I don’t remember my exact age when I began to feel afraid all the time. During the day, I sometimes couldn’t even go to the bathroom by myself. I’m thinking I must have been around 8 or 9 years old, perhaps younger. Everything scared me. I would be somewhere in the house and I would hear a noise…just a typical noise somewhere in the house; the common creaking sounds of any old house would send me running. I guess you could say I had quite a vivid imagination. I imagined all kinds of ghouls and monsters lurking in every closet, under every bed. It didn’t matter how beautiful the day was outside, there was always a sense of doom and gloom. On the rare occasion that I was home alone, I would be on pins and needles with every sound I heard and be running out the door. I actually felt safer outside than I did in the house.
Mom usually stayed up late at night to watch all her programs. Dad usually went to sleep at around 9:30 and sis and I shortly before. I would lie in my bed with the covers up to my nose. No matter how hot the weather was, I would lie there under the blankets getting sweaty but I felt safer under the covers. I can’t tell you WHAT it was I was afraid of, only that it was all in my head. I don’t think I actually saw anything spooky but just imagined that I would. After Mom watched her programs, she usually lay in bed reading. None of us shut our doors at night so I knew she was still up reading because her side table lamp would be on. It’s funny how I would fall asleep initially when going to bed, then as soon as Mom turned off her lamp, I would wake up…and feel the terror. The darkness, the quiet, the scary thoughts swirling around my head. Eventually I would fall back asleep but before I did, I always longed for the morning to be here. This went on for years. I also always felt a presence. I perceived it as not a pleasant feeling. It’s kind of the sensation where you think you’re alone in the room but feel intensely that someone is in the room with you but when you turn to see, there is no one there. I have felt this all my life.
On one occasion, I remember waking up in the middle of the night and being so afraid that I went into my parents room and lied on the floor net to my Dad’s side of the bed. I didn’t want to risk lying on the floor on Mom’s side because if she woke up and saw me there, I know she would have scolded me. If Dad woke up and saw me lying there, maybe he would just get startled and tell me to go back to bed. I decided I could risk this rather than lying in bed with the terrors of my imagination. It seemed to help a little bit but this fear lasted for many years.
I do remember telling my Dad once that I was afraid. The only way I could explain my fear to him as a young child was to tell him that I was afraid of “ghosts”. I remember him scoffing at me and telling me that I better not talk like that because I’d be locked up in the looney bin. This was a very strong message to me at the time that my fear was unwarranted. I lived with this terror for quite a while.
When I had children of my own, I made sure that I reassured them that their fears were “ok”. That it was ok to feel fear and we would discuss what it was that they were afraid of and let them know that I am here for them when they’re afraid. This is something that my sister and I never had and in retrospect, I understand that without that solid foundation of feeling safe as a child and receiving protection, the common fears that any child has growing up can turn into a very big monster later on in life.