June 4, 2021
“Sleeping on a dragon’s hoard with greedy, dragonish thoughts in his heart, he had become a dragon himself… ~CS Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
It didn’t happen overnight. It was a slow process of becoming something other than what God had created me to be. I was unaware that things were amiss. My mind was quick to go places that it should not, but I just tucked it away like many good Christians and didn’t admit a thing.
The horde I was protecting was in my own dark cave. The me most of you know would never publicly curse at someone. I would not admit to lustful thoughts or behaviors unless I was saying that I had repented of them and they were in the past. I wouldn’t call someone up just to berate them because of their poor decisions or about how they treated me. I may have thought about such things, but I would never have acted upon those impulses. I buried those Dragonish thoughts in a cave, and only I knew how to get to them, but that great lizard knew precisely how to give life to them.
To the casual onlooker, the transformation to dragon was subtle. Still, to those close to me and others who experienced my disruptive behavior, the truth was obvious. My wife said she had been concerned for months. Something was wrong. I was not capable of seeing the reality of my condition; I could not see what I had become. Then I broke down.
The dragon came out of the cave, and all inhibitions that had been stashed away with the horde of forbidden thoughts and actions were there for all to see. I was angry. I was unreasonable. I was prideful. I was the dragon unleashed. I pushed my son up against a wall. If my wife would have been alone, she said that she would’ve been fearful of me physically hurting her. A few nurses were subject to a profane rant directed at them. I called a former employer and told him exactly what I thought about him. I disparaged old coworkers who I love. I actually spat at a doctor. I was breathing fire.
Who was this person? It all felt reasonable and necessary at the time. At times I was confident and then I was scared. Why was this happening to me? I was embarrassed. I did not want to be this creature. I prayed to God to make me whole, to make me right again.
I was scared. I was embarrassed. I did not want to be this creature. I prayed to God to make me whole, to make me right again.
“Then the lion said – but I don’t know if it spoke – ‘You will have to let me undress you.’ I was afraid of his claws, I can tell you, but I was pretty nearly desperate now. So I just lay flat down on my back to let him do it.”
It was a horrible process. I was humiliated. I was out of control, and I did not have any way to fix this. I had to surrender my complete self, not just my dragon self, to those who were trying to make me me again.
“The very first tear he made was so deep that I thought it had gone right into my heart. And when he began pulling the skin off, it hurt worse than anything I’ve ever felt.”
The process of being un-dragoned has been painful. A cadre of psychiatrists and doctors have examined me. I have been in the hospital five different times over the last three months. The professionals who have seen and studied my case were baffled. At one point, I heard the word “bipolar. I quickly realized that I was prejudiced against those with mental illness. I did not want to be identified with that label. I breathed a sigh of relief when that was ruled out, and pharmaceutical interactions were believed to be causing my behavior. Then I felt shame for my attitude.
Each stint in the hospital felt like I was being torn apart as another layer of dragon skin was removed. During those un-dragoning months, I slowly confessed to things I have kept hidden. It has felt good to come clean, tell others, especially my wife, that it was time for me to be honest with them and myself. Yes, it hurt, but being free of the dragon and my secret hoard has released a more authentic me, a man humbled because everything was laid bare and his friends and family still accept and love him.
“It would be nice, and fairly nearly true, to say that “from that time forth Eustace was a different boy.” To be strictly accurate, he began to be a different boy. He had relapses. There were still many days when he could be very tiresome. But most of those I shall not notice. The cure had begun.”