cliff-with-girlLife piled too high on my shoulders in Seattle. I could not make ends meet and felt doomed to poverty, exhaustion and a life of struggle. In desperation, I made an appointment with a psychic I had never met. Surely a kindred spirit could help me align with my future in a new and authentic way.

At the allotted hour, I opened the door to a small house on a back street that had the word psychic flashing in neon lights. I was welcomed by a small Romanian woman and ushered into a dark house with religious pictures on every wall. These were not the gentle pictures of Mary draped in pastel blue robes, or of Jesus delivering his teaching on the mountain. No, these were the angry Greek orthodox guys. They scowled in disapproval as if to say, you’re a sinner. Hell is at hand!

We passed through a living room where an inert man in a sweaty tee shirt lay drinking beer, and watching television. I smiled in his direction and he ignored me. The woman led me to a small closet size room, with even more pictures of angry religious guys hovering near a giant cross. A long table filled with flickering candles lit the room. A rosary sat on a small table between us, as she held out her hand to receive payment. So why have you come to see me today?

I can’t seem to find my way in the world, I said, sounding more vulnerable than I intended. I feel pulled in different directions. I have no career focus, and can’t seem to get out of my financial hole. I could really use some guidance. I seem not to be hearing the voice of spirit for myself.  Tears spilled down my cheeks and made wet marks on my dress as I grabbed a tissue and cried out all the frustration and tension I’d been holding in. I’m sorry I’m crying, I said, I just need some guidance.

The woman laid out some cards and began to read.  I see that you have been married before. What happened?

I pick men who are wrong for me. That has been a great wound in my life.

How exactly have they been wrong for you?

They were emotionally distant, often cold, and incompatible. I have not been wise in that regard.

No, she said, You have not been. I am seeing that there was nothing wrong with the men that you chose. They were good men. The problem was with yourself. You think marriage is going to be perfect. You expect too much. You should find your last husband and go back to him. Make it work. God is punishing you for leaving him. There is cause and effect in this world, now you are getting the effect of what you caused.

I was stunned! I had opened myself to her guidance, and she’d delivered a bomb that was going straight in. All my defenses were down.

You are estranged from your family too, aren’t you? she continued in an accusatory voice.

My childhood was difficult, I said, defending myself. They are on one coast, I am on another. I needed distance. I needed to get away.

I have little hope for you, she continued like an overzealous truant officer. You have a curse on your life and it will never get better.

I was paralyzed in her presence. Never get better! What are you talking about?

Your life is cursed, child, but I can help you. I can stay up all night and pray over special candles. Give me one hundred dollars so I can buy these special candles and I will fix your life. The money is not for me, you understand, it’s for the candles.

I glanced at the candles on her table and saw grocery store price tags adhered to the side.

If you have the money now, she continued, that would be best. If you don’t, I will wait while you  get it.

One hundred dollars was half my rent payment. What did she take me for? Feelings of anger and devastation swirled through my being. She was the wicked witch, and I had taken a bite of her poison apple. I bolted for the door.

It was dark when I stepped outside and my mood matched the night. I had seen people back away from the word, psychic, with fear in their eyes, and now I understood why. The disrespect of this experience was alarming. I was embarrassed to share the same title. A deep lonely depression settled in me as I waited for the bus. I had taken her words inside my body and they were circulating through every cell like poison. I was matching her consciousness.

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