“Though he didn’t have the words at the time, he medicated the pain away with a drug already known to him:
This is the story of a boy and his drug.
It was 1979. Though there had been wounds, and indeed misunderstandings, the red-headed boy was largely happy. The future lay before him. Like James Bond in Moonraker, perhaps he could one day head out into space? There were still possibilities in those days: His family was yet whole, and while not perfect–not by a long stretch–there was security in that. His dad, though he didn’t know how to be one, was at least there. Most of the time, anyway.
Though he didn’t quite cheer his son’s successes, he wasn’t yet veiled away, lost in a cloud of unemployment, alcohol, and affairs. But soon he would be lost in the fog, unable to cope with his diminishing glory. From youngest plant manager in his company’s history, to the shuttering of the plant–all in the span of a few short years.
He was a man, carrying a wounded boy of his own inside, who didn’t know who he was apart from his accomplishments. His very identify was assaulted.
And when his sensitive older son began to intuit that something was up, a wall, veiling: Dad was lost to him. It was then, in midst of questions he couldn’t voice, the boy found Eve.
Nature, and Satan, are alike in that both abhor vacuums. The boy knew an ache, but didn’t have to words, or the maturity, to put a finger on his soul’s deepest need. So when the counterfeit offered itself–cheap, easy, free–his heart leapt within him! Oh, he came by it innocently enough: there at the barber shop, amongst the combs immersed in jars of blue sanitizer, the sounds of shears and clippers, the smells of talc and hair, the barber with his beard trimmed just so, in his bright, starched white shirt. There she was, amidst all the other magazines–People, Us, Life:
It’s very name was evocative: it emanated cool, and stood out like a tall drink of iced water on am arid Arizona day. Whatever it was, it promised refreshment to a ten year-old’s parched soul. Ah! The glories of it! Eve was beautiful! And the feelings stirred inside? The boy didn’t know them, but he did know:
He felt alive. For the first time in sometime, he felt alive. And his mother was with him, there at the barber shop, approving of his burgeoning “curiosity.”
If only she knew. Knew just how rent the fabric of her young son’s soul was. Would things have turned out differently?
Maybe. But that’s a question without answer; what was, was this:
The boy, once entranced, shortly thereafter was allowed to take his favorite magazine home. And not too much later–still ten, maybe eleven–had a subscription in his name to Mr. Hefner’s gentleman’s magazine.
All with his mother’s approval. His dad neither knew, nor cared.
Fast forward a few years:
When an older cousin moved in, the boy–Chad–inherited his magazines. The hook was baited, and he was reeled in like a fish without any fight: for there was no resistance left in Him.
Eve was his religion. His room became a shrine to her mystique, her allure. Where concert tickets, and band posters, had been was her picture–in all its varying forms:
Blone, brunette, redhead, black, white, asian–he loved her. Loved that she made him feel alive. And she was easy, too: he could take from Eve whenever he needed, and she never asked for anything in return.
A setup straight from the very pits of Hell.
And along called “normal,” “healthy,” “curiosity.”
It was anything but. The boy become a man struggle to this day to grapple with the reality of how deeply he was allowed to get into pornography. That his involvement was encouraged, and when it became worship, was ignored. For it was: when the centerfolds went up on his bedroom wall, his mom’s solution was simple:
Close the door.
And her a counselor, a therapist, a woman adept in helping others find hope and healing in their pain.
Her solution was denial.
But to fair, she had no hope in her heart at the time, had watched her marriage of sixteen years crumble, and die. Her own wounds clouded her eyes. Because with dad gone, and with him any hope of learning of healthy sexuality, she was on her own. His leaving took her away from the boy and his younger brother, too.
Despite her learning, and years of experience, she didn’t know how to raise boys. Didn’t know the wound, and couldn’t answer the question: do I have what it takes as a man?
All our little family of three could do was hold onto what we had, and find solace wherever we could.
The boy’s–my–hope, comfort, solace, peace was in pornography. It became my drug of choice: when life became hard, when the questions screamed the loudest, when God seemed far away. Make no mistake: it was never about sex, but about life, about feeling alive, when I felt dead inside. Which is to say that it was idolatry. For what is worship if not a turning towards something for life? Whatever we turn to–whether it be porn, sports, technology, cars, music, food–for life instead of God is an idol. When that thing, whatever it is, takes His place, we are in deadly danger. (Look in the coming days for a post on the devastating effect this had later in life when I thought I had freedom).
It was a long, long time before anyone told me any better.
Have any of you ever been there? Where have you turned to whatever–instead of God–for life?