I always checked under the bed multiple times, making sure that I could see within every shadow to make sure nothing hid there. My closet door always had to be shut, and one of my parents always had to check inside. I made sure they moved aside the clothes and poked back into the corners sufficiently to allay my fears of something malevolent hiding within. And no, it couldn't be me who checked the closet, because what if something grabbed me while I felt for the back wall and dragged me into some hellish Narnia.
I went through cycles of deciding which was the best way to lie when trying to fall asleep. Some months I would lie facing away from the wall, so that I could best see my attacker. Other months, I thought it best to face the wall; that way, whatever wanted to eat me could just get it done and over with, without me having to suffer through so much anticipation.
I had such trouble falling asleep. I'd often lay awake in dread for at least an hour before sleep overtook me. And even so, I'd have nightmares, the kind of nightmares where something was behind me, chasing me, breathing down my neck, and I could only move in slow motion. When I tried to scream, only the most pitiful hoarse gasp would escape my lips. Thankfully at some point, I learned to take control of my dreams - to realize I was dreaming and give myself power over my nocturnal torments. But still, even after that, for a long time, I needed the hall light on, the space beneath my bed checked, and the shadows of my closet explored before I allowed myself to shut my eyes.
My daughter, while possessing an amazing imagination, does not let that imagination take her down those same dark roads that I used to travel at night, thank heavens. Sometimes I wonder what exactly caused those fears of mine. I've never been able to figure that out. I guess I was just born a scaredy-cat, my psyche born full of the shadows witnessed within the womb.
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