Afraid of the dark

Posted: July 24, 2009 in Headspace

A warning, my friends.  This is not a happy post. It’s something that needs to get out.


I never think good thoughts, lying awake in the dark. It’s as if the absence of light turns my brain toward the black paths that lie in wait, surging to the forefront when my mind isn’t distracted. During the day I am occupied by goals, and friends, and the details of life. I am filled with the future; hope and love, and the delight of having a happy life.

At night, in the dark, when I can’t sleep, I think about death.

The black paths, they’re sneaky. They start with the less-drastic worries of the day – what I need to get done at work, or what sort of drama is currently underway in our extended family. Then they proceed down the avenue of self-doubt – am I good enough, am I interesting enough, am I pretty enough, am I successful enough, am I doing things right. That path leads itself further, toward bigger worries – are the kids safe, is Calvin happy, will we reach our long-term goals, do we have enough insurance, what if disaster strikes…

The end of the path is always the same. Always. So consistently so that sometimes I just skip the middle steps, the smaller worries, and leap right into the biggest, darkest, scariest worry of all. I know I’m going to end up there anyway, so why worry about work when I can contemplate my impending doom, and that of my loved ones?

I scare myself with the thought of closing my eyes and never waking up again. I fall deep into my own mind, wondering what it would be like to just not be. The sharp flash of fear comes, and I turn it over and over in my head, wondering if it’s the same flash of fear I’ll have when I realize, at the last possible moment, that this is it. The end, all over, so quickly, like a vacation that you’ve anticipated for months finally arriving and passing by in a heartbeat so that, suddenly, it’s behind you and gone. Over.

Worse is the fear of being left behind. I panic so hard at the thought of losing Calvin that sometimes I roll over and bury my head into the back of his neck hard enough that he wakes up and mutters. I breathe in his scent, and I push down the weight that rises up to smother me. I can’t stop the thoughts as they cascade through me – what it would feel like, that day when I’m alone in our bed for the first time, knowing I’ll never hear his voice again, see him smile at me again, feel his arms around me again. That someday that might come, and he’ll never walk through the front door again and holler, “Hey baby!” How would I breathe, then? How would I keep going? What on earth would I do with the inexorable minutes of my existence that tick… and tick… and tick…

I feel fragile today. Last night was a bad night, and all I want to do is find Calvin, wherever he is. Pull him out of work, get home and get naked and get as close to him as possible. Skin to skin, with his breathing in my ear and his heartbeat against my cheek. I want to be awake, in the daylight, and push the dark as far away as I can. I want to spin the moment into something that feels like an eternity, that I can carry with me and pull into my mind to replace the dark thoughts that constantly build and re-build.

Sometimes, despite what we’d like to believe, the dark is so much stronger than anything we use to battle against it.

  1. Taoist Biker says:

    The strength and courage it took to write this and post it publicly belies the weakness and fear that you describe as core to the experience you’re documenting. At least that’s how it feels to me. I don’t mean to belittle that creeping terror, because we all feel it at some point or another. But coming to grips with it enough to describe means that, in some little way, you surmounted it.

    Little victories like that, one at a time, are the way you beat it back.

  2. crisitunity says:

    I feel the same as TB. Good for you. And I feel the same as you about BF – except I can’t even tiptoe up to the idea in my mind. It’s too scary and hurtful even to think about.

  3. iamheatherjo says:

    I can’t answer how people keep going and keep breathing. They just…do.

    I think we’re all a lot stronger than we think we are.

    I love you!

  4. Kami-O says:

    I agree with Heather…:)

  5. Calvin says:

    I think everyone already covered it.
    It’s hard to do but just do not think about the stuff you cannot control and it might have something to do with getting up in the middle of the night and and drinking hallucinogenic tea?
    And by the way why do I have to die, why can’t it one of the lizards 🙂

  6. Most of the time it is about the fear of not being in control…killing the lizard would be a good way to go with this…

    Honestly, I put a “speaker pillow” inside of my pillow because the silence sends me to crazy places. It does help distract my brain…I use the satellite radio for that and there is nothing like old episodes of The Lone Ranger to put you out…

  7. Jeanette says:

    I lay awake at night sometimes thinking about losing my husband or one of my kids and think that I would never be able to take another step if that happened….but somehow, whether you belive it comes from God or your inner self, you get the strength when you need it. It doesn’t stop the worry, though.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s