I found this picture of a little girl crying on her knees in front of a dragon. It was on the back of the cupboard door in my Mam and Dad’s house – it was made by my niece Megan English when she was about ten years old. When I first saw the drawing I assumed that the little girl was fighting with the dragon. I thought that she was crying because she was struggling and feeling alone or scared in her battle. It reminded me of the idea of fighting our inner demons. I was touched and sad to think that even ten year olds have demons to fight. I thought a lot about inner demons the following day. I felt that everyone has this fight and that there is a universal nature and so a community or connection in our shared but unique struggles. It gave me comfort to know there are others out there fighting demons too.
When I next saw Megan I asked her all about the picture and why she had drawn it, what had made her so sad? She explained that I had gotten it all wrong and that the girl was not fighting the dragon, she was crying because the dragon was dying and she was trying to save it. I was amazed and inspired by this story of the picture. Not only did we have to fight our demons, we have to make friends with them too and heal them. Megan told me that the picture was inspired from the children’s book that she thinks is called “In the Deep Dark Wood”. In this story the dragons are dying out and some of the children have made friends with the dragons, so they are sad the dragons are dying and they try to save them. The key feeling she told me about was the sadness of the girl on realising the dragon, her friend, was dying. Megan’s picture really captures this crying and deep feeling of loss of a friend.
So I went from feeling smug about the universality of fighting demons to feeling humble that I had learned a new lesson from my niece – a lesson about loving your demons and fighting to heal them and let them live.