Friday, 16 September 2016

[ I'm friends with the monster that's under my bed... ]




The nature of fear has always been deeply fascinating and mysterious. Its tenacity, its ability to morph from something niggly to monstrous, and vice-versa. Fear is a mercurial beast, and it manifests in such wildly differing ways in different people, it's hard to pin down at any one time.

There are so many distinctive words and phrases to describe fear. Panic, anxiety, doubt. Uneasiness, disquiet, cold feet. All of them manage to convey peculiar states we can sometimes find ourselves in.

Personally, I've always found fear to be very much like love. Or even hate for that matter. Both require you to have an emotional connection to the subject. Broadly speaking, you don't love something there's no relation to. People don't hate things that they haven't got a connection with.

Like love, fear worms its way under your skin, finds your soft spots and settles there for the long haul. Some fears can be worked through, openly challenged and conquered, using the metaphor of dragons and demons to explain their banishment.

Some are more insidious. They wait inside you, simmering away, ebbing and flowing with time. Sometimes for years. Then they surge to the surface to terrorise at truly excruciating moments - like 2am. Because, you know, the complexity of the human mind!

There's an old saying about the cold light of day bringing clarity to even the the darkest issues. It never feels like that in the middle of the night however, with nowhere to run and no clear way to solve the problem.

The monsters crawl out from under the bed and intimidate you in the dark, when you're weak and can't think straight. They show you all the bad things that have happened, could happen, and all the shitty choices you might make. And then it bludgeons you with them, over and over.

In the middle of the night, in the dark, your tools of defense seem so far away. Your ability to cope trembles under the weight of your fear. And it's hard, really hard, to take your focus away from the demon in front of you.

Recently, I saw something really simple but really powerful. I can't rightly say why it resonated so much with me, but it did;



Because you are your own worst enemy. It folded around me in a firm, warm hug and stayed with me all day. And then into the next. And the week after. And, from far away, I sometimes hear a voice in my head, repeating these words like a mantra.

Then one night, my monsters uncurled themselves from the depths that I'd buried them in and tried to break me in half. They spent a good hour or so at it, slowly and methodically dismantling all the walls I'd built, all the strength I've developed.

I cried myself hoarse, until I could barely breathe. After I calmed down a bit I cried some more. I lay in bed with the lamp on, convinced all the awful things that could happen would happen and I'd be left back at square one again, with nothing.

And then I said to myself, over and over, never believe all the things all the things you tell yourself late at night. Tomorrow things will be clearer, tomorrow things will be easier - if only in the way you understand them.

And it helped. Gods help me, repeating a mantra like my life depended on it helped. Don't mistake me here; these are still first world problems I battle. But at 2am, they seemed like armed demons to me.

And here's the thing; your demons cannot face daylight like you can. They can't pull themselves up, put on a smile and face the world. Their domain is the shadows, and this is where you will always win.

Because, no matter what, you live in both worlds. You can see who you are to everyone every day; the suit and tie, the apron, the badge, the quiet nod.

And you see yourself late at night. You see your fear, and you know her for who she is; lighting you up like a match. You see him whispering bullshit into your ear like poison and know it for what it is.

The hard part is talking yourself past this. These are all parts of you, integral parts, parts you have become used to over time.

But. Fear is still fear. Love is still love. Hate - heart stopping as it is - is still hate. They can fit into boxes in your head, they can be viewed like a slideshow you put together for yourself; you know you. You know what makes you tick, and that's where you are the champion. That's where you will always win against your own mind.

Not to go all psychobabble on you, but this is a solid basis to start from; seeing yourself for who you are and knowing that all the shitty things that have happened to you are not the sum of your parts. The great stuff, the wonderful stuff, the soul-building stuff; that's who you are. That's where your heart is kept.

And I guess this is why I made friends with my monsters. Or at least got on civil terms. Because now, when the 2am chills roll around, as they inevitably do, I can talk my fears down. They don't go away and it doesn't solve all the problems. But I remember me, the real me, the strong me.

Don't let your fears master you - for you are the master here.

~*LTM*~


















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