Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

*Warning: This one get’s weird*

So, it’s well past midnight, and I need to go to bed. I’m tired, it’s been a long day, and I should curl under the covers and go to sleep. My eyes are closing on their own. I can barely concentrate on these words. I think my brain has already begun the shutdown sequence. 

Sector One: Disengage. Sector Two: Disengage. Sector Three…Sector Three…Oh come on Sector Three, we talked about this. The day’s done, and we’re ready to call it quits. Why are you lighting it up like it’s a freaking three-ring circus? Set the elephants free, fire the clowns, and disengage auxiliary power.

Sector Three has always been a problem, and tonight it won’t let me go to bed. 

To be fair, it’s not my favourite place or my favourite time of day. It’s dark and quiet. There’s nothing in there to distract me from my thoughts. Thoughts that won’t shut up no matter how hard I squeeze my eyes closed and mutter, “Shut up. Shut up. Shut up, you stupid, worthless, piece of…”

Damn you, Sector Three! I just want to sleep.

Sleep perchance to dream? It should be the other way round. Dream perchance to sleep, and that’s all I want to do. I want to dream. I love dreaming! That moment when the noise in my head fades away, and I fall down into a magical realm of endless possibilities. Oh, the sweet surrender of that glorious wonderland.

In that land, I’m strong and vibrant. I run through fields of dandelions and tame dragons. The adventures are epic and endless. I can have conversations with anyone instead of being awkward and socially inept. My fingertips slide across the painted landscape, and the colours ripple, swirl, then settle back into place. I laugh freely and smile easily. In this dream world, I can do anything, change everything, and become whomever I choose.

Then the alarm goes off, and I roll onto my back with a groan. The real world comes rushing back in, and I’m just me again. My gimpy legs swing over the side of the bed. I tipple a little as my joints decide whether or not they’re ready to function. It takes them a while to warm up to the idea of walking through another day, and I can’t say I blame them.

My legs and my mind aren’t morning creatures. As a package, we’re night owls that acquiesce to the physiological need for sleep but put it off until the last possible second. That’s what I’m doing right now. It’s procrastination disguised as productivity. Do I need to write this post at this moment? Could I wait until morning? Shouldn’t I get a few hours of rest before trying to be articulate and sane?

Yes, absolutely, that would be the most prudent choice. Does it mean that these words are the ramblings of a tired mind that’s afraid of the dark? Am I scared of the quiet that haunts the space between sleep and dreams? Well, I did start off with a disclaimer so, you can’t say I didn’t try to warn you.

Wait, did I just admit that I’m afraid of the dark?

Nah, I’m too old to be afraid of the dark. It’s something we experience when we’re young, and our worlds are small. Despite our lack of experience, our imaginations are abundant. We conjure up all kinds of creatures that go bump in the night. We create monsters because they’re the only logical explanation. We don’t know better so, we assume the worst because that’s what humans do.

We fear what we assume and imagine the rest.

Some of us, unfortunately, grow up. We learn what the noises are, and the monsters become noisy neighbours who’ve installed a bowling alley in their living room. That’s not a true story. It is one of those assumptions I’ve made. 

Seriously though, what the hell are they doing up there? Don’t they know that people are trying to sleep? Or, in my case, putting off sleep because when I close my eyes, I can’t see anything. If I can’t see, then the monsters might be real. And if they’re real? 

There’s a part of me that’s young enough to still need my mommy, and I’m suppressing the urge to call her right now. It’s 12:30 AM. She’s sleeping. I can’t wake her up because I just whispered, I want my mommy.

Wait, are you ever too old for that? Look if, by some unholy twist of fate, I live to be 90 years old? I’m still gonna ask for my mommy when things go wrong, and I’ll want my daddy to help me fix things. That’s just the way it goes because we don’t outgrow everything. Some things remain constant throughout our whole lives.

The sky is blue, pickles are disgusting, and I need my parents to look for monsters under my bed. Or, I’m a wimp that needs to grow up. Both options are on the table and open for debate.

No, you know what? I’m not that old, and the darkness is scaring me. I don’t want to turn off the lights and crawl into bed. There are monsters under the mattress, and I don’t have anyone to chase them away. They creak and groan as they slither around in the shadows. I roll over, my mattress squeaks, and there’s a moment of silence.

It stopped moving. Why? What is it waiting for? Me, it’s waiting for me to do something. Or it’s waiting to see if I’ve noticed it’s there. Does it want to be left alone? Or, are these monsters waiting for me to drift off so they can pounce undefended?

Sneak attack!

Well, they’re going to have to wait a long time because I’m always on guard. Even when I drift off, I sleep with one eye half-open. Metaphorically? Um, I wake up with one dry eye so, I’m assuming that my vigilance is all-encompassing.

On Guard! 

Always, so good luck sneaking up on me. Oh no, that wasn’t a challenge. I’m actually quite jumpy, twitchy, and my base instinct is to swing my fist, ask questions later. Also, I’m not above screaming like a banshee. My defence mechanisms are highly tuned. 

