Earlier tonight my 9-year-old son, who is obsessed with video games, told me about a new one called Slender-Man. He described it as a man with a blank face who chases you and when he catches up to you, he grabs your face off. Honestly, without knowing any more than just those few, bare facts, I was entirely creeped out, and even as I’m writing this, I’m getting chills up and down my spine.
So of course I had to investigate it. It’s possible that what I imagine is much worse than the reality, although a cursory investigation revealed something reminiscent of The Blair Witch Project. I remember seeing that movie, and it was damn scary.
I think it’s the idea of a blank face and the sudden reaching out and grabbing my own face off… conjures up thoughts of stifled screams and anonymous threats coming out of the dark. That’s enough to scare the shit out of anyone, don’t you think? Stimulates some primal fright gland. Early morning nightmares of epic proportions – the kind that have you waking up shaking and crying and grabbing for your mommy, teddy, nearest warm body, pillow, whatever!
I remember the nightmare years of my childhood. Literally, nightmares every night. Skeletons, gorillas and shadowy figures, tickling me, hovering over me, doing other, worse things to me. Lying in bed, afraid to go to sleep, afraid to stay awake, afraid of being afraid. Dreams were also a playground for my imagination – an opportunity to experiment with flying, discover hidden treasure, explore forbidden sexual acts and other untoward behavior. I learned to hope for the best before dropping off to sleep, and how to wake myself up by prying my eyelids open when scary things began to happen.
There are places I’ve visited over and over again in my dreams – hotels, shopping centers, school buildings, big houses that may have been owned by me, and neighborhoods of homes turned inside out on rolling hills, with rooms of furniture on full display outside, on their front lawns, and then cityscapes filled with tall skyscrapers, and (in an eerie premonition of 9-11) strange aircraft swooping down far too close over our heads, and giant buildings toppling over all around me. Dark, foreboding submarines hovering at an ominous distance under the murky waters where I floated, unprotected in the deep.
Life has often felt overwhelming like that. Long periods of time watching my parents succumb to their respective bouts of depression, and later, prolonged illnesses and finally death… decades partnering with my husband as he battled his own chronic and ultimately fatal illness. The grooves of forbearance worn so deep, until I’ve forgotten how to tell how I’m feeling, what I need or want.
Sometimes we merely reproduce our past – painful and unproductive as it may be, we continue the ancient patterns, unless something forces us to change, unless… are you tired of it? Have you had enough? What if you just decided to do something different?
When I look past the storm of memory, I see an entirely different future – a place where the shadows don’t reach nearly as far, and possibility looms large and evident. Where I jump head first into deep water, because I just want to be wet. It’s getting late, and maybe we’ll connect if I stop caring what you think.
Because the more times you get hurt, your world starts to shrink with caution – maybe, just in case, what if, might happen, watch out, hesitate, be careful… oh my, I’m reeling with doubt and confusion, and I crave the certainty of my bravado, consequences be damned!
And really, don’t you just want to go out of your mind? Literally, get out of your mind, and lose yourself in a whirly, swirly world of pleasure and feeling good, loved, cherished, adored, cradled, comforted, held and kissed and caressed, and all manners of pleasured?
Oh shit. I do.
Fear be damned.