Austin, Hipstercrite Life

I’ve Become Scared of My Own Shadow

Lately I’ve had this growing illogical fear that every single evening someone is trying to break into my house.

Every single night.

Typically around 4AM.

I guess that would make it morning then? 4AM is that ungodly time that really deserves it’s own time of day. It’s the gateway from night into morning. It’s dark and ominous and you most likely won’t hear a soul except for the psychopath hiding outside your window. My window. He likes to hang out there and tap melodies on the pane and dance on dead leaves. He’s a pretty bad dancer from what I can tell, but are psychopaths ever really good dancers?

This fear has begun effecting my life greatly. My sleeping patterns have become distressed and I often wake up to my heart pounding through my chest. Recently I even found myself standing on the street corner in my silk robe dialing 911 in one hand and brandishing an Ikea paring knife and Swiffer mop in the other. That evening I was absolutely convinced someone was in my house and I understood that the Swiffer mop wouldn’t save me and I had to flee. I’ve retired the Swiffer mop since, but the paring knife still sleeps alongside me at night. And a crosseyed baby doll. I figure that if I were to wake to someone walking into my room, I can throw said baby at their face and stun them just long enough to escape.

There was also a recent occurrence where I called my special gentleman friend at 5AM and asked him to come over because I heard “someone” in the backyard. Neither scenario provided any clues that a human being was in or around the house. In fact, both times it was clear that a large animal- say, a possum or raccoon- made the noise but to me it can only be the sound of a serial killer who recently escaped from prison.

In the past week, I’ve twice found myself startled by my own shadow. Startled meaning jumped two feet into the air, grabbed at my chest, and ran to the bathroom before I pissed all over myself.

I’ve had to ask myself where this fear comes from. The near paralysis I feel as my imagination runs wild is reminiscent of my fears as a child. However, instead of logical fears like an axe-wielding clown standing outside my window, I used to be terrified of violent ghosts lurking in my house. I would lie awake for hours sweating and panting as every creak of the house meant impending death by a disgruntled spirit pissed that their spouse hacked their head off. I thought I outgrew those night anxieties when I stopped reading ghost stories, but it appears that an iota of such worries still lurks deep within. Even when I lived in Los Angeles- a city where a person a day is murdered- I wasn’t as scared as I am now. In LA, I was just a number. One of millions of people sleeping in a tiny box they call an apartment. It was impossible for anyone to single me out and most houses and apartments in LA have bars on the windows. So why is it that in Austin- a town known for being one of the safest cities in America- makes me so shit-my-pants scared?

I’m guessing it may have something to do with the fact that the house had been broken into before. Or that I’m constantly followed in my neighborhood by men who think I’m a prostitute even though I’m wearing baggy sweatpants, sweatshirt, and am doing my best to walk like a man. Maybe it has to do with the fact that I live next to a straight-from-prison men’s halfway home. Or that my car was recently broken into. Or that you can see through the floorboards in my house. Or that there is so much fucking evil going on in the world.
I’m not sure…

Regardless of the facts below, I need to stop being a pussy, throw away the paring knife and start taking control of my fears. What happened to the girl that rented a loft in Los Angeles’ Skid Row that was inhabited by rats, cockroaches, and shared a parking lot with dozens of homeless people? What happened to the girl that wanted to sleep overnight in a shelter in South Central? What happened to the girl that liked to get lost in strange neighborhoods so she could learn more about them? She’s curled up in her bed with clenched fists and a pool of sweat condensing on her neck. Where did my fearlessness go and how do I get it back?

Are you a pussy like me and get scared of your own shadow at night?

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  • Reply -Your Friendly Neighborhood Dentonista March 23, 2011 at 3:19 pm

    OK – I don't get scared at night, but it's because I refuse to. I could easily.
    Now, getting scared doesn't make you a whipmp .,and you don't need ot beat yourself up – spend a few bucks on a wireless alarm system, like any one of these:

    Basically they operate on radio waves, and can be installed by you, but there are companies that do it to.
    Look into it, and sleep easier.

  • Reply Hipstercrite March 23, 2011 at 3:30 pm

    @YFND- Thank you for this! I think I might just look into this. You've made me feel a lot better… 🙂

    • Reply LydiaN June 15, 2016 at 12:12 am

      Sounds like you have memories of traumatic events stowed away. Doesn’t mean that you at that moment thought they were okay, subconsciously, they’ve affected you and you don’t even realize it. I’m afraid of my own shadow too, and many other things. Not that I’ve never accepted experiences in life, I have, but your brain tries to process certain things and it’s hard to control certain fears and anxieties. Your best bet, is to speak to a psychologist, because it sounds like PTSD to me. It’s not a mental illness, let’s get that clear. It’s memories that affect you. You most likely don’t even realize it, just like many others until one day that 1 person speaks and an epiphany hits. It takes time to manifest.
      Thankfully, you still have an impeccable ability to write such a wonderful article. I envy you, as I used to do the same and are battling PTSD myself right now.
      I said the same thing….
      What happened to that girl…..

