breaking the hush

the story

 

There’s a lot to my story and it continues to grow.  I feel that no matter how embarrassed, ashamed, or disgusted I may be with parts of it, I have to share.  It’s all about breaking the hush, right?  As I write-risking ridicule and rejection- it’s worth helping others to open up, before they get to the places I have been, and learn how to overcome with the truth, as well as The Truth!  Freedom is attainable!

I was born into a devout Christian home-by devout, I mean my dad was in ministry from chldren, to youth, to adults and we never missed a Sunday or Wednesday service!  Growing up, I remember my dad in ministry, but never full-time until I was out of the house.  My mom worked a little when I was in primary school, but then I remember her being home a lot - from home schooling one year, to nannying out of her house, to going back to college through a distance program.  Eventually, she got her Teacher's Certification once I was out of the house.  I was the youngest of three and the only boy. 

          From a very early age I can remember having sexual feelings – maybe I was just curious?  I was far to young for puberty, but felt these same sex attractions.  You need to understand that in our home a lot was swept under the carpet – we weren’t a very open family until I was much older-into my 20’s-and being a part of the denomination I was – same sex attraction was a MAJOR taboo!  If anyone else struggled with it in our church, no one would know.  So I grew up a little confused!  Knowing how I felt from such an early age, almost as if born that way, and yet being taught and even reading for myself how wrong it was in God’s eyes, these feelings left me with several questions and no one to ask. 

          In Jr. High, my dad brought home a computer, and I was introduced to the internet.  The server that we used to log on, had chat rooms.  With this, my curiosity found some avenue to ask questions with others, having complete amenity!  I remember being alone-always had to be alone-because I couldn’t have anyone find out I was opening a chat room labeled “gay.”  Well, my curiosity-completely innocent-full of questions, ended up killing me.  The chat room was nothing that I expected.  These chat rooms were used for men to “hook-up” with other men.  To either meet up, or exchange pictures-mainly nudes, or what became knows as cyber-sex.  As puberty hit, this curious 12 year old was intrigued.  I was able to somehow separate my two worlds – real and fantasy.  I learned  how to surf for pornography.  At first, it was soft-underwear ads, bathing suits-but as I got desensitized, I wanted more – and with the growth of technology, it got easier, better and faster.  Moving from simple pictures taking 3 minutes to load on dial up to full feature movies streaming in seconds with DSL.  These porn and chat rooms created a very deviant cycle in me that I knew I could never share with anyone.  Upon graduation from high school, I knew that I could have a fresh start!  I just knew that it would be different moving away. 

          Education had always been important in our family.  My dad, mother, and both sisters had all attended the same college and there was a tug for me to go as well-not really from my family-I could have gone anywhere I wanted – but when visiting the campus, while taking my oldest sister in the 7th grade, I really fell in love with it.  I don’t know if it was the campus, the people, or the atmosphere, but I knew I would be attending a few years later.  Now, I attribute it to the prompting of God’s Spirit and His perfect direction. 

          In my first month at college, I met all kinds of wonderful people.  These people seemed very “real” to me!  They came from all different backgrounds with crazy testimonies and I couldn’t get enough!  My new peers did not seem like the West Texas crew that I grew up with.  It wasn’t so much about rules and regulations, but more about a personal relationship with God.  This made me hungry!  Very spiritually hungry!  The University that I attended had several rules and restrictions – at the time this was good as far as my porn habit went, but I had seen too many friends get kicked out of the school I loved for the same things I dealt with.  I wanted to share but couldn’t because I was scared of suffering the same fate!  Along with these rules there were chapel services five times a week.  After a month of school and zealously sitting on the front row of chapel  (very spiritually hungry) the missions professor gets up to speak.  All I remember is him saying, “I am going to preach a simple message on John 3:16 this morning.”  He then said something about how odd, because of it being a Christian university.  I remember my heart beating out of my chest anticipating the response.  30 minutes later I was the first, and possibly the only one, that responded to a salvation alter call and it changed my life forever!  It was a Wednesday and that night-like my father taught by example-I went to church and was filled with the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues.  Being saved and filled with the Holy Spirit, as well as accountability from the university rules, kept my struggles at bay for the time being.  Even after my new found freedom, I didn’t feel I could share them because of the taboo’s and fear of being kicked out! 

