Bump in the Night

Frantic.

Can’t move.

Need to move.

It’s dark. Very dark.

Everyone is talking all at once. Crossing over one another, muddled. I can’t understand them, I can’t communicate.

Fear.

For so long, fear – deep, visceral, antagonizing – has sought me out at night.

Night terrors of some form are a frequent feature of my sleep. As a kid, I recall screaming into bottomless holes that appeared in my bedroom; falling and falling and falling down the front stairs, never finding the bottom but forever falling; the Swamp Monster (yea, the black and white 50s one that’s laughable now) coming for me across the lake.

I sleep-walked: turning on the bathtub, wandering out the front door, and properly freaking out my parents by standing Poltergeist style at the end of their bed in the long-sleeved ruffled nightgown my grandmother made me with my stringy dirty blonde hair framing my little creeper face.

As long as these nightmares have gone on, I still have no idea where they come from. I have an overactive and vibrant imagination, but I have long avoided horror movies, scary stories, and (mostly) being out in abandoned shacks in the middle of the woods at midnight.

Yet, these images persist.

With age, they’ve become more realistic – my very real anxieties about success, money, death – playing out in my dreams. But then there’s the ones where I have to hunt a shark in a flood with my paternal grandma and the cast of How I Met Your Mother and it’s still horrifying (that one didn’t turn out well…).

And I have no idea how to stop them. So usually I just sit with them. I can’t wake myself up from the dream, but I’m lucid.

So I participate. I grab that harpoon gun and run onto that WWII duck boat with my four foot nine octogenarian matriarch outfitted in her usual Chanel. If I can’t get away from the fear, at least I can somehow try to be active in it – to deal with whatever my subconscious needs – and maybe learn how to take down a rabid, somehow land-capable, ocean terror.

himym shark

***

The Art of the Everyday – January 9. 1984: You’re locked in a room with your greatest fear. Describe what’s in the room.

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