By Ian White
A horrific childhood drove Karl suicidal, then a light shone into his dark world
Karl Ayling didn't care whether he lived or died as he rode a motorcycle at 267km/h.
Betrayed by those closest to him who had sexually abused him, Karl initially channelled his anger into judo, rugby and half marathons. His dedication to physical prowess was transferred into the study of a wide variety of disciplines and 'ologies'.
Yet his life plunged deeper into despair with financial calamity, a business collapse and two failed marriages.
Karl's inner turmoil sprang from his childhood traumas. He recalls being woken by his parents arguing at home when he was about three.
"I walked down the hallway and saw dad fighting with mum. I tried to run between them, shouting at dad to leave mum alone, but dad hit my head against the wall. I remember urinating on myself from the shock."
Later, after discovering Karl's mother had been unfaithful, his father started sexually abusing him and other children.
"I was still only seven when dad went to prison," he says. "I was the primary witness for the prosecution, and then the abuse started by mum who blamed me for the break-up of the family."
Karl, now 56, never reported his alcoholic mother to the authorities and it was only in the latter stages of puberty he began to stand up for himself – both to her and to school bullies.
Although his mother re-married into financial security, any benefits passed Karl by.
By age 19, he was living in his own flat and travelling the world to broaden his mind – "a way of getting away from the horror of my childhood," he says.
While touring Australia and the US Karl was "mind-boggled" by the splendour of the Blue Mountains and the Grand Canyon, but at the same time he had hit the self-destruct button. Despite global travel from Rome to Rhodes, San Francisco to Sydney, he found "no relief from the grief".
He tried jumping out of aeroplanes and speeding on racetracks. He turned to sex, drugs, and rock and roll. But nothing gave him the answer.
Karl survived a desert smash in Arizona, a near-miss mid-air collision in a light aircraft, and another close call when a business trip plane almost crashed after being caught in a furious cross wind. He believes God spared him.
Finally, at 41, broken, dishevelled and suicidal, Karl walked into a church. Still hooked on sex and pornography, he looked up at a huge cross and saw a beaming light he knew was not imagined or artificial.
He literally "saw the light", encountering God's love right then and there.
"Something immediately shifted in my heart by a very gentle yet real shining of a light. I knew the God-shaped vacuum in my life was being filled."
Karl says after that first experience of God, Jesus Christ turned his life around.
In his autobiographical book of poems Massive Power Massive Love, Karl charts his gradual healing. He transformed from a sex addict suffering from undiagnosed obsessive compulsive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder into someone who believes his "conception was not some random event, but an orchestrated, celestially planned one ... seeking, finding and working out my purpose ... delayed by a convoluted pathway strewn with missed opportunities to find a genuine relationship with God."
The father of two, who remarried in 2015, has a "new, tender heart" to help those who have come from the same darkness he has – survivors all forms of abuse.
The product of two broken families, he learned to forgive his parents after he found God's forgiveness through Jesus for everything he'd done wrong himself. "I'd left a trail of destruction and horror behind me as I verbally and physically abused women," he candidly admits.
Karl believes God also healed him of an eye condition that should have left him blind. But he is most grateful that the spiritual eyes of his heart have been opened by God's light.•