          By the time my senior year came about, I was back to my old struggles – slipping home when I could to indulge in pornography, calling chat lines from my dorm room.  Something was different this time – I had hope because of my relationship with Christ, and knew through His Spirit that I needed to tell someone of, what I know now was, my addiction!  I was about to graduate with a ministry degree and knew that I couldn’t stand in front of a group of people to minister and have such a dark secret in my life!

          I began to pray, for what, I didn’t really know, an outlet I guess; someone to share with, to help me carry my burden.  Several names went through my head and I narrowed it down to one professor-a man I respected and felt comfortable talking with.  It turns out I never got the nerve before God intervened. 

          One of my closest friends from school set up a lunch date with a pastor in the area.  You see, my friend and I had a conversation the summer before our senior year about several men that we respected, admired, and desired to learn from, that neither of us really knew intimately.  Well, for my birthday that next fall, he set up a lunch meeting with one of these men from our conversation the summer prior.  This initial meeting was a catalyst in my life!  This pastor introduced me to mentorship, something I had been missing for over 20 years!  This was a GREAT need in my life and during our mentoring, I was able to share my struggles with same sex attraction and pornography.  He began to help me understand where these feelings came from and helped me find accountability for my addiction.  All of this was vital in my recovery, but there was still such a struggle with pornography, and at the time I didn’t understand my triggers or my deviant struggle.  I would be doing so well, and then I would hit a trigger and I would lapse or even relapse.  It was kind of like a monster that, after starving, turned into a Chihuahua nipping at my heels-never completely gone-but sometimes sleeping.    My most vulnerable moments were after incredible spiritual highs, something I have learned to be aware of.

        It turned out that my mentor became my pastor, and I was loyal to him and his family.  Even thought there was never a paid ministry position at our church, I stayed, with the prompting of the Lord.  I found full-time lay work and was a small group leader within the church.  After 10 years of being there, I thought I had finally found my ministry.  I was part of a small group that was 20-30 college & career strong.  I had a heart for this age group since I was in college.  I would continue to see it grow every week.  Great things were happening within our church, and as an extension, in our group, which met in my home.

    

           

        I was teaching Music and Theater at a charter school in town.  I would have done it for free because I loved it so much!  This was the highest point in my life; soon to be the darkest. 

        This is the hard part, where the ridicule, rejection, embarrassment, disgust, and shame come in.  But, I’m breaking the hush, right?  At this time in my life, it was easy for me to be honest about my past, but not my present.  When I would lapse, I wouldn’t share-I wanted to be so past my struggles that, it was so shameful-and it was like I was the only one who kept struggling.  Maybe people stopped sharing?  It was just crazy to me, how I could be one person spiritually, but still deal with a relapse ever so often.  How was God using me?  Though, it seemed, I was doing well and most of the time I was, I still felt so alone!  My family and close friends knew of my struggles.  Most knew about my struggle with pornography, but I still didn’t feel comfortable sharing the same-sex attraction part.  They all couldn’t handle it.  But, if people asked, I would be open. 

          The extent of my same-sex attraction was gay porn, but at this point I knew what it was to be straight.  That wasn’t an issue-I like women, see them as beautiful, want to be with one, and I can and have been sexually aroused by them.  The more I find myself in Christ the “straighter” I become.  This probably doesn’t make sense to many people other than Dennis Jernigan, Sy Rogers, or Ted Haggard, but that’s okay. 

          When I saw men in the church who, I thought, were struggling with homosexuality, I wanted to help, mentor, counsel, at least my spirit did.  For those who weren’t struggling, but okay with being gay, I wanted to show God’s love for them. Acceptance, not rejection, like I feel the “church” has done for so long.  I just don’t know of I was ready and strong enough. 

