Every night, as I lie in bed, I'm visited by the same creature as I approach the precipice of the world of dreams. It approaches from the darkness, but stands over me as if it has always been there. I had learned to ignore it in my day-to-day life, but in the peace and quiet of my bedroom at nighttime it was impossible to escape.
The event is usually the same: I lay down, ready to sleep, exhausted from another long day of doing my best. Then, I can just feel it watching over me. I try not to, but I always find myself opening my eyes. I'm always greeted by the same expression: a look of disappointment tinged with disdain, and it always speaks in the same jeering tone with a voice that seems disjointed and incorporeal, "You really think you did your best today? You could have done so much more..."
No matter the argument I present, it always has something to say back. I've never been good enough in the eyes of this creature. I try, anyway, "You only see my outward struggles, creature. I battle depression and-"
"Come now, child...you and I both know that is just an excuse." I grit my teeth and my heart wrenches. Is the monster right? Have I used that as a cop-out excuse my whole life?
"N-...No. You're wrong. My therapist diagnosed me with anxiety and depression. Just let me sleep, please?" I try not to sound like I'm begging, but I may as well be. I don't want to hear these thoughts the creature brings to mind. I don't want to think about all that I could have done better. But this night, like every night, it gets the best of me. The thoughts flow quickly as if through many holes in a dam through my mind, and I grimace, shutting my eyes closed tightly in an effort to fight back tears. I choke on the lump in my throat as the creature speaks again,
"Will you ever get your life together? Will you ever really be anyone of importance? Or will you wake up tomorrow and waste another day? You can't even do things right...poor, worthless human..." Those three words were especially sharp, the creature was particularly ruthless this night. This monster was more than adept at hitting every weak point in the armor I had developed against it. It knew every weak point. It knew it was weak because I was weak...I knew I was weak.
My muscles tensed and I could feel cold sweat enveloping me. Even with the air conditioner on, blasting cool air in a jet towards my bed, I was still sweating copiously.
My eyes opened again to face the monster with an expression of pure rage. I was tired of this. "SHUT UP!" I knew my upstairs neighbors heard that. They probably think I'm crazy. Shaking, tears streaming down my face, fists clenched at my side, my neighbors were my last concern. They could say what they liked; they were nothing compared to the monster that tormented me every night.
"WHY?!" I shouted again, getting out of my bed in a hurry to stand and face the monster. It was taller than I remembered, or maybe it was just trying to daunt me into submission. It almost worked but my rage seethed through my reason and pushed me forward into my tirade. "Why do we go through this every single night!?" My voice was at a slightly more reasonable level for this time of night, as I realized how loud I was being, but only in the way a gun was more reasonable than a rocket launcher for destroying a cockroach.
I could feel my mind ripping itself apart. The monster was winning and we both knew it. I didn't care, I had to get this out of my system. It had been festering too long unsaid. My tone turned from rage to despair as I looked the monster in the eyes, "You think I don't know I'm not good enough? You think I need to be reminded?" The monster's grin disappeared.
"I get it..." My knees shook with weakness as I wavered emotionally. I was back to crippling sadness, falling to my knees and putting my hands over my face to muffle the sobs that were pulled from my broken spirit. "I'm not good enough, and I doubt I ever will be. I just wish you wouldn't remind me all the time..."
"...Why can't you just let me live my meaningless life?" Then, the monster spoke. This time, it said something I had never heard before,
"Because," It began, kneeling down to lift my chin to meet its gaze again. I tried to fight it but it easily won, "I don't want your life to be meaningless." I froze in shock. What was it saying? It tore me down every night. It ripped me apart and broke through my happy facade easily.
Was that really its goal? Getting me to prove it wrong via some twisted method of reverse psychology? I looked down in disbelief, then looked back up to it. For a moment, its countenance flickered and I saw what resembled my Father: a man who had been largely disapproving of my life choices and who had always put me down at every turn. He was a tough man's man, stoic and ruthless with words. I tried to speak, to say something to him, but my voice wouldn't work.
The monster flickered away without another word and I was left alone in the dim light of my bedroom. I heard my phone buzz, vibrating on my nightstand. I wiped my face of tears as I checked it.
"u ok?" The text read. It was the male counterpart of the couple that lived upstairs.
"Yes. Thank you. Sorry, if I woke you up." I got no response, but appreciated that they cared. Maybe they didn't, but it was nice to think so. I tried to calm my breathing and collect myself again to attempt sleeping once more. The monster did not visit again that night, but I wondered if it would visit the next.
Maybe I could make my life less meaningless and it would stop visiting. If that truly was its purpose, maybe I could quell it. Maybe I was the monster all along, or maybe it was my Father's voice, forever lodged in my mind.
Had I given him a monstrous figure through which to speak?
To these thoughts, I faded into the realm of dreams.
Tomorrow was a new day, and I decided that it was going to be a new beginning.