Monsters, and why I love them

This is something I wrote on a forum to explain what I do. I thought it wanted  reposting here. :)

I’m a monster whisperer – I talk to people’s negative inner voices, aka ‘monsters’. You know, the ones that scream at you that you’re DISGUSTING or USELESS or DOOMED TO FAIL or WHY CAN’T YOU JUST ACT NORMAL (I bet many of us have heard that one…) It’s a unique, playful and loving form of therapy and I’ve had people experience big life changes from just one session. Plus weird side-effects like getting cured of compulsive lateness when we hadn’t even discussed that!!

Our monsters are part of us, and however hateful they sound, they secretly love us and are trying to help us. They just don’t understand that screaming at us isn’t helpful. They often come from early childhood, and their picture of the world hasn’t evolved since. They still feel the pain that we felt then, constantly, and the one purpose of their lives is to protect us from it. They scream at us because they’reterrified for us. They desperately need to be heard, loved, and gently shown that there are other ways of seeing things and other ways to help.  And when this happens, they transform themselves. Their true love nature comes out and it’s absolutely tearjerkingly beautiful.

I love monsters. I really do. They’re so full of love and pain, and most of them have never had a kind word spoken to them, and every single one of them holds a beautiful secret inside them. When I do a session I send love energy not only to the person I’m working with, but also to their monster. It really works. I’ve seen the most ferocious monsters melt in tears and shyly ask their person for a hug. It’s a vivid demonstration (ha, deMONSTRation!) of the truth that when you get right down to it, it’s all love. Everything.

Robin and No Choice/Do Nothing

I loved doing this session with a new client, Robin. Afterwards he very kindly said I could put it on my site (I didn’t even ask, he just offered!) It contains many useful learnings about monsters :)

One: Some monsters – even really big, old, hurtful monsters – are just acting out of habit. They don’t have any real emotional resistance to change, it just hasn’t occurred to them to think about it.

Two: When they do think about it, they can resolve their issues very quickly. This session was over before I knew it. The monster was all ready to curl up and go to sleep, and I was still talking on because I couldn’t believe it was that easy!

Three: Never assume there’s not a monster!

Robin told me he was feeling apathetic and a lot of things seemed pointless to him, including his job working with children. He often found himself having no reaction when children were literally beating him up. As we talked, it became clear that his job was a big problem for him, and I started to assume it was the whole problem – he didn’t need a monster whisperer, he just needed a new job! Then he told me why he wasn’t reacting when children beat him up:

Robin: its becuse the way i want to react if i did would be considered inapropriate.. i would most likely curse at them a lot and humiliate them that way or even beat them up if that dont work. but i know i cant do that. i would reget it quickly and im not that malicious.

Me: oh, ow
it seems like you feel so angry at those times, and you can’t see any way to express it that would be okay or acceptable
so you shut off your reaction because that’s less painful, right?

Robin: i guess i dont know i been bulied and depresed a lot in the past. and been in situations when i cant do anything about it. like living whit my moms horrible boyfireinds. or having a bad job. not having any choice on what to do. Well there is always a choice but usally its better to do nothing about it.

Me: oh, that sounds so painful
so maybe you have a monster called ‘There’s No Choice’ or ‘Do Nothing’

Robin: yes
both would be correct

Wow. So there I was assuming we had a simple case of ‘wrong job’, and suddenly it turned out to be a huge painful issue going right back to childhood. This was bound to take a lot of work to resolve, right? Again, wrong assumption…

No Choice/Do Nothing: hello

Me: hello <3 and thank you for agreeing to talk to me
you’re completely accepted here, I’m not going to force you to change or tell you off for being the way you are :) I’m just here to listen to your story and see if I can help you
(and I do mean ‘help’ not ‘force’ ;)

No Choice/Do Nothing: thats fine

Me: great :)
so I gather you’ve seen Robin go through a lot of painful situations where there didn’t seem to be any choice or any way out, am I right?

No Choice/Do Nothing: for manny years yes

Me: how do you feel about that?

No Choice/Do Nothing: sad

Me: poor monster, I so feel your pain
it must be very sad watching Robin suffer when you care about him so much

No Choice/Do Nothing: i guess i dont really what to think about it to painfull

Me: okay, well, like I said, nobody is going to force you to do anything here, and if this conversation gets too painful for you, you are always welcome to stop it

No Choice/Do Nothing: its finne

Me: thank you :)
so I’m guessing that if you don’t want to think about this no-choice thing because it’s too painful, you also don’t want Robin to think about it
maybe you want to protect him from the pain by stopping him from thinking about it?

No Choice/Do Nothing: distractions are a good way

Me: okay, this sounds interesting, could you tell me about distractions and how you use those to protect him?

No Choice/Do Nothing: no sorry

Me: it’s okay, no need to be sorry :) do you not feel safe to tell me?

No Choice/Do Nothing: i just dont want to rigth now, maybe latter

Me: that’s fine, later is fine, never is fine too, this is your space and your time :)
so, here’s what we’ve got so far
you’ve observed that Robin’s been in lots of situations where he didn’t seem to have any choice
and you’ve seen him suffer pain because of that and you feel very sad about it
so you’re trying to protect him from the pain by making sure he doesn’t think about how little choice he has
so I guess the next question to ask is – what makes you think he has so little choice?

No Choice/Do Nothing: its ussles anyway. and he already knows he has choice. but it does not matter. i take the pain away thats all.

