All of my demons, they are kept within

I’ve been thinking a lot about demons and the many forms they can take and the functions they serve.  It was reading Survivors’ Club that did it.

I’ve always been fascinated by the occult; one of my favourite books is a battered boot sale copy of The Black Arts by Richard Cavendish that covers the history of witchcraft, alchemy, astrology and of course demons.

A brief detour through a Phantom Tollbooth to Silent Hill

In reading it many years later I realised how much research the developers of Silent Hill had done and how many occult references they managed to sneak past a censor wary of even the word ‘devil’.

What makes the Silent Hill game series so interesting to me (and what the awful films spectacularly misunderstand) is that the demonic enemies are not random or generic zombies. Their design and function are reflective of the psychology and actions of the unlucky souls trapped in that cursed town. They are the murderous manifestations of the guilt, rage and repressed emotions of the characters.

trivium

The point of this little detour is that it illustrates how we can make (metaphorical rather than murderous) demons to represent our own worst impulses, flaws and failures.  This could range from the relatively minor demon of procrastination The Terrible Trivium (The Phantom Tollbooth) to the terrifying guilt, atonement and punishment personified of Pyramid Head from the Silent Hill series.

Pyramid_Head

As in Fairy Tales there is dual purpose to making these flaws, sins and traits into monsters.  They show that monsters are real and we have the potential to become one should we stray by giving into our weaknesses and impluses.

More importantly:

Fairy tales are more than true_ Not because they tell us dragons exist, but because they tell us dragons can be beaten

“The devil made me do it”

If we give our demons shape than it becomes a matter of choice.  We can surrender ourselves to them (willingly or otherwise) and in doing so abdicate responsibility.

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We can choose to fight against our demons with the language of war and battle and seek to defeat that part of ourselves that brings us shame or scares us.

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There is another option.  We can choose to accept our demons as part of who we are, not succumbing to them but taming them through acceptance or directing their energies to more positive uses.

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These are the choices I have battled daily as by turns I have made demons of my own guilt, rage and anxieties.  On a good day I can tame the worst of their excesses and channel the rest into something cathartic or productive.

On the bad days it’s so much harder to resist the insidious persuasions as they systematically demolish my carefully constructed defences and turn bricks into straw.

Nightmares at three…

These battles and appeasements become all the more important as I watch my cubs’ imaginations develop with all the wonderful and terrifying possibilities that it brings.

Where there are dreams there are nightmares.  We can’t have light without shadow.  Where there are princesses there are also dragons…

With time they will be able to articulate their fears and tell me of their own monsters.  Maybe they’ll have their own haunted room or a panicked escape down a spiral staircase pursued by an unknown but relentless malevolent presence.

Untitled design

In a way the nightmares are the easiest part.  The best thing about demons and monsters is that for such fantastically powerful supernatural beings they are curiously beholden to rituals and rules.  When I was a very small boy I learned the powerful mantra “it’s only a dream / it’s not what it seems” from that great occult for beginners show ‘The Real Ghostbusters’.

The same show taught the basics of lucid dreaming and that the first step of changing a dream is realising that it is a dream.  It sounds trite but it worked.  Make the monster ridiculous, plunge it into a pit or open a door in the wall and escape somewhere more pleasant!

If that fails then turn those monsters and fears into pictures or stories of their own so they can change them in the waking hours.

As they grow older though their fears and demons will change. Pirates, spiders and witches may be replaced by more abstract fears of failure, ridicule or loneliness.

There are a lot of ways I don’t want my children to grow up like me.  If I don’t take steps to tackle my demons I risk passing them on to the cubs.  With all the best intentions in the world I can’t prevent them from having their own personal demons but if I can guide them so that they can find their own way to handle them both on good days and bad I may sleep a little easier.  Maybe with one eye open.  Just in case…

What are your demons?  How do you handle them? 

What were your childhood nightmares and how did you overcome them? 

How have you handled you child’s nightmares?

