The dark used to scare me. I always imagined monsters right next to me. This wasn’t just when I was a kid. Even as an adult, I felt this way for a long time. I needed a night light in my bedroom to keep the demons in the shadows. My family thought it was the effect of all the crazy shows I watched. I don’t know. I still watch those kinds of shows (let’s keep this between us since I tell my kids that kind of tv is bad for them). It wasn’t about that; those creatures didn’t feel real because they weren’t. This darkness could crawl under my skin. It felt as though there was no escape. I couldn’t bear to be alone in a room at night. It often felt like I was being deprived of oxygen. I had to feel someone next to me to fall asleep comfortably. The kind of life I’ve led, I can tell you with confidence that I had gotten pretty used to laying in bed at night afraid to move or even close my eyes while keeping my ears busy with sounds.
As time passed, I realized instead of fighting the loneliness I need to invite it. I don’t say this out of self-pity; as an introvert, I find comfort and peace in solitude. Sometimes keeping long conversations going, even via text messaging, becomes overwhelming. Nevertheless, nighttime and the dark hit me differently. I imagined myself in places I’d rather be, with people I’d rather be. Gradually, it got better. I won’t say I willed it because we know that’s not how life works, but I think I accepted what was and stopped wanting and hoping for what never would have been.
Now somehow, I can stare back at the dark right at its core. I can almost feel, imagine what it must be like to be that dark, that alone. Nobody wants to be in it, people are afraid of it, yet all it is, is extreme loneliness and us trying to escape our fears in all their glory. It helped because, during the day, I didn’t give any of these things a second thought. I made myself busy, whether it was with work, friends, or kids.
Now the night doesn’t have any hold on me, and I don’t want anyone to sleep in my bed. I think I have become the darkness. I think I am the demon in the dark. I am what grabs you when you are unaware and unarmed. What would a person like me need to be afraid of; once your every fear has been realized in front of you over and over again, and all those monsters you once only saw in the dark are all around you in plain bright and beautiful sunlight, where is the fear going to hide?
Now I am the only monster, the only scary thing that lurks in the shadows. I am the only one that I and the dark have left to fear. That, my dears, is an incredibly freeing feeling!