The Monster Under the Bed

Excerpt from my book…Mom’s Eye View.

monster under the bed

When I was a little girl my biggest fear was the “Monster Under the Bed.” Others may have had the “Monster in the Closet,” but either way the monster was there and definitely something to be feared.

My monster lived under the bed only at night, during the day it was never there. Not when I played hide and seek with my siblings or even when I had to retrieve a toy from under the bed. It only made its presence known in the dark of the night. My imagination conjured up a monster with scales, red, glowing eyes, a mouthful of sharp, jagged teeth and a body that slithered back and forth beneath my bed, with only the box spring and mattress keeping me safe from it.

My sister and I shared the same bed and would scare one another with our silly monster stories. When we had finally worked ourselves up into a whispered state of panic we would huddle in the center of the bed, “our safe place,” and stay as far away from the edges as we possibly could. We wholeheartedly believed that if we got too close to the edge the monster would be able to reach up and grab us with its long, cutting talons; ripping us to shreds in a matter of seconds.

When we got too scared we’d comfort one another and provide each other with enough strength to get us through the night.  Upon hearing actual scurrying noises in the walls or in the ceiling, as we did most nights, we never doubted that the noises were the monster duplicating itself over and over in order to surround us and then more easily capture us and turn us into an evening meal.

We never stopped to consider that we lived in old apartment buildings that were notorious for having rat and mice infestations. To us, it was the monster and nothing else.

We’d eventually fall asleep, sticking close to one another, providing one another with comfort and support when our fears were outweighing our common sense.

My sister and I have always been this way though, we stick together and along with my other two sisters, we all can be a formidable force. As we’ve all gotten older and more independent though, we realize we don’t always have to fight each other’s monsters. But it sure is nice knowing that you’ve got someone to cover your back when the monsters decide to sneak up on you.

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That’s Not Me

depression

I rarely write in depth about my personal life. What I have to say is generally through the words of a poem and the meaning is fairly obvious to those who read it. I don’t mince words and I don’t beat around the bush…I say what the hell is on my mind and the consequences be damn. But I have been struggling for years with a sort of depression that comes from things not having worked out the way I had envisioned. And I know I’m not alone in these kinds of feelings. I truly believe, everyone, at one point or another has suffered through these kinds of feelings. It’s how we deal with them that makes the difference.

When I divorced my second husband, I had in mind that my life would somehow be different, that I would be better off on my own. I didn’t want or need anyone telling me how I should or shouldn’t live my life…to insinuate that my thoughts and feelings were secondary to his. At age 46, I had had enough of that and after fifteen years of marriage to this man, I left my marriage.

I had absolutely no idea what I was supposed to do, how I would afford to take care of myself or if love would ever find me again. I fell into what the doctor’s told me was “low-grade” depression. I was prescribed anti-depressants and although they may have worked, I was uncomfortable taking drugs, so I stopped…which probably wasn’t the smartest move because whatever depression I had been feeling quickly escalated. I moped around, felt like a sloth, drank way too much wine and slept and slept and slept. I was motivated only to go to work (bills still had to paid) and would put on my happy face for my children when they visited (can’t let the kids know what a basket-case Mom was).

stronger

This went on for over two years. Even though I began dating again, I wasn’t able to give myself to the notion of a “true romance.” I fought it and felt undeserving of any sort of kindness he showed me. We never became the sort of relationship I felt I was meant for and we soon broke things off. I fell into an even deeper depression and found myself almost unable to climb out of it. I had failed at my marriage, failed at a potential relationship, I was unable to keep my finances in order, I had cut off most of my family,  and my children  were getting older and didn’t need to rely on me. Who was I, if I wasn’t a mother? A wife? Not even a girlfriend? I was nobody.

I turned inward. I filled journal after journal with crazy scribblings, rants, injustices done to me. Page after page of anger, resentment, built-up words that had gone unsaid. It poured out of me like a mad, raging thunderstorm. Cutting and slicing, the rain beating me down into a drenched mess of emotion.

And it was weird, but writing, for me, was the answer. To write the words, that had for years rolled around inside my head, seemed to give me a sense of relief, of freedom.

