I Spent Thousands of Dollars On Psychics After My Breakup


When I walked into Roxanne’s Chelsea studio, clutching a bevy of loose printed photographs and the prized cameo necklace my ex Ben* had found at a flea market in Connecticut on one of our weekends away, the vibe was decidedly unpsychic-like. Sure, the lights were dim and there seemed to be some bottles of new age potions lining a shelf, but a sprightly receptionist about my age greeted me as I got off the elevator. I sat on a wooden bench shuffling the pictures that defined the last two years and two months of my life when Roxanne, all long blonde bangs and pool blue eyes, appeared out of her corner office. “Sweetie,” she cooed and enveloped me in her arms—it was the first time we met.

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She guided me into a darker room lit only by candles, where I leaned against a trove of South Asian pillows. “My darling, think about the questions you have for your angels,” Roxanne instructed me. I nervously thought hard about what I would ask, but was distracted by my hands drenched in sweat. She subsequently closed her eyes tightly in an altered consciousness a la Whoopi Goldberg in Ghost and began chanting, cameo in hand, “Let the angels that are watching over Priya never let her feel alone. Let her guides, her teachers, all the archangels help her. Let us heal the blocks of the past, present, and future.” The room went quiet and was filled with my deep breaths.

I had never given much thought to mediums or soothsayers before—I was terrified of the Ouija board growing up, so much so that I called my mom to pick me up when my elementary school friends tried playing it while watching The Exorcist—but when my ginger-haired boyfriend, Ben abruptly ended our relationship after a seemingly routine fight, I felt lost. I thought a reconciliation was inevitable at first, but after a few days, my begging pleas were met with, “I don’t knows,” and my “whys?”, an angry irritation. After a few raw weeks, my friends could no longer talk about it either; my therapist, for her part, said it was time to move on. But I couldn’t. Confusion soon became desperation. I got Roxanne’s number from Kat, a stylist’s assistant at W magazine, where I used to work, after running into her in a lower Manhattan subway station.

“The first thing they brought up is babies,” Roxanne said. “Had you been thinking about children with this person?” I perked up. “Well, we were talking about the future a lot,” I said. She asked to see a picture. I pulled out my trove of photographs of the two of us together, one at a bonfire in Los Angeles, another in Montauk eating lobster rolls, curled up on his lap in his Greenpoint apartment—I was wearing that buffalo plaid jacket he loved. She stared at the photos intently and said, “Sometimes in relationships you have to separate to come back together.” Though we continued talking for the next hour, those words gave me relief. Those words were really what I came here for. I needed someone to tell me that our relationship wasn’t over, that there was still a chance. Since Ben couldn’t, Roxanne’s words felt like the next best thing. I happily paid her the $145 cash fee in exchange for a recording of our session and walked out.

Later that night I sent Roxanne a thank you email—it seemed like the only polite thing to do—and listened to the tape, expecting to hear from Ben bright and early. I felt optimistic because we had been in and out of contact, naturally. Surely, these angels moved quickly, they just needed to be set in motion. When morning passed at a beyond crawling pace with no call, I grew impatient. Maybe I needed a second opinion? I mindlessly Googled “psychic” and found a site called AskNow that was offering $1 a minute introductory calls. I called the 1-800 number and was directed to a psychic named Paul, all from under the white tent I had created with my comforter. Paul was more direct than Roxanne, asking from the get go, “Do you want to know about love or money? “Love,” I responded. Paul then proceeded to ask what happened, and I started going through the minutiae of the breakup and our following arguments about our future when an operator came on and asked if I wanted to buy more minutes. I did. I hadn’t even heard Paul’s prediction yet. $64.87 later, he said I would hear from Ben by nightfall.

At 11:53 pm, an email from Ben arrived! Paul was right, but it concluded with, “I know I have left you with questions and for that I am sorry…I know that I’ve hurt you and I am continuing to hurt you. I, too, am just following what my head and heart tell me I need and I am grateful that you are allowing me the freedom and peace to do so…” Freedom and peace to do so? His open-ended words practically said nothing. Were we going to get back together or not? I had to know, so I called Paul back. $49.90 later, Paul said to give it a week.

I wish I could say that I waited a week or that my nearly $260 clairvoyant spending spree was a 24-hour lapse in judgement, but it wasn’t. In fact, it lasted nearly a year and I’m embarrassed to say, several thousands of dollars on a nonexistent salary. Asides from regular visits with Roxanne and calls with Paul or basically anyone from Ask Now, there was Frank, who allegedly worked with Princess Grace and New York City whistleblower Frank Serpico, and Mark, a palm reading wizard with a silver pony tail. Each had their own strange tactics, but while the answers generally pointed to yes, Ben and I would reconcile, there was no sense of when.

