As Empaths, I believe that we are aware of deeper energies, connections and patterns around us; the exploration of which could fill a single lifetime. It is this endless quest that compellingly excites me.
Empathic: a word that didn’t properly enter my vocabulary until the late 1980s, with the arrival of Counsellor Deanna Troi on Star Trek’s The Next Generation, although my life to that point had
made me extremely aware of similar tendencies and traits..
Going back to 1963 and my Earthly arrival. I was frequently described as a sensitive soul growing up and, being far too young to express a rational, empirical opinion, I can only confirm my mother’s later admission on the words of others:
“He’s ‘different’, isn’t he?”
“He keeps himself to himself, doesn’t he?”
“Your Kevin looks at me funny. Like he’s staring straight through me.”
Those were the kinder comments. Mum tended to ignore the blunter sort of judgements, especially back in less politically-correct times although, upon stressful days, she was not averse to sharing her own thoughts:
“Why do you have to be so weird?”
“Who are you talking to in there?”
“Creativity is fine, but you won’t ever get a proper job doing those things... not like 'normal' people.”
Admittedly, a part of her psychological fears on my ‘sanity’ may have stemmed from an occasion in 1965, aged around two, where I had categorically stated to her that I remembered being a tailgunner on an Avro-Lancaster World War Two bomber. Naturally, I may have seen a film on television, but I can distinctly remember the visuals I received; crouched behind a machine gun, watching skies for signs of aerial movement; heart pounding.
As children, I think we’re naturally sensitive to the world around us, yet partially sheltered from the adults judgements, through innocence and naivety. I was aware that I was different to other kids; I couldn’t slap a specific label on it, however I accepted things as ‘simply how life is.'
My apparent simplicity also led to confusion. For example: I had a school friend called Mortimer. We played and laughed endlessly. Others told me not to play with Mortimer, but I adored his energy; his ‘light.’ I heard golden vibrancy within his laughter and saw beautiful colours around his head. Children scolded me, and some parents even advised my mother that I should stop. I told my friends that 'I liked his light,’ and received odd looks. The real problem was that it was 1968, and Mortimer’s skin was very black. I confess, I hadn’t even noticed. Pacing my bedroom, I contemplated this dilemma; how could people not see / sense how wonderful Mortimer was? He radiated laughter and joy, but apparently this was wrong? Why? Adults told me; “It’s simply how things are... you’ll understand how the world works one day.” As a five year old child, I believe that was my first introduction to ‘how the world works.’ In my head it just didn’t make any sense at all.
My mother worried constantly, but I was incessantly happy in my own world, away from the confusing energies of others. My imagination was fuelled by the wonderful collection of books in Bristol library, where I revelled in acquiring knowledge. The addition of astronomy in 1970 was a turning point; incoming knowledge upon the universe and the sheer size of space exploded into my head, opening new doors towards scientific rationality. The simultaneous arrival on my TV of Mr. Spock from Star Trek, sealed the deal; science and logical thinking rocked. Valuable time was spent in front of the mirror, practising the raising of a quizzical eyebrow, saying; ‘fascinating,’ and separating my fingers into a crude Vulcan greeting.
In sweet counter-balance - via music, writing and art - I joyfully discovered that creative imagination held no limits; it gave me a deep sense of connectivity to something outside of my mind’s perceptions. Within music, art and writing, I felt safe and protected. Even loved.
With the sublime balance of rationality and creativity, the world began to make sense. Now, how to apply this to how to deal with picking up the emotional vibrations of others?
Around 1970, aged seven, I became very ill. I remember being poorly, but not scared. Somehow, I’d already spent many late nights contemplating the nature of the universe and how I fitted into it. A new word entered my vocabulary: meningitis. Frowning doctors sat upon my bed. Mother panicked. Words were said and plans were made; I was to be taken to hospital and from there, more adult things would be planned and done.
I never got to find out precisely what that would entail as the following morning, the pains had disappeared. The doctors examined me, before scratching their heads and shrugging. Mother was elated. Myself also; as the energies of hospitals affected me badly. I also recall that this was a key moment in my life as, after this mysterious illness had disappeared, my sensitivity exploded.
Whose was that voice in the corner of the room? What was that shadowy blur? Who, or what, was making that noise in the wardrobe?
Thanks to Vulcan logic, I began to dismantle my growing fears; it was an old building with mice and rats - logically, there would be noise. Then the footsteps began. OK, said my logical mind; obviously much larger rats in the basement than we realised. Problem solved.
Over weeks, the footsteps became accompanied by tuneless whistling. Soon, these sounds became a forerunner to a larger issue; namely that they both belonged to an older man who would walk up the stairs each night, open my bedroom door and sit on my bed, while I sought panicked sanctuary beneath the covers. I couldn’t tell what he said to me; I know it was English, but it never made any coherent sense and I never heard him leave my room.
This went on for months however, to my analytical mind, the Case of Finding Out What Occurred was afoot. That was in 1971 and my mind was set; I would devote time towards finding out the truth behind who - or what - had sat on my bed that summer.
I’m still searching.
Paranormal research demonstrated that I was certainly not alone in experiencing hauntings, which brought comfort. However, at school my sensitivity caused problems. I was very tall, but also painfully thin and, accessorized by cheap spectacles, a terrible hairstyle (even for the '70s) and muscles the size of baked beans, I was a natural target for bullies. The more I got thumped or kicked, the more I drew inside myself. My sensitivity helped me to understand - such as seeing things from the point of view of the bullies - not a lot of practical help but at least I somehow knew that I was being used as a punchbag because of weaknesses in them, not within me. Physically, it also taught me to bob and weave like Muhammad Ali, and how to take a punch.
