According to the Statistics Brain Research Institute’s website, eleven percent of the U.S. population is afraid of the dark. I’m part of this eleven percent.
I was never shielded from the realities of the world we leave in and I think that really shaped who I am. It also shaped my fears and distrust of situations I cannot control. The dark leaves a person vulnerable to whatever lurks within it. You become vulnerable to vulnerability itself, as your mind acts as a weapon turning against you. Fears are tangible representations of your insecurities. More often than not, there is no danger hiding your closet or standing beside your bed. I am aware that the ominous presence I feel encroaching upon me is a manifestation of my fears but I cannot suppress this sensation of almost being grabbed.
Although many fear the dark, a majority find an unrivaled peace and relaxation in it. It is evident in the very last step of your going to bed routine. You turn off the lights. Scientifically, light is a stimulus so it is logical to reduce this in order to sleep. But the final act of flipping that switch holds something deeper for the psyche. It is a signal that the day is done and you may rest. The emptiness is inviting because it asks nothing of you.
Most nights, it doesn’t matter and I am okay to sleep with the lights on but, more importantly, there are nights when I am not okay to sleep in the dark. My fear makes it feel as though the emptiness is asking everything of me. Unearth your worst memory. Face your biggest failure. No one could sleep in that madness. I’m a visual person so instead of just think the verbal answers to these questions, I picture scenarios in which I have to face them. Instead of sleep, I daydream but the dreams are more like nightmares. They’re somewhat voluntary because I am awake. But also uncontrollable, since I can’t mentally remove myself from the volatile thinking. It is not the absence of light, but the presence of the unthinkable.