I realised I had a very aggressive monster called ‘You’re Disgusting and Deserve to be Obliterated.’ What followed was one of the most amazing monstertalks of my life.
I was really scared of this one, so I asked members of my headcast to help me.
Me: I DEFINITELY need a monster negotiator here. Who wants this one?
Mr. H: Me!
Me: Okay, thanks. Big Sister, you want in as well?
Big Sister: (in a flat, tightly-controlled-anger voice that sounds nothing like her) No.
Me: Okay… are you okay? Have I done something in the last few days that’s -
Big Sister: Yes.
Me: – ruined my future?
Big Sister: Yes. Yes you have.
Me: I don’t believe you! You’re a monster masquerading as my sister!
Me: …Mr. H, you want to take it from here?
Mr. H: With pleasure. Monster, who are you really?
Monster: I’m the one you came here to seek.
Mr. H: What, ‘You’re Disgusting and Deserve to be Obliterated’? (He sounds slightly amused by this title.)
Mr. H: You’re not very talkative, are you? You sound like you’re kinda… holding something in.
Monster (EXPLODING from the form of Big Sister into this demonic dragon-horror-thing that reminds me of Screwtape in his centipede form.) GRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH! *breathes fire*
Mr. H: Whoa! (steps back) Very angry monster! You’re furious about something, huh? Wanna tell me about it?
Monster: (breathes a huge blast of fire at him. It’s acting like a computer-game boss. Hovering up and down challenging him to fight.)
Mr. H: Do we have to do this? I mean, we can, but I’d rather you just told me what’s bothering you.
Monster: WHY AREN’T YOU SCARED OF ME?!
Mr. H: You’re not my monster.
Monster: …wuff! (A sulky little puff of flame.)
Mr. H: Come on, what’s up? You can tell me.
Monster: AAAARGH! (This time it’s not attacking, just throwing back its head and howling.)
Mr. H: I know, it sucks, huh?
Monster: (caught off guard a bit) What sucks?
Mr. H: Whatever you’re that angry about. Or just being that angry.
Mr. H: Do you know why you’re angry?
Monster: Because she’s disgusting and deserves to be obliterated! It says it right there on the tin! (Points to a huge rusty barrel-sized tin, which does indeed have these words painted on it.) GRAAAH! (breathes fire at the tin and whatever’s in it bursts into flames.)
Mr. H: Okay, I’m gonna NVC you. Ha ha. (mischievous look) You’re feeling angry because you need something. What do you need?
Monster: FOR HER NOT TO BE DISGUSTING AND… (sad moment) not to be obliterated, OF COURSE!
Mr. H: Oh. Oh, you’re scared that she’s going to be obliterated, huh? You’re really scared. (tries to pat monster’s nose, monster shies its head away like a horse and avoids eye contact.) You don’t want her to be obliterated because… you love her.
Monster: (breathing fire and crying, tears sizzling on its red-hot scales) OF COURSE, WHAT DO YOU THINK ALL THIS FIRE IS, IDIOT?
Mr. H: Whoa, that’s -
Monster: RED HOT BURNING FUCKING PASSION!
Mr. H: …I was right not to fight you.
Mr. H: Well, you know. There’s good in you.
Monster: WAAARGH! It’s very angry good and I’m very tired and AAAARGH!
Mr. H: You need a rest, huh?
Monster: NO, I NEED HER TO NOT DISAPPEAR! Why can you not understand that? Why do you think I’m a dragon? A DRAGON GUARDS THINGS!
Mr. H: You’re guarding her. She’s the treasure.
Monster: (In very frustrated, ‘why do you not get this already’ tones) YES!!!
Mr. H: (suddenly sounding rather sad, and gentle.) But your name is ‘You’re Disgusting and Deserve to Be Obliterated.’
Mr. H: But you see her as treasure. The opposite of disgusting. And you dedicate your life to protecting her from being obliterated. Your secret name is the opposite, isn’t it? It’s like, ‘You’re Amazing and Deserve to Be Safe Forever.’
