Coyote staring through tall grass at night

Things That Go Bump in the Night

My sister told me once when I was little that I shouldn’t sleep with my feet outside of the comforter because it would make it easier for someone to grab me in my sleep. The logic of this obviously wasn’t sound, but that didn’t stop me from keeping my feet safely tucked under the comforter well into adulthood. I had a vivid imagination which was both my friend and my enemy. When I was a teenager I had a bedroom that was by itself in a downstairs area next to what we called “the playroom” (it wasn’t technically a basement, but close). There was a large window that looked into the playroom. Each night I carefully moved each blind so that they overlapped, preventing me from seeing into the darkness of the playroom – or maybe keeping the darkness of the playroom from seeing me.

I had a great deal of fear as a kid who struggled with anxiety and panic attacks. I feared earwigs crawling into my ears and eating my brain (they don’t actually do that). I feared our planet being swallowed by a black hole. I feared Chucky, the serial killer doll, would come into my room at night with a screwdriver in his hand (this was long before I had ever seen the movie). I feared myself. Fear everywhere.

As adults, many of us carry a fear of the metaphorical darkness – the place where the unknown resides; the things we don’t – or refuse to – understand. (I previously discussed my own fear of social situations.) We plug our ears to those things that go bump in the night. We don’t talk about our darkness because maybe if we don’t talk about it then it doesn’t exist. Yet there it is, waiting and watching from the shadowy corners of our minds. Fear keeps us from taking a leap, from taking risks, from going down a path that isn’t within our comfort zone. It keeps us from connecting with others and from connecting with ourselves.

Fear is a ball and chain that shackles us from truly living. But if you look down, you might be surprised to find that the chain is loose enough for you to pull your foot free. All the external (and internal) forces in the world  – all the shadows you hid from – that you thought were keeping you prisoner were an illusion. You were the one keeping yourself trapped there. It’s time to pull yourself free and see what’s out there. It’s time to leap.

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