It was quiet in my house this weekend. I was home to take care of animals and write. The rest of the folks went camping. It was lovely. And ground breaking. The victories were quiet. No fireworks. They came the way most victories come. Steadily pushing on, like the forests overtaking the fields, year after year they’re back. More seeds. More seedlings, try again.
I am afraid of the dark. More specifically, I am afraid to be alone in the dark. As a teenager, I maintained a strict routine. I did not walk to my bed after turning off the light. I flicked the switch and leapt into bed from three feet away. No errant unknown things reaching for my ankles, thanks. I knew there weren’t monsters under my bed. Probably no people either, but the routine helped and so I did it.
I was a nightmare child. And really, who am I kidding, the nightmares have been significantly reduced from the paralyzing strength they held in my twenties, but they still come round now and again to say hello. Remind me about darkness and what I think of it.
Since high school, I’ve either had a roommate or been married (a package that conveniently comes with a roommate). My husband has gone away many times, but there have always been children in the house or someone. I have gone away and had hotel rooms to myself. But never, until this weekend, have I ever spent the night at my own home alone.
No houses in sight. No hotel guests on the other side of the wall. Just me, the cats, and the dog.
Fear traumatizes. If we could see each other’s souls, and I do believe we can for tiny moments, but anyway, if you looked at mine, a lot of the scars you’d see would be from the swaths fear cut. Where I grew up, the reasons for fear came and went, not like seasons you saw coming, but like tornadoes out of nowhere.
Children are not sophisticated. They smell a storm, any storm, and having seen a few tornadoes touch down, they wisely fear the power of all harsh winds. So it was with me, alone in the dark for what felt like a very long childhood.
Time, love, forgiveness. They all do their part to heal. But nobody it seems was assigned to heal the little bit about the darkness. Hence, at 42, I remain afraid to be alone in the dark.
Going into the weekend I was a little anxious but determined. Now, with my family home again, my roommate returned to where he should be in the bed beside me, I feel a bit triumphant. I did it. I stayed in a house by myself (fully mobile and functional) two nights in a row.
Look, Mom, no hands!