I don’t like being scared.
I don’t enjoy fear; the anticipation, the sweaty palms. I hate being startled, and the knowledge that something is coming for me, keeps me away from haunted houses and out of scary movies. I find it neither entertaining nor fun to feel that adrenaline surge …my heart racing…and yes, possibly a little wet spot in my panties and no, not at all in a sexy way.
But… There are monsters under my bed. They watch patiently, silent and still. They wait for me to touch my toes to the floor, so that they can grab me, their twisted fingers wrapping around my ankles; their long yellowing claws piercing the skin as they pull me underneath the bed.
My monsters are the things that terrify me, the things I am most afraid of. These things creep out from under my bed when I least expect them, keeping me awake at night, worrying. What if?
There is this small but hideous beast: I’m not a good parent.
This demon has my mother’s eyes, and creeps out from underneath the foot of the bed and slides its face right up to mine, looking straight into my eyes, and whispers,Your children would be better off without you. What ever made you think you could raise kids? You can’t even get your own shit together, let alone the endless amounts of shit these tiny humans bring to the table. You are a failure.
I hesitate, but then I look into the familiar blue eyes of this devil and smile. I softly start to hum a lullaby, the same one I sang to my babies. His eyelids begin to droop, and though he fights for a minute, eventually he drops to the floor, and curls into a sleepy demonic slumber as my song comes to an end.
Some nights it’s the worry about money. I will never have enough.
I hate that one. It’s a useless creature, and accomplishes nothing. It scurries gleefully around under the bed, giggling every so often, and it says to me, in a melodious little voice, You are never going to get ahead. There’s always another bill, and more groceries and guess what? The car will need a new fuel pump this month! Wheeee!
There’s not much I can do to quiet this one. When his maniacal giggle fills the room I close my eyes, I breathe, and the panic begins to recede. I mentally recite the things I am grateful for. A good job. People who love me. A bed to sleep in, food to eat, coffee. And with the thought of coffee, I begin to forget the laughing monster, and I make my way to my kitchen, where the coffee waits.
There are a few lesser fears, which flit around like mosquitoes, easily diverted with a flick of my wrist, but annoying nonetheless. These are the whispers ofNobody likes you. You are difficult. or You laugh too loud. When their buzzing becomes unbearable, I swat them away, and they fly across my room, meeting the wall with an abrupt thud.
And then there’s this one: What if he leaves me?
And there it is. I can smell him before I see him. I don’t want to look, but I have to. He crouches, sneering at me, muttering under his breath: He loves her more, you know. He loved her first and he loves her most. He’d walk away from you in a heartbeat, all she has to do is ask. He’ll leave as soon as someone better comes along anyway, wait and see. You are a stupid, silly girl, and he can’t wait to find someone better.
This monster has a twin brother, an evil and malicious thing, who spews ugly words at me, You make me sick,he says. You are worthless and disgusting. I can’t stand looking at you. You make me want to vomit. His eyes dance as he continues his tirade. He gleefully plays the role of the playground bully, making me feel, for just a minute, small and scared and helpless. Then I remember.
I am not small, and I am far from helpless. It is true, sometimes I am scared. But I am strong and brave and I am determined to beat down these monsters that want to eat my soul away, one small mouthful at a time. So fuck you, I say under my breath, to the two brothers. “Fuck you!” I say, louder this time. “Do you hear me, motherfuckers? FUCK YOU! That’s not who I am. I am wonderful and fun and loved, and nothing you can say changes any of that. Now go away.” The twin creatures gaze at me, and I meet their eyes without fear. “Be gone,” I say calmly, “I am done with you.” They seem to fade a little, their edges softening, and I patiently wait until, within a few minutes they are simply not there any more. I am alone.
I lay my head back, my curls spilling over my pillow, and I laugh my glorious, much-too-loud, belly laugh. I close my eyes and sleep.