Fear of the Dark

Paul has completely fucked with my head this week.

I know fear. I know terror. I thought I understood hypervigilance before, but I see now that it was only a mild version thereof.

I awoke from an odd but since-forgotten dream, itself perhaps unsettling but not especially frightening. But it was with abject horror that my woken self greeted the seemingly-endless darkness and, particularly, the normal noises of the night (floorboards creaking, freight trains passing, distant traffic, etc).

I lay here (for I am still in bed, it being 3.55am) frozen numb with dread and a very childlike fear, unable to turn around towards the door to make sure that no one – or, indeed, nothing – was lurking there, ready to pounce. I waited. Breathless, frozen, nauseous and petrified. And then I took a large, determined breath and spun myself around.

To nothing, claro que si, but the usual array of the room, albeit bathed in this infernal blackness. Of course. I knew rationally that I was almost certainly safe, but the places that therapy has taken me to these last two weeks are dark indeed, both metaphorically and literally, and they have evidently stayed with me, whether consciously or otherwise.

Dark. Blackness. It alone has been enough so far tonight to have me tearing my hair out. It both facilitates and exacerbates my dread. Hiding places for bad things abound in this uncertain, quite unforgiving light.

The closest I have experienced to this sort of pathetic horror was an almost-nightly fear I experienced when I was…oh, maybe six to eight? Maybe even younger? I would go to bed quite normally but subsequently lie awake in frozen but silent alarm, utterly and completely convinced that a member of the IRA or similar was outside my door on the landing, ready to come in to torture and ultimately kill me.

Every creak of the floorboards was, I truly believed each time, a step in his deliberately slow progression towards my door, and towards my death.

Naturally, I realised that statistically this was quite unlikely, but of course that was useless knowledge. Sometimes I would curl myself up into a ball and hide under the duvet in what was then the paradoxically comforting darkness, willing whatever my fate was to just hurry up and happen, to just be over. Other times, when I was feeling ballsy, I would quietly crawl out of bed and surreptitiously tiptoe to the door and stand there, chest silently heaving, before flinging open the door and throwing my head round the corner, adrenaline-driven towards confrontation.

But there was never anyone there. The friendly neighbourhood terrorist was, time after time, a mere figment of my own mind.

Despite all that, I have never been scared of the dark, not to my particular recollection. I don’t want to be scared of the dark. It may have hidden the “bad things” when I had exposure (or imagined exposure) to them, but it also hid me from them. But here, at the age of 27 rather than seven, it rather looks like my mind has sought to play out what should have been a phobia of my erstwhile brathood, not of the here and now. Yay yay. Thanks, brain.

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12 thoughts on “Fear of the Dark

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  4. You’re going in the right direction Pan, I’m sure of it. I’m sorry it’s leaving you with this sort of issue, but keep going. Not much more anyone can say, just sending those hugs and stuff.

    Lola x

    PS I still sleep with the light on sometimes, and I’m nearly 30. Being afraid of the dark is sensible in some ways. Like a survival instinct.

  5. I’m terrified of the dark, utterly terrified. I always sleep with the light on because I hate the idea that I’ll wake up and it will be overwhelming and suffocating darkness. I know where you’re at. Be strong xxxxx

  6. Fear has no calender. It sits in our brains without a watch, and if it is triggered we feel the same way we felt, no holding back – because the brain feels like it is happening *now*. There is no shame in that.

    I really feel for that little girl. She shouldn’t have had to endure night after night of waiting and fear. What an awful way for her to grow up. 😦

  7. I’m terrified of the dark, don’t think age matters here.

    I keep thinking that not too long after, that little Pandora did have to confront a terrorist that changed her life. Only he wasn’t in the dark but hidden in plain sight.

  8. Ergh I have that, it’s horrid. I still sleep with a light on because I worry about “monsters” or murderers being in my room, I’ve now got a lock on my door to make me feel safer but I still don’t feel as safe as I could do. I become paralysed and say to myself “go on you can do it, you can make it to the bathroom.” It takes a while but I always do make it xxx

  9. {{{hugs}}} Hopefully this fear will allay itself as you work through the issues with Paul. I (like Lola) also still find myself afraid of the dark, I just take it to be symbolic of something else (kind of like my arachnophobia which worsens as I become unwell with such correlation that it’s the ultimate measure of my mental health)…

    Anyway I hope the fears soon pass and you are able to get some decent sleep.

    Take care,
    Differently

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  11. It’s reassuring to hear all of you say that, you, too, are scared in the dark. When I wake up, heart pounding, or can’t fall asleep, due to the same, it makes a girl wonder, but, hell, Lola, Differently, and Pandora? Well, I’m not such a fuckup after all. While it sucks, for suresies, it’s nice to have company. I’m leaving my computer open again, music playing, brightness up, so I can sleep, but have light. ❤

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