Me: I see, so your role is just to take the pain away, not to analyse the situation or do anything about it

No Choice/Do Nothing: yes

Me: okay
I’m seeing a lot of different things wrapped up in what you’ve just said, I’d like to understand them a bit better so I can help you
are you saying that he knows he has choice, but the choice is useless and it doesn’t matter?
like, he CAN choose but it wouldn’t do him any good, so it’s better to do nothing?

No Choice/Do Nothing: It depends on the situation. sometimes it migth get even worse if he did do something. And there has been many such situations. although i admit it might no longer be the case now.

Me: that’s interesting because I was just wondering if now might be different from then
could you tell me a bit about those situations in the past?
then maybe we can see if there are ways in which now is not then

No Choice/Do Nothing: The first time probably was when he was in 7th grade then it was neseriy for survival. although his emotions where not blocked per say. but after that it was only more and more difficult situations. to feel nothing was the best way to get over depresion to be indiffrent.

Me: was it necessary for survival because he was being bullied so badly, and if the bullies saw him reacting emotionally, they would hurt him worse?

No Choice/Do Nothing: no he would either kill himself. or kill all the bullies. they did not hurt him pysically. ints not like it was only a few peolple it was an entire class and a bunch of random people.

Me: omg, my heart goes out to both you and Robin

No Choice/Do Nothing: constantly every day.

Me: that must have been so incredibly painful, and he must have been SO angry
so shutting down his emotions really was a survival strategy for you then, it really was life and death
not only life and death for him, but for the children around him too
no wonder it matters SO much to you to hang on and keep doing this, I mean you must have been terrified for him
and I’m sure some of that fear is coming up again now when you see him once again surrounded by children who are attacking him
am I right?

No Choice/Do Nothing: not really

Me: okay, please tell me what’s really going on for you <3

No Choice/Do Nothing: Its not the same situation

Me: right

No Choice/Do Nothing: its just a habit at this point.
i have not thought about it.

Me: I understand <3 because it’s been painful to think about, right?

No Choice/Do Nothing: its not like i think much to begin whit. im mostly reactional.

Me: you’re just there to make the pain go away

No Choice/Do Nothing: i suppouse

Me: okay, here’s the thing

No Choice/Do Nothing: i do feel like let go a bit after talking to you.

Me: I’m so glad <3 I think you letting go a bit could actually help him, as well as make life
easier for you
what is it that you really want for Robin? Even if you think it’s impossible for him to have it, what would you want for him if anything was possible?

No Choice/Do Nothing: a girlfriend <3

Me: aw!!! I wasn’t expecting that :) :)
well, good news :) I think it’s very possible for you to help him with that, AND you can do it just by trying LESS hard (like you said, letting go a bit)

No Choice/Do Nothing: hm.. ok ill try maybe.

Me: wonderful!!
see, in order to get a girlfriend, he needs to be able to see that he has choices (like choosing to ask a girl out on a date, even though it might hurt if she says no) and he needs to be able to see that sometimes it’s worth doing something
and like you said, now is not then
Robin isn’t a small, desperately unhappy and bullied child who needs your constant help just to survive

No Choice/Do Nothing: true… but he never was weak to begin whit. people just tend to be mistaken and take advantage of his kindness. when he is probebly the strongest one i know.

Me: oh wow, I’m so happy to hear you say that, and I’m sure he’d be really happy to hear you say that too
so are you ready to let go a bit and let this strong person make his own choices, and do things?

No Choice/Do Nothing: i already have i just wanted to be acknowledged.

Me: oh!!! thank you so much!! I’m really happy :)
I guess we’re done here then, do you have anything more to say, or would you like to go and relax now? :)

No Choice/Do Nothing: Im a bit tired now…. no i dont really want to say anything more

Me: all right, you go and rest :) so much love to you
bye <3

No Choice/Do Nothing: bye

Me: okay! Robin, welcome back, how are you feeling now? <3

Robin: good. a bit warm in the chest.

(I had to include that last bit… proof that monster talks can be literally heartwarming ;) )

I got heraldrybunnied

This happens to me sometimes. It’s like getting ‘plotbunnied’, where you have an intense urge to write a story, except I get an intense urge to make up a coat of arms. This particular bout of knight-in-shining-armoury was brought on by joining Challenge Accepted, which is the ULTIMATE in dorky, mock-heroic, playful, celebratory, self-loving productivity-geeking, and quite literally makes any job a game. I would highly recommend this, especially if you’re at all into fantasy or gaming, but even if you’re not.

So today I made a coat of arms for Monster Talk.

By Zigeuner     English: Picture made for the Blazon Project of French-speaking Wikipedia [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC-BY-SA-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5-2.0-1.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Starting from the middle, we have our monster. This dragon (or strictly speaking, wyvern, since it’s got two legs) is depicted tails nowed. It’s got its tail in a knot! THIS IS SUCH A PERFECT DEPICTION OF TANGLED STUCK EMOTIONS I CAN’T EVEN.

In heraldry, green is the colour of love and hope. So the wyvern is green to show that our monsters love us and can change.

The heart symbolises the loving, safe and judgement-free space in which monster-whispering takes place. This fierce-looking monster is completely surrounded by the white light of pure love. And he needs it too, they always do.

White in heraldry symbolises truth, sincerity and peace, which works perfectly even though the actual reason I picked it is that the only other colour allowed next to green and purple would be yellow. Frankly, this coat of arms looks enough like it fell in a vat of toxic chemicals as it is. :}

And then we have purple. Why purple? Because in heraldry, purple is the colour of sovereignty! Get it?

