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By Brooke Boland
Guest Writer Teresa Sutherland's innocent fascination with horror movies and scary novels led to a driving compulsion that had her enslaved to the very fears that haunted her.

"I remember going to the drive-in with my folks. It was my sister and me. And we drove in, and we were all excited, and then the lights went down and we were watching this movie. And all these horrible monsters were coming up and eating people, and I was shocked," recalls Teresa.

What started as an outing to the drive-in turned into a Pandora's box of terror for Teresa Sutherland.

"I would wake up and I would look underneath my bed very slowly because I just knew there was going to be one underneath there. And I was afraid they were going to come and get in the bed with me. They were in my closet. They were outside my window. They were everywhere," she says.

Teresa soon became addicted to the fear she had tried so hard to avoid. She began to crave the horror movies and books that scared her.

"When I started watching stuff about demons and possession and haunted houses and ghosts -- that stuff really attracted me. I liked that stuff; it was scary. I'd watch it over and over and over, and read the books over and over and over again just to scare myself," she says.

The bad dreams of her childhood grew into haunting nightmares.

"When I was a kid, I mostly dreamed about seeing monsters, you know, finding 'em here or finding 'em there. But when I started watching the other kind of movies, I was the one that became involved in my home with these things that I couldn't see. I would see things floating around my house. I would see things coming at me. `It's just a dream,' that's what I always told myself. `It's only a dream. It doesn't mean anything.' You know, your imagination does all kind of weird tricks on you when you're sleeping, so anything you dream doesn't mean anything. So that's what I told myself."

With two failed marriages and the loss of her children, Teresa's life spun out of control. But her addiction to fear grew. As her third marriage faltered, she continued to feed her hunger for horror.

"Every week I'd buy a TV Guide when I went to the grocery store and I'd go through the entire week of programming and picking out all the scary movies so that I would know what time every single one of them came on so that I could sit down and watch them," she says. "And I would plan my entire schedule around what was going to be coming on the TV."

To Teresa, the God of her childhood seemed far away.

"God, to me, was like when I read the stories in the Greek mythology. He was like Zeus, to me, up on a hill, way out somewhere in space. He was sitting up there and He was watching everything I did and He would try to manipulate me, I thought, just like all the rest of the spirits out in the spirit world."

Through the prayers of family and friends, she learned that God wanted to have a personal relationship with her.

"It changed my whole life to realize I could sit down and just talk to Him like a person," says Teresa. "I began to talk to Him just like He was there. I probably wasn't real religious at the time, but I felt like I could just sit down and say, `Hey, you know, I'm glad that you're here with me. I'm glad I can just sit here and talk to you.'"

Teresa committed her life to the Lord and her taste for horror began to fade.

"When I asked Him to come in and fill that hole and that gap in me, I was completely full and I knew that's what it was I'd been looking for. I was dealing with a spiritual battle," she recalls. "Whenever He showed me that I was able to be free with Him -- He and I worked together on it -- He showed me what the addiction was, that it was a spiritual thing, and then I was able to be free."

Teresa now enjoys a life free from the grip of fear.

"I keep in touch with the Lord. I know His voice. He said I would know His voice. I know His voice. And whenever He talks to me, and He says, `Hey, what are you doing?' I know that voice. I know the sound of my Master. That's how I keep up on top of it, because I know His voice."

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