Monster to Mentor (5)

A collaboration with Hazel Gale: Founder of the Mind Monster Project

This is all your fault. This is all your fault. This is all your fault. This is all your fault.

Little Girl Me was like that Grease album my neighbor’s tossed coat landed on when she pretended to be Sandy dressed in black leather—scratched and repeating the same line over and over.

This is all your fault. This is all your fault. This is all your fault. This is all your fault.

Hours before I found myself sitting on the floor of the exam room, stroking silky black ears with tears running down my cheeks, I’d tossed my four leg a grape and said, “Fine! One grape won’t hurt you.”

She was begging.

Even though I know you’re not supposed to feed grapes to dogs, Mara’d eaten one or two grapes at a time throughout her entire life without consequence.

While talking to the veterinarian, she assured me at least three times that one grape would not have any affect on a dog Mara’s size - and it most certainly would not cause the seizures Mara was experiencing. Little Girl Me refused to believe and kept on…

This is all your fault. This is all your fault. This is all your fault. This is all your fault.

Little Girl Me’s taunt will forever color the day I said good-bye to my beloved. She stole my presence. She’s forgiven, but not forgotten.


Today when we received the call to let us know my father-in-law is in ICU with double pneumonia, Little Girl Me piped up…

This is all your fault. This is all your fault. This is all your fault. This is all your fault.

You invited him to the graduation ceremony and arranged for transport. The weather was cold and windy, no doubt a strain on his compromised health…

This is all your fault. This is all your fault. This is all your fault. This is all your fault.


Where does this misdirected sense of responsibility come from Little Girl Me?

We told the world how much we loved Mara through our stories. Never once did we intentionally harm her. A dog could not have had a better life. A single grape had nothing to do with her death. Grapes do not cause neurological problems in dogs. This was not our fault!

And the graduation ceremony? Grandpa wanted to come, and we found a way to make that possible. Pneumonia is not our fault!

Not our fault, you silly, stubborn, caring little girl.

Psychologist and shame expert, Brene Brown, says that we all experience this destructive emotional state. She describes it like this: ‘Shame is the fear of disconnection - it’s the fear that something we’ve done or failed to do, an ideal that we’ve not lived up to, or a goal that we’ve not accomplished makes us unworthy of connection.

‘Unworthy of connection.’ That’s the kicker. We experience shame on some level whenever our most painful self-beliefs are triggered because those are the things that make us feel as though we’re somehow unworthy of other people’s love, time, respect or admiration. When they fire up, we get drawn into an inner world of hidden anxiety, which makes us feel even more alien, even more ‘not…enough’. ~Hazel Gale

I’ve found that as soon as there’s a scratch on my vinyl…

This is all your fault. This is all your fault. This is all your fault. This is all your fault.

I’m best served by exercising vulnerability, spilling whatever I have or have not done, real or imagined, to the interested parties, and allowing the chips to fall where they may.

After Mara’s death, when I couldn’t bring myself to research dogs and grapes to try to ease my shame, my husband did it for me, and I was finally able to stop the repeating message in my head based on his reassurance—Mara did not die because I gave her a grape.

Today he saved me from Little Girl Me again when he asked, “Do you want my dad to live in a bubble?”

Monsters to mentors, let’s keep going…

Meet Your Monster

We can change the world if we change ourselves. ~Nina Hagen