The light on the ceiling of our bedroom is slanted in a parody of the open doorway, letting in the blue glow of a nightlight from the hall. This nightly and usually innocuous shape hides something in the darkness tonight; I see it creeping in the light box, plotting something against me, about to attack.
Nightmares, night paralysis, and obsessive fears are not new to me. They have been part of my life since I was three and my mom took me to a psychologist because I wouldn’t leave her side, not even to go to the bathroom at home.
When I was eight and still unwilling to let my mom leave me alone in my room at bedtime, my mom, in an act of desperation, performed a sort of exorcism on the closet door that held the faces of dark monsters and demons in the grains of wood.
In order to fend off those terrors of demons and monsters in my late teens and twenties, I took comfort in a less mysterious Christianity. I went to grad school, I studied theology, I became skeptical of great religious emotion. I thought I could plaster away my sensitivities and obsessive thoughts behind a wall of intellectual belief. And it worked for a while.
But my pretense of intellectual faith and skepticism of religious experience didn’t last. [Read more…]