Shadows

Last night, I was putting Peatuk down for bed, and I noticed all of the shadows in our room. Our room is still in the process of being unpacked. That means that it is cluttered, the floor has tons of stuff on it, and the cupboards are usually open from my occasionally putting away an item here and there, then leaving the task. This, combined with the yellow night-lamp we use backlighting everything from behind his crib, makes for a rather creepy setting.

Well, it is creepy to me. I am not sure if it is creepy to my son. As I tried to soothe him I noticed he was looking up at his mobile and whimpering. Whimpering at bedtime is a common occurrence. He whimpers because he is tired. He whimpers because he doesn’t want to be left alone. He whimpers because it helps put him to sleep. I wondered if he was whimpering at the mobile, and if he was, was he whimpering because he wanted it to run again, or because the shadows made it frightening?

Do babies fear? When do we start to develop fears, and what causes them?

I know what makes me fear the shadows in my room. It comes from an obsession with horror films. Thrillers. Dark, psychological stories. I like reading books about things that go bump in the night. I am fascinated by serial killers. I know that these subjects will end up leaving me sleepless, wondering about ghosts in the closet and monsters under the bed, and yet I can’t help myself.

I guess, in many ways, horror/thriller is my porn.

The reason I am anti-porn is because I believe it restricts an individual’s sexual vocabulary. When sex is something shared by two people (or more, whatever) in privacy, it is an act of exploration and expression. When one of those two people has watched many other people having sex, they have a set expectation of what is included in sex, which limits their potential creativity. Their world-view is shaped by the sexual dialect they have learned.

Similarly, my world-view has been shaped by a dialect of fear, created by horror films. I have learned to associate shadows with their potential to hide people/things that would harm me. I have learned to imbue objects with the potential for animation, and the animation they take on is always ominous. Open cupboards, bathroom mirrors, empty houses… heck, even my baby’s eyes, in low light, can freak me out. Even when I know, logically, I am safe, I still have a bit of a sickening thrill in the back of my throat. I know exactly where it comes from. Child’s Play. Nightmare on Elm Street. Carrie. These books and films have penetrated to my very core, changing me.

Nikola does not like horror films. If I want to watch them, I have to watch them on my own now days. He sees no value in adding that fear to his life. Until yesterday, I didn’t really understand what the big deal was.

I don’t want to raise my son in a shroud of potential harm. I want him to experience potential magic. I want him to have a vocabulary in which shadows are beautiful and mysterious, but not frightening. I don’t want him to watch horror films, and I don’t want him to pick up on my issues from the films I have watched over the years. It makes me wonder- can this be undone? They say that certain things cannot be unseen. Will these images, and the fear they inspire, stick with me for the rest of my life? Or is there a way to overcome it in myself? I like to think that porn viewers can learn to expand their sexual vocabulary when they stop watching porn and develop an ongoing sexual relationship with another individual. It takes time, but slowly they begin to develop their own voice. Unfortunately, with horror, I am not looking to establish my voice, but to take certain aspects out of my world view. Can I forget, or is it too late for me? 

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