I was terrified of a non-existent figure
I’ve been afraid of the dark since I can remember, but it became worse in my teenage years. I was most afraid of things I couldn’t recognize immediately, like an open door with a dark space behind it, or a hanging towel that resembled a cloaked figure. We humans experience a psychological phenomenon called Pareidolia. It means that we see faces in objects that don’t have a face. Sometimes a shadow may look like an animal or human face, or when the water in the shower drips in a certain pattern, it may look like something recognizable. I can handle those little forms of Pareidolia, in little patterns on the wall for example, but when I see a full figure in the shape of a chair with clutter on it, I get scared. It feels like my mind is playing tricks on me. When I look closely or inspect the object, I see that it’s just an object, but from afar, I swear it looks like a person. Having a nightlight helps because it makes me see clearer (it’s hard to recognize anything in the dark, therefore everything looks like shapes).
I also think that my imagination combined with watching too many horror movies at a young age are the cause. I was about 8 years old when I saw the Grudge for the first time. And with my friends, we used to rent a bunch of horror movies at the movie rental store and watch them all in one night. Up until I was 14 years old, this was no problem and I could easily sleep at night (with a nightlight or sometimes without). But between 14 and 20 years I started to become terrified. I kept “seeing” this strange cloaked figure in the middle of my room. This was not Pareidolia anymore, since the middle of my room has always been empty. It truly felt like someone was watching me and it made it very hard for me to fall asleep. The weird thing about it is that I didn’t have any nightmares. So what was I afraid of? After I had gone asleep, all was fine. But it was these long moments before I fell asleep, that haunted me. I don’t know if you’ve seen Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, but the dementors kind of resemble the figure I speak of. Or the Groke of the Moomins (click the link, forward to 19.05 minutes and enjoy!).
Someone once told me that maybe a ghost or other afterlife being wants to make contact through this feeling. When I turned 20 years old, it slowly reduced (though it was already reducing a little before that age). This was also the time that I became more spiritually awakened. I believe that whatever this thing was, either a figment of my imagination paired with images from movies or an actual being that wanted to visit me, by becoming more strong and aligned with who I was, I made it go away. When I had a sleepover with friends or with boyfriends, I wasn’t afraid, so I think that’s because I felt like someone else could protect me. That’s why I believe by finding the strength within myself, I made it going away. But even today, I sleep with a nightlight. But it is not as necessary anymore. Before, I used to cry if my nightlight broke before I went to bed and I didn’t have a spare. I just knew that I wouldn’t be able to ever sleep until the sun came back, and that scared me. But I “saw” the figure with the nightlight on as well, although in some way, it made me feel more secure, to actually see that there is nothing standing in my room (that’s why I also had trouble sleeping with my head faced to the wall instead of the room, because I couldn’t see the room).
The nightlight gave me strength. Now that I’m spiritually awakened, I see that I create that light as a figure of speech. I don’t need an actual physical light anymore to protect me. Also, I know now that if something or someone wants to visit me, I can say out loud and in my head that I don’t want them to visit me. Whether this is real or not, it makes sense to me that you can set your boundaries just like you would when someone is visiting your house and you don’t feel like having company.
Some of my friends also think that this phenomenon was the result of using a lot of drugs in my teenage years. I personally don’t think that’s the cause but it could be a part of it. The last couple of years I haven’t “seen” the cloaked figure anymore most of the time. He came back once when I was afraid in Portugal. A woman (a colleague I didn’t know personally) next door had commit suicide. I kept thinking about her, and since it was so close by (literally next door to our house), I “saw” the figure again. Maybe it was my way of coping with people dying? When I was 14 years old both my grandparents died. That’s when it all started, so maybe it has something to do with that. Or they were visiting me in my unconscious mind? I don’t know, and I don’t need to know either. I know now how I can make it go away. And that’s what matters.
I’m sharing this because I want to let you know that it is okay to be scared of something that doesn’t exist in the physical world. Fear is only in the mind, and only with your mind, you can make it go away. It feels really intimate sharing one of my biggest fears with the world, recreating them with pictures, but I believe it can help someone out there reading this that experiences something similar. If I can sleep in peace, then you can too. Don’t underestimate how hard it is to not be able to sleep at night, maybe seek for help from outside. I didn’t, and maybe I should have, but talking about this was hard for me back then. I found a way that works and so can you. The light of a nightlight or candle is within you and not within the object. You can create your own safe haven by thinking about the light, a beam, an orb, covering all of you or your whole room. Your mind is not you, and it does not rule you, you rule your mind. And by doing that, anything is possible.