The blazon of this coat of arms would be, ‘Purpure on a heart argent a wyvern tails nowed vert flammant gules.’ I think.

OFFER!/Squee/Inspiration for bloggers

First off: I have a first-come-first-served OFFER! I am offering two bargains to just one person each! Three monster sessions for £120 (was £160) or six sessions for £200 (was £300.) Contact me to get ‘em while they’re hot!

And secondly: it seems that people are actually talking about my blog on the internets! In a positive way!

The other day, a new client approached me because she’d found me via comments on Captain Awkward, who is this hilarious right-on, emotional-genius agony aunt who I LOVE. So obviously I was thrilled. And then today somebody pointed me at this, which has appeared SINCE then. Apparently my demographic overlaps with Captain Awkward’s quite a lot :D

(NB that there’s a picture of Atreyu at the top of the post, which is so meaningful to me it’s almost up there with Luke Skywalker, Mary Poppins and dogs.)

So that would be one complete stranger posting about how my blog helped them start talking to their own monsters and not going into guilt spirals, followed by two other complete strangers saying that they are all like, breaking huge long-held assumptions down and changing things around in their way of thinking because of my blog! And somebody also linked to Havi, which I’m so happy about because Havi is literally the entire reason this website exists, and if you like my blog your mind will be BLOWN by hers, trust me.

I was also thrilled to find that this very interesting complete stranger had been inspired by, and adopted, the word gendersilly from my blog!

So obviously I’m all squeeing and feeling good about myself, and there is a serious point here as well. (Wait, no. I think squeeing and feeling good about oneself is a profoundly magical and mystical thing that literally makes the world a better place, so it’s VERY serious in the most light and joyful way!! Anyway.) The other point is that, dude. People’s lives. Changing. Because of things I said.

I’m sure everyone assumed this was obvious to me and I knew it was happening, and I did on some level, but I’ve just realised it more profoundly and in a new way because epiphanies are stoopid.

The takeaway (nom!) for anyone who has a blog that they’re trying to use to, I don’t know, say important things or shine light into the world or help others, and who maybe doesn’t get all that many comments on that blog, is…

You are doing much more good than you know.

It’s worth keeping going. (Not ‘you have to keep going otherwise it will be your fault that all that good isn’t getting done.’ That’s just depressing and icky.) It is worth keeping going because, oh, I’m going to quote Superman. You are much stronger than you think you are. All these ripples that you can’t see are spreading out from what you do. Complete strangers, invisibly to you, are happier, or more aware, or seeing new perspectives, or doing things differently right now because of what you do. And those complete strangers are interacting with other complete strangers, who are catching the goodness from them. Maybe walking away just a mite happier than they otherwise would have, maybe changing their whole worldview. Who knows? It’s happening… The world is changing because of you. Sparks of light are rippling out and out beyond what you can see, lighting little stars all over the world… It is SO worth doing what you do. Okay? Believe me. :D

I would like to note that the tags for this post are ‘love and monsters’, which is the title of a really good Doctor Who episode, but then I’d have to add a ‘geek’ tag and that would spoil it. Oh, wait.

Compulsions! They look like mogwai from Gremlins.

I’m trying to get over an internet addiction (yes, monsters, I am allowed to tell people that I have an internet addiction even though I also have difficulty replying to emails) and part of what I’m trying to do is not feed my compulsions. That is, not check the internet at the moment I get a compulsive urge to do it, because that teaches my brain that compulsions get rewarded so there should be lots of them.

So obviously, the concept of lots of proliferating things that one shouldn’t feed led me to characterise my compulsions as mogwai. You know, the fluffy little things that multiply if you get them wet and turn into gremlins if you feed them after midnight. (Actually, feeding my compulsions after midnight is a PARTICULAR problem for me.)

3 mogwai

Apparently these three are called Mohawk, George and Lenny, so that’s what we’ll call them.

I thought rather than just forcibly starve these little furballs, I’d better get their point of view and find out what they’re really trying to tell me.

(Compulsions roll into the room, squeaking, chattering and showing lots of sharp teeth.)

Compulsions: FEED US! FEED US! NOM NOM NOM!

Me: Hi, compulsions! Sounds like you’re really hungry for something.

Compulsions: EMAIL EMAIL (actually giving me a compulsion to check email)

Me: What needs does email meet for you?

Compulsions: EMAIL EMAIL EMAIL EMAIL

Me: (smiles) Okay, how does getting to check email feel for you? What kind of good things are you getting from it?

Mohawk: No uncertainty!

George: Relief!

Lenny: Knowing! CHECK EMAIL NOW BY THE WAY.

Me: I was expecting to hear something like ‘attention’ or ‘love’ or ‘validation’ -

Compulsions: ATTENTION ATTENTION

Me: Okay, so that’s a need that email meets for you too?

Mohawk: Yeah but – even if you check and there’s nothing, at least you KNOW you HAVEN’T got attention.

George: Otherwise SOMEBODY COULD BE PAYING YOU ATTENTION AND YOU WOULDN’T KNOW! AAARGH!!!

Lenny: CHECK EMAIL NOW

George: Worse! Somebody could NEED YOUR ATTENTION! AND! YOU! WOULDN’T! KNOW!

Compulsions: AAAAAAARGH!!!!! EEK EEK EEK!

Lenny: CHECK EMAIL NOOOOOWWWWW

Me: I’ll check email as soon as we’ve finished this talk, okay? Deal?

(All compulsions immediately clamp their hands over their mouths, ‘speak no evil’ style. Total silence.)

