Without looking at a dictionary, or turning to Google (other search engines are available 😉 ) define the word ‘Monster.’
If you’re anything like me, imagery of a human like, but grotesque figure will come to mind. You know the type you get in those books that would keep you up at night as a kid, convinced that every creak you hear is that ‘monster’ lurking in the darkness of your room, waiting for you to close your eyes to inflict torture upon you.
But, that’s not a monster.
The unspeakable, spoken, a monster is simply a creature made of the truth that no one else dares to speak, a ‘being beyond fear.’
Like God, an intangible thing, a non human entity that exists far beyond our understanding so we have to attach human like imagery to it in order to understand it, the same is true of monsters.
In the same way that God, I argue, is simply a metaphor for all the things too big for us to understand with our limited human consciousness, so too is a monster a metaphor for all the things we cannot understand. Ironic, don’t you think? Gods and monsters. One and the same. All the things that we’re told God ‘condemns’ us for, all the ways in which monsters are seen, in religion, as a metaphor for ‘sin’, there is actually no distinction, both are in fact a metaphor for the same things- for all the things that are too big for us to understand. The only difference is in the way in which we perceive them- God as ‘good’, something to aspire to/ something to run towards, Monsters as ‘bad’, something to turn our backs to/something to run away from, as fast as we can…
The reality, though, is that there are monsters in us all.
Fear makes monsters of us all…
‘The harsher side of human nature in a hostile world, a monster is just a part of ourselves that we don’t want to find in the mirror.’
Running away from our fear of the unknown, we try to cut it out and put it inside of other people so that they can carry it for us, labelling them as ‘monsters’ because, now in them we do not understand..
Just consider one of the most famous fictional ‘monsters’ of the 21st century, Voldemort, for example… Derived from the French word ‘vol de mort’, the meaning is ‘flight of death.’ Arguably the biggest fear we hold, the ultimate unknown, is that of death, hence why we (or at least, I) so vehemently run away from it…
Realising this (^), now I get it. Now I get why;
Unlike my peers at school who would dream about monsters and aliens and all the things that kids ‘should’ be scared of, I would dream about blackness, carrying it with me even when I was awake.
As a kid, my biggest source of fear wasn’t the idea of monsters under my bed, waiting for me to close my eyes to inflict terror upon me. Those I could at least try to understand/I could at least try to picture them in my mind- a physical presence… My biggest source of fear was of the monsters in my head. A fear of all the things that I couldn’t understand, entirely non-physical, that were (/are) too big for me to comprehend…
I can’t have been much older than ten when I first noticed it, a feeling in my chest that I couldn’t explain- just a deep rooted sense of something being ‘wrong.’ Unable to put a name to it at the time, I now understand this feeling to be one of ‘existential dread.’ Like a recurring nightmare but worse, for, these monsters came out to play when I was awake, I was absolutely terrified of the prospect of there being nothing.
My fear was of, (literally), nothing.
I would close my eyes, clenching them shut, trying with all my might to imagine what that would be like, for there to be nothing but, I just couldn’t do it. I just didn’t understand. I didn’t understand what the point of it all was. Having to endure the inevitable suffering that comes with life, only for, one day, life to end and there to be nothing to show of it, it just didn’t make sense to me.
This fear would see me running into my mums bedroom in the middle of the night to hold her hand, to feel the presence of something,
something that I could understand.
Telling her I’d had a bad dream because, how to explain to someone that my nightmares would come when I was awake, eyes open, scared to close them in fear of the darkness, in fear of my biggest fear of all- nothingness, coming into fruition…
I just needed the reassurance that, at least in that moment, there was something.
Something physical to hold on to.
It is only now, a decade and a bit later, that I realise what I was actually scared of… Not the idea of there being ‘nothing’- blackness, (already familiar with darkness, I didn’t need to close my eyes to imagine what that would be like. I’ve lived with it my whole life)… but the idea of there being something– light.
What I was actually scared of was (is?) the light.
And, realising this makes so much sense…
It makes sense why, as a kid, the ‘queen of contradiction’, I had to sleep with a night light on because I was terrified of the dark, and yet, I also used to cover my eyes with my hands because I couldn’t stand the light- palms resting on my chin, hands covering my nose, fingers covering my eyes, so that no light could enter, so that no ‘monsters’ could get to me.
A metaphor for life, I have carried this sentiment with me into adulthood. Not literally (I don’t still sleep with a night light on), but metaphorically. I’m still terrified of the dark, constantly running from it, never stopping to just ‘be’ with my thoughts- too scary…
But, when I catch a glimpse of light, I panic, and I want to retreat back to the comforting familiarity of the dark again…
I’m trying to get better with it. Realising that discomfort can be the biggest catalyst for growth, I’m trying to let the light in, something which feels so unknown, and, I’m trying be more optimistic and realise that I deserve the light but, it’s hard. It’s hard when the darkness, although absolutely terrifying when I’m in it, is always there in the back of my mind, tempting me back with its lies that, ‘things were better* then.’ But, that’s bullshit. I know it’s bullshit. You know it’s bullshit- just another source of self-sabotage…
*(If ‘better’ means being unable to concentrate on anything other than my sadness, if ‘better’ means the only optimism I carry being the hope that, tomorrow, maybe, just maybe, I won’t wake up, then sure, I was ‘better’ then).
The reality, though, is that, in the dark, life is reduced to how shit you feel. There’s no room for anything else. You shut out the light and let in the monsters (the monsters that reside in your own head)… But, in the light, whilst yes, memories of the time that you spent in the dark might still be in there, (in fact, I can pretty much say with certainty that they will be there), you won’t feel so ‘stuck’ in the dark. For, in the light, there is room for joy
hope not that tomorrow you ‘won’t wake up’, but hope that tomorrow you will wake up, with the potential to change your whole life for the better. Hope that, tomorrow, you will set yourself up to live the life that you’ve always imagined,
the life that you were always destined to live,
the life that you deserve.
A life that is hope filled,
(&, again, not a thing more than you deserve).
‘In order to know the light, we must first experience the darkness.’