Finding Courage To Face The Dark

May 03, 2022

What’s lurking in your shadows?

Tonight, I went to hang out the washing, it was dark and after grabbing the washing and pegs I flicked on the switch to illuminate the garden. I couldn’t help but notice how very calm and quiet it was. There was hardly any breeze but there was a floral smell (I think from the hedges) delighting my senses.

The coolness was lovely and the stillness was very soothing and surprising.

It wasn’t until I came back inside that I realised… a younger Mell would have been really afraid of doing that. In fact, when I reflect back, it’s taken me at least 4 years to settle my nerves in this neighborhood. 

I’ve always been afraid of the dark, I’m the sort of person that woke at the slightest rustle of the trees outside or the cats moving around the house. Sleeping right through the night used to be a completely foreign concept to me.

Not because it’s a bad area but because I sleep with the hypervigilant syndrome. For at least the first 18 months of moving in with Regan, I would wake at the slightest noise and be torn between hiding in the dark under the covers or creeping around - avoiding the windows - switching on all of the lights to ‘chase away’ whatever disturbed my slumber.

I remember waking one night about 2 years ago to a thud downstairs (we live in a Queenslander with the garage and laundry below us). As we sleep in different rooms (due to the earlier mentioned lightness of sleep), I grabbed the torch by my bedroom door and raced around the house making lots of noise and putting on every light I came across.

Of course (and I’m grateful for that) Regan slept through the entire episode without breaking his snore pattern! But what’s notable is that this was all done with such haste I didn’t have time to freak myself out with my imaginings.

You see the truth is, 9/10 times, it's our mind that’s scaring us.

Conjuring up stories of ‘what’s out there. Then the emotions create a sense of dread and our action (or our motion) backs it up, by freezing us up with fear. 

Turns out I’ve learned to master my thoughts now, so much so that it didn’t even occur to me that there might be something to worry about over the neighbours fence.

It wasn’t until I came back indoors that I even realised that not a single thought or doubt of my safety crossed my mind. I simply noticed how dark it was when I locked the front door again after putting the light out.

Now I have appreciation and compassion towards myself, for taking the time to do all the inner work, in order for me to now live free of the fears from my past.

Sometimes we don’t notice the small steps of progress but it’s really important to thank and acknowledge ourselves when we do. I’m a different person now, from 5 years ago, and different from 10 and 15 years ago.

Shine your personal light and don’t worry about what lies beyond that glow of ‘what you can’t see’. Living with permanent fear literally stops you from moving forward. That in turn makes going for your goals even harder.

Better still, shine a light on your fears and you’ll see your mind was making it scarier than it really was.

Since I fully addressed my past fear of the dark it no longer controls my life.

Oh and that thud in the garage? I never did identify what it was the next day when I explored and checked for evidence of what might have caused it.

I’m going to put it down to it being an angel landing to watch over us – either that, or it was a rat knocking something insurmountable over…

Want to work on any of your fears?