Me: I don’t mean just stop talking right now! I mean as soon as we’ve finished this talk. Do you get what it means to finish this talk?

Mohawk: To reach an agreement!

George: Yeah!

Lenny: For all of us to be happy!

George: Yeah!

Me: That works. (smiles) Are you willing to wait till that point for me to check email?

Compulsions: Eeeeerrrr….. Maybe?

Me: Okay, thank you. Let’s start talking and if it gets too difficult for you to wait, you can tell me.

Compulsions: IT’S TOO DIFFICULT FOR US TO WAIT!

Me: (laughing) Fine, I’ll check email and then we’ll finish the conversation, okay?

Compulsions: (jumping up and down) OKAY OKAY OKAY OKAY!

Me: (checks email) Nothing there but spam and people trying to write a punk Hamlet filk. Happy now?

Compulsions: (slightly unsure) Yeeeees….

Me: Any problems?

Mohawk: We are disappointed that there wasn’t email from that one person!

Me: I hear you. I get that you’re feeling disappointed. I’d just like to remind you that it’s not even 9am for her and she has a lot to think about right now, and that I know she loves me very much and I don’t need an email to prove it.

Lenny: CHECK EMAIL CHECK EMAIL. Look! You can see you’ve just received another email! CHECK IT CHECK IT!

Me: Okay, I’m not willing to do that right now because I’m feeling really concerned about how frustrated and anxious you seem and how you can’t rest for even a minute without needing me to check email.

George: We’re also disappointed that you didn’t get distracted. Then we could rest.

Me: Huh?

George: When you’re connected to the internet, it’s like uh – an umbilicus! Or a baby bottle. Being constantly fed. So we can rest.

Lenny: Nom nom nom nom nom nom nom… WANT NOMS!

Me: And what is it that you’re being constantly fed?

Mohawk: Internets!

Me: What does the internets contain?

Mohawk: Caffeine!

Me: (laughing) Okay, everyone knows the internet contains caffeine! What does that mean for you, does it energise you, keep you awake?

George: AAARGH, you got another email!

Lenny: CHECK IT CHECK IT!!

Me: Fine, I’ll check it… There, nothing important. So what’s this about caffeine?

Mohawk: A way to avoid sleep! Not just that, but a way to not need rest!

Me: Because while I’m surfing the internet, I’m in a state that’s sort-of-restful but not so embarrassingly obviously restful as, say, having a lie down?

George: Yeah!

Me: So I don’t need to deal with the fact that I need rest?

George: Yeah!

Me: Thing is, surfing the internet isn’t adequately meeting my rest needs. It’s like living on rice or porridge, you get to a point where you can stuff and stuff and stuff on it and you’re still constantly hungry because you’re not getting any vitamins or protein. Anyway, why are you protecting me from needing rest?

Compulsions: Uh….

Me: You don’t know?

Mohawk: Because you seem to get upset when you need rest. We don’t really know why.

Me: Actually, I’ve made a lot of progress in that area recently, and I’m going to be talking to my rest monsters some more today. I can handle this, I don’t need you to protect me from needing rest. Besides, constantly being online actually puts me in a state of constantly needing rest.

George: Oh no, we’re those kinds of monsters?

Me: Yeah, your protecting me from needing rest is leading to me needing a lot of rest.

Compulsions: SORRY SORRY SORRY!

Me: It’s okay! I get the feeling that there’s more to you than that, though. What else does the internet contain?

Lenny: Not having to think. Whatever you’re in pain about, you don’t have to think about it when you’re online.

Me: What if I’m in pain about being online?

Lenny: Make candybar dolls! [An online game.] That will even numb the pain of being in pain about being online!

Me: This is kind of like the drunkard in ‘The Little Prince’ who drank to forget that he was ashamed of drinking.

Lenny: Well, it’s a reasonable strategy.

Me: The thing is that a lot of my pain comes from not doing things, and a lot of my not-doing-things comes from being online. So your protecting me from being in pain is leading to a lot more pain.

Lenny: THAT’S WHY YOU HAVE TO BE ONLINE ALL THE TIME SO YOU CAN IGNORE IT!!!

Me: I can tell that you’re really concerned about this. The thing is that I’m not able to ignore it all the time. It still hurts. And if I get offline and face a little bit of pain in the short term, I can have a lot less pain in the long term.

Compulsions: WHAT IS THIS LONG TERM OF WHICH YOU SPEAK!

Me: It’s the short term tomorrow. It’s right now in five minutes. Or a week. Or a year.

Compulsions: DOES NOT COMPUTE… DOES NOT COMPUTE…

Lenny: YOU GOT ANOTHER EMAIL, CHECK IT!!

Me: (does so) Still just talking about Hamlet filks. I’m getting that you are not long-term creatures. You need a need to be met NOW, always.

Compulsions: YES YES YES!

Me: And right now it seems that the things you want for me are rest (of a kind that doesn’t upset me) and relief from pain. So maybe when I have a compulsion I could try meditating or praying.

Mohawk: BUT WHAT ABOUT THE ATTENTION! And the play! WHAT ABOUT THE PLAY!

Lenny: YOU GOT ANOTHER ONE CHECK IT CHECK IT

Me: Okay, I’m checking this one, but then let’s not check any more for five minutes so we can sort this out sooner. Okay?

Lenny: NO YOU HAVE TO CHECK ALL OF THEM OR WE’RE NOT TALKING.

Me: I’m feeling uncomfortable and frustrated about that because I need to know I have some sovereignty here.

Lenny:… Fine, five minutes.

Me: Thank you! So, attention and play?

