Posted in Lore

A Night With the Bogeyman

Here Comes the Bogey-Man
Goya’s Que viene el Coco (“Here comes the bogeyman”) c. 1797

My bogeyman woke me up again last night.  When I was little, he would hide silently in the house, creeping toward me if I dared to breathe.  He wore a long black trench coat and a black fedora.  I never saw his face, but he appeared in my dreams often, conjuring suffocation curses for my family.  Upon waking, I would lie in the dark, so still my muscles would ache.  My ears would burn listening for any sign that he was in the house, and where.

I know now that the bogeyman was the fear of brother’s severe asthma.  Not understanding what could make a person suffer from lack of breath like that, I assigned a monster to it.  How was I to know that this is something that would not attack me or my parents.  To a little girl, this was a random assault that could happen at any time, to any of us.

These days the bogeyman resides in my head.  He says terrible, frightening things that wake me from my sleep, sometimes suddenly with my heart beating wildly.  Some nights I can lull him back to sleep by adjusting the blankets, breathing deeply, evenly.  Last night was not such a night.  I pleaded with him to go, but he would not.

He started out by reminding me that I had still not paid the bills that came in the mail last week.  Then he reminded me of some purchases I made this weekend, shaming me for my impulses.  I tried reasoning with him that it had been so long since I had new clothes, and he scolded me for my selfishness.

Next he went down a common path about saving for the future.  He shouted that I ought to hope to die before I run out of money.  I thought of the different ways I could end it if it came right down to it.  And he asked me, laughing, how many people I thought would actually show up at my funeral.  He was cruel.  Relentless.

In the wee hours of the morning, he told me my whole life had been a joke.  That my poor children had had a horrible mother, I never made one decent life choice, and what made me think anything I was doing now was better?

“Maybe she’ll feel better if you give her your toy.”

As I sobbed hoping I could cry myself back to sleep, the dogs came and went, tails wagging low to the ground.  Instinctively, they nuzzled my side and licked my face.  Ever the protectors, they finally turned the bogeyman away. Two hours after he had awakened me, he was gone.  We all finally slipped off to sleep.  No longer than forty-five minutes later the alarm went off.  The dogs rose as if it had been any other night, eager for their morning walk.  While I propped my head in my palm at my desk, I imagined them home quietly napping.

I no longer recognize the bogeyman by his trench coat and fedora.  Now that I am grown, I recognize him by the fear he instills in the night, threatening me with the sharp blades of the unknown and incomprehensible.  He is the darkest part of me, surfacing in the deepest dark of the night.  All at once I am a child again.  Not willing to breathe lest he know I am here.  Just when I think I have outgrown the bogeyman, I find he has followed me into adulthood.  He waits and listens to my hidden thoughts and fears, using them to torment me.


Trying to make sense of it all and . . . for the most part . . . doing it.

11 thoughts on “A Night With the Bogeyman

  1. I’m so sorry for your rough night. I think rather than worry about him as your bogeyman you could see him as the reminder to lighten up on yourself. I was harsh like that to myself when my children were little, drove myself nuts and finally had to take a deep breath and remind myself I was doing the best I could and couldn’t do any better. Good luck quieting your demons

  2. Man this is some heavy stuff… If it’s any consolation, I have a boogeyman too. He doesn’t let me sleep either. Laugh, even when you don’t want to — its the only thing that works for me — maybe for you too?

    1. It seemed really heavy at the time. After a fairly good night sleep last night, I can put things into perspective. I always say if I didn’t laugh I’d cry . . . guess I forgot to on Sunday night!

  3. This is a great post. I think my own personal Bogeyman manifests itself in all the things that I worry about on a daily basis. Finding a job, saving money, the list is endless. I only wish he only appeared at night instead of all day during the daylight hours, too.

  4. I hate that you have a bogeyman. I like that you have given him a name and description. I am so terribly sorry for your horrible night. I have nights like that but I have never given those things much of names. Fuck the baby orangutan. And fuck your Bogeyman. Much ❤ to you Jean.

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