DAMAGED FOR BETTER
The cursor kept hovering over the image, the umpteenth pop-up in the last few minutes. “Hey, I’m just three miles away” “You want to see me naked?” “Wanna see more? Cut my bra,” They came in their varieties.
His pattern was predictable. His Achilles heel, he knew too well, was four-lettered: Eyes. The gateways to his mind that had been compromised. Carelessly compromised. And oh, once done indulging how well he knew to cover his tracks–delete all downloads, wipe out browser history or, better still, surf incognito.
Fine, he had not been sleeping around–it hadn’t gotten that bad. He was still a virgin in fact. However, that did nothing to make him feel less filthy than someone who had kept a long tally of lays. Was anything different between himself who would fantasize and pleasure himself to a fit by gawking at random easy virtue specimens onscreen and someone perpetrating the act with tangible subject(s)?
He felt like a balloon, turgid with mounting internal pressure, which would rupture at a needle’s prick. He seemed a ready-to-detonate explosive, a wreckage of destiny waiting to occur. At any rate, there was no telling if he continued at this pace, he would not outdistance Casanova in depravity. It was only a matter of time.
But how on earth did he get here?
Just curiosity. Untamed curiosity. A desire to verify, validated by a sense of entitlement to know as much as he desired, worsened by a cyberspace that was never unwilling to divulge. Hence, a prudish, gentle young man had transformed into a wild stallion burning with deep-seated lust, having since lost the judgment to cringe at undress. The guilt disappeared whenever he arose from his knees after breaking down in hot burning tears for forgiveness. Yet, he would soon return to the act, and every relapse only took him deeper in this desire that is never satisfied. There was never an intention to foray this far, dive this deep, but perhaps, a prolonged feeling at home with wrongdoing births a death of conscience.
The solution he sought was just when he Googled “Breaking addictions.” Millions of suggestions as usual, but he stumbled on one. He was not big on poetry, but this one hooked him:
This flame, with the snug warmth it forever fetches;
The unwieldy extent of pleasure, far as it stretches.
’Neath your skin, thin lines of gratification it etches,
Yet, unaware it’s the atlas of ruin it mutely sketches.
Ugly indulgence – hard to share and harder to drop
Just an attempt, then 2,…3.. 4…until it’s over-the-top!
Ever petrified at probable public response to the flop;
Still, coming clean makes your heart want to stop!
See, it is like heating up an eager-to-explode canister,
Or walking on hot stones and never expecting a blister,
Or scooping coals of fire, probing what’s to be learnt.
Please freely execute me if you are not gravely burnt!
Though it feels ever so soothing, the wild passion,
Never think its cost will treat you with compassion.
Buddy, devastation is a certainty, not a prediction,
Unless you tame that craving and fix that addiction.
Fondling the same flame that would be your death,
Cuddling the very inferno that’d snuff your breath;
’Tmay be much too late to see you wrongly presumed
that by kindling that fire you won’t surely be consumed.
He went the resentful way, however. Am I the only one going through this; and why is the writer so blunt? He hissed, clicking the webpage shut. Yet, there was a nudging unease about this. Mixed feelings, of sorts. While they usually provide a relieving sense of a shared struggle, he did not like when a story, poem, sermon, movie or song summarizes his struggle, mirrors his life. It made him feel vulnerable, like he was being spied on. Like someone he had opened up to decided to tell on him by crafting his secret into a piece.
He switched to the other tab on the browser, the luscious temptations winking at him. By itself, it seemed, his finger left-clicked the mouse. Won’t he ever stop? He exhaled. Could he ever?
Church. Go-to destination for folks of all shades of distressed: broken, confused, disillusioned, dead-enders, etc. He was everything.
The song leader yodeled Jonathan McReynold’s Coming Out as the altar call was being made following an impassioned, irresistible sermon.
I’ve never fallen this low before
Is this rock bottom cause I can’t take no more
The enemy knew which buttons to press
Now I’m stuck in a pile of my own mess…
While folks trooped out, the clergyman encouraged reluctant ones back in the pews: “The truth about being in a quagmire is that the more you struggle, the deeper you sink. Just let go. Let that truth set you free, friend. Now come, will you?”
He was kneeling at the altar, but he didn’t know how to pray about it anymore. He had sought forgiveness more times than the devil has lied. Under his breath, Three words, Lord: Set. Me. Free. Feeling a scarce relief, he opened his eyes to test-run his breakthrough. An usher sashayed her heavy behind past him. He jittered.
“Father, help me,” he shut his eyes quickly.
Then for the first time ever, he would hear a direct, immediate, response. “Help is on the way,” the voice said. If he doubted what his own name was, not the genuineness of what he just heard.
* * *
En route home, a hot air tank would collide with his bike—the injury costing him his memory. And both eyes. Not quite the kind of help he had envisaged, but it seemed, quite strangely, a demonstration of His love for him. Speak of tough love.
Half a year down the line, his fingers would be tracing his Braille devotional, his companion in months, as he read the day’s memory verse. A quick Proverb. Verse 30 of chapter 20; the Good News Translation.
“Sometimes, it takes a painful experience to make us change our ways.”
* * *
He stands up from the altar, tears falling while a renewed energy wells up within him. An energy, a power, throbbing in him, telling him he can do this. Can overcome this. So no, he will tread this path no more. He will change his ways so he won’t have to learn from his own experience.
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