I am afraid of the dark

My eyes snap open. Some negligible but sinister noise must have stirred my subconscious. I try to rationalise the noise. The radiator clicking? Or perhaps a scurrying tarantula? Or maybe an evil wraith standing by my window, tap tapping on the glass to wake me up and steal my soul. Looking wildly around my room, I try to remind my brain that it’s a ridiculous bastard and needs to pipe down.

Phillip – my new roommate

I’m 30 years old and I still regularly wake up in the middle of the night, too terrified to bear being in the dark anymore.

Like for so many other people, being locked inside alone for 2 weeks with possible covid-19 has prompted strange things from my brain. I think my brain is only kept sane by the presence of other human brains. And as much as I appreciate my new roommate, Phillip, he’s not that sociable. I first met him when he crawled under my window. There’s a significant gap between my window and the wall, leaving a nice space for new friends to crawl into my room. Phillip strolled into my life a few days into my isolation, and scouted out a shell that my boyfriend gave me. He has since moved into the shell and made it his permanent residence.

As somebody with a mild phobia of spiders, his arachnid heritage does bother me somewhat. However, I feel we have an agreement. He stays to his shell, and I stay away from the windowsill.

When I was young, I’d always fall asleep with the hall light on, bathing my room in a soft orange glow. If my mum or dad tried to switch it off, I’d immediately wake up and yell at them to turn it back on. It’s strange as an adult how nostalgic I feel towards that hall light, how safe it made me feel, and how much I yearn for it now as an adult.

So many of my silly phobias – I know they are not rational. It’s strange how they dominate so much of my behaviour, especially now it’s spider season and I’m often sleeping on my own in a big house. For all the logic that humans reckon they have, so many of us are incapacitated by our irrational fears.

Does it make any sense to view humans as logical? For the most part, we simply aren’t. Emotions seems to speak louder than sense to a lot of us, and I’m by no means excluding myself from this. But do we make sure we rationalise when we really need to? How many of us think about the injustice behind the decisions we make? How many of us put our biases and prejudices aside when we interact with another human, or for example, vote for the Tories?

The thing is, and I’m not making excuses for people here, but how many people are actually thinking for themselves, and how many are simply reacting to the information that has been bottle-fed to them by society? Sometimes I feel like there’s not much difference between my instinctive terror in the night and some of the life-altering decisions people make every day. If we’re just reacting, how can we ever progress?

And here we get to what’s really wound me up, and what so often occupies my thought. I always wondered what would make people change. Is it finding out the truth? Is empathy? Is it environmental damage? Is it justice? Food safety? I thought to myself, after all the horrific zoonotic diseases we’ve suffered as a species, perhaps a really horrific pandemic would finally make people change.

Battery farming is one of the world’s purest forms of evil. It pushes living beings to the brink. It squeezes out the possibility for any small-scale local farming to be successful, pushing desperate people into keeping and slaughtering wild animals. Creating breeding grounds for demented viral illnesses. The meat industry caused this pandemic. It caused a PANDEMIC, and yet people are STILL FARMING FOR MEAT. It’s also caused loads of other pandemics we’ve had too. And antibiotic resistance. And obesity, cancers. Food inequality. Was it really worth it all for the bacon?

Such huge human loss. And as we’ve just heard, 17 million mink are now to be slaughtered due to the gene for the covid-19 spike protein mutating within their tiny frail little bodies as they live out their lives in cages, farmed for their fur. Shall we just carry on doing this? See how many more viruses we can culture in these festering conditions?

How many more people will have to die before we realise what we’re doing to ourselves with our diets? We’re strangling the planet. Since I come from a position of privilege, a strange place where I can buy any slaughtered animal I want at the click of a mouse, I know it’s my duty to try and feel the violence and the injustice in the small decisions I make. I’m not perfect, but I’m trying.

I used to gently suggest to people that plant-based was the way forward, for so many reasons. But now I feel different. I feel a sickness rising in my body, tears coming to my eyes. I want to throw myself to the ground, scream, beg you, plead with you. Please, stop this.

Honestly, I’ve researched and thought about this a lot. I’ve been thinking about this since I was 6 years old and I first asked what sausage roles were made out of. I’m afraid of the dark. I think it’s because it takes away your evidence for the existence of anything, it leaves you blind, you can invent any old shite when the light’s off.

This isn’t me reacting. It’s the deepest, most logical, most rational belief that I’ve ever had. Life is worth more than greed.

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