“You become the monster you fear the most, so the monster won’t overtake you.” [unknown]
Ever since I was a little kid, I was taught that monsters were afraid of humans. That they hid in the closet or under my bed, they could only get out if I let them. To this day I still make sure my closet door is shut all the way and that none of my toes are over the edge of the bed. In 2001, you and I learned that monsters need humans to survive. An adorable little girl even needed to be disguised as a monster just to fit in, but I’ll let Pixar tell that story.
Early this morning I was sitting in a class of about ten discussing what it’s like to face our monsters. It seemed to be unanimous that no one wants to look inward, mostly in fear of what we might find. I seemed to be one of the silent few who has chosen to fight their monsters. I was rather hesitant to use the word “chosen” because in my eyes it really wasn’t a choice. In my eyes there were two options 1) To let my monsters overcome me, allowing myself to become a substance using drop-out, or 2) To fight my monsters head on, which manifest mainly as a chronic mental disorder. I see the latter as my only true option, hence the lack of a choice. Over the past fifteen months I have been continuously learning about my monsters. I keep looking for weak point or shortcuts but am constantly reaching the same conclusion, there are none. I cannot destroy my monster without first destroying myself, I became my monster so it could not overtake me.
You might have known I am a tech nerd, but I am also a huge book nerd. That being said, I am currently wrapping up a book by one of my all-time favorite authors, Glennon Doyle Melton. I felt as though she was speaking directly into my soul when she wrote, “I’ve never let myself trust love, because I’ve never let myself trust pain.” To love anything at all means to be vulnerable and open oneself up to potential pain. I am terrified of emotional pain, it is to be avoided at all costs. Emotional pain isn’t like physical pain, you can’t just put a cast on it. In order to not allow this emotional pain to overtake me, I became one of my biggest fears. Love. If I put all my energy into loving others and appearing loved, I can’t possibly be hurt. I don’t need to be vulnerable to love others, I simply need to be present.
If Pixar has taught me anything, it’s that monsters aren’t really all that scary. Behind the sharpest teeth and loudest roar is often times where we find the biggest heart. Today I was asked to paint my monster. For some reason my monster is a “he”. He is roughly twice as tall as I am, and covered in a thick coat of purple fluff. I can’t think of a time in my life when my favorite color wasn’t purple. Even when I tried to claim otherwise I found myself with a lavender room, purple pillow pet, and loving that one of my university’s colors is purple. From the outside looking in, my monster is two of my absolute favorite things, purple and fluffy. He loves without abandon because he knows what it is like to feel alone in a crowded room. He knows that some of the toughest people need the most love.
If you’re willing to accept, I have a challenge for you. Paint your monster. If you haven’t looked deep enough to find it, I encourage you to do so. It is going to be messy and it is most likely going to hurt, but it is also one of the bravest things you can do.
Thanks for joining me on this journey, I hope you find what you’re looking for.