Monsters? Kidnappers? Your Parents?
I was always scared to sleep alone in the dark. I still am actually and I have a vague feeling my fear is about the supernatural, but intellectually I don't believe in any of it.
What about you?
The idea that I will end up living the same middle class existence like my parents.
The movie the Exorcist-didn't even see it, just read an article in Newsweek, demonic possession, the TV show In Search Of, those Easter Island statues, UFO Kidnappings, Ghosts and Tornados.
Just those things...
The Manson Family and Bigfoot, in that order.
When I was very young, like 4, I was afraid the Indians would retaliate for what we did to them and start a war. On horseback, with headdresses and war paint, using tomahawks and arrows. I used to have nightmares that they'd tie me to a chair and burn my house down with me in it. Blame it on all the bad westerns my Dad used to watch on TV.
I also had a completely irrational fear that I would spontaneously combust at night. I don't know where that one came from, but I'd be too afraid to sleep. One time, my blankets/pajamas were creating so much static electricity, I could see the blue sparks and I thought it was happening, and completely freaked the fuck out. I outgrew it, but it was a real phobia.
I was scared to death of nuclear war.
It used to scare the bejesus out of me when, at the end of "The FBI", they would show the FBI's "10 Most Wanted" criminals. I was convinced that they were going to kill me in my sleep!
Did anyone read Lena Dunham's interview in Rolling Stone? She said every night her family had to go through the same ritual to get her asleep (tell her three fun things they were going to do with her the next day). They had to have the light just right, the door ajar just so... or she couldn't fall asleep (she thought she was going to die).
But she would only sleep for a few hours. After she awoke, they had to go through the same ritual over and over- all night long. This lasted for years.
My cousin's five kids would reply, "Giraffes!" I was baby-sitting them - age 5, 5, 6, 7, and 8. I told them how a giraffe had escaped from a zoo in a nearby city and would stick its head in a second floor window where children were sleeping and would eat the hair of the children. For years, they wouldn't sleep in a bed that put their head near a window.
I was terrified of almost everything. My older brother spent most of my childhood making sure I was scared to death of everything - ghosts in our house, werewolves, vampires, big foot, wild rabid dogs, thieves, kidnappers, child molesters, the bomb, zombies, that my parents would abandon me - you name it he made sure that I was terrified of it. I'm not sure why. The end result has been that since the age of 10 or so I've been afraid of absolutely nothing. I'd already lived through years of terror and became adapted to it, I guess.
Khruschev...but I'm a Catholic (ex) baby boomer.
Rodan and Godzilla, too.
My little brother was murdered by a kid, a teen in the neighborhood when I was six. He had tried to get me to go into their garage and I ran away (I was shy) and a couple days later my brother was missing.
I didn't connect things until I was a lot older, but it felt like every night I would be in the alley at night and things were reaching out of each shadow to grab me. I kept running and running to get home and never could get there - my legs would hurt and get tired until I couldn't even walk. I never talked about it. When I was about twelve I suddenly realized the kid was trying to get me and got my brother instead because I didn't tell anyone. Now I know that's not the way it was, but I felt horribly guilty. I was too ashamed to tell anyone about THAT either, and then I started dreaming that my brother was calling me and I couldn't find him and I knew if I didn't find him he would die. It was horrible.
One reason I kept quiet was because at the same time my sister, who was older, was having night terrors and running through the house screaming in the middle of the night. Her eyes would be open but she was still asleep, and they'd have to grab her and hold her until he woke up, and then she'd cry for a long time. I also started having OCD issues - ritualistic behaviors like never stepping on a crack and having to wash my hands and face seven times every time I saw a faucet.
Sometimes I wonder how I survived. Quiet kids can have it very bad.
When I realized, actually realized, that I came from a lower middle class broken family living in embarrassing circumstances.
I thought I was preppy and beautiful and going to Princeton.
Because I see ghosts
That's just awful, R14. Glad you survived.
Another victim of the mid-70s Bigfoot craze that swept the nation. After seeing "The Legend of Boggy Creek" when I was 9, I was convinced Bigfoot would get me when I was seated on the toilet.
