Love Letters from Satan
December 28, 2010
I can honestly say as a fully functioning adult that I’m much happier and at ease now than I was as a child. I was a worried little kid, haggard with what I perceived to be the weight of the world on my shoulders and made brittle by guilt. I was just a kid–what did I have to be guilty about?
Why, everything, that’s what. Children are, by nature, ego-maniacs. Everything revolves around them, and such was the case with me. I was convinced that I was personally responsible for all of the bad things that happened in the world, and following the proper Catholic path was key in saving not only myself but the world as well. That’s a lot of responsibility.
That I took my CCD training seriously is an understatement. I sat there in the church classroom listening to all the horrible things that were waiting for me should I not be a good and upright boy. It was not enough to simply act in a saintly way, one’s thoughts had to be pure as well, and I was convinced that the nuns standing at the head of the class in their orthopedic shoes were talking directly to me. “The Devil will test you,” they said, “and he speaks.” So, ten years old, I looked for signs of the Devil everywhere. And there he was.
Case in point, I was certain the Devil was out there trying to sway me and cause my fall from grace. The `70’s was a big time for the Devil. You had things like The Exorcist, The Omen, Beyond the Door, The Devil’s Rain, and on and on. Each one, I was convinced was a personal message from the Devil to me. Of course my parents didn’t take me to any of these movies, however there was a new thing called HBO which brought them uncut right into my livingroom. I didn’t treally want to watch these movies, but I felt I had to. It was my job. It was my responsibility to know what I was up against. So I watched, and I spent a lot of sleepless nights wondering how I could have let things get so bad.
Everything I saw somehow related to me and was proof the movies were meant to send a stern message. After I saw The Exorcist, I became chronically afraid of my bedroom window, thinking that the Devil was out there trying to get in. The demon-kid in The Omen looked a lot like me and The Devil’s Rain took place in Texas–I was from Texas, and on and on and on. I was, if anything, good at seeing connections in things, even if it was misguided.
So, I spent most of my childhood resisting what I perceived to be a constant assault from the bowels of Hell. When I write about all-seeing Sisters, and giants and hidden demons all around I write of things I was afraid of as a terrified little kid huddled under a blanket straining to keep my wicked thoughts in check and praying for relief. When I write about people who feel no fear, that’s how I wanted to be.
As an adult, I’m a lot more laid back, and cut myself a break every now and again.