“I adore you.”
“I want to make love to you.”
“I want to do life with you.”
“Touch me right there.”
“You’re my soul mate.”
“You’re so wet.”
“I can’t get enough of you.”
“I love you.”
No. It was none of those things.
It wasn’t said in bed. Or with arms holding me close. It wasn’t said during passionate sex. Or to put salve on an open wound after a heated argument. There was no foot-popping kiss. No music swelling in the background. No Hollywood backdrop. Okay, there was one of those, but not a cloyingly sweet, fairy-tale love story. Well, fine, I guess technically it was a fairy-tale.
It was in a restaurant. Over Thai food. On an ordinary day. During a long and winding conversation about so many things, and nothing in particular.
He said, “I’ve experienced every inch of your body. I’ve seen its beauty and all its flaws. I feel your heart. I know your inner goodness. I’ve seen into the depths of your soul. Now, I want to know what’s in your mind. All of it. Including the flying monkeys.”
Ummm. Sputter. Gulp! Oh my god, my love, that’s so incredibly sweet. But there’s no f*cking way you want to see my flying monkeys!
Do you even realize, I’ve got a giant hoard of them? I sure as hell don’t like them. Why would I ever want to unleash them on you? (Okay, he didn’t really ask me to let them loose on him. Maybe just peer into the dungeon where I keep them.)
You want to mindf*ck? For real?
I’ve been labeled the “smart girl” most of my life. In high school that was most definitely not cool. In my profession, it’s served me exceedingly well. In my personal life, my mind has been dubbed “intimidating,” “too fast,” “too complicated,” and just plain “too much.” Combine that with my super sensitive nature and I’ve learned that I’m a cocktail most prefer not to drink.
To have someone I respect, admire, and adore ask me for more of my mind—well, let’s just say I was dumbstruck.
Once the invitation sunk in, I was left with a profoundly simple truth. My aversion to sharing my flying monkeys is exactly because of what they represent: fear and craziness.
They can be vicious, like in the “Wizard of Oz” when they caught the Scarecrow and eviscerated him pulling all the straw out of his clothes and head. Sometimes mine feel that way. Screeching, cackling, making spiteful jabs, going for the jugular, relentlessly chattering. They say, “Have you seen your crepey skin, age spots, and saggy bits? You know you can’t keep up with him—emotionally, spiritually, or sexually. You have no idea who you are right now or what you want—no one wants that. You get easily confused about how you’re feeling. And even when you’re not, let’s be honest, expressing yourself in conversation isn’t exactly your forte. You know you don’t deserve him.”
On and on, ad nauseum.
All my monkeys have different script lines, but it comes down to this: we are afraid that if someone finds out who we really are, they’ll reject us. Yeah, that vulnerability thing—again.
I’m no student of the movies, but I do recall that the flying monkeys can also be considerate. Like when they gently lifted Dorothy in their arms and carried her swiftly through the air. But the real eye opener for me was the realization that they are enslaved—they are obligated to work for whomever has the Golden Cap.
It turns out, flying monkeys are neither good nor bad guys. They do what they’re told. So, what if I direct them better? What if I look to them for help? What if I befriend them? Make smarter requests of them? Ride with them through the air and try to enjoy the passing parade?
Maybe I’m overthinking (shocker), but perhaps that’s one of the lessons of the Winged Monkeys in the “Wizard of Oz.” That the intention of the requestor has everything do with the behavior of the monkeys. Once Glinda made her three requests of the monkeys, she returned the cap to the King so that, “he and his band may be free for evermore.”
I’ve got a long way to go to be free of my own flying monkeys. Perhaps I never will be. And maybe that’s okay. In the meantime, one more thing has occurred to me. I’ve undervalued the playful (albeit somewhat mischievous) nature of the flying monkeys. It turns out, most of the time, mine are completely ridiculous! Remembering this has made it a lot easier to let them out (even if only one at a time)—to share them, talk about them, name them, and get intimate with them. Because of their craziness, not in spite of it, I’m learning to laugh at myself.
When my flying monkeys swoop down and wreak havoc in my life, which they still do more often than I care to admit, I remind myself that someone I love deeply has invited them—not just to stay for tea, but to move in. By getting cozy with them, they’ve become far less scary and shameful.
As Thich Nhat Hanh says, “Go back and take care of yourself. Your body needs you; your perceptions need you; your feelings need you. The wounded child in you needs you. Your suffering needs you to acknowledge it.” In other words, our flying monkeys need us.
For whatever reason, for as long as I can remember, I’ve been appalled at my flying monkeys but not at all scared of anyone else’s. To me, there’s wisdom in that. Sometimes what we fear in ourselves is the thing we admire or find endearing in others. Especially if it involves risk.
For many of us, nothing feels riskier than penetrating, unfiltered, no holds barred intimacy. To show and share our innermost selves. Completely. In the raw. Stripped down naked. Without the slightest bit of protection and no certainty as to how others might meet us there.
But when we do, empathy, understanding, and compassion—the healing powers of intimacy—are unleashed.