I’m 27. I have a college degree. I’ve walked the streets of Paris alone at midnight. I’m married.
And I’m afraid of the dark.
It’s not so much that I have a childlike terror of darkness. I prefer sleeping in complete darkness, to the point that Dan and I have covered in Duck tape every tiny green, blue, or red light on small electronic devices in our bedroom.
But when we go into dark rooms in museums, rooms designed to be especially dark to better display a night sky exhibit or luminescent rocks, my heart starts beating just a little faster. I try to calm myself with deep, steady breaths, but I can’t shake off the nervous feeling until we move on to the next exhibit.
In high school, and even during summers at college, if my parents needed me to take the trash can and recycling bins to the street at night before bed, I had to distract myself. I would quietly sing “Jesus Loves Me” or recite the 23rd psalm. Focusing on God was the only way to stop feeling unsettled.
Being afraid of the dark is not a rational fear, but my physical response to total darkness is one I can’t completely turn off.
My other irrational fears are, dare I say it, more normal?
I’m really freaked out by spiders. Like a lot. I can kill the small ones that keep showing up in our house, but I prefer to make Dan do it. I will shriek and jump away from big spiders. They creep me out so much.
My final irrational fear isn’t entirely my fault. There’s history to it. I didn’t get my driver’s license until halfway through my senior year of high school, much later than all of my peers. I was bullied mercilessly for this, to the point that I burst into tears during AP Calculus and fled to the girls’ bathroom.
This has left me with residual anxiety about driving that will occasionally pop up out of nowhere. I can go months driving, even driving a lot, like between Columbus and Findlay, without any problems and then BAM! I’ll be driving down the road, checking my blind spot to change lanes, and suddenly my body starts tensing up, my breathing becomes erratic, and I panic about driving safely.
I only get through this momentary anxiety by doing something a little counter-intuitive. Instead of hyper-focusing on my driving or being extra-sure my driving is perfect, I sing along to whatever CD is playing (usually Taylor Swift or the Frozen soundtrack). By focusing my mind on music, I can relax and allow my instincts and experience to take over my driving.
So there you have it. I’ve laid my soul bare on the table… er, blog. My family, friends, and potential strangers all know that I’m afraid of the dark, freaked out by spiders, and suffer side effects from adolescent bullying.