Posted by: corozmum | September 13, 2010

Scared of the Dark

I have always been scared of the dark. It started as a child living with an alcoholic father and a Bipolar mother. My earliest memories are lying shivering in the dark, listening to voices raised in anger, wincing as dishes shattered against the walls. Hiding under the blankets as my father stomped to bed and when sure he was in bed, peeking out to find my mother eerily silent, silhouetted in the doorway before bowing her head and going back to clean up. I used to dream of floating up and the roof opening to allow me to float up to the stars. I wished so fervently it could really happen. Those noises continued till I left home at 17 with the sound of thumps as my father beat my mother being added over the years.

I went into a student hostel and listened to the sounds in the night but felt safe even if I couldn’t sleep because of the sturdy lock on my bedroom door. Then I met and moved in with The Ref. I mostly felt safe and protected with his warm presence beside me and a male flatmate in the next room. Even so, in each place we have lived I have memories of wandering the house at night and staring out at the lights.

I thought I was a bit mad till I found out my sister felt the same. When she was dieing of leukemia she moved in with her best friend. The state of her bedroom floor drove The Librarian mad. When asked why she couldn’t at least have a path to the bed her reply was that she wanted to be able to hear if anyone came into her room at night and she wouldn’t feel safe unless there was a mess to trip over. This was in spite of there being 2 adults and two kids and (over the last few months) me on the lounge floor! We only got the floor cleared when the night nurses started.

I only recall fear keeping me awake at night after that. I regularly wandered the house at night, checking doors and windows and if I heard a noise I couldn’t identify I would have to have the lights on too.

Last year was crunch time. The Ref moved here to start his new job, Glassie went to tertiary education and I was home alone for a term while the house sold. In spite of checking all doors and windows before going to bed, any sound had me awake and petrified. The pounding of my heart hid any sound and the shapes of the bedroom furniture took on monstrous proportions and started moving. I had to get a nightlight! Its silly… but I sleep better. If I hear a noise, I open one eye, see everything where it should be, identify the noise (the cat, wind, rain, familiar house creaks) and go back to sleep!

Then we moved here. After a weekend away a few weeks after we moved in, we came home to a burglary. Even though intellectually I knew they had got what they wanted and wouldn’t be back, I was terrified. That first night I slept propped up with pillows, a night light and started at every sound. After a few days The Ref demanded we do without the night light. We are surrounded by ladies who live alone, and The Ref works with several as well. I had no excuse!

Being scared kicked into high gear and having to get up to check things was a nightly event. When The Ref took a school trip away for a week, I refused to stay home alone and went with him. It has been a year and I’m mostly awake at night now because of hot flushes and only occasionally do the fears haunt me. The Ref is away over night this week and as I can’t afford to miss university lectures (I missed some last week due to a migraine) I’m staying home alone for the first time here.

I’m looking forward to cooking food I love and The Ref hates, having the remote control and watching The Refs idea of crap but I’m wondering where that nightlight is! Its only one night and the ladies around me do it every night.

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