Sunday, October 02, 2005

I See Monsters

I have only one real phobia: Ghosts. I know I complain a lot about bugs and other vermin, but Arachnophobia didn't make me so scared that I lost feeling in my legs. Although I did feel like spiders were crawling all over my body and I scratched myself repeatedly during the one scene where they come pouring out of the shower faucet.

As I'm writing this, it's daylight. I'm still feeling a little uncomfortable here.

I've been terrified of ghosts ever since I can remember, and even before that. One of my mom's favorite stories is that one night when I was around 2 years old, she and I were saying our prayers, and we got to the part where you say, "In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost." I stopped her and said, "Don't say 'Holy Ghost', mama. Scare me."

Most kids grow out of the "There are monsters under my bed" phase, don't they?

In the Mormon church, the most popular topic in Sunday School seemed to be: Satan and His Minions Are All Around Us, 24 Hours a Day. They told us that God gave us blinders to keep us from seeing these spirits during our time on Earth, as well as shields to protect us from being physically harmed by them. Once we got to Heaven, we'd see everything. But, one Sunday School teacher told us, once in awhile someone on Earth is lucky enough to glimpse this world and see how truly evil it is and how these spirits really are everywhere, piled on top of each other, hanging from the ceilings, swinging from the chandeliers. Most of the other kids "Ahhhh"d in amazement, but I started praying right then and there that it wouldn't be me.

The thought that Satan and a grab-bag of Other Evil Spirits were all around us terrified me so much, that I regularly woke up in the middle of the night calling for my mom to tell her that Satan was in my room and could she please check the closets? I don't think either of us got much sleep for a few years.

I don't care if the ghosts are the perfectly nice type, either. After my grandfather died in 1995, we were all waiting for some sign that he had made it OK. But I quietly asked him to not visit me as a spirit, because it would literally kill me, and that I hoped he understood it was nothing personal -- I just have a problem with ghosts. That's when I had the dream that he left a message on my answering machine.

You would think that with all my fear of ghosts that I would avoid scary movies, stories and TV shows, but I don't. I'm pulled to them like a bug zapper, and I get myself so worked up and scared that I wind up needing to sleep with the lights on. The Sixth Sense did a particular number on me. Not only did I have to sleep with the lights on for several weeks, but if I had to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night? Tough luck. I would hold it until morning. There could be some psycho lady ghost hiding in the kitchen, waiting to come at me with a knife. The door to my bedroom was staying shut and locked. The Ring made me whimper like a tiny little girl.

I never liked baby-sitting in two story houses, because in my mind, ghosts are upstairs. If some weird guy had ever called and said, "Have you checked on the children recently?" I would have replied, "No, because they're upstairs, and the ghosts are also upstairs. The kids are on their own." The movie version of that would be titled When a Stranger Calls and Doesn't Get the Reaction He Was Looking For.

One morning while the Mr. and I were living in our first apartment together, I was bent over the sink blowdrying my hair while reading a newspaper article about famous haunted places. I was getting increasingly freaked out, yet couldn't stop reading. The Mr. came into the bathroom to tell me something. "Hey," he said. I shot up, shrieked, then burst into tears. "I was reading ghost stories!" As he hugged me, he said, "I don't know why you do this to yourself." Neither do I.

The list goes on. I could only read The Shining in broad daylight when other people were around. If I'm going to watch a scary movie, The Mr. has to watch it with me, and it can't be the night before he goes out of town. He needs to be here at least 2 nights to give me time to forget about the movie. The bedroom and closet doors need to be shut at night. When Nabby and Rufus bark after lights out, I wonder, "Do they see ghosts? Do they hear things I'm not? Is there something in my room, possibly hovering over my bed?" as I pull the covers tightly over my head.

I think someone's going to be sleeping with the lights on again tonight.