Also, there was some scary floating thing in an episode of Star Trek TOS. It looked like a giant cigar and if you flew a shuttle into it, you'd lose your mind and die. So, of course, I was scared I would somehow encounter that thing during my day to day activities in suburban New York, which was obviously just like living in outer space.
Bigfoot and killer bees.
Seeing my mother in a mental hospital with my father recently buried.
Believing I would grow up fucked up because my father was infertile and I was conceived through insemination donor.
Lena Dunham sounded like a trying child. No wonder she turned out a trying adult.
I was terrified of my drunk father. He'd get looped every other night. Weekends were bad. We'd have all evening in peace while he was boozing it up and then the night to pay for it. I think that's why I'm a light sleeper now. As a kid, I'd be fast asleep but wake the instant drunk dad came home. I'd lay in fear waiting for him to rouse us up for a night of emotional/physical bullshit. One good nights, he'd entertain us but those were rare.
He's a good ole guy now but damn the shit he put us through.
It may also have something to do with darkness I think. Because I never thought of it during the days but at night the idea of dying in an earthquake kept me up for nights...
And now, I'm terrified of a lot.
When I was three or four, we were food stamp poor and there were four kids and my parents in a two bedroom tiny house. All four kids slept on bunk beds in the same bedroom which was right next to the living room.
We'd get put to bed and my parents would watch TV with the volume up loud so I could never sleep through the early part of the night.
Because the voices were so loud I started to imagine that the people who were talking were gigantic. The Incredible Shrinking Man had also been on TV recently and that scared me.
So I started to imagine that I was tiny like the guy in the movie and I'd be walking around the living room by my parents' feet and they couldn't see me because I was so small. I would be afraid that I'd shrink to nothing like the Incredible Shrinking Man did and no one would notice I was gone.
The floor furnace in the hallway. Yes I'm old LOL When it came on, it made whooshing noise and I always was afraid the devil was going to come out of it and get me and take me to hell because you could see the blue flames when it came on. The hall was in the middle of the house and there was no way to get from one room to another without going through the hallway. If the furnace was on, I ran from room to room.
A little kid from my school was kidnapped and sexually assaulted then murdered. She was 6.
From that time on I was always afraid of "strangers" and feared being kidnapped.
I was afraid of the dark, afraid of heights, afraid of thunder and afraid of water and drowning. I never learned how to swim because I was terrified.
Clowns. I hated them when I was little and I hate them now.
Oh, and if birds get into the house. Very bad luck.
The intro music to "Unsolved Mysteries," hosted by Robert Stack. I was terrified someone would certainly murder me during each episode.
Which takes me to [R14], so sorry friend. Did you get a decent regimen of therapy when you were younger or did you repress all that hurt quietly even after you realized what was happening to you?
My parents' horrible, hateful fights, taking place after dark.
They are perplexed that I am now wary of them...
The Unsolved Mysteries music scared me to death too. Also: aliens/UFOs and my house catching fire.
The Teamsters. I thought they would murder my dad.
My dad forgot to take out a copy of "Threads" from our VCR when I was four and my mom came downstairs and found me watching it. Ever since I've been terrified.
Bigfoot here, too. And more specifically that Boggy Creek monster. It's weird to see that other people were scared of that, too. I don't feel so alone now. It's like going to an AA meeting.
r5 and r37 Me too! I was born in '72 and remember watching "The Day After" and "Testament" and I was so fucking terrified! I used to pray every night "please god let there never, ever (and would repeat ever about 70 times) be a nuclear war." The kids today have it good, that shit was ultra scary. I was also afraid of killer bees and ants because of theat crapfest "Empire of the Ants".
The Chick tracts handed out at Halloween by a neighbor instead of candy.
When I was little my mother began living with someone. Strange supernatural things started happening immediately after. Most of it was bothering my mother, but when it first started, I had one night of hellish harassment all night long. I called my mother and yelled for her but she never heard me. I'm afraid to sleep in the dark to this day.
[quote]The idea that I will end up living the same middle class existence like my parents.
So you ended up poor?
Communism! My fifth grade teacher pointed out all of the countries on the world map where communists had taken over the government. Bill Graham would also rail against communism on his weekly radio broadcasts. Very frightening.
