To the monster under my bed,
When I was little, I did everything that I could to hide from you. My parents would tell me to go to bed and I’d pretend that I couldn’t hear them. As long as I could, I stayed put downstairs hoping that I would never have to walk up those loud and creaky stairs, that I wouldn’t have to face the dark of my room. Every night, I silently prayed out of fear that you would grab my arm when I reached around my door frame to flip on the light. Because if you didn’t, that meant I would have to turn it off again. And once the light when out, I had to stay in the dark, I had to make it to my bed.
Now I look back and that space between my lightswitch and my bed was just a few feet. But to a child that tiny gap was a chasm that I couldn’t cross. Not without my heart bruising my chest and my mind racing to every dark possibility it could find in the crevices of my brain. Sometimes I wonder where that imagination went. The one that saw the darkness, the one that saw lava. The one that looked into the shadows instead of through them. But that’s for another day.
You see, I used to curl myself up in the middle of my bed. I tucked my covers around my toes so you couldn’t pop up to nibble on them. I’d never let my arm hang off the edge. Night after night, when I wouldn’t find sleep, my hands trembled at the thought of finding you as I yanked my blankets up and over my head.
But, to the monster under my bed, I’m not afraid of you anymore. Growing up let me forget you were there. After all, you can’t fear something if you don’t remember what to dread.
I used to fear the gashes your long talons could make; now I’m the one who’s left them on my arms. I avoided my room, didn’t want to go to bed. Now I barely leave it because closed doors keep me hidden. Sleep was an invisible mercy to me, one that let me escape to morning. I can’t remember the last time my mind was quiet enough to let me be much less when I was last allowed to sleep.
And I suppose, I owe you an apology. For calling you a monster all these years. I’ve met real monsters and they didn’t have fangs. Real monsters don’t have claws, in fact, they look just like everyone else. Appearance is not what makes a monster, I should know, you can’t put a face to the ones inside my head.
You know, the ones that keep me up at night with hateful, angry whispers. The ones that leave blood on my breath after I bit my nails until my fingers bled. You’re not the one who dropped stones on my chest to hold me to my bed. And you’re not the one I’m afraid to see when shadowy figures loom outside my door.
Late at night, when the only light in my room was an orange glow from outside, I would cry to myself in the sweltering air that grew hotter the longer I hid under my covers. I had to keep my breathing low, if anyone knew I was up, well the idea of that terrified me more. More than you under my mattress, more than any moving shadow. Being caught awake scared me so much more than anything.
To the monster under my bed, I want to thank you. Even if I always feared that your outstretched arms would swallow me whole. I guess, I finally realized that you were never there to harm me at all.
There are monsters in this world beyond the depths of the dark. They don’t hide under the beds of children. They’re not warped or born from nightmares. These monsters wander down the streets, disguised with cloaks and lies. And you, the monster under my bed, you were there to protect me from them.
Thank you, thank you, my dear old friend. For being there, for protecting me, for watching the shadows from under my bed. I never thought I’d miss you until I realized you were gone.
To the monster under my bed, who was there in the weeks of endless grey. Who didn’t leave when I was so consumed by hopelessness that both my angels and demons had abandoned me. To you, who taught me how to breathe and stop shaking through the worst of the moments when my panic pounced.
I’m not afraid now, you taught me the strength to stand even when I’m alone.