In the middle of this, I began to feel. Yes, feel. That word that seems attached to women, like ornaments stuck on a Christmas tree. But with men, it was the opposite. Men were tough. Hard. Thick skinned. And more like motor oil, and Evian water, that didn’t mix. It hadn’t really mixed on me either. And while I was bundled and boxed full of them, I never knew it. Never knew it was part of God’s hardwiring in me. And really that I even had them.
I always saw feelings as soft and warm. Feelings were for those who could not handle life, or push through and deal with the circumstances of around them. They felt, because they could not act, or move. They cried, or were sad, because they were weak.
You could feel sitting around coffee, or with friends, which seemed to be what women loved to do. And as a struggling boy trying to make it, I got the sense, to not get too close to that world. Afraid I would get enveloped in it, and never come out a man.
For me, when something started rising up in me, some emotion, undefined, there were always two ways to handle it. Either I ran from them, tried to avoid it, by distracting myself, getting busier, or the other way. Or the other way of trying to prove them wrong. Working more, fighting more, or doing all I could to kill or defeat those giants within me. I faked it, or moved into high gear.
It came out most directly through pornography. I would be sitting on the screen, and something in me, or in God was asking, “what are you looking for?” And while at first, it seemed to obvious. The question always turned back to my heart, and what I was feeling. That I had not asked, never thought to even consider. And the thought came, “what is going on inside?”
I can remember one early evening thumbing through pics, when it hit me what I was doing. The sun was golden orange, and the evening was cool from the window near me. The sunset was just a few hundred yards up the cliff in our backyard, easily discovered and enjoyed.
I sat there, going through screens, only realizing what I wanted, what I was feeling, was my need to enjoy some beauty. Sit for a moment, and be overwhelmed by something bigger than my day today, admiring landscape and form, and having nothing required of me.
I had chosen that through these pictures on the laptop. And yet, it began to emerge just as much was the desire to go outside and take it all in with God. I sat between the two, wondering what to do. I was tired, it would take too much energy to walk up the cliff side. And have to sit, and be still, and rest. I saw that as too much work. This was so much easier. In the weirdest way, they seemed to give my heart the chance to feel. To rest, to admire, to be still, and lose myself for a little while.
Another time it was different, in looking online, and through these pictures, I found myself in a different place. I was not wanting to rest, not wanting to admire. I was angry. Frustrated over the day. Overwhelmed, and ready to take that out on someone or something else. I couldn’t feel it, and in some ways, wanted to transmit it to someone else. Here I was, playing out that anger, and feeling, through the internet again.
And so many times, just lonely. Not feeling that emotion, not realizing what was taking me there, but that I had not opened up much that week. Not with my wife, not with friends, and my whole internal world was trying to find a place to connect again. There it was, the chance, and opportunity.
All of a sudden pornography became less about my lust for women, and more about a quest to feel, and have emotions. It was the place so much of my bundled, and boxed heart took its need to release, and feel, and be alive.
I found God taking me to before the actual sin, and act. When I was tempted, the question would come, what am I wanting right now? What am I feeling? What is going on in my heart? The temptation, was almost the sign something was being triggered in me. I was needing restored. To be loved. To feel the day. To sit still. To hurt, or grieve over something in the days events.
It made sense, why did so many men struggle with feeling, and with their emotions, and their heart, and yet, so many struggle with pornography. It seemed a direct correlation. That something deep in our hearts was repressed, or locked up, or whatever you want to name it. But it desperately was looking to get out, had to find somewhere to go. No matter what the cost.
We were trying to feel. The thing we so desperately wanted to avoid.