Friday, February 09, 2007

The Monster in Me




Ever since I can remember, I have loved monster movies. The supernatural elements of Dracula and The Wolfman to the biological miracles of giant spiders, lizards and other assorted bugs and animals. Many kids watched these movies because they enjoyed being creeped out and seeing the special effects. Me too. But I take this one step farther.

I identify with the monsters.

No, I don't stomp over cities or fly off into the night with a dangling human in my jaws. These monsters, for the most part, didn't want to become what they were. What happened to them was beyond their control. If they could have chosen something else, they might have. I believe Dracula is the only supernatural character, as written by Bram Stoker, who gloried in his evil. He didn't wish for anything else. The biological phenomena that became super monsters didn't ask to be into such creatures. They only act on their needs. The Frankenstein monster was brought to life and immediately reviled because he was ugly, part of dead flesh sewn together to make whole an artificial being. But he had feelings. He didn't like being reviled. He wanted to be accepted and loved as all of us do. That didn't happen. He didn't ask to be different.

As a child, I was different from the get-go. I had more energy than most kids (and that's saying something), I had bright red hair and a rather spastic, undisciplined personality. I also had some undiagnosed learning problems as a result of my undiagnosed and unknown at the time ADHD. I did not ask for that. I did not ask for not getting concepts everyone else did in the class. I did not ask for having so much energy and curiosity that I could not contain myself to the point where my calling out in class, impatient at not having my raised hand recognized, being so spastic and energetic it was hard for other kids to like me as being with me for any length of time was exhausting. And to top it off, I had interests most kids my age did not: politics, religion, old movies, and theater.

I never belonged and was never a part of anything growing up: just an appendage to various groups who could participate but never really belong.

I came to believe very early on that I would never have a normal life. Other girls would grow up, having important jobs, get married to nice guys and have kids. Nothing even remotely like that would ever happen to me. I felt that I was so much to handle in terms of energy and curiosity for any guy to want to devote his life to me - it would be too emotionally and physically exhausting. I also had developed a bit of a hard ass cover to mask my very vunerable self.

In spite of having some very good relationships with men as friends and lovers, the above thought is burrowed very deep into my psyche. Some things have improved, certainly. I have learned some control and discipline through my life though not as much as I would like. I still experience times of the very demoralizing inability to process certain kinds of information. When it comes to graphs and charts for example, I can look upon them but nothing processes. It's a major disconnect. Part of my medical problem as a person with ADHD there are certain situations and objects in which I simply cannot process - the neurotransmitters do not connect to areas they need to for me to understand what I am looking at. As one doctor explained, the electrical charges in my brain don't connect the way a normal brain does.

Frankenstein's monster anyone?

Though I have done much for which I am proud and my life time experiences have been amazing and varied, the assault on my self-esteem continues in sometimes unexpected ways. I can understand how a supernatural creature feels - they possess certain superhuman abilities that might be envied, but other aspects of their existence is not what any normal being would want.

But the question has always been for me - would I have been able to accomplish what I have and be the kind of artist and teacher I am if I did not have such obstacles and super energy in my personality? I was described by playwright friend as a "force of nature" which alternately pleased and horrorfied me (depended on which day you asked).

It still depends on which day you ask. The past few days, and weeks, I have felt tired of life and things in general. It will undoubtedly pass as it always does. I read blogs of friends and strangers which help me on occasion with perspective. One friend of mine who lives in New York and is ten years younger than myself writes wonderful blog entries almost every day and in spite of our age difference and his being a guy, we share so many perspectives on life it's scary to me especially since I haven't really had much to do with him in a decade. Scary but reassuring. Blogs and conversations with friends hold me together during these tough times.

In absence of that, I pop in a good monster movie and root for him. I know how he feels.

P.S. A friend of mine, Gary Rhodes, has written a book on actor Bela Lugosi. Gary has an impressive resume as a writer and teacher. Check out his book.

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