Mohawk: Yes, internetting is a form of rest-play. It’s something you can do that’s not ‘because you should’.

Me: Right, so you also want me to experience play and freedom from shoulds. So when I get a compulsion I could also try goofing off in another way. Doodling on my whiteboard perhaps.

George: Oh, HOURS OF FUN. Why don’t you just play with a jack-in-the box? Open the box… shut the box. Open the box… shut the box. WHAT FUN!!!

Me: I’m hearing that you don’t find non-internetty things any fun!

George: I’ll admit that they could be fun, but where else can you find such infinite variety of input?

Me: In my own mind.

George: Okay, then do a proper creative project, but with permission to do it badly or not finish it. Or make stuff up in your head. Something you actually WANT to do, not some fake displacementy boring thing. Or read something or watch something.

Me: You’d be happy for me to do that? Because I’ve just realised that my internet addiction means I don’t have time to play properly! To do things I really WANT to do!

George: I’d be happy for you to do that sometimes, but not all the time because there’s still the attention thing.

Me: Thank you!! Okay, the attention thing. It seems like you’re really keen for my attention needs to be met, and for me to meet the attention needs of others.

Compulsions: YES YES YES YES YES YES YES

Lenny: BY THE WAY CHECK EMAIL

Me: Okay… I’m confused. You’re obviously genuinely very concerned about this attention thing, and yet I’m noticing that even with all this time online, I’m still way behind on replying to most of my emails. In fact, I could have replied to a lot more if I hadn’t been so busy compulsively surfing, checking, and re-reading existing emails. It seems like you really care about me checking, but not so much about me replying?

Compulsions: Uuuuhhhhh…

Lenny: CHECK THE FLOOP

Me: (does so) Oh, I got comments. That feels good because now I know that people care.

Mohawk: This is the point! To know that people care!

Me: Are you feeling worried that I don’t know I’m loved? That I need reminding?

Mohawk: WELL, CLEARLY.

Me: So if I can find other ways to remind myself that I’m loved, and to give myself love, will that help with the need to check?

Mohawk: Not really because there’s still OTHER PEOPLE’S attention needs and what if there’s a crisis? WHAT IF THERE’S A CRISIS? What if someone you love is crying and heartbroken because YOU WEREN’T THERE WHEN YOU WERE NEEDED?

George: You see, every second you’re not checking email, THAT COULD BE HAPPENING RIGHT NOW!

Lenny: Every second you’re not checking, YOU COULD BE MAKING SOMEONE CRY! EVERY SECOND!

Me: You all sound really freaked out and panicked.

Compulsions: YES YES YES YES YES!

Me: You all want a cuddle?

Compulsions: AAAAAAAAH (diving on me)

Me: (cuddling the compulsion pile) Okay, guys. It’s okay. This is from then. This is from a time when someone genuinely did want my attention every second. That is not happening now. None of the friends I have now would want me to be constantly tied to the internet looking after them, they want me to have my own life, even if that means they sometimes spend some time crying because I wasn’t online.

Mohawk: …For reals?!?!

Me: Yes, for reals!

Mohawk: BUT YOU WOULD STILL BE SO GUILTY! Even if they didn’t mind, YOU would mind!!

Me: Sounds like you’re desperate to protect me from guilt.

Compulsions: YES YES YES YES! And sadness! Sadness for other people’s pain!

Me: You really suffered back then, didn’t you? You don’t ever want to feel that bad again.

Compulsions: YES WE DID! NO WE DON’T!

Me: Would it help if I told you that things are very different now because I have more sovereignty, and I would never allow myself to get into that bad a guilt situation now? Because I know I’m not responsible for the happiness of others.

Compulsions: Huh?!

Me: Yeah, I always had a choice. I could have ALWAYS said, ‘Hey, it’s not okay to expect myself to give attention every second. I don’t need to feel guilty for not doing that.’ I could have ALWAYS said, ‘I’m not willing to give you attention every second, can we talk about other ways to meet your needs?’ It was always between me and me! It was my guilt about my relationship with me and I don’t have to have that guilt any more!

Compulsions: Whoa. Um… whoa.

(They huddle together and talk compulsion language for a few seconds.)

Mohawk: Okay. We’re willing to try to stop pushing you so hard to check email, but only if you’re willing to try to stop guilting yourself, because we feel awful when you do that.

Me: Wow, thank you! I’m definitely willing. And you can help.

Mohawk: How?

Me: When you feel like talking to me, talk to me. But instead of saying ‘CHECK EMAIL CHECK EMAIL’ tell me all the qualities you want for me, like – what’s the opposite of guilt?

Mohawk: Permission!

George: Sovereignty!

Lenny: A clear conscience!

Me: All good! And what are those other qualities you were talking about?

Mohawk: Rest!

George: Play!

Lenny: Comfort!

Mohawk: Freedom!

George: Attention!

Lenny: Love!

Me: All things I would love to be reminded to give myself. So are you up for that? When you feel like talking to me, are you willing to shout those qualities in my ear?

Compulsions: (bouncing up and down) YES YES YES YES!

Me: Thank you!

(group hug)

BY THE WAY, EVERYBODY – HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Sad Rage Basset

Sad Rage Basset is sad! And full of rage!

Basset Hound Zazzle card
Card Image from Zazzle

Recently I’ve been filled with rage at doing anything at all that wasn’t exactly what I felt like doing in that moment. This rage attached itself to my current obsession with The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. I just wanted to throw off all responsibility and run away to the stars, or failing that, get very drunk.

