Last week Liz McGowen wrote a terrific post called Tina and the Troll.

It was inspired by some of my wacky conversations with monsters.

And it’s fascinating, because she borrowed my concept of using a negotiator to mediate the hard parts and took it somewhere completely different.

The only thing I like better than building on someone else’s concept is when someone does it with one of mine.

So now I’m going to take her idea — that you can invite a real person into your head to mediate awkward and horrible encounters — and play with it a bit myself.

The thing I’m dealing with right now:

It’s not really a monster. And it’s definitely not a troll. More of a scary fog.

It’s about the same stuff that’s going on with the rose.

The scary fog, which is sort of a green-black haze, thinks that I need to hide and to “not be beautiful” (its words) because otherwise people will hate me and be jealous of me.

So I was going to have one of my usual internal discussions with the haze-fog. And I stopped to ask whether I could do it myself or if I needed the Negotiator to step in.

But then I thought no, let’s try something else.

A whole mediation party.

I’ve never done one of these before (because, you know, I just made it up) so I have no idea how it works. But that’s never stopped me before so … let’s do this thing.

We’re in a large room with cream colored walls and a very high ceiling.

I’m in one corner and my green-black scary fog haze is in the other.

Not like boxers, exactly. It’s not a ring or anything. But we’re opposite each other and are kind of checking each other out, without actually approaching.

I know that in the next room the negotiators are waiting. I know that the negotiators are all people that I inherently trust. I know that the negotiators do things their own way and that I am to be patient and just watch.

Let the mediation begin.

The first negotiator.

The first negotiator is the typing teacher from 7th grade. I never had her for typing, but she was my greatest protector. My advocate.

She walks briskly up to the fog and this is what she says:

“Honey, I get that you’re trying to protect our sweet girl from a lot of potential pain. And I appreciate that. But you know what? When she is her whole self, that is her protection. Her best protection. And you’re keeping her from it. Think about that.”

She walks over to me and pats me on the shoulder. And then she finds a place to sit up against the wall in the middle of the room.

The second negotiator.

The second negotiator is the Dalai Lama.

He goes to the fog. He smiles at it calmly. He reaches out his hand towards it. And then he sits at its feet (or where its feet would be) and closes his eyes.

Once in awhile he looks at me and kind of twinkles. Like he’s just beaming at me. I feel instantly reassured. There is gentleness everywhere.

The third negotiator.

The third negotiator is my friend who is dead.

This makes me cry.

My friend who is dead goes to the fog. He speaks to the fog.

“You have no idea what you’re up against. Havi is the smartest and the strongest and the funniest. Nothing can stop her. You don’t want to mess with her and you don’t want to mess with her friends. I’ve stood up for her a million times and I’ll keep standing up for her no matter what happens.”

Then he comes and sits by me and holds my hand. And I cry and cry and cry.

The fourth negotiator.

The fourth negotiator is my ex-husband. He goes to the fog.

“Havi’s in a lot of pain right now. I know she’s not the easiest person to get along with and god knows it’s hell to live with her, but I think you need to give her a break.”

Then he kind of shrugs and leaves the room. He doesn’t look at me.

The fifth negotiator.

The fifth negotiator is my teacher. He goes to the fog. He bows to the fog. He clears his throat.

“Havi’s light is inspiration to the world. You block this light. This is not efficient use of your energy. We need her light for bigger purpose: to ignite light in minds and hearts of other teachers. I say these words with respect. It is time now to use your power correctly.”

I am so happy to see Andrey and hear his voice and his Ukrainian-inflected English that I want to run to him. But I stay seated.

He comes to me. He says:

“You give fog power over you. Is not necessary.”

Then he goes and sits in another corner and begins to meditate. Soon he’s floating about a foot off the ground. The Dalai Lama sees this and beams delightedly.

Marlene, the typing teacher, shakes her head. My friend who is dead squeezes my hand. And I imagine my ex-husband thinking, “Man, she hangs around with the weirdest people.”

I wait to see if there will be a sixth negotiator, but no one else comes.

I notice that the air is different.

It’s as if each new person has brought an additional quality to the room.

A brisk, sensible no-nonsense breeze. Sweet gentleness. Fierce loyalty. Compromise. Power.

I scoot closer to the fog. The fog comes closer to me.

We’re sitting opposite each other now.

Each of my negotiators is in one corner of the room, watching.

Me: “I’m ready to work on this if you are.
The fog: “Okay. We could go to Carolyn with it.”
Me: “I’d like that.”
The fog: “You’re not scared of me anymore.”
Me: “It took me a while to realize that you’re … not that scary. I mean, if everyone else can talk to you, I guess I can too.”
The fog: “You’re not that scary yourself, you know.”
Me: “What? Why would I be scary?”
The fog: “Because of your potential. All of my fears about bad stuff happening to you that I need to keep you from? It’s because you’re really amazing. I admire you. It’s just that I worry about you a lot.”
Me: “I can’t believe this. I thought you hated me.”
The fog: “Come sit with me.”

And so I did.

The Fluent Self