Jaime, MD, USA
When I was a little girl I had an intense, paralysing fear of the dark. Even as an adult I don't like the dark and I guess that you could say that I am still very afraid of it.
No one could ever understand why I was so afraid to be alone in the dark, and even, at times, when there was someone else present.
Many times my parents would forcefully send me to bed in my dark room all alone. More often then not I would be awake screaming and begging them to let me sleep with them until sheer exhaustion would send me into a fitful sleep. They believed that this would help me overcome my fear of the dark. Little did they know that it wasn't really the dark that I was afraid of, but instead of what would appear in the absence of light. My fear was such that eventually I couldn't bare to even walk past a dark room.
It all started when I was about four years old and was finally big enough to have a "big girl bed." I was so proud of myself and couldn't wait to sleep in my brand new bed. The first few weeks were fine and I would fall asleep almost as immediately as my head hit the pillow.
But then one night I was woken up suddenly by my bed shaking. I opened my eyes and laid very still, too afraid to even make a sound. Just as suddenly as the shaking began, it stopped. I felt relief and in my child's mind I didn't even once think that it could have been my imagination. I just knew that it had really happened. But being a child, I also wasn't all that upset by it and fell right back asleep. This continued for the next couple of nights.
And then one night something new happened. I was woke up again by my bed shaking and laid there, very still, waiting for it to stop. But it didn't stop... The bed just kept shaking. I then felt something pulling the covers off of the side of the bed and when I looked over I saw a black hand on the covers. I screamed bloody murder. My Mom was in the room in seconds, turning on the light and asking what was wrong. I told her that there was something under my bed trying to get me, but she told me that it was just my imagination and to go back to sleep.
When she went back to her room, she left my door open and the hall light on. The rest of the night was uneventful.
Eventually my night time terrors worsened. Soon I was so terrified that all I could do was lie there as this black hand reached out from under the bed and pulled my covers off. But then one night the black hand touched me. I was so terrified, all I could do was shake. My eyes followed the black hand to a black arm, then to a black shoulder and then to a black head. My mouth opened to scream, but no sound came out. I was paralysed with sheer terror.
I don't remember what happened next. I just remember waking up the following morning and telling my Mom what happened. She let me sleep with her that night and nothing happened.
Finally, my Mom sent me upstairs to share a room with my aunt and my nights were once again uneventful.
I'm not sure if what I experienced were the imaginings of a four year old girl who was afraid of the dark and had a creative mind, or if it was a real experience. But whatever it was, it has left a deep impression upon me. To this day I can't stand to sleep in a bed unless one side is flush against the wall and I am "protected" from the other side of the bed from pillows. As if that would really offer much protection!