"Beloved" by Toni Morrison, 1987
Ever see this movie? I did once in my 30s, and vowed not to watch it again. It messed with my mind big time! Please know that I am a visual person, so I can imagine the hell out of movies and scare myself at times. (I don’t watch "The Exorcist" either)! Any who… Beloved was real to me. Of course, the setting is in the great State of Ohio which was not so great in 1873, the time period that the movie, “Beloved” took place.
Years later as I worked with Nebulous Children, I envisioned some of their experiences with ghosts as being the same as Sethe, a formerly enslaved woman in the movie Beloved. The home that Sethe resided in was believed to be initially with other ghosts, then by her deceased daughter, Beloved. Beloved was a malevolent spirit who was angry, demanding, and throwing temper tantrums with Sethe. It reminded me of Nebulous Children who shared with me the characteristics of some ghosts that they see and talk to such as demanding voices, having temper tantrums (e.g., throwing pencils), and the way that dark spirits seemed to enjoy hanging around them. This resulted in poor decision making in some of the kids and dark thoughts. It’s a no-brainer as to the reason that some of the children were terrified of these entities, especially when some of them appear as Beloved did to Sethe. Beloved is shown in the picture. The ghost is played by the lovely Thandie Newton (I love her).
I targeted this movie because I want you to watch it. When you read about my stories, I am sure that it is difficult to imagine what seeing ghosts feels like to Nebulous Children. Some people imagine that the ability to see ghosts is rosy and fun. It is not when the children are seeing and interacting with dark angels and/or being visited by them when they do not want to be bothered.
Seeing ghosts can also seem interesting because we read positive stories about them, such as relatives visiting or God’s angels appearing to them. Both experiences can skew the perception of how children who can see ghosts feel, as well as how ghosts show themselves to them. Beloved, although malevolent, was initially pleasant and engaged well with Sethe. I heard from children numerous times about how pleasant ghosts were until either they decided not to listen to the ghosts demands any longer, tried to get rid of them, or grew older and less interested in their ghostly tirades. In other words, they became harsh toward the children. Also, they sought more attention from the children. For example, messing with kids at night or scaring them when they open closets. They behaved similar to pesky flies that will not go away no matter how many times you swat at them. Ghosts pick these kids because they can see and talk to them, just as Beloved focused on Sethe. In return, Sethe catered to Beloved’s needs knowing that Beloved was a ghost. Why? Because,
Sometimes they are not easy to ignore.
Sethe was unable to ignore Beloved, and children who see ghosts have a difficult time disregarding them too. Ghosts became friends with some of the kids, as Beloved did with Denver, Sethe’s daughter. Kids can become lonely, and ghosts befriend them. Taking those friends away can be difficult, but there are times when we must remove ghosts from children because they are not healthy for them. Child A, for example, loved to talk to ghosts. For Child A however, the ghosts were dark angels and like Denver, it was very hard to pull Child A from ghosts, but they were not kind-hearted to Child A. even when they were perceived as "nice."
Casper The Friendly Ghost? Not.
Even when they were "nice," they still told Child A negative things. These ghosts were not good for this child. Or, they would dissuade Child A from partaking in things that were good for Child A, such as attending therapy or going to school. Manipulation! That is how Beloved used Sethe and maintained a presence in Sethe’s life. Child A would not let dark angels go away from him/her even if you gave reasons to Child A for the dismissal of those spirits. This was also a characteristic that Sethe had with Beloved’s presence too. It took a third party, Paul D, to bring attention to Sethe’s co-dependency with Beloved to rid her of this ghost. Child A’s ghosts remained and Child A continued to call them "friends."
If ghosts were always pleasant to have around, children who can see them would opt to have them around. I am sure of it. However, that’s not always the case and symptoms of mental health conditions can arise from their existence within their lives. Recall, demons are not our friends. They are fallen angels. They hate humans and want to cause us harm. Child A experienced anxiety and some behavioral concerns due to following the commands of dark angels who kept telling Child A that negative behaviors were acceptable. In return, Child A received the attention, protection, admiration, and positive reinforcement needed to continue poor behaviors from those ghosts.
The relationship between Child A and the dark angels used to baffle me because this child had great parents and they gave Child A those needed characteristics mentioned above, as most parents do to their children. Nevertheless, I learned that Child A appreciated having ghosts as “friends” because they were only visible to Child A. Like secret superheroes who would protect Child A when necessary, without anyone being able to see them but Child A. Ironically, another child could see what Child A saw as Child A left our building one day. Their paths just crossed entering and leaving the building. Although I knew that both kids could see ghosts, neither child knew about the other.'s abilities and/or any other identifying information. When their paths crossed on that day, it was the second child who told me what the ghosts surrounding Child A appeared as, and described them to me. I knew that they were dark angels, but I did not realize how many ghosts Child A had around him/her, and talked to while in our building and in my care.
Sethe, too, had other ghosts around her before Beloved. As I shared above, those ghosts were also removed by Paul D. After the cleansing, Sethe began to have a somewhat “normal” life with her daughter Denver until Beloved made an appearance. Once ghosts make an appearance to children, they encounter the same challenges as Sethe until they gain control over their abilities or stop the sighting all together. When I work with these children, if they do not tell me their goal(s) and/or decision(s) for how we will deal with their sightings, then I ask them. If they want to get rid of the ghosts around them, then that is what we will work to accomplish. If children want them around, then I would teach them how to control the outcome or visits. Meaning, the children learned how to keep themselves healthy if they wanted to continue to have random visits from ghosts. If those visits were unwanted, then I would teach them how to protect themselves. They would also learn how to deal with and talk to the ones that they choose to only. Remember, some kids enjoy this gift and want ghosts around. If it was not harmful to the child, there was no reason to change their opinion. I felt as if Child A was being harmed by the ghosts that she/he continued to interact with due to the decisions made in Child A's daily living due to following the directives of dark angels. I knew it was not good because Child A would tell me about it all, including,
“The dark angels told me to do it.”
When that happened, I would feel like something was not right with Child A or in the room where we were located. I cannot explain that emotion at all. Some say it's a sixth sense, but I am unsure. Ironically, I felt it today in the presence of another child. It’s a dreary feeling and it makes the child appear visually dark to me. The child's attitude, demeanor, spirit, and even speech is just bleak and flat. The eyes wandered around the room as if she/he saw things that I could not see or feel. I turned the lights down to match the melancholy in the room. It made the child feel safe and calm which was good because the child was far too anxious about life issues. To describe that feeling a bit, it seemed like negative energy, as if the child was emotionally drained. Sethe mimicked this behavior toward the end of the movie due to Beloved draining her emotions.
Seeing ghosts is very real for some children and parents. It is not the easiest condition to deal with or to find a solution. It takes time to determine a resolution for the families, as well as patience. It is helpful to periodically remind the families that the ability to see ghosts does not have to be unpleasant for their children. It does not need to be dreadful or cause a significant amount of stress. It is not the end of the world although it may feel that way, but there can be a solution created to deal with the challenge at hand and improve their livelihood. The answer lies within how it is problem-solved. Toward the end of the movie Beloved, strategic problem-solving from Paul D is what lead to the removal of Beloved from Sethe. I, affectionately call Paul D’s fix calling upon “The Church Folk.” In reality, I have said many times that even if you do not believe in God, prayer works to provide kids with that needed normalcy when dealing with ghosts. Sethe found Sethe again.
So can your Nebulous Children.
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