There it was. It was blasted on the front page of the newspaper. The big and bold words at the top of the page shouted, “Pastor/Counselor Being Sued By Former Clients for Sexual Misconduct”. My heart stopped when I quickly read those words because I knew I was that man. I was that pastor. I was that counselor. I was that guilty man. My horrible addiction has now publicly scandalized my wife and my young daughters. How had this happened? How did I end up here?
In order to make any sense about my sexual addiction and how I was a monster who chose to hurt so many people with my sinful actions, I have to share about my childhood. My parents both came from very dysfunctional homes. My father was one of fourteen children in his family. Only ten children survived to adulthood. My father’s father was an alcoholic and a sex addict. He constantly sexually betrayed his wife.
As a young adolescent my father was repeatedly raped by his uncle. My father turned to alcohol and sex for his own comfort. He was extremely confused about sex and homophobic. He would not touch me in any manner because he feared someone would say he was a molester. I did not receive any healthy touch from my father or any words of love. He never told me that he loved me or that he was proud of me.
My mother was raised by her grandmother. My mother’s mother gave her away so she could marry another man immediately after she divorced my mother’s father. My mother’s new stepfather would not accept raising another man’s child and my grandmother gave up her infant daughter to please her new husband.
My mother carried the loss of her mother and felt that rejection all of her life. My mother was sexually abused by a family member when she was also in her early adolescence. She went into a foolish marriage when she was 16 so she could run away from her family. The marriage lasted two weeks. She graduated from high school and soon left the Midwest for California. She met my father when she was 21 and they were married after a quick romance.
My mother had an extreme problem with rage. My mother was also a sex addict. Where my father gave me no attention…my mother gave me lots of inappropriate attention. My mother would have episodes of severe rage where she would beat me and throw me into my bedroom where I would have to stay for hours by myself. During those times I would use a ritual to comfort myself. I would ask myself in my head, “who loves me?” I would answer with various women who gave me attention particularly sexual attention.
Even when I was three years old I had sexualized thoughts of adult women and it is clear to me that I was sexually abused by women close to me. This ritual was significant because it continued into my adulthood hood and it was a method I used to build a secret life of fantasy.
All during my childhood and adolescence I used fantasy and masturbation every day. I would never talk about it with anyone. In high school I was sexual with a girlfriend and I would never tell my friends. I would live a life in the public as the good kid.
I was heavily involved in church and my faith. I was the young man on the outside every parent would want the daughter to date. On the inside I was focused on sexualized thoughts and unhealthy relationships.
I married Michele when I was 22 years old. I honestly believed that all of my issues with sexual sin and fantasy and masturbation would end when I was married. I was self-deceived. I chose to continue my secret life and this led to horrific destruction. I hated myself so much for living a double-life and I acted with no concern for the people I said I loved.
I was romantically and sexually involved with many, many women during my marriage. I broke Michele’s heart many, many times over. I hurt and used these “other women”. I was a monster and a predator. And I was doing all of this while being a respected pastor and a highly admired Christian counselor. I abused the trust and power I was given but never deserved.
I stopped being a counselor and a pastor. I sought help and began my own counseling process as a man who was very, very broken. I was an addict. I was a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. My brain was broken and dysfunctional. I was weak and avoided suffering. But God has been gracious to me.
I do not deserve the love and the blessings I have each day. God’s love is enough for me. If His love is not enough, then, I know that nothing would ever be enough. When a client enters into the counseling process, I want him to understand that I don’t deserve to do the work I do. It is only because of God’s grace and love that I am able to help others who are suffering.