Afraid of the Dark

I remember being afraid of the dark as a child. That’s not so unusual, many children have some fear of darkness. I’m not sure what it’s like for others, but for me it was debilitating. When the lights went out I was paralyzed with paranoid thoughts. Even in low light my sleep would be interrupted by a deep, penetrating fear. Shadows on the wall were seen as parts of witches, just waiting for me to fall asleep so they could pull me into their underworld, never to be released. The branches swaying in the evening breeze, tapping on the window were most certainly the sharpened nails of the evil witches – still waiting for me to sleep. The air blowing up through the heating vent was the steamy, dark breath exhaled by the witches as they became impatient with me as I fought off sleep. The imagination of youth can run wild.  I didn’t like the dark because I didn’t trust what I couldn’t see. I didn’t trust my other senses and abilities to show me the truth when my eyes couldn’t.  Darkness was my enemy.

As most children do, I outgrew my fear of the dark. Little by little I learned to sleep without the light in the hall, or the nightlight, or the curtains open for moonlight. I don’t remember when it happened.  As much as I remember the fear, I have no recollection of the end of the fear. I actually came to crave the darkness. At night, when I was trying to sleep, light eventually became the enemy. The moonlight was blocked by heavy drapes, doors were shut tight to keep out escaping light through other windows. For a period of time, I had no clock in my bedroom because the light was too disrupting for my sleep. Darkness became my escape, my sanctuary.

I’m finding now, I have come back to my fear of darkness.  This time, though, it’s not when I sleep – I still enjoy sealing out the light at the end of a busy day.  But, during my waking hours, I am filled with anxiety over darkness.  At conferences, when there is an exercise that begins with “close your eyes…,” I don’t participate.  During church, I cannot even close my eyes during prayers.  I’ve been aware of this for some time, since it was such a change for me.  I often would be so moved by music or worship that my eyes would shut and I would be transported to another place – a beautiful place.  My soul would melt into blissful union with the world around me, floating in a joyful sea.  That no longer happens.  On the rare occasion that I do lose myself in the moment and close my eyes, I am jolted by fear and open them again quickly.

So why, at this age, am I afraid of the dark?  I’ve lost trust.  I’ve lost trust in the world around me, the one I once believed to be filled with love and wonder and continuous re-creation.  I’ve lost trust in the people caring for our world, the people I believed had the best intentions for its future.  I’ve lost trust in my friends, being deceived and made the fool too many times.  I’ve lost trust in my family after too many disappointments.  I’ve lost trust in myself, fearing I no longer have the ability to see and discern the truth around me

Losing the ability to trust means living a life filled with constant fear, second-guessing, snap judgments, instability, and a lot of burden on yourself.  Repairs don’t happen because you don’t trust the workers.  Doctor’s appointments don’t get made because you don’t trust the insurances.  Work isn’t delegated because you don’t trust the employees.  Simple things, like going to a farm-market or meeting friends, are suddenly activities riddled with doubt and conspiracy.  Everything becomes work – a lot of work.

How is trust so damaged in one lifetime?  Good question!  For me, in a relatively small span of time I put my deepest trust in the wrong people.  I entrusted my life and my son’s life and well-being to several people who abused that trust.  Each time I became aware of a betrayal – when I finally opened my eyes to the truth – I turned to another whom I trusted, only to feel the sting of betrayal again….and again…..and again.  When my head stopped spinning from all the lies and cover-ups, I was left with the knowledge that I had been so wrong about so many people.

So, now – I am afraid to close my eyes, to be in darkness for fear of what I will finally see when I open them again.  My eyes were closed too tightly for too long before.  My soul is not strong enough to be ripped apart that way again.

I’m not sure where my trust in my faith lies right now.  That is what scares me the most.

A life lived in fear is a life half lived (Anonymous)

One thought on “Afraid of the Dark

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  1. First of all, big hugs to you. You’re right. There are big risks in trusting. But, if you don’t trust, why should someone trust you? Trusting is a relationship. Not trusting is an isolating action. In withholding your trust you sacrifice bonding to others, of being a friend which we all need. You sacrifice influencing others of the truth within you. By trusting, your radar, will get better. You”ll be better at detecting liars. Please reconsider. It’s just as easy to build trust as to break it. The light overcomes the darkness and it is Strong, Honest and True.


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