Ours wasn’t a big house, but at night my bedroom at the end of the hall seemed a great distance. Plus the windowed door at the foot of my bed, leading to our back yard, appeared as a magical portal for nighttime monster entry. When I was old enough to know there weren’t monsters waiting in my room, I still anguished over the walk to that dark place.
Even into my teens I longed to ask mom or dad or my older brother to walk me to my room and check for monsters. But by then I understood I was responsible to handle them. Lighting the bedroom was step one. That involved a rapid move to the end of the hall, then a quick reach around the door jamb to turn on the light switch. The light transformed my room into one where stuffed animals rested on a pink bedspread, and purple butterflies graced the walls.
I don’t remember when my bedroom monster-hunting ended, but I do know I’ve been battling various monsters most years since. Not the ones who lurk in closets or under beds, but those that impact well-being, joy, and sleep. They ignite emotional turmoil, prolong worry, or spark irrational fear. They thrive in my mind, fueling feelings of not enoughness, insecurities about the future, what if projections, and a host of ill-minded perspectives.
After decades of battling mind-monsters I’m aware of their impact. And while I’ve consciously worked to hunt down mine, some have resided deep in my psyche for months or even years, especially during life-happens events, shifts in equilibrium, or constant change.
Now they’re back with new faces and strategies, lucking in the shadows, eager to nibble at my self-worth. These monsters thrive on age insecurities — we’re too young or inexperienced or we’re too old and disconnected. Right now, for me, they feed after older person invisibility moments, triggered by a condescending “young lady” reference, or a child-like assumption that gray-haired women have an inherent inability to understand the most basic of topics.
But what these monsters don’t know is that I discovered a monster-tamer a few years back while flipping through a catalog. “Don’t Believe Everything You Think,” the wooden sign read. That was my problem. I’d been believing my random thoughts, giving power to sporadic negative, fearful, critical, judging thoughts floating around. I’d been feeding my monsters just as I had done as a child because I believed, maybe a little, they might be real.
We can think ourselves into being afraid, sad, angry, envious, or worried. We can think ourselves into being timid, self-conscious, or defeated, turning into passengers, rather than drivers, of our own lives. And we can even think ourselves out of our dreams, aspirations, desires, confidence, and self-worth.
In the scheme of things, we can let our monsters win, or we can tame what we create in our dark places of insecurity. I’ve learned mind-monsters can be replaced with mind-angels — more forgiving, grateful, courageous, and confident thoughts. After all, in the light of day, how silly it would be to believe my worth, or anyone else’s, increases or decreases with the color of her hair.