Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Monsters under my bed

The kids were watching a recently made movie called "Easy A" - which takes its inspiration from "The Scarlet Letter" by Nathaniel Hawthorne.  It opened up a lot of memories for me from my teen years, and once Pandora's box is opened - of course - a whole flood of memories came surging back.

A common night-time scene in my house was me waking with a start after a nightmare about monsters, being in danger, being dead, being buried alive, or any number of other terrifying things...especially to an 8-year-old. Eyes wide with fright, trying to make sense of my surroundings, I would look around. The clothing hung on hooks by the door resembled ghouls about to attack me.  

Thanks to an amazing artist I found at:
The longest trip I made every time - and it never got any easier - was the one out of my bed, across the floor to the door (where I had to pass right by those self-same ghouls), past the bathroom door, down the hall in the dark where the walls themselves seemed to be alive with moving shadows, and through the threshold of my parents' room. I'd ask to sleep with them because I had "bad dreams."

I wasn't aware at the time that the reason I was having the nightmares in the first place was the violence that was such a part of my growing up, and that the very person I asked permission from to sleep in her bed was the very person who was the primary cause of my nightmares.  I was terrified of her.  When she said, "Well, get over in back of your father, you kick the stars off the moon..." I remember such a feeling of relief being with someone safe.  Dad was the only safe oasis in my growing-up years inside those four walls.

Looking back, those monsters I saw got shoved under the bed for a reason.  I could not deal with those horrible things I went through in the daylight.  At night, they would rise from my subconscious and grip me by the throat.  Abuse victims - whether physical, verbal, sexual, emotional or spiritual abuse victims -  often suffer from these feelings of fear, panic, suffocating terror.  Not  having the emotional maturity to handle all those feelings as a child, I shoved all those things underground where they lay dormant (sometimes emerging in terribly disturbing nightmares) until early 2009.  If God had not intervened in my circumstances, I might have lived with those monsters under my bed (or in my head) for the rest of my life.

And then - out of desperation for an unmanageable situation in my life - I got into therapy.  And the monsters started to surface.  With the help of God and my therapist (mostly God, even my therapist admits this!) and the support of a great community of friends who accepted me for who I was at the stage I was, I started to confront these monsters - Fear being the worst.  It was closely followed by anger, resentment, and many others.  They'd grown as I had grown, so were just as horrible, just as scary.  

If you've read any of my blog you know the initial healing process I went through took about a year.  Occasionally, a monster will rear its head and yell at me, but for the most part, they no longer have power over me.  And when I look at the original monster ... often something I never expected comes to the fore.


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