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It was four years ago this summer that I published my first book Pornocide: How Lust is Killing Your Faith, Stealing Your Joy and Destroying Your Life. I suspect that many people who had been successful in battling a porn addiction in the past, may have faced a setback last year due to COVID-19.
Being isolated from support groups with churches closed, businesses shut down and nothing to do but tune in to a non-stop flood of dire news about disease, riots and politics throughout the summer of 2020, many people may have fallen back into old habits.
Consequently, I am working on re-editing this fictional book and, perhaps, re-releasing it with a different name and updated information. In the meantime, if you have never read the book, I will be publishing snippets of it over the course of the next several months.
Perhaps this book will illuminate a path forward for you.
If you’d like to read it in its entirety, Pornocide is available at Amazon.com in hardcover, softcover and Kindle editions. If you’d like to read the introduction, which summarizes my personal story that formed a basis for the book, I posted it in October 2017, just as the book was being released. You’ll find Giving birth to a giant here.
Chapter 1 – Caught in the act
A piercing scream followed by a long, drawn-out “Mom!” jolted Steve Matthews from a deep sleep. As he opened his eyes and struggled to focus, he could hear some commotion coming from the living room downstairs.
“That’s enough, you two!” he heard his wife, Patty, say.
“I’m trying to draw, and he keeps grabbing my colors,” their eight-year-old daughter, Alexa, shouted, accusing one of her two brothers of violating her personal space.
“Adam Stephen Matthews, I have told you twice today to leave your sister alone. Do you want a spanking?” the beleaguered mother threatened.
“But I want to color, too,” the four-year-old boy sniffed.
“Alexa, give him some colors and a piece of paper! Adam, bring them over here to the table,” Patty demanded. She sounds angry, Steve thought. He hoped it wasn’t an indication as to how the day would unfold.
“But, Mom, I’m using all my colors,” Alexa retorted in her typical, drama-queen fashion.
“Alexa, don’t push my buttons,” Patty seethed.
“Fine!” the girl shouted. “Here!” She pushed four dark colored pencils toward her brother and ripped out a page from her coloring book.
“I want blue!” Adam demanded.
Patty took a deep breath and let out a long, guttural scream. All activity and sound screeched to a stop. Alexa quietly took out a blue pencil and handed it to Adam, who ran to the dining room table and quietly colored the picture.
Steve tried to raise his head, but gravity brought it right back onto the pillow. He rubbed his eyes and took a deep breath, murmuring something to himself about why kids have to fight so early, especially on a Saturday.
From the light in the room, he couldn’t tell exactly what time it was, but he guessed it was about 7:30 a.m. The kids must be up and, having just finished breakfast, were trying to find something to occupy their time. He rolled over to grab his cell phone that was charging on the nightstand. As he pressed the menu button, he was stunned to see the actual time: 9:55 a.m.
That can’t be right, he thought, putting the phone down and rubbing his head. I never sleep in that late. But, he was up rather late last night working in his home office, and really didn’t recall what time he stumbled in to bed. All he remembered was that it was late.
He pushed off the blanket and sheet and swung his legs over the side of the bed as he sat up, still groggy and still rubbing his eyes. He was a sound sleeper, and always had been. Patty would tell him that he could sleep through a fire alarm.
That must mean that Alexa’s screams are louder than a fire alarm. He chuckled at the thought.
His feet firmly planted on the floor, he stretched for what seemed like a full minute.
I must have really needed the sleep, he thought, reminding himself to thank Patty for the extra time. He pushed himself out of bed and into the bathroom. As he brushed his teeth, he could hear the sounds of everyday family life returning. But nobody dared to speak.
He grabbed his bathrobe off the hook next to the shower and wrapped it around his body as he plodded toward his family. Reaching the top of the stairs, he assessed the situation. Alexa was coloring on a TV tray and watching some children’s show. Adam was working at the kitchen table, intently filling in the lines of his drawing. Patty was frantically cleaning the kitchen, slamming drawers and cabinets as a reminder that mom was not to be bothered. Where was Andrew, his soon-to-be eleven-year-old son?
As he walked down the stairs, he shouted a happy greeting to everyone in the room in an attempt to change the mood. “Good morning, super family!”
“I said, good morning, Matthews family!”
Adam looked up and waved. He didn’t dare say anything and neither did anyone else. Steve walked into the kitchen and put his arm around Patty. He tried to kiss her cheek, but she ducked away and tersely clipped, “Don’t.”
“Rough morning?” Steve asked as he reached into the cupboard for a coffee cup.
