I am afraid of the dark. I have been consistently from the time I was six years old. I’m not afraid to admit it, as I honestly don’t care if people think I’m crazy. I’ve gotten to a stage in my life where I no longer worry about people liking me. So if you think I’m loony, I do understand.
What is changing is that I am reconsidering my fear of the dark when I put my daughter down to sleep in her crib. I have the same fear of the dark, but am more combative with my fears. I talk to them directly. “Leave her alone,” I say mentally. “If you come near her I’m going to kick your ass.” Then I leave a light on in the bathroom just in case. When I was younger, light represented protection. When I was left alone at home, I would turn on the lights in every room. I was still afraid and couldn’t sleep, but at least I could see and be vigilant until my parents got home. As an adult, I progressed to managing to fall asleep with the light on. The problem went away when I met my husband. When there is somebody else in the room or apartment with me- parents, roommates, friends at a slumber party- the fear is less debilitating.
My daughter, by contrast, exhibits no fear of the dark. She remains peacefully asleep as I transfer her from the boppy to her crib. Her arms fall beside her forming right angles around her beautiful face. Compared to my fear, she is a bastion of strength. I’m even less afraid when I’m around her. However, I sometimes wake up at night and am fearful for her. That’s when I turn the light on in the bathroom so that a) I can see her from my bedroom and b) to keep my imagined boogie monsters at bay.
Differences in the way objects appear during the day and night is interesting. I took a biochemistry class in 2004 and learned that the eye, not surprisingly, sees more precision during the day but is better at sensing motion at night. This phenomenon is highlighted by the fact that I need glasses. Without glasses at night, I can see less detail but am still sensitive to motion. During the day, I am rarely afraid. But at night, my other senses are heightened. When I grab for my glasses on the coffee table in the dark, for example, I don’t actually see the glasses clearly, although I pick them out at first reach about 90% of the time. It’s not so much that I can see their exact shape, but I can pick them out even amidst the rubble that is on my coffee table. My imagination fills in what I can’t see.
So at night, familiar objects have a different look to them. The two mules looking out at me from the picture I took at the zoo take on a more somber meaning. The woman with heavy mascara looking out from a chemical dependency calendar I got for free looks downright scary at night. (I have to replace it.)