Monday, August 13, 2012

In the darkness

When I was a kid I'd wake up in the middle of the night. 

Sometimes it was because of a nightmare...and sometimes it was just my body waking me. I was afraid of the tiny noises but far more scary for me was the quiet. Because in my child mind, if it's quiet..then there is definitely something there. So I'd tip toe into my parents room and stop at the door. I just knew that if whatever was hiding in the dark knew I was there, I'd never make it to their bed. From the door way I'd start whispering 


When my mom didn't answer I would creep a little farther in and call her again. Each time I would inch my way closer to the bed. Sometimes I would start to cry because she couldn't hear me and I was too scared to raise my voice. Finally I would make it to the foot of the bed and quit my whispers. I would lay down there, until the light from the rising sun made the shadows less dark.When it was "safe" I could walk up to my dad's side and he'd let me cuddle until it was time to get up. Not long after that my older sister would come in and we'd all cuddle in their bed. And I would forget about what had scared me the hours before. It wasn't until I was married that my bed felt more comfortable and safe.Even after I moved out I would come home and still crawl into my parents bed in the morning while they were still sleeping. Yes, even in my twenties it was the safest most comfortable bed ever, where the scary stuff couldn't get me.

My mom and I in front of Disneyland

    Most nights when my husband is gone Fish will wake up. My fearless Fish, she makes the trek through the dark office and into our pitch black bedroom. In her full voice she will say "Mommy, I have to go pee" and will turn and go into the dark bathroom. She's only 6 and she has far more courage than I did at her age. There are times she has nightmares and she'll come in and ask if she can sleep with us. But those times are rare and she never seems afraid. Fish and Butterfly share a bedroom and have bunk beds. Many nights they will ask to sleep together and they are small enough to fit in one bed. My only sister is 9 years older than me and although we are close, there is a huge age difference. When I go to check on the sleeping girls they are turned toward each other. It makes me wonder if they fell asleep whispering after being told so many times to stop giggling and go to sleep. How lucky they are to have each other.

     Last night I woke up out of dead sleep. I sat for a moment wondering why it was so hot and then I heard a voice. It was Fish calling me softly from her room .I thought it was strange, normally she would just get up. So I called back to her in a quiet voice...after all it was dark in my room. Again I heard the whisper of her voice, barely audible. Again I called to her and told her to come to me. When she I didn't hear the sound of her footsteps I knew I would need to go to her. You'd think because I'm a grown woman I'd jump right up and head out. Nope not me. I turned on my light, grabbed my cellphone and the cup of water on my nightstand. I considered taking the shotgun with my, but decided the cellphone was adequate. I stumbled on toys and shoes (obviously left by monsters to throw me off) and finally made it to her doorway. This is where I stopped and began to whisper her name. I felt like a kid again, scared to raise my voice. In my adult mind I rationalize that there might be someone in the house. Maybe they broke in and are waiting for me in the living room. Finally Fish answered, I offered her water and she took a drink and thanked me. When I asked her if she had called me..she said "No" and fell back asleep. That creeped me out even more. I decided to check all the doors and windows before going back to bed. And that was when I started to feel dumb, I'm 33 and I'm still afraid of the dark. I know there are no monsters hiding under my bed, not because I don't believe in monsters, because my bed is built to stay monster free. The power of the imagination fueled by fear is amazing.
       Today darkness has far more meaning for me. It has become my inner battle more than my outer fear. Everyday I work toward keeping away from the darkness that can take over my mind and cause me to curl into a ball and close the door. I wish I could be more like Fish. She walks right into the darkness and uses a loud voice. Never afraid of what she can't see, never whispering in case they hear. I realize there must be courage in me...she could not have gotten it all from her dad. My children have been the light in the battle against my darkness. They make the shadows less dark, like the sunrise when I was a child.  They make me want to stop being afraid of my own voice. I don't want to inch my way toward my goal, afraid of what might get me if I move any faster. I'm ready to stop being afraid. Because the only thing that has been hiding in the dark is me.