Monster: (crying) YES!! But what’s the use? Everybody else thinks she’s disgusting and deserves to be obliterated! So I can’t let her forget that or she will be!
Mr. H: Oh, no. Hey. Hey. (pats monster) Look, people don’t really think that.
Monster: The housemate does!
Mr. H: Not that she deserves to be obliterated! Didn’t she save her life crossing the road recently? That says right there, ‘I don’t think you deserve to be obliterated.’
Monster: She just didn’t want to have to clear up the mess.
Mr. H: Oh god, you are really… man, your life sucks. I think I need backup. You okay if I call for backup?
Mr. H: (in a weirdly high voice, staring around randomly) Backup! BACKUP!
Big Sister: (running in laughing) You’re doing Phoebe from Friends!!!
Mr. H: (smiles) Just trying to lighten the mood. This one thinks everyone thinks Eve deserves to die. I’m a bit out of my depth.
Big Sister: (to monster) Ohhhhh, that sucks.
Mr. H: That’s what I said.
Big Sister: Okay, it sounds like we have a great big tangled-up ball of wool here so let’s see if we can find the beginning. When did you start thinking everyone thought Eve deserved to die?
Monster: Well, at school. They didn’t want anything about her. What she said, how she acted – they didn’t even want her intelligence, and it was a school.They basically told her to sit down, shut up and stop being Eve. Okay to exist as long as you no longer resemble yourself in any way. And after a few months of that she no longer did resemble herself, and then nobody else wanted her either. They wished she would stop existing so they could have the old version back.
Big Sister: Wow. That’s a whole lot of pain to be carrying around. And for what, thirty years? *hand-on-heart sigh*
Monster: Yes. I learned from that that she can’t please everyone. No matter how she acts, someone is going to want her dead. So the best thing for her to do is just to dial herself down as much as possible, and try to act however the person she’s with right now wants her to act. But she’s such a strong, exuberant, crazy eccentric person that the only way I could make her do that was to convince her they were right. Make her feel like a bit of rubbish that deserves to be burnt. I had to break her spirit to save her life.
Big Sister: Oh, monster.
Monster: Are you angry with me?
Big Sister: No, I’m feeling really, really sorry for you right now.
Mr. H: His real name is ’You’re Amazing and Deserve to Be Safe Forever.’
Monster: I’m a her. I think.
Mr. H: Oh jeez, I’m sorry!
Monster: (shakes head sadly) My gender is unimportant. I exist to guard.
Big Sister: You don’t really have much of a self, do you?
Monster: Well, I make a lot of noise.
Big Sister: I mean, of course you have a self. But you don’t have much sovereignty.
Monster: Where would I learn it?
Big Sister: Oh. Oh, dear. You were born from horribly unsovereign situations where everyone had everyone else’s stuff all over them. Which actually kind of is disgusting. I mean, people are never disgusting, but being buried under a pile of other people’s icky stuff is… a lot like the mess in her room right now. Ooh, epiphany! Can I use this epiphany to help you?
Monster: I want to get other people’s icky stuff off her.
Big Sister: Help her tidy her room?
Monster: But I’m a dragon. I hoard. Also, you haven’t really given me any assurance that she won’t be killed for being herself.
Big Sister: Nobody’s killed Havi.
Monster: Well, she’s been in some life-threatening situations. And anyway Havi is not Eve and Eve is different and what if people DO kill HER? She can’t just go around being herself. Nobody is allowed to be themselves past the age of four. That’s the whole tragedy of this world.
Big Sister: Oh, baby. You’re another growing-up monster.
Monster: Isn’t everybody?
Big Sister: Everybody in this monster menagerie, by the looks of it! Okay, here’s an idea. Maybe it’s better for her to be herself, even if she dies for it. I mean, I don’t personally think there’s any risk that she’ll die, but I can’t prove that. But even if it did mean a shorter life, maybe it would still be better for her to live as herself, without shame.
