The Monster transfigured

The Monster is not Sulley, a friendly creature. It is angry, and it crushes me repeatedly. And yet- it is part of me, and therefore it is good. “I knit you together in your mother’s womb. God saw what God had made, and it was very good.”

The Monster is a self-protection mechanism. It rails at me, in a rage. It terrifies me. And I took that part of myself and made it my protector. The Monster shouts and screams that everything is fine, that I had a perfectly ordinary childhood, that I would be happy if I could only be manly, and not being manly is disgusting and spineless, weak, so impossibly weak that it must be the pretence of a cowardly malingerer, putting it on, acting, no-one could be that weak…

It was better that I froze, like Woody in Toy Story, who falls to the floor when a human approaches because he does not want a human to know he is conscious, than that I be hurt. Silent, compliant, uncomplaining, not protesting, I might be safe.

The monster is part of me. It might, like Sulley, stop roaring with the intent to terrify and be used for something else. I still freeze.

Sunday morning I do Richard Rohr’s exercise.

Identify the hurt.
Welcome it.
Stop fighting it.

There is the monster.
You are part of me.

He leaves behind the Master’s role
she welcomes him, and I am whole,

I wrote, twenty years ago. I am not there yet. What was I thinking?

The monster is an echo of my mother’s- I don’t know. It felt as frightening as a murderous rage, to a baby unable to walk. Possibly irritation. Possibly an anger all the deeper because it would be suppressed, held within, as she did her duty, possibly denied to herself- I do not know my mother, only glimpses of her that are apparently inconsistent or opposite but in reality different facets of a huge shimmering complex jewel, as complex as any human. She controlled herself as rigorously as she controlled me.

I am that baby feeling that terror. It is better that I freeze, showing no sign of resistance or unhappiness, than that I express my feelings and experience the terror of the external threat, my mother’s displeasure. So I internalise it. It becomes The Monster, seeking whom it may devour. And then it fades into the unconscious.

-What are you frightened of, she asked me, ten years ago.
“The Monster will get me,” I said. And it seemed bizarre, impossibly childish, unimaginable. It was all unconscious.

It is Cerberus, it is capable of such rage. And yet it is mine, in me, part of me, is me. It could be an Alsatian, joyously playful, bounding after a ball, or trotting to heel on a chain yet ready, able to growl at a threat, or even fight it if necessary.

she welcomes him

At least I know it is possible. Rohr’s exercise is different.

Welcome the grief.
Welcome the anger.
Transformation can begin.

I am not sure I am there. I have been weeping with the anguish of it, this Sunday morning. For Rohr it is feeling the pain of all humanity- which each human feels and so no human can escape except by denial. Others have other pain. This is mine. Now, as I write in order to analyse, understand, and possibly lay a trail of breadcrumbs others might follow (well, I do want to sell this story eventually) I feel terribly tired. I must get ready for morning worship.

Transformation can begin. This is my work now. To take that angry part of me to my heart, and transfigure it. It is all Light. It is only Light.

4 thoughts on “The Monster transfigured

  1. I am sorry for your pain. Mothers eh!!! Or, should I just scream Motherxxxxers!!!

    It in only very recently that I have looked to be more open to my more uncomfortable and unbearable feelings. To sit with them and let them be and in doing so to open a door to a dialogue. I am exploring the possibility of writing a book about different people’s experiences of responding to feelings in the present; how we each come to understand and name our feelings and our personal process of integrating and working with them. In essence, my idea it to put together an experiential based manual or guidebook for a school of feelings. I love the openness of the way you write which is so deeply personal and heartfelt. It is very moving. I wondered whether you would be willing to contribute something initially perhaps by having a conversation so that I can understand a little better how you work with and process your feelings and how this has helped you and what has been gained.


  2. I could almost believe we had the same mother. Mine had a mid-west American accent, though. 🙂 I had a little laugh the other day, upon recalling my mother saying: “Stop smiling so much….people will think you’re an idiot.” It’s almost hard to imagine just what I had to be smiling about to cause her to say that!

    I think we had the same kind of mothers, anyway. So, maybe that makes us kind of sisters?


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