Domesticating the Monster/The Dragon in my Belly

Content note: This post contains discussions of suicide, self harm, and depression.

I dreamt that I was dreaming/I was wired to a clock/I tinkle by the minute Hey/tick tock tick tick tock

I can’t remember the first time that I wanted to kill myself. I know it was a long time ago, longer ago than people might think. I don’t remember how I wanted to do it or even how far I got; whether it was an abstract thought that it would be nice if it all ended, or if it was a more concrete feeling. I remember other times. Other places. They come to me in flashes sometimes when I thrash in my bed at night, slippery with sweat and blood and bitterness, gritty with salt. Sometimes they are comfortable and familiar memories which I savor and feel wrapped in. I remember the last time, which is more recent than people might think.

Does this make you uncomfortable? We’re taught not to talk about these things. Quiet as mice we’re supposed to be so that we don’t offend delicate sensibilities. We can cry out for help but people may or may not respond and above all we cannot, should not, make people uncomfortable. People don’t need to know the details. It’s safer this way.

There’s a stigma there, a barrier, about how we are allowed to talk about these things. We can say we’re sad or maybe that we’re even having suicidal thoughts but they shouldn’t be shared. People say that they want to help but instead they shut us away because we’re frightening.

I remember once telling a psychiatrist about—well, I suppose I shouldn’t tell you. But her eyes got wider and wider and more and more nervous when she realised that she wasn’t just talking to a sad college student who was having trouble adjusting, she was talking with someone who was battling the monster.

I dream I’m on a train/and it is making music/I don’t remember getting off/Klickity klick klickity klick

People say that the monster is something which people should fight, like it’s a battle that you win. Like it ends with you triumphant over the monster, grinning with your spear in hand and a foot planted firmly on its back. The end. Game over. Let’s all throw a ticker tape parade, ding dong the monster’s dead, you don’t have to fight anymore.

The monster isn’t like that. The monster doesn’t die. Eventually the monster wins and you stop struggling and accept it. That’s how the story ends.

I dreamt that I was very tall/I was bigger than King Kong/I heard the bell the bells/A ringin’ a ding dong a ding dong

I don’t know, anymore, which goes with what, which scar happened when, and where.

I know that feeling of wholeness and completion when I keep the monster out with pain, when I find my own corner of the Dark Place where the monster can’t find me. I know long sleeves and artfully placed scarves and ‘accidents’ and I know how to pretend that the monster isn’t dogging my footsteps. I know how to fall into holes of my own creation, dizzy with chemicals, in which for a few hours I can flee the monster; the monster cannot penetrate those places but it waits at the surface for me to emerge because it knows that I will always come out again.

That’s what people don’t understand. You don’t fight the monster. The monster will always outlast you. It is bigger and darker and bolder and stronger and it is patient and it will wait. It will wait until your razors are dull, until there’s nothing left to scratch, when you scrabble at the dregs of the  pill bottle and there’s nothing left, until you are stripped bare and screaming and there’s nothing left but you and the monster.

I dreamt that I was sitting/In the Devil’s company/He made a solemn promise/Fee fi fo fun for me

You must trick the monster. You must disabuse yourself of the notion that you will someday defeat the monster and return triumphant with its head on a pike to stake at your gate. Oh, you can do that, but overnight the head will wriggle off and turn into something worse, some new iteration of the monster and it will be angry because you have betrayed the rules and you cannot do that and you and the monster know it.

One day I floated in the water as long as I could and waited for the monster to take me and swallowed sharp sandy salty water and came up coughing; maybe I did that more than one day, really, but I realised something when I surfaced.

I dreamt I was chasing/The monster out of me/I got him in a corner/A ha ha hee hee hee

I swallowed the monster. I gobbled it up and stuffed it deep inside me. I told the monster that I wasn’t going to drag it around like dead weight anymore, waiting for it to jump from behind me. I made the first move and I unhinged my jaw and I drank up every drop of its oily, unpleasant essence.

I ate the monster.

The monster is inside of me, dragon in my belly. It waits. Coiled. Sometimes part of it emerges and it tries to drag me into the dark place and I feel the fog and the mist around me and I suck it back down, the monster, plant it firmly back inside of me and sometimes I wake up in a daze with marks that weren’t there before and I know I won. I ripped those suckerfeet and foul claws right off of me and I ate them up, yum yum yum, with a cherry on top, and now the monster can’t get me because it’s inside of me and there it will stay until I lose my grip again.

You don’t beat the monster.

You trick the monster. Until you can’t trick it anymore.

One Reply to “Domesticating the Monster/The Dragon in my Belly”

  1. I am very sad for you that your monster is giving you a hard time. Or was, yesterday. Everybody has their monster, I am absolutely sure. You have one distinct advantage. You know it is there. It won’t surprise you. You won’t wake up one day to find that it exists, has claws and fangs and poison, and stagger back, in frightened surprise. If people tell you it doesn’t exist you won’t believe them. You know it, and know your dark place – you know you have won before. And if I show you my monster, you won’t flinch. If you see it in others, you don’t have to push them away, frightened. If you see others batteling their monster, you will help, and they in turn will want to help you. Light place or dark – you are probably afraid of seeing neither in others. (Okay, I am shamelessly projecting, but this is also my experience with friends who definately know their own monster.)
    Some people only know how to live in the light place, and get very hurt when they see the dark in others, or themselves. I know my dark place, my ‘monster’. He’ll always be there, and we will fight, for he is a part of me. But I am also finding my light place. And while I am there, I need not fear the unknown dark, and can welcome friends who dwell in both places. I don’t get ‘uncomfortable’. If my friends are batteling, their monsters won’t tear them away from me.
    Lots of warmth and sunshine (and if that sounds corny, I hope you can smile at the cornyness!)

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