At this time, my family life was disintegrating. Father abandoned us in 1976, an event which jangled my sensitivity, especially with my poor mother suffering frequent nervous breakdowns.
At fourteen, I rebelled and pushed everyone away. Anger took over and I found that this actually improved my abilities not to link in with everyone around me. Rage created a buffer in which I stopped being intrigued by what others were feeling, or caring; I simply built a wall. For a while it worked, although I certainly wouldn’t have won prizes for Personality of the Year. Nervous anxiety leading to a chronic speech impediment further dented my social skills, causing me to withdraw back into my own world. Thankfully, away from people, this was a highly pleasant world filled with creative wonder. I spent hours reading, learning to play and compose music, sketching or writing. Here, I felt at peace. Furthermore, my sensitivity appeared to embolden my intuitivity in positive ways; I could experiment with my creative addictions whilst away from any social spotlight, or personal judgements. My inspiration duly soared.
Throughout my teens, I’d continued researching the paranormal, especially as strong, individual paranormal events continued to occur around me. At aged twenty, I pushed this one stage further and began a detailed study of religion and spirituality. Not to convert, or belong to a social group, but purely to ascertain whether any of the thousands of Earthly religions held practical meaning for me upon my individual life path. Research proved frustrating though, and my empathic nature didn’t help, especially as I picked up strongly on the emotions within various churches. The sheer intensity of some worshippers confused me, others angered me, and some left me cold.
Two faiths stood out; Quakerism and Spiritualism. The former brought fascinating elements of peace, alongside thoughtful discussion. The latter fuelled my thoughts on life beyond physical demise.
I chose Spiritualism as a major learning path and signed up for spiritual development classes; in hindsight, a life-changing moment and one that would ultimately lead to more balance within my empathic thoughts and feelings, leading to the beginnings of controlled discipline.
Within the closely-controlled space of spiritual development, (known as a ‘circle’) and under guidance from a strong medium / intuitive, I blossomed. My first experience of sitting created an hour of wonder that stretched my mind to its logical maximum. Over the next year, my spiritual hierarchy drew close and expanded my metaphysical awareness. Within the year I was ready to demonstrate public spiritual healing.
Initially, this was a daunting process. Despite weekly exposure to circle, public healing took my sensitivity to new levels and, after attending to my first few patients, I managed to take home all of their combined aches, pains and emotions. Via meditation, and the valued words of my mentor, I was encouraged to work on detachment tools. I struggled at first, but around this time I recall watching the Scottish comedian, Billy Connolly describing blues music; “Ye have to be on the outside looking in” he said. ‘Ye can’t be in there, else the emotion of what you’re singing gets too much to cope with.” Suitably armed by the Big Yin’s advice, I now found that my healing improved and I was able to detach myself from the person I was trying to help.
A year later, this became even more invaluable when my mentor encouraged my path as a church medium. With my speech impediment still presenting an occasional blight, This presented the slight
problem of addressing potentially large crowds of strangers. I was asked simply to trust, nothing more, and subsequently I discovered that when asked to speak in public I became overshadowed by my
spiritual hierarchy and adopted a light trance state, as if I was hearing the words for the first time, and stood slightly to one side. Since 1987, my spiritual work has allowed me to expand my
understanding, and also to give further discipline to my powerful empathic nature.
Over subsequent years, my empathy has become more of an ally; perhaps now, I am more at ease with myself. Undoubtedly, decades of spiritual study and exploration have assisted too. However, age invariably brings new challenges; as a diabetic, I find that my empathic nature now brings new dangers, especially when close to individuals and groups who emit anger, or lower vibrations. Subsequently, I’ve had to employ more coping mechanisms to deal with this influx of unwanted emotions. Forms of martial arts and meditation have certainly brought extra stability.
The benefits of empathy? Numerous! I met my wife whilst serving as a medium and we married at our local Spiritualist church in 1989. Being of a like mind and soul, we have worked together since, and continue to do so to this day. That feeling of cooperation and not being alone has really helped us both to find and explore deeper expression and I was there for our daughters when they also began displaying signs of increased sensitivity and awareness of spiritual / paranormal energies. In creative terms, the benefits have been astronomical; I’ve composed over one hundred pieces of music and have been blessed with enough intense bouts of musical inspiration to bring incredulous tears to my eyes, accompanied by a lifelong wonder / fascination for how this intuitive process might conceivably work. My spiritual / empathic path has allowed me to help others in times of need. I have also found deep expression within photography, which allows me to view the world from a detached state; with minimal emotional attachment. Photography allows me the sense of being a mere observer on this amazing world and its inhabitants and, like music and writing, I treasure it as a valuable sense of personal expression.
I no longer fear physical death and my life’s work as a writer and researcher constantly opens me up towards discovering new knowledge and understanding. I see no end to exploring all available data concerning who we are, as human beings, and what we are capable of with positive thought and firm, logical balance.
Music has provided the most magnificent, personal healing tool. Composing and listening to a variety of music has certainly brought equilibrium at the most difficult points of my life. From being a teenager with limited speech, at fifty-four I now work as a radio presenter, playing my favourite music to the world. I’m far from being a millionaire, but at the moment I feel rich and blessed to explore new doors, kicked open by a burst of recent confidence.
Most importantly, I’ve built sets of valued tools to help with my empathic feelings, especially when around other people. The more I learn, the more I see evidence that leads me to believe that there is a grand pattern, or purpose to this Earthly world and to our temporary lives here.
As Mr Spock would say; “Fascinating.”
Kevin Milsom is a medium, tarot reader, numerologist and spiritual healer, and is the founder of Paranormally Curious, a website and Facebook page exploring the paranormal and different aspects of parapsychology.