Most kids would be pumped to get their own room, I was terrified.
I was eight when my family moved from a two-bedroom apartment to a large three-bedroom house. Ugh, more rooms mean more places for terror to hide.
I was a scared kid, the one who hid under a table crying while everyone was watching Thriller at Stacey's birthday party. I went to the bathroom with the door open because I was afraid that a monster was going to grab me from inside the toilet and drag me into the sewer to drown.
And I never, ever, EVER went to the basement alone. Basements were hotbeds of ghostly activity (and the location of one of my worst nightmares. When I was seven, I had a dream that the ghost of Don Knotts attacked me in the cellar. Please note that Don Knotts was still alive at the time -- and was a very friendly looking man -- so this nightmare made no logical sense.).
So when I got my own room, I couldn't sleep. I missed having my older sister in the bed next to me to protect me from whatever lurked in the darkness.
It was the 80s, the peak of horror movies like Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday The 13th, and Halloween. For a while, WLVI Channel 56 in Boston would play these movies every Monday, and I, who should have known better, would sneak a peek at them to learn more about what could happen to me at night.
Of course every time I watched more than five minutes, I'd be even more scared to sleep in my room alone, so much so that I'd often vomit.
I tried sleeping with the lights on but that made the mirror on my wall more visible, and demons love to hide in mirrors.
I tried covering my head with blankets to avoid seeing anything frightening, but then I'd get so stuffy I'd think a sprit was choking me. Luckily, my dad worked nights so I could often sleep with my mom who, bless her heart, put up with my fear for years. On nights that my dad didn't work at night, she'd sit by my bed until I fell asleep.
Eventually I got less scared (like around age 11 when my friends were all, "Wait, you still sleep with your mom?"). I still didn't like super scary movies or dark basements, but I did start sleeping alone.
I may no longer be a terrified puking baby, but I still get freaked out easily, so it was a huge issue when I found out my boyfriend was into the paranormal.
The first few times I slept over, all was good. Then as the months went on, he got comfortable. One night he put on an eye mask, hit play on the sound soother and rolled over to sleep like this was totally normal.
"Um, excuse me, what's up with the beauty mask and ocean soundtrack?"
"Oh, I cover my eyes and put on noise when I sleep because sometimes I see and hear ghosts. Good night!"
Yep, it turns out this man that I was now seriously dating was what is known as "sensitive," meaning he is sensitive to energies, a.k.a. ghosts. He went on to explain that this is just a normal part of his life, that it's been going on since he was a small child and that he has seen ghosts with other family members so he knows it is true.
He also told me that once he accepted his sensitivity, he knew how to handle ghosts and that it doesn't upset him. In fact, he likes it and considers himself an amateur ghost hunter.
OH, NO. I used to be scared of Mr. Fucking Furley, you think I'm gonna be okay sleeping next to a dude who welcomes haunted shit into his life?
Then things got worse. As the relationship went on, and we began to reveal more of our personal habits, one night he asked if I minded if he watched TV before bed. I assumed he would turn on the news or a sitcom, instead I hear this music (warning: the beginning of this clip made me scream). It's that horrible dramatic scary music played on every ghost hunting show currently on TV.
"What are you doing?" I scream.
"You said it's okay if I watch TV."
"Yeah, normal TV. How is a ghost hunting show relaxing before bed?"
"It's relaxing for me. I relate to these guys."
I began to worry that maybe this relationship won't work out, that my past history of terror paired with his paranormal fascination would be a disaster. I mean of all the people for me to date, I end up with Dr. Raymond Stantz?
But I really liked him, so in an act of compromise for Christmas that year, I bought him wireless headphones so he can hear the TV and I can't. Now instead of sleeping next to a weirdo who watches "soothing" ghost programs, I sleep next to a weirdo wearing aviator style headgear that makes him look like a flight captain to scary town.
That was almost four years ago. Since then I've learned to accept that the paranormal is just destined to be a part of my life whether it's in the form of my childhood imagination or my partner's very real fascination.
So if you're dating or thinking of dating a guy who's into ghosts, here's what you can expect:
1) You Feel LIke You're Always On An Investigation: On trips, my boyfriend always lets me know if where we are staying is haunted even though I didn't ask.
2) You Are Known As The Girl Dating The Ghost Guy: At parties, the topic of ghosts always comes up and someone will always ask my boyfriend if he can come over to tell them if their missing remote was caused by a mischievous ghoul or just an irresponsible roommate.
3) You Eat Lots of Brie: Also at parties, there is usually another person super into ghosts. That person and my boyfriend will talk for hours about EMF meters while I happily hover by the appetizer table.
4) You Get Injured: Sometimes my boyfriend has bad dreams (probably from watching ghost shows before bed) and, while tossing and turning, he has hit me in the face 3 times. Or maybe a ghost hit me, we will never know.
5) Your Boyfriend Is Always Doing "Work": My boyfriend is often online watching YouTube videos called "haunted garage" or "haunted super market" or "haunted swimsuit." Honestly, I'd rather he be addicted to porn instead of paranormal programs. Then again, I've seen some things on RedTube that have scared more than Freddy Kruger.
6) Your Shows Don't Get Recorded Because The DVR Is Filled With Ghost Shit: When I select "view recorded programs" it's always packed with multiple episodes of A Haunting, Paranormal State, Paranormal Witness, School Spirits, My True Ghost Story Caught On Camera, Destination Truth, Ghost Hunters, Ghost Adventures, and Celebrity Ghost Stories (which I actually enjoy watching because I like celebrity stores and I like how easily that show throws around the title "celebrity").
7) You Start To See Things: If I see a light flicker or a fly zip by, I yell, "Babe, is that a ghost?" And he laughs as if I'm the crazy one.
8) You Kinda Get Interested In Ghosts, Too: I have started kinda sorta a little bit gotten interested in ghosts, too. It's no surprise that sometimes your partner's interests sometimes become your interests. Since deep down, I'm still that same curious kid who would torture herself with Monday night horror movies, once in a while I will watch a ghost show with my boyfriend.
Some of them I found to be pretty silly. If you cut the scary music, a lot of these shows are just dudes walking around a house with a flashlight yelling, "Where are you?" I mean the scariest part of Ghost Adventures is Zak Bagans' endless collection of Affliction T-shirts. However, some of them do cause me to cover my face and scream, "STOP STOP STOP I DON"T LIKE THIS ANYMORE! TURN ON THE LIGHTS!" To our neighbors, we probably sound like a super-kinky couple.
In a way, being with my boyfriend has helped me get over some of my old fears. I've even started to question if perhaps my childhood experiences weren't just all in my head. Who knows, maybe Mr Furley's ghost was real.