          Yet again, after an incredible spiritual high, and being where I wanted to be at this point in my life, I hit a trigger for my addiction.  With my guard down, I stepped into a relapse.  Only this time, I had set up a program on my roommate’s and my computers.   This program would shoot out an email to him or myself if either of us viewed pornography.  I didn’t let this stop me.  As any addict would understand, I HAD to have my fix.  I set up an alias through a social networking site for the sole purpose of “chatting” with other men and exchanging photos for my fix.  This way there would be no email sent to my roommate, because I wasn’t on a porn site. 

          Sparing all the details for my book, it was during this time I “chatted” with a 15 year old.  I can’t really tell you what I was thinking at the time, if I was really thinking at all.  Unless you have had any type of addiction yourself, I don’t expect you to understand, but please bear with me.  I never wanted to hurt, embarrass, or confuse anyone.   I wasn’t thinking about consequences, or even knew that there were legal ramifications at the time.  I was 100% selfish, thinking only of myself, my fix, completely indulged in my deviancy.  I can tell you that I never expected my “fantasy” life to mix with my “real” life. 

          Well, that all changed early one morning before leaving for work, when the Dallas PD-Solicitation of Children’s Unit-knocked on my door, more details that I will save for my book.  That day, I got in my car and drove to East Tx with nothing but the clothes on my back.  I stayed in contact with the Dallas Investigator, turned myself in when there was enough evidence, I’m sure my confession was all they needed, to charge me with “online solicitation of a minor.”  Shortly, my mug shot, along with the headline, “Teacher arrested for Online Solicitation” was broadcast over every news channel in the Dallas Metroplex.  This is where I learned not to believe everything you see on TV-even on the news-because their “story” wasn’t entirely accurate.

          This was the end of my existence for most of those that knew me.  It became a time for me to experience the love of Christ in human form, through my family, some old friends, and several new friends over the next two years, as I tried to rebuild a life for myself, a witness for the lost, and a relationship with God, while wearing the scarlet letters “SO”, for Sex Offender, on my chest.  So many things, great things, happened in my life over the next two years.  Growth, all kinds-spiritual, emotional, mental, physical-most importantly, I started to learn much about my addiction, and my deviant cycle.  Even more importantly how to recognize those nasty triggers and stop the cycle! 

          The week before the detectives came to my house, I remember crying out in prayer, “God, do whatever it takes to stop this!  I can’t do it on my own.  Even if the whole world must know.”  The Lord answered my prayer.

          It was the classes, through probation, where my growth and health came from.  Understanding my cycles and such.  This brought me to an incredible point in my life.  Realizing true freedom, that I could live an addiction free life!  This gave me a hunger-a hunger to share my story-a hunger to succeed despite my past-a hunger for more of God in a way I’ve never known-a hunger to live wholly holy!  I wish I could tell you that this is where I am, but it is not.  

          A few months ago, I was arrested again with a probation violation.  I was violated for technical reasons.  For example, using the internet to fill out a graduate school application, or picking my school teacher mom up from work after all the students had gone home.  Things I did in complete innocence, only after my probation officer gave permission for others who attended my group counseling class, to do the same. 

          I had to wait four months in jail, before I saw a judge, to plea for his mercy.  I let him know that I was finishing my Masters in Counseling degree in order to help other addicts, I told him that I had all the support I needed to continue to succeed the remaining years on reinstated probation, and I now understood that I made a mistake by not clarifying some stipulations and even justifying them away.  After my plea, there was a short recess.  While waiting for the judge’s decision, I sat there by my lawyer, waiting anxiously to be reinstated.  My parents and sister were the only ones in the courtroom, sitting behind me, waiting to take me home.  The judge came back ready to rule and what we heard next was the greatest shock of my life!  He chose not to listen to any of the testimony and to only focus 100% on my original crime, where probation was a sufficient punishment 2 years earlier, he proceeded to give me the maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. 

          This is where I now sit, writing from prison as Paul wrote-only wishing I was here due to my proclamation of faith, but I am here for my sin.  I am here waiting for God to intervene, asking Him questions everyday.  Learning to live, bound but free.  Yearning to share my story, striving to stop taboos!  Desiring to keep there from being victims, proving God is in the restoration business, letting other addicts learn from my mistakes, and most importantly accomplishing these things through BREAKING THE HUSH!!!