Inside each and every one of us is a smouldering dark pit of unwanted memories, resentments and emotions. This pit within us has the ability within seconds to turn us from a settled happy person, to a raging monster whom we don’t even recognize. Maybe we thought we were always that ‘settled’ and ‘happy’ person, but deep down we all know there is a monster, big or small, inside each of us that sometimes we cannot ignore or control.
As children, we are told of the scary monsters beneath our beds or the ones inside our closets at night. The only scary thing about these ‘monsters’ was that in reality they were not the big hairy ogres that lived in our imaginations, but instead were the memories and emotions that lived and grew inside us.
I remember the day that I started to realize the difference between the monsters of fantasy and those of reality. It was a sunny Saturday morning, and as usual I was sat at the kitchen table doing exam revision whilst my mother made coffee for my father, who had just come in from rowing. There had been a quiz inside one of the Saturday papers titled “how well do you know your daughter?” and my mother thought it would be fun to test my dad on the questions. My mother began with the ‘easy’ ones first: “Name three of her best friends”, my father ‘ummed’ and laughed whilst guessing random names, however none of his guesses were right. “What is her favourite subject at school?”, he didn’t know. “Name a music band she likes”, no answer. “What is her favourite sport?”, another wrong answer. “What is her favourite TV show?”, another wrong guess. By the end of the quiz I was feeling so disappointed and embarrassed that my own father clearly knew nothing about me, but laughed it off and made jokes to try and mask this horrible truth.
This ‘horrible truth’ then manifested itself quickly inside me, growing over the months and years. Every time my father let me down, from not being at a school music recital I was playing in, to only wanting to watch TV and be alone on weekends, the anger, sadness and resentment I felt slowly created a bigger monster inside of me. This was not a monster I could get rid of by simply turning on the lights and looking underneath my bed, but if I could have seen it back then, I would have been too scared to face it and let it out.
Many of us do not face up to the monsters inside of us. Sometimes we would rather pretend that these monstrous feelings inside of us do not exist as we know that facing up to it would mean us having to acknowledge painful memories which then makes that pain or memory much more real. Although facing up to our own demons and monsters puts us in a vulnerable position, the choice to try to tackle each horrible or scary monster shows great strength. The more we acknowledge our feelings, resentments and memories, the stronger we become, as we now feel that we can tackle these monsters, rather than ignoring them.
When my father announced that he and my mother were going to get a divorce, its safe to say that my monster obviously felt it could be contained no longer. By that point it was so big that it was uncontrollable, and all the anger and tears poured out in a rage that wouldn’t be out of place on the Jeremy Kyle/Jerry Springer show. My monster took hold of me and unleashed its burning anger, almost leading me to smash one of the standing lamps on him (I think the only reason I didn’t do this is because my mother told me it was an expensive lamp). I was scared of myself, but this monster wanted to hurt him so badly, for all the years in which nothing had been said. Tears streaming down my face, I told my father: “even if I did smash this lamp on you, it wouldn’t even come close to the pain that you’ve made me feel“.
I had ignored and tried to run away from the ever growing monster that held all the painful emotions and memories of my father for so long, allowing it to fester inside me over the years. As a result, I painfully learned an important lesson: running away from your monster will only turn you into one.