What are you afraid of?
What is afraid of you?
My dad loved to tell people that I was deathly afraid of being alone in the dark when I was a child.
That was a lie—or at least it was not the truth.
I feared the dark. But my fear wasn’t because I did not want to be alone—it was because of all the things with me in the dark.
My parents said that as a baby, I would open my eyes, stare off into the middle distance, and scream as if I was seeing some horrible apparition.
My first memories are all nightmares and hallucinations.
When I walked into dark rooms from rooms with light, I could see the outlines of crowds of people. It was like seeing the auras of dozens of people congregating at a party. I knew that these were not some trick of the light—I was seeing the spirits of the dead.
That’s why I needed a nightlight. I was not afraid of the dark or of being alone. I was afraid of being with the spirits. A nightlight kept them away.
I never told my parents about the spirits. I learned they did not want to hear about what I heard and saw. They did not want to know about my nightmares. They just wanted peace and quiet.
I could see stories where others only saw shapes. I learned how to distinguish between reality and the imaginary.
As a father of four, I’m not afraid of the dark.
I am still afraid of what awaits me in the dark. I no longer worry about seeing unknown spirits. Instead, I dread the creeping regrets, the feeling of failure crawling over me, and the sensation that I will never again taste success.
No nightlight can keep these phantoms at bay.
In the deepest dark of the night, when my thoughts betray me and threaten to send me down a spiral from which I will never return, I remember that I have power. I know the name of my tormentor.
The name of my tormentor is a story. When I say the story, my agony ends.
The story that saves me every night is this: I am afraid of failing to find my purpose in this life, but I only fail if I stop seeking.
Weirdo Poetry is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, become a free or paid subscriber.
Since this is a day to face and embrace our fears, what are you afraid of?
Be the weird you want to see in the world!
P.S. This is day 7 of 14 for my poetry comics challenge. I’m halfway there!