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  • Writer's pictureH.R. Owen

Episode Sixty Five

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Monstrous Agonies E65S02 Transcript

[Title music: slow, bluesy jazz.]

H.R. Owen

Monstrous Agonies: Episode Sixty Five.

[The music fades out, replaced by the sound of a radio being tuned. It scrolls through a voice saying “-guidelines-”, a voice saying “-after it was finished-”, and various pop music before cutting off abruptly as it reaches the correct station.]

The Presenter

-screaming and writhing and biting and howling and gnawing and gnashing and painting our nails.

You're listening to 131.3FM and up next we have our weekly advice segment where I answer your questions about liminal living.

[Background music begins: An acoustic guitar playing a blues riff]

The Presenter

The Nightfolk Network. Broadcasting all the time, for all time.

[End background music]

The Presenter

We have something of a familial theme tonight, listeners, with our first letter asking how to deal with disappointing one's parents.

The Presenter (as First Letter Writer)

Recently, I became a member of the liminal community. I thought about it for a long time and decided it was the best choice for me. And it was! [laughs] I finally feel comfortable in my own skin. My friends were really supportive and I've felt really embraced by the community.

The only people in my family that know are my parents, and they, uh... Well they didn't exactly react like I hoped they would. They weren't violent, they didn't cut me off or anything like that, but they were hurt that I didn't ask them before making this choice. For context, I'm in my mid twenties, so, uh... [laughs, then sighs]

We fought. A lot. It's... better, now. Sort of. This summer we're going to visit our extended family and my parents are kind of obsessed with the idea that I should tell everyone. And that's a lot of people, most of whom I either don't care about or straight up dislike.

Besides, no one there is a member of the community (that I know of, at least) and... [sighs] Well, they're all from a small village in the countryside and it shows in the worst way sometimes when it comes to their ideals.

So I do not want to tell them. I don't think I owe them this, especially because I'd be put in a vulnerable position while surrounded by people I don't trust! But... [sighs] Well, I'm really bad at disappointing my parents. I guess I'm scared of their reactions. Or of finding out that my family's love for me actually has some very strict conditions.

Sorry about rambling. I just don't really know what to do.

The Presenter (as themselves)

Actually, listener, I think you do know what to do. You're edging around it, dancing about the question [laughs] but the answer's plain as day.

You're in your mid-twenties. An adult, by sapio standards. You have a support network of friends and other members of the community who love you and take care of you. You already know that you don't owe your extended family an explanation of who you are. And it seems to me that you also know perfectly well that it's not reasonable of your parents to ask you to offer one.

I don't know if this is true of your relationship with your parents more generally, but based on this example it seems like they're having some difficulty with your transition into independent adulthood. It could be that they're insecure in their role in your life now that you're fully grown, unsure of how to make themselves matter in a world where you no longer need them like you used to.

I suggest these explanations because sometimes it's helpful to imagine what might be causing a particular behaviour we find challenging. What this explanation does not do is make the behaviour acceptable. It also doesn't make it your responsibility.

You can't fix this from your end, listener. The issue lies with them. You need to make the choices that are right for you. It's up to them how they react.

I hear your concern that disappointing them might lead to a rift between you, and I certainly don't want to diminish your feelings. There is a risk that, by holding firm to your own boundaries and reasserting your independence, your parents could react poorly. But that is on them.

Please understand that they are making that decision – not you. It's not your job to manage your parents' feelings. Live your own life, and leave the rest to them.

[Background music begins: An acoustic guitar playing a blues riff]

The Presenter

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[End background music]

The Presenter

Keeping on the topic of family, our second letter tonight asks how to measure up to a sibling setting high standards.

The Presenter (as Second Letter Writer)

My aunt found my sister when she was a baby. Every effort was made to find her biological parents but nobody came forwards. Eventually it came down to either letting her go into the foster care system, or adopting her. And my mother stepped up to the plate.

Her biological parents did eventually come calling. They were very surprised to find her on this plane, they'd apparently been searching for her for as long as she’d been missing. They tried to take her back but the legal documents were pretty airtight. They couldn’t do anything except take my parents to court.

They eventually settled on shared custody, with my sister spending half her time in their dimension and half in ours. With everything that she's been dealing with, she has every reason to be struggling. But she’s flourishing!

She’s on track for all As in her A Levels and she already has a part time job! She has more friends than I’ve ever made or will ever make, and she’s gorgeous to boot. And now she's coming into her power, and it looks like she won the genetic lottery there, too.

She's got a knack for healing and empathetic vibration. In my less charitable moments I think that's why people like her so much. But the fact is she's just a really lovely person. She says she wants to go into emergency relief work, like the Red Cross or Médecins Sans Frontières. And there's me, working in IT. [laughs]

I love her, and she means the world to me and I just want to do right by her. But I’m an adult now and she’s still a teenage and already she's accomplished so much more than me. I can't help wondering if she even needs me any more.

I'm so proud of her. But I don't know where I fit now. How can I be a role model, a good big sister even, to someone who’s better than me at everything?

The Presenter (as themselves)

Oh, listener. Please don't be so hard on yourself. At the very worst end of the spectrum of possibility, this kind of thinking can easily fester into resentment. But even at this very early stage, I fear it not only runs the risk of interfering with your ability to support your sister – it's also setting an unattainably high standard for yourself.

It would be nice, wouldn't it, if we could control what people think of us. If we could pick and choose which traits of ours get magnified in their memories of us, whether they think first of our kindness, or our sense of humour, or our curiosity. But that simply isn't in our power to choose. All we can do is live as best we can, do right by our own conscience, and let our lives speak for themselves.

You can't make yourself a role model to your sister. You can't second-guess what traits of yours she might admire. She's old enough now to choose her own heroes, for her own reasons.

Instead, concentrate on living a life you're proud of. Be the kind of person you're proud to be. You don't need to try and become some kind of exemplar of sister-kind, perfect in every way, excelling at everything you try your hand at. You just have to be what you already are: her sister, who loves her. And there's nobody in the world who can do that better than you.

That's all for this week's advice segment. Next tonight, we've all heard about hydrochloric acid, but what exactly is hydrobromic acid, and how might it be incorporated into your skincare routine...

[Speech fades into static as the radio is retuned. It scrolls through a voice saying “-all you have to do-”, pop music, classical music, unintelligible speech and a voice saying “-saw him looking the other way-” before fading out.

Title music: slow, bluesy jazz. It plays throughout the closing credits.]

H.R. Owen

Episode Sixty Five of Monstrous Agonies was written and performed by H.R. Owen.

Tonight's first letter was from Trash Can On Fire, the second letter came from Robin, and tonight's advert came from Atlas. Thanks, friends! Submissions are now closed for this season but will reopen ahead of Season Three.

Big hello to our latest supporter on Patreon, Jules. Join them at, make a one-off donation a, or show your support by sharing with your friends and familiars, and by following us on Tumblr, @MonstrousAgonies, and on Twitter, @Monstrous_Pod.

This podcast is distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. The theme tune is Dakota by Unheard Music Concepts.

Thanks for listening, and remember – the real monsters are the friends we made on the way.

[Fade to silence]


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