The Monsters Under My Bed

I never believed in monsters.

I never thought anything was under my bed. I didn’t lay awake in fear after seeing horror movies and I don’t think I ever saw any “scary” light patterns.

I don’t think I know anyone that believes in monsters, but I guess people don’t talk about their fears. I’m pretty sure most people do not know the two biggest fears that kept me awake at night as a child.

I used to a have a little hole in my bedroom ceiling, right by the wall behind my bed. Now, I think it probably used to be a hole for a telephone wire or a TV cable. But when I was young, I always looked at it wondering why it was there, and how it got there. And I could not sleep because I knew that when I did, spiders were going to come out of that hole and crawl all over me. The house did have spiders, and I got bitten occasionally, but I imagined worse—swarms of them, just crawling all over me. Oddly, I wasn’t actually afraid of spiders and I’ve always liked to keep them alive because they eat mosquitoes and flies (and because I had this book called Be Nice to Spiders). But I did not want them crawling all over me when I wasn’t conscious of what was going on around me.

My other fear is really odd and I still kind of have it. I cannot pay attention to my breathing. If I start to pay attention to it—in/out, certain number of counts for each, etc—I feel like I cannot stop. It feels like if I stop, I will also stop breathing. The anxiety about this is particularly bad if I am trying to fall asleep. My mind will not stop worrying about it, will not let me stop paying attention to it. Now, I occasionally pay attention to my breathing on purpose during the day. In fact, focusing on it helps me keep running when I’m on a treadmill, but I still have to avoid accidentally noticing it when I try to fall asleep. The anxiety will actually keep me awake.

As I grew up, my fears were pretty much the same ones I think everybody had. I was self-conscious about being accepted. I had many instances of wondering if some of my friends were really my friends, and I often worried about what I was going to do with my life (because I’ve always lacked visions of a “dream job” or any sort of long-term goal).

This year, I made a big move that probably should have caused me to feel more fear: I moved to Miami.

The job was a perfect fit for me and everything fell into place, like it always seems to. My company paid to move me. The job is very similar to my old one so I’m actually my boss’s most senior employee. I still get to travel to other countries. Someone actually bought my crappy house back in Peoria, Illinois, and now I live four blocks from the ocean. I miss my friends and family back home, but I’ll be visiting soon and I feel very sure I’ll stay connected to everyone, even though I live so far away now.

My new personal/social life is also falling into place. I have a few close friends to hang out with and a new boyfriend that I’m actually hopeful and optimistic about. We’re even talking about buying a house together and bringing down my (still unadopted) dogs to live with us.

But even when everything is going well, I don’t think it’s possible to completely escape the monsters under my bed.

My mind never gives up on all the worries: What am I going to do next with my career? Why do I still not have a long-term “dream job”? Is this amazing new relationship just a dream? Can it really stay like this permanently? Am I ever going to break my multitude of bad habits and become a healthy person?

And on and on it goes.

I guess I just have to accept the worries and filter them against what’s real. Maybe some of them are even helpful because they work to propel me into action. For now, I guess I just keep going…

No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher.