I never watched scary movies growing up. To this day I will plug my ears and close my eyes if I ever get the courage to sit through any sort of horror film.
When I was nine years old I watched three minutes of the show “Are You Afraid of the Dark.” I saw a kid get his ankle grabbed by someone who was hiding under the bed. For the next six months I would turn off the lights then jump three feet to my bed to avoid standing directly next to it. One afternoon my sisters decided to hide under my bed and grab my ankles. The panic that I felt run through my body still shakes me when I think about it. As the baby of the family, though, they got in trouble and didn’t speak to me for the next week.
I was so afraid of what could be under my bed in the dark. Afraid of what could be lingering, waiting to grab ahold and pull me under.
The darkness I’m afraid of today is held tightly in my own grip. I welcome the unknown with open arms and a full heart because I know exactly where my demons are within my own darkness.
I fear giving in. I have a heightened sense of self-awareness because of the darkness that I have allowed to consume me. I’ve sunk into the black hole, surrounded by nothing but my own self-defeating thoughts, yet still choosing isolation.
Fear causes us to act or freeze. Fight or Flight when faced with a threat. Choices present themselves in the face of danger, but when fear is silent the choice is not always clear. Not all choices are as simple as putting your hands up when there is a gun in front of you.
It is when fear of failure creeps in questioning your intelligence that the lines become blurred. It’s when the fear of being alone becomes so strong that the idea of settling starts to become an option. It is the panic that sinks in when everyone around you has their own families and successful careers that the overwhelming feeling of loneliness drowns you.
It is the easy way out to allow fear to win and give in to the negativity that can so easily consume. Choosing isolation over socializing, allowing negative, self-depreciating thoughts to run wild, and deciding not to act out of fear rather and rejection is what leads to darkness.
You can’t see in the dark. It blinds you to the love directly in front of you. It forces you to fight yourself to smile in moments that used to bring nothing but joy. It demands you to use all of your strength to be present. It consumes your entire being, forcing you to reach out in every direction fumbling, begging for a light switch to change everything.
Living and choosing to feel, to be present, is one small choice at a time. It is recognizing and respecting that fear is lingering before allowing it take over, to win. Respecting our emotions and challenging our thoughts is a vital part of obtaining happiness. I’ve lived while being numb in the dark, and know now that light is a choice.
It is scary being in the dark not knowing what might be lurking, but it is terrifying when you already know the darkness that you are capable of letting in.