Scaredy Cat

Are any of you afraid of the dark?

My Beloved and I have lived together for almost 4 years now. Before that I lived alone. Every night. With the lights out. And had no problem whatsoever sleeping.

Since we’ve lived in the same house I’ve been on numerous trips and left him home alone, but he’s only been away once overnight. I slept (well, on and off) with the lights on, the TV on and the deadbolt on the front door – which I almost cut my index finger off trying to get closed, being that it was so rusty from lack of normal use!). And I don’t mind admitting; it wasn’t loneliness that prompted the “ON” environment, it was fear.

There are some nights, even when my Beloved is in situ, that I hear strange noises I need to reconcile before being able to sleep. Not that I would ever attempt to seek out and reconcile these by myself. No, my preferred method is by proxy. My Beloved gets up, goes downstairs (with a heavy sigh, usually), checks everything is as it should be and returns with the news that, as expected, there is no-one else in the house except me, him and sometimes the cat.

Now don’t get me wrong, as I’ve stated in a previous blog, my home is my sanctuary. It’s my safe place. Just not when I’m on my own at night, it seems…

And, it would also seem that the Gods are looking down on me and have decided that I’ve been having too easy a time of it lately. They have re-instated my “recurring nightmare”. Now this is a dream, a nightmare, that I have had (on a recurring basis) on and off a few times in my life, starting in my late teens/early twenties.

I dream that someone has gotten into the house and is standing at the foot of my bed, poised and ready to kill me. Now, I can’t see what this person looks like, I can only really see a dark shadow. But I know why he’s there and I am petrified. Petrified to the point where I suffer sleep paralysis. I can’t move at all (though my Beloved has a fair few scars and bruises that would beg to differ) and I’m trying so hard to scream but I can’t make a noise. Eventually I manage to make a kind of muffled scream, which sounds more like a poor attempt at a moan from a bad 1970’s porn movie. And then I either eventually wake up myself, or in the last 4 years, my Beloved wakes me… and generally holds me, like a human safety blanket, until I feel safe enough to fall back to sleep (which can sometimes be hours).

It wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I found out that my mother experiences the same recurring dream (except her shadow is a recognisable person). Although, she hasn’t had the dream for a long long time. And my brother also suffers sleep paralysis.

Well I (and my Beloved) had 2 sleepless nights this weekend, after 2 attacks of the Killer Shadow. And still, after all these years, I have no idea why it happens or what it means. Although, it’s probably related to my fear of sleeping alone now, when my saftey blanket isn’t there.

I hear you scoffing and laughing! Surely, I’m a grown up and can tell that it’s only a dream. Well, I can only say that, personally, I’ve never been able to wake from a nightmare, tell myself “Oh, it was only a dream” and turn over and go back to sleep, like they do in the movies. Either I’m a complete and utter scaredy cat (which is not entirely that ridiculous an accusation) or those guys in the movies are merely having a bit of a bad dream, rather than the full on terrifying, pant wetting, nightmares that I get to “sleep” through. (Though, I will at this stage, point out that my one saving grace is that I don’t actually suffer the indignity of actually wetting my pants.)

I’ve consulted many dream meanings books and websites and none of the explanations seem to make sense. Mind you, that may be becuase I can’t find one that tells me the meaning of “a shadow at the end of your bed ready to kill you – but not actually killing you”. The only thing I have been able to ascertain is when the dreams tend to occur. That is that the timing of the dreams (i.e. when I have spurts of recurrence) tend to be in times of uncertainty or change. (But then there have also been plenty of these times in my life when I haven’t had the dreams).

That and if I watch anything remotely scary, for instance the Angels on Dr.Who or Scary Clowns and Axe Murderers on CSI on Saturday, then the Shadow tends to make an appearance.

So, if anyone out there is a dream interpreter – or even better an Exorcist – please can you help me?

The thing that’s worrying me today is that my Beloved is away on business again this week. And I’m not sure how or if I will sleep.  But I’m not telling you when he’s going, just in case I see you in the middle of the night at the end of my bed!

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The Fear

They say you have to conquer your fear if you are to live a full and satisfying life. And I think most of us live with fear of some sort. Not necessarily highly visible and conscious fear, like arachnophobia or agoraphobia. It’s more subtle than that and it’s linked to our confidence, our self esteem.

Strangely, whilst we normally understand and empathise with physical illness more openly than mental illness, when it comes to fear, we seem to do the opposite. We find it crazy that people are scared of spiders but are really quite understanding of those who are afraid of having their heart broken. I think it’s because deep down, we all have similar feelings, but are not necessarily ready to admit it. Or, is that just me?

Some people have a fear of failure, some a fear of being hurt (emotionally). Many of us feel different fears at different times in our lives, sometimes a little each day. I feel fear. Not as often as when I was younger, admittedly… maybe over time I’ve been conquering fear, but like a scene in a really bad horror movie it just won’t give up and die already!

It took me years to understand my fear. For a long time I just couldn’t put my finger on it. But, now I know exactly what it is. And I think it could be the craziest fear of all! My fear is one of losing something. But of losing something I don’t yet have. A fear of losing the opportunity to have something. To lose “what could be”. I told you it was crazy!!

I spent much of my early life wanting more, wishing my life away, dreaming and wondering… I say early life, I mean up until about 4 or 5 years ago. Someone said to me only yesterday, that they used to be a habitual clock watcher, but that they consciously stopped looking forward to the weekend when they, suddenly one day, realised that every minute of every day was their life. They had to live in the now and experience it all.

For my part, I’m pretty good at living in the now and appreciating what I have. Well, as I say, now I am pretty good at that. Don’t get me wrong. I still have my moments… and I still have my dreams. In fact, I had a BIG moment the other night. My beloved and I were experiencing a “bit of conflict” during which The Fear gripped me unexpectedly. I admit I lost it. What I don’t know is what the trigger was. What is it that poked the fear monster with a sharp stick and woke it from its long and deep sleep? Working that out, I guess, is the next step.

What I did do, after regaining it, was to try to make sense of things in a positive way. So, I wrote a short poem. Only one verse. And I’d like to share it with you:

Fear is a torrent
Engulfing the soul
Arresting development
Reducing the whole

The process didn’t get me to Oz, but it did help to get me a couple of steps further along the yellow brick road. Life continues to be a journey of self-discovery. I wrote on my About Me page that I was a learner when it came to blogging, but not so much in life. I beg to differ with myself! It appears that I’m still learning that too.