The first Monday of January is notorious for being Divorce Day; the date that solicitors see a surge in divorce inquiries after a (quite possibly tense) Christmas holiday. But what’s the best way to get over a relationship? Well, it’s definitely not going to see a psychic, according to Stylist’s digital editor Kayleigh Dray.
I’d like to think that, in some pleasant alternate reality, I’d have blossomed into a logical, rational human being. However, my mum – god love her – has made that impossible.
Since birth, she has taught me to toss salt over my left shoulder, salute every solitary magpie I come across, scream when I cut into my birthday cake (to let the devil out, obviously), and spin tiny spiders around my head three times if I want to be rich. She has also informed me, ever so matter-of-factly, that a bird in the house means someone I love is due to drop dead in the not-so-distant future, which is… well, it’s disconcerting, to say the least. She really believes in all this stuff, and despite my best efforts, I know some of her superstitions have seeped into me too.
When it comes to psychics, though, I’ve somehow managed to cling onto my scepticism , with all the fierce desperation of someone hanging from a cliff edge. I refuse point-blank to accept that Derek Acorah can speak to the dead. That Uri Geller can bend spoons with his brain. That ghosts can reach out to us through the static of our televisions and radios. Above all else, I have always dismissed that idea that a complete stranger could shuffle a few cards from their tarot deck, look deep into my soul and map out the rest of my life.
But, while visiting a psychic has always, always been my idea of hell, I can still acknowledge the positive impact of a good reading. So what if the psychic in question isn’t actually connecting with dark and mysterious forces? So what if they’re merely using common sense and a series of high-probability guesses to deliver a ‘cold’ reading? If they can use whatever skills they have to bring someone some much-needed comfort, so be it. And if they can make a few quid doing it, then why not? They may be charlatans, but they’re still providing a service.
This misplaced faith, however, proved to be my undoing. Home for the weekend, and nursing a broken heart (and a bruised ego) after being unceremoniously dumped by my long-term boyfriend, my mum got it into her head that the cure – the only cure – was for me to visit the village psychic. And so she lured me there under false pretences, making out that she wanted a reading for her birthday.
When we got there, though, she shoved a handful of £10 notes into my hand and gently propelled me towards the door.
“I want you to go in there,” she told me, eyes feverish with excitement. “You need this – and it would make me so happy. Do it for me, for my birthday!”
“But I don’t w…”
She cut me off mid-sentence, and repeated that she needed me to do it for her, that it was the only birthday present she wanted, and that I would do it if I loved her. Didn’t I love her, damn it?
Yup. As I’m sure you know, dear reader, emotional blackmail can be very persuasive. And, if I’m being completely honest, a tiny part of me hoped that I’d walk through that door, sit down opposite an insightful Derren Brown-esque figure, and get the sort of “OH MY GOD, THIS IS SO MY LIFE!” cold reading that convinces the stoniest of cynics there really is a sixth sense.
Instead, I found a small, bespectacled woman in a sparkly turquoise turban. Yawning, her magnified eyes fixed on mine, she indicated that I should take a seat – and, of course, lay my money out on the table. She remained silent until she’d gathered the notes up, counted them, and squirrelled them away into a box. Then, and only then, did ask me to shuffle the tarot and “get to know the cards”.
“Should I tell them a joke?” I asked her weakly, but I did as she said. Then, I lay seven cards out on the table as my ‘introduction’, and a further nine cards for my 12-month forecast.
“Signifying you, we have the sun,” she said, turning over a heart-achingly beautiful card. The sun, I thought to myself. Sunshine, happiness, positivity! However, my hopes quickly died as she snapped: “It’s a challenge… a warning.”
“Oh?” I asked, feeling more nervous than I cared to admit.
“Even though we’re coming into the autumn, the effects of the sun are still quite strong, so wear a hat,” she informed me. “And suncream. And sunglasses if you can.”
… Wait, what?
“Is that more of a metaphor?” I asked helpfully. “Like the sun…?”
“No. It means, stay out the sun, and wear a hat,” she repeated.
“Don’t expose your bare skin, because otherwise you might get skin irritations.”
