“Rafael” Means “God Heals”

From the outside everything seemed fine – I wasn’t drinking or smoking, I was going to Church regularly, I didn’t indulge in depressing thoughts, and yet the burden on my back was increasingly weighing me down to the ground.

Everything started when I was 11 and I went to summer camp. Older colleagues in the camp brought dirty magazines. They were looking at them in our room and made loud vulgar comments. I didn’t understand much of it, but the pictures were driven deep into my mind.

I later became more and more interested in sex. There were fantasies inspired by fragments seen from certain magazines. I was intrigued, and I thought “What would happen if…?” And that’s when it started. With time I became addicted to porn, and with it, masturbation. I looked for more extreme sensations. In my mind I went further and further – all my female friends were objects of my erotic fantasies. At first I just wanted to find love in masturbation but eventually I did not want anyone to even look at me anymore. Through this whole time I was destroying myself, and I didn’t even notice it. I didn’t want to admit that what I was doing was a sin. I thought about confessing the sin, but I was always afraid and embarrassed to say it. Books and magazines were all unanimous in claiming that it was part of the normal process of adolescence. It was also written that around 73% of men surveyed had done it for some time and no religion had anything against it. Only the “ignorant” Christians for no logical reason scare people with fatal diseases and hellfire. It was claimed that masturbation was like gymnastics: practice makes perfect.

After a year of habitual masturbation, I decided to quit. I resolved to live a life of chastity, but unfortunately promises were not enough. After realising that it was in fact very hard to quit the habit I repeated to myself that I would be doing it less and less frequently until I finally got rid of the habit. But the opposite happened. The more I tried to stop, the more I sinned, until masturbation became automatic. In spite of this, I was studying very well. I had a very good memory, lots of interests and talents in many fields. However, it bothered me that I was not doing the things that I wanted to do, but was doing the things that I did not want to do. I then decided to make another attempt at changing my life. I said that I would stop on Monday, tomorrow, next week, next month, and so on. I tried stopping on Christmas Day, New Year’s Day, according to different calendars, Gregorian, Julian, Chinese … For motivation, I marked out the days in which I managed to abstain. My record was five days. I tried to keep a diary. I wrote, “Today is a great day; today I change the course of my life.” The diary ended with that line on the first page.

One day I felt a slight pain in my leg, but I did not pay any attention to it. With time the pain grew more intense, so intense that I started walking with a limp. For the first time in my life I went to hospital. Tests, the first operation, treatment in the capital city, and finally the diagnosis – sarcoma (malignant tumor). For my family it was a tragedy, but I did not understand what was happening. There was another operation which resulted in the amputation of my leg. I also had to go through chemotherapy, with the expected results. However, this did not change my behavior, quite the opposite. I did not have to go to school, so I had few responsibilities and a lot of free time, which I did not use to improve my spiritual state.

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