When I was a child, there was a monster living in my closet. I never saw it but I just knew it was there. Every night when I’d go to sleep, Dad would tuck me into bed, he would make sure the closet door was firmly closed and I’d blow out the light. I wouldn’t dare to get up again because night was the monster’s domain.
As an adult, I still have a monster in my closet. And just like as a child, I’ve found ways to make sure that monster remains hidden.
People have told me that I have many layers. Some say I’m outgoing and bubbly, and others have said that I am chill and don’t seem to get angry a lot, but the consensus has been that I don’t often show how I’m feeling. You know, that stuff deep inside.
And the truth is, I don’t.
Growing up, it was almost dangerous to show my feelings. I don’t mean to be overly dramatic, however, if I showed that something bothered me, that often meant more of it. I learned to not show what I was feeling because it wasn’t safe.
As a child, that was my truth.
This coping mechanism may have been useful then, but no longer serves me. However, it’s been ingrained in my behavior and is conditioned so deeply that it’s difficult for me to behave any other way.
And what’s often worse is that I bottle up those feelings until I either blow up, or I’m so resentful that I walk away because the thought of opening the closet door is so scary and painful, that it’s easier to walk away.
It has been really hard for me to communicate my feelings and my needs, especially if I’m not feeling comfortable with them. I’ve been lucky enough to meet several friends that I can work on this with. They recognize how hard this is for me and just allow me to say what I need to in my time and my way. The delivery is usually awesome.
“You know three months again when you did this? Well, it really pissed me off because…”
I try, and the more I try, I will get better. And I think they appreciate that I trust them enough to make the effort, even though it makes for an awkward conversation. Of course we laugh about it afterwards (over drinks) because it really is funny. And kind of sad.
I met a guy who is challenging me on this and “calls me on my shit,” so to speak. He asks lots of questions, because the silly man wants to understand me, and then asks more questions about my answers. He makes me think and pushes me to question what I believe I’ve always known, challenging me to confront the monster head on instead of retreating under the covers.
It’s scary as hell, and exhilarating.
What would life be without a closet monster? The funny thing is, that I’m looking forward to the challenge of finding out.