The longer I am away, the more I feel as if I have left something more than a bad situation behind. Besides the the place, the people, I feel like I've left something more sinister back there...
I'm not certain of what. I am certain only of this: when I lived there, I lived in fear. Ordinary fears, yes - I was afraid of normal (and some abnormal) things at situationally appropriate times. But beyond the random fleeting terror that comes from the sight of a balloon or a spider, there loomed a deeper foreboding. A something. An I-don't-know-what. A sense of dread when I'm walking down the hallway. A glimpse of a shadow and I'm not sure, but I probably just imagined that it moved. I'm sure I just imagined it.
Days go by and at some point I realize that I don't walk to the bathroom anymore; I run. If I'm the last to go to bed, I leave the light in the living room on because I don't dare make the trip from the living room to my bedroom down the hall. It's less than 30 feet, but the idea of being swallowed by all that darkness, and walking all of that space without even so much as a lamp to protect me from... from what?
I tell myself to stop being stupid. I tell myself that I am a sissy and that there is nothing there. The living room light stays on when I'm the last to go to bed.
In my room, I plug in my Christmas lights. The illumination from them is dim and blue. When I smoke, it gets hazy like the Jazz age. I like the lights. They're quite, but steady. I can sleep with them on. The keep watch over me. Without them - and believe me I've tried - I toss and turn. I sweat, but I do not dare to pull my head out from beneath the covers. And if I do; if I'm desperate for air; if I can take it no more and just have to swim to the surface... my eyes are glued shut. Even the idea of opening them makes my amygdala riot with alarm.
The christmas lights stay on while I sleep.
When it is daytime, I am able to laugh at myself. Each day I convince myself that it is my imagination and every night some blood-freezing, hair-standing, heart-beating part of me assures me that it is not. By the morning, I have forgotten the acuteness of that moment when I am in the dark. When the house is too quiet; for I also can no longer stand the sound of silence. I can't bear the anguish of those empty moments when I live in anticipation of hearing a nameless voice calling for me.
To appreciate just how silly this fear seems to me in the daylight hours, you must first understand the hallway. It is no more than perhaps 30 feet in length. On one end, it opens into the living room; just past the far wall of the living room when you first enter the hall on the left is the door to the first bedroom. A few feet on from that is the door to the second bedroom - my bedroom- and a few feet on from that is a widening, on the far side of which is the bathroom and on the near side of which has a light switch to turn on the hall light. The distance from the light switch to the bathroom (and its light switch) is no more than 5 feet.
I tell you this because now when I walk (run) to the bathroom, I cannot make it. I cannot make it that additional five feet it would take to reach the safety of the bathroom and flip the switch and flood myself with bright electric relief. I have to stop. I have to turn on the hall light. Even if the light from the living room is trickling softly down the hall, shielding me for part of my journey; the second I leave it to brave the shadows, the terror floods me. It starts in hollow of my stomach and spreads like venom. I go cold. My heart beats fast. I have to turn on the hallway light.
The sad part is that all of this became normal. This feeling of being oppressed. Of being too terrified to even leave my room or open my eyes at night...I did not even think to contemplate that it might be something valid. Something other than my imagination... Perhaps that was part of the oppression. The fact that I did not even dare to think about it as anything other than a rabid irrational phobia.
But now that I'm here, it is like something has lifted from me. I have escaped from something. And I'll tell you the truth, now; I feel like it was more than just my imagination. I suspect the the prolonged and elevated level of involvement with the occult that went on in that house attracted something to it. At the very least, I believe there is something terribly wrong with that place, other than the people who inhabit it.
I am glad that I am gone. I am not afraid to spend the night here alone. I am not afraid to walk to the bathroom in the dark. I am not afraid to sit here for 5 hours in silence while I do some hardcore interneting. I feel like a completely different person than I was 2 weeks ago.
It's amazing what a little change of scenery will do for you.