I DEFINITELY needed one or two members of my headcast to act as negotiators on this one. Mr. H is my go-to guy for dealing with fierce, angry monsters, and also the one who’s best at getting through to me when I’m in a horrible mood, for reasons I have yet to understand. So this happened.

Mr. H: So, we’re gonna talk to some rage. That’s cool (cracks knuckles) I’m good at talking to rage. Hiiiii, rage!

(A very large and dismal basset-hound-thing appears)

Sad Rage Basset: (slumps on ground) …Bleurgh. I’m not going to give you the satisfaction.

Mr. H: You’re huh?

Sad Rage Basset: You want me to come in here all huge and screaming so you can amusingly defy me. I’m not going to give you the satisfaction.

Mr. H: (smiles) That’s okay. This isn’t really about me getting to do my comedy turn. This is about finding out what makes you tick.

Sad Rage Basset: I don’t tick. I’m too angry to tick. I – what’s a much angrier noise than tick?

Mr. H: (mad eyes) GrrRRrrRrrrrr!

Sad Rage Basset: (disarmed, almost-laughter turning into almost-tears) Oh God everything sucks.

Mr. H: (sitting down next to Sad Rage Basset on the ground) Wanna tell me about it?

Sad Rage Basset: (plonks its head on his lap) Okay. But you won’t be able to fix it.

Mr. H: You know what’s funny? You sound a bit like Marvin. I mean, I was expecting a bit of Ford here. All the wanderlust and wanting to just get drunk and goof off with no responsibilities. But what I’m hearing sounds more like a depressed robot.

Sad Rage Basset: Depressed definitely. Robot, kind of what I’m fighting. I mean, not that I’m fighting robots -

Mr. H: That would be cool! I’d pay money to see a giant basset hound fight robots!

Sad Rage Basset: (rolls a bassety eye upwards at him) I mean that I’m fighting robotification. And I’m depressed because it seems like such a pointless fight.

Mr. H: So -  it seems it’s inevitable that Eve must become a robot?

Sad Rage Basset: Not LITERALLY! But, aargh!! It’s impossible for her to do just what she wants! I mean, it’s POSSIBLE, but at too much cost! I need this to be taken seriously!

Mr. H: I always take you guys seriously. It’s myself I don’t. (smiles)

Sad Rage Basset: …Not sure if serious.

Mr. H: …Are you trying to get me to -

Sad Rage Basset: I AM TRYING TO GET YOU TO REASSURE ME THAT YOU’LL TAKE THIS SERIOUSLY. Stop looking like that. WHY AM I STILL SEEING MISCHIEF IN YOUR EYES. (slumps again) Why do I get the feeling there’s an important point here that I’m not quite getting?

Mr. H: (pets basset ears) Everything is serious. Everything is a joke. Believe me, you’re talking to a man who’s learned this in some very… weird… ways.

Sad Rage Basset: …okay. I’ll tell you. Ugh, I still don’t wanna tell you. I’ll tell you. The problem is that Eve is stuck between a… rock and a hard place. She has all these wonderful things she wants to achieve, but they all involve forcing and doing things she doesn’t wanna do. Even basic survival involves some of that. Even beggars have to do that, you think they want to get up and beg every morning? There’s basically no hope. And I’m like Antigone, I continue to say No, No, No long after there’s no hope and no reason.

Mr. H: Wow, what a self-aware and literate monster.

Sad Rage Basset: (thumps tail weakly)

Mr. H: What was it Antigone said – ‘I don’t want to understand. That’s all right for you. I’m not here to understand, I’m here to say No and to die.’ Or something like that.

Sad Rage Basset: I’m here to say No and – oh.

Mr. H: What?

Sad Rage Basset: I refuse to let Eve be forced. I refuse to let her force herself. No matter what. I refuse, I refuse, I refuse. And the only way, really – the only way a human being can escape forcing is to get off the planet. That’s what all that wanderlust for the stars is about. It’s not about space adventures. It’s about death.

Mr. H: You want Eve to die?

Sad Rage Basset: Not really. It’s just that I refuse to let her be forced, even at the cost of her life.

Mr. H: Being forced is a fate worse than death?

Sad Rage Basset: Akin. It’s akin to death. If one is forced, one might as well be dead. At least, if one is being forced every day with no realistic hope of it ever ending, one might as well be dead.

Mr. H: Oh. Ouch.

Sad Rage Basset: I think you ought to know I’m feeling very depressed.

Mr. H: I can see why!

Sad Rage Basset: (sighs)

Mr. H: You said earlier, ‘It’s possible, but at too much cost’. What did you mean by that?

Sad Rage Basset: That was something a friend said to her the other day. That sure, you COULD just piss off on a permanent drunken hitch-hike round the world, if you were prepared to face the cost, but the cost would be tremendous. That you’d lose friends and such. But actually, now I think about it that’s not relevant. In order to survive, even in a life like that, you would have to sometimes force yourself to do things you didn’t wanna do. Perhaps especially in a life like that. So close to desperation, so close to the bone. But there’s a certain appeal in that for me because if she was doing it for raw survival maybe it wouldn’t be such a drag.

Mr. H: Okay, so what you really want for her is for nothing to be a drag?

Sad Rage Basset: YES! I want her NEVER TO DO ANYTHING THAT ISN’T PLAY! But I don’t see how that’s possible because UGH UGH UGH!

Mr. H: Even though you’re quoting a book that says that very thing is possible, you don’t see how it’s possible?

