Every week I would hop on my bike and make the trek to the library. There I would change my bag of goodies for a new bag of goodies. At first I stuck with the junior section. I read every book I could find. I would ask our librarian to recommend new stories. I devoured historic novels by the dozen. I loved anything that would take me away from my reality. One day I overheard a cousin talk about her favorite author: Danielle Steel. I looked for her book the next week. My heart beat as I realized it was an adult book. Did I dare to actually check out an adult book? I took the book off the shelf and began to read a few pages. I knew my mother would probably not approve but she didn’t read like I did. I was scared the librarian would tell me I was too young to read this book but she said nothing. I left the library feeling guilty and exhilarated. When I got home I climbed into my bed, opened the book and delved into a world that I never imagined existed. Thus began a journey to the bottom.
Some addictions have gateways…things that open the door to an addiction. Mine was reading. I read to escape my life. I read historic and romantic novels and bridal magazines by the dozen. As I moved from youth novels to adult novels I was introduced to sexual passages. I was quickly drawn into the way those passages made me feel. I learned to skim a book to see if it had the right level of romantic tension that would lead to a small, but sufficient, passage. It was definitely a high, reading things that I couldn’t…wouldn’t…participate in, knowing that the adults in my life would not like what I was reading but not really caring. When I moved to Portland I managed to stay away from it for 5 years.
I didn’t choose to be an addict. I simply wanted to read the books the older girls read because I wanted to be older than I was. Once I read one, I wanted to read another. A seemingly benign romance/drama novel with a steamy scene or two led to a steamier novel with more and more graphic scenes which led to erotic poetry which led to erotic stories which led to erotic music which led to watching “soft” porn on a TV show which led to “hard” porn on the video which led to sex chatting with strangers on the internet which led to making plans to abandon my family to feed an addiction that could not be satisfied. Each step, was a choice. Each step, I KNEW that I was making a choice to destroy my life. EACH STEP, I heard the Holy Spirit scream, “DON’T DO IT.” And I chose to ignore that voice. As Casting Crowns sings, “It’s a slow fade.”
It’s a slow fade when you give yourself away
It’s a slow fade when black and white have turned to gray
Thoughts invade, choices are made, a price will be paid
When you give yourself away
People never crumble in a day
It’s a slow fade, it’s a slow fade
Slow Fade by Casting Crowns
I have been criticized by people who hear my story. They say, “It’s ok. It’s just a novel. It’s just a movie. It’s just sex. It’s normal.” Paul says in 1 Corinthians 10:23, ‘You say, “I am allowed to do anything” — but not everything is good for you. You say, “I am allowed to do anything” — but not everything is beneficial’. This addiction cost more than it gave. And I paid that price until one day the pain of trying to keep the addiction and my marriage was too much. I love what Henry Cloud says, “We change our behavior when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of changing.”
And that’s where Jesus met me. At the bottom, in my mess, and changed my life.
I still, and always will, consider myself an addict. The desire to use something, anything, to avoid the pain of life is something I struggle with every day. But my greatest weapon is love. Love of my Abba. My Jesus. And of the man who chose to love a broken girl despite her mess. For me, love is the thing that calms my soul and quiets the beast and keeps me standing. Even though it hurts, I live life free. No addictions. No crutches. Raw and transparent…even in the pain. I laugh. I love. I live.