Those almost inaudible disembodied whispers. Strange knocks. Maybe you’ve even seen a semi-transparent figure floating down your hallway. Something is present. You can’t prove it, but you know it. If you suspect you may be dealing with a haunting in your life, an important first step to taking control of the situation is journaling.
Your journal can be on the computer, in a cheap spiral-bound notebook, or any other writing medium you choose, but you must use the journal, and use it religiously. Whether you believe you need to call in clergy, paranormal investigators, a psychologist, or deal with the issues on your own, the journal will be an invaluable tool to all involved.
Before you start having flashbacks to your grade school English classes with dangling participles, rules of verb tense, and a white-haired, iron-fisted teacher overseeing the rules of sentence structure like a grammatical tyrant, don’t worry. You’re not being graded on this. Sentence fragments and bullet points are fine if you don’t feel like waxing poetic. What is not fine, however, is to omit details.
The more details you can offer regarding your experience, the more the journal will be able to offer you help, support, and guidance.
People who experience the effects of what they perceive to be a haunting can feel like their lives are out of control. The world as you knew it isn’t functioning the way you were taught, and some people feel desperate during these often trying times. Your journal is the single biggest tool you can use to regain that control.
To begin, think like a reporter. Try to answer those five critical questions: who, what, why, where, when? After you experience something unexplained, grab your journal as soon as possible after the event and jot down everything you can recall. For example, you just heard the distinct sound of footsteps in the hallway above you, but you know you are home alone. Your initial entry might look something like this:
Monday, September 29, 2008, 8:05 PM
I just heard footsteps in the hallway above. It sounded like the steps went from the back of the house to the front. Maybe six steps, then the noise stopped.
Okay, the entry above answers when, of course; and we know who it happened to (the person writing in the journal); we know what happened (footsteps); and we know where (upstairs hallway). But we haven’t addressed why (granted, this is the most difficult questions to answer regarding these experiences). Another sentence or two regarding what you were doing just before the event occurred would be a big help:
Just before I heard the steps, I was washing dishes in the kitchen and finishing my coffee. My husband, Steve, left the house about 30 minutes earlier. We had a fight this afternoon and he just said he was “going out.”
Try not to editorialize (meaning don’t write sentences like, “My no-good husband, Steve, just went out.”). Remember, others will likely read this journal. Try and stick to the facts.
Finally, a comment on conditions would also be useful:
The weather was very overcast, not raining, but I heard thunder rumbling in the distance. The house was relatively clean as I just vacuumed yesterday.
Don’t expect one journal entry to reveal anything profound. As with any information, little data yields little insight. But through repeated entries over time, you might begin to see some trends, triggers, or learn something about yourself and your haunting.
Perhaps the events only happen at night. Maybe they only happen after there’s been an argument in the house. Maybe the caffeine in the coffee you’re drinking is reacting with the medication you’re taking and causing some kind of problem or hallucination. We’ll never know from this single entry, but through multiple entries, patterns will emerge.
You, as the journalist, may not even be the person to see the pattern. Sometimes you’re too close to the issues. But when you do bring someone in for help, they may be able to quickly identify a pattern (if a pattern is present).
If more than one person in your home or place of business is experiencing something, by all means make your paranormal journal communal. Even if two (or more) of you experience something unexplained at the same time, you both should make an entry in the journal. Ideally, you don’t discuss what happened with each other, or read the other person’s journal entry until both of you have had the chance to write down everything you remember from the experience.
Setting the experiences down on paper (or computer screen) will help you feel empowered. Through documentation, you are gaining some control. Through rereading your experiences you’re gaining some objectivity that you lack during the actual event. What’s happening to you might be paranormal, it might not be. But only through a lengthy observation can you make some of those determinations.
If you do need to bring in clergy, a psychologist, or paranormal investigator, your journal will offer a huge head start on finding a solution. Start writing, and know there’s help. But help yourself first.