Sunday, September 27, 2009

True Story: I Was Majorly Afraid of the Dark

I really, really used to be afraid of the dark. Not when I was two, not when I was five, but until I was about 16 years old. I have a WILDLY overactive imagination and unfortunately was exposed to semi-scary movies as a child and I kid you not I really thought Gremlins were real until I was well into my teens. Ok, maybe I didn't really think they were real, but I thought the possibility of them being real was high. I thought that doing a few things would keep them away: sleeping with the closest closed, keeping my body covered by blankets or sheets at all times--particularly my feet, and sleeping with my door open and the hall light on AND a nightlight on in my room. When I saw Child's Play for the first time I had to banish my talking doll Pamela to the closet (that of course was closed at night so neither Pamela or The Gremlins would get me).

Mostly I was afraid of the dark because I didn't know what would be lurking in the dark. I felt like if I could see what was going on then whatever might want to get me was not going to get me. Nice logic huh? My fear of the dark was reinforced by my loving but also neurotic father. He did not like for us to sleep with our doors closed because he was afraid the house would catch on fire and we wouldn't hear the smoke alarm and would die in our sleep (he had a traumatic experience as a boy related to sleeping and fire). I remember being a kid and going to sleepovers and always being terrified when it was time to turn out all the lights. Gradually I convinced myself that Gremlins or talking dolls, or whatever else wasn't going to get me in a room full of other girls.

As I went into high school I realized that I needed to get over this fear and started trying to sleep with my door closed. At first I slept with the door closed and a nightlight on in the room. Then I gradually phased out the nightlight. It actually took a great period of time. First, my dad tried to thwart the process. He'd wait until he thought I was asleep and then he'd open the door (so I'd hear the smoke alarm), but usually I was not asleep or it would wake me up. So I had to tell my dad to knock it off. He did. After time I finally got over the fear and I haven't looked back since. Now that I think of it, that was some pretty good self-guided re-framing. At the time I was doing it just so I wouldn't be embarrassed that I had to go off to college with a night light.

The even funnier part now is that I loathe sleeping if there are any lights on at all. As anyone I've shared a hotel room with during a conference can tell you, or as my dear sweet lover can tell you, I go to great lengths to cover up annoying lights that blink or shine, like my DVD player power button, or when the curtains are parted just a crack. I'd prefer to sleep in the pitch black. Weird huh?


ange said...

Totally NOT weird, at all, Lovey. I was afraid of the dark as a kid too, but not to this extreme. I just always thought there were monsters under my bed, so if I had to pee in the middle of the night...too bad for me! I wasn't about to get up and get snatched by a monster! I'm glad we can sleep in the pitch black together now! That would have been a deal breaker. :)~

Mandy said...

Friend, I had a Pamela doll when I was a kid, too. And you put those little plastic cards in her back to make her talk about different themes... aw, I loved her. Sorry she creeped you out!!

Shannon said...

Um, okay - I'm glad you wrote that last paragraph because all I remember from EVER sleeping in your room in college was the ritual covering of any clock, crack under the door, curtains parted etc. Hahaha. I didn't have a Pamela doll, but I had one just like it.