Mr. H: Oh, that’s totally true. Even if it takes you ages to work out how to be yourself because you’re so used to being everybody else.
Monster: You don’t understand. I’m a dragon. I guard. You’re asking me to stand by and risk my treasure being destroyed.
Big Sister: But your treasure is a person. Have you ever seen Pete’s Dragon?
Monster: Of course. That dragon’s treasure was a person.
Big Sister: Right. So the dragon brought his treasure to a cave, but he didn’t keep him there. Because a person’s not the kind of treasure that you keep in a cave forever. The dragon let his treasure walk away with another human being. He took the risk of letting him have all kinds of new experiences and form all kinds of new relationships, not knowing how any of them would turn out. He let him change, and when it was time, he let him go. And that’s how you treasure a person.
Monster: That’s hard. That’s much harder than fighting bad guys.
Big Sister: (hand-on-heart sigh) I know.
Monster: I can still fight bad guys sometimes? I’m scared, I’m scared!
Big Sister: I know, honey. But – okay, this is going to be hard to hear. The ‘death’ people wished on her all those years ago wasn’t physical death. They just wanted her to stop being herself. They wanted to take away her sovereignty. And the trouble is – out of love, I know – you’ve been doing that too. When she believes she’s disgusting and deserves to be obliterated, she loses her sovereignty. She doesn’t get to be herself. She doesn’t really get to live. It’s the very ‘death’ you’ve been trying to protect her from.
Monster: I killed my treasure? She’s not dead!! She can come back to life!!
Big Sister: Of course she can! I told you, it’s not death death. She just needs reminding, that’s all.
Monster: (crying) Reminding what?
Big Sister: That she’s amazing and deserves to be safe. Safe from anything that would threaten her precious sovereignty. Safe from ever having to be less than the strong, exuberant, crazy eccentric person she was born to be.
Monster: That kind of safe?
Big Sister: That kind of safe.
Monster: Is this really true, what you’re telling me? I don’t know…
Big Sister: (nods) Trust me. You’re part of her, so I’m your Big Sister too.
(Slowly, the dragon uncurls itself, showing just how huge and old it really is. Gnarled scales encrusted with ancient gems. Tears rolling down its long muzzle. It approaches Big Sister and lies down before her, bowing its head at her feet.)
Dragon: I will not be a monster any more. I will guard her sovereignty as I have guarded her life. My wings will be her cloak, my talons will be her sword, my fire will be her shield. I am afraid, but I – am – a dragon. And I exist to guard.
(Mr. H looks deeply moved, and not sure how to honour this speech for a moment, then slowly begins to applaud. Big Sister joins in.)
Big Sister: Rise.
(The dragon rises, as if knighted by a queen. Big Sister wraps her arms around its neck.)
Big Sister: Thank you. (kisses it on the cheek)
Dragon: (stunned) Nobody ever kissed me before.
Big Sister: Oh, you’re going to get plenty of kisses now. She’s going to love you now. Eve? Are you ready to come in here?
(And we draw a modest veil over the massive tearful dragon hugfest that ensues….)
Me: …Thank you, dragon. You are my love for myself. You are. And all this time you’ve been hiding as hate. I love you.
After this talk, I realised one huge key to helping Little Sister (my inner child) feel safe and secure in her own existence while I’m doing grown-up stuff. Dragon! My Dragon is incredibly strong (like whoa, a being this powerful is a part of me?) and exists to guard.To guard my sovereignty. To guard my self. To guard my existence, deeper than life. To guard exactly what Little Sister is afraid of losing. My Dragon was born from that fear, when I was just her age. This huge, fierce, noble being was born from the spirit of that little girl. Bringing them back together is a match made in heaven. What could make a child feel safer than having her own dragon?
Five minutes after I introduced them, the two of them were doing aerobatics over my head. I think it’s safe to say they’ve bonded.
R.Taylor drew this art to celebrate!