In the spirit of the upcoming Halloween season, I thought I would tell the story of the most horrifying and spine-chilling experience that I endured for the better part of the 57 years I’ve spent on this earth. Hold onto your hats folks, cuz this is not just another “generic” campfire story designed to scare your little children. This was my real life nightmare!
As a young child I was afraid of literally everything. At the age of six or seven, I believed that there was a family of Evil Trolls living beneath the trundle bed that my sister and I shared. Because of this fear, I wanted to climb up into my sister’s bed so that I wouldn’t be alone. However, doing so could actually bring my demise. You see, in my mind the Trolls were just waiting for me to attempt this climb so that they could grab my ankle and drag me down under the bed,where I would be lost forever!! Needless to say, this fear generally kept me stuck in my own bed – shivering uncontrollably.
In my teen years and early twenties my fears were,pretty much limited to scary movies. There were times when I thought I could handle watching a scary movie, such as “Friday the 13th,”but when I went to bed I paid a hefty price. I would be lying in my bed frozen with fear until the sun came up becauseI just knew that I was going to be Jason’s next victim! Silly, eh? Heck, even the song“Riders on the Storm” by The Doors gave me wicked nightmares! I was quite convinced that the “killer on the road, whose brain is squirming like a toad” was on his way to get ME! Yes, I’ll admit it I was a big fat scaredy cat!
By my mid-twenties, however, things took a turn for the worse.
One night while I slept, The Dark Man appeared in my room. As if in slow motion he made his way over to my bed and he lay on top of me. The weight of his body took my breath away. Horrified, I tried to get up, but I could not movea muscle! I also attempted to scream out for help – but nothing would come out of my mouth! So, I was “his” for as long as he decided to stay. Eventually, The Dark Man disappeared into the night, but it wasn’t until I saw the sun creep through my blinds that I was able to relax.
I told no one about what had happened. How could I? Growing up in a very religious home, I was raised to fear God – – but more – – to fear Satan. Had Satan come to punish me for some sin I had committed? Was I possessed? Was I just plain crazy? The fear of judgment from my parents, clergy, and friends caused me to keep quiet.I vowed never to tell a soul!
Back in the early eighties when this all started happening to me, there was no such thing as internet so I wasn’t able to investigate (in the privacy of my own room) whether this was something other people were experiencing as well. I later saw a movie called “The Entity”which was based on a true story of a woman who experienced horrific and violent assaults by some mysterious “being.”Her attacker caused her severe physical and psychological pain. This made me even more petrified! Was this what My Dark Man had in store for me?
As I entered my thirties, The Dark Man made at least two visits per month. I wish I could tell you that I got used to them, but I did not. His visits were followed by days and days of both fear and shame.
By now I was engaged to be married to Andy. Eventually, after a particularly frightening visit, I finally decided to share with Andy what I’d been experiencing. Thankfully, he did not judge me, ridicule me, or call me crazy. Quite the opposite, actually. He loved me, and only wanted to protect me. Sadly, he was never present during The Dark Man’s visits, so he too felt helpless. He did, however, write a song about The Dark Man, that he entitled “The Changeling.” Andy was a very talented musician and he truly captured my terrifying experience with his haunting lyrics. When I played this song for my oldest sister, she asked what it was about. I was hesitant to tell her, but for some reason I decided to tell her about my evil visitor. Just as I was about to tell her the name that I gave this man– she blurted out along with me (as if in stereo) “The Dark Man”!
I couldn’t believe my ears! How did SHE know about The Dark Man? It was then that she admitted that she had been visited by this terrifying creature for years and years, but like me was too frightened to tell anyone. Stranger still is that some years later I spoke with another sister about this, and she shared with me that she TOO had regular visits from someone she called The Dark Man!
How is this possible? Were we cursed? There are six kids in our family, and three of us now admitted to having the same disturbing experience! Interestingly enough, we three suffered with bouts of depression in our lives. Was this the CAUSE of our depression or did our depression INVITE this evil into our world? Was this just a coincidence, or did it somehow play a part of our shared experience with The Dark Man? I made it my mission to find out why.
I concluded that I needed to start paying attention to what was going on when The Dark Man would come and visit. Was I cold? Was I hot? Was I stressed about my job, money, or love life? Had I eaten something spicy for dinner that night? The answer was always “No.”Surprisingly enough, however, after months of paying attention to every detail, I discovered that each time I survived another Dark Man visit one of my nostrils was clogged! EACH AND EVERY TIME!
Almost immediately after I discovered this, The Dark Man visits STOPPED! Had I finally taken away his power to scare me? I couldn’t think of any other reason for it, and quite frankly – I didn’t care! He was GONE!
It’s been about 7 years now since my last visit from The Dark Man. Something made me think of him the other day during one of my long commutes to work, so I decided since I now do have access to the internet, I would do some research. I typed in the phrase “Dark Man Dream.”- and low and behold this search brought me to dozens of links to websites where literally hundreds of women AND men told their chilling stories of visits from The Dark Man.
Further reading online pointed to a condition called “Sleep Paralysis” (SP). According to Wikipedia, this SP phenomenon has been the topic of much discussion and debate, stretching back to biblical times. The incubus and succubus are mythical creatures from medieval Christian demonology. The incubus is the male version of the demon, while succubus is the female counterpart. Both are said to sexually abuse their sleeping victims.
Many other cultures/religions claim to also have sex demons who are said to attack their victims while sleeping. Each had varying methods of “dealing with” those persons afflicted with this mysterious condition. Sadly, many were unpleasant and could result in the death of the victim.
SP affects between 8% and 50% of the men and women in the world, and generally occurs during the time when a person is either falling asleep or waking up. Paralysis is said to last for only five to six minutes, but there are rare occurrences where SP has lasted longer. Please note that not all people who experience SP have visits from The Dark Man. Many people simply suffer from feeling that their mind is awake – – but their body is not. That alone is pretty darned frightening!
Medical research states that this condition might affect people who suffer from narcolepsy, atonic seizure, hypokalemic periodic paralysis, or people with severe allergies or sleep apnea. Further, it is said that SP canbe a genetic condition, which for me might explain why my two sisters and I shared this same horrifying experience. Also, all three of us are cigarette smokers, and both of my sisters suffer from severe allergies, however, I do not. Interesting, though,since The Dark Man left me alone once I discovered my right nostril was clogged. Maybe it’s the lack of oxygen while we sleep that causes SP? Curious, and Curiouser!
Sadly, at this time there are no known medicines available to treat SP, but there are treatments available that have been very successful in reducing the number of occurrences, including cognitive-behavior therapy or meditation-relaxation therapy.
If you too suffer from SP and/or have Dark Man experiences and are unable to find a solution, I suggest that you go to a sleep specialist who can help you to identify what is really going on when you are asleep. Also, I recommend that you read up on SP. You are not alone, and you might find some helpful tips from the others who are brave enough to talk about it. Knowledge is POWER! I suffered for close to 25 years before I kicked The Dark Man out of my bedroom! If this scaredy cat could do it, I know you can too!