      If you can’t figure out what it is…. a psychologist will help you figure it out. And the memories will start to come back to you.

  • Reply Megs March 23, 2011 at 4:02 pm

    Are you trying to say that it is abnormal to cirle through the house flinging open doors, peeking under beds, and throwing back shower curtains, convinced someone (and by someone I mean a serial killer. Possibly a clown) is hiding there? And then doing it again because what if they hid in the closet after you checked it?

    Because I have been known to do that. Even though I don't think my state has ever boasted a serial killer in its entire history.

    Movies about demon possession keep me awake for weeks. At least I can fight a serial killer. What do you do with a demon? Paranormal Activity almost killed me. And I'm a scientist.

  • Reply Guise Faux March 23, 2011 at 6:46 pm

    Sorry, Lauren, didn't realize I was making so much noise out there. I'll try to be quieter tonight.

    BTW, fill that Swiffer Wet Jet with pepper spray and you can rest easier.

  • Reply girluntitled March 23, 2011 at 9:52 pm

    i know EXACTLY how you are feeling. i lie awake with eyes wide open waiting for someone to break into the house. we live right off of a busy main road and people are known to just help themselves to whatever they want, whether it be cars, TVS, or women. i don't have a handy paring knife, just a simple machete sits by my bed side table. last night was the worst; i dreamed that i had been abducted by aliens and was forced to do countless puzzles and experiments. when i awoke and told my husband that i thought i had just been anal probed, he apologized and said that it was him. NOWHERE IS SAFE!

  • Reply Claire Marie March 23, 2011 at 10:27 pm

    I get scared too, and I live in one of the top ten safest US cities. Carrying pepper spray makes me feel a lot better. Like the first commenter said, be prepared and sleep easier.

  • Reply Teeny March 24, 2011 at 12:00 am

    Fuck yes yes and yes. Irrationally so. Still hate clowns, open cupboard doors.. the curtains MUST be FULLY closed and i have an OCD like compulsion to check doors and windows are locked at least a few times. Because. I'm convinced someone is going to break in and get me. And even if a real person isn't here to scare me, all the potential of the ghost world is. Oh, and a friend told me the other day that people are scared of looking in glass at nighttime (as in windows and mirrors) is becos that is where the spiritworld lurk to try and contact us. Thanks friend, something else to add to my list of things not to look at in case of ghosts during the hours of 10pm-6am

  • Reply Hipstercrite March 24, 2011 at 1:31 am

    @Megs, @Girluntitled, @Claire, and @Teeny- You's all my ladies now. When I wake and freak out, I'll think of you and know I'm not alone! 🙂

    @Guise- You suck at dancing, Guise! 😉

  • Reply tennysoneehemingway March 24, 2011 at 5:20 am

    The fear never really goes away. You just have to accept that you're scared but know you'll be able to deal with it. I know it isn't a good answer but it's the truth. I'm paranoid 99% of the time – mostly during the day.

  • Reply urbandon (Don Pezzano) March 24, 2011 at 9:59 am

    Unless you live near a circus you are completely safe…clowns are very, very evil.

  • Reply Hipstercrite March 24, 2011 at 2:44 pm

    @Tennyson- GREAT! THANKS FOR THAT!

    @Urbandon- Tell me about it! All I have to do is think about Tim Curry in "It".

  • Reply IT (aka Ivan Toblog) March 24, 2011 at 4:14 pm

    Tim Curry in What?
    Just remember that FEAR is an acronym:

  • Reply Ludwig March 24, 2011 at 7:03 pm

    What really scares me is those moments when you wake up from a crazy dream, really startled, and you're not aware you're back to reality. I once shot out of bed and grabbed a shoe because i thought a killer mutant lobster was in/under my bed.

  • Reply Brooke Farmer May 19, 2011 at 5:47 pm

    It's weird. I am fine in L.A. too. I rarely get scared. I walk home at night despite the stories of baseball bat attacks in the neighborhood (I am trying to stop but I hate driving). But if you stick me in the middle of nowhere I am way more freaked out. For me it has to do with being somewhere that if someone DID attack me there would be no one to hear me scream.

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