Saturday, August 11, 2012

Scared of the Dark

There's that swirling cognitive dissonance that happens in the mind of an addict. It's a kind of cascade where one disturbing thought triggers another, and you think you see patterns. Maybe those thoughts are real, meaningful and meant to be explored; maybe they're bullshit - the kind of epiphanies you think you're having when really you're just... high. Or insane. Like when John Nash sees secret codes embedded in magazines in A Beautiful Mind. That movie feels eerily like home.

I love Dexter, the TV show, with its serial-killer-as-addict metaphor, so I've been reading Dexter, the novel, to see where it all started. (Surprisingly, the book's far more disturbing than what Showtime allows on my TV screen.) In an uncharacteristically spontaneous killing, Dexter executes a serial killer who's abducted, sexually abused, and murdered four "light-haired" junior high girls. Children. And I start thinking that if I were a serial killer mine would be dark-haired, because my fetish is for Latinas.

What the hell?

I read Tim Allen's first book years ago (awesome title: Don't Stand Too Close to a Naked Man) and all I remember are his recollections of prison. He posits that men are essentially monsters - that without women around, men descend into a level of barbarism that none of us is comfortable acknowledging.

Junior high girls have been swimming in my pool and running through my house for days. I remember when American Beauty came out and I wondered if that would be me: a "sedated" father in a miserable marriage who ends up lusting after his daughter's friend. I sure had the stifled-rage-husband thing licked. But I figured I wouldn't notice Ashley's friends until she was in high school.

I was wrong. I'm sorry if that bothers you. I'm not a pedophile, but I've known a few and they need grace just like the rest of us. (And also they need to stay away from kids and schools, forever. That's just common sense.) But regardless of our society's rules, once a kid hits puberty, he/she is sexually viable. Not emotionally ready, or mature enough, but all the equipment's there, and it's hard to miss it when it's bouncing around your living room in a bikini.

When I was using and acting out, I read porn novels because they were easier to hide than picture porn. I stumbled into stories about incest, abduction, BDSM and "non-consensual sex." Anything to get more of a thrill than last time. That's how addiction works.

My addict (Dexter's "Dark Passenger") sees no lines between the man and the monster. What terrifies me more is that he sees no lines between fantasy and reality. Am I a monster? If I took it all away - women (like Tim Allen's prison), social mores, law enforcement, faith, recovery - what would I be? What acts am I capable of?

I'm working on a character reference letter for someone I worked with this past year. This person had sex with a high-schooler that I know. How does one end up in that place?

How does one not end up in that place? It just doesn't seem all that far away. Sadistic sexuality, suppressed monsters, vulnerable teens, forbidden affairs... all swirling together in that dark place where my addict lives. And I peer into that darkness and I think I'm seeing me.

But I'm the one here in the light, and I've been here for almost a year. It's okay to be scared of the dark.


  1. I need to come here and read more often. I will ponder your words for awhile, but for now, what comes to my mind at first is to say, there is freedom out in the light.

  2. Thanks Jim. I'm glad you stopped by. There is definitely freedom here. It's funny how hard it is to remember that when I walk back into the dark, I'm no longer in that light. Seems kind of obvious from out here :)