The problem with Satan is that he uses people as a force of destruction, people who have no idea that they are being used. They are fighting their own battles and may not even notice that in swinging their sword around, they struck a blow to someone nearby.
I have been haunted for six years by the ghost of a man who had no idea what he did to me. He was a trusted teacher who never realized that his careless flinging of words cut slashes in my heart. He was fighting his own demons, ones slashing at his throat, trying to defeat him. And he became my demon.
He has been the voice in my head saying "you can't do this" in the softest whisper that is somehow so deafening that shouts of reassurance are deadened by the soft hiss of a whisper. "Do something else."
The sharpest insults are hidden inside compliments, disguised as advice, and said only once but are permanently engraved in my mind. So deeply engraved that the weathering of so many storms has only softened but not erased the words. I hope I forget.
The hardest part is to not take up the knife myself, to cut the weather, faded words into the rock afresh, to remind myself that they are lies. Some days it takes the hand of someone else to pry the carving knife from my fingers and some days someone will hand me the knife, not knowing what I will be tempted to do with it, the temptation to be my own demon and destroy myself bit by bit, carving words again with a knife.
I need the hands of others, and more importantly, the hands of God, to pull me away and let the words wear away with time. I cannot do it alone. I have let his face fade into memory, lost in six years of life's trials and triumphs.
Until that face is in front of me again and it's just like I am 16 and want to please my voice teacher again. He is nothing but complimentary but I hardly believe him because suddenly, I know.
I know the words I've cut back into the stone were said by a man who never knew what he was saying, who never knew what he was doing and was so caught up in his own battle, he thought it was okay. He was weak, as I am, easily made a demon through distraction, innocent and not innocent all at once, like a child tricked into uttering swear words.
So I will allow him to be proud of me because he has no idea the pain I've endured. I realize now the words he said have no power in themselves, only in the power I give them. And I will not be my own demon
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