Thursday, 4 August 2016

The Anatomy of a Monster

Greetings friends,

Today I wanted to take a moment to share with you a little bit about my past, who I am, and something that very much helped shape me in being the person I am today.

Now the reason for this post is that I have just finished listening to the audiobook of Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay on Audible.

This is actually my second time around with this book, the first time bring reading it in paperback.

It occurred to me that this book and the TV show adaptation, holds a very special place in my heart, and sharing this with you, the reader, would be a good thing.

I remember as a child, adolescent, and young adult, people often asked me who I found inspirational. Who was my hero. I always answered the same way:
No one. I don't have a hero.
The reason for this was quite simple. I never read, saw, or met anyone who I felt I could properly relate to. Therefore I was unable to find their struggle particularly inspiring.

Then, around the late noughties (say; 2009) I saw the first series of the tv show Dexter, and shortly afterwards read the book.

Within the confines of these 60 minute shows, and pages of a paperback, I found a character who I found inspiring.

I am of course referring to the lead character, Dexter Morgan.

Now, to those in the know, this might seem a little strange. The lead character is a serial killer. A learned psychopath, who goes around killing people. Bad people, yes, but killing people none the less. And of course this is something that civilised society very much frowns on.

So why would I find his character such an inspiration?

Could it be that your Friendly Neighbourhood , Doctor Loxley is also a back alley slasher?

Of course not!

But in this character I saw a little bit of myself. Something that I had never seen or read before.

You see, the reason the lead character does what he does, is down to him trying to satiate the driving force of something inside him. Another side to his personality that he calls The Dark Passenger.

This was something I could relate to very well.

For a very long time, I always knew that there was a part of me which was what society would consider a-typical. As a small child I could not relate to other children. I found it amusing to see them in pain, and when they cried, I was indifferent. It didn't mean anything to me.

For years I used to believe that Empathy was something that didn't exist. I heard people talking about it, and I thought it was all a cosmic joke. That no one felt it, because after all, if I didn't feel it, why would anyone else?

This was my dark passenger, or as I came to see it, my Monster.

It wasn't until my later teens that I began to learn how to fake it. To observe how people acted, to learn what those actions and reactions meant, and to say and do what was considered the 'right' thing in response.

It's why I learned quite soon afterwards that I had a bit of a gift as a therapist. The words coming out of people's mouths were often different, but the inclination, the body language, the tones were often similar, and therefore I was able to access my back catalogue of learned responses and reactions to try and help them.

My motivations were almost always selfish. After all, if I could help people, then they would want me around, and in turn my need to not feel alone would be filled. My Monster became a tools could use to feel better about myself.

Others saw this as altruistic. They thought I was helping them for their sake, so that they would feel better. To my knowledge, very few, if any, knew that my motives were purely selfish, and that they feeling better was just a byproduct of feeding my Monster.

Time went on, and I grew more as a person. I met my wife to be, and found that I was able to genuinely care for another person. Yes the list was now only two. But that is still double what it was.

But I was still very much unhappy with my monster.

I felt that it held me back. It reminded me almost daily that I was not like other people. That certain things they seemed to understand and grasp almost intuitively, seemed completely alien to me. Like someone from another country speaking their foreign language. I acknowledged the words were there, but they didn't mean anything to me.

Then I saw this show, and read this book.

Here was a character who had their own monster. One that they felt the world would be repulsed by if they saw it, so they hid it away. Resigned it to the deepest recesses of their lizard brain, while taking it out to feed when necessarily.

This character, this man, was in a situation I felt relatable.

What more. He didn't seem unhappy by it, or ashamed. He had come to terms with his monster, and had accepted it for what it was.

For someone like me, that was inspirational.


Of course, time went on, the TV show reached it's conclusion, and I saw the truth of the situation. While the end of the show seemed out of character, it was written, so it was.

The character I saw as an inspiration was a lie. He claimed one thing, to hold certain values as ultimately important, and necessary to be followed, but the moment he was forced to take responsibility for his actions, to actually openly accept his monster, he couldn't.

In that moment, I saw that I had outgrown this character. That the inspiration he had given me had dwindled and left. That I had become more than he was.

I had learned a lot of things in the years of watching and reading.

Namely that I was not alone. That we all have monsters, they just take different forms. That our monsters do not need to be our weaknesses, but can be our strengths.

I didn't need to be ashamed of my monster, and those around me, an immediate family of three now (including me), and even some people outside my family, namely a couple of very select friends, did not only accept the public me, but also the real me. Monster and all.

That those who did recoil at the idea of my monster, were not scared of my monster. They were scared of their own.


So now, if someone was to ask me who I found inspirational, who was my hero. My answer would once again be:
No one. I don't have a hero.
And you know what? I'm ok with that.

- Your friendly neighbourhood Doctor Loxley

No comments:

Post a Comment