It's a wonder I slept at all when I was very young. My very first nightmare (that I remember) was when I was about 4 years old. I dreamed that I was dead, and that all around me was cold "nothingness." And what made it horrifyingly worse, was the sudden realization that I, too, had disappeared into that "nothingness."
It seemed that I had nightmares every time I closed my eyes.
So I developed a routine before sleeping - of carefully and deliberately investing every single thing in my room with a common purpose - to protect me.
The door to my bedroom was tasked with keeping all the monsters out.
If somehow the monsters got through the door, the floor of my room was to buckle and sway and trip them.
If the monsters managed to cross the floor, my bed was to lift itself into the air, carrying me safely out of reach.
If the monsters reached my bed, the hundreds of stuffed animals on my bed were to come alive and fight with great ferocity.
If the stuffed animals were defeated, my blankets were to harden to steel and deflect monster claws and teeth.
I'd have to go to bed at least a good half hour before my bedtime so I'd have time to remind all the objects in my room of their defensive responsibilities.
But none of this worked.
Until one day, when I was about 9 or 10 years old, when everything changed.
As per my norm, I had dutifully discussed job requirements with everything in my room and slid into bed carefully so as not to disturb my stuffed animals which I had arranged for maximum defensive effectiveness.
And then, as I waited for the sleep to come, bringing with it the monsters, I suddenly had a thought. A perfect and powerful thought.
So I told everything in my room that they were off the hook, that their services were no longer necessary. They could be just a door, or a floor, or a blanket. Timothy, my stuffed white bear, was particularly relieved. He was a lover, not a fighter.
Because this was my thought: Monsters at the door, come in if you like, come in if you dare. But be warned. I am the scariest monster of all.
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