Warning: this section contains graphic descriptions of childhood emotional and sexual abuse; adulthood sexual aggression through verbal and emotional coercion, blackmail through threats of suicide, and sexual assault through the use of physical force; unidirectional and reciprocal abuse; depression; suicide attempts; prostitution; and language barriers between a patient and a psychiatrist and between a victim of intrusion and the local police contributing to a sexual assault.
I finally chose to move out of the house at the age of eighteen and joined the infantry so as to provide an excuse to not visit my parents so often and so avoid the panic attacks in my dad’s presence. I first tried to join communications but the military was hiring only for the infantry at that time. Passing the interview was easy: I just mouthed off lines I’d heard in Hollywood movies about wanting to serve my country (even though I was a pacifist in secret and wasn’t even sure if I’d be able to kill a person unless he was shooting at me) and I was quickly accepted.
I felt relief, and then depression hit. I lived with the other trainees and that made it difficult to separate my work life from my private life. When I’d left my parents’ home, I hoped to finally put porn behind me, but I found it easily accessible within the barracks too. Worse yet, while I felt shame at looking at porn, the others looked at it openly and shamelessly. Prejudice ran rampant in my training platoon. While some members had joined for work like I had, others had more ideological motives to do so. One trainee wanted to acquire training that he could then use to teach freemen later. Another trainee called me a Jew for trying to be frugal with my money. One trainer openly referred to a black sergeant above him as a nigger behind his back in front of some of us with none of us challenging it, or at least not too openly. I did subtly make disapproving comments to some co-trainees, but they reacted indifferently to it and I didn’t want to make waves. Another trainer bragged about Nazi-era paraphernalia that he collected though he denied (possibly truthfully) that he admired Nazi ideology. Other than saying that he collected Nazi-era paraphernalia, he never committed any act at least in my presence that I could have interpreted as racist, so he might have been collecting them for purely historical interest.
Some of my colleagues pressured me to pick up women, but I couldn’t do so sober so I didn’t. I eventually succumbed to pressure from my colleagues to consume alcohol, and then spent a year drunk on most weekends, eventually even alone without any pressure. Even when plastered, I couldn’t bring myself to flirt with a woman, and I’m thankful for that today.
Alcohol had quickly become my new means of drowning my emotions. Though I was physically fitter than most of the other trainees, I was eventually discharged due to an emotional breakdown in which I’d drunkenly threatened suicide at the barrack, an act which I remember only vaguely. It was a blessing in disguise since I was starting to crack mentally by that time anyway.
After leaving infantry training, I continued to drink compulsively. I could finally put porn behind me and then quit drinking cold turkey. I soon became acutely aware that I had no plan in life other than to escape trauma and that I couldn’t even avoid that if I wanted to make friends and so started to become suicidal even when sober. Though my belief in God still vacillated, I started to actively seek out friends who professed a religion, any religion, in the belief that I would face fewer temptations within a circle of religious friends. I soon started to participate in a local Christian community.
Knowing full well that I couldn’t just sip a glass of wine, let alone stop at just one glass, I felt uncomfortable with the casual drinking that I sometimes came across within the Christian community at least during holidays. Though others could imbibe responsibly, I couldn’t and so became acutely aware that I was different from them each time I turned down alcohol. My shame pushed me away from them and so isolated me more. I then found new work in Vancouver since I didn’t want to work in the same city in which my parents lived.
Due to poverty, I rented a cockroach-infested room with a common bathroom in a monthly-rented hotel in the Downtown East Side. I often passed by women selling sex on my way to work or to do other things. My dad wondered why I’d chosen to live in such conditions in Vancouver when I could have lived with him and found work in his city. I don’t remember what I’d answered him, but the truth was that the cockroaches didn’t give me panic attacks and so I was happier living in Vancouver’s squalor than in the comparative material luxury of my parent’s home town. I felt freer than ever and that my life had improved.
On one occasion, a man standing outside of a restaurant offered me money to give him a blow job in the restaurant’s washroom. I politely declined the offer and then felt disgusted and angered at his having made such an offer to me and confused at how politely I’d turned such an insulting offer down.
A federal election was launched during that time. I chose to join one political party. Many of the local partisans were homosexual and I was sometimes the only straight person in the group. One evening, one man from the group invited me to his home. Though he never told me why he was inviting me to his home and though I knew that he was sexually attracted to men, I never considered that he might be inviting me to his home for sex and assumed instead that he was inviting me to just talk, watch a movie, or do something else especially since I’d already told the group including him that I was straight. Once I was at his home, he groped me. I told him that I wasn’t interested but he continued anyway. Though we were of comparable physical strength (and I might even have been physically stronger than he was), I froze emotionally and even cooperated in allowing him to interact with me sexually until he broke it off once he realized that I had no interest.
I slept on the sofa and left the next morning feeling disgusted with myself and questioning how I could have been so emotionally passive and even cooperativ. Though I’d walked along the street where women sold sex a few times already, I’d always walked on the sidewalk on the other side of the street from the one on which the women stood. One evening, thinking that sex with a woman might help me to erase the painful memory of my last sexual experience, I decided to walk on the same side as them to see how they’d react. Some women greeted me but I just kept walking along. One groped me but I jumped back. I finally noticed one standing somewhat apart from the rest at the entrance to an alleyway and so felt less intimidated about approaching her, walked by her, greeted her, and casually asked what she was doing. She told me she was working and made me an offer that I accepted. She then detailed the rules of engagement once we’d entered the hotel room. She wanted no kissing, hugging, or anything else of the sort. Since I’d paid already, I accepted but came to realize that I was looking for emotional intimacy more than I was sex. It hadn’t erased my previous memory in any way and I now felt guilty and ashamed about what I’d just done. These experiences made me try to turn back to a God that I struggled to accept.