Demasking

It was about four o’clock pm, school was over and everyone was heading home. It was supposed to be a typical stress free day. That, however, changed when a sizzling blow to my gut sent me falling down on my knees. As I lay helplessly on the ground with tears in my eyes and dust all over my school clothes, I asked myself why I wasn’t strong enough to fight back. As I pondered more on this question, I began to wish I had the strength to do my antagonist great harm. I was however too weak to stand up and fight that senior. Some passersby tried to help me to my feet, but I refused their help amidst soaking my already dirty clothes with my tears.

I honestly don’t recall exactly what I did or said to warrant such a punch and one as painful as that one, in my stomach. It’s been over twelve years ago and as I look back, I realise that I am not the only kid who went through a lot of hate-filled experiences. Every single day, people get picked on. From the skinny and timid boys, to the insecure and naive girls; and to those with physical challenges and a million others who lack some of the basic needs of life. We have all gone through similar experiences and someway somehow they have shaped us in one way or the other.

I internally battled with myself and struggled to find answers to certain questions. Like why are some people so mean? Again what caused my teacher to flip me upside down, hold me by my legs, and spank me in front of a group of laughing girls?(some of whom I was attracted to …he just had to blow my chances, right?). And why that guy just hit me in the face and started laughing when he saw me bleeding through my nose? My little human mind could not readily produce the answers I was looking for. And as the days went by, I felt extremely lonely. To this day, the challenges I faced in my Junior High School has left a lot to be desired and a permanent bitter taste in my mouth. My experiences there turned me into a timid hermit: one afraid to get beaten up by the bigger boys or laughed at by the hot girls for being called a “dull boy.”

THE DARKNESS BEGINS

On three different occasions, I stumbled upon a group of boys frantically indulging in pornography. It all felt awkward. I just didn’t get it. On all these occasions, I was either ignored, or treated like an outcast: and in Junior High, not that many people desired to hang out with an outcast—like me. At the same time I was growing—my teenage years had began—and yes I had a crush on a couple of girls, most of whom I couldn’t approach because I didn’t have the right ‘approaching vibes’. It was heartbreaking! In desperation, I would strategically position myself in their seats just so they could notice me to ask for seats back. And it sometimes worked. When it did, I went back to my classroom with floating hearts all over my head. And at other times it just didn’t go as planned; I would get the ‘you-are-disgusting’ look. Life sucked! I needed a girl, friends and love. I just wanted to feel free. But everyday was a struggle! I was a typical loner and in order to be seen as one of the normal kids, I just had to do what the Romans did, and at the time, it was pornography. My new language of sexuality was going to make me rise up above the people who perceived me as a greenhorn in matters pertaining to relationships and sex.

I just wanted to have my peace of mind. I just wanted to be able to hang around anyone without being discriminated or looked down upon. So when my close friend told me that pornography was all a part of life, I embraced it. It felt as though I had struck gold, no better still EUREKA.  I went home and embarked on an epic quest to find any book in our library with a set of “bare boobs.” I wanted in! I found a couple of medical books in our family library with just what I wanted…and that was when it all began. But it wasn’t until when we had an internet connection a couple of weeks later that my addiction deepened. My explicit journey had been set in motion.

In the subsequent weeks, I knew that I had become totally different; a new corky side of me had been birthed. I became that guy who bragged about knowing a myriad porn websites. On my “coolness” task list, I had my boxes ticked; find out what a hot naked chick looks like—Check! Talk dirty with some girls—Double Check! Let the other guys know you have seen porn and aren’t intimidated by a naked girl—Triple Check! And the list was endless. To me, I had done all I needed to do to gain the attention and love I never had from a lot of people. But I was wrong. You see, High School brought about new challenges…the biggest being that I was now up against other more experienced boys in the rat race for coolness and dominance. And many who have been through this will know that, it takes a lot to win such a race. It takes a new personality to win: one has to become an embodiment of lust, pride and a dose of hatred to win this race. One has to be ruthless and a total rule breaker. And come hell or high waters, I was going to be that guy. The type who sees a girl genuinely hurt, and has to act like he just doesn’t care because he is the alpha male: the most sought after guy. The one who got the high- fives, who got the pats on the back and at the same time, had an entourage of other male ducklings at his beck and call. There was one instance where I looked around me and beamed with pride as my friends welcomed me back to school—I was sick for a while—and talked endlessly about my new shoes, bag and a bottle of perfume which actually belonged to my Dad. They talked about the girls who had told them that they had crushes on me, and when I got to the chapel for morning worship, sure enough, those girls were there. The praise all felt good, and the girls were really beautiful, but in reality, I wasn’t ready for the long haul of temptations, ephemeral pleasures and soul ties with girls I didn’t truly love and all heartbreaks that came with being a Don Juan. So I constantly hid myself, walked alone and tried hard not to ever find myself in a compromising situation with any girl. I was a walking paradox.

