Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Monstrous Love: My love affair with Frankenstein's Monster

When I was a little girl, I loved Frankenstein's monster. I know you're thinking I must have been a weird little girl. Maybe. But I was allowed to watch a lot of horror movies as a kid, so my friends were TV monsters.

Frank and I met after my great-grandmother's funeral. My grandmother had taken me with her to the wake. When she got tired of making me stay still and be quiet, a cousin of mine offered to watch me. I was around three. She was a teenager and took me to her room. I did not have my own room at my house and had to sleep with my mother, so this was an amazing thing. My cousin had her own closet too. While she was trying to entertain me, she opened it and I saw Frank stuffed up in a corner. She was bringing down a lot of toys to distract me, but he was the only one who held my attention. He was a Halloween present, she told me. He had a soft body but plastic hands, head and boots. When I saw him, I was amazed. Maybe it was because something I had seen on TV had materialized in front of me. Maybe it was because I had seen him playing with a little girl in the movie and hoped he would play with me too (I did not see the part where he drowned her. I saw the abridged version). I was surrounded by a bunch of girly toys, but he was the only one I wanted to play with. I sat him in my lap and held him close while I played. My cousin was so amused by the "pretty little girl and the monster" thing, she let me have him.

Okay, I know what  many of you will say. That thing was ugly. Why would you want to play with it? I know you would ask that because that was the same thing my mother asked when she saw him. Why? Well, my little girl brain did not know anything about monsters. All I saw was a wounded, hurt human being. I saw stitches and raw wounded skin. I saw someone who had been abused by the world.  I empathized. As a victim of child abuse, I saw the scars so similar to those I had suffered at my mother's hands. So, I held on tight to Frank. I would pet his head and kiss his wounds to try and make him feel better. Maybe it was a way of consoling the wounded child inside myself. I wanted to protect him from the world and stop it from hurting him the way I could not stop my mother from hurting me.

As you can foresee, my mother hated Frank. It could have been for several reasons: one because I loved him or two because of all the attention I got because he was with me. For some reason the sight of a little girl in a frilly dress clutching a Frankenstein's monster doll protectively to her heart was cause for commentary everywhere I went.

"Oh my god, look at her." "Isn't she adorable." "Look how she holds that thing. Isn't that cute?" Unfortunately,  my mother had a personality disorder with a side-order of Narcissism  so, my getting attention was her least favorite thing.
"Why do you have to take that ugly thing everywhere?" she would scream at me.
"I love him," I would yell back.
"He's ugly! It's disgusting. I'm going to throw him in the garbage."
"Don't hurt him," I would scream, "don't hurt him anymore!"
"Well, get him out of my sight or I will."
I would keep him in the bedroom or behind my back. Only when she was at work could I sit in peace with him and stroke his wounded plastic head and talk to him of better days. Our time was short though. My mother had her ways of separating me from the things I loved.

I had an asthma attack. I clung to Frank all the way to the hospital, breathing for him. I had to sit in the waiting room a long time. I fell asleep. My mother must have pulled him from my arms. I think I remember waking a few times during her attempts. When the nurse finally came, my mother scooped me up and left him on the chair while she carried me from the waiting room. The fear of getting a shot blanked my mind. I was on my way home before I remembered he was gone. He was alone, defenseless without me in a cold, cruel world that did not understand him or love him.
"We have to go back." I cried.
"You should have kept an eye on him. Some kid probably took him. You always lose things."
"Can't we turn around?"
"Can't we call and ask them to hold him till we come back?"
"NO!" She looked ahead trying not to smile, and I knew that she had gotten rid of him.

I have had a long relationship with monsters. Some I loved, and some I didn't.

Have you ever lost a beloved toy? There are actually websites that help people find them or replacements. https://www.facebook.com/TeddyBearLostAndFound  and http://www.lostmylovey.com/

I would like to add that those with great mothers should be happy they had someone to support them. For those of us who did not, nothing is guaranteed in this world. Mothers, like all people, come in every flavor. I am glad I am alive and had a chance to be born. I nearly did not survive birth or childhood, but I am strong, resilient and intelligent.  Life is a rose garden full of thorns. It, my mother and my own will have helped shape me into the person I am today, a person I am glad to be.

Candice Raquel Lee