My Struggles Like Substance Abuse

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I remember the first time I saw Jake at my front door. I’d gotten a call from a high school student I had tutored, and that student had sent him to me because Jake was 18 and his parents had just thrown him out of the house.

He thought I might give Jake a place to stay.

Jake showed up at my door with a tight shirt that showed his biceps and pecs. Hmm, I thought. I wonder if Jake heard about my same-sex attraction and dressed this way to manipulate me?

I knew Jake came from a dysfunctional family in my church, so I also realized that his homelessness might not be entirely his fault. I took him to the backyard to hear him tell his story.

As Jake kept smoking one cigarette after another, he told of how his father was overly tough on him. He rebelled against that upbringing and blamed not only his father but also other parents in our church. He said too many parents acted like “little Hitlers” and set a bad example of dictatorial parenting.

It was obvious after hearing out Jake that he was addicted to a whole list of substances: tobacco, alcohol, and marijuana, just to name a few. Also, it was clear that he would not admit to his addiction, always trying to shift the blame onto someone else whenever there were consequences.

He also manipulated others to get what he wanted, working people not only to get his favorite substances but also to get the “liberty” to use them.

Jake was a user of substances and of people.

I let him stay on my living room couch for a few days until he reconciled with his parents and moved back home. I knew he was manipulating me, but I did earn his trust and we remained in contact.

Jake’s confessions showed me the actual similarities between his substance abuse and my same-sex attractions.

While Jake was definitely not fighting his addictions and substance abuse, I fought my sexual temptations. But I could see my own issues of denial and manipulation were much like Jake’s. I had been hiding my SSA while trying to get people to like me.

And there is much more to Jake’s story.

To be continued . . .

Have you seen the similarities between substance abuse and your own sexual or relational struggles? How do you reconcile your temptations to manipulate others?

* Photo courtesy Robert Couse-Baker, Creative Commons.

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  • bluzhawk

    Thru college, smoking cigs started as a way to deal with all-nighters but became this habit I could not shake. Two times thru willpower I stopped for 6 months but went back. It was only grace to prayers that the longing/addiction just stopped… no willpower or struggle, it just stopped. SSA has the same pull and altho grace has now enabled celibacy, the pull didn’t stop. Time seems to make it less frequent but at times more intense. It’s a weakness still but one I can find grace in.
    Apart from Jesus, I think we all try/need to manipulate others to be noticed, to be somebody. It’s this built-in longing that I’m blind to most of the time. It’s good letting go of that. In Christ, there’s freedom realizing that it’s ok to be nobody in this world.

    • Bluzhawk, like you I still feel the pull of same-sex attraction but with God’s help I have remained celibate. I have to treat it like an addiction, knowing I have a weakness and refusing to put myself in a situation that is unnecessarily tempting.

      Yes, it is ok to be nobody in this world! That realization has helped me be less likely to manipulate others to get them to like me. One advantage of being a nobody is that I am free to go places and do things free of the fear of getting trapped by admirers seeking my attention.

  • Kevin Zimmerman

    Yeah, I can see the similarities. I had a roommate who tried several times to give up smoking. We had many good conversations about the similar pains in our lives… and about the pros and cons of possibly going to a 12 Step group.
    Currently, I’m realizing that I manipulate my negatives to bring people closer to me. (that doesn’t sound like it makes much sense). I think that I sometimes let myself get more down, depressed or amplify my brokenness in order to foster the potential for deeper conversations. The downside is feeling like the only (or at least best) way to get deep connection with others (especially OSA guys) is if my life is crap.

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