I can never sleep at night. I haven’t been able to, for quite some time now. For several hours every night, I lie awake in bed; twisting and turning, getting out of bed and walking around the room in the hope that it will tire me out and I will fall into a deep slumber. But sleep evades me, like an unknowing child runs from its shadow; and I lie awake, listening to the faint growls that escape my throat parallel to my breath.

I am not sure when it started. But this presence I feel around me, within me, has grown stronger over the years. It taunts me in the dead of the night, waking me to the sound of my own breath timed to low inhuman growls. The first time it happened, I was sure the growls came from beside me; I was wrong. Years have passed since, and I have learned that this thing controls me better than my own conscious. Whatever it is, it is within me; and without.

If I were to put this feeling into words, the best way to describe the presence would be as a shadow that lurks near my bedside. It stands close to the edge, watching me with eyes I have never seen. But what baffles me is its presence within me; even as it stands by my bedside. Sometimes at night, I hold my breath for as long as I can; but the growls never cease. One particular night, I held my breath until I passed out. As darkness swept around me, the darkness I hoped to escape from edged closer, darker than the night. The growls coming from it and me in a unanimous rhythm that spoke of our oneness in that moment.

But that was a long time ago. I have since accepted this presence as part of my life, as part of me. Sleep is no stranger to me now, but a guest I fear. For I am most vulnerable when I am asleep. Whatever demon has made its home within me, it revels in nightmares; showing me how helpless I am. In its world of hallucinations, I am a mere puppet on strings; and I cannot, for the life in me, will my eyes to open until it lets me.

Lately, this presence has made its way into my days. Whoever said the night is dark and full of terrors has never seen the darkness that walks the daylight; ever so imminent, ever so frightening. I never knew dilemmas until this presence shadowed its way into my life. Maybe I can turn off the lights during day-time to shut out its darkness, but what do I do at night? When this presence looms over me darker than the night? Knowing that turning on the lights would only make it even more real.

I keep thinking that if I don’t provoke it, that if I ignore it, it will eventually go away. But every time this thought crosses my mind, I swear to you I can hear a soft taunting laugh. It knows I want an escape. It also knows I won’t get one unless it allows me to. If I have learned anything these past years since befriending a presence that refuses to leave me, it is that movies have the concept of possession all wrong. It doesn’t make me cling to ceilings or talk in multiple voices and languages. It simply makes its presence known to me; and I have to live with it for the rest of my days.

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