I have Nyctophobia. It’s another word for an irrational fear of night or darkness. My brain and heart are fighting each other on this. My brain says this is an irrational fear but brain, can you please tell that to my heart when it’s thudding like a high-rhythmic beating drum when I’m in the dark?
According to the internet, most irrational fears stem from childhood traumas. My Nyctophobia began when I was around six. One night, after having dinner at my aunt’s, as my mom and I exited my aunt’s apartment, we heard shouting. Back then, I didn’t know what the shouting was about. Then, I saw a man storming out of the next apartment building dragging a crying woman out into the courtyard.
I turned my head to avert my gaze and swung my leg over to get on the back of my mom’s scooter while tried to tune the shouting and crying out but it was difficult. I had just witnessed a man beating and abusing his wife.
That night, I stared into the darkness, not daring to close my eyes because each time I closed them, I was back in the courtyard with now incomprehensible shouts and cries filled my ears.
A few years later, after my mom immigrated to the U.S and I moved into my aunt’s spare bedroom, whenever I ate my dinner too slowly because I didn’t have enough teeth to chew my food or whenever my vegetable and meat to rice ratio wasn’t to my aunt’s satisfaction, I would be punished. My aunt would drag me until I was outside the apartment in the dark stairwell and she would shut the door on me.
The moment she shut the door was the moment I begin the panic. The voices and images from years before would fill my mind and ears while my heart would begin beating like a helicopter. I would start banging on the door. “Let me in, please!” I would cry over and over.
Until that moment, that first time I got locked out, my fear of darkness hadn’t been that bad. I had been able to sleep in the dark. My brain had somehow buried that trauma until the first time when I got locked out when everything resurfaced and it would resurface over and over again as I get punish for the same damn innocent thing.
It’s because of the torturous punishment as a child that I am now still bear this fear even so many years later. I still have to sleep with a nightlight. I still don’t dare to go out at night unless the place is well-lit. If I need to go out to take nightscapes, I would bring multiple flashlights and camping lights. In my bedroom, I also make sure to keep a couple portable lights in my nightstand. I would have to make sure I don’t ever get stuck in darkness otherwise, the voices, images, and hysteria would return.
Theme: Of all the things I am
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