No More Fears: Why be Afraid of the Dark?
Phasmaphobia has a wonderful ring to it, but more for a death metal album than applying it to myself. If I were to say I had phasmaphobia, I'd be saying I'm afraid of ghosts. As a paranormal investigator, I'm glad I can't exactly say that's true. I do, however, fear some possibilities when it comes to the general idea of ghosts. I don't have a full on phobia though, and I don't wake in terror every day and spend hours dwelling on ghosts (you thought I did, right?), and it doesn't impede my life in any way. Most importantly, it doesn't impede my investigating of the paranormal.
If anything, the paranormal has made my life, more. More exciting, more possible, more intriguing, more adventurous; more everything. It's somewhat like being an adrenaline junkie but without the extreme sports side of it. I don't have to scale a snowy peak and ski down it to get my kicks. They're in the dark, and usually very quiet. I could say I'm a mental adrenaline junkie, then. I like to go into very old places, whether they're dark or it's broad daylight, and try to witness, or experience something I can't explain the source of.
I don't just want to create a visual project through video from a few hours in the dark, I want the paranormal to happen, and happen to me, to us, to who is present and willing and living. And I can tell you from experience, investigating with people who are afraid of what they can't even define, can be frustrating to no end.
If the dark is terrifying, and you want to conquer that, immersion therapy is probably what the paranormal actually is, on various levels, for all ghost hunters. As time goes on and years go by, I've noticed it's easier and easier for me to approach the darkest corners with ease and curiosity. While 5, 7, 10 years ago I may have approached with a bright flashlight and not turned it off, my confidence in the dark now is not because I can see in the dark better (wouldn't that be a dope side effect!!) but because I am aware I am not at great physical or mental risk 99% of the time.
I remain aware of this during investigations because I've been on many of them, from tiny well-lit apartments, to massive, dark asylums and prisons. My awareness comes from a self-cognizance of what I've learned, what I've been through, how it's affected me and how I've grown from it all. One has to look back now and again in order to go forward in the right direction.
The paranormal just does not respond like Zak Bagels wants you to think it does. Clever editing, hamming it up for cameras - it's not exactly a good representation of a normal night in the dark. However, the show is entirely entertaining (what, you think because I'm a sarcastic old hag who pokes fun at 'em all, I don't watch 'em all too? Oh, I do). The reality of investigating is so different than TV. Any seasoned investigator knows that.
There is so much quiet. So much nothing, and stillness. So much breathing carefully, stepping lightly, and accounting for coughs and gurgles and snorts and wheezes of our own bodies. It's deafeningly quiet. That's why when it suddenly isn't quiet, the heartbeat increase and the hyper-awareness that kicks in is a thrilling rush. That, to me, is excitement. Not fear. It isn't terror, or foreboding, or threatening. It's an invitation to be ready, to sense, to experience, and hopefully to film. It feels like my brain kicks into one thought-process: "Something happened, something else might." I love that about the things that seem to literally go bump in the night, and that remains the focus of my investigating when in these dark, "terrifying" places. I want the rush of the seemingly impossible, and to keep that feeling of possibility thriving. That, I suppose, keeps the rise in emotions that comes from entering a darkened space from turning into fear. Instead, it becomes the anticipation to possibly witnessing paranormal activity. That's what investigators want. That's what we do. What I do. By embracing adrenaline and possibility, I can defy the fear of the unknown within myself, and I believe anyone else can do the exact same.