Fear of the Dark

Revisions continue on the upcoming book, The Yoga of Boiling Eggs. I went back and forth on whether to keep this piece in the manuscript. In the end, I removed it.

It lives here now.

As an adult, sleep came easy, but night-waking was never welcome. My head would swim in those darkened hours. Even a short trip to the bathroom yielded an onslaught of mind chatter as the dark took over. I reworked fitness routines, rehashed conversations and made mental grocery lists — when all else fails, manage your groceries. Maybe the midnight analysis of the previous day was my mind’s way of coping with fear of the dark. It would take me a long time to fall back asleep as my brain busied itself. What about the darkness scared me? I hid from the darkness.

            When I birthed Michael, one of my clearest memories was looking out the large window of the delivery room and seeing the sun set. When I returned home with him, anxiety hit. I would have to feed him in the night, perhaps several times. On top of the crazy post-partum cat-attacking-the-baby thoughts, I then had to also deal with my fear of the dark. Perhaps that was why the sunsets were important to me.

            For weeks after my delivery, I was grief-stricken when the sun fell. I ran outside each night, choosing sunset as my time to retrieve the mail, to hold on to the remaining rays and the last light of day. I didn’t want the light to leave and the darkness to come.

            I stressed over the looming duty of motherhood. Forced to face my fear, I woke that first night to Michael crying and carried him to the rocking chair where we sat in the darkness together. It was quiet, still and surprisingly peaceful. A sense of relief filled the space mind chatter once occupied. I cuddled with Michael and rocked us both back and forth, back and forth, nurturing us in the darkness.

            I could do the nights. I could face the darkness with him in my arms. Although I never came to love the sleeplessness, I did enjoy the times in the night when no one was up but us, and the rest of the neighbourhood was quiet. I peeked out the windows and learned the routines of life around me. 

            I saw who left early for work, who stumbled home late from a night of drinking, that the paper delivery occurred at two in the morning, the home behind and two down housed a drug dealer, his girlfriend and young daughter, and cars came and went very quickly from it at all hours. One morning, I stepped out onto my deck after putting Michael back to bed, and was startled to find a policeman alongside my fence, gun drawn, with his finger pressed to his lips signaling me not to make a sound. I carefully stepped back inside, and through the window witnessed several officers and dogs converge on the suspect house. It remained vacant after that.

            Night became a welcome time for me as I began to face the darkness and learn its routine. I came to know it better than it knew me. Shadows disappear when you shine light on them.

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