, white shape leapt out the window.  I screamed and pulled Dirk's arm so hard he was in pain for days! 

He decided it was the cat...  And back to sleep he fell!

It was too late for me though... although I don't watch programmes about hauntings, I sometimes see the trailers and now my imagination was working overtime.  It's a weird sensation, feeling completely terrified and knowing that I had to calm down because I had an obligation to the baby not to freak him/her out before him/her out before s/he's even born!  I didn't have much success...

Suffice to say, we all slept on the living room floor from the following night onwards!  I have never been to a slumber party and I sure missed out if they are this much fun!  Dirk used to invent a quiz show after lights out that had both Orla and I begging him to stop, as the pain from laughing was just too much.  Not to mention the indelicate fact that us pregnant ladies aren't blessed with tremendous bladder control in the face of a light giggle, much less side-splitting seizures!

And, to my shame, I insisted that the kitchen door remain closed as, somehow, I thought it would be harder for the ghost to get in!  Yes, I know it's gloriously ridiculous... you have no idea how often I pulled myself to one side and gave myself a severe talking to, but to little avail!

What I did come to understand through the experience is another aspect of what I call our 'personal fault lines', the personality quirks / limitations that are thrown into the light of day when we are under stress.  For all my belief in angels, the divinity of human beings, and the power of prayer, I also saw the strength of my own shadow side, my own projections of the shadow side of the afterlife and the power that I ascribe to it.  Nor did I find a way through that fear, it simply sat - bulky and undigested - in my mind.

But on the plus side, it did give rise to five nights of childish hilarity that would never have happened otherwise!

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