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This is a moderated blog is a project of the Ruth Institute. Have a story to share? We're listening.
Posted on: Wednesday, July 12, 2017
We were the happy couple, married in our parish almost 30 years ago. After the marriage, my spouse apologized for pressuring before marriage to unchastity.
That had been my first mistake--believing the lie that in a serious relationship (we were nearly engaged after all) having sex occasionally was ok.
It wasn't. It bothered my conscience deeply and I felt used.
Once married we used Natural Family Planning. In the first year, we conceived. With bills to pay, crying every day, I left my child to go to work. Eventually my husband did quite well financially, so I quit to raise our children. My youngest was born in a traumatic delivery, which led me to fear having more children. I then made mistake number two--taking the pill. I knew it was wrong, but I justified it in "my case." God would understand, but I'm ashamed that I didn't confess it. I didn't understand the WHY of what the church taught. My mother had worked full time, and the message growing up was to put career and financial security as the top priority. Having a large family was seen as irresponsible.
After a decade of marriage, one day I walked in and caught my husband masturbating. Was he watching porn on his computer? He said that every man does it. It hurt deeply. He met someone, a porn model. He told me that he didn't want to be married to me anymore. He claimed that he had never loved me and we were not compatible.
We saw a priest who failed us. He told my husband that since he wasn't happy he could leave. I felt so abandoned. I considered leaving the church. My husband continued to be distant, cold towards me. I considered suicide.
Alone one night, I heard a quiet voice telling me that I was not alone--God was there. During this time our oldest, who was in high school, became involved in a same sex relationship. I cried all the time. No one could tell me how to deal with this. The ministry in my archdiocese turned out to be gay-affirming. I left the first meeting in tears. Their message, to affirm, I couldn't do. At my new parish the priest told me about Courage.
I couldn't in good conscience start dating, as I was still a married woman, regardless of what my husband chose to do. He had broken his promise; I didn't want to give my children that example. I focused on my two teenagers. They needed a responsible parent. I was forced to go back to work. I remember crying on Christmas Eve as the utility man came to shut off our utilities again. That same Christmas my estranged husband bought our daughters designer handbags. I felt ashamed that I had failed my children. One day I came home and caught my youngest daughter, 18, with her boyfriend. I yelled at him and asked him point blank if he was prepared to support a child.
Soon it will be 10 years since that day when my husband shattered our family. Along the path of tears I gained a deeper faith. I learned to trust God in ways I never had. I discovered how very much He had always been there with me, protected, and guided me. I am a different person than I was on that first day when I thought my heart would explode from pain. I left my old parish because the memories hurt too much and because the failure of the pastor left me feeling abandoned. I found a new parish where they actually preach the true Catholic faith. I became involved in parish life and began formation as a secular Carmelite. I began to educate myself through the Courage apostolate. I began an EnCourage chapter in my area, providing hope and truth for parents.
Three years ago my husband filed for divorce. I miss the man he used to be. I now see a man without inner peace, and my heart hurts for him. He is
cohabiting with a woman 10 years younger than I. My oldest is cohabiting in a same sex relationship. I understand now about redemptive suffering. God
really is close to the broken-hearted, abandoned spouse. He always provided for me. And I really feel that I have been blessed with the better part.
I am His, and that is where I want to stay.
Submitted by M. M.
Posted on: Thursday, June 22, 2017
At the age of 52, I recently found myself sitting in my mother's psychologist's office. She went to him most of her adult life, though she died six years ago. I knew her psychologist well since, at the age of 14, I was the one who had sought him out in hopes of acquiring help for my family. My dad attended family therapy once, at which time he stood in frustration, faced his broken family, and proclaimed, "I am an alcoholic and have no intention of changing anything."
After my third divorce, I returned home to the Catholic Church. Then, following a year of devotion to praying my mom's rosary, I felt compelled to approach my parish priest about starting the annulment process. The time had come to confront my painful past, and the healing process was subsequently set in motion. It has not been easy, but necessary.
After Mom passed away, I discovered her own annulment documents. They revealed that my father was a sex addict and described in detail the abuse she had suffered in her marriage. It was overwhelming to realize the puzzle of my past consisted of a myriad of pieces. I think it would have been a relief the day dad chose to walk out of our family had it not been Christmas Eve. He was donning a new shirt and void of regret as he walked right past his wife's brokenness and his children's joyful anticipation of the arrival of Santa Claus.
