So, I’m afraid of the dark. Yeah, there it is. I remember when I was a little kid I hid behind one of my stuffed animals so I couldn’t see it when the monsters came into my room, and it was considered cute. It was okay, because I was four years old and little kids are supposed to be afraid, right?
But it never passed. When I was a little older, about ten years old, my parents let me watch the Thriller video. I didn’t sleep for three nights after that. I kept the light on my bedside table on and put a sock over it so it wouldn’t shine too brightly and my parents didn’t notice. Of course they did notice, if anything by the increased amount of socks with burn marks on them. It started to become a little less cute by then.
At thirteen, I had my first boyfriend, and us and a group of friends had made a habit out of watching movies together after school. One of the movies was Nightmare on Elm Street. Previously horror movies had a surprisingly mild effect on me, I watched Pet Sematary without any nightmares, but Freddy Krueger sent me to another sleepless week and from that, I have never fully recovered. It’s definitely no longer cute.
Around the age of sixteen, I tried to desensitise myself by watching as many horror movies as I could. I stayed up until 4 am sometimes just to watch the Saturday night scare that the BBC used to show. It helped a great deal, even though I spent most of my teenage years being terrified of zombies until the great zombie hype desensitised me too. Now I avoid zombie movies because I find them boring.
Even though I don’t spend many nights lying awake because I’m scared of things that go bump in the dark anymore (it’s mostly the “real” stuff that keeps me up now), I still never step into a room without turning on the lights first. I get that it’s kind of weird to see me standing in front of the threshold, my hand reaching through the gap in the door frantically patting the wall looking for the light switch, but trust me, in those moments my heart is racing. I also never pass open doors after dark, because there is something that scares me to death about staring into that black void. And mirrors, especially late at night when I am brushing my teeth, I avoid standing right in front of one. Another silly thing is 3 am. I either want to sleep before or well after three am because trying to fall asleep at 3.05 – yeah, not gonna happen.
I know, it sounds ridiculous, I’m a grown woman, and I don’t even really know what I’m afraid of. I suppose it’s the “unknown”, things that people say that aren’t real and yet others say that it is real, such as ghosts, demons, poltergeists, the things that supposedly happen despite all the evidence being dismissed as fake.
I have accepted this by now. I happily read all the creepypasta I can find, I engross myself playing horror games, and I’m a big fan of Stephen King and horror books in general. Hell, I’ve even written one myself. Whenever I have the smart idea of watching a horror movie at night and subsequently I spend the night covered under my duvet, staring wide-eyed into my room to see if something is moving, and running to the bathroom and back as fast as I can while looking down at the floor, I know the next morning I can just roll my eyes at myself.
You’re free to do that too, roll your eyes and tease me, make fun of me, laugh at me. You can even tell me I’m being ridiculous, that I need to grow up and behave like an adult. It’s all okay, because I know, and that’s exactly what I tell myself when I am once again panicking for not finding the light switch quickly enough and expect something will grab my hand any second now.
Just don’t make me look into a mirror at 3 am to prove there’s nothing there.