My Monster

For many years, I believed the lie that the only way of coping with the parasitic fears and deep pain in my life was to bring injury to my body. I still remember the young teenage girl standing in front of a dressing room mirror, fighting back tears and thinking this was her only option. I was so desperate to escape the emotional pain I was feeling that I bought into the lie  evil so gently whispered–the physical pain would overcome any emotions and then I would feel better.

Sorrowfully I walked this road until self-injury began to  conspire with scary suicidal ideations in my late twenties. September 2015 marked the start of my long battle with recovery. Trial and error, relapse and recommitment. The daily fight to choose recovery was, simply put, a fight for my life. For many months, I would experience intense urges to numb out the pain that  was now demanding be felt. In order to achieve a healthy form of release, I began to write poetry about this internal war with “my monster”.


My monster beats me down
like a woman who has
met the angry fist
of her husband.

It reeks of drunken
power, mocking
indignation. Towering
above me, it spits
out words of bittersweet
quality, reminding me
that I was the one
to provoke this wrath.

I stumble around
steadying myself against
the next blow,
but it never works.
He is too strong
deafening my senses to
the brutal reality around me.

Remember how good things were just a few days ago?
Or was it two months ago?
Remember the intoxicating sweetness a few days ago?
Or was it two years ago?

I can’t remember.

Now my lullabies sing of
haunting images of a skipping record player,
a girl in a bathtub with slit arms.

I found that being able to authentically express what was occuring in my mind strengthened my recovery. Whenever those urges hit me hard, I would return to my “Monster Chronicles” and remember the truth of the battle. I would reclaim the holy ground I now experience.


I have two husbands.

One is real and steadfast,
full of undying love.
Whispered into my ears,
the echo of his kindness
pierce my ravaged soul
offering a temporary hope
— a new home

I stay alive for him.

The other is my monster.
He claws at my face,
slicing open my skin.
He is a sharp blade
of misery offering hope
that reeks of
freedom and despair.

I am chained to him.

Neither can fix me.
Both fight to keep me close.
I scream “Let me go!”
my throat is filled
with blood and bile.
Both hear me,
smiling with a steady “no”
on their husky breath.

I am stuck in an endless loop
being pushed and pulled
bent and broken.

How do I end it?

I hold a knife to the darkness.
The monster has lost some ground.
Finally this will end!

Hearing a snarl,
I glance at a mirror,
face covered in tears,
I realize the knife
has been at my throat
the whole time.

As the holidays approach, life has a strange way of bearing down in forms that contradict the cheery goodness we see everyone else experiencing. In those moments, self injury, addictions, etc. begin to spin a beautiful, yet deceitful web of safety for our broken dreams and hearts. My hope here is that you will risk the courageous act of asking for help. Seek guidance from a counselor, reach out to friends, use resources such as: To Write Love On Her Arms, The Trevor Project or the Crisis HotLine and find healthy releases from your pain.

Dear hearts, I see your pain, and my heart aches for the unimaginable grief your soul is feeling. You are not alone. You are worth recovery. You are worth the fight against your “monster.”


Mal Arnold is a passionate Latina wife and mother who is a chaser of dreams and believes in living life with abandon. She writes to pour some of herself out for any who care to experience her heart, but is also an avid reader, lover of old movies and going on journeys with family as well. She has seen heartache and trauma in her past and is learning to let her Maker heal her broken places.