What R32 said. That music still creeps me out and I'm a pretty tough guy.
The movie with the clowns sticking straws in people and drinking the blood from them.
I'm better now but when I was very small I was terrified of heights. When I was 2/3 years old a friend picked me up and tossed me in the air - I screamed bloody murder, kicked him all over, and hid under my parent's bed.
r42, are you able to elaborate on what form the harassment took?
When I was a kid I was terrified of ghosts (even though I never saw one), and being alone in the dark. I could not sleep without a nightlight. (To this day - I am over 50 - I can't sleep without some light in the room, if I am sleeping by myself).
I don't know why. I actually had a mostly happy childhood. I did go to Catholic school, and I was terrified of dying and going to hell or purgatory. The latter seemed an absolute certainty.
I was also scared of clowns. Again, don't know why, just seemed to be innate.
Ghost. Always afraid of ghost. Oh, ghost and the poor house, whatever that was.
There was one episode of Speed Racer with a creepy demon or something with a horribly scary voice and laugh. It made me cry the first time I saw it. It was really frightening, and I can't explain why.
Every year or so the episode would show again, and I would always turn the sound down and face a corner away from the TV until that scene was over.
Other than that, I was a pretty brave kid.
I saw The Shadow Man twice at my window. I could never tell anyone no don't know why. I hid my eyes very night for fear of looking at the window and seeing him again. A few years ago my sister and I were talking and she told me that she had seen him too.
R46, I'd rather not. I doubt anyone on this thread would believe me anyway. Lets just say it was a very long night.
I was terrified of Mary Poppins. Specifically, Mary Poppins' ghost. When I was about 5, our babysitter's daughter forced me, my little brother and our 8 year-old sister to participate in a seance. We were conjuring Abraham Lincoln. The babysitter's daughter was about 12 and mean as a rabid raccoon.
The babysitter ran an illegal daycare from her home so were were surrounded by at least 10 kids of varying ages, and her own. The daughter harassed us constantly. Before the seance started, she told us that, if any of us laughed, we would be in "big trouble." Of course, my brother and sister laughed and blamed it on me. I remember that bitch girl looking at me and saying, "now Mary Poppins is going to get you."
After that, I could not use our downstairs bathroom alone because I was always seeing Mary Poppins' ghost in the floor tiles.
This haunted me for a couple of years.
R14, that is so sad. And understandable. You poor thing.
I don't think you're a Mary at all r51. I was afraid of Snuffalupagus (sp) from Sesame Street and I think it also had something to do with a bitchy babysitter. My sister still laughs at me but I don't think it's funny at all. There were some weird and abusive babysitters in the 70's.
I want to give R14 a big hug and hold him until he falls asleep.
I was horrified to sleep alone in my own room. I slept with my parents until I was 8 years old! My father finally flipped out and forced me to sleep in my own room. I had a nightlight and my door ajar and I still remember being too petrified that first night to sleep.
I was terrified of everything as a child and my uncle who was 10 years older than me and a true asshole of a teenager loved doing things to scare me, it was like a hobby for him! To this day if he makes a sudden move I'll usually flinch. Not surprisingly I grew to develop severe and ongoing issues with anxiety and ocd...Yeah, I'm fun.
That damn clown from the Poltergeist movie as I saw it when I was about 8 or 9. Gave me bad dreams for ages.
I also believe OCD is a result of trauma or abuse. When I was a bullied teen (really hateful boys who would stalk me) I started saying "magic words", chanting the same number over and over, etc.- thinking these rituals kept me safe.
After school was done, the behavior stopped.
r58, me too. Never let a hand or foot hang over the bed.
Shower Vampires. I was somehow convinced that vampires lived in our shower. Whenever I entered the bathroom I had to (holding my breath) yank open the shower curtain and check for vampires before I could use the facilities.
Suffocation. I was afraid of suffocating after reading "Bartholomew and the Oobleck." And then I got the croup and couldn't breathe.
Betty Hutton in The Greatest Show on Earth. Frightened me and made me gay.
Crashing a car. This was up until a few years ago. I've been in a few scrapes, nothing major (knock wood) but I became obsessed with self-protection when I was driving, even though I'm a very good, defensive driver.
