Blog 4: Dark Angels
My initial experience in psychology required me to do home visits. My very first clients were comprised of a family that experienced severe behavioral challenges within their children. I was excited because I was training in behavior disorders of children. However, the home was dark, (no lights, curtains closed, and etc.). It felt heavy upon entry, but the family was gracious and initially made me feel safe. I developed a strong therapeutic relationship with the children, and I established a positive rapport with the parents as well.
The family was verbally aggressive toward one another. The mother often yelled at her children, and I noticed that they would retreat to their bedrooms. As a result, we began family therapy which gave me the opportunity to closely observe their family dynamics, or how the family interacted with one another by way of various scenarios. It became clear fairly quickly that the children were terrified of their mother, and the father was complicit with mother’s behavior. He was also mild-mannered and sensitive. The mother also treated him the same way she dealt with her children. The children also seemed paranoid and protective of one another. One of the kids sat on the floor during sessions, in front of the other, appearing to guard the sibling. This was odd behavior to me and I wanted to learn more about what was happening within the family. Mind you, I was not a Psychologist yet, only in training. The family dynamics were challenging and during supervision, I shared the details with my superiors.
Although both children formed an attachment to me, one of the children was more open in sharing inner thoughts and feelings about their family life. This child was deathly fearful of the mother. So fearful that this child showed me a machete that was kept under the pillow just in case it was needed for protection. My job was to believe the clients in order to help them, and I did. This child shared with me all of the reasons why protection may be necessary. In particular, “I will use the machete to stab my mother if she attacks me at night.”
Obviously, I called the state to report possible child abuse. The state did intervene and together, we ensured that the children were safe from harm. This child was hospitalized; however, the children were not removed from the home after the investigation. Of note, this is a mental health crisis. This child clearly shared that he would harm his mother. That warranted intervention from the State and hospitalization. At the time of this child’s hospitalization, I was unaware of any ability to see spirits. That was learned later on, keep reading.
I continued to work with the family after the investigation, and the family had a lot more to say to me which was a good thing. This time, the younger sibling shared the need to sleep with a weapon as well. This younger sibling was also paranoid about the mother’s potential behavior, and whether or not the mother would harm her overnight which meant,
I contacted the state again.
No, the children were not removed from the home which meant that I continued to work with them. When I visited their home again, the older sibling seemed different me. Different meaning, his words, and his eyes were wondering around the room and behind me instead of looking into my eyes. I kept looking behind my shoulder trying to figure out what he was watching. His verbiage was clear and he was responding to my questions, but he was not sharing with me what was happening to him. Then, the younger sibling shared with me that he was “Seeing them again.” What did that mean? I was on the phone with the case worker trying to figure out it all out. In the meantime, the mother was yelling at the top of her lungs at the father and the younger sibling told me that the mother was also “Seeing things again.” The younger sibling elaborated and told me that when the mother sees ghosts, that is when she yells, and that the older sibling can see them too.
I was new in the field and this was a lot for me to handle on my own. I remember walking into the older sibling’s room, and he was laying across his bed. The younger sibling was with me and the father walked outside. The mother was in the kitchen still yelling. The younger sibling shared that when the older sibling behaves this way, it was due to the ghosts. I thought that the older sibling was having some sort of psychosis which lead me to speak to the parents and their case worker.
The mother shared that they could see ghosts and that is a problem but that he was not “crazy.” I remember that day because I was standing by this child’s dresser watching him, and his mother talk to the ghosts. The younger sibling was unable to see them but knew when they were around because of the mother and older sibling’s behavior changes.
I walked back into this the older sibling’s room because the behaviors were odd. When I walked toward the older sibling’s room, I saw that a 5-pointed star was drawn on the wall in a circle before I entered it. This was drawn in blood with 666 written on a body part. I was in shock. Then, the younger sibling told me that the older sibling is just listening to the ghosts again, and that I have to help him. I walked closer to the older sibling as I contacted an ambulance. To me, it was an attempt to harm because the blood came from the child’s wrists. The older sibling shared with me thoughts of killing the mother if I did not get this child out of the home. Despite the machetes being removed from the home, this child would find another way. I asked the reason that harm could come to the mother? The older sibling mentioned that there was no way to control what was happening and that “they” are saying to do it. The visions were changing form to match what this child watched on television (TV) which caused fear. The oldest child was watching a TV channel at the time when the ambulance arrived. This child explained that they change from to match what is seen on TV.
