The Experience of Monsters

My friend Sonnie had the coolest house ever, because it was up in the bush with 100 acres (like Winnie the Pooh) to roam around in, and wallabies and possums (cute Australian ones, not those scary-looking American ones), and her Mum cooked the best mashed potatoes and her Dad’d light the fire and the whole house would feel toasty and cozy, AND she had an electric blanket, even on her spare bed, so I’d leave it on full the entire night even though I ended up kicking off all the blankets because I was too hot to sleep.

I loved Sonnie. She was like, my best friend, or one of them, anyway.*

I loved staying at Sonnie’s house, but I got nervous every time, because of the monsters, and I really couldn’t do anything about them either.

There were five of them. Hairy, running thing, with teeth. In the house. With me. I tried not to act too frightened around them because I knew they fed on fear, but I made sure I kept close to Sonnie, and didn’t let my guard down, and especially, didn’t run.

I still loved going there. And it helped that Sonnie didn’t at all think of those monsters as Hairy Running Things with Teeth. She just called them “the dogs”, and she patted them and ran with them and kicked them out of her way when they tried to nuzzle up to her bottom and said “garn” in affectionate tones (“Garn” is Australian for “please leave me alone”). Sonnie eyed my fright with care, but with complete lack of understanding. And that, in itself, helped.

Sometimes, but not that often, Sonnie came to stay at my place. I didn’t have a spare bed so she had to sleep on a mattress on the floor, and I didn’t have a wood fire or an electric blanket. And…she was scared of my cats!

What’s with that? Who is scared of cats? They’re cute and fluffy and purry and warm and snuggle in your lap, and…and Sonnie thought of them as Jumping Things with Claws.

Sure cats jump, and sure, they scratch too. I’ve had cats all my life and I’ve been scratched – and bitten – more times than I can count. That’s okay, it’s not terrible or anything. It’s not like dogs can do.

Oh. I should tell you here…I’ve never actually been bitten by a dog. Once, though, when I was five, a black snarly dog ran at me, and he ran so close he nearly got me and I only got inside my house and the screen door shut by barely a whisker. And another time when my Mum was walking with me and my friend-from-up-the-road in the dark suddenly my friend screamed, and when my Mum asked her what was wrong she said a Dog had bitten her. There was Blood. I saw. Dogs are Dangerous.

Now here’s a thing, an important thing that I’m learning right now: Sonnie and I live in exactly the same world, and the dogs in my world are exactly the same as the ones in hers. Experience colours our perception, especially early-childhood chased-by-snarly-dog experiences. Or people coming to school with cat-scratches on their arm experiences.

It Doesn’t. Mean. We’re. Right.

Get what I’m saying? It’s kind of big.

I’m realizing I’ve CHOSEN to believe certain things, and, to make things worse, I’ve chosen to remember and focus on the things that agree with that decision (remembering the bad dogs), and ignored the evidence that doesn’t agree (all the friendly dogs who never once bark at me).

Are there things that hold YOU back in life? I know what they are for me (one is talking to people). Maybe it’s time for a mental spring-clean.

Care to join me?

*she still is one of my best friends. Except she’s not on Facebook and doesn’t read blogs so she has no idea I’m talking about her. Hi Sonnie! *waves* And she still has dogs…but these ones are nice 🙂

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