“Coffee’s gone. Have to go to the store,” Patty said with a hint of frustration in her voice.
He put the cup back into the cabinet and reached for a ceramic cereal bowl instead. “Do we have milk?”
“Think so,” she replied, busily wiping down the counter and aggressively stacking loose papers into piles.
“Where’s Andrew?” Steve asked.
“Where do you think?” she replied curtly. “It’s Saturday morning. He has a soccer game every Saturday morning.”
It all came back to him now. Steve was supposed to drive Andrew and his friends to the game at a nearby town. “Oh, no,” he sighed. “I completely forgot.”
“It’s no wonder,” she said, spinning around him to get back to the sink.
“What do you mean by that?” Steve said.
Patty didn’t respond. Rather, she put detergent in the dishwasher, slammed the door and turned it on. As the machine started to fill with water, Steve began to suspect Patty was angry, probably upset that he forgot to drive Andrew to the game. But why didn’t she wake him?
“How did he get to the game?” he asked.
Patty spun around again, looking at him with an expression that generally indicated he was in deep trouble. “I called Kevin’s mother and told her you weren’t feeling well. She came over to pick up Andrew and drove over to Lucas’ house to get him, too. They’ll be back around eleven.”
Steve was puzzled. I wasn’t sick, so why would Patty make up that excuse when I simply overslept? “What? Why would you say I’m sick? I feel fine. In fact, I was going to thank you for letting me sleep in.”
Patty started to walk away.
“Wait a minute!” he laughed.
She kept walking up the stairs, her feet pounding a beat on every step.
“I’m not sick!” Steve insisted.
Reaching the upper floor, Patty turned toward him with an incredulous look on her face.
“Oh, yes you are. You’re just too blind to know it!” Patty smirked. She turned and stormed toward the bedroom, slamming the door as an exclamation point.
Now Steve was really confused. As he stood in the kitchen holding the empty cereal bowl, he wondered what she possibly meant. “Too blind to know it,” he mumbled. “What the hell does that mean?”
He carefully put the cereal bowl back in the cupboard. Leaning against the counter with his arms folded, Steve felt he was being accused of something but what? He had no idea what Patty was talking about. Maybe one of the kids knows what’s going on, he thought as he walked into the living room, where Alexa was still busily working on her masterpiece.
“Lexi,” he spoke gently as she looked up from the chair. “Why is mom so upset?”
Alexa shrugged her shoulders. “Who knows? She’s been yelling at me all morning.”
“Did you kids get into a fight?”
“Nope,” the little brown-haired girl said. “When I woke up, she was crying in the kitchen.”
“What time was that?” Steve asked.
“I dunno. My favorite TV show wasn’t on yet, and it starts at eight,” she replied, turning her attention back to her drawing.
Steve bent over and kissed her head. “Thanks honey,” he said. “I love you.”
“Mmm-hmm,” she replied softly.
Something really weird is going on, he thought, and went upstairs to find out what he did wrong. He gently knocked on the bedroom door and opened it slowly. Patty already had all the curtains pulled back and the shades up. Sunlight poured into the room. She had a suitcase open on the bed and was busy stuffing clothes into it.
“Hey,” he asked softly, “what’s going on? Are we going somewhere?”
Patty didn’t stop packing. “We’re not, but I am,” she said, her voice trembling. “Since there’s no school on Monday, I’m taking the kids to my sister’s house for a few days.”
He sat on the edge of the bed, careful to keep his distance. “Patty, what’s wrong? You seem upset. Have I done something to offend you?” he asked, trying to imagine what he could have possibly done in the fifteen minutes he had been awake.
She did not reply, but he saw a tear fall from her cheek and into the suitcase.
“If you’re upset that I missed the game, all you needed to do was wake me up,” he noted. “I could have been dressed and ready to go in three minutes—tops!”
She threw down the clothes in her hands. She grabbed the sides of the suitcase with both hands as she bowed her head. Patty took a long, deep breath before turning to him with a piercing gaze.
“I saw you, but you didn’t see me or hear me,” she said, still staring at him unrelentingly. Steve must have looked puzzled. “Don’t give me that look. I saw you,” she said, slowly enunciating each word.
Steve shook his head and replied with a hint of anger in his voice. “What do you mean? You saw what?”
Patty stood up and crossed her arms over her chest. As she glared at him defiantly, another tear formed in the corner of her right eye.
“Patty, stop playing games. Tell me why you’re so upset!” he demanded.
“You like pictures. Do you need me to draw you a picture?” she asked sarcastically.
“Apparently,” he replied with equal sarcasm.