When I got behind the wheel, I had to do a quick run-through in my head of where I was starting, and then I would quickly visualize the road I'd be taking and then I'd mentally see myself arrive in one piece at my destination.
I stopped doing this when I traded in the old car for a new one.
Also lightning, mosquito bites, the dark, home invaders, spiders, wasps, birds, the woods, fire, sharp objects, messy food.
Come to think of it, I still have a problem with most of these.
Also cars. It doesn't matter if I have the right away, I make sure the car is stopping before I pass in front of it. On icy days I wait well back from the curb in case a car goes out of control.
I loved flying as a kid but as I got older I started to worry about maintenance. Then a friend of mine had a dad who was a pilot for Air France, and after meeting him, I was afraid to fly for a number of years. And then suddenly it was gone.
Holy shitballs! I just looked up THREADS on YouTube and it looks scary as fuck. No wonder it scared some kids.
A family of four or five kids in my school died in a fire - they lived in an apartment with window bars and no way to get out. For months after that, I'd lie awake at night and worry that our house would catch on fire.
Those bars on the windows frighten me. I would never rent an apartment that had them.
Asshole bullies, they were always after me after school, any way I would walk home, they would find me.
After I got out of that over-entitled, little community of rich brats, my life became fear-free.
Around 1972 in Atlanta, there was a 12 year old girl who was strangled to death in a laundromat. The killer wasn't caught and I was terrified he was going to break in our house and strangle me. I wouldn't sleep on my bed for weeks but would sleep on the floor between the wall and the bed so he couldn't find me if he broke in our house. I was in 2nd grade at the time. We moved from Atlanta a few years later.
I still think about that murdered little girl and if the crime was ever solved. This thread reminded me of it.
The rapture. My parents were Christian fundamentalists who thought it would be ok to take their kids to see "Thief in the Night" which was a film shown at our church. It was all about a woman who wakes up one morning to find the rapture has happened and her husband is gone and she is left behind. She is chased around throughout the film by a priest who wants her to put the mark of the beast on her forehead. I had nightmares for years about that film and would lie in my bed in total fear that the rapture was going to happen and I would be left behind. I can remember begging Jesus to come into my heart so I would get taken and lots of nights waking my folks up telling them I was afraid Jesus was coming back and I was going to be left.
I hope they regretted taking me to that film but I doubt it. I have insomnia issues to this day because of my stupid parents.
I also had a weird fear of records. This was during the late 70's when all the backmasking fears were happening and so, if I accidentally played a record at the wrong speed, I was convinced I was hearing the devil.
I hate the brainwashing that religion does to kids for these reasons.
Oh yeah, and Killer Bees and UPC symbols and ATM cards. All of these were supposedly in the book of Revelations and meant that the rapture was near. I remember my parents having Bible study groups and my father telling us that the killer bees were on the way to California, that the mark of the beast would be put on us in UPC symbol, and that Revelations said a moneyless economy meant the Rapture so ATM cards were evil.
I was terrified of dying. I didn't understand what was going to happen. All I knew was that I was going to a place called heaven that was tiled in green mosaics and that I'd live on and on and on. This kept me awake a lot.
I was also terrified because Bambi died. I bawled all the way home from the movie theater. My mother kept assuring me that it was not real, it was all make believe. And years of therapy still haven't sorted me out on that score.
I was also scared of a place called Vacation City. Later I found out that it was really the Vatican. And it still scares the bejezus out of me.
I was terrified of elevators. No idea why, but I wouldn't go on one until I was 5 or 6. Escalators were OK, though.
Sometimes at home when it was windy outside, the front door would rattle and make this ungodly howling sound - don't know why, since the house was only a few years old then - and it scared the shit out of me every time it happened.
I was also afraid of the dark and had to have a nightlight. Sometimes I still sleep with the light on.
And clowns - I was terrified of them.
But the thing that scared me the most was the thought of going to hell when I died. I went to Catholic school and they showed us lots of pictures of it.
I was terrified of never knowing my father- I found out at an early age that I was born through artificial insemination. I didn't really understand the feelings I had/ have. My non biological father died when I was eight, so it felt like a double loss. The thought as an adult that my biological father is probably dead scares me as I won't ever really know. I could have walked past him in the street without knowing.
