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I was sitting reading a self-help book on 
personal growth, the third such book I forced 
myself to read. I had decided to actually 
read these books and not just purchase them 
with the good intentions of benefiting from 
wise advice and then just add them to my 
book shelve as so many others who bought 
but never read them. Like the people that 
buy an exercise bike that sits new and 
unused in the basement or closet. I found 
there were many pearls of wisdom in these 
paperbacks that could really help providing 
one actually applied them. Now for the third 
time I was reading, “Personal growth requires 
that you prevail over fears that are holding 
you back.”
        I stopped and remembered the night 
before; my girlfriend was again insisting that 
I turn off the lights to sleep. She hated sleeping 
with the lights on and I hated sleeping with 
them off. I was twenty-five years old and afraid 
of the dark! I was truly embarrassed about that 
fact and now was wondering if I would ever grow 
out of it. The only other fear I was bothered by 
was the fear of heights, but most people did not 
make fun of me over that one. It seemed to be 
more acceptable. I have to overcome these fears, 
I thought or just accept the teasing, and give up 
on moving forward. I put down the book closed 
my eyes and tried to remember the first time
I felt that gripping fear of the dark. After a short 
time of meditation and reflection, I remembered. 
Having a good memory has always been one of 
my greatest assets as well as sometimes, 
my greatest curse. 
        I was about three years old, a toddler. I remembered I could walk under the kitchen 
table without it touching my head. Under the 
kitchen table was the setting where it began, 
where I learned to fear the dark! One night all 
those years ago, I woke up with my arms and 
legs wrapped around one of the legs of the table.

 I was holding on for all that 
I was worth. Fear gripped me and I was 
sobbing uncontrollably. Moonlight through
the kitchen window was dimly lighting an 
otherwise dark kitchen and I could
only just make out the other legs of the 
table and chairs. I summoned the courage
to turn my head toward the direction of the 
hallway where I knew my parents were sleeping and screamed as loud as I could for my mother.

I waited a few seconds for her to come 
but she did not! I repeatedly called her name, 
“mommy mommy!” I waited and expected her 
to come any moment but still she did not. I was 
in a state of panic and screamed repeatedly to 
no avail. Still sitting with my arms and legs 
wrapped around the table leg, I remember 
looking toward the hallway puzzled as to why 
there was no response. The volume of my voice 
in the quiet of the middle of the night should 
have had her coming to my pleas for help with 
due haste if only to stop me from waking 
the neighbors. Plan B, I started calling for my 
daddy but he did not respond either, even after 
many tries. 
      Sobbing, I turned back and firmly held on as 
much as my small aching body would allow. 
Suddenly without warning, I could feel someone 
or something grip me and begin to pull me away 
from the table leg. The fear and feeling of panic 
was overwhelming and I tried with all of my being 
to hold on, knowing it was not my parents. 
I should have been dragging the table with me 
across the floor but it did not move. I felt myself 
letting go, succumbing to the steady pull and 
then I blacked out.

When I woke again, I was outside the kitchen 
window suspended in mid air. I looked down 
and could see familiar areas that I had 
observed many times before from the other 
side of that kitchen window. I was about 
three feet from that window now just floating 
but not falling. I could feel the panic overtake 
me, as all this seemed to be not normal. 
I looked over to the ledge and the closed 
window and tried to stretch out with my hand 
to grasp the ledge. I instantaneously started 
to do the dog paddle as though I was swimming 
in water, something I had not experienced yet. 
I could not seem to get any traction but kept 
trying anyway. 
      I blacked out again and woke the next 
morning only slightly aware of a strange dream 
but not bothered and went on with my day. I remembered the strange dream happened often. 
I would wake to find myself hanging just 
outside the kitchen window then blackout. 
I do not know how many times I had this 
experience, but it had an effect on my waking 
life one day. 
     My uncle was visiting and he would pretend 
that he was chasing me around the apartment.
I would run all over the kitchen laughing, giggling 
and shrieking. I really loved that game! One day 
I had hid in the kitchen broom closet after he 
had covered his eyes. I was being as quiet as I 
could when suddenly he opened the door burst 
in and said, “Aha got you!” I shrieked and ran 
pass him and without the slightest hesitation 
jumped up on to the kitchen chair and tried to 
jump through the closed window. Fortunately, 
only my left knee made it through 
the broken glass, which left me with two 
deep long cuts. 
       I still bear the scares to this day as a 
reminder that I cannot pass through a closed 
window. Remembering this event seemed to 
cure me of my fear of the dark, but not my 
fear of heights! ?

                                                                            By Rick Ethier

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