A recent post by Adoro inspired me to write an experience that I had four years ago. This experience precipitated my conversion to Catholicism, but I did not know it at that time.
During 2005, I was working on a Master’s in English Literature at a university in Los Angeles, CA. It was not an easy time in my life. I was living with my grandparents in Hollywood, commuting to school, trying to get all of my chores done, and then repeating the same routine. Add to this, 20 credits of classes and you can probably already tell in what direction I was going.
At this time, I had a classmate of mine named D. D. was a beautiful young woman with raven black hair and dark brown eyes. She was extraordinarily tall and extremely intelligent. I remember how diligent she was in doing her homework. Perhaps, she was too diligent. Yet I remember that from the first day of orientation there had been a rivalry between us. Certain things happened between the two of us that created a great deal of bad blood. Essentially, I was unwilling to bend and she reciprocated.
During October of that year, I was on campus one day when I got an eerie feeling. I felt a chill run down my spine as I sat in the library computer lab writing a paper. Outside, the weather was unseasonably cold. The rain was pounding the pathways and, as people from southern California know, the place became extremely hot.
I remember sitting in the library, finishing my paper, and walking to a friend’s office in the main building. The feeling did not leave me. I felt like I was being followed. I did not know what was following me or who, but I could feel the paranoia bubbling up in my head.
After meeting with my friend and walking to class together, I met D. in the hall. I don’t remember the subject of our conversation, but I do remember that I mentioned something about recreational drugs. It was then that she uttered an obscenity and, as if on cue, my world was turned completely upside down.
When I sat down in class, I could see a woman standing in the doorway. She wore a black long brimmed Victorian hat with a long veil. She was dressed in black from head to toe with long gloves that ran to her elbows. In her right hand, she carried a bloody dagger. I stared at her and stared. I remember turning white and pale. I knew that she had been following me around, but I didn’t know what to make of her.
On the bus home, the presence followed me home. She pulled back her veil and I saw that she had D.’s face. I was beyond frightened. I didn’t know what to do. I turned up my music thinking that she would disappear if I thought about something else, but she didn’t. She just stood there with her bloody dagger.
It was then that she started verbally assaulting me. I thought I was hearing a voice from hell. She called me every single name in the book and some that I don’t even remember hearing. She didn’t stop. She just kept going. All the way to my grandparents’ apartment, I could hear her repeating the same things over and over again. It was always the same thing and never anything different.
The next day, I was aware of her presence again on the train. I remember her asking me distinctly, “Do you want to feel what its like to be stabbed in the back?” She plunged the dagger into my back and what I felt was the worst pain anyone can feel. It was indescribable, hellish pain. She withdrew the dagger and stood there. It just kept dripping blood.
I was hospitalized that day for several hours and then let go by the hospital because I wasn’t showing suicidal symptoms. Yet I remember the distinct terror of being followed. The feeling that she was always there and that she would hunt me down and kill me.
I could not face D. and I did not want to face her. For some reason, I thought that she was toying around with voodoo dolls to get me out of the school. Forgive me if I’m wrong, but that’s what I felt. I knew that she wanted me to fall flat on my face.
I remember distinctly the terror of those days and nights. The feelings that went with them and how they were resolved. My classmates, of course, did not believe that anything was wrong. No matter how much I tried to persuade them, they told me that I was “fine.” Of course, some of them thought that it was a phantasmagoria. Something that people make up in order to get attention.
Of course, I asked D. if she had been plotting against me. I remember pulling her over in one of our classes and asking her, “Do you have anything against me?”
She denied and told me that I was completely stressed out. I was placing the blame on the wrong person. Well, I didn’t believe her. I’m not sure why I would. After all, I can read liars from two miles away. Yet there it was, avowal of innocence and nothing that I could do.
Of course, the woman that I saw everywhere was most probably a demonic apparition. I knew that she wasn’t real and that she couldn’ t hurt me. Yet she did hurt me. She followed me everywhere. She turned my life into a living hell and for what? Nothing. Absolutely nothing just to see if I would tip over and kill myself.
I realize, of course, that the devil can take the form of almost anything and anybody. I also understand now that what I went through was a spiritual experience unlike any other. It was a battle to the death and one that I was willing to fight to the finish. Had it not been God who finally rescued me from my misery, I would have been a corpse on the bottom of the Pacific Ocean.
The devil is real and he does exist. I’m sure that there are those of you who don’t believe my story or who would say that I had psychotic break. I did not. If I could tell truth from fiction, then it could not possibly have been a psychological disorder. It was a spiritual disorder and a battle that I had to deal with.
The truth of the matter is that we don’t see evil because we are desensitized to it. In our culture, we glorify evil and shun God. We believe that it is too difficult to serve God and so we serve the devil. We serve the devil because it is much better to be hedonistic and selfish than to be a righteous. The wide path is always the easier one to take, but it’s also the one that leads to hell and damnation.
Damnation. How dare I utter such a word, but it is as real to me as it is to the saints. It makes me quake and tremble all over to think that my own body will burn in hell for all eternity. For what reason? For what cause? Because I didn’t follow my God. I didn’t follow my Jesus to the end and His Blessed Mother. I didn’t carry my cross, but put it down an walked away. I walked away and spat in His face. Therefore, my just punishment is damnation. It is what I deserve. All of us deserve it unless we are willing to amend our lives.
Evil is not merely a choice that we have to make. It is not merely a thought that comes and flies away on the wings of the air. It is something that is ever present. As long as we are in exile, it will follow us and try to drag us off the path. The devil is wise and he will use whatever means he can. I know how he works and yet I fall too. I fall because of my weakness. I fall because I am weak. I fall because God allows me to fall.
My own experience with evil was the beginning of a battle that I have taken up every day since.
Although I do not see that woman anymore, I still have to fight my own interior demons. I have to fight them because they cannot triumph over me. I fight them because I want heaven. I fight them because I want to see Him for whom my soul longs and my heart thirsts. Indeed, I want to be consumed in His love. I want to die for Him like He did for me.
O Lord, save me from myself!
Our Lady of the Angels, pray for us!