SCREAMING FOR LOVE AND ATTENTION

Sitting behind a dusty laptop occasionally loaded with a few porn flicks, I logged onto my Facebook account and updated my status with the words: “Police: where ur road worthy dey ..what dey do ur inside light? Dela: E check like da inside light spoil ., i dey come make i search for the road worthy. –police realizing i had clenched my fist asks — Police: how much u get for there.. Dela: (smiles and opens hands gently ) : boss 1 cedi Police:PAAAAAARRRRRKKKKKKK…PARK PARK….NEXT oh chale,ungrateful man..u get free 1 cedi too u dey complain ..Kwasi*sem paah”

I got 38 comments. Over a period of more than two months (October -November 2009), I put up what I now call the most attention seeking posts ever, and indeed I got what I wanted. Behind the scenes, however, I was going through a phase which only a person with a discerning spirit would have intercepted, that besides the fact that I was fighting hard to keep myself from getting really intimate with a girl I liked, I was also struggling everyday to quit my porn addiction…it had gone overboard and I really wanted out. I was depressed and really wanted to find my place in this world. A lot of things weren’t going on well. My cell phone hardly rang…sometimes up to three days. Every silly post was my way of getting to be noticed.

Behind my mask (the posts), was an individual yearning to spread a message that would change the world in whichever way possible. During those evolutionary periods, I wrote a couple of quotes in my moments of deepest thoughts. What I however realized was that, when I said the things that were weird-that’s the best way to describe them, they ignited people who gladly commented on them, but when I wrote the things that I thought made perfect sense, words from deep within, many of these same people went quiet and it greatly disturbed me.

IT WAS ALL IN MY HEAD

You know, in life one of the most annoying situations to find oneself, is to have problems and not be able to tell people because of their preconceived notions about you. When everyone thinks life is good for you and you know it sucks, it becomes terrible and very difficult to live through each moment. I woke up everyday yearning for a friend…someone who could understand the real me…I met a girl…and within the first few days, topics of sex arose… it just made my heart sink. I had to pretend—play along—that I wanted to get intimate with her, whiles I in actual sense didn’t want to. My heart skipped a million beats as we talked and I constantly thought about ways in which I could prevent it all from happening. The next minute I knew, we were playing dare games. “If you don’t take care I will.” I don’t know how or when the dare games began, and I didn’t know how to stop them either. All I said in my head repeatedly was, “Jesus help me to not fall…because I know where this is going.”

In as much as I wanted to tell her that I hadn’t done a lot of the things I had spoken about, I just couldn’t find the words and the right language to explain it to her. I feared being called a dull boy. As a matter of fact, after a couple of dare games, I run away…I actually spent the day before our last dare game at a church, hoping I could talk to a pastor friend of my family about the sin I was about to commit…I knew very well that another day spent with her will definitely act as a catalyst for me getting physical with her which I was truly fleeing from. Sad to say, I couldn’t talk to him. I was too scared to. I went home, and braced myself for the “unknown.” The very next day was a Thursday, I met her up after finally agreeing to visit her. Sigh! Another dare game, this time around, I stumbled, cried in my heart and began conceiving my escape plan. The next day, we had a prayer service at home where I pleaded with God to save me before the porn in me led me down that dangerous path I was trying hard to flee from. On Saturday, I turned off my phone and hid from her for a week. But there was a problem, I still had my laptop. And with that, meant more porn, which in turn meant me turning my phone on again because I began to yearn for something real.

