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Mastering Murderous Monsters & Other Childhood Tasks

August 15, 2013

As a kid I translated my generalized anxiety into monsters.  As an adult, I still do this but that’s a story for another day.

I was deathly afraid of owls.  Especially the one that haunted our downstairs bathroom.  Oh, the bathroom seemed empty of owls to the untrained eye.  But I knew that once I flushed the toilet, I had to be out of the bathroom before the toilet stopped flushing.  Getting out in time posed a particular challenge because I also intensely feared germs.  I therefore needed to feel I’d adequately washed my hands.  This all  meant tearing out of the bathroom as quickly as possible after adequately washing my hands, knocking over any hapless victims who happened to be in the hallway.  The kitchen sink was available for rewashing of hands as I deemed necessary. I believed that if anyone was still there when the toilet stopped flushing that a gigantic  owl would appear and eat the poor soul who didn’t know to get out fast enough.

Unlike normal kids who feared the Disney villains, I often feared the characters that others considered benign.  I would face Malificent any day of the week over King Triton.  When King Triton grows large and starts shooting lightning bolts at Ursula towards the end of “The Little Mermaid”, I felt a terror deep in my very bones.  I could never feel safe again until I’d invented a boundary.  I was therefore safe from King Triton unless I touched the  far wall of my room.  Touching it would result in his appearance and my fiery death.  I explained all this once to a friend who was over to play for the afternoon.

“Wow,” she said admiringly, “I wish I lived here.  The worst thing that happens at my house is my sister farting in my face.”  This would not be the last time, I got feedback that glimpses inside my anxiety- addled brain were considered fun for other people.

My friend’s voice adopted a pleading tone, “Can we touch the wall and see King Triton? Please please can we?  He won’t hurt us.  We’re pretty little girls.  He only kills bad guuuys.”  My refusal came not only from my fear that it would work but from the sneaking suspicion since I’d voiced the belief outloud that he would not actually appear.  We went outside where I refrained from telling her about the white spider who resided in the oldest tree in our yard who had the power to freeze time and would do so if we pressed a knot on the tree.  I was afraid that she would want to try that too.  So instead I showed her the garden that traveled through time and space if we went in and spun around until the world still spun when we stopped.  Today we entered a world with magicians and dragons.  We fought dragons with swords we’d stolen from a magician, found hidden treasure & knighted each other.  Then the garden saw fit to take us back to our world at oddly just the time that my mom was calling us in for dinner.

“You know,” said my friend, “I think the owl & King Triton are just like the garden.”

“What?”  I was miffed. The worlds the garden brought me too were where I defeated monsters.  The world I lived in was where I avoided monsters.

“You have to believe in it or its not real.  I only believe in this stuff when I’m around you.  But its ok.  I like it.”  I glanced at her with narrowed eyes. The monsters existed because I believed?  They felt very real to me.  The panic attacks were real & everything else was imagined.  But it would be years before I understood that on even an intellectual level.  I was quiet through dinner.  My friend went home. Evening would come soon and with it the addition of my night-time monsters: The guitar case in the living room that would open up to a thousand tiny fangs and consume children who forgot to tap the wall 3 times at night (therefore neutralizing the guitar case) before going into the living room, and the robbers who would inevitably break in if I didn’t repeatedly check that the doors were locked.  But today was different.  I was going to face and defeat them all like I had faced the dragons in another world with a friend just earlier today.  I went to the bathroom and flushed the toilet.  Then washed my hands thoroughly.  I stared straight in the mirror, stood tall, and waited to face death.  In the encroaching silence, I stared into the mirror expecting the owl to appear behind me at any moment.  Its evil yellow eyes staring straight into my soul. Its razor sharp beak snapping eagerly to devour my young, tender flesh.  But nothing but panic (racing heart beat, sweaty palms, impending sense of doom) and then…. a sense of relief.  A flood of euphoria followed by calm.  I raced to my room and brazenly touched the wall, I hadn’t touched in four years.  Drawings and awards from kindergarten still covering most of it.  Silence filled my room.  I raced outside and to the oldest tree in the yard.  The spider, I’d seen once was long gone.  I pressed the nob.  For one horrible moment, the breeze stopped and my heart with it.  Had I stopped time???   But then the breeze hit my face and it felt like freedom.  I ran inside and…. touched the guitar case.  Nothing again.  Wild with abandon.  I decided not to check that the doors were locked tonight.  Later at family worship, I sat with my brother.  In my pajamas, smelling strongly of shampoo and wet hair, I felt as if I were floating.  The words of the Bible washed over me & Joy radiated from me.

“You seem so happy,” said my mom.  I beamed.  I had not won.  I had simply gained ground.  I would continue to fight bogeymen all through my life.  But I did not know that then.  I felt happy and victorious.  It was one of the closest things I’ve had to a perfect moment.  I had also found a tool that would continue to serve me.  Sharing with trusted friends has been a source of healing and inspiration to me to this day.  I’ve never come this public with the darkest parts of myself before.  I’m hoping with this blog to sharpen my writing skills.  If you visit me on this journey and find a few magic swords to fight your own dragons all the better.  🙂  ©beckyofmoonlitoaks


From → Monsters

  1. jeff permalink

    Wow your are a wonderful writer I like how many magical but also frighting things you made in your everyday world

  2. jeff permalink

    You are a wonderful writer
    you created so many
    magical and frighting
    things in your world
    we have a saying in the
    martial art i study
    work hard to train your
    body mind and spirt but
    always make room
    for magic

  3. olgatodd permalink

    Thank you for stopping by!

    Have a great day 🙂

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