There’s a lot of debate on why we should talk about the topic of adults attracted to children, and of why we should provide help to anyone who claims to feel such things towards innocent children.
Let me take this from a personal perspective by explaining my personal history, and how talking about this has helped me.
Discovery Process — Childhood
I don’t know when I started to feel the attraction, but since I was 8 I have recollections of me feeling curiosity over the naked body, my naked body, but also my friends’. I remember maybe two occasions where I tried to convince my best friend to get naked together, so I could see him, but I never got naked myself, the most I did was go without underwear under my pants to let him know that he should do it too. He never did, and he thought I was weird; we still remained best friends until I had to move out. I had a small brother then, and I have memories of how my little baby brother’s body also interested me, and I enjoyed watching my mom bathing him. Nothing really particularly sexual in these recollections as you see (how could it at this age anyhow?), but I feel it is a part of the story.
It was at the age of 10 that I had my first crush, she was a girl, 2 years older than me. I even remember hearing some romantic songs and thinking about her. I got feelings of wanting something with her, but I was an incredibly shy kid, and house rules were I wasn’t allowed to have a girlfriend until the age of 16. So well, me being the obedient kid I always was I never did anything about it. I guess being shy kid was also an important factor. It was just me feeling a deep crush for this girl but never doing anything about it, and just hiding from her in fear when close to her. Curiosity and feelings of wanting to know more about my male friends were also at the back of my mind.
Puberty and Adolescence — Secrecy Stage
When I was 12, a personal stage of feeling ashamed and lonely within myself started to brew.
It all started when at this age, while surfing the internet, I accidentally discovered porn. I remember I didn’t like it, the women in it and the situations shown made me feel repulsed by it. Inexplicably what I was curious about a couple of years before and that started to emerge here were my feelings towards younger boys…
So yeah, as I was just a kid myself, I started searching for boys in swimsuits, then kids taking baths, images like that. While doing it I learned that I got excited and felt new emotions with this. At age 13 I started to feel more of a sexual drive, and so I started to download these images and to keep them in personal drives, hidden from my parents. I started to masturbate to images and pictures like these. As innocent as they were, my sexuality was revealing itself as it developed in my puberty. Then I thought: What is going on with me? Why am I doing this? At church I’d always understood that sexuality, as designed by God, was to be between man and woman. I myself liked girls my age even if just a tad, but then: Why was it stronger towards little boys? What the heck was wrong with me?
Since 13 I felt I was doing something wrong, that I felt wrong things, so I never talked about it with anyone, I kept it all to myself. This is how my secrecy stage began, I was too afraid to let anyone know how was I feeling, or what I was doing. Secrecy will be harming me from here on.
Not surprisingly, my parents saw some of the web browsing history and folders I had, and they asked me about it, but I refused to talk, just mumbled things and went to my room in silence. They sent me to a religious leader for guidance, but I never told him directly either, I was too freaking scared to do it. We never discussed it directly with my parents, I was too nervous and way too confused to do it, and in retrospect, they didn’t know how to talk about this with me either. (And who knows how to talk with their son about how he seems to like children like this? And with no explanation why…)
I also have memories of going to my first church youth camps, and how curious I was about the younger boys. A feeling of sickness started to develop, but I had no one I felt I could turn to… weird mixed feelings were developing inside, I think it was a protective instinct that made me lock myself up with it. As I really believed in my principles, whenever a situation came up where I was to be alone with a younger kid I avoided it.
It was during my senior year at high school, at the age of 15, that during a school class we were introduced to the word pedophile. I googled it, and learned it was adult men sexually interested in boys. I panicked. A lot. By then my attraction feelings were of confusion, although I already knew I liked boys in a way others didn’t, I felt I was a freak, since I learned online everyone attracted to children were monsters, a danger to society… I was just a teenager and was feeling alone, with no guidance other than my moral compass and teachings, but still not knowing what the heck it meant that I had this attraction towards boys.
I had a little break from my mental battles that same year, as I had my second crush on a girl. It really wasn’t a sexualized crush, just a “she’s kinda pretty and has a nice personality” type of thing, but it gave me a small pause from my confusion. My friends started teasing me about her and her friends teasing her about me. I tried to make moves on her, flirt a little here and a little there. Nothing ever developed there, we graduated high school and we never saw each other again.
I graduated high school early, at 15. In college years between 15 and 20 nothing special happened on the romantic or attraction scenario. I was fully dedicated to studying and totally fine with it, still without a girlfriend, and by this point I didn’t even want one really. I was still wondering what these attractions meant, and was old enough to see that indeed I was officially different. Out of fear, secrecy was a normal part of my life, and soon enough that would start an emotional crisis stage…
Early Adulthood — Crisis hits
At 20 I decided to go and serve as a missionary, serving 2 full years of dedication to help others and yeah, preach… This stage would teach me a lot about myself, that I had the potential to do good, and I felt uplifted…
But me being in a new environment brought fears in front of me. I was 21, and was constantly feeling within myself “you’re not normal, you’re a freak and you’re a danger”… I started to feel incredibly guilty for my attractions, so it was one afternoon we when were walking that we saw by a pool nearby that some kids were skinny dipping. It was like the straw that broke the camel’s back: guilt and shame erupted that night at home.