A lot depends on the era you grew up in. I was born in the early '50s. We grew up to be terrified of the Bomb and the Commies. I wonder now, as I watch "The Americans" how differently someone who was born after, say, 1985, perceives the Soviet Union.
Fucking clowns. I used to have nightmares about mimes (close enough).
The Fantasy Island episode when the toys came alive and then were lit on fire. Also spiders.
I was six when we moved into this big house. It had hot water heat so there was this huge boiler in the basement and I remember the realtor showing the pressure gauge to my parents and saying that if the pressure went to the red zone the boiler would blow up the house.
I think I checked that boiler every day for the seven years we lived in that house to make sure it wasn't in the red zone.
My bedroom was in the basement so I'd lie there at night hoping I wouldn't get blown up.
Tornados. I had a pathological fascination and fear of tornados. If the sky got really dark during a storm, I'd seriously panic.
I know it's because I saw the Wizard of Oz when I was too young (around 3-4 years old). Most people say it was the witch or the flying monkeys. Neither of those bothered me much (I mean, they were sorta scary but only in the context of the movie). The tornado? FREAKED. ME. OUT. The psychological scars of that lasted until well into my late teens.
Today, the fascination remains, but at least I don't have panic attacks or anything.
Yeah, I never realized how much the whole "Cold War" and fear of nuclear war affected me until I came over some old papers from later high school and early collage years... fragments of writing and attempts at poetry, and all of them were just drenched in pessimism about nuclear war, and nuclear terror. Really, how I could just forget all that... yet it was so "matter of fact", not drama filled like all these other "terrors of childhood".
The Castaloosey .....
When I was about five, I heard the next door neighbor scream and there was a big commotion with ambulance, etc.
I went over to snoop about what had happened and returned hysterical, telling my mother that "the Castaloosey got Mrs Fritz".
Of course my mother went over to find out what was up and returned shortly afterwards and she was LAUGHING hysterically.
She proceeded to tell everyone that Mrs Fritz had fallen off the raised back porch and broke her leg. When she told Judy how upset I was and asked about the 'Castaloosey' I'd heard attacked Mrs Fritz, Judy thought about it awhile and then said, "Oh, he heard me say that if she'd fallen differently, it could've been a CATASTROPHE !"
And for years after that, whenever I went out to play, I got the warning "Watch out for the Castalooseys"
Pronounced Like 'The Cast Of Lucy' ...they weren't that scary.
The Wicked Witch of the West.
Back in the day before cable, VCR, DVD, etc it was a huge treat to watch the annual broadcast of "The Wizard of Oz" on one of the major networks. It was the only opportunity to see the film all year.
Us kids would talk about it for days at school and count down to the night it aired. I loved it but that witch scared the bejeezus out of me and I had nightmares about her off and on for years as a kid.
When Dorothy is imprisoned in the witch's castle sobbing, "Auntie Em! Auntie Em!" next to the giant crystal ball and all of a sudden that cackling witch appears inside the crystal ball, it terrified me.
To this day, I still look away from the screen at that moment in the film. (Mary!)
Father. Insecure mother would meet him at the door with a laundry list of our transgressions, secretly hoping he'd get the paddle out and "prove" his love to her... on us.
Being raped. And snakes.
I had the fear of never being able to go to a dentist and for most of my life, I haven't been able to afford a dentist.
R91 This is a serious question, not an attempt to mock you: have you taken extremely good care of your teeth throughout your life?
I didn't get terrified by much. Typical, friendly, suburban neighborhood. They'd put us to bed. And then the music would start.
As a kid, my fucking asshole older brothers told me that buterflies had sticky feet, and if they landed on you, they'd rip away chunks of skin as they tried to fly away!
They illustrated this evil lie with a friend of theirs, who had a nasty scar on his forearm.
I was absolutely terrified of butterflies for YEARS.
Ventriloquist dummies, The trailer for that Anthony Hopkins movie Magic used to scare the shit out of me when I was little I would have been 7 when it came out in 1978, I was so afraid I'd put my hands over my ears and run out of the room when that commercial came on.