The Pramshed
Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday
Reflections From Me
This Mum's Life
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16 Comments Add yours

  1. laughing mum says:

    moving post! Our kids will have to face their own demons at some point, after all our own parents tried to protect us as best they could and yet we still have ours, so its inevitable they will unfortunately have demons of some sort to tackle at some point in their lives. You’re right though, tackling our demons IS the first step in maybe at least giving them the correct tools to tackle their own when the time comes. #fortheloveofblog

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow! My demons is procrastination, and I see it in my boy. He would prolong his reading homework making excuses to do something else – like doing number 2 on the toilet for at least half an hour long! ; I want to finish watching TV first mummy; I want to read it after dinner mummy ; I’m too tired mummy; I am thirsty mummy… the list just go on and on. I really don’t know how to overcome that except to set an example for him to see. So it starts from me. I have to overcome my demon first. #KCACOLS

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks I will check it out. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I have learned to accept my demons as well! it took a long time but I feel that to accept one’s demons can lead us to true liberation in that now that we accept them, we can then beat them but to keep denying their existence is only giving them more power when they rise to the surface unexpectedly. At least, that has been my experience with my demons. I use to deny their existence but we all have our good side and our dark side. It’s part of who we are as human beings. I find the occult fascinating for this reason because it often deals with this constant struggle we have withing ourselves. Love this post! #mg

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ShoeboxofM says:

      Thanks for your comment and sharing your experience.

      I’m glad you enjoyed the post. I wasn’t sure how it was going to land given the strangeness of the subject matter!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. ljdove23 says:

    Such a moving post, although I never expect anything less. I have many demons, probably too many to even list, but I think the important part is identifying your demons and facing them head on. #bigpinklink

    Liked by 1 person

  5. mackenzieglanville says:

    First of all those kids are amazing! How talented!!! Secondly, awesome post and got me thinking. I always had nightmares, so many as a child, usually a repetitive one. They gradually went away, but after a very awful experience at age 19 I went back to having them for years, and if I drank too much alcohol I would hallucinate about what happened to me. After I went into counselling they faded and now I mostly have just weird dreams, luckily my children don’t suffer nightmares. But yes demons I know them well. I have come along way in the past 2 years. I was at a point where my demons were not wanting to stay hidden, so I started blogging and gosh it has helped in so many ways to heal me. Thanks for linking! #mg

    Liked by 1 person

  6. The Pramshed says:

    I think that we all have our inner demons that we need to deal with, and your post sums this up perfectly. Mine would be that I feel so guilty that I’m not spending enough time with my husband, or dedicating too much time to my blog and not enough to my daughter. I’ve started to learn to handle this better, by not spending as much time blogging in the evening, or taking a full night off (I think that helps when you’re feeling overwhelmed by blogging as well). We’ve not had a baby nightmares yet, perhaps we have when she wakes up screaming. It’ll be interesting once she gets older and starts having dreams which she is able to articulate to us. Thanks so much for joining our party at #fortheloveofBLOG this week. Claire x

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Demons scare the hell out of me. The idea of something that we absolutely cannot control that terrorises us in such a way. I’ve always had a fear of fire, even when I was tiny. No idea why. I’ve never been in a fire. Sometimes I rush home because I’m convinced the house in on fire with the dogs in it. Demons. Irrational… #KCACOLS

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ShoeboxofM says:

      It is scary, that’s why it’s easier to create monsters than admit it could be us, that with a few nudges over the line we could do unspeakable things.

      Fear of fire is pretty healthy! I get convinced the house will burn down because I left the iron on or the tumble dryer is one of the faulty ones…

      Thanks for being honest and sharing your fears. Hope it helps exorcise them a little.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. So creepy! 🙂 It’s just like the bit in Harry Potter where they have to imagine the thing they are most scared of in ridiculous clothes. Make what you are so scared of seem silly and you take away it’s power. I recently faced up to a ‘demon’ by tackling a phobia. It was so hard and scary but I felt so much better after and it has had a positive effect on my children to see me tackle it. Thanks for linking! #bigpinklink

    Liked by 1 person

  9. newmummyblogcom says:

    Yes demons are something we all have, we all have to face them, this is a great post. Thanks for linking up with #KCACOLS hope you can link with Franca on Sunday again x

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I think we all have an inner demon, it’s how we deal with it when the time comes. An interesting post. #KCACOLS

    Liked by 1 person

  11. happywawa15 says:

    Wonderful post! It’s so important to address our demons and try not to pass them onto anyone else, or the next generation! Demons are definitely catching. Currently I am traumatised by wasps and status anxiety. Working hard to be rid of both!

    Liked by 1 person

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