Run, run, run, as fast as you can. My legs are burning from the pace. Adrenaline moves me forward faster and faster. I have to lose him, if only I can out run him in the confusion of the forest. There’s a clearing up ahead. A small house in the middle of nowhere. Funny how stories always give the protagonist the perfect refuge. But this isn’t a story, this is real.
Isn’t it? I’m over thinking again. No more questioning, just head for the house.
I reach for the door and find it unlocked. Convenient. I’ve seen those movies. I’ve read those books. The monster’s probably hiding inside. Here goes nothing.
I open the door and find myself in a room full of mirrors. The only thing waiting inside is me. And my reflection, staring at me with a smirk on her face. My face. I’m not ready to face this.
“Surprised?” She asks. Yeah. I am definitely not ready for this.
“Why are you here?” I’m tired from running, and not in the mood to play.
“I can’t just tell you everything. Learning isn’t simply collecting information, it’s a process, and you must put in the effort if you want results.”
“What’s that supposed to mean? Are we safe here? What am I saying? Am I safe in here?”
She laughed at me, but I didn’t think it was funny. “Is it safe? Yeah. It’s safe, if you plan on hiding forever.”
I can hide for a very long time. I’ve gotten good at it over the years.
“Have it your way then. But he won’t leave. He’ll always be out there, inside your head.”
“What do you mean?”
“Metus isn’t real. You created him. You took all your fears and doubts and turned them into a shadow monster you didn’t have the courage to face.”
Sweaty palm. Walls closing in. Panic attack. From outside the little house Metus let out a terrifying roar.
“Stop it!” My reflection commanded. “Breathe.”
One deep breath, two deep breaths, three deep breaths and the walls quit caving in.
“Don’t you see? You are creating all of this, every part of it. It’s all in your head.”
All in my head. This is all in my head. “If that’s true, how do I win? How do I defeat him?”
“Metus was never meant to exist. You’re afraid. It’s ok to be afraid. But what you do with your fear isn’t healthy. You hide it away. You never talk about it. You let it fester and grow. You gave it more power than it was ever meant to have. The fear became shadows and you called it a monster. The monster didn’t like being ignored, so you named it. Do you understand the power of names? By naming something, we acknowledge that it’s real.”
“So, Metus is real because I gave him a name?”
“No. But you perceive him to be real. Do you even realize what you named him? Metus is Latin for fear, dread, and anxiety.”
“I made him.” The truth hit and it hurt. “I made him. I made that terrible thing outside. I did this to myself.”
“So, what are you going to do about it?”
No more words. No more hiding. This ends now. I turned around, opened the door and marched out to face my fear.