I never shared any of this with anyone. Those journals were for me and me only. In fact, I no longer even have them, they were ripped up and thrown into the trash years ago. I no longer needed them, I had said what I needed. Nobody else needed to read it. I doubt they would even understand the torture of feeling useless, unworthy and unneeded.

Depression is real, it makes us forget everything that’s good and beautiful in our lives. It weighs so heavily that at times we feel as though we are being smothered by the sheer enormity of it. Thoughts of suicide constantly flicker and seems like the only answer to find the relief from the black and dark places that fill our minds. It is a heavy weight that begs us to follow it into a murky cesspool.

I cannot say that my dark thoughts have disappeared, they have not, it’s not that simple. What keeps me in the light, is my children and my grandson. How completely selfish would it be of me to forget what I mean to THEM? What kind of suffering would they go through because I had decided that ending my life was the only possible solution?

But, No! I am stronger than that! I want to see my son fall in love and give his heart to another! I want to see my daughter and son-in-law, grow old together! I want to see my grandson grow into a man! These are the things that life is about.

So, I pull myself out of the cesspool and just get on with things.

happyagain

madness

From my poetry notebook…This Ain’t Shakespeare.

no love

we watched a movie together

in which his love was proven when

he joined her in her descent into madness

rather than abandon her

madness 2

I’m not certain that I could join you

if madness were your fate

but the madness of my love

would never allow me to desert you

when you needed me most

madness 1

I would stand with you as you go through

your private hell

despair

holding your body as tremble

lending my ears as you scream out your agony

drown in your eyes as your tears make a lake

 

follow in your footsteps as you wander

your path to nowhere

building walls

believe in your words that have no meaning

love you unconditionally because you are my heart

 

never giving up on finding you

beneath your temporary shell of insanity

 

I would help you break that shell

for you to see, once again

the light of love

hope

that even madness

cannot extinguish

The Playground

From my book…Mom’s Eye View.

 

abandoned playground

There’s nothing as lonely as an overgrown playground with rusting equipment. The sight of an abandoned school yard bereft of the sounds of children at play, is like seeing a backyard pool with autumn leaves floating across the darkened water. It reminds me of the passing of seasons and the loss of lazy afternoons filled with fun and laughter.

I stand and look at what once was a small schoolhouse, now converted into a home. I see, in my mind, the shadows of its former life. The windows lifted open wide on a warm spring day, the fresh air clearing out the chalk dust and mustiness of a classroom that’s been closed off for the winter. I can see the doors suddenly banging open as children rush out to claim the spring day as their own.

children running to the playground

They burst onto the schoolyard, a bundle of tamped down energy, charging towards the once shiny swings. The swing’s only purpose, to aid in its young pilot’s flight into the heavens.

children on metal swing

I can visualize the crooked line of impatient children waiting to mount the first step that will lead to the top of a gleaming slide. I see the sun beating down on its surface, warming it to a finger jumping touch. The glare from the sun on the shiny slide, momentarily blinding the children; causing them to squint before flying down the length of the slide.

I imagine hearing the playful screams of little girls being chased by boys. Boys climbing over one another as they scale the jungle gym; racing against one another in order to be the first to make it to the top.

On the asphalt, jump rope fanatics twirl and skip to a monotonous and lyrical beat. Still others hopscotch into chalked squares after throwing down a pebble.

The sound of a basketball slamming against a backboard; then the resounding thwack of it hitting the tar, prompts a whoop from a child who is now two points ahead in the game.

A whistle tweets and a loud chorus of disappointment echoes across the playground. Children reluctantly shuffle across the school yard to line up, single file, then obediently re-enter the small house of education.

I walk over the to now-faded leather seat of a swaying swing and sit. I automatically push off and begin to pump my feet, then arch my back in an effort to increase momentum. I close my eyes and think back to a little girl who also yearned to reach the heavens.

When I open my eyes, I realize how quickly the years have flown by and I’m saddened by the passage of time. There are so many demands on being an adult that there seems no time to relax. Would I want to be a child again? I don’t think so. To go back would mean to relive my life. Though there are many moments that were wonderful, there are also moments of heartbreak and sorrow.

Still, it would be nice to feel that carefree spirit of when I was a child. To once again believe in nothing more than being able to reach the heavens, on playground swing.

girl on swing

 

From my book, Mom’s Eye View