Legacy Blog #19: Addiction

My Beloved Daughter,

When you think of addiction, you usually think of drugs.  Marijuana, heroin, meth, and cocaine.  Your Uncle Kenny has had his battles with some of these.  He is walking proof that marijuana is a “gateway drug.”  He couldn’t build the same buzz after a while with it, so he graduated to more powerful stuff—a graduation that eventually led to the car accident that pretty much ruined his life . . . a story that I’ll go into in a later entry.

Alcoholism had its place in our family, too.  Your Great Grandpa Winfred was an alcoholic who finally beat the addiction when he was in his sixties.  Several uncles fought that particular monkey off of their backs.  Even your Grandpa Chuck, after his separation from his first wife, spent a great deal of time intoxicated.  To his credit, he stopped before it became a problem and I can probably count the number of beers that he drank in my lifetime on one hand.  In fact, I probably drank more alcohol in my short party phase that he did in his whole life.  The “party phase” will also be the topic of another, later post.

No, this post is about the strongest addiction that I grew up with.

When I was twelve, my parents finally added Cinemax to our cable line-up.  Back then, you only got one channel of it . . . and it cost as much for that one channel as the rest of the cable set up combined.  Our choices were somewhat limited.  The four premium channels that our cable company offered were HBO, Cinemax, Showtime and Disney.  Yes, Disney used to be a premium channel and, had your grandparents chosen it, my life would have turned out much different.

But they felt that cartoons came on enough through normal television to keep me occupied.  HBO had too much sports programming for Grandpa Chuck’s taste and Showtime was relatively new at that time.  So Cinemax, it was.  I have to admit that I did enjoy the unedited horror movies on it.

On one occasion, Grandpa Chuck was on the boat and Grandma Pat turned in early while I stayed up to finish watching a now forgotten horror movie.  After that movie went off, another movie came on that helped me to understand why, in later years, the channel would gain the nickname, “Skinemax.”  I still remember the name of the movie, Young Lady Chatterley 2.  I had never seen moving, naked women before.  I was engrossed . . . so engrossed, in fact, that I didn’t notice your Grandma Pat sneaking up the hallway.

Yes, she caught me.  And I was informed that I was going to be in trouble when your Grandpa Chuck got home from the boat.

I remember waiting nervously the whole ride back from picking him up in Memphis, hoping beyond hope that your grandma would forget having caught me watching that movie.  When we got home, she looked at the T.V. in the living room and it reminded her.  My heart fell into my stomach when she said, “Guess what I caught your son watching?”

To her surprise—and my own—dad didn’t get angry.  He laughed.  He almost seemed relieved.  You see, I had started into puberty and, in his pre-Elect mind, this was a way for me to learn the birds and bees without having to talk to me about it.  He told my very shocked mother that he had no problem with me watching them.

I did have a couple of rules given to me.  I was only allowed to watch the soft-core stuff that was on late night cable or at the grocery store’s rental shelf (the latter of which was marked with “Mature Content”).  The store grew to know that my dad allowed me to rent the movies and I never had a problem with them.

From my mother, I was given the rule that I couldn’t hide that I was watching one of them.  To her credit, I think Grandma Pat hoped that I would be too embarrassed to watch a porn flick if my parents knew what I was doing.

Uh, no . . . that didn’t bother me at all.

So my teenage years were filled with me going to school, playing video games and D&D, and watching soft-core porn.  By the time I was twenty, we were back in Van Buren (another later blog post) and had a C-Band satellite dish.  And Grandpa Chuck got the Playboy Channel.  At this point in time, while the dishes themselves were more affordable, the boxes that played them on your television were really expensive.  The result was that, whatever was played on the box in the living room was also played on my television in my bedroom.  Sundays and Tuesdays, Playboy television would show porn flicks.  Granted, they still weren’t the really hardcore stuff but they were simply edited versions of those movies.  I grew to know some of those actresses by name and I had my favorites that I would watch for.

Don’t think harshly of your Grandpa.  He was a good man who came to a saving knowledge of Christ late in life.  In his later years, he expressed regret in many of his decisions . . . particularly letting me watch porn.  I don’t doubt that I will hug him in Heaven one day.

The most poignant issue with porn came after your mother and I separated.  I was incredibly lonely and found myself perusing the internet for free porn.  By this time, I had made online friends with some former porn actresses who had left the industry when they were saved by Jesus.  One, in particular, I found myself viewing on one of those videos, filmed before she had become a Christian.  The shock of seeing her was like God yelling at me, “THAT’S YOUR SISTER!!!”  I immediately turned off the video and sent her an apologetic message.  Then I blew the dust off of a manuscript that I had been working on when your mother and I were still together.  I diligently worked on it until it was finished and that manuscript became LILY’S REDEMPTION.

Over the years, those movies damaged me just as seriously as any drug or beer.  I grew to see sex as something totally different than what God intended.  As I write this entry, you are the exact age that I was when I watched that first viewing of Young Lady Chatterley 2.  I can only hope that you don’t find yourself every watching one of those movies.  You are a lady and deserve a man who will treat you as a lady, rather than a sex toy.  That is my prayer for you, that you will learn from the pains of my adolescence and grow to be more than I could have ever dreamed of being.

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