My dear Lilith,
It’s lovely to hear from you, darling! I’m very glad you wrote to me. Screwtape, poor thing, does his best — but he doesn’t understand the feminine perspective. Of course, that doesn’t stop him from acting as if he knows everything, and if I’ve told him once, I’ve told him a thousand times. I’m persuaded that we will fare much more comfortably if we keep this just between us girls.
My understanding is that you have been assigned several perplexing cases to handle simultaneously. You must be exhausted. Those ridiculous secretaries at headquarters haven’t the least notion of how to manage job assignments, and I have no idea how they came to be allowed to run anything.
I’m writing to you today to discuss discontent. Now it doesn’t matter what particular topic the discontent fastens to. Just look for any little nook or cranny in their souls where you can insert the seeds of discontent, making sure that they take root. With some women, it may be best to plant the seeds of discontent somewhere around the topic of their looks: their face, their weight, their figure.
If, in the off chance, that doesn’t seem to take, latch onto the topic of relationships. Discontent with the husband, discontent with the lack of a husband, discontent with the children, discontent with the lack of children — the seeds of discontent can grow in any kind of soil, which is what makes it so effective. It can really be anything: missed opportunities, wrongs done to them in their past, failed ambitions. All of these are good options for where to start.
The first step with each of your girls is to find just a cozy little something to make them unhappy — and then tend it. Tending it means that you need to keep them concentrated on the thing itself, while keeping them from noticing the state of their own soul. Keep them looking at their husband’s failings (“he just doesn’t seem to even care about my needs”) and not their own heart. Keep them looking “in the mirror,” if you will.
Obviously, this means you need to keep them away from the Enemy’s book. If it happens that you can’t keep them from the book completely, you can effectively turn it to your advantage by simply making sure to keep all their thoughts focused on how their husband isn’t living up to the instructions the book contains. That can serve your purpose very well.
And it’s not at all a bad thing if you can get them to talk about their discontent with their friends — provided, of course, that they are the right friends. You want to encourage friendships that will feed and pet the discontent, rather than uproot it. Even prayer groups and mentorships are fabulous places for this to happen, if you manage it correctly.
Once you have the discontent well established and flourishing, you have a perfectly easy job ahead of you. You can take discontent any number of directions, and it only requires a little bit of creativity. Think of discontent as a small spark. You just need to get it planted into a welcoming little pile of shavings somewhere, and soon enough it spreads.
Let’s say you get one of your subjects solidly discontent with the state of her marriage. It will take little effort on your part to direct her attention to other marriages that seem better than hers. From there, you can easily fan that into full-blown envy of her friend or sister. And if you can’t turn that into a ruined friendship, then I wash my hands of you. Lies, backbiting, cheating, refusals to forgive, all are easily attainable once you have the discontent well established.
One of my favorite places to go, however, is bitterness. It’s so deliciously long-term, and it’s very gratifying to watch a subject get more and more shriveled with it. It lacks the spectacular showiness of adultery, of course, but it’s often more rewarding in the long run. If you overplay your hand and steer your subject into something obvious like adultery, then it’s all too easy for them to suddenly repent — and then all your hard work is undone. But bitterness achieves all the same results, but far more dependably.
Make her discontent, convince her that she’s not worth anything, and then drive her into all kinds of self-destructive tendencies. Enslave her to beauty, leaving her discontent to hold the whip that makes her run. And if you can drive her into a profound self-absorption and pride, then you will be able to sit back and feel satisfied with your work. The irony is that the silly women never seem to notice that whether they obsess over their own beauty or intentionally harm themselves, it’s all the same to us. We win either way.
As always, give my love to that old busybody Screwtape.
Your affectionate auntie,