Sunday, February 19, 2012

Being afraid of the dark

I like my imagination.  It would be hard to write without one.  HOWEVER, it comes with some downsides, the worst of which is being afraid of the dark.  There are people who are afraid of the dark who don't necessarily have a crazy imagination, but I'm going to play the self-pity card and say that people with imaginations have it worse.

I don't really understand why people are afraid of the dark.  At least, I haven't been able to think of any rational reasons why.  It seems like a general fear of the unknown, which kind of makes sense, except for the fact that, when the lights go out, if we're thinking rationally here, there's nothing there that wasn't there when the lights were on.  I don't want to get controversial or anything, but I think that could have been where the concept of God came from.  I think people were afraid of certain things like volcanoes erupting, and what happened after you died, so they (reasonably so) came up with a concept that would make them feel better about what was going on.

I don't know what other people are afraid of when they're in the dark, but for me, it's mostly things that don't exist.  For example, as much as I like zombie-related things (I'm a huge fan of The Walking Dead and Night of the Living Dead, etc.), after I finish watching things like that and turn the lights off, I lie in bed with my heart pounding.  I am somehow able to convince myself that an army of zombies are going to come into my room and eat my brains (and then the rest of me).

Even if something real is scaring me, like spiders, I still blow everything up in my head when the lights go out.  So, instead of a normal spider crawling onto my bed and killing me and feeding me to its young, it's a giant one.  (It didn't help that two really gross, creepy spiders showed up in my cramped, little bedroom within my first week of coming to LA.)

It's actually better, in my opinion, when I can't see anything.  You know that feeling when you open your eyes, but it seems like they're still closed?  I like that a lot, actually.  It's shadowy darkness that scares me-- when I can see silhouettes of things.

Sometimes, I'll get so freaked out, that I have to resort to desperate measures.  One time, I was home alone and I kept hearing noises (which, in retrospect, were probably just creaky sounds our house makes because it's old), so I grabbed a giant knife from the kitchen and brought it to bed with me.  My more (or maybe less?) reasonable solution to all of these fears is to curl up under my covers and make sure that none of my skin is exposed to the open air.  According to my brain, that way, the monsters won't be able to find me.  I'm so much smarter than they are...

When I was in 7th grade, I saw The Grudge in theatres, which ended up being the worst decision of my life.  For weeks, I couldn't sleep, no matter how tired I was.  Even now, I sometimes get freaked out about that dead woman or her son showing up in my bed and ripping my jaw off and killing me.  After that movie, I quarantined myself from scary movies of any kind.  Until my freshman year in college, I hadn't seen another horror movie.  Then I watched The Shining and loved it, and I've gotten really into thrillers.  So I'm clearly getting a bit better (although I've still got miles to go).

All of this scared-of-the-dark business leads to some strange habits too.  The most obvious one for me is that when I get into bed (especially if the lights are off), I have to take a flying leap a few feet away from the bed to make sure the monsters underneath it won't grab my ankles.

In fact, I think it was actually The Grudge that caused me to make a little anti-monster contraption in my bedroom at home in Maine.  It's a little ribbon that is tied down next to my bed on one end and tied to my light switch on the other, so I don't have to get out of bed to turn the light on or off.  In the picture here, the ribbon isn't there, so I drew it in.  Just imagine that the jagged black line is a blue ribbon.

I take some comfort in the fact that I'm able to write about the things that scare me and not scare myself in the process.  I think it's a good sign that I won't end up being unable to live by myself when I'm 35 years old because I'd be too afraid that something was going to break in and murder me.  So that's something.

1 comment:

  1. There is hope. You'll be okay! But sometimes, you'll miss that colorful imagination---