Before I write about last night I would like to honour the life of Daniel Prior who would have been celebrating his 31st birthday today. Dan was one of the brave hero’s who sadly did not survive horrendous injuries sustained during an IED blast in Afghanistan 2011. After a lot of thought I decided to track down his family and they very kindly gave me permission to name Dan in my book. For that I am extremely grateful and my thoughts are with you.
What I would now like to discuss is what happened when I went to bed last night, an event which sadly happens a little too often in my life, more so now. So how many people are afraid of sleeping in the dark? How many go through the ritual of switching on a night light before tucking in for the night? Trust me when I say you are really not on your own. Sadly since a very young age and more so today at the tender age of 42 I have been frightened of going to bed in the dark. Sleeping in a room, or even walking into a room that is pitch black is just not an option for me now.
Sadly bad things happened to me in the dark so for many years I have relied on a night light. Sadly this is the case for almost everyone who is afraid of the dark. It isn’t the monsters under the bed they became afraid of, in fact they were minor league compared to what was actually causing their fear. Being physically or sexually abused whilst in the ‘safety’ of your own bed, being beaten up/mugged in the street or being the victim of a sexual attack in a park are some of the reasons people are scared of the dark. Fear itself causes the greatest problem. My heart pounds if I have to walk into a dark room or have to walk down a dark street with little light, I still run sometimes. If I am sleeping alone some form of light is imperative but if I’m with someone else then I’m not too bad. I cannot sleep with my back to the door which kinda restricts my comfort some nights. However, if I’m sharing a bed I can sleep with my back to the door if someone is between the door and me. If someone tried to get in they will have to get past them first!! Sorry to whoever shares a bed with me 😜
I will never forget being bought an amazing glass dark blue night light from a friend which I used for years until it smashed during one of my many moves. Since then I used a plug in night light which my dearest friend Lozzie bought me years ago. Thankfully I can sleep with the curtains open and no manual light in my new house because there is a street light opposite my room.
Some nights even with a little light I feel like someone is there. It took me ages to get used to all the noises in my new house! Last night it felt like someone was digging into my stomach and it was awful. Other nights I dream that I’m sat in the back of a car and something pokes through the back seat and presses so hard into my back without stopping. Some mornings I woke with a start still feeling the poking in my back. If I think about it now I can still feel it. Who knows what these dreams mean, all I know is that the fear is as real in reality as in my dreams.
This may sound really strange now but I actually slept a little better in the middle of the desert in Afghanistan. During my tour with the RAF Regiment we would stay out for a few nights whilst carrying out patrols etc. We basically harboured up in the middle of the desert for the night, prep the cot bed, mossy net and sleeping bag and sleep under the stars. Initially I slept with one eye open worried that I would wake up and have someone staring down at me, or that I would be dragged off somewhere or blown up on the spot by the Taliban. Obviously this didn’t happen but I guess I have returned with some of this fear which had to be surpressed during tour. I did sleep better knowing that we slept in the middle of 3 vehicles, each with someone stood on it (including me taking my turn) stagging on manning a mounted machine gun and night vision goggles with a full 360 degree arc covered.
I would give anything not to carry this fear any longer, it’s a terrible feeling and those of you who go through the same know this is real, deep rooted fear. The mind is such a powerful thing don’t you think….