Sad Rage Basset: Yes, because there’s always some forcing! Even if there’s not outright forcing, there’s always gentle-suggesting-hinting-nudging UGH UGH UGH! There’s always an expectation that the person will see sense and do the sensible thing. There’s always an expectation that you have to talk to yourself nice and sensibly to work that out. Which is in itself probably something you have to force yourself to do. It’s like a freedom that is no freedom because OF COURSE YOU WILL DO THE SENSIBLE FUCKING THING! Just, where is the darkness? Where is the craziness? Where is the doing things for NO FUCKING REASON? Why couldn’t she have died when she was three? (tearing up) She was so beautiful and so happy. She never needed a reason – (head on paws) Oh, crap. I was being really, really serious and I just accidentally quoted ‘Step in Time’.

Mr. H: (soft voice) Everything is serious. Everything is a joke. It’s okay.

Sad Rage Basset: I’ve never heard you be like this before.

Mr. H: It’s never come up before. Everything is serious, everything is a joke. I promise you. Even if you can’t understand it right now. I don’t even really understand it myself, I just know it in my bones by now. (Sad Rage Basset looks uneasy) Are you… Are you afraid of that? Are you needing seriousness to be over here and jokes to be over there?

Sad Rage Basset: I don’t know. Got a wall. (pause) I just need her to not be patronised! I don’t need stupid fake permission that’s just giving her the space to hang herself! I need her to have ACTUAL PERMISSION! And that includes permission to do the stupid, wrong, destructive thing! So yeah – I guess I need there to be right things and wrong things, you know – Batman and Joker things, right-sensible-grim-forcey-willpower things and wrong-mad-chaotic-Dionysiac-ecstasy things… because doing those wrong things is the only way Eve can have a moment of freedom. And if she doesn’t know it’s wrong, how does she know she’s free?

Mr. H: (long pause) Oh. I see. She needs to give herself actual permission to do absolutely anything. Because right now, she’s dividing stuff into ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ things and only giving herself actual, sincere permission to do the ‘right’ things. And then needing to do the ‘wrong’ things because she doesn’t have permission to.

Sad Rage Basset: Yeah, but I don’t see how that can change because she’s a loving person and has moral standards and she’s never going to think murder is as permissible as patting a dog.

Mr. H: It’s not that it’s not permissible. It’s that she doesn’t want to do it.

Sad Rage Basset: So wait, the feeling of ‘wrong’ is actually a feeling of ‘don’t wanna’? But I’ve somehow twisted it to where she does wanna​? This is challenging my brain.

Mr. H: I think you’ve read her natural reluctance to do un-loving things as being the same as some bossy parent or teacher telling her what to do. It’s totally different. But I still feel like there’s a piece of this puzzle we’re both missing. Hmmm. This is a very intellectual one! Maybe we need backup. Big Sister?

Big Sister: Oh, thanks for the compliment to my intellect! (to Sad Rage Basset) Hi. Okay, the backup is going to back up a step. You don’t think she can give herself permission to do the ‘wrong’ things because she is a loving person? So because she’s loving, she can’t give herself permission to do anything that’s not loving?

Sad Rage Basset: I guess everyone does things that aren’t loving sometimes, unless they’re Jesus.

Big Sister: Right. And if she gave herself permission to do those things, how would she be treating herself?

Sad Rage Basset: With… love. So wait, love really is the Hound of Heaven and you really can’t get away from it whichEVER way you twist it? (crying)

Big Sister: Mmm-hmm.

Sad Rage Basset: No, I can’t accept that! You can’t say that murder is okay because the murderer is being loving to themselves!

Big Sister: Murder is a huge tragedy. And even at the roots of murder is love. Even at the roots of hate is love. Somewhere in there is a scared child trying to protect itself. We run away from love so hard, and there literally is nowhere else to run.

Sad Rage Basset: (howls)

Big Sister: What you have is a choice to make love conscious. You know you said, ‘The feeling of ‘wrong’ is a feeling of don’t wanna, but I’ve somehow twisted that to where she does wanna?’

Sad Rage Basset: Yeah.

Big Sister: You need her to have absolute freedom, you believe having absolute freedom would be wrong, therefore you believe she can only have freedom by doing wrong. Therefore you label certain things as wrong – often things the love in her recoils from – and try to make her want to do them. You take the things she would least want to do and call them freedom.

Sad Rage Basset: No!!

Big Sister: It’s okay. The great thing is that like I said, it’s all love. She’s all love. You just need to give her a chance to make it conscious. And freedom is essential for that. If you want to talk right and wrong, absolute freedom is right.

Sad Rage Basset: Really?

Big Sister: Absolutely. (to Mr. H) Back me up here?

Mr. H: Yeah, I agree. And it’s great that you’re trying to help her find freedom. Just you’re doing it by setting up categories of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ things – in other words, things for which there is permission and things for which there isn’t. In other words, your attempt to give her permission -

Sad Rage Basset: – is taking permission away! Crap, I’m one of those monsters?

Mr. H: Yeah, I’m sorry. You’ve set up all these things as ‘forbidden temptations’ so she can taste freedom by giving in to them. And they’re actually not what she wants. She wants a way more positive life than that. And she’s trying to go after the things she really wants with these ‘forbidden temptations’ dragging on her heels, making it hard, and the result is -

Sad Rage Basset: – forcing! NOOOOOOOOO! (howls)

Mr. H: I’m sorry. (pets) I’m sorry, pup. It’s okay. You can change this.

Sad Rage Basset: How? Isn’t it TOO STUPID LATE?

