Why am I STILL afraid of the dark?

Being afraid of the dark is fine when you’re five. It’s acceptable when you’re 12 and vaguely okay when you’re 15 (although you probably wouldn’t be in a hurry to tell your friends). But what about when you’re in your mid-twenties and your fear hasn’t really gone away?

I was home alone last week and at 6pm everything was fine. I was glad to have the house to myself. TV on, snacks at the ready. There was still movement outside and I felt like Jane next door was probably feeding her cat and the people walking past were most likely coming home from their yoga class. 7pm passed in more or less the same fashion, then 8pm struck. The cosy lighting became dingy, I couldn’t hear Jane anymore and for some reason, as per the norm, EVERYTHING began to creak.

Each time this occurs, I begin my routine of Home-Alone-baddie-proofing. This is when I lock the doors before things get too scary. Not only do I lock them, I also vigorously tug on the handles as if I am a very loud and heavy-handed burglar, to check the key has done its job. I then return five seconds later wondering whether I actually did lock the door or whether it was all in my head. Other things also face careful scrutiny – are the windows shut? Should I draw the curtains or leave them open? Do I leave the doors to each room open, or do I close them so the dark, scary-shaped contents inside them are hidden? Do I place some unwanted and awkwardly-shaped Christmas decorations under each window like Kevin McAllister would?

This takes quite some time, and this is all before I even get into bed. A couple of hours later I am pyjama-ed and tooth brush-ed and ready to sleep, yet I can’t quite relax. I feel as if I have to stay alert. With the lights on, my house is my home, but with them off, it is some kind of evil crime hotspot. A creak on the stairs becomes a villainous murderer who has targeted my house and come to stab me. The motion-activated light on the drive flashes on for a few seconds, and in my head it is someone who wants to steal my belongings and kill me afterwards, instead of a couple of teenagers coming home from the pub. Why I suddenly assume that a) tonight of all nights I will be robbed, b) if I am robbed I will also be killed or at least seriously injured, and c) these things only happen when it’s dark, I have NO idea.

2/3am and I am still drifting in and out of sleep, interpreting every noise as a threat of imminent death. By this point I have given up and switched my bedside light on, which has given me the slight advantage of being able to see any potential murderers who happen to stroll into my room, but the fairly hefty disadvantage of waking up every five seconds because my body thinks it’s 7am.

I check my phone and scroll through a couple of social media sites, as if knowing that other people are still alive and doing normal things will somehow help me when doom strikes. I long for the morning, when the sun will start to rise and I can catch a few minutes of glorious sleep.

At 8am, I wake up to a bright, friendly bedroom, with a torch in my hand, my phone resting on my chest, a desperate need for caffeine and a niggling feeling that I was in fact not burgled and that no-one with evil intentions came anywhere near my house last night. Feeling embarrassed, I promise myself that next time, I’ll be fine. I’ll be prepared. I’ll have a hot chocolate, get into bed early, and sleep just fine with the lights off. But every time that occasion rolls around, it’s an exact repeat of the last time…and the time before that…

I’d like to know that I’m not alone in all this. Does anyone else have a illogical fear of the dark, or of burglars/monsters/murderers/zombies/anything else striking when they’re home alone? Let me know – we can make a support group.

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5 thoughts on “Why am I STILL afraid of the dark?

  1. redflost says:

    When I was young, the corridor between my bedroom and the living room was pitch black, and I used to run out of the living room at full pelt, up the stairs and into my room. I was that scared of the dark. Now, I’m more or less fine, I don’t nearly suffocate myself under the duvet because I’m scared of what’s in the dark. Whilst my girlfriend doesn’t like sleeping in pitch black, I’ve got used to sleeping in different
    lighting. Of course, the scary thing is what could be in the dark, if I’m alone walking the streets in the dark, I’m more nervous than if I was inside, but if I’m on my own in the house, I get nervous just as much in the dark, as when it’s daytime. I think it’s a fear of being alone when there could be something there. I think it’s a natural response, but it is interesting. It’s the basis for every horror film ever. For me, It’s just not as bad as it used to be.

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    • notaquamarine says:

      You’re right – it’s the fear of what could be lurking in the dark rather than the dark itself. That’s interesting, I love being home alone during the day but at night I just can’t cope, haha. I’m glad it’s better for you now though! And hopefully having your girlfriend around helps? I find now I’m living with my boyfriend I sleep a LOT better having someone next to me :’)

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  2. Harper says:

    Hi. I have the same type of reaction when I’m staying at a hotel on my own. Everything I enter my hotel room I have to check under the bed, check behind the curtains, check the bathroom, etc to ensure it is safe and noone is hiding in my room. Sometimes I check under the bed at least three times, just a security procedure you could say. When it comes to night, I always put both my suitcase and a chair in front of the door – so if anyone some how unlocks it, I would hear them come in as the door would slam against the objects. You might want to try this if you are ever afraid again when home alone – I felt safe cause I knew I would wake up if I heard a loud BANG!

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