Lies do not occur in a vacuum. They don’t appear out of nothing. And the best ones carry just enough truth to make them appear plausible. They often have roots in our childhood. Abusive childhood experiences are fertile ground in which the enemy can sow the seeds of lies. Seeds that eventually blossom not into trees but into fierce dragons that devour the truth.
I know this because those dragons have lived in my mind for most of my life. They grew out of my childhood. I was molested by my uncle from age 8 to 14. Two to three weekends a month my mother would drop me off at his house to spend the day. I came to feel trapped after my mother dismissed my complaints over the gay porn my uncle showed me early on as “that’s just your silly uncle,” and my doctor ignored the obvious physical signs. As a young boy I had lost control of my life.
I now call that period of my life the years I spent in wonderland but far from being a delightful place as the name may imply it was a dreadful place. A place filled with betrayal and fear. A place where lies became truth. A place where people were not as they seemed to be. A place where those who should protect you, hurt you. A place filled with people yet a place of isolation. A place where unexpected events were dominated by unnatural, cruel events. A place where it takes unimaginable courage to survive. A place of war. A place no one would choose to go. A place that even if you escape from it, you never leave it. What was done to me, as depraved as it was, was not as significant as what happened to me. The difference is subtle but important. What was done to me ended years ago, but what happened to me . . .well . . . I carried that with me for a lifetime.
The events that I experienced in wonderland were out of my control, though later in life I would come to believe I had some control that somehow I willingly entered and participated in everything that went on. Even though I found a way out of wonderland I was never free of it. I carried the effects of that place for almost 50 years. What gave it such power, a life of it’s own, was the fact it infected my mind with monsters. These monsters were born in wonderland but they thrived in the real world. For me understand and overcome them I needed to visualize them. I needed to give them names. I needed to touch them, smell them, hear them. I needed to understand how they work, how they grow and ultimately how they could be destroyed. I needed to give them life, so I could kill them. So I called them dragons of the mind because that created an image I could understand.
These dragons breathe a fire that turns truth to ashes. They step on the dreams of my future and by their shear weight crush them. The longer they remain the stronger more powerful they become as any untreated infection is prone to do. They hide in the dark forest coming out when they sense a threat to their dominion. They have been at constant war with God’s image of myself. They changed my perception of who I am until very little of the real me remained. They’re covered with scales that make them almost invincible. Their one weakness is a place in their throat where the fire is produced. If pierced enough times with the truth it will burst open reducing the dragon to ashes. This is the way I choose to give a picture, a name, a purpose, a strength, a life and a weakness to my mind monsters. This is the way I came to understand the eternal battle for my mind, recognize the power of lies and ultimately find the source of truth.
Because of these dragons, my mind has always been a battlefield. A mental war has been going on between my true identity in God and the dragons of the mind ever since I spent that first day at my uncle’s. Yet battling such dragons is more than a war of thoughts. It is a deep emotional, spiritual and physical conflict. I discovered this very early in my life when the battle for my mind leaked out into the physical world. The enemy was quick to surround me with evil people who introduced me to wonderland, who beat me into submission, who, besides physically torturing me, filled me with confusion and so many lies that even the lies contradicted themselves. The dragons in my mind took full advantage of the pain inflicted on my body from outside my mind. They fed off it. They grew stronger. They use it to build a stockpile of weapons. They had a distinct advantage because the war broke out before I was prepared. It was like a Pearl Harbor in my head. But it was more than a surprise attack, it was an attack that met no resistance at all. It came when I was far to young to understand what was going on. It came when I had no defense, no weapons, no strategy, no tactical plans and worst of all no help. Those who should have protected me were the actual source of the infection. I was not ready to face these dragons. So it became a battle I was to fight alone for years without any resources to draw on. It was a war I had lost long before I realized I was even at war.
I’ve given these dragons names to help me understand the nature of the battle. Among them are: the Eater of Truth, the Carrier of Doubt, the Destroyer of Peace, the Annihilator of Self, the Pillager of Joy and the most feared, the Creator of Lies.
One by one I have taken on these dragons. Sometimes I win, sometimes they win and sometimes it ends in a standoff. The battles are fierce, blood is spilled, and there are casualties. But I am winning more than losing and as long as I continue to fight, I will one day rid myself of these beasts and the horror that spawned them.
As I reflect on my life in the midst of this war it is difficult to tell which was worst: living in wonderland or trying to live after wonderland. Perhaps it doesn’t matter because when this war is over I will be free of all my past. I will have not only escaped from wonderland I will have left it behind. Then God can say to me “You are” and “You can” to which I will reply by declaring the truth: “I am” and “I will.”
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I hate that you went through this abuse, but I am so grateful that you have been led to share such a true depiction of what happens to us. I have often said that the mental abuse I suffered was worse than the sexual abuse, because without the mental the sexual would not have been possible. You express that in such a clear way here, and it helps to make me feel validated.
You have taken something terrible and found incredible words to express yourself. I’m awed by your writing. And I’m grateful and honored you shared your story here. Thank you.
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I felt like I was in the middle of never land as I read your story. I’m impressed that you recognize the lie behind so many of the things you think about yourself, men, and women. These lies are so well wrapped in either the glitter of truth or the promise of safety. But you have accepted so many lies. You broke one of the most fundamental lies when you sent in your survivor’s story: “Don’t tell, don’t do anything that might rock the family’s boat.” What a risky and brave thing to do.
God’s truths are so loving, beautiful and true. I urge you to keep crushing the dragons in your mind. Like bullies who intimidate others but fall apart when their own identity or achievements are challenged, these dragons will die when the light of the Holy Spirit shines on them. Say it again, survivor, and say more of it. I’ll pray for your healing.
Thank you for sharing your story. It is inspiring to see a man come forward & share. Your story is so well written that I shared it. Great description of the inner battlefield that i relate to so well.
Thank you so much for trusting us with your story, and with the imaginative tools you’ve used to do battle with the monsters. I pray that you conquer more and more of them every day. You are loved, and worthy of love.
Thank you for your brave & clear voice. My prayer today is for your battle and that your victories continue to rise.
What an amazing way you have with words! I hesitate to use the word “beautiful” with something like this,, but you have beautifully expressed the harm from an ugly situtation. I am so sorry for what you went through. Sorry for the failure of a mother to protect you, to listen, to understand. But we are listening. Your words are powerful. Your words slay dragons. You are a WARRIOR whose words will slay not only his own dragons, but pierce the dragons of others as well. Thank you for sharing your story. Thank you for wielding your sword with such honor, power, and beauty. May God bless you in your battle. Put on His shield and keep firing those arrows of TRUTH!