Strange February 28, 2011

This was a strange weekend. Very strange, actually, and I’m really out-of-sorts today because of it.

Friday night I had a — I feel cheesy and moronic even saying this — so, well, I think I had some sort of demonic encounter. I went to bed at around eleven. The baby didn’t want to sleep so I left him with the Ogre, who was watching a movie. I got in bed and began saying my rosary, which I say every night before I drift off. Sometimes I make it all the way through, but more often than not I fall asleep around the third decade. Tonight was no exception. I was really tired from a long week of late nights, so I fell asleep quickly and I fell asleep hard.

I immediately began dreaming. It was a weird dream, though. You know how usually, when you dream, you are the central focus of the dream? Kind of like you are in life? Conversations happen and you’re included. People notice you. Well, in this dream, I dreamt about two strangers. Two men, and I think they had a little girl with them. But they were definitely men I’d never seen before. Nothing about them was familiar. They were talking, but it was muddled and I couldn’t quite understand what they were saying. It was like I was watching them, but I was outside the scene. They couldn’t see me and weren’t even aware of my presence. They said something about demons, but I have no idea what. And then  I suddenly snapped out of my dream and was wide awake, in my room.

But I couldn’t open my eyes. Suddenly I knew, with every fiber of my being, that there was a demon (or an evil presence, if the word “demon” is wigging any of you out) in the room with me, but I physically could not open my eyes. My rosary was laying underneath my open palm, and I was trying to pray, but my mind couldn’t say the words of the prayer without holding the rosary, and I couldn’t move my hand to pick it up.

I know we’ve all had dreams where we’ve known we were dreaming and we’ve tried to wake up by opening our eyes or moving, but we can’t because we can’t snap out of that dream state. This was not like that. I was fully awake. I could hear the Ogre’s movie, I could see the hallway light through my eyelids, I could hear Liam’s little whimpers as he drifted off to sleep. But I physically could not move my body.

After a few terrified seconds of being completely immobilized, something forced my mouth open. It wasn’t like something pulled on my jaw from the outside…it was like there was a hand, inside my jaw, that forced it to open. And it opened wide, wider than I think my mouth has ever opened before. So wide that my jaw was aching.

Then I was suddenly released.

I sat up, wide-eyed and shaking. I looked around in a panic, but there was nothing there. I felt nothing there. It was like whatever it was was just…gone.

But naturally that didn’t console me much at the moment. I ran into the study, where the Ogre took one look at my terrified face and said, “what’s wrong?” in the concerned tone he only gets when something really is wrong. I’ve actually only heard that tone when one of the kids are hurt or I’m going into labor. I told him what had happened, and he sat with me for a while, reminded me that God’s love is greater than any evil, put the baby down and then went to bed himself.

I didn’t go to bed. I was too afraid. I ended up staying up all night because I just couldn’t bring myself to lie back down and close my eyes.

Finally, exhausted, I fell into bed at about 6 a.m. The Ogre got up with the kids at 7:30 and let me sleep until well after noon. I woke up, completely disoriented, and went about my usual Saturday chores routine. After dinner was made and eaten and the kids were in bed, the Ogre and I sat down and talked for a while. I wanted to email or call our old priest in Texas who baptized and confirmed me, but he was diagnosed with aggressive cancer last year and has been on limited pastoral duties ever since. And since he probably would just have me to see a priest out here anyway (I think), I decided to just catch the priest at our new parish after Mass on Sunday.

Unfortunately the priest saying Mass wasn’t the one I had hoped for. I like both priests, but one seems a little more level-headed than the other. The one saying Mass yesterday was the same one who, in confession once, told me to watch EWTN television as my penance. I told him we didn’t have cable and he said I should just go online and look at the EWTN website instead. Needless to say, my confidence in this particular priest isn’t too strong, in spite of his always good homilies.

After Mass I asked if I could speak with him. He said of course, and after everyone left and he had locked up the church (this is necessary, as the church is in the oldest part of downtown Vegas and homeless people like to sleep there if it’s left unlocked), we went back to the sacristy.

I related what happened, and he just sort of stared at me. He looked surprised and a little bewildered. Then he got a concerned look on his face and said, “Is this the sort of thing that happens to you regularly?” I said, “No” rather vehemently, and then felt the need to assure him that I’m not crazy, I don’t have clinical depression or schizophrenia or any other mental illness. He seemed relieved, which really bummed me out. I felt like he wasn’t taking me seriously.

Then he told me to go see The Rite. I’m not kidding. He said that there are lots of movies about this sort of thing, and perhaps I should go see The Rite and rent The Exorcist. And then he told me to go look on the EWTN website and see what they had to say about this.

He said that if this is an isolated incident, I don’t need to worry, but that if it happens again I should seek out a group of nuns or monks, as they are the ones who deal with this sort of spiritual attack. That caught me off-guard. I was under the impression that every diocese had an exorcist and was expecting to be referred to the exorcist in Las Vegas. I don’t think I’m possessed, but I think when something like this happens it should be taken seriously and dealt with appropriately. This priest apologized for not being very familiar with these types of occurrences, and said, “The devil mostly just leaves me alone.” I thought to myself that he is probably the luckiest priest in existence, although I didn’t say it out loud. Then he told me that the best thing to do is take care of my family and stay busy and keep my mind off these sorts of things. And he escorted me out the door.

I was pretty confused after this. Am I just overreacting? Am I going crazy? Should I see a shrink instead of a priest? Do things like this happen to other people? I know Dan Lord has had experience with these types of things, but it sounds like his priest took him seriously. Why didn’t mine?

The last two nights have been fine. I’ve slept peacefully. I’ve noticed no malevolent forces at work around me. And yet…and yet I feel like I ought not just ignore this. I’d like to ignore it, because I feel sort of stupid about the whole thing now. But something tells me that ignoring it would be a foolish choice.

Have you guys dealt with anything like this before? Or, alternately, do you think I’m going crazy and need a psychiatrist?

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