I used to be afraid of the dark. Really afraid.
Of course when I was little I was a scared-y cat. That is part of growing up. A baby goes from being oblivious to monsters under the bed, until their brain grows and they learn that there are scary things in the world. I am sure I was no different. However, during some time during later childhood development, you learn that there are no glowing green two headed monsters with smoke coming out of it's ears in your closet. You become more knowledgeable of what is real, and what is not.
But there are still scary things in life. If you let the fear creep in again.
All through my twenties, I was still scared of the dark. Even with all the doors and windows locked, and a gun by my side. I was still frightened. I remember sometimes I would wake up in the dark, and be totally frozen in fear. When I say frozen, I mean it. I could barely breathe. I suppose it was panic. I am not sure. But even if an intruder came in, I am pretty sure I would be unable to grasp a gun and point it, never mind pull a trigger. I would lay there for hours frozen in my fear.
I was thinking about that tonight as I was out securing the animals, and doing my late night checks on everybody. All the people are in bed, except for me.
I had to get some hay. First though, I had to take one of the electric fence wires off to get out and over to the old empty Victorian next door. We keep the bales of hay there on the porch. It is pitch black. I maneuver the steps up to the porch by feel, and by memory. Odin my dog is usually there wagging his tail with a thump, thump, thump on the wood floor when he senses me. But Odin is gone, and there was no wagging, no happy tails. I feel my heart ache a little as I reach until I can touch the bales. Then searching with my hand to find the bale that has the twine cut, and grab a big pat of hay. I go back down the steps and back over to the electric fence. By the gleam from a light inside of my house bounching slightly on the electric wire, I jump over the remaining hot strands. With one arm balancing the hay like a waitress holds a tray (I used to be one) I pick up the plastic latch, and connect the fence wire tight back to the post. I am suddenly the farm security officer.
As I walked to the barn to deliver the hay, I think to myself about how good I am at using my other senses in the dark when I cannot see. I think about how I am first to jump up and go outside when one of my dogs is barking at darkness. I am not frozen, I am in my element. Trusting myself and not letting the fear sneak in. But tonight, I do suddenly feel sorry for the scared, younger me. I mean, I was well into my thirties before I got over that frozen fear stuff. I wonder why it took me so long to become fearless?
There are probably many good reasons that I was so scared, as well as some unfounded fears that were a complication of the justified fear. I was unsafe for awhile, but then when I was safe, I just couldn't get it.
My therapist gave me this written on a scrap piece of paper when I was in my early thirties.
It took me awhile until I bought into that.
I remained outside for awhile listening to the wind, and a tree creaking, looking into the darkness, and feeling grateful that I do not live in fear anymore.