Hopeful monster

I am a monster!

I am emotionally malformed and psychically misshapen.

The combination of utter neglect and loving nurture in my childhood distorted me.

I became a mutant, a monstrosity – appalling to witness, an omen of the evil to come.

If you see me coming, run away!

What I crave is intimacy, and yet I sabotage every opportunity for it to grow.

My emotional life is blunted and stunted. I feel extreme highs and extreme lows but nothing in between. Anguish and bliss, they get through to me. I can feel them.

Feeling is the stuff of life, so most of the time I feel dead. I only feel alive when I’m in soul-piercing pain and soul-bursting joy. The rest of the time, I’m just numb.

I am relationally incompetent. As a result of early neglect, I developed a strong avoidant attachment style and became exclusively attached to myself. I am self-attached. It makes me emotionally encapsulated. Whatever attachments I form with people, they aren’t emotional. They are situational, habitual, contractual, or intellectual. Because of this, I feel willing to risk a lot for the highs and the lows…to remind me that I’m actually alive.

Intimacy is what I long for the most. I’m always ready to jump straight into full intimacy, bypassing the usual avenues through which it develops. This doesn’t work for most people. I freak them out and scare them off. But even when this is possible, I don’t form emotional attachments, even if the person sharing with me does. Intimacy with passion is what I desire, because it’s the passion that tells me I’m alive. Without passion, I feel nothing.

I am a monster, hideous and dangerous. My narcissism is seen as a threat and often is. I won’t let you in my walled-off castle of self-love, unless you come with pain or pleasure.

We monsters are lonely, haunted creatures. We know we are different. We see the looks. We hear the murmurs. We smell the fear. Ogres, we live in hiding. We monsters don’t know where we belong. We may try to fit in with non-monsters, but everyone knows it’s not going to work. So we withdraw again into our caves of self-love and protection.

Monsters grow from a primal wound, an open sore festering at the heart of their being. A strike, a gash, a deep cut that severed their tender tissues at the start. So stricken and impaired, they limp and hobble into life doing the very best they can. Their wound – intimacy so close and yet always out of reach – defines everything they become.

Monsters can’t heal. They can’t un-become what they are. What hope is there for them? Are they destined for a life of misery? What did they do to deserve such a fate?

I am a monster, yes, but I am a hopeful monster.

The German geneticist, Richard Goldschmidt (1878-1958) coined the term. He believed that the Darwinian theory of gradual microevolutions could not account for macroevolution – changes leading to new species altogether. He proposed that major mutations, or ‘leaps’ in evolution, could produce ‘hopeful monsters’, radically different variations of an animal, so divergent that, if they could reproduce, may actually create new species. Many such ‘macromutations’ would prove lethal, and the mutants would die off. But maybe, just maybe, one in a million mutants would genetically acquire traits that would be advantageous, not only for its own survival but the survival of its progeny and life itself.

I hope that I am a hopeful monster.

If you know any monsters, you are wise to steer clear of them. It is estimated that between 10-15% of the general population have personality disorders. There are the Cluster A folks: those with paranoid, schizoid, and schizotypal personality disorders. There are the Cluster B folks: those with antisocial, borderline, histrionic, and narcissistic personality disorders. And then there are the Cluster C folks: those with avoidant, dependent, and obsessive-compulsive personality disorders. And these are just the ones clinically diagnosed with a personality disorder. Many more of us possess bits and pieces of these aberrations in the complexes of our own souls. None of us asked for or wanted the abusive, toxic, and traumatic circumstances that shaped our personalities. That doesn’t excuse the havoc we wreak in the world, but do we not deserve a certain degree of mercy? Remember, some of us are in great torment, so any compassion you can afford (from a safe distance) is appreciated.

There is no hope for a monster like me to unmostrify myself. So what can I do?

My conclusion is that I must become the best monster I can be.

I must become fully who I already am: a HOPEFUL MONSTER.

And because Love, though it has in me a twisted vessel, still lives in and through me, the monstrosity of my being, when known and harnessed, can still advance the cause of Love.

It is for me, and those who dare to love me, to grasp the nature of my being, deploy it shrewdly in the world, and see what kind of hope it can kindle for generations to come.



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