4am 1967 9x12 oil on canvas on paper by Obletz

Encountering Satan

By Patricia Obletz , Editor

Inside the depths of despair, everything I noticed appeared to be charcoal gray or black. Not even the warmth of brown existed for the 18 months that preceded my escape. It was in fall 1986 that I at last wrote a suicide note that would, I had believed, convince my family and friends to be happy for me, and spare them from even an iota of guilt after my entrance into peace through death. In that hole where life is too painful to live, different people respond in different ways.

I didn’t realize I was bent over whenever I left my bed and, had it not been for my little white dog, Flyer, I never would have left the safety of that bed unless necessary. I knew I was in Hell, but despite Dante, I didn’t realize how many levels Hell had. And Satan didn’t come to me right away.

The elation launched by getting that note right clued in my psychiatrist. He called my brother in Milwaukee and told Michael that I would be committed to a psychiatric hospital if I were still alone by morning. My brother Michael showed up at my place in Chicago at two am. The only time that hate for my brother, father and mother filled me was when they prevented my escape into final peace. As soon as I could, I left the living room and my brother for my bed. I met Satan then, and “He did not have horns. He did not have a tail. He was the darkest hole, the coldest, most vile radiation of violation in the blackest, most devouring darkness ever witnessed. And always His message was a knelling of failure.” (From Love and Madness @ www.youpublish.com)

Medication yanked me away from Satan and slowly pulled me back to a consciousness that had become afraid of death, again. Inside suicidal desire, I was worth more dead than alive, so I had believed for the nine hardest years of my life.

I was blessed with parents who practiced The Golden Rule: Treat others with the same respect you want others to treat you. The only abuse I experienced was delivered by my sickly body in the form of asthma and other overreactions to my environment. My basic needs and adversities were met and balanced by unconditional love, financial security and an excellent education. These facts perhaps explain why the only name that came to me to account for what I had been typing day and night was “Messiah” in that period of full-blown mania. When the non-stop writing began, I thought it was a self-help book. “Satan” came to me in the seemingly endless hole of hopelessness, a condition bearable to me only in sleep.

Unconditional love, the ability to leave an abusive psychiatrist, and financial security cushioned my nine years of barely controlled manic-depression. A lot of people who experience a mental illness, and one in four do, are not blessed with a safe childhood, or encouraged and taught by respect, intelligence, humor, and example. Hopelessness affects different people differently. We see hopelessness at work in Milwaukee.

Satan showed up again in 2008. This appearance of Satan is the uncloaked un-American greed that, since 2011 began, again works in lockstep to take from the poor to give to the rich. The Golden Rule is absent when greed speaks racism about or to US President Barack Obama, and every time the minions of greed vote to end any pretense of belief in social justice. Non-violent protests, which were ignited by Wisconsin workers last February, and the voting booth are the best defense against greed, which history tells us, and we are witnessing.

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Last edited by patricia obletz. Based on work by Tyler Schuster.  Page last modified on March 25, 2014

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