👹 Monsters

I have monsters. I have eery one-eyed, black-faced, sometimes green-eyed monsters lurking in my closet. Seldom do my monsters comingle, nor are they allowed to casually roam outside their confines. There are times, though when an escape feels imminent, leaving me on the brink of monster mayhem.

Usually, I can keep my monsters at bay with niceties and platitudes offered like sweetbread smeared with the butter of sunshine and rainbows. Other times, it's the lure of mindful meditation or some other woo-woo coercion that keeps them in the closet. Today isn't one of those days.

My closet is the farthest reaches of my mind, the crevices where bad memories collect dust and where my monsters live. Over the years, I've become a master at lulling them away, or so I thought.

Seemingly dormant monsters aren't sleeping at all; they lurk awaiting opportunities to act a fool. In the right conditions, poor sleep or diet, anxiety, or a disillusioned belief that you can rework the past can unlock and leave ajar the door to your monster closet.

Today triggered the locking mechanism open, and now the black-faced monster, the worst of them all, Mr. Black Face has broken through my emotional and mental defenses. The little bastard is out of the closet, running loose in my brain, barking behind my eyes, hell-bent on choking out happiness and serenity.

Mr. Black Face, the monster who relishes on fear, rage, and regret has muscled his way past sanity, out from the shadows of my closet and into the light of consciousness.

Have you ever had food poisoning or stomach flu? You feel lightheaded and nauseous, saliva pools at the back of your gills, and you know that if you just allow yourself to throw up, to clear the nastiness out of your system that you'll feel better.

I thought if Mr. Black Face had his little tantrum that this would effectively extricate him from my frontal lobe.

Me: "Go ahead, you short-sighted freak of nature, yell, scream and thrash about inside my head. Get it out of your system then leave me the hell alone!"

I figured that if allowed to run amok for a spell within the confines of say, the left side of my brain, that he'd tucker himself out and go back to sleep.

Maybe Mr. Black Face needs to see the light of day from time to time. Perhaps, his visits serve a purpose that I can't understand until after the smoke clears and the shreds of reason fall back into place. I tell myself that I'll figure it out after he's crawled back into the shadows of my closet.

The lies we tell ourselves give monsters ammo and the more times we fail to face the truth and root of our feelings, the stockpile grows until the monsters team up to mount a full-scale attack.

Anger, sadness, envy, and regret are monsters of the same fold. They are birthed from moments we try to hide away but can't or don't know how to express for fear of judgment or disappointment. Or hell, sometimes it feels easier and safer to pacify ourselves into believing that if we ignore them, our monsters will slink away or stay hidden in the closet forever; more lies.

I thought I was in control of this shit show of a day. Mounting lies. I'm not alone in this, right? We all believe in the illusion of order and control. We believe that we are in charge of the monsters that live just beyond self-restraint, peace, and contentment. Ha!

I believed on this day, Mr. Black Face could be handled, I was wrong. Mr. Black Face proved himself impervious to soothing or force; instead, he was lured out by bigotry, prejudice, and racial intolerance, the ignorant theme song that rallies my menacing monster.

With a salacious grin, Mr. Black Face whispers to me, "My dear, you are fucked. I cannot be controlled, I cannot be swept away. You don't have the power to banish me.”

He continues, “Behold! I've found the keys to your closet, I can hear my anthem. I'm coming for you, and I will bleed your conscience dry.”

(**insert sinister laugh for effect**)

I should have come prepared for Mr. Black Face's vengeance because I've traveled back to where he originated. As I sit with his creator, the man who pushes my buttons, the man I can't escape, Mr. Black Face feels empowered and unstoppable.

You'd think that in the battle against hatred and injustice that allowing Mr. Black Face to run free would be welcomed but putting the tyrannical genie back in the bottle is a mental joust I prefer to avoid. How do you slay the dragon who knows your battle moves?

Today, Mr. Black Face has set his sights on annihilation. He's committed to joining forces with the other monsters to tear down the closet door. They are growing stronger together. The closet door is my first line of defense, without it, sanity is lost. And I will lose my shit.

My heart is pounding, my armpits are sweaty, and honestly, I'm scared. I'm afraid of what will happen when Mr. Black Face is free to spew repressed venom, but I'm also tired of fighting to keep my monsters in the closet.

How did you like today’s essay? Would you like to read more, to learn what comes next? Let me know. Leave a comment or send me a note to holla@jaehermann.com.

Want to catch up on past #RealTalk posts? You can browse them here.

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