“When you were little, you could swear there was a monster under your bed–but no one believed you. On the eve of your 30th birthday, you hear noises coming from under your bed once again. The monster is back and has an important message to deliver to you.” Experiencing a little writer’s block, I googled ‘writing prompts’. Many thanks to WritersDigest Forum for this…
It was actually my 40th birthday when the monster came back. He whispered in that half growl that monsters use “death to youth, beware, beware”.
Of course, I ignored him wouldn’t you? After all I was only 40, hardly old or so I thought at the time, and besides grown-ups don’t believe in monsters under the bed. I should have listened though, because he was right. Since I turned 40 my health is the like down-hill skiing, unfortunately I don’t know how to ski.
The monsters of our adulthood are different than childhood, but still very real. In an attempt to be “mature” we give the monsters different names, but they never really go away. As a child, monsters have names like “loneliness”, “boredom”, “friendlessness”, and “darkness”. The monsters get uglier and scarier as we get older. The new monsters have names like “bankruptcy”, “cancer”, “divorce” and many others.
As children our parents came up with a variety of methods to help us with our monsters, everything from trying to convince us that there were no monsters (but we knew better, as we do now), to my favorite “monster spray”. As adults, no one will come turn on the light and assure us there are no monsters. No one will come and spray under the bed and in the closet. No one can make the monsters go away for us. So what can we do?
I would like to share something I have done with limited success. This is no miracle cure (no monster spray). I’m still working on it, but even in it’s testing period as it is, perhaps it will be helpful to someone.
My grown up way of dealing with monsters is to befriend them. I know you were hoping for something more Beowolf-ish weren’t you? A sword and a battle and well, some action…all I can say is if your monsters leave you with any energy for that sort of thing, give it a try and let the rest of us know how it goes. For me monsters under the bed, by their very nature affect your sleep and energy and hand to hand combat is simply out. Friendship is much less strenuous.
How to befriend a monster then? Well, it depends on the monster, but here are a few ideas. You can pick and chose what might help with your monsters.
The first is acceptance. I believe I learned this one from my wonderful husband. He is a problem solver. When a problem arises, he rolls up his sleeves and gets to work on solving it. He never wastes time trying to decide whose fault it is that this problem has arisen and he doesn’t waist time mourning over it either. He just gets to work on solving the problem. He inspired something I say to my children, “Look for solutions, not excuses.”
How does this work in real life? Well, take Money Monster for example. This is a good one, because strangely enough no matter how much money a person makes it never feels like enough, so you all know Money Monster right? So the first thing is to accept your situation. As long as you have a roof over your head (even the in-laws roof counts), food on the table (beans and rice count, top ramen not so much), and clothes on your back (yes, thrift store shopping is ok…you are getting the idea)…if all these things are in place, things are not that bad. When I lived in Venezuela, I knew people that struggled daily to get food on the table. Even the poorest people in America have food stamps, food banks, etc at their disposal.
Another way to befriend a monster is creativity. With the Money Monster, creativity is almost as good as a sword. Whether it is the daily struggles, or special occasions, creativity can make a potential disaster into a fond memory. An example of what this looks like is here in Budget Anniversaries.
Another friendship tool…is choice. Here is where some fighting could come in. Happiness is a choice. I remember as a child having a reoccuring nightmare about falling into a large pit. My mom and siblings were at the top, and I was in the hole. They couldn’t figure out how to get to me so they left. Maybe they went to get help, but I felt abandoned. As a child, the dream ended there. As an adult, I would not accept that fate. I would dig out hand and foot holds and inch by inch I would climb out of that hole. That is what happiness feels like sometimes….like something I have to claw my way to, but worth it. Happiness is worth the fight it sometimes takes to get there.
The monster I’m trying to befriend now is the Fear Monster. He is dreadful. Remember as a child how scary the Abominable Snowman was? That is the kind of monster I live with now. He is the shadow of another monster I am dealing with, “Poor Health Monster”. Acceptance is helping me deal with “Poor Health Monster”. It serves no purpose to spend too much time lamenting the loss of good health, though I have to admit one would hardly be human if one did not spend some time in Lamenting Town (just make sure it is a vacation and not a permanent residence). “Everyone has some kind of struggle and this is mine,” I tell myself. So “Poor Health Monster” and I have an unsteady truce. It is his buddy, “Fear Monster” that plagues me now. I try to accept that this is what my life is and focus on all the good things in my life, namely my adorable children who give me a reason to smile everyday, and my husband who makes me laugh. That is where the Fear Monster gets to me though. “How many tomorrows?” he whisper-growls in my ear. “How many tomorrows?” That is the thing that keeps me awake at night.
Some day I will have to come to an acceptance that none of us knows the answer to THAT question, and simply enjoy today. But I’m too tired for that acceptance right now. Maybe tomorrow.