Don't Let Psychics Give You Health Advice

Sunday, May 21, 2023

When I saw that an Instagram friend was in New Orleans the week before I'd be there, I of course asked for her recommendations. When she told me about a "channeler" she loved who has set up shop in Jackson Square, my fellow travelers and I were all in.

We were in town for a bachelorette party for our friend Emily, whose original event was scheduled for March 2020 and was obviously quickly canceled. Now, Emily has been married for almost three years, and their son just turned 1. But she still wanted (and deserved!) her New Orleans bachelorette party.

The channeler was younger than I expected, and more normal, somehow. She was youngish, maybe my age, and she was pretty, thin, dressed in athleisure. She sat under a striped parasol in a hot pink chair. She didn't seem like somebody who'd hustle you for money in a tourist trap of a park. 

Emily went first, and her experience was largely positive. The channeler told her some things about her job, some things about her family and how many more kids she'd have. She warned her about a relative's health scare and how it would affect her other loved ones. She'd said the session would last for 15 to 20 minutes, but instead it last for 45. Emily left feeling buoyant and impressed.
Maureen went next, and some of the things the channeler told her were difficult, about finances and family pressures and, again, a loved one's future health issue. But she, too, seemed glad she'd done it, and the rest of us decided we wanted to give it a go (although let's be honest, I'd known all along that I wanted to). 
I decided to be a bit of a stoic, a skeptic, because I didn't want to give the channeler too much to go off of. Now, though, I wish I'd given her more. I think my refusal to provide details, to push back, to guide her in a particular direction, led her to pull whatever the hell she wanted out of her own brain, to tell me a bunch of bullshit that was wholly irrelevant to my life.
She asked what I do for work (writer), if I'm married (yes), if I have kids (no), if I want kids (yes). She asked me if I've tried IVF (no) or IUI (also no). She asked me if I have a diagnosis (yes), asked me what it was (premature menopause). And then she scoffed, and she told me that she sees me seeking alternate medical opinions, "purifying my body," and ultimately becoming pregnant.
When I tell you I was stunned...
I don't know why I didn't expect it. I should've, right? I should've. And yet somehow, despite my healthy dose of skepticism, I also went into it too naive, too hopeful. I didn't think about the prospect of being body-shamed by a psychic. 

"I don't see much movement or exercise in your life, is that right?" No, I told her, that's not right. I box twice a week, and I work with a personal trainer on the weekends.
"Hmm," she tried again. "I see that you need to focus more on stretching, maybe on yoga or Pilates." 
She told me I need to remove seed oils from my diet, change my lifestyle in order to make my body inhabitable for a baby to grow. "Seek a second, a third, a fourth medical opinion if you need to," she told me. "Maybe try a surrogate, have someone else carry one of your eggs. Maybe that's what I'm seeing here."

Is it? Is it, really, lady? Or are you just seeing your own biases and "medical" opinions and then projecting them, along with your judgments, onto the fat, infertile body you see in front of you? Because by the way, I don't have any eggs; that's kiiiind of the whole problem here. 
And then she told me about her own past, that she worked as a physician's assistant before she left the medical field to pursue her purpose as a channeler. She told me she knows "all about medicine" and that menopause "doesn't happen until 45, at the very earliest."
Still, I took a chance; I told her we'd been considering adoption. That was an understatement, given how far along we are in the process, but I wanted to see what she'd say if I only gave her a tiny bit of my truth. I certainly didn't expect her response to be, "Adoption will break your heart and destroy your marriage. It's not your path."
Say what? 
The fucking audacity.
And yet, through it all, she remained upbeat and optimistic, as though she was letting me in on the secrets of the universe. Surely I was appreciative of her wisdom, her vision, her apparent medical wizardry! 
My reading, unlike my friends', lasted under 20 minutes. I couldn't bring myself to be responsive, couldn't affirm or even deny her, couldn't show any emotion. When the time came for me to ask her direct questions, I had nothing to say. I didn't want to hear another word from her, couldn't bear to be seated across from her any longer.
I paid her my hard-earned, quickly wasted money and hurried away, getting a strong drink from a nearby walkup window while another friend got her reading. I wandered into a gift shop, where I talked with an old, lesbian soapmaker about her first and only visit to Cleveland. I sat in the park for 20 minutes, vacillating between devastation and anger and amusement as I tried to process what had just happened. I texted my husband; I called a friend.
And then I got over it.

Or I tried to, anyway. Because in truth, it hurts to think about that experience, about those 20 excruciating minutes that I spent listening to a stranger charge me to tell me hurtful lies based surely on nothing but her own judgment of my body. It feels painful, embarrassing, even devastating.
But I know better.
I know better than to let the completely random words of a completely random person — a stranger with absolutely no connection to me or to my life, aside from a brief interaction with my wallet — hold more weight than my own lived experiences. I know better than to trust a boardwalk psychic over my doctors, who work for one of the best hospital systems in the country. I know better than to believe a snake-oil saleswoman over my relationship with my husband, over the guidance of my therapist, over the way I feel in my heart and in my head and in the pit of my own stomach.
I know what my path is, and I am comfortable with it; I am happy with it, even. So while I may have let a con artist scam me out of $50 and 20 minutes, there's no way I'm letting her rob me of my joy or my confidence or my intuition or my hopes for the life I'm so proudly and intentionally building for myself and my family.
I'll channel my own damn future, thank you very much. 

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