Patty slowly turned around and walked to the dresser in the corner, as far away as she could be from Steve in the confined room. She drummed her fingers on the dresser, stumbling for the right words. Steve didn’t say anything, though he longed to break the tense silence. Finally, she sighed.
“Last night, at about 2:45 in the morning, I noticed you weren’t in bed.”
Uh-oh, Steve thought, hoping he wouldn’t hear what he thought was coming next.
“I went downstairs and heard muffled noise coming from your office.”
Steve looked away as he subconsciously started rubbing his chin with his right hand.
“I opened the door and the room was dark, except for the glowing light from your computer.”
Now a tear started forming in Steve’s eye.
“I walked into the room and stood there for a full minute. You didn’t move. Your eyes were fixated on some pornographic video. You were leaning forward, intently focused on all the action,” drawing out the last two words.
Tears were streaming down her face, but Steve was looking out the window. A pained, guilty expression came over his face. Patty continued.
“I backed out of the room and closed the door. I’m sure you heard the click.”
No, he hadn’t. Patty was right. He had been intently focused on his computer monitor. Patty paused until Steve looked into her eyes, which took several seconds.
“Steve, why do you have more than twenty-five thousand pornographic images and videos stored on your computer?”
He looked away again. He felt a red flush drifting over his body and his palms were sweating. He started to say, “I don’t—”
She cut him off. “You’re right, you don’t,” she said slowly, pausing long enough for him to look back at her direction. “You actually have more than two million, five hundred thousand pornographic images and videos stored on your computer.”
Her tears had stopped, and she looked at Steve with profound hurt and disappointment. Steve just hung his head. He was waiting for her to say something. “How do you know that?” he asked quietly. He knew the answer, but was still too ashamed to look at his wife of fifteen years.
“You must have finished your business too quickly before you came to bed at 3:20 this morning,” she said, “because you left your computer on. It was easy to find your stash when I went looking for it.”
Steve kept his head low. He was so embarrassed he didn’t know what to say. “Patty he started, but couldn’t complete the sentence.
“‘Vacation Pictures?’ You titled your collection ‘Vacation Pictures?’” she shouted. “I’ve known about your little habit for years. Men’s magazines in your briefcase. The way you look at other women. You’ve even used the kids’ computer, but forgot to clear the history. I know our kids are way too young to be interested in that smut,” she said with disgust.
Steve’s mind went into overdrive. Did I really use the kids’ computer? I don’t remember doing that, but who knows? Maybe I did. He was constantly looking for pornography. But, could he have really been that careless? He felt the weight of guilt pressing on his chest. Patty was hurt, and he knew it. He had to figure out some way to get out from under the scrutiny, some way to justify his actions. The silence was pierced as Andrew came bounding through the front door.
“Mom, Dad! I’m home!” he announced loudly. “And we won the game!”
“Shhh!” Alexa warned. “Mom’s in a really bad mood.”
Patty paused for a moment and shook her head as she heard Andrew dump his gear in the front hall, in violation of her rule that sports equipment must be stored in the garage. “I’m taking the kids to my sister’s house until Monday night,” she told Steve, throwing her pillow into the suitcase and zipping the case shut. “That should give you plenty of time to figure out what’s most important in your life because she paused for composure, because I cannot—I will not—compete with that trash.”
Steve didn’t move except to watch her slide the suitcase off the bed and wheel it to the door. She grabbed the doorknob and paused, turning to look at him.
“I’m so sorry I’m not woman enough for you!” she exclaimed sarcastically. “But, I have three children who need my attention today.” She swung the door open and pulled the suitcase through, banging it on the doorframe on the way out.
“Guess what, kids? We’re going to go visit Aunt Kelly this weekend!” she shouted, walking toward the stairs. “Pick a toy and a book, and get ready to go. We’re leaving in ten minutes. And, Andrew, get your sports stuff in the garage—now!”
“But, Mom, I’m hungry,” Andrew protested.
“We’ll stop somewhere along the way,” Patty said more gently as she lifted the suitcase down the stairs. The kids didn’t need to suffer because she was angry.
“Where should we go to eat?” she asked brightly.
As was pretty normal for the Matthews house, there was a squeal of excitement at the suggestion of eating out. The chorus of three voices shouted over each other, debating which restaurant they should visit. “Is Daddy coming?” Steve could hear Alexa ask.
“Not this time, sweetie,” Patty replied. “He has a lot of work to do this weekend.”
The kids were used to hearing that message. At that point, the geyser sprung and tears streamed down Steve’s face. For the first time in a very long time, he buried his head into his pillow and sobbed.