I’ve written and drawn a lot about the little girls and other characters who live in my head and form parts of my fragmented identity, some examples are listed below:
- The Littlest Parts are the Bravest
- All She Wants is to Be Free
- Listen to Them, They Mean You No Harm
- Separation Brought her Forth
- The Tiniest Russian Doll
- The Selves Shelves
- Why I’m So Tired
- Pieces of Me
- The World and We
- The House of My Self
- The Mysterious Evolution of the Self
But one aspect I’ve not touched on anywhere near as much is the monsters. There are quite a few of them, and they appeared minimally in a surprising number of drawings given that I wasn’t really aware until recently that they existed! Though I’m not sure I have written about them before,except perhaps in poetry, here are the few I have drawn:
- Listen to Them, They Mean You No Harm (This one shows what I call a “protector monster” shielding the little ones).
- It’s Not You, It’s Me Really
- Full of Sound and Fury
- Who Is He?
- These Voices
- There was a Little Girl (this one shows how the flip side of some of the younger characters in particular can “turn into” monsters when they feel scared or threatened)
- Death of an Innocent
- She Lives in the Dark
- These Forces
- Speak to Me
- You Won’t Want to Be There When She Blows
- Taming the Beast Within
- Mostly I’m Not and Mostly I’m Not Part 2
- Night Terrors
- Everything Feels Worse in the Dark
- The Monster Within
What is interesting to me about these is how you can actually see the progression over time of how the way I saw the “monsters” initially as my “bad” self, and then later as separate entities (the links above are in reverse chronological order with the newest at the top). In fact, when I started this post, I wrote that I had hardly drawn the monsters at all, but now, looking at the list, I realise they have held a very prevalent place throughout my journey!
The Monsters are harder to write about than the little ones because they scare me, I struggle to understand or control them and because often, especially in the past, their existence was masked by a core belief that I am now beginning to challenge; that I am a “monster” myself and so the monsters just felt like “me”.
Each of the characters/personalities/alters (whatever you want to call them) has the potential to turn into a monster and behave like one when scared, these are what I call “protector monsters”. But there are other monsters too. Ones that live in the cracks between my brain cells, in the darkness that I sink into when no-one is around. In the void of nothingness I wake up in each morning and in each act of self-loathing, self-destructive behaviour.
It’s not always easy to tell the difference at first, but the “protector monsters” tend to respond to soothing and listening. The real monsters do not (or not yet). They are the reasons for some of my negative self-beliefs, and they whisper to me from the darkness where no-one else can see or hear them. They tell me bad things and give me bad thoughts.
I have only just started to work with the monsters, and very slowly because they are difficult to reach and I can’t quite make out their purpose, unlike the little ones, their outrageous behaviour does not seem to be motivated by a desire to “protect” me (however misguided). But now that I am looking at them, and thinking about them, perhaps I will start to understand and conquer/placate them. Figure out what they want and need and why they behave the way they do.
This is one of the monsters. A very scary one. The little ones are very afraid of him.
His name is Promise.
Art Journal Sketch Series, Watercolour Pencil on Paper. Copyright Katy Matilda Neo, 2017.