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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