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"I'm waiting for you at your office and I know."

News Corp Australia

"I'M waiting for you at your office and I know."

It's the phone call any cheating husband or partner must dread.

For William Paul Young, author of best selling book The Shack, it became the start of a long, tumultuous pathway to healing between himself and his wife Kim, and the children he also betrayed.

But it was not without pain - and he admits there were times even in the process he thought taking his own life would be an easier solution.

Young has opened up about his affair ahead of the Australian premiere of a new docu-drama The Heart of Man which he hopes will help others bring their secrets to the light so they can deal with them.

The movie will screen first on the Sunshine Coast on Wednesday, followed by more Q&A events in Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney and Avoca Beach before playing at dates across Australia on June 26 and 27.

The affair happened with a close friend of his wife when he was 38.  He had six children after being married for more than 14 years.

But as he now realises, in so many ways he was a broken man, after being abused as a child, and a 'sucker' for the offer of 'unconditional love'.

Despite this, he maintains there is no justification, no excuse for adultery.

 

Shack author William Paul Young opens up about his own adultery in The Heart of Man.
Shack author William Paul Young opens up about his own adultery in The Heart of Man.



Young grew up in a very religious home. His parents were missionaries, modern evangelicals.

The family came out of the logging camps of British Columbia but his youngest years were in the highlands of New Guinea.

His dad was orphaned at 12 and an 'angry young man'.

"My relationship with my dad was very difficult."

He says he never knew unconditional love growing up in a church culture which was a 'performance based' façade.

"It took me all of 50 years to wipe the face of my father off the face of God.''

Young says his abuse started at the age of five in a tribal setting in PNG. By six, he described himself as 'predatorial'.

It continued when he was sent to a boarding school, where he says he moved to the 'bottom of the food chain'.

A scene from The Heart of Man.
A scene from The Heart of Man.


Back in Canada, he ran into pornography at a young age.

"Pornography is the imagination of a relationship without the risks of a real one,'' he says of its appeal.

His own creativity made it easier to hide, to perform, and maintain the façade.

Young believes that that culture is part of the reason child abuse has been allowed to flourish in church institutions more interested in hierarchy and appearances than humanity and hearts.

"The church as an institution has not been a good and safe place.

"You could not be authentic in a performance based place."

But he believes things are slowly changing, including in churches.

The Heart of Man explores issues about fatherhood and spirituality.
The Heart of Man explores issues about fatherhood and spirituality.



"I think God has raised up all sorts of healing processes

"I think there is a rising consciousness in humanity.

"The Heart of Man is about being human.

"This is a conversation that is long overdue,'' he tells News Regional Media.

 

A scene from The Heart of Man.
A scene from The Heart of Man.



Young says he has no doubt that the use of pornography is widespread in churches.

"The statistics say that the more rigid someone's religious persuasion the more rampant.

"We are as sick as the secrets we keep."

Author of The Shack, William Paul Young, with his younger family. Photo: Contributed
Author of The Shack, William Paul Young, with his younger family. Photo: Contributed



While he says affairs are often trivialised, normalised and even celebrated by the television and movie industry, the fallout, including to children, are monumental.

"Twenty years later we are still working out the spillage,'' he says.

Not only did he have to deal with the hurt of his wife, but also his wife's family.

"Her dad lived with us for 17 years and was right in the midst of it.

"What was worst he didn't get furious… but you could read his eyes, that was way worse.''

His two eldest children, 14 and 12, were also in the thick of it, while he has told each of his younger children what happened when they were old enough.

Their responses ranged from sympathy to walking out the door. His is grateful that 'reconciliation and healing' has now happened with all of his children.

Author of The Shack, William Paul Young. Image: Facebook
Author of The Shack, William Paul Young. Image: Facebook


THE PHONE CALL

When he received the phone call from his wife, he says he knew immediately that she knew what he had been doing.

He said he thought then he had two choices, to face her or kill himself.

Young say he thought seriously of the latter.

"When you grow up in a world of shame, suicide is always a companion."

"It was a serious option not just once,'' he said, adding he contemplated it again nine months into the counselling process which he describes as 'slow, arduous, painful work'

The gifted author said it took him 11 years to completely heal before Kim absolutely trusted him again.

"I was telling someone who didn't know,'' Young says of the time they knew. His wife said: "This is the first time I didn't need anyone to come to my side of the conversation."

Despite the impact it had on their lives, both believe it has all been worth it.

A scene from the docu-drama The Heart of Man.
A scene from the docu-drama The Heart of Man.



"She was saying that the end result that God built out of absolute devastation is something that is alive."

He hopes those who glamourise adultery might think of the impact.

"Who is creating these fantasies as though as they are helpful?

"It gives them self justification for their stupidity or the infidelity.

"I think human sexuality is absolutely beautiful but it causes so much damage because we try to normalise betrayal."

The Heart of Man features some stunning film making.
The Heart of Man features some stunning film making.


As for churches, he says he 'has a long list' of suggestions to deal with abuse.

"We have got to stop their hiding system.

"We have to have these conversations openly.

And he says they must provide safe places where people can be real and express their losses.

"They hid behind rhetoric that was not helpful to the broken among them."

"We are human beings and we need to start acknowledging it."