As a child, you are supposed to know nothing but innocence and joy, in a home bursting with love. Your worst pain should be a skinned knee, or maybe a broken bone, falling from a backyard tree you climbed. Your greatest worry should be an upcoming spelling test, or how to tell your parents that you broke a glass dish. Unfortunately, this was not my experience.
I grew up with a monster inside my house. A monster whose secret I kept hidden, giving it life. An ugly monster in disguise, as someone I could trust. This monster tormented me, consuming me with fear, in a place where I was meant to feel warmth and love. My safe space became the danger zone, and I was the target. My childhood longed for skinned knees and broken dishes, as I was left to fend for myself, against the monster inside my house.
Sometimes, monsters like mine live in our homes, offices, churches, schools, or other places where we should feel safe, and where our children should feel safe. And sometimes, this creates monsters inside of us. The internal beasts of shame, guilt, anxiety and fear. And just like the storybooks, these dragons are not so easy to slay. That was certainly my experience.
The monster, whose secret I was keeping, continued to grow strong and powerful, along with my internal monsters of guilt and shame. Unhealthy coping processes fed those beasts, providing them with shelter and keeping them well fed. As I was suffering, these monsters were gaining strength. At the time, I was unaware of how to rid my house and myself of these monsters.
It was the moment my secret was set free, that my shame, fear and guilt monsters were let out of their cages, no longer holding me hostage. By talking openly about my experiences, the unwanted creatures no longer received sustenance to thrive inside of me. When a secret isn’t a secret any longer, the power is returned to you. When I found my voice, I was given the keys to let the shame, fear and guilt monsters go. Keys in hand, I was opening the door on my new life.
However, not all of the monsters that we create are bad. Some monsters exist purely for good, similar to Sully and Mike in Monsters Inc., always there to protect Boo from all of the bad monsters surrounding her. Some we use as coping mechanisms, in order to deal with our horrendous experiences. Personally, I created justice and protective monsters, my versions of Sully and Mike. As I nurtured these, instead of my unwanted internal beasts, they became my allies. I had them in my corner, to help me fight the opposing side. I had them to help me find my strength, use my voice and encourage others to do the same.
The positive monsters that I created during my coping experience evolved, morphing into a beautiful creature, an avatar. This avatar stands by my side always, while I try to protect others, helping them get rid of their monsters too.
Take a minute to reflect, think about what monsters were created from your experiences? Positive and negative. Are they the kind that you need to stop feeding and start working on, or are there some, even one, that you can nurture and turn into an ally?
Grow through what you go through.