One surprising reason you’re afraid of the dark

Are you afraid of the dark? Or do you live with someone who is afraid of the dark?

I’m not talking like if you’re lost in the woods by yourself and it is dark outside. I’m talking like you wake up in the middle of the night to go pee and you find yourself sprinting back to bed.

Lately I’ve been waking up afraid almost every night. Its not even like I’m scared because I wake up from a bad dream. I just wake up, realize it is still dark, and feel terrified. It totally sucks.

Even though I am generally a strong-willed and logical person, no matter how much I try to ignore or minimize my fear, it never really goes away.

What’s going on here?

In my effort to get to the bottom of why I feel so haunted at night, I’ve come up with a theory that is absolutely fascinating to me. In this post, I share with you what I’ve learned in hopes that it may help you also get to the bottom of what is making you so afraid.

Next week, I’ll explain what I’m doing to overcome my fear (it is probably not a tactic you’ve heard of before) which I think may also help me overcome other negative thought patterns like depression, anger, anxiety, and just general unhappiness.

But first, the one surprising reason I am afraid of the dark.

The presence at the end of my hall

There are areas of my house that freak me out more than others and there is one particular area that embodies my fear the most – the end of the hall opposite my bedroom. The end of the hall can be seen straight from my bed, actually, so that’s just awesome.

To make it worse, my bathroom is in the middle of this hall. So when I go pee at 3AM, I have to walk straight toward this thing. But the worst part by far is when I leave the bathroom and have to turn my back on the presence to get back to bed.

This is when I usually imagine the worst thing possible, like a horrible monster behind me growing exponentially in size as it stalks me down the hall. Sometimes my imagination freaks me out so much I actually burst into a sprint down the hall until I can leap on my bed and scramble for the covers.

One night, after I bravely made the trek to the bathroom, did my business, and prepared to voyage back to my bed, a voice in my head said, “It is only yourself you’re afraid of back there.”

This got my attention. Interesting.

This voice got me thinking; what if this presence isn’t an actual ghost or demon or something? What if it is something I created myself? According to the voice of insight, what if it was a part of myself that I subconsciously “assigned” to the end of the hall?

What if the presence at the end of my hall was actually the parts of myself I am afraid of dealing with or acknowledging?

Fascinating, right?

It isn’t uncommon for humans to subconsciously disassociate themselves with uncomfortable or even painful experiences. What if my failure to acknowledge and love the weird and painful parts of my life caused my brain to assign these darker parts to somewhere outside my body, to somewhere else in my home?

This got me thinking back to all the other times I felt scared and had two key realizations that further compounded this theory.

Key Realization #1: This presence follows me everywhere

This presence is the same presence that was at the foot of my bed in my elementary school house, the same presence on the landing outside my bedroom door in my middle and high school house, and the same presence just outside my bedroom’s sliding glass door in my college apartment. It follows me everywhere. Surely every home I’ve ever lived can’t all be haunted.

Furthermore, I don’t remember experiencing this presence back when I was truly a carefree kid. This could be because I was too naïve to know how scary the dark is or my imagination wasn’t fully developed or something. But what if there were no parts of myself or experiences in my life back then that I was afraid of dealing with (therefore, no presence at night)?

Key Realization #2: It is most prevalent when I believe in God

I’ve fluctuated between deep religion/spirituality and bouts of living in my own little material world. When I am immersed in the day-to-day life, the scary presence at the end of my hall shows up noticeably less. But, without fail, every time I start truly believing in God and other spiritual concepts again, the presence shows up.

Lets take God and religion out of it – what if all the good parts of myself that I become more aware of when I am living more spiritually (i.e. ability to love, have compassion, empathize, etc), causes the unloved parts of myself to become more prevalent? Thus, when I’m focusing on all the good in the world and in myself, the parts that I don’t love about myself seem that much darker.

My theory in a nutshell

The presence at the end of my hall is not something outside of me, but actually the parts of me that I haven’t fully acknowledged or loved.

Since it has been with me in every home I’ve lived in, it isn’t something I can just ignore to make it go away. I have to do something else (see next week’s post for what I believe this “something else” is) to stop experiencing so much fear.

When I am more aware of the positive parts of myself, it is harder for me to ignore the unloved parts of myself (i.e. I get more scared of this “presence” at night). This leads me to believe that enhancing the positive parts of myself is a key starting point to a life full of happiness, but I also must address the unacknowledged and unloved parts of myself to reach my full happiness potential and am free of being afraid of the dark.

The presence at the end of your hall

This theory isn’t the only reason people are afraid of the dark. Maybe its not even the main one. But working through this theory in my personal life has definitely lead to being less afraid. I’ve definitely got more to work through, but I can finally envision a time when I can wake up at 3AM, go to the bathroom, and make it back to bed without having to sprint, damn it!

If you’re often afraid of the dark and any of this is resonating with you, I encourage you to think critically about the aspects of yourself that remain unacknowledged and unloved, because you may never be free of your fear until you learn how to acknowledge and love these parts of yourself.

Next week’s post will explain what it actually means to “acknowledge and love these parts of yourself” (its much less woo-woo than you’d think) and why acknowledgement and love (a.k.a integration) is the only solution to curing your fear if my theory rings true for you.

I’ll also give you some examples of the parts of myself that remain unacknowledged and unloved to help you as you’re identifying your own unloved parts.

Until then, feel free to follow up with an email or post in the comments – I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

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