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I’m not afraid of the dark, but of a glimmer of light.

In the dark, your eyes switch off and the other senses kick in. You feel space, you smell you’re alone and you hear silence. In the dark, you can hear the nonsense logic your brain tries to fool you with and call it for what it is. In that world, you can find whatever you want and go wherever you want. When I was a little girl, I would try to find Strawberry Shortcake to have tea with her. Now I try finding things a little closer to home.

I used to dream about trolls and murder, plane crashes and teeth. I’ve woken as a child with tears streaming down my face from what the dark brought my way. But I was also told early on that I had the power to change any dream. If dreams were of the brain, then I could use my brain to move them away from fear. So I do. If I feel my stomach churn and my eyes flick around the dream in panic, I insist that the dream will not go darker. And it doesn’t. Or I wake.

I’m not afraid of the dark.

Add a chink of light and I am less than comfortable. My childhood was full of fear for dressing gowns, mirrors and stairs in shadowy, blurry land. At night, in a starlit bedroom, dressing gowns became ‘others’, presence in the room, unwanted guests. At times, I had to flick the light back on to give the cloth back its material edge. I couldn’t see movement in a mirror before I headed to bed in case I thought I saw something else caught in a slither of light that i couldn’t explain. And stairs? I hammered my way downstairs every night, a single moon ray just about paving my way down. I must have sounded like the thunderous migrating wildebeest as I ran from shadows thrown on the walls.

You see, in that pinch of light, you live on two senses: your sight and your mind. And sight is a tricksy little devil. You are taught to trust it but it doesn’t always show you reality. So there I am in a room, with my sight taught by whatever the fear or regret has risen forth as appropriate for that environment. In the light-dark, you can conjure in more real terms than in the dark. Your darkest voices come out to play and your eyes shift the stage to meet the characters. As your eyes re-create your land to the sinister, your mind reacts accordingly – and round the wheel goes.

The dark, used right, can set you free. The light-dark is where you see yourself most clearly, all the demons and ghosts that you think you have in check. I used to embrace the quiet of the former and run from the latter. Now I appreciate they both teach me something. I just have to let my eyes and mind and me adjust to the lessons. It’s not easy, and it’s not pretty. But into the shadows I believe I must go.

Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.
– Yeats –

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