When I first set out to join a paranormal group, I didn't really have any idea of what my purpose was other than to find more proof of spirits. I joined a group thinking that we would share a similar mindset and that, in the end, we'd spend our nights walking around with flashlights and recorders while asking questions in hopes of catching something. I soon learned that this wasn't the case, and that everyone in the group had a role. I felt a bit out of place not knowing what I wanted to do with my own investigations other than find paranormal activity.
At first, I thought I would join our tech team. I've always been a lover of gadgets and all things having to do with computers and electronics; but I couldn't dedicate enough time to their research of new equipment. Case management didn't exactly seem to be the place for me, either. I was too nice to tell someone that we couldn't take their case no matter how outrageous their claims were. I undoubtedly would have had a team of twelve sent out to investigate a haunted microwave if I was in charge of managing our cases! While research intrigued me, the girls that set out to do that were never on cases -- and I certainly wasn't about to pass up a chance to find more paranormal activity. Feeling more like a tag along instead of part of the group, I faithfully went to every investigation and learned as much as I could while hoping to find that one, special thing that I, too, could focus on.
It wasn't until after a year with the group that I found myself at a large Victorian house much like the one I had grown up in. The clients claimed to have slamming doors, moving chairs, and would occasionally smell strong perfume. They mentioned they had an eight year old daughter named Heather* who claimed to hear voices in her room, and felt as if she were being watched. During setup, I asked why no one had talked to Heather and was told that children are far from a reliable source, and that they preferred to simply stick to the claims reported by the adults.
This answer frustrated me because I had experienced activity for years in my house before my parents ever noticed it. I asked if I could talk to Heather, and was told that I was wasting my time, but that, if I wanted to, I could. I decided that, despite the groups protest, I was going to speak with her. I simply didn't feel right not talking to a person who had experienced the same things in the house the others did.
Sitting on Heather's bed, she told me that sometimes she heard voices in her room. Often times, it would be before she was in the room, and once she opened the door, they seemed to stop. Other times, though, they would start while she was in the room and then fade away. I asked her if she thought they could be coming from out on the street (as she had two bedroom windows that faced the road). She assured me she would check out the window from now on, but admitted to having never done so before.
Much like me as a child, Heather wasn't scared by the activity that was happening in her house. She told me that she thought it was her Grandmother coming back to say "hi," and letting the family know that, while they could no longer see her, she was still around. Heather also told me that no one ever really believed her. She had told a few people at school about it; but they all thought she was making it up, so she had simply stopped talking about it. It was in that moment that I was able to see so much of myself in Heather, that I decided I had found my spot in the group. While everyone else was focused on the adults and their claims, I was going to focus on the children.
At the next group meeting, I expressed my interest in working with children and was met with less than enthusiastic responses. I was reminded that children aren't always truthful and that they can be unresponsive to strangers. I was determined to do this, however. I knew that I was much more likely to relate to what a child was going through, having gone through it myself. In the end, the group founders supported me in my decision.
For the next year, I took several child psychology classes in order to get a better understanding of how a child's mind tends to work. I learned about how easy it is for children to have such a strong imagination, and what is "make believe" to us they may perceive as real. I also learned that parents can strongly influence their children into believing that something -- such as paranormal activity -- is happening, when in reality it's not. I knew that I had chosen a difficult path in the paranormal world; but I always thought back to Heather and the little girl that had no idea what was happening in her own home. While she wasn't scared, I knew that there were children who were terrified of the unexplained happenings in their home, and I was going to dedicate myself to helping them.