The blonde woman sat at her vanity, staring into the mirror as she brushed her silky hair. Behind her, a tall, distinguished vampire stood admiring her beauty, but all she saw was a reflection of the curtains waving in the night breeze. The undead man moved toward her—

I had thrown my hands over my eyes just as my preteen friends shrieked at the black and white television.

For decades after that experience, I had clenched the covers around the base of my skull as I’d slept on my stomach. I had convinced myself that I wasn’t alone. Why I thought a sheet and blanket would protect me, I don’t know.

As an adult, I recognized my behavior as irrational and childish. Yet, I couldn’t break the habit of pulling up the covers even on the hottest summer night. I should’ve realized that watching horror flicks wasn’t a good pastime for me. After watching such flicks, I’d crawl into bed; cradling my Bible as if it were armor.

Hollywood’s job is to entertain

Scary movies are meant to provoke safe adrenaline bursts and distract us from the dangers of our times: rampant crime, disease and war. They also impact our subconscious states by tapping into our cultural lore, where for centuries, humanity had blamed the paranormal for the bad that occurred around them.

These movies do have a place in our society. People (like me) buy tickets to get a shiver, be startled and have fun. And, in most cases, if Hollywood accurately portrayed ghost stories, movie-goers wouldn’t enjoy the experience (the exception being the 1980s movie Ghost with Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze).

So, how did I overcome this fear?

I spent the night in a haunted hotel! To my surprise, the ghosts I interacted with were like humans…they enjoyed being entertained, showed sympathy and were polite, sad or jokesters. Of course, like bodied individuals, there are unsavory beings as well, but I believe they are the minority.

I’m secure in God’s love and realize I only need to pray for protection, then take control. I set boundaries on spirit interaction—for example, whether they are permitted to touch me and where, and that they cannot go home with me.

I also realize that the amount of energy it would take for a spirit to make blood pour out of walls or severely injure a person would be prohibitive. And, what would be its motivation to do so? A spirit can get your attention by moving small objects, flipping your TV on and off, or showing itself to you in the mirror. And, for the sake of argument, say a demon was lurking nearby—what would it gain from tormenting you? Would that send you to the dark side or make you more religious and stronger in God?

Today, I can watch a “scary” flick without it frightening me. I recognize what it is: entertainment.