Wednesday, 18 March 2020

Thoughts on "The Exorcist", after possession...

I thought that with all this self-quarantining in effect, it meant it was a great time to hunker down with a classic movie, so I pulled my copy of "The Exorcist" from the shelves, and decided I'd give it a watch so I can comment about it in an article.  I hadn't seen this film since before becoming possessed, putting it off due to the concern that it might be upsetting.  But now I am at a point where I felt I could handle it, and having just watched it, it wasn't so bad.  Some thoughts:

First off, I am not sure what possession (an extremely rare but legitimate condition that might be more prevalent in some cultures than others, largely ignored and written off as mental illness in the west) is like for other people, but I never physically got as messed up as Regan here.  I can relate heavily to the component of the film where western medicine fails to understand what is going on, except in my case it was even more infuriating because at least Regan got several specialists on board to try to make sense of her case.  (Also, Regan avoided psychiatric institutionalization, her mother was a rich woman - I have been a poor woman on my own, and I was thrown into an insane asylum.)  In my situation, apart from an EEG that later came in hospital due to violent convulsions, and an MRI when I had a seriously horrible reaction to marijuana that led me to an ER in an ambulance, I never got any kind of PETscan to determine faulty brain chemistry - one particularly infuriating doctor mused that a PETscan could "prove" I was schizophrenic, so when I asked for one to confirm his suspicion, he said it was only for research.  I got the standard, lazy treatment of doctors listening to my case for about ten minutes, and making a clinical decision based solely on their personal opinion.  This medical decision was to change a couple of times, because different doctors meant different ideas about what was going on... because, "science".  All the while, for the longest time, no one cared to hear about my perspective.  So the frustration Regan's mother has with psychiatry is the kind of shit I had to deal with for years - I am not sure how my family felt about it behind my back, but I know it must have been difficult for them as well.

Another thing I can relate to is how this crept over me and became increasingly worse with time.  My behaviour began to go very weird with people, and I wasn't even aware of how odd it seemed.  In this movie, Regan starts by acting slightly strange, they think it's a nerve disorder, and prescribe Ritalin.  It started, in my case, with me accusing people of things I strongly believed about them, acting weird in emails, going off and doing things in the middle of the night, and inventing peculiar rituals.  It was like being in a trance, and I was losing my footing as an ego.  The possession case I had was more like a haunting or spirit obsession until one day, in a room I was renting, the demon entered me through my sacral region and flooded my mind with a horrible sensation as though I was being ripped to shreds by angry bats.  Before this time, I was being playfully manipulated, but also subjugated, so that I couldn't think for myself as easily, and I was under the command of something other than my own mind.  How do I know it was not of my mind?  I can't say, only that I know.  It's not something that can be quantified by any other means except to experience it oneself.

Unlike Regan, I got the sense God was making this easier, for I had reached out to God before this attack on my soul, so God was cushioning it with slight whimsy, to make the experience less painful.  Something to mention from my youth: when I was 14, I had played with a homemade ouija board with other kids in my high school.  Something calling itself "Napoleon" spoke through it, and got us to keep going back to it, under a flight of stairs at the school.  From what I know, none of those other kids were affected, it just wanted to toy with me.  One night, with a neighbourhood kid, it changed its tone with me, saying it was going to kill me, and that's all it would say from that point on.  Then, it said it was in my "black yin piece" necklace, which promptly broke off its chain.  Not having a religious upbringing, and not knowing how to proceed, I stupidly kept that yin piece for many years in a shoebox.  When I felt spiritual problems creeping into my life, I found the yin and tossed it into Lake Ontario.  Shortly thereafter, my soul was under attack from something calling itself "the devil".  I am still trying to make sense of what holding onto that item meant as far as how it affected my life, but perhaps it was causing me depression, self-injury tendencies, and problems at home.  This is the stuff of teen horror movies, isn't it?

Things that didn't happen to me: I never levitated, though a rosary in my hands did at one point.  I didn't vomit or spin my head around, though I had a tendency to claw at myself, and thrash, beat myself, and for this I required hospitalization to keep from seriously damaging myself, or others.  Also, my body would often move on its own.  There were a few weird things that happened with electronics, but nothing truly dramatic.  Nightmares were horrific when they happened, and often implied horrible sexual depravity and abuse, the tone was gritty, as though through a really raw, horrifying filter, and they would shake me awake in terror.  My voice changed to a different tone like Regan's, but maybe only a few times... it got deeper, as though a male's voice.  I felt like I was growing a phallus at one point, there were strange sensations as though my energy field was being played with.  My mind was flooded with visions, some funny, some horrific, some repulsive, some just plain chaotic.  I talked in tongues and I shouted coprolalia... it's possible I spoke in another language at one point, and I suspect it was Aramaic.  There was a creeping sensation throughout my body of irritation and filth, and my senses were in so much agony that this was another reason I would claw at myself, or beat myself to calm down, the tendency to self-injure having already been a pattern in my life.  Thankfully, aside from one suicide attempt in 2012 due to a failure from the medical establishment in stabilizing me, most self-injury was mild, and I don't have permanent marks from it.  It was just bruising and light scratches from my fingernails.  Though I used to be a cutter, I wasn't at the time of possession, and I have scars but not as many as some people I have met.

I kind of reacted to holy water like Regan, though it wasn't as dramatic - I would simply flinch from it, smudge was a bit more dramatic in how the demon would react to it.  If I touched crucifixes, sometimes I would feel an intense electrical burning sensation, but this was only a couple of times.  It was so strange how powerful these reactions could be, it dramatically transformed how I view reality.  The truth really is stranger than fiction.

I know possession cases are extremely rare, so rare that I gather most people don't believe in them, but I know this happened to me.  Thank God I have been able to find ways of getting out of this on my own.  My understanding is that convincing a priest to perform an exorcism requires certain religious protocol, and I wasn't expecting Toronto to exactly be a spiritual epicentre that could provide for something like this.  Life is still about being cautious, I am not feeling 100% free as a mind (though I am dramatically freer now than ever before this began, and not even affected in a dark way, I am just slightly different than I probably should feel, and it keeps getting better).  I really had to fight for my life, tooth and nail.  Many things kept me going... the fear of dying and facing this thing on the other side, the fear of disappointing God and my loved ones, and even the concern of people spreading rumours about me killing myself due to "schizophrenia", later to do something well meaning but equally insulting, like starting a foundation in my name, donating money to CAMH for a disease I didn't even have, CAMH being a place that didn't listen to my perspectives, and locked me in freezing cold isolation cells for days on end.  To me, that would be like pissing on my grave, and I needed to tell my story anyway.

"The Exorcist" still holds up as a classic horror movie, and though I can't relate to all phenomena in it, I enjoyed it.  I think what truly makes this piece disturbing, when it is, is seeing Linda Blair as a young girl saying and doing horrible, provocative things with herself, and imagining a child actor being instructed to do this.  That in itself is very creepy.


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