When: About 4 years ago
Where: Southern Oregon while temporarily living with my family in my grandparents old farmhouse (while we helped renovate their property to sell it).
Me: 31 year old woman (about 27 when this happened)

The main event happened four years ago. But for some time before that, I had this small dark shadow with red eyes that would sometimes watch me while I slept. I moved around a lot and it seemed to follow me. I would wake up- or at least I would think I’d wake up, I honestly can’t be too sure if I was awake or not. It felt so real every time but always seemed too bizarre not to be a dream. When I woke up to this thing, I couldn’t move my body. It was like I was filled with cement. But I could open my eyes and see this small dark rounded figure with red eyes. Sometimes it was high in the corner clutching the walls, sometimes standing near my bed, and once it was hovering above me. It creeped me out and gave me chills, but to be honest- I was never truly afraid of it. It didn’t feel like it meant me harm and I just wasn’t that convinced it was real. This went off and on for years.

Then one night, 4 years ago, I “woke up” (eyes open and cement in my body) and I heard something bipedal taking slow steps outside. The head of my bed was right next to a window on the ground floor facing the backyard. It was fall and the ground was covered with dead leaves from a large tree in the backyard. I heard it take a few leaf crunching steps and then I heard a loud bang- like something had jumped and landed on the wood deck. It was so loud it sounded like something must have jumped off the one story roof. I was terrified and I couldn’t move. My mind started racing to come up with something. Maybe a black bear or a cougar had wandered into the yard. That didn’t match what sounded like human steps (with two legs) but it was the safest thought I could come up with because it would mean that I’d be safe inside. I was trying to stay away from thoughts that it could be a person lurking in our backyard and I was especially not ready to entertain the idea of something supernatural. I tried to move my body because I suddenly felt very uncomfortable with my head so close to the window and I wanted to run to my brother or my mom and ask if they heard the bang- but I couldn’t move. I tried focusing on my arms but it was like there was nothing to even engage. They weren’t just filled with cement, they were lifeless. I didn’t hear anything else and drifted the rest of the night until morning but only ever felt half asleep.

I told my family but we mostly brushed it off as a weird night. I was exhausted from having barely slept that night and figured I’d sleep pretty hard the second my head hit the pillow. And I did, until I “woke up” to the sound of the leaf crunching steps again. I was once again paralyzed and more terrified than the first night. My heart was pounding and my mind was racing trying to piece together whether or not I was awake. All physical signs pointed to this being real except for how strange it was and the fact that I couldn’t move. No loud bang this time, but the walking lasted longer and happened several times throughout the night. I was paralyzed and half awake for what felt like the entire night. I remember that the feeling of waking up right where I was when I went to sleep but not knowing if it was a dream and not being able to move felt… like it was a place. As if not being able to move was a place that only existed at night and I had returned.

That morning I told my family what happened and that I was afraid to go to sleep. I was so scared of it happening again and I was probably a little emotional because I was very sleep deprived. They told me that maybe it was something, maybe it wasn’t but either way I was giving it power and that I needed to stand up to it and assert that I know it can’t harm me. I started to feel a little crazy, a little paranoid, and a little pathetic. That night before going to bed, I cried. I cried and told my family that I didn’t want to not sleep in my room because that felt ridiculous but that I was also embarrassed because I was so scared and confused by this situation. Of course that night I woke up to the sound of leaf crunching steps and my paralyzed body. But this time I got angry. I kept repeating to myself that tonight I would find out what this is. I decided that whatever it is- it doesn’t get to scare me as a mystery, I needed to see it. I focused and tried to tense every muscle until finally it felt like I broke free. I shot up like spring and immediately went from laying down to standing up. I walked out of my room, across the living room and reached for the knob of the door to the backyard. Before I could reach it, the little rounded shadow with red eyes appeared just to the right of the door. I don’t know why, but I knew that this shadow wasn’t what had been walking on the leaves. It seemed like it was trying to stop me from opening the door. I opened the door anyway and the little rounded shadow appeared right in front of me and shook its head side to side like it was saying no. I took a step out anyway and looked to the right, in the direction I had heard the steps. I saw a tall (maybe 7ft) dark floating figure in what looked like a brimmed hat and trench coat round the corner of the house. I didn’t follow it because I started to gather that the smaller shadow was trying to tell me not to go looking for it….and because I’ve never been more scared of anything in my life.
I didn’t hear any leaf crunching steps after that night. I did see and feel the presence of the smaller shadow watching me periodically at night, even after I moved, but still never felt it meant me any harm. In fact, after that night, I almost felt like it was looking out for me. I felt like it was amused when it creeped me out, but it didn’t actually want to see me hurt.

A little over a year ago I found an abandoned kitten that was crying for help for hours (I didn’t want to take it right away in case it’s mom was just on a hunt). It was only 4 weeks old and fit in the palm of my hand. The first night I brought him home, I had set up a box with towels and a warm water bottle for him to sleep in. But he cried and cried so I picked him up and put him on the bed with me. He crawled up to my neck and fell asleep. Ever since I brought him home, I have not felt the presence of anything near me at all. I can even sleep on my back now, which I hadn’t felt comfortable doing for years. He’s a black cat with glowy green eyes. Which is kind of a fun end to the story because either he makes me feel comfortable enough that I don’t have terrifying sleep paralysis dreams any more, or I used to see shadow people and my new sweet little feline shadow has scared them off.