Until about four years ago, I was living in a country in Africa with my wife. We had gone there to set up a humanitarian project to help widows, orphans and children. We’d been married for a bit over 38 years at that time. The stress of setting up a project from scratch, put an awful strain on our marriage.
I thought we had a good, strong marriage. I didn’t realize at the time that the strain was growing us apart. Nor did I realize I was a sexaholic and enslaved by lust. I’d never even heard the word sexaholic before until a counselor had told me about Sexaholics Anonymous.
He said I most certainly would benefit from attending their meetings. Was I a sex addict? Oh, I’d struggled most of my life with self-sex, from my early teen years. It had been my dirty little secret, and I wanted to keep it that way. I wanted to be normal with my sex life, but was unsure what normal looked like.
As time went by, my wife began to withdraw her heart from me, which hurt me deeply. And I allowed lust a greater foothold in my life. It began to consume me and take over. I wanted that excitement, that rush, that ecstasy, but self -sex just left me hollow and used.
So I began pushing the boundaries to feed my addiction. My lust drove me to do stuff I would never have thought I would do, especially as I claim to be a follower of God. So why was I doing it? It was like I was a slave to my own desires and because I thought nobody would know.
But the feelings of guilt and shame haunted me to the point that I hated myself. I was a mess. How could I fix it? I’d always been good at fixing things before, but this was beyond me. I remember one night around midnight and everyone else in the house was asleep. It was just after I’d had a lust binge and I cried out to God to please do whatever it would take to get me out of this dark hole I had dug for myself. I said to him, please rescue me. I didn’t want to continue living like this anymore. I was tired of living a lie.
I said, “I’ll do whatever it takes, hear my cry for help”. And He began to work on me. He convinced me that I had to be honest, that I must seek forgiveness from those I had hurt by my actions. This was a very difficult thing to do when most of my life I’d been hiding the truth. If I was serious about wanting His help at any cost then He promised to be with me and as painful as it would be, I would have to come clean.
I knew I needed help and I most certainly could not trust myself. So I put my trust in God. Totally. My wife and I came back to Australia for a visit and it was during this time that God put it on my heart to search for help. I said “Okay God, I will, but you’ll have to help me”. I contacted a counselor who specialized in a sex addiction.
I hadn’t thought too much about what the results might be. I followed the promptings of God on my heart and found myself confessing my mess over the phone to a complete stranger. But my confession involved breaking the law and so now he was obliged ethically to inform the authorities.
She told me that it would be best if I turned myself in and so began an unbelievable journey. A journey that God initiated. I turned myself over to the police and confessed my crime. I was bluntly honest and full of remorse. Perhaps I was rather naive, but I believed in my heart that this was what God wanted me to do.
There will always be consequences to our actions, good or bad. The questioning officer asked me if there was anything else that I should tell them. And then God reminded me of a specific incident I had not yet mentioned. In my head I said to God, if I tell them that they will arrest me for sure.
And God reminded me that I agreed to do whatever it would take. So why stop short, you’ve come this far, come clean. So I told them and was promptly arrested. It all happened so fast. And one of my regrets is that I never had a chance to say goodbye to my wife and family. I’d gone from being a respected citizen to a criminal overnight.
I secured bail and my wife went back to Africa during this time. I continued to seek help and I contacted another counselor who specialized in sexual addiction. And I began to have two Skype sessions a week with him. After about a month, he suggested that I get in touch with a group closer to where I was staying so I could have face-to-face meetings.
He gave me a number to ring for SA. I was scared and put it off for a few days. Finally I rang and spoke to a guy called Jason and he has become like a brother to me. I wondered what I was getting myself into, but after some time I began to feel accepted and that maybe these guys knew the path to recovery. So began my association with SA and this proved to be a lifesaver for me. When I went to court, Jason would come to support me which made court not so scary.
While I was on bail, I had an opportunity to volunteer in a community service center where I met and made new friends. I actually felt useful and loved it. And I’m convinced it was part of God’s blessing and plan for me. Just when things seemed to be going well, my lawyer told me that the arresting police officer was trying to make other charges stick that could see my sentence possibly increased to 25 years in prison.
This possibility scared me. God’s promises from his word rang in my ears, that He will be with me in my fiery trial, and that I am not to fear, but to trust Him. I remembered a part of the serenity prayer where it says that the things I cannot control I must turn over to him.
After some time the other charges were dismissed. Once again, God had stepped in and rescued me. And I was so grateful. Finally, the day came for my sentencing. I had pleaded guilty. The only evidence they had was my confession. There was a possibility that I might get house detention or community service because of my previously unblemished record, but I was convicted, handcuffed and led away to the horrible holding cells.
I began to sing as many praise songs to God that I could think of. But God had not abandoned me and I trusted Him. He would take care of me. There were some bright spots to this horrible experience. Like when Jason came and visited me, when my Mum and Dad even came and visited me, and an old schoolmate.
God protected me from harm and he put a song in my heart in trying circumstances. I remember being shifted three times to various prisons and at my final destination visits from my family took two days. So that seriously limited the amount of time they could come and spend with me.
It was so good to find some fellow believers in jail. I made some good friends inside. Jason was a constant. He wrote me letters of encouragement. He was such a good support. He gave me some good advice on survival in jail too. He said, don’t tell anyone what your crime was. And I never did.
I slipped into a routine and time seemed to go quickly. The time for my release was approaching. Then about six weeks before my release, I got a letter from the Department of Immigration saying my visa to stay in Australia had been revoked. I had 21 days to respond, to build up a case for why I should be allowed to stay. But my dream of freedom was shattered and I lost the battle to get my visa reinstated. I was deported back to my country of origin where I hadn’t been for about 40 years.
I now live on a 500 acre farm doing construction work on farm buildings and teaching a carpentry course for recovering addicts. I am also involved in a rehabilitation program where I find the tools that SA equipped me with are very beneficial. I am in the 12 step program and I love the farm and the people I work with. God has been so good to me and I love him for it.
There are many guys struggling in jail, some who don’t even know that they are sex addicts. It’s important that we get the stories of encouragement out to these guys so that they know there is hope and that there are people on the outside who care about them. Thank you for hearing my story.
Paul M., Auckland, New Zealand