Thursday, September 6, 2007

Spring...A seed is sown

I don't remember all of the sexual encounters that I had as a young boy. I only remember that they were all with other males...most older than I was. The details of the encounters is not important, but the impact that they had on my young life were. I know that I am different...that there are others out there who experienced similar abuse; but they seem to have survived without many scars. I was one of the unlucky ones. Perhaps because it was a combination of factors, or just simply my own genetic make-up, I will never know. I pray this journey will open the doors to bring light into my bring light into this closet that I've crawled into.

It's hard for me to speak ill of the dead, and I hope not to. But, at the same time, in order to know my own story, I will need to speak of my father. He has been gone for over fifteen years now. Actually, he was gone even before that because of the dementia that racked his body and stole away his mind. I can't say that my dad was a bad man...not could I say he was an exceptionally good man. I'm not sure that he ever learned how to love, and sometimes, that is not the fault of the individual but of the environment in which he was raised. I don't know that much about my dad, I'm sad to say. Communication was not overly encouraged in our house. And I was never one who naturally asked a lot of personal questions. This became especially true after I became sexaully active because I didn't want to share anything back about myself because of my own shame and embarassment.

I grew up in a home my sister has described as one "without any love", and I have to agree with her. It's not that it was a house where there was a great deal of screaming or where my parents fought. In fact, until I was in my late high school years, I never remember my parents ever fighting. From the surface, one might think that I have blinders on concerning the lack of love in our home. My parents kissed us good-night before sending us to bed each night...some might call that love. And they provided us with food and shelter. But, sadly, I don't remember feeling loved. I don't remember our house being filled with joy or happiness. It was home headed by an angry Irish-German father and a mom who rarely, if ever, opposed my dad. The language of my father probably would have embarassed a dock worker at times, he knew most of the swear words, and used them often. The only word he didn't use with much frequency is the "F---" word. I'm surprised that being raised in that environment didn't lead me to speak with the same level of profanity.

But there were things in our home environment that did stick to me...and embedded themselves deep into my soul. That was dad's pornography. For as long as I can remember, he had some form of pornography in the home. At first, it was just the Playboy magazines, or the Penthouse. All of us boys found them and spent our time looking at the images. But for me, it was more than just pictures. It became a form of escape. I know for sure that as early as age ten, I was hooked on the illicit pictures, and soon the stories began to fill my mind. As I got older, I found his "harder" stuff...the hard-core pornography that he received in the mail. Most of it was advertising fliers, but the images were in color, and they were explicit. As I recall, they were all of straight sex; at least there was no male-male sex. I soon started to steal my dads porn, even going to the point of stealing it right out of the mailbox so that he never even saw it. I kept it in a stash under my bed, or down in the old barn, buried under old boxes or burlap bags deep in the corners or under the eaves. As I would look at the pictures or read the stories, I would find myself a part of it in my mind. It became an escape from the life and the family that I was a part of.

As I've shared part of this story with pastors and counselors that I've worked with, one of the pastors shared this analogy with me that has stuck with me. He said that during that time of my life, I was like a fish swimming in a pond without a care in the world. As I would swim around, I would nibble on some grubs here and maybe a worm over there. Unaware to me, some of that food was stuck on a hook that Satan was dangling into the pond. And I took some of that bait, and he allowed me to swallow his hook. But Satan can be, and is, very patient. He just allowed that hook to remain in me, and allowed me to move along in the pond, going about my life. He knew that there would be a time when he would jerk the line, and I would be unable to escape. And he did almost 35 years later. I never realized that the seeds that were planted when I was a small boy looking for something better in my life would turn into such a powerful force in my life. Unfortunately, the seeds didn't grow into a strong and towering oak, but rather was more like a poison ivy causing great pain to everyone whom it touched.

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