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With each passing day and each prophecy not filled, I felt like time was running out—the more time that passed, the less likely we would get back together, and getting back together was the only acceptable answer. I never thought these psychics were wrong when I was in this strange state of mind, nor could I even fathom they were in it for the money—money I certainly didn’t have, but subsisting on fruit and Blue Moons slashed my regular budget by more than half. I had to believe they were there to help me; I ridiculously felt that desperate. And in a strange way, these so-called assurances, which happened almost daily, distracted me enough from my new reality without him and gave me hope when Ben wouldn’t.

Later that fall, I ventured out of my Meatpacking District studio and strolled down 8th Avenue past Ben’s regular barber shop, foolishly thinking I might get a glimpse of him. What caught my eye, however, wasn’t Ben or another hipster getting their soft waves trimmed, but a nearby storefront with the words “Tarot Cards” and “Crystal Readings” in electric bright lights. I had never seen it before. I stepped into the makeshift reading room, attached to a family apartment and encountered Ronnie, enveloped by a cloud of smoke from her lit cigarette and screaming at two toddlers in a neighboring room. I immediately felt like I shouldn’t be there and Ronnie could sense it. “Don’t worry,” she said in a husky, low voice. “I won’t tell you anything that isn’t true.”

I sat in the uncomfortable wire back chair as Ronnie haphazardly began shuffling a stack of worn-in tarot cards, her specialty. As she placed the cards I randomly selected in a cross-like formation, she narrated. First came a reversed card with Adam and Eve-like figures on it. “The upside-down Lovers,” she said. “You recently broke up with someone, didn’t you?” I nodded. Ronnie quickly continued the ritual nine more times. The last card she flipped over had a tall burning tower on it with people jumping out of it. This couldn’t be good, I thought. “The Tower card means you will be liberated soon,” she said. I had no idea what she was talking about. “Are we going to get back together,” I asked. Ronnie didn’t respond. She was the first person who alluded we might not reconcile, I felt sick. I pulled out $70 cash and gave it to her. But before I could get out of the door, Ronnie sent me off with one last promise of hope, “I could do a cleanse.” She then explained she could provide me with a spiritual potion that I was supposed to shower with every day to rid me of negative energies. Ben would most definitely be back. And how much was this bottle of magic going to cost? $450.

I scoffed. She couldn’t be serious. “This really is the only way,” she warned. I clearly didn’t have $450 on me, much less in my bank account considering my newfound habit, but Ronnie said she would have the elixir ready when I would be back—and she assured me I would be back. As I cautiously ventured to a nearby Bank of America ATM, I started to feel ripe with nausea. Was I actually this sad? Still, another part of me wondered if it could be true. What was $450 when I could have Ben back, when I could have my old life back? I pulled out the bevy of 20s from the machine and held on tight to my wallet.

Ronnie, indeed, had a plastic squeeze bottle filled with blue liquid ready for me when I arrived. It kind of looked like dingy dishwater dyed by food coloring. She instructed me to shower with it daily, and in a matter of days, Ben would be mine again. I looked at her longingly and asked, “Does he love someone else?” (a not so deep dive on Facebook certainly suggested that). She retorted, “Not for long.”

When I arrived back at my apartment, I followed Ronnie’s directions instantaneously, using the odorless rinse after my Dove soap. I knew she said it would take a few days, but I repeatedly glanced at my phone on the edge of the sink. Nothing. Not a call. Not a text. Not an email. I wanted to feel a change—more than just a slimy residue on my skin. Did these psychics have the answers? Could they possibly? Did Ben? As I collapsed to the floor of my tub with the water crashing down, it came to me that I was the one who had the answers—Ben wasn’t coming back. At least not in a real way.

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I stopped seeing psychics after my experience with Ronnie, despite how hard it was—in a way, I felt even more lost than I was when I started. You see, they listened when Ben wouldn’t. But that’s what I realized about Ben in the following weeks and months, he never listened, not really. He could only hear what he wanted, what he needed and what he wanted and needed wasn’t me anymore. I wish I could say that realizing this was like ripping off a sticky old Band-Aid, but it took a very long time to get over Ben and maybe an even longer time to get over the notion of him—it didn’t help that he liked to come back every few months to relive the past.

But every time he did and with each glimmer of a future taunted, I manically wanted to call or visit a psychic to see if his intentions were real. But then I tried to remember those outlandish cosmic readings, that slimy residue on my skin, and how his words were seemingly just as hollow their predictions.

*Ben’s name has been changed.



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