It was a crisp, fall Saturday with the expectation of having some fun with a day off from school. My favorite thing to do in 7th grade was to ride motorcycles with my 2 friends Mark and Jeff. We usually rode southwest of Glaser, along the creek, near an old railroad bridge. Our motorcycle trails we called the 'railroad trestle'. This day, however, I rode with a different friend named Mike. We had gone to church since we were 5. Mike was crazier then me and did the riskiest things his mind could conjure up. Even as little boys, he was always the leader and I was the follower. Including today.
I drove over to his house on my gold, Honda SL 125 motorcycle. We piggy backed, back to my house so he could jump on my blue Honda CB 125. We cruised east and then north out of town to State Highway 15. We went a few miles east and pulled out into the pasture where he kept his show lambs. We shut down for a few minutes while he checked the water and fed them. Off in the distance, down along the creek were a few cottonwood trees. One of the larger trees stood out and I could see a tree house made of rough lumber scraps built up in its branches. “Hey, Richard! I want to show you something.” Mike said. He fired up my motorcycle and I followed him. We rode through the pasture and pulled under the tree house and took off our helmets. Mike climbed up first and I followed him up the ladder. It was dim inside and as my eyes adjusted I was amazed to discover on the floor, stacks and stacks of porn magazines. Probably, several hundred magazines in all. It was like a lightening bolt in my brain and my excitement shot up. I had found the gold mine! Mike rifled through a few and sat down on the far side and began to look thru them. I started looking thru the stacks of magazines and grabbed a few. It didn't take long to realize these were not the normal Playboys and Penthouses we were used to finding. My excitement was off the charts as I looked thru them and saw men and women tied up and with whips and in all kinds of sexual positions. I sat down on the other side of the treehouse and began to flip page after page. I had never seen stuff like this or even knew it existed. I settled into reading a story about some British bobbies with London whores, using them for sex any way they wanted. I was in my own little world for sure as I imagined the scenes in the magazines. I was more excited than I had ever been. A few minutes later, Mike unbuckled his pants and stroked his hard penis while holding up a centerfold in his left hand. I watched him as he began to go faster and faster. He got a wild look in his eyes, then liquid shot out as he closed his eyes. I wanted to go back to reading my story but couldn't help but listen and watch Mike. I couldn't stop staring at him as he seemed to have a deep satisfaction and sat down, against the wall, with his eyes closed. After a few minutes, he finally stood up, cleaned himself and pulled up his pants. I wanted to stay there forever and look at every one of those magazines. I started to gather up a few to take with me, then with an irritated look on his face, Mike said, ”Put them back! These are not yours. Let's go!” He climbed down first and as I went down, I looked at the stacks with longing and wanting to see more as we climbed down and got on our bikes. This was the first of many visits to the treehouse.
Through Story Exploration:
Sitting in the courtroom, across from my four daughters, my ex-wife screamed those words. "You're a fucking freak!" Walking out of the courthouse was the day I lost everything dear to me. A year of being deeply alone, living in isolation and nearing suicide I got an e-mail that led me to a story retreat. We had an hour to write a story, but I waited until the last five minutes. This is what I wrote and a moment later found myself in a story group of 5 women with only this story to share. Exploring this story in that group, it became clear that there were several lies that began or were confirmed in this story. These are a few of them:
This is what it means to be a man
This is how a woman wants to be treated
This is the big secret my parents are keeping from me
This is what it means to be 'intimate'
The Truth: After reading my story in the group of women, some women cried, some were angry at Mike and another said, "You are so courageous to share this with us. I am so sorry this happened to you." Those words and the reaction of the group left me in shock. I had never been loved like that before, right in the middle of such shame. I was convinced the women would be disgusted and think I was a freak. It was the total opposite. It was like they were in the treehouse with me and helped me leave the magazines behind. In that treehouse, what I was craving was intimacy and connection with another human being. Something real. In that group, I got to experience what it means to truly be seen and see others without fear or shame. To be loved. And I will never be the same.