Throughout the years, family members have told me that I haven’t always been the way I am today. I used to be fun, bright, and colorful; I was the Mexican embodiment of Punky Brewster. But somehow I changed and not for the better. I went from singing songs by the New Kids on the Block to listening to Marilyn Manson. For my family this was a sign that I was possessed by evil forces. However, for as long as I can remember, I have been possessed by a variety of demons; in fact, long before Marilyn Manson. I can’t remember a time when they weren’t accompanying me, lurking in the back of my mind, whispering to me or taking me on imaginary adventures.

Isn’t that how they come to us? Imaginary friends who simply want to show us a great time. They make us feel smart, alive, and tell us the world is ours for the taking. Then, when they have gained our trust, they show their true nature. Those pointy, stubby horns we once thought cute transform into long spiral, aggressive, looking things that might stab you at any moment’s notice. 

These demons begin to insult us with small things, “oh that’s a dumb idea” but quickly escalate to questioning us, “is that really what you want? is that really what you think?” until they telling us that the world is out to get us. We believe them. How can we not? They have been around us all our lives! They know our intimate secrets. They blackmail us. They love us enough to want to hurt us.  

My first demon came at an early age when I was living in Mexico. I was alone, raised as an only child by “traditional” grandparents. I was hidden away from the world, only allowed to play in the backyard with the three tortoises and my dog, Blanca. On Sundays my grandfather would take me to la plaza for 30 minutes so that I could have a bag of chips and a coke. Then, I would come back home. I became scared of the world because I didn’t know anything about it. I was in a foreign country attempting to speak a foreign language and without regular human contact.

As a result, I have been “happier” being alone. When I’m out in public, I am scared. I continue to listen to my demons that come up with scenarios as to why I should be scared and simply go home. And I listen to them. I can go out with friends, maybe if it’s one or two friends but in a room full of people that I know and love, I collapse. Sometimes I have to cling to one friend for support even though I am surrounded by people I know. I withdraw wondering and questioning if they really like me as a friend. I regret clinging to friends so I withdraw even further. I end up flaking out on friend outings because of this. Every once in a while I have to remind them about how much I appreciate them because they want to help me. I’m glad I’m able to move past that and ask for help.

I’ve never wanted to acknowledge my demons; never naming them or describe them. Who would I talk to about them? As Hermione once said, “Hearing voices no one else can hear isn’t a good sign, even in the wizarding world.” Today, I am changing all that. I am choosing to acknowledge these demons because the only way to defeat them is to know them. What are their names? Their stats? Their weaknesses? I am choosing to defeat them because this is no way of living. I see this as war. As Sun Tzu would say, “Know your enemy and know yourself, find naught in fear for 100 battles. Know yourself but not your enemy, find level of loss and victory. Know thy enemy but not yourself, wallow in defeat every time.”