When I was a small child, bedtime every night was actually a ‘BADtime’. This was primarily because I knew about the horrible monsters lurking under my bed. I’d never actually seen any of them but I knew what they looked like (from my storybooks and nightmares).
I would lie as still as possible (in the center of my bed) so they couldn’t reach me. As long as I stayed away from the edges, I felt a little safer but I was still afraid to sleep. If I drifted off, I might accidentally roll closer to the danger zone! Then the goblins would reach up and grab my unsuspecting arms or legs as they dangled off; pulling me under!
Because of this very real danger, my mother gave me a security poem. I was instructed to recite it three times each night (until I was sure they were gone). It went:
“Evil monsters under my bed, leave me alone or I’ll hit you in the head! Go on back to where you belong… I’m telling you now…..with cloven hoof, begone!”
After repeating it the requisite number of times, I knew it was safe to go to sleep….But I still slept in the center of the mattress… (just in case they had freakishly-long, hairy claws).
Several years passed without me being gobbled up by the evil things under the bed. Soon my adolescent and teenage years drew near. Life became more complex. No longer was I afraid of monsters in storybooks or the imaginary ghouls who had stalked me in fitful nightmares. I realized that those things were childish. I was all grown-up and wasn’t afraid of child-eating goblins any more.
Unfortunately I still wasn’t without fear; I just had new things to worry about. The childhood phobias of monsters under the bed were replaced with vicious horror movie villains. To rid myself of the various ‘killer in my closet’, I amended and repurposed my old security poem. With those careful edits, it could protect me from the endless supply of movie psychopaths.
“Maniac killer with ax in hand, leave me alone or you’re a dead man! Go on back to where you belong… I’m telling you now…..with cloven hoof begone!”
I never did see them leave but I knew they had. After all, I had repeated the security mantra three times.
Finally I left my trivial childhood fears from the past behind and made the rocky transition to manhood. Life was difficult; as it often can be for people. Sometimes fate has a way of dealing a cruel hand of cards. There were periods when I couldn’t cope with the worries that plagued me. A series of insignificant maladies came my way at the same time, and I was near the ‘end of my rope’.
Each hurdle was small and surmountable (on its own) but the amalgam of all the ‘mole hills’ together made for an unscalable ‘mountain’. I began to think I couldn’t take much more when I realized I was muttering something under my breath. Even though I couldn’t retrieve all the words, I knew it was my old security poem. I realized it was time to revise it again.
Now, any time that my problems are too much to handle, I just repeat it over in my mind until I feel better. It goes:
“Destructive problems cause distress and dismay, Leave me alone…. you have no say! Go on back to where you belong… I’m telling you now…..with cloven hoof begone!”
It may be silly to some but it always makes me feel better. You never really outgrow the need for security.