How an exorcism changed everything.
Written by Elisei Rusu 11/30/19
That Sunday was different. I was back inside the little Romanian Pentecostal church sitting in the same pews that held the same black ink drawing of a dotted bird carved into the wood from the time I was 8 years old daydreaming of flying away from the prayers in tongues and toward a glorious rainbow in the sky.
The pew is located a row behind where my father sat every Thursday and Sunday. It lies vacant now. He made it to the glorious rainbow already and now I sit fumbling through the worn out pages of his Romanian Bible wanting to find any essence of him.
There is a guest preacher tonight. His sermon is forceful like his blue eyes I would encounter later. He talks about his gift of speaking in tongues and casting out demons from possessed hosts through his missionary work around the world. Interesting, I thought.
“Amen,” shouts my mom, her eyes rolling up to heaven. I glance across to where she was sitting in the women’s section, rolling my eyes as well, amazed at how the church was still split between men and women. I cross my legs and continue flipping through the ancient pages crumbling before me, the preacher, an unpleasant thundering sound like a Texas thunderstorm forming in the distance.
Three hours later the service was over and the 18 of us who made up the congregation trickled out into the summer evening, me quickly trying to get to the car before I had to come up with lies to the “When are you getting married?” question after I just asked for forgiveness.
Before I could make it to the car, I was intercepted by my mom as if it was the last play to win the Super Bowl. She leads me rather forcefully to the guest of the evening, the one who casts out demons, let’s call him Peter, it seems fitting.
Without even any introductions my forceful, strong mom (for she birthed 19 children, only 15 being able to say “here” during family roll call after any trip to church or the grocery store- where she would have to ask the greeter to please announce, “Rusu kids to the front, your mom is waiting for you.” -And having 15 kids running down different aisles, sprinting because we knew we would get left behind if we didn’t show up within seconds) asked the demon slayer himself, if he could help my son, for a “gay demon” lives inside of him.
I stopped dead and dropped my hand from the car door handle and took a deep breath. Trying to inhale all the patience in the humid Waco air and shoving it deep inside my boiling body. I turned to shake his hand. It was rough and callus.
He spoke in Romanian at first but quickly realized mine was broken so he switched to vampire English, immediately sucking out all the patience I thought I had in reserve.
He begins by giving me his credentials, a background being an atheist turned believer through a miraculous miracle while he was escaping communist Romania in 1989. He was captured during his attempt and sentenced to an execution that night by firing squad. At that moment he prayed for the first time in his life leaving it all up to God and was rescued by a guard who took favor in him. Now he stands in front of me saying he can rescue me from my “gay demon.”
So I decide to go along with it. I thought if I didn’t my mom would for sure think I have a demon in me. And it wouldn’t hurt to try. If God saved him from execution, why couldn’t he take away this burden that has plagued my mom and her reputation all these years.
He tells me for this to work I must confess all my sins. He grabs the pastor and I find myself sandwiched in between them in the small room at the back of the church where I would hide to escape the monotonous boredom that plagued my every Sunday morning.
He starts by asking for my complete honesty. I nod in agreement.
“Have you even been to a palm reader?”
“No..,” I reply.
“Have you ever read a horoscope?”
“Yes,” I said. ("I always happen to stumble across it while I’m searching my People magazine for shirtless pictures of Brad Pitt," thinks my "gay demon.")
“This is a point of contact with the dark arts, you must stop that,” he replies, “Have you had sex before?”
“Yes,” I reply. Hoping he wouldn’t ask me how many sexual partners I’ve had.
“How many times?” “2?”
“Yes,” I quickly say, too fast that he raised his bushy eyebrows and his blue eyes pierced through the lie.
“Have you smoked, got drunk, did drugs, lied, stole?”
Yes x4, I nodded.
“Have you had sex with a girl?”
Finally something I haven’t done. Well kind of, but that’s a story for another time.
The list went on and on. I really was being truthful, well mostly. I just couldn’t tell them how when I was younger I use to masturbate to men on underwear covers I stole from department stores. Then came the prayer. He wrapped his massive hands around my head while his powerful voice in tongues erupted my ear drums. He shook me hard, back and forth trying to send the demon out of me and into the stuffed teddy bear that lie a couple feet away. Where else would it go I wondered? The pastors wife’s last season Prada shoes? -who just peeked her head around the corner in impatient frustration.
Same girl, I thought.
The prayer started getting louder and the shaking harder. ("I haven’t been shook this hard since Los Angeles pride last year!")
“Pray louder,” Peter screams!
“I am praying,” I stutter. “Lord, forgive them for they don’t know what they’re doing to me,” I whisper from my heart.
The prayer finally ended and only dizziness buzzed through my body.
“Do you feel any different? Lighter?,” he asked.
I stepped out the church, weightless. I have become me. The person I am. The perfect being created by God. I realized there is nothing wrong with me. There is no gay demon. I am who I am. My past has conditioned me to think otherwise. To label each encounter as if they were products meant to form me into someone else. To what my mom wants me to be. To what society tells me to be. The resistance to who I am comes in so many different forms from so many different directions that it could make a person mad. I used to have crazy thoughts of suicide, of hating the person I am, of not feeling secure in my work, always questioning my choices.
But something changed after the exorcism. I felt lighter! Sure I was traumatized slightly from the process of confessing my sins, the shaking of my body by the preacher, but looking back I am thankful for it. It woke me up! I became undeniably me. I no longer look for the approval of anyone. I know who I am. I am a kind, loving, patient and sometimes irresponsible being, who happens to be gay. I have a calm approach to the present that brings me inner peace. I am continuously grateful even for my beat up Camry that survived two different crashes, one of those complements of a tire practically falling from the sky spurring my move to China, where I continued to grow as an individual.
I didn't dwell long on the trauma the exorcism caused. I was able to sit with it and really talk out my feelings with my close friends, who were there for me. They listened and empathized with me. I realized where my parents were coming from. Their expectations of me served their selfish purpose. I forgave them right away, not holding any further resentment, not lashing out, but forgiving them for being unaware. For what you do to others, you do to yourself.
What followed was a series of events that only helped me grow into who I am. It gave me a new sense of confidence and awareness of what I can accomplish. I learned that what you put into this life you will get out. You have a choice to choose the present moment as it is or to hold on to the past that you feel so wronged about. Don't judge the moment, that only makes things worse. There is nothing you can do to change the past, so forgive yourself or whomever is holding you back.
It will not happen over night. You will have to supplement your life with things that are positive and good. Yoga, a loving church community, spiritual teachings, fitness, a hobby you're passionate about. Any one of those or all of them will break you out of your mental jail. The longer you stay locked behind your conditioned pass or expecting something to happen in your future, you will continue to be unhappy. No one owes you anything. You owe yourself the present moment, accepting what is and taking responsible steps towards your fullest potential.
Who knows, maybe a metaphorical exorcism from the expectations you believe people have of you is just what you need to move forward. You either become bitter or better. There's a new decade coming. Now is the time!
You got this Bee!
*Check out more of Elisei's writing at BEEINHONEY.COM*