Discernment, Danger, and Discomfort

I have a confession for you today. Are you ready? Here goes.

I am afraid of the dark.

Ridiculous for a witch, no? Especially for one who regularly participates in events and ceremonies that put her outside in the middle of the night, in the middle of nowhere?

There are reasons for the fear. Since childhood, I’ve experienced something called “REM Sleep Behavior Disorder” or “REM Intrusion.” The short description of this condition is that my brain sometimes fails the gear shift between sleeping and waking. When I have a bad dream, if the gear shift fails, my body wakes up while my mind is still dreaming. I open my eyes, and the dream is overlaid on the reality before me.

That would be fine if I were dreaming about… say… mermaids or unicorns. But in those moments, I’m not. The gear shift failure mostly occurs during nightmares.

As an adult, I understand why this happens, and I’m able to talk myself down once my brain fully wakes up and the dream fades. But as a child?

Bad things happened in the dark. And no one was able to help me, or to explain. The fear is rooted deeply into my early years.

And, given that, I still place myself outside in the darkness.

You see, discomfort and danger are not the same thing. And there’s a good deal to be said for sitting with discomfort in a safe place. I can be utterly terrified, startling at small sounds, with my heart pounding, and also know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am, in fact, quite safe. These spaces of discomfort allow me to continue working on the trigger and all the emotions and behaviors attached to it within a safe container. Continue reading…

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