Monsters were definitely present in my childhood, but thanks to Sesame Street, perhaps, they weren't manifestations of my fears. They were my best friends.
At a young age I developed a family of monsters that I used to understand my world and justify my dislikes. Like orange juice. With lots of moving around in my preschool years, I didn't set down roots in any single community. I, instead, relied on my imagination. My mother was so amused she wrote an article about this for American Baby that was published in the late 80's. Right around the time my parents' marriage fell apart, if I recall correctly.
I had no clear idea what any of my "monsters" looked like. I was far more afraid of people when I was a kid, but I remember that they felt like unfinished characters when I looked back on the experience after I started writing in late elementary school.
There were three kid monsters, Christmas Monster, Cindy and Todd. Why I picked those names, I have no idea. I thought I invented the name "Larry" as a child, and thought it was a girly name and so named my favorite stuffed dinosaur (she's magenta, and somewhere between a brachiosauras and stegosauras), Larry. Yes, I still have her, and I won't give her up for the world. A love of dinosaurs is also another likely source of inspiration for the family of monsters.
While I can't say that I remember what they "looked like," or if I ever gave them faces, I remember the artist's rendering in the article made my tiny self defensive. That wasn't what they looked like! I think it was because I thought of the three kids to be my sized rather than adult-sized. There was nothing in my mind that said that monsters needed to be big and scary. They just weren't human. They were different. But everything and everyone in my world as a child was new and different. Moving didn't help, and perhaps the fact that I'd rather identify with the world through imaginary monsters--rather than imaginary little girls--meant that I already felt different from my peers, a fact of the constant movement and inability to make long-term friends at a young age, while also not being home with family, was perhaps partially responsible for.
I was much amused at Monsters Inc when it came out, for obvious reasons.
Until I was 5, I built the family of monsters, up to the grandfather. I can't say that I ever believed they existed, though. Because the best recollections I have is recounting stories of the monster family to my little brother. I think I kept them alive longer than they would've been because I could entertain him. Just like I revisited and crafted a superhero I'd invented at 2 for my very first Halloween adventure--Superkitty--in the middle of my elementary years, in order to play pretend with 5-7 year-olds at the daycare, after school.
I was afraid of the dark until 11, but I wasn't convinced there was some specific boogeyman out to get me. I just felt hyper-aware in the dark, and my overactive imagination kept me on edge, creating sounds and sights that weren't there.
With the light on, I was able to tell myself stories that made me content and put me to sleep. That was when my monsters comforted me, rather than scared me. The dark itself, and not being able to see, to know, to understand--that was the scariest thing of all.
But as long as I could create something that stood between me and the perplexing and uncertain world, something to help me quantify it, understand it, and relate, then I was good. That was what Christmas Monster did for me that a kid my age couldn't.
I still rely on my imagination to help me cope with reality, but the nature of the relationship has changed drastically since my toddler-self reached for imagination out of instinct. Now, it is at least a semi-conscious process.