Grown Ups Can Also Be Afraid Of The Dark
Being afraid of the dark is common among children. But if you’re an adult and you’re afraid of the dark people may laugh at you. Well, I’m 25 and I’m afraid of the dark. And I decided to face my fear.
As a kid, all my friends thought I was the brave one. Never afraid of anything. I was the one who usually scared them while playing. And I was the one they hold hands with when going into a haunted house or watching a scary movie.
What my friends didn’t know is how afraid I was of the dark. When I was in my bed and saw a shadow my imagination would kick in and in a matter of minutes I would run off to my parents’ bed. And when I got to sleep in my own room (I shared mine with my little sister), I never closed the door.
I thought that once I grew up the fear would go away. But it never did. I stopped watching scary movies because when it was time to sleep my imagination would go wild and kept me awake until dawn. Or I would fall asleep and have nightmares. And those images haunted me for months. Watching one scary movie guaranteed months of restless nights. But I learned one trick to fall asleep easier, turning on the lights.
I stopped watching horror movies. And then I realized I was still terrified of sleeping in the dark. During my year abroad I would usually stay awake until dawn, and then I would go to bed knowing the sun would rise soon enough.
And it makes me wonder. Why are people afraid of the dark? I mean, I’m surely not the only one. How rational have we made this fear? Is there an actual purpose in being afraid of the dark?
My first answer to this question is that this fear comes from some unconscious belief. A belief about the dark that has been around for centuries and creates this fear for some people.
Darkness = evil. That’s it. People is afraid of the dark because they think they’ll get hurt. A dark alley is the perfect hiding spot for a thief. If you want to scare kids tell them stories of how some ghost or demon will take them away in the middle of the night.
Another reason why people are afraid of the dark is because of its resemblance to life. You can do a parallel between life and darkness. It’s simple. Being in the dark means being at the center of the unknown. You don’t know what’s happening and if you hear any noise or see any shadow you get scared (some more than others). Same with life. People like to feel safe, know what’s going to happen next.
And safety and comfort are often related to light and warm. I guess this is also why people don’t like the winter. The sun is out for a few hours a day (if any), the night is the king and, it’s cold.
I don’t understand that correlation. I might be scared of the dark, but I love the night and the cold.
Maybe that’s because my fear is caused by something else: my imagination and sleep paralysis. Every time I managed to get myself out of sleep paralysis the first thing I did was to turn on the lights. Imagination and sleep paralysis is not the best combination.
Laying in bed unable to move your body and imagining all kinds of things is awful and stressful. A couple of weeks ago, for example, I had one of those episodes. Unable to move, my heart beating hard in my chest and imagining someone was sitting next to me, poking me in my chest as if trying to wake me up.
That time, though, I refused to be afraid. Once I got to move I didn’t turn on the lights as usual. I stayed in bed, took deep breaths and tried to relax. After some time I fell asleep. And I felt so proud of myself the next morning.
That’s when I decided I had to do something else, something different. I didn’t want to keep turning my lights on for the rest of my life.
The first thing I did was to change the meaning I give to darkness. Darkness now means the perfect time to connect with my higher self. Free of distractions. And one thing I’m doing is meditating and visualizing in the darkness. It’s hard.
I don’t close my eyes immediately. First I focus on how I feel and visualize things that calm me and ease me. Once I get that feeling of peacefulness, I close my eyes. I take deep breaths and imagine myself in outer space.
It’s not always that easy. Sometimes I open my eyes after a couple of minutes thinking something will happen. So, I keep taking deep breaths and visualizing until I feel comfortable and close my eyes again. Sometimes I stop and go to bed.
I no longer turn the lights on. That means sometimes I’m in the middle of the night with my heart pounding in my chest, but I close my eyes, take deep breaths and relax. And it’s actually working.
I would love to know if you are afraid of the dark and why.