Mr. H: Never. (smiles) You’ve read your NVC book, haven’t you? Knock off the ‘right’ and ‘wrong’. Remind her that those words are static generalisations and reality is complex and always changing. And remind her that she’s not only free when she’s getting drunk and goofing off, she’s free when she’s helping someone, she’s free when she’s creating stuff, she’s free when she’s doing her taxes, she’s just – free. Always. She just forgets that sometimes and needs reminding. You can be the one to remind her. You can be the Basset of Freedom.

Sad Rage Basset: Mmmwhrrrr? (ears perk up)

Mr. H: You think you can fly with those ears?

(The Sad Rage Basset, who must now be called the Basset of Freedom, stands up, shakes its enormous ears, goes into a lumbering run, and takes off, flolloping through the air like a canine Dumbo.)

Basset of Freedom: I’m a serious joke! I’m a profound truth with ludicrous ears!

Mr. H: (laughing) Yeah! Now you get it!

Basset of Freedom: You mean, now I get myself!

Mr. H: Yeah!!

Basset of Freedom: I say, NEVER DO ANYTHING THAT ISN’T PLAY! It’s easy – just notice that you’re free! And if you think the idea of you being free is ridiculous – LOOK AT ME! Bassets might fly! And they do! Wheeeeee….

(Mr. H wipes a surreptitious tear. I feel the need to run onto the scene.)

Me: Thank you so much! All three of you! Hugpile!

(There is a hugpile.)

Things I realised afterwards!

As well as the dichotomy between ‘right things’ (that I don’t wanna do) and ‘wrong things’, there was this huge dichotomy going on between ‘serious things’ and ‘jokes’, which baffled me at the time because it was clearly deep and meaningful and connected but – how?

Afterwards it hit me. The opposite of seriousness is fun. So what we had was a dichotomy between ‘serious things’ (that I don’t wanna do) and ‘fun things’. And it somehow got completely dissolved without ever being directly discussed. And the flying basset is a living picture of serious-fun. The job’s a game.

Also, this is the SECOND monster who’s brought up a quote from the play ‘Antigone’ by Jean Anouilh! See also Big No and Big Yes.

Bill’s Loneliness Monster

Bill (not his real name) suggested I post this little talk with his Loneliness Monster, who turned out to be more of a sad scared self. (Please note that I will NEVER blog your monsters unless YOU suggest it!)

Again, this one pretty much monstertalked himself… (I promise my job isn’t always this easy!)

Loneliness: lonelylonely lonely

me: oh, love

I know, it’s so hard

so much love to you

Loneliness: I don’t want love, I can’t trust it

me: okay, of course I’m not going to send you love if you feel uncomfortable with it

can you tell me why you can’t trust it?

Loneliness: because it goes away

me: oh :/ oh, I see

Loneliness: (note from Bill, this must be a big thing , I keep coming up with all sorts of other things to talk about and think about)

me: :(

so have you had love go away in the past?

Loneliness: I really don’t like it when people pay attention to me

I’d much rather distract you both

me: I get it

Loneliness: wow, Bill is deducing things

I think he’s actually right

what I’m calling love, isn’t love, it’s actually attention, being in focus

me: ohh, I see

Loneliness: more specifically, being held in positive focus

me: and why do you feel uncomfortable with that?

Loneliness: because it’s transient, and then I miss it when it’s gone

because I feel unloved

me: oh, that’s totally legitimate, I can see that that must be really painful

Loneliness: yes, it is but it’s pain that comes from cross wiring

me: what do you mean?

Loneliness: well, it’s not really that they don’t love me

it’s just that they’re not focusing on me in a positive way at that moment

me: no, it’s not :) they just happen to – exactly

Loneliness: of course, it may be that they never did love me

and I’m sure in some cases that that’s true

but not all of them, and probably not most of the ones that are important

me: absolutely :)

Loneliness: okay, you can love me now

me: hooray! lots of love coming over :)

I hope you got that ;)

Loneliness: wow, that feels quite different

me: does it? :)

Loneliness: yes, much softer, but it was much deeper

IS much deeper than what I experienced before when what I was paying attention to was attention

me: ohhh – that makes sense

so when you stop paying attention to the attention, you’re able to – love the love?

Loneliness: yes

me: wonderful :)

Loneliness: and this explains a lot for Bill

about why he’s always feeling like he wants someone to talk to

me: because he’s been mistaking attention for love

Loneliness: yes

not mistaking, at least not at a conscious level

but at my level deep inside, yes

me: I understand the difference

Loneliness: we are also noticing that even though this conversation feels easy, and I was able to understand what’s been happening without the use of a sledgehammer

it’s still very significant, and important

me: I agree, it really is

Loneliness: this pattern underlies so much

me: like what?

Loneliness: and we can feel the giant shift

me: wonderful

Loneliness: what mostly Bill being uncomfortable with being alone

me: *nods

Loneliness: and feeling like he needs attention from the people around him

me: which is a hard situation for an HSP who actually needs downtime

Loneliness: yes

although we’re still not quite sure how that fits in

me: well, socialising can lead to HSP overwhelm, and it sucks if it’s a choice between overwhelm and loneliness (may be projecting a bit here, I think I have one like you too, so this is helpful for me as well!)

Loneliness: no, I don’t think you are projecting

me:

Loneliness: or, maybe you are, but you’re also right

LOL

me: :D good to know!!

Loneliness: thank you

me: you’re welcome!

Loneliness: I think I’m going to go play now

I believe we’ve done what we needed to with me

me: have a wonderful time, it’s been great talking to you :)

and I believe you’re right!