My brother tried to sneak up on me on the street once. He grabbed my bag and pulled. I screamed so loud, store owners for half a city block came running to my aide. My poor brother, I love him dearly, ended up with a black eye. Sorry, Bro, it was instinctual. 

But the monsters that come out at night— the ones in the shadows— are impervious to physical force and high-pitched screams. It may startle them for a minute, but then they laugh until they cry tears of joy, amusement, and satisfaction.

They’ve done it. They got me scared of the dark. A grown woman too afraid to go to bed and close one eye.

If you’ve read this far— you legend, you— then it’ll be blatantly obvious that I need to get some sleep. Clearly, my mind’s playing tricks on me. My words are bordering on madness. I’m so tired, but the thought of going to bed draws out a weary sigh. It’s too quiet. My thoughts are too loud. I don’t want to lay there waiting for the monsters to show up.

So, I scroll through TikTok for a few more minutes and wonder how I ended up on the angry side of the platform. I just want to watch cute puppy videos. Is that too much to ask for? Yes, apparently it is because I just watched another video of someone shredding a bigot and outwitting a conspiracy spreader.

The last one feels a little like your punching down. Some of those people seem like they’re in dire need of psychological help. Making fun of them? It feels icky. And now I’m angry at the bigots, frustrated by the spreaders, and saddened by the entire state of the human race.

Yeah, I can go to bed now. I’m so relaxed. There’s no way the monsters will show up. Why do I do this to myself?

In a last-ditch attempt to calm myself down and stave off the inevitable, I sat down to write this— whatever this is. I’ve heard that doing a brain dump before bed can help switch off all sectors of the brain. If I take everything that’s bothering me, the swirling thoughts, and write them down? It’s out of the way. The air has been let out of the tires. The greatest monster of them all has been appeased.

For clarification, my mind is the greatest monster, but you figured that out already. Clearly, you’re an intelligent and perceptive person. And no, I’m not just saying that because you clicked on my page and read this far. If I was aiming for hollow flattery? I would’ve done it ten paragraphs ago when this really started to get bizarre.

I really shouldn’t write at— what’s the time now?— 1:45 AM. 

No, I shouldn’t have procrastinated by watching aggravating videos. I shouldn’t picture monsters living under my bed. I should’ve put on my big girl pantaloons and gone to bed at a decent hour. 

But that shipped sailed two hours ago so, here I sit, dumping my brain to lessen my fear of the dark. Have you tried it before? Getting all of your bouncing thoughts out onto a page so that they don’t drive you mad. Has worked? Can you jot down your darkest, craziest ideas and leave them there.

Or do they still follow you to bed, waiting for you to turn out the lights and pounce when you’re almost asleep?

I try to journal every day because I’ve gotta ease the pressure. If I let it stay inside my head, it festers and spreads like a fungal infection. I have to get it out, but if anyone read what I wrote in there? Oh dear, they’d be genuinely concerned for my mental health and my overall wellbeing.

I’m pretty honest about my life and struggles on this platform, but there’s a lot I keep to myself. Thoughts and feelings that I would never say out loud. They’re my most insane ideas and impulses. It’s dark, twisted, and somedays it borders on insane. I wouldn’t dream of sharing that with anyone so, I journal.

I subscribe to the idea that out is better than in. I could keep my crazy bundled up, locked in a trunk, and buried ten feet underground. That’s my natural inclination, and it would be easier than trying to find my feeling words. It wouldn’t be better for me. It’s a pressure cooker waiting to explode, and when it does…

Photo by Peter Unden from Pexels

I journal first thing in thing in the morning to free my mind to function at sub-optimal levels. It’s never going to work at full steam, and I’ve made peace with that. But if I get all the junk out of my trunk in the morning? Well, there’s room to add more as the day wears on.

The problem is, it’s just turned 2 AM, and my trunk is overflowing. The madness within is seeping out. It’s keeping my brain running even though my eyes are now closed, and I can’t see what I’m typing. I’m dumping my thoughts onto you rather than my journal because I might as well be efficient and mentally unwell.

I suppose there’s another way to look at it. I’m indulging a moment of uncharacteristic vulnerability so that you— if you’re having a similar moment— won’t feel alone. Maybe we can be scared of the dark and the monsters together. Oo, I have a better idea! The Ghostbusters worked as a team to get rid of that marshmallow looking thing. Why can’t we help each other do the same thing?

We could get uniforms, drive a car full of gadgets… Or get some sleep because, obviously, I need it.

2 thoughts on “Are You Afraid Of The Dark?

  1. Sometimes I welcome the dark as a place to hide in… a safe night place, between lonely streetlights and moonbeams.
    Sometimes I wake up suddenly – in the middle of a disturbing dream – feeling terrified and sweaty and desperate for a nightlight.
    Too tired to do anything but lie scared in the grip of a monster that you conjured talking about big girl pantaloons.
    Seriously, when did you start wearing big girl pantaloons?
    Are you in a historical romance now? With big frilly dresses and monsters under the bed?
    Do they hide under big frilly dresses too?
    That never occurred to me.
    The next time I see someone in a ballgown is gonna be horribly tense.
    Sorry… not sleeping a lot either.

    Liked by 1 person

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