Many times, I felt like two people in one body (In-divi-dual). Initially, that is, back in Junior High, it was cool. I didn’t actively fight the temptations that came my way. But after a while, I knew I really had a problem-a big one. Many times I didn’t feel like watching porn, but there was always this overwhelming force that had its way of convincing me to gratify my flesh. It came as a thought, sometimes after I saw a girl striking a seductive pose. There were many triggers, and I always fell hard. I struggled but never mentioned it, because I believed that doing that will take me back to being rejected like when I was in Junior High. To me, nobody wanted to talk to the boys who didn’t watch porn or get laid. Nobody wanted to interact with the guy who said “Oh! she is just my friend.” Nobody wanted to hear he is a twenty-something-year-old virgin in a university full of ‘sizzling hot chicks’. So I lied a lot in university. I said I did things that I didn’t do. Sorry if I lied to you. I pursued girls to keep up with the secretive ladies man label I had while in actual sense, I just wanted a real girl-not the millions, just one. My pursuits never lasted as I always run away before things really got heated or overboard. When asked if I “did it” I either just told a lie or a beautiful story: like “oh there are many more girls, I didn’t have time for what she was doing.” Yes I lied a lot. After university, I realized I couldn’t lie anymore, I was sick of the lies, the pursuits, the mutual heartbreaks I gave to those who wanted a real relationship and that people gave to me as well. I was scared of being totally enslaved in a world of sex. My heart always skipped a beat when I saw seductresses. I didn’t want to be “ensnared”. I didn’t want to always fight with the sensual thoughts that invaded my mind. I felt powerless! That’s when I realized I had to take off my mask. “Who cares if I never got laid or cozy with the girls I interacted with. Who cares?” I remember standing in a pharmacy shop when a group of boys rushed in to buy some condoms. I found the scene a little funny; they circled around the stand for a couple of minutes, like they didn’t know what they came for. As they walked round “window shopping” two guys also looked around to see if anyone was watching. The pharmacist and I glimpsed at each other and that’s when my problems began, he started giving me a condom lecture, and when he realized I was quite lost, he gave me that weird look and asked, “why you don’t use condoms?” My lies began and I had to pretend again. I felt bad! I asked, can’t I just be myself? Can’t I just live free? Why do I have to pretend to be someone I am not to please everyone, even strangers? This was the climax to all my frustrations and that was when I decided to cut everybody I knew off, turned off my phone for close to a year and signed up for a sexual purity course at settingcaptivesfree.com to deal with my porn addiction before it landed me into the arms of the next beautiful stranger who came my way.

THE LIGHT

I needed freedom at all cost: the porn and lust struggle had to end. In that desperation, I really understood the connection between Jesus and my struggles. At first Jesus was a church thing. You know, we go to church, put the flyers on our beds when we get back, and flip open the lid of our laptops to view another porn flick. No conviction whatsoever. But what I discovered in my course was that, my heart yearned for something that only Jesus could give me. I was empty, I wanted to be accepted and most of all, I wanted to know my purpose in life. That’s what I wanted but I had no understanding of the connection between the spiritual world and my struggles and freedom. I was lost. But what I found later on, opened my eyes to the realities of what Jesus came to do on earth and in our lives. We have heard about His grace, but not many people know that it’s a form of power that keeps us from indulging in our past acts. Just as a demon in a possessed person gets them to do things they don’t want to do, His Grace works in us, to keep us from falling prey to the hands of the evil one. His Grace enables us to do what God wants us to do. His Love, God’s Love is what many people long for. Many times, we think our thirst for love can be satisfied by our spontaneous outbursts of attention. But as many have discovered, the satisfaction it brings quickly fades away. A kiss from a beautiful stranger may cause our hearts to melt for a while, but later on, it becomes flaccid, it means nothing.

God’s Love, Grace and our purpose are all in Him, and when we call upon Him, Jesus, to take over our lives, He purges us of the hatred and the scares. He comforts and brings meaning to our lives. He fills us with Love so that we can in turn love others: He Loves the world through us. His Grace is the power that keeps us from falling, but Grace works with love and all of these work with humility. Because without humility, hatred will once again fill our hearts, sending us back into the hands of the evil one.

 And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.

But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them (Ephesians 2:1-10).

 

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