Psychology

Afraid of Sleep Afraid of the Dark my Biggest Fear



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Some people are afraid of the dark. Others are afraid of heights. Some people are afraid of being single and others fear commitment. Some are afraid of dying and others fear living. Then there are those who are afraid of being afraid.

There are many types of fear and their cause is not always clear. However, the one commonality is that they often link to something buried deep within our past.

I never realized my own fear until it confronted me in my early thirties. The anxiety suffocated my insides and left me speechless when it appeared. There was no reason for me to believe that my strong personality had any fears at all, particularly, not the fear of falling asleep at night.

Growing up with four siblings, the opportunity to be by myself, night or day, was never a possibility. When it came time to move out of my parent's home, the natural transition to college included a roommate and several dorm mates for the next four years. Graduate school, live-in sweethearts and the subsequent post-boyfriend housemates followed the years at school. It wasn't until I began searching for a place of my own that the yellow, blinking CAUTION sign presented itself in my head.

My mind easily embraced the idea of having my own space but the fear of being alone and falling asleep at night was incomprehensible. The quietness of the night and the color of the darkness outside increased my anxiety further.

When I did make the brave move to my own place, more times, than not I would wake in the morning and find myself fully dressed on the living room couch. Falling asleep on the couch was my way of avoiding the preparation of going to bed and if I didn't prepare for bed, then I didn't fear sleep. It was my homemade algorithm.

Other ways I avoided the inevitable was to replace my fear with activities that would tire me out at night. I stayed out late, worked all night and spent numerous hours on the computer. Interestingly, the television gave me no solace. Although it had the ability to fulfill the quiet void, it increased my anxiety more.

Then one day, without warning, thoughts of my childhood stopped abruptly on the vision of a dark room with a small illuminated light and a noise that resonated like flat-lining on a cardiac machine.

My biggest childhood fear came from the television in the middle of the night.

Our family television set was more like a big furniture piece. Its body encased in brown wood and its torso held up by four-legs. If you took out the actual monitor, you could sit inside the wooden box and pretend to have your very own show.

In the evenings, I would sometimes wake to the faint voices of the tube vibrating in the distance while one or both of my parents had fallen into a deep sleep on the couch. The voices of the actors and advertising jingles didn't bother me, what paralyzed me was the depressing replication of the National Anthem followed by the eerie "eerrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr" of the station sign-off. That monotonous tone frightens me even now. It pierces my ears and sends shivers up my spine. As a child, hearing that noise made me feel scared of what would happen next. Maybe it was because the sign-off always took place when the boogeyman was lurking outside my window.

If I did wake-up during this critical window of time, my heart would pound uncontrollably. My parents were in slumber. I had no choice but to make the noise go away. So, I would throw back the covers, put my little feet on the cold floor and run into the living room to turn the television off. I could never pass by a window or look at it directly in fear that someone might be staring back. If I didn't do everything quickly, surely the boogeyman would see me and know that I was all alone. He would come and get me because he would not see my mom or dad under the big quilted blanket. I was alone with this feeling inside of me for most of my childhood and it resurrected itself in various ways through out my life.

Years later, I have found joy through writing. It has become my passion. It gives me peace and tranquility.

Ironically, most of it is done in solitude, after midnight, while I face my picture window and stare out into the deep, dark night.

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