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This is a moderated blog is a project of the Ruth Institute. Have a story to share? We're listening.
When I think of Robin, my heart is broken, both for her and the wrong I did to her.
I met Robin at a party when I was eighteen. When she walked in the door, I was immediately taken by her. She was one of the prettiest girls I had ever seen. I made a comment about the dress she was wearing and she sat down next to me and began talking with me. By the end of the night we were deeply attracted to each other and began spending time together.
Before I go on, I think it would be helpful to give some back story regarding myself. In my very early years, I became sexualized. Having read publications on this matter, I think I was molested. From the age of eight, I experimented with my body and with the bodies of other children who were willing to let me undress them and play around with them. When the so-called “Sexual Revolution” of the 1960's hit in full force, I found many outlets for what had now become a raging sexuality demanding daily gratification of some sort.
Yet despite having the availability of pornography, the “free-love” of the Hippie Movement, and my own self-gratification, I was deeply lonely inside. I think that sexual gratification gave me that false sense of worth and fleeting happiness which books on addiction speak about, for I was truly addicted. Sexuality made me feel good, and the society which developed in the 1960's told me that it was okay to be this way. It took 40 years to realize that God knows much better than we what is good for us.
It was this sad and searching man who met Robin at the party. We spent a summer in love and only expressing that love by kissing. For the first time, I had someone in my life who made a fuss over me, who couldn’t wait to be with me, and who easily talked with me. I’m sure I ruined all that the day I had sex with her. Not long after, another man decided he wanted Robin and told her that I was sleeping with her best friend. From that point on, the relationship went downhill. I guess it was easy for Robin to believe that if I would have sex with her instead of waiting for marriage, I would be open to any woman who came by.
Somehow Robin and I got back together again later. She looked awful. There was no longer any joy in her face and she had lost weight, a mere shadow of herself. I am ashamed to say that she let me have sex with her that day. I asked her to marry me, but she said no. I look back on that day and see a young man so selfish that he didn’t even ask her in concern what had happened and why she looked so bad. Did she get pregnant and have an abortion? Did this other guy use her for sex and leave her feeling used and disrespected?
Dear Robin, wherever you are, please forgive me. This is what the Sexual Revolution did to me, but the story does not end there.
A while later I got another woman pregnant. I told her to have an abortion, but she refused. I would see the baby and long to be part of his life, but somehow I couldn’t actually propose to this woman. Playboy magazine had sold me a pack of airbrushed lies. The idea that Playboy promoted was that there is somewhere this perfect woman with a perfect body with whom you want to spend your days. Somehow, having a perfect body in bed with me would be what I needed and wanted to have ultimate happiness. I bought the lie, as did so many millions of men. Our search was for that perfect sexual experience because we were sure this was what would fulfill our lives. How many divorces have there been because men like me were expecting sex to deliver much more than it was ever intended to deliver?
Karen was not that perfect body. She went back home with her son and I kept looking for the next woman who might be that Promised One who would complete my life. But something I wasn’t expecting happened. I wound up at a Bible study. I honestly believe that I had a demon expelled from me that night, for after that night and my fervent prayer for God’s mercy, everything slowly started to change for me. I wish I could say I went from being a sex-crazed deviant to being the loving person God intended me to be, but that is not how life is.
The powerful issues that had driven me for much of my life continued to plague me, even though I was now, with the preaching of the Bible study leader to encourage me, abstaining from sex outside marriage. A year after I started attending those Bible studies regularly, I called Karen and asked her to see me. I felt a need to be a father to the son to whom she and I had given life. She accepted my proposal and we were married. We spent the next 34 years together until she passed away. I wish I could say that they were wonderful years, but they were tough. The same lack of intimacy which caused me to seek out solace in pornography continued to dog me. Neither Karen nor I knew how to be really intimate with each other. To this day I realize that I could have done so much more in little ways to express love to her.
In 2001 I converted to the Catholic faith and a few years later I discovered Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body. This was the teaching that the world needed in the 1960's. We needed to hear that true love is an act not of taking for one’s self, as in sexual conquest, but of sacrificial giving. How I wish I had known that when I met Robin. How I wish I had heard that in time to live it out with Karen. The ramifications of my sexually-fueled selfishness are still with me. There are people I have hurt, relationships I have either lost or not been able to fully enjoy, such as with my children, because I have trouble with intimacy.
Promiscuity increases the problem of selfishness, loneliness, and inability to connect on a deeper level with people. Promiscuity and pornography turn a person in on themselves. True love turns a person outward to serve others first. If I love others, I use my body not to gratify the demands of my passions, but to do good in loving service to others. This is the message we need to share. I have since found in the Church many opportunities to serve others, but I’ll die in regret of the numerous times I hurt people when I didn’t know what true love is.
Submitted by E. H.