I’m scared of everything. No, seriously. You will never meet someone so damn pathetic. As a 22 year-old, I sprint from my car to my front door every night because those monster/zombie/things from I Am Legend only come out when it’s dark… and slender man lives in the woods… and there are woods behind my house.
I have stood in my bathroom crying before because I was too scared to open the door, cross the hall, and walk downstairs to my room. It’s not like I’m scared of realistic things either, like burglars or murderers (even though those thoughts can keep me up at night, too). I’m scared that I’ll open the door and see the girl from The Ring standing there. I saw that movie when it came out… over ten years ago. And even though my eyes were closed the whole time, images of that chick and her hair are seared into my brain. I expect to see the girl from The Exorcist crawling down my stairs backwards. I expect to see some ghost/demon type thing standing somewhere in my house whenever I’m alone. Every time I go downstairs at night to go to bed, I skip half of the stairs jumping down. No exaggeration. I jump down an entire half flight of stairs to get into my room before I meet a horrible, paranormal death. I have lay awake with the lights on countless nights with tears in my eyes because I’m exhausted yet too terrified to sleep. I cry out of fear and because I hate myself, and the fact that I replay every scary movie scene I’ve ever retained in my head.
When people tell me they hate scary movies too, I usually laugh. Do certain scary movies haunt you for years later? Do you start envisioning that one scary character in every dark corner, every looming doorway? I don’t think so. At least not to my ridiculous extent. People claim they get scared, but they forget about the movie after a week and can calmly walk to their room to go to bed without feeling like you’re getting chased by a horde of zombies. My fear is paralyzing. It affects my whole life.
My Mom has theories why I’m so scared as an adult. I was always a sensitive kid, putting myself in other people’s shoes, so I connect and emphasize too much with the scared people in those movies.
“You can’t stop thinking about how horrible it would be if that stuff really happened,” she tells me. “Knowing it’s fake doesn’t allow you to detach yourself from it.”
I hysterically cried while watching Saw and The Hills Have Eyes. I felt so traumatized for those people. And those who don’t know how serious my fear is will initially think that it’s funny. Like it’s an amusing trait that I possess.
“Oooo, Kelly. Look what’s on!” They’ll say, flipping to The Grudge on TV. But if I have a good friend in the room, they’ll grab the remote and change it before I can hear the sound that haunts me. (Side note: I never even saw the movie, yet it still scares me shitless.) “Fuckin’ asshole,” my friend will mumble, giving me a comforting glance.
My Mom’s other theory is that living in a house with no men for a majority of my life caused me to never feel safe. It’s true that I’ll be kept up at night sometimes thinking how terrible a break-in would be with just me and my Mom there. Maybe I assume I’ll never be rescued by something frightening. It doesn’t help that my brother passed away, so I’m also in constant fear that his ghost will appear at an inopportune moment. When I do muster up the courage to get a drink of water or use the bathroom at night, I’ll literally curse him out and threaten him as I take the stairs two at a time.
“I swear to fucking God, Colin. That would be so fucking cruel. I’ll kill you all over again. Don’t be an asshole, Colin.” I always make it safely, and sometimes knowing that he’s watching over me makes me skip only a third of the staircase going down rather than half.
I lived with boys for a year of college, and that was a huge comfort, especially because they were surprisingly empathetic. I was scared of the basement (I’m scared of every basement, really) and when I had to switch loads of laundry, someone would always stand on the stairs in my sight until I was done and walked up in front of them.
One night when a group of guys were over and we were bored, they insisted we play hide-and-seek… on all three floors… with all of the lights off. My roommates looked to me for approval. I sighed and agreed, already planning to just stick hiding in my room and closet. But, I told them, I wouldn’t go near the basement, and I wasn’t seeking, even if I was found first.
“That’s such bullshit!” one of our friends protested. “Like, that’s so unfair. If you’re found first you have to seek.” All three of my male roommates looked at him, and then one sternly said, “She’s not seeking, dude. If she’s found first the person found second will seek. Let it go.”
I really don’t know if I’ll really ever get over my fears. As of now, it does not seem remotely realistic. I hope I’m not a mother who is sending her five year-old in the basement to get the clothes from the dryer. Maybe continuing to threaten my dead brother will help me navigate the dark, eventually ridding me of my fears altogether.