One of my all time favorite kids books was “The Monster at the End of thisBook” (now available in ebook format--such great news for kids everywhere!) I remember I was with my Nana--somewhere--and saw it and begged her to buy it for me. Books were and are, in my world, something hard to deny kids.
Grover the monster reads a text balloon that says that there will be a monster at the end of the book. He begs you, the reader, not to continue to turn pages.
He ties pages together.
He builds brick walls.
He is afraid of what he will find at the end of the book. He is scared.
The last page finds the reader alone with Grover, who suddenly realizes HE is the monster at the end and he is a lovable furry guy with nothing to fear.
Everyone goes away happy and content because the answer was in the book. And it took some work to get there---some obstacles to overcome—but when we got there---we were rewarded with a laugh and a sigh of relief.
On the very last page, Grover is actually embarrassed at how silly he had been---being scared of himself.
As a child, the best part of that book was when you had read it once, and were in the know. KNOWING that it is safe to turn the pages and laughing at Grover's silly attempts(and fear) as he futile tries to prevent us from doing so.
The best was when a grownup read the book to you and would pretend that the pages where he builds brick walls are actually hard to turn.
Or, if they ask you, as the child: "Should we turn the page? Should we turn it?" And of course you squeal "YES" and giggle and cover your mouth in anticipation.
As an adult, I bought this book for each of my sons who enjoyed the game as much as I had, both of them flipping the pages dramatically and laughing.
As an adult working through issues with depression and anxiety, the message in this book takes on a whole new meaning.
If you make stress the monster at the end of your book, it is easy to see all the barriers we throw up to avoid getting to where the stress comes from, and making any significant steps toward change. We blame others; we take on a clinical approach, avoiding any emotions; we dwell on our problems; we distract ourselves; we try to turn any negative into a positive without looking at how we got to the problem in the first place. And really, much of our stress is based on a perception--that in the end--is often not based in reality. Often, the end really takes you back to you; your misconceptions about yourself. I am not strong enough to dig that deep---may result in much ado about nothing as you run yourself ragged keeping so busy you don't have time to think. Instead of physically doing something, you may just choose to dwell on the problem, much like Grover, building it up to where you become frozen in indecision, regret, self-doubt and depression.
Time to face the monster at the end of your book. Your monster may not turn out to be a lovable, fuzzy, thing you can love and hug...it might have big teeth and bad breath...but facing reality seems much better to me than the unknown. Once I know my monster I can figure out how to deal; what steps to take. No more walls, or ropes. No avoiding or begging and pleading.
At the end of the day. Your biggest monster may turn out to be yourself---and while it may be embarrassing, you will learn to find a way to be ok.