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Excerpted from Second Sight by Judith Orloff. Copyright © 1996 by Judith Orloff, M.D. Excerpted by permission of Time Warner Books and Time Warner Bookmark.  All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.  HTML and web pages copyright © by SpiritSite.com.
 


"It was through Terry's love and insight that I slowly began to accept myself and my images."

Judith Orloff, Second Sight, Part 7

Terry's only desire since he was a little boy was to be an artist, to create. As I watched him, so calm and directed, sketching at his rough-hewn pine drawing table late into the nights, lost in the world of art, I prayed I too might find a calling that could give me so much joy.

When at the last minute I decided to forgo college in favor of living with a struggling, long-haired artist eight years my senior who wasn't even Jewish, my parents were exasperated. Having already paid thousands of dollars for my tuition at Pitzer College in Claremont, where I was supposed to begin the following semester, they forfeited the money and refused ever to meet Terry. Convinced that at seventeen I was throwing away my future, they couldn't support that. Not knowing what else to do, my parents decided to withdraw all financial help except the fees for my therapy sessions.

To help earn living expenses, I got my first job as a salesgirl in the towel department at the May Company, earning seventy-five dollars a week. It was located on Fairfax and Wilshire, less than half a mile away from the Climax nightclub, where Terry had been commissioned to paint an outdoor mural. From our studio in Venice, he would drive me to work each morning on his BMW motorcycle. On the coldest, rainiest days, our eyes tearing from the cold, bundled up in our army jackets, I would hold tightly on to his waist as we sped through the city streets. I had never felt happier or more free.

It was through Terry's love and insight that I slowly began to accept myself and my images. Whether or not they were psychic, they were an intimate part of who I was, and Terry recognized that. He understood and valued their importance as no one had ever done. Terry was the first man I'd been with who I felt could truly "see" me. By encouraging me to explore my psychic life, he also helped me to start trusting Jim.

In the course of my therapy, I slowly recalled other premonitions I'd had as a child. For instance, one day when I was nine, my parents introduced me to Evan, a longtime friend of theirs from London who took frequent business trips to the States. An impressive man, he was an extraordinarily successful entrepreneur who appeared to have it all: a beautiful wife and family, good health, and the means to maintain an elegant lifestyle, complete with servants, a Rolls-Royce with chauffeur, and a country estate in Surrey.

Within minutes of first being introduced to Evan, however, a sense of dread overtook me, a sinking feeling in my stomach, a certainty that something bad was about to happen to him. My feelings alarmed me because I could see no apparent reason for them. Here was this successful friend of my parents, but I couldn't wait to escape his presence. When I told my mother, she said, "How can you feet that? You've barely met him." I couldn't explain my feelings; there was nothing to back them up, and I felt terrible about myself for having them. We both gladly dropped the subject. Nonetheless, I couldn't help my response. It was automatic, instinctive. I was reminded of how my dog once reacted to a friend of mine, barking and growling at her whenever she came to the house. That was annoying to me, so I had a sense of how my mother felt.

But then, three weeks later, my parents received a call from mutual friends. To the surprise and shock of everyone who knew him, Evan had committed suicide. This time my mother didn't call it a coincidence. Rather, she acknowledged that I must have sensed something: "You were right about Evan. I can't figure it out, but somehow you knew." It was also clear, however, that she was unsettled, reluctant to have further discussion. There was an unusual resignation in her voice, a heaviness, a mix of awkwardness and sadness. She seemed not to know what to do with me--I was odd, a curiosity, something from another planet. My mother had validated what I'd said, but in the end she left me more mixed up than ever. She dropped the subject and life went on as if all this had never happened. Once again, I felt alone, tainted, fearing I'd colluded in something awful, as if stranded with my own thoughts on a deserted island in the middle of the ocean. So I tried to act normal, didn't talk about my feelings.

Jim's attitude toward these incidents was enormously comforting. What I appreciated the most was that he didn't seem judgmental or afraid. A psychiatrist, trained of course in conventional medicine, he could very well have pigeonholed me as a "nut" and dismissed my experiences. Worse, he could have analyzed and interpreted them, searching for hidden meaning rather than taking them on their own terms. Or he could have prescribed antipsychotic medications to squash my abilities. But he didn't. Nor did he hide his bewilderment. It was an odd situation: He was confused; I was confused. But we were trying to sort out our confusion together, which in a roundabout way, allowed me to feel safe.

One day, Jim recounted a psychic experience of his own, which occurred when he was a psychiatric resident at the Meninger Institute in Kansas, During a snowstorm, his car had a flat tire on a remote country road. When it was clear that he wouldn't be able to return home on time, he knew that his wife would be worried. He really wanted her to know he was okay, but there were no phones. During what they later established had been the same period, his wife had a dream in which she saw Jim's car having tire trouble but that he was unharmed. Not surprisingly, this unusual communication between them had stirred Jim's interest in the psychic.

I was touched by Jimís story as well as incredibly relieved to be in the company of an educated person with advanced academic credentials who'd also had such experiences. At least I wasn't the only oddball running around! This gave me solace. Also, I'd taken a risk in trusting Jim, and he didn't let me down. Far from condemning me, he'd shown a profound respect for what I was going through. So when Jim encouraged me to go farther and remember other such events, I felt safe enough to do so.

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