All the huge personal stress that was brewing for years, and the whole new life experience I was on led me to tell my missionary companion about my attraction towards boys. He was shocked and I feel he started hating me a little bit, but he helped me as he could. He did it by telling me every time he would see I was watching a child; it turned out it happened more often than I had noticed before. That just confused me and made me feel worse…
I remember I spent days crying my heart out, my locked up emotions were bursting out uncontrollably. I just couldn’t hold it any longer… all the self-hate, anger, fear, shame, sadness came out in the form of sobs and sleepless nights, during days…
After a couple of days I think I must have cried myself dry, and I stopped. I decided to focus on what I was there for: to help others, to forget about myself, and yet once again, chose to close myself.
Not too long after that we met a family whom we helped, a single mother with her 2 sons. This proved to be an important moment for me, as it was while helping this family that the oldest son, 11 years old at that time, started hanging out with us, wanting to be a missionary himself. Then little by little, new feelings started in me. I really liked his personality, his traits, and so I found myself in a whole new situation… I had my first crush on a boy… and it was a biggie, with all the symptoms of a crush. I really enjoyed the moments we could go to his house or just be with the family. I feel I must clarify that it never occurred to me to do anything bad or any contact with him, and I actually decided to never allow myself to be alone with him. Even when it never was a temptation to do anything with him, it created mixed thoughts and feelings: “What the heck does this mean?”
Until — Then I faced the situation head-on
At 22 I resumed my life, and the whole thing about my attraction towards boys started to be a main concern for me, since I was now actively searching for a girlfriend. Did I like girls? Well, yeah… but not much as boys… I thought to myself: “Why?!”
So it was making me feel bad again, and I saw it as an obstacle in my life, and in my purpose to have a normal functioning life… I had to find a way to finally understand this, to feel I had something worth fighting for…
I started looking online, and luckily enough I found it. I discovered an online community, VirPed, and I finally saw that there were people going through the same as me. I had a couple months of hesitation, then I joined, and my road to mental health and self-esteem recovery finally began. I remember I wrote everything down with pain and crying in my pillow late at night as I asked for help, while praying I wouldn’t be judged for that part of me. Next morning I already had over 5 supportive answers, people letting me know how my story was similar to theirs, and how I should feel good to finally open up my heart. They let me know for the first time in my life that in fact, I had never hurt anyone. They made me see that other people had walked this road before, alone, and still lived a life without ever sexually interacting with a child. Now I, 23 years old, wouldn’t have to do it alone, I had people with the same feelings and same goals in life with it: To never, ever offend.
It was through the community that I then decided to tell my dad, who just smiled and told me he loved me, no matter what, and again, he also mentioned how strong I was for having never yielded to my feelings. It meant a lot to me.
Shortly after, at the age of 24 I fell in love with a girl again. We became good friends, and I saw her falling in love with me as I was falling in love with her. Since I knew how my attraction towards boys had been affecting me my whole life, I decided that before formalizing anything I wanted to be sincere… I told her I wanted to think of her as more than a friend, but that I considered it crucial to tell her something important about me. I had read stories of married men who were out to their partners, and that made me feel a glimpse of hope. It was hard, but I made the jump, and disclosed my attractions to her.
We had a 2 hour conversation about it, disclosing everything and answering every question she had. At the end she told me she also was starting to fall in love with me, and that what I just had revealed to her, although shocking, didn’t change her mind. She gave me her therapist’s number, and I called him.
During those personal therapy sessions, and after really starting to talk about it with my girlfriend, and sharing with the VirPed community, my self-hate and depression started to reduce, and my heart started to heal from that venom a tremendous lot.
I learned that this is a complex mental puzzle. Some call it a mental fixation, some others a disorder, other specialized studies have called it a sexual orientation. In any case, and whatever name I call it, I learned that this will be something I will be walking with my entire life, but that it doesn’t diminish my opportunities to function in life, and most importantly, that my feelings don’t stop my power to choose, that I can always choose what to do with it, making it just one part of me, but not my whole.
Where I am right now
Two years have passed since this last part of my story, where I finally opened up to talk with people about my feelings, and they have been the most refreshing and healing years in my life so far.
I recently got married to that girl I opened up to, I love her with all my heart and soul, and I let her know on a daily basis how lucky I am to have met her, and how she has healed my life and allowed me to know myself more, and to not be ashamed of my feelings.
I love my wife like no other person in this planet, and she means everything to me. We’re mutually open and know each little part of each other, and help each other on a daily basis to be better persons and to achieve our life goals and aspirations. It has been the most fantastic and uplifting experience I’ve had, spiritually, emotionally, physically, it has been amazing.
Since then, I’ve still had crushes on boys, the feelings still remain, but this time I know I can be at peace with myself. I’m not less of a person because of how I feel. I’m a greater person to have the commitment to live a law-abiding life.
Am I perfect? Heck no! Who on Earth is? But I know I’m valuable, I’m not the monster they show you in TV or social media, I’m a person with my own struggles, and as any person I have the power to grow thanks to those struggles.
Disclosing my attractions to the people I love and receiving their support and love when I get on a low mood about my attractions, which happens more often than not, has been the best thing for me… I can talk about it and even joke about it when in the right mood! It has helped me heal tremendously…
So, do I think people should be able to talk about their feelings openly? Yeah, indeed I do. There’s nothing like a good support network so as to not be alone and drown in a glass of water.
I must thank Dr. Sarah Goode, for allowing me to see that I can talk about these matters, and letting me see its personal healing effects on my self-esteem, as well as Ender Wiggin, my conversations with him since I met him through VirPed have meant a lot, as well as my friends who have helped me these recent years, you know who you are. Thanks for letting me know living with this is possible.
By Stepping Out Sam originally published on Medium May 9, 2017.
Exported from Medium on August 22, 2018.