“Yes,” she said, grumpily shifting in her seat. “Skin irritations. Next, we have the wheel of fortune – which means that your life will need to slow down, and you need to keep your…”
Here came the longest pause in conversation I have ever encountered in my entire life. I’m not being dramatic: I genuinely thought she had, at best, fallen asleep, or worst, died. Turns out, though, that she had entered a “trance” state. After several long, stretching moments, in which I fought the urge to reach across the table and shake her, she suddenly snapped back into consciousness.
“And you need to keep your progress slow,” she continued, as if the pause had never happened. “Take your time, don’t rush, don’t commit yourself to set dates and times unless you can’t help it, because there are gremlins in the works and better things will always come when you’re committed to something else. Be loose in your arrangements. Be laidback and vague.”
Clearly, this was advice that she had decided to take on board herself, because what followed was the most boring and nondescript psychic reading I have ever had. Some key revelations included the fact that I would attend a party on New Year’s Eve (ground-breaking stuff, as I’m sure you’ll agree), and that I would watch a DVD about supernovas in a room with a west-facing window. She also confided that she saw me sat down to breakfast in a fancy restaurant with white tablecloths – but, when I assumed this meant she was getting to the good stuff (the promotions, the riches, the countless proposals), she threw me a curveball.
“I see you sitting down and… what’s that I see? Oh, it’s a plate of boiled eggs chopped in half on toast… with mayo poured over them. Looks alright actually. Bit of olive oil there.”
Brilliant. My future was, essentially, a massive throwback to the Seventies – and not in a cool retro kind of way. As she continued to ramble about a grey dog (“his fur is very soft, very beautiful”) and a “man carrying a bunch of bananas in his left hand”, I felt my heart sink. When she told me that she saw me growing apart from a female friend, my lip gave a traitorous wobble. I barely heard her as she began to describe a series of “human beings that aren’t quite human beings, but aliens,” and actively tuned out when she mentioned a “person with an Oriental look about her”. Because, even though I knew it was all nonsense, I was becoming increasingly depressed. Why? Why was I doomed to a boring existence of DVDs, bad period pains (“you should get some drugs from the chemist for that”) and disgusting breakfast food? Why would I burst into flames if I so much as set foot outside on a sunny day? Why was my psychic peppering my reading with racist terms? Why, why, why?
Eventually, after what felt like hours of my life, she was done. “All of this will come to pass in the next four to five years,” she informed me, with a wag of her finger. “Make sure you text me when it does: I like to hear how my clients are getting on.”
I promised that I would, despite the fact I didn’t have her number (perhaps the digits would come to me in a vision, eh?) and stumbled back outside, blinking in the sudden daylight. My mum was stood there, eagerly waiting to find out every little detail, so I politely informed her that my future looks every bit as alluring as a plate of boiled eggs and mayonnaise on toast.
She was, naturally, devastated.
“I just wanted her to tell you that you’d find love again and everything would be OK,” she said sadly. “Not all of this rubbish about bananas and DVDs!”
I gave her a hug and reassured her that it was all going to be OK. And, as I did so, I realised… well, I realised that I was right.
Yes, some part of me had secretly hoped that the psychic would look deep into my eyes and tell me that my stars were aligning ever so nicely. Yes, I’d wanted her to take my life, package it up and present it to me with a neat little bow on top. And yes, fine, I wanted guidance: I’d been feeling increasingly lost over the past few months (scoffing takeaways at 11pm in a grimy London flatshare as all my friends purchase houses, tie the knot and fall pregnant isn’t what I had in mind) and desperately craved a promise that things were going to get better.
However, when you take all the mystery out of life, you take all the glamour out of it, too. If I give up all autonomy and self-control, if I live my life according to my ‘destiny’, of course it’s going to be boring AF. Of course it is!
What I really need to do is look inside myself to figure out what’s best for me, because I’m the only person who can truly control what my future holds. I have the opportunity to build and shape my future, avoid any restaurants that are firmly stuck in the Seventies and watch whatever DVDs I bloody well please – and I can do all of that without a psychic’s help.
Especially that psychic. Because she was beyond shit.
Images: Getty / Wyron