After two years of therapy, I found myself still staring at a mound of puzzle pieces--very few connected. In my desperation, I thought mom's psychologist could help trigger some memories. Within the first ten minutes of our visit, I regretted this decision as he hastily concluded I had "hang ups" about sex since I was in a chaste relationship. He suggested that if we liked each other, we should live together. I remember staring at his degree hanging appropriately lopsided on the wall when it felt as if a bolt of lightning shot through my body, which appeared to have traveled upwards from hell, as I realized this man had influenced my mom. She sought help to better her life, and this is what she got. I was now guilt-ridden, knowing I had brought them together.
This sparked an unwelcome memory of my mom asking me to purchase her a condom. I vividly recollected struggling to process the metamorphosis I was witnessing--she was planning a one night stand. At the time I was married with two small children. Possessing only the life skills acquired on my own, I desperately tried to persuade her to reconsider. What was most upsetting was that she seemed so happy, even giddy, at the prospect. I wondered what had happened to my mom, the one who attended mass and confession and was quite devoted to praying the rosary. Now I knew.
I listened to the psychologist as he recalled this very encounter as my mom had described it to him. "It was liberating," he proclaimed, for her to express herself in this manner after being abused by my dad for so long. She now had control over her sexual being and was free to express her sexuality with confidence and without fear. He assured me it was quite pleasurable for her. I felt sick and was rendered speechless for a moment as I absorbed the shock waves of this most recent traumatic event. I responded to him by leaning inward and looking directly into his eyes with a resounding, "Seemingly!"
It was time to leave. As I walked out the door, I muttered "hippie" and felt somewhat vindicated.
Submitted by D.W.
Posted on: Monday, January 16, 2017
It all probably started in high school when I became bulimic. I thought I was the only one in the world with this terrible compulsion. Now I know that 4 of the 6 daughters of my family engaged in bulimia during their teens. I also now know that my father was engaged in porn and put enormous pressure on us to look slim and perfect.
Later at the University of Wisconsin in Madison in 1971, I had a nervous breakdown at the end of my sophomore year and sought psychiatric care. The psychiatrist told me "the problem is that you are still a virgin." Until then, I had resisted the sexual revolution because of my morals and belief in the teachings of the Catholic Church. Suddenly I rationalized that since I was suicidal for so long, I was obligated to try anything to try to save my life.
Three months later I had slept with 4 different guys. I was headed to a life of promiscuity. I convinced a guy from my old high school that we should live together and then that we should sleep together. In 1973, this man became my husband, two months before our first son was born, and fathered 5 children with me. We divorced after 29 years.
He was unfaithful most of the marriage, perhaps because I had been promiscuous before marriage. I was faithful to him though. I was too busy and too blind to see. I still blame myself for seducing him in the first place.
I came to see that I had been wrong, because I was using men to lift me out of a suicidal depression. Sure sex can distract you from the pain, but not cure the underlying dysfunction. It has taken me 45 years of growing self awareness to appreciate that I survived and have been active in the prolife group ever since Roe vs. Wade, January 22, 1973.
In 1973, before my ex and I got married, I went for a pregnancy test at the Blue Bus free health clinic in Madison, WI. They gave me the positive results with a list of 5 doctors that would do my abortion. They knew I was single and poor. I quickly ran out of the bus and hid from the pro abortion atmosphere in Madison my entire 9 months. I felt like a spy for the prolife movement.
Every year though, I was able to become more vocal and active until I stopped hiding. I have been to two March for Life events both in D.C. with 3 kids and in Chicago with a grandchild. Now I am happy and God has just blessed me with Grandchildren #12 and 13. My family is prolife and good Catholics. My 3 sons have wonderful Catholic wives and are leaders in their churches. I am grateful that I didn't abort. I am grateful that I forgave myself and my ex and can love my whole family now.
Submitted by J. B.
Posted on: Thursday, January 05, 2017
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.
Posted on: Saturday, September 24, 2016
I am a survivor of the sexual revolution. I wasted my entire child bearing years on sex. It started in the early 70’s when I was 16 and lost my virginity to a 22-year-old. I got high and gave away my heart and wept. It started a whirlwind of relationships. Sex was powerful! I was exposed to porn. I was literally looking for love in all the wrong places and lost count of the bodies. I got pregnant at 18. We lived together to my angst. I wanted to be married, but he said it was just a piece of paper. I felt that he was rejecting me and our son and had a shameful whirlwind affair with a married man who divorced his wife to be with me.
I ran away within weeks of the whole mess. My son's father came back, but still no marriage commitment, no trust, but why should there be? I had another sexual relationship. My son's father’s last word to me was “Whore!” as he threw all of my son’s