I have demons. And they chase me. I roam the halls of my life afraid. Afraid that around each corner I take one will leap out at me. That they will drag me down. That they will take me to hell. That they will devour my soul. No matter how hard I try to hide behind time, or new habits, or my current life, they always find me. No matter how hard I try to disguise who I am within this new life of mine they still smell me out. They know that deep inside of the person I have become lies all the parts of me- both past and present. Both good and bad. They know that dwelling within the subterranean depths of who I am today lies a scared, sad little girl who still yearns to be taken away. They know that my shell is just a covering. No matter what I do to distance myself from my demons they always come back to haunt me.
And so I run. But always they are there. Keeping pace. Watching. Waiting. Orchestrating their next attack on my psyche. Sometimes they wait for me in the bottom of a glass of wine. They linger in my thoughts during moments of self doubt and depreciation. Other times they reside in the most benign of spaces. I can find them in old places. I can hear them in old songs. I can smell them in a summer breeze. I can see them in the mirror. I can feel them from inside.
There, and other places, they crouch waiting to strike me during the most vulnerable moments of my life. They arrive promising release, and love, and warmth. Pledging acceptance, and understanding, and companionship. Assuring me that, if I just listen to them, all the shame I feel in myself will evaporate upon receipt of their offering. But, like the Sirens of Greek Mythology, though their song may be beautiful and their promises fair it is nothing save an enchanting melody; for if I listen to their music I will surely shipwreck on the rocky coast of their lonesome island of lies.
I am not the only one in my family whose life has been under siege. I am not the only one who has been chased by these brutes who promise bliss. I cannot express how unfortunate I am to have sat witness with a front row seat to the power struggle that ensues between a person and their demons. I cannot express with words how utterly devastating it is to sit idly by knowing you’re powerless to fight against them; for only the haunted may conquer their personal demons. I cannot begin to tell you of the absolute sadness that engulfs a family when someone they love is carried away by those demons. Death by drugs, alcohol, and suicide in the end all seems the same – too soon, and too sad.
I’ve hesitated to speak of this. I always have. I fear of being too honest. Too open. Too transparent. As if the mere mention of this will allow for the smallest space in my mind to be occupied by them, where they will take hold, grow, multiply and conquer. But in the wake of the death of the much beloved comedic genius, Robin Williams, coming closely after the death of one I’ve loved personally who had demons carry him away, I am again forced into the realization that no one on this earth is immune to the devil’s cry. And, sadly, too often, he wins.
In the light of this sad reality the only answer I can find for myself is to love freely. Speaking it often. Too appreciate ourselves and others. To value each other. I believe those to be the only weapons with which we have to fight off the ghosts of people’s pasts and present. All we can do in the face of such reckless misleading lies is to love one another. And, hopefully, like Odysseus in Homer’s “The Odyssey” that love can be the rope that ties us to the boat of life, and although our demons may sing the siren’s song we will be bound so tightly with love that we will not be able to shipwreck.