Fear: Ablutophobia

Ever since I was a small child, I was terrified to look down into a shower drain. I was never able to pinpoint the source of this fear, even as I became an adult. At first, the fear was minimal; I would just avoid looking down it. As I showered, I kept my eyes glued to anything I could: the shower head, shampoo bottle, cracked tile just above the handrail. 

There’s just… something about how deep and dark they are. They are like tiny, endless portals to… somewhere else. It’s hard to explain. That abyss… it used to not affect me all that much, aside from the occasional anxiety spike. As a child, I just assumed it was a small irrational fear that would go away as I got older and braver.

However, as time went on, and I made it into my late twenties, I began to have a crippling fear. After a certain point, it got so bad that was stricken with fear every single time I would shower. Should I ever get a clogged drain, I would panic, hyperventilating as I called a friend to unblock it for me. I couldn’t bring myself to look at the drain, let alone excavate whatever could be stopping it up!

As this went on and my fears grew more intense, I began to go to therapy. I don’t understand why it had gotten so bad, but I was concerned that I was on the verge of losing my mind completely. My thoughts had begun to revolve around that stupid, dark, damp drain. It was the only thought in my head anymore, and I needed to regain my life.

So far, the therapist has told me that what I keep telling myself is a self-fulfilling prophesy: If I think I am going to lose my mind, then I will. Way to be blunt, doc. 

. . .

My therapist says that I have repressed memories. I figured as much, as this fear has been around for as long as I can remember. There’s nothing we can do to bring those memories to the surface, though. Plus, it’s gotten so bad now that I, regretfully, don’t bathe like I should. Not even rushing through the shower works anymore. And now it’s not just the shower drain. It’s any of the drains! Sink drains, storm drains… I can’t do anything anymore without crippling fear. 

I have lost a ton of weight, as I can no longer eat; I pretty much avoid my bathroom and living room whenever possible… and honestly therapy isn’t helping. I don’t understand why we can’t uncover the repressed memories. But I am starting to think that I would rather not know what causes this fear. 

I’ve begun having night terrors. Every night, it is the same. I now dread sleeping.

. . .

I am always showering, doing my best to avoid looking down. I make it until almost the end of my shower routine without any incident. This happens every single time. But then in the dream, I start to hear whispering; hushed voices talking nonsense, filling my veins with ice as I fight the urge to look down. But, as in all dreams, what you want to do and what actually happens are two completely different things. 

My eyes are forced down, down, down, past the shower head, past the shower caddy, past the water spout, until they are fixated into the gaping hole that is the shower drain. Initially I am relieved. Nothing is happening.

Then all the sudden, I see movement. The drain seems to be widening ever so slowly. It looks almost as if it is about to swallow me. But how can that be? How is that even possible!

Just at the top of the darkness, I see something gray and wet wriggling upwards. Then I see a second gray wet thing moving, then a third, a fourth. They look like worms, inching their way out of that cursed drain. 

Just as with every night, I am horrified once I realize what these gray things are: putrid, decaying fingers. They are bloated, moist, and have cracked, black nails. I am disgusted at the way they are moving, like worms trying wiggle to the surface. The black nails are tearing more and more as they scratch their way out, followed by grotesquely emaciated arm. 

All looked as if they were boneless, that is until they were out of the drain. Then… they were all too firm. 

I always realize too late that I have been frozen, rooted to the spot as I watch these events play out. I scream wildly, trying to move away from the hand, but I can’t. Nothing I do works, and I begin to feel heavy and tired. My body is unresponsive; I am paralyzed. 

. . .

I wake up every night screaming, thrashing, and feeling as if I had just run a marathon. And then I don’t sleep anymore. I’ve started to hear the whispers, though. My therapist says that it is because I am not sleeping anymore. My body is starting to break down. Every day that I wake up from this nightmare, the words get clearer and clearer. I am starting to make out some of the words, and the more and more that I do understand, the more I realized that I am in danger.

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