All that said, it was helpful to see the faces and hear the stories from the very real people who’ve had these challenging experiences.
At one session a curly-haired woman raised her hand and asked the group, “Has anyone here had any negative experiences?”
I raised my hand and so did the guy next to me (I have talked with him, and he’s shared enough with me that I realize he’s had a lifetime of terrifying involvement with gray aliens). I was sitting just a few chairs away from the curly-haired woman and I watched her look right at us as she scanned the room. Then she commented, “Isn’t that interesting that nobody has had any negative experiences.”
I was kind of shocked that she didn’t acknowledge me and the guy next to me. She had to try hard NOT to see us. I didn’t see anyone else in the room with a raised hand but I suspect we weren’t the only two.
The next morning I attended the follow-up crowded meeting. At one point this same curly-haired woman raised her hand and stated, “Yesterday I asked if anyone had any negative experiences and I thought it was so interesting that nobody raised their hand.”
At that moment I blurted out,
“I was in the room and I raised my hand!”
I was angry and it must have been easy to hear in my voice. She said she was sorry that she hadn’t seen me. She said it in a way that was a little bit sugary, she might have said something like she hadn’t honored my presence.
As she spoke I was being poked in the back by a complete stranger who was whispering, “Talk - talk...”
After the woman finished her statement I raised my hand to reply and the people to my right and left pointed at me in an effort to make sure that the moderator (Barbara Lamb) was aware that I wanted to say something.
It may have been a few minutes later that Barbara called on me. It gave me time to compose my thoughts and come to grips with my anger.
I said something like this, “Look, I have experienced something that was so profoundly terrifying that I am amazed I survived with my sanity intact.” I hinted briefly at my 2010 incident in a tent, I made it very clear that I was with another person who described the exact same crippling terror.
As I spoke to the group I looked at this woman and her eyes were wandering up at the ceiling. She wasn’t looking at me and I wasn’t sure why. I didn’t talk for very long, I wanted to be succinct, but I made it very clear that I wasn't alone in having extremely negative experiences. Let me add that almost all of my memories have been weirdly neutral and void of any emotion, but that thing in the tent was horrifying.
A few people came up after the meeting and thanked me for speaking up.
I came away with a few insights after this curious interaction with the curly-haired woman. First, I feel there are people within the UFO abduction “community” (if you can call it that) that are willfully ignoring things that doesn’t fit their fixed agenda. We probably all do it in subtle ways, but this woman simply must have seen me and the other guy with our hands up. For some reason, whether conscious or unconscious, she ignored us.
The other thing I was forced to look at was my own behavior. I can certainly imagine that I could dismiss someone who’s outlook or comments were too new-agey for my taste. I feel like I have been pretty good at listening and trying to understand the experiences of others, but it really stuck me just how important it is to pay attention to the entirety of the people’s personal stories. Even more so if their experiences challenge something you hold as some sort of belief.
While at this conference I was very aware that I have a funny quirk where I get totally drawn into the experiences that folks will share with me. Empathy is probably the best word to describe me when I listen. All that said, it’s pretty common for me to get dragged way out of my comfort zone with some of the weird stories I'll hearing. Still, I feel strongly that I should really and truly listen, because when you get right down to it, my experiences are feakin’ crazy too.