I heard that many times from children over the years.
At the time, a popular channel on TV for cartoons showed a lot of horrific looking characters and violence on their channel. What he was explaining is that the ghosts that he saw could change form into those cartoon characters. I sat on the older sibling’s bed and we held hands. The younger sibling held the other one. As we all held hands, the older sibling pointed out various places in the room where the dark angels were sitting, standing, hiding (closet), and it was mentioned that the dark angels did not like me. I asked him to explain what he meant. He shared that I glowed white and that is the reason that they do not like me.
Thinking back, I heard from many parents and kids that I glow white although I am unable to see the glow, nor do I understand it. Nevertheless, I believe them. For some reason, I was not afraid of this child. The older sibling further shared not wanting to harm me, and was shaking and afraid. The younger sibling was crying and scared as well. I explained to the older sibling, with the mother standing in the doorway of the bedroom, that since a body part was cut and that harm could come to the mother, an ambulance was necessary to ensure that everyone was safe. The older sibling agreed that it was best; did not fight the decision, and told me that I have to believe that he can see ghosts. I told him that I did believe him, but assured him that he and his family again, needed safety at that moment. The mother agreed, but she was behaving strangely, (e.g., pacing the floor talking to herself, asking something to move away from her, asking whatever she was moving away to stop talking to her, and etc.).
The older sibling was hospitalized again.
After the ambulance left with the older sibling, I sat on the bed with the younger sibling and cried.
We held hands.
I was pretty devastated to have to hospitalize the older sibling again.
The younger sibling seemed to take solstice in me continuing to work with the family. The younger sibling told me that the older sibling had been seeing these dark angels since being a young child. The dark angels would take the form of characters from television shows, or horror movies and walk around their home. Sometimes, the dark angels followed the older sibling to school, and that most therapists wanted to hospitalize the older sibling when learning of the ability to see ghosts. I remember the younger sibling also mentioning to me that no one believed that the older sibling and their mother could see ghosts too, or that their house was haunted. The younger sibling mentioned that at times, the older sibling could control them, but many times he could not do so and they haunted the older sibling. Through the younger siblings’ tears, I learned more about what was happening to the family.
What are dark angels?
This was very new to me. It would be the first, but not the last time that I heard of dark angels. The younger sibling shared that dark angels were not very nice at all which is the reason that she refused to go into their basement. The younger sibling further explained that the older sibling was very affected by the ghosts because the ability to ignore them was harder, unlike their mother. However, the mother’s visions were not pleasant. When she did see ghosts, she behaved in a manner that made the children fearful of her and she always spoke in an extremely loud voice. Although the mother told me that she was glad that I was there to help them, she began to display some behaviors toward me that caused my superiors to remove the family from my caseload. She was becoming increasingly agitated toward me, and made threats toward the agency. Unfortunately, the family was completely removed from receiving further help from the agency as well.
Prior to the dismissal of the clients from the agency, I learned more about the visions from the younger sibling in reference to the mother. Here’s what happened:
The older sibling remained in the hospital for 10 days. Upon the older sibling’s return to school, our sessions continued there for a few weeks. The school graciously allowed me to visit with the older sibling during the school day. There was an office in the school where I worked with this child weekly. The first day of school after the hospital release was a happy day for me. We sat and talked for a long time. This is when I learned from the older sibling what occurred in the household, per that sibling’s perspective. The older sibling also told me that taking medication was not an option because, “I do not need it.”
The older sibling stated that people think, “I am crazy, but I am not” when telling others about the ability to see aborigines. He perceived himself as functioning just fine when not seeing the ghosts, but this child did not know how to keep them away. At the time, I solely thought about psychiatric illnesses being the catalyst for this family’s challenges, but the older sibling explained repeatedly that mentally illness was not the problem within their household.
Anyone would have a hard time believing the older sibling, right? This child seemed to have a lot of symptoms of some sort of psychiatric disorder. The mother also appeared mentally ill as well. However, I shared with the older sibling many times that I believed the older sibling’s experiences. When I think back, I do not know why I said that I am a believer, but I did. One day, the older sibling responded,
“You are the only one who believes me.”
I never saw this child again. I told one of my experiences with Nebulous children to a group of graduate students a few years ago, and I thought of this family. It dawned on me at that moment that this is the family that jumpstarted my encounters with children who see ghosts. It was also the family that prompted me to finish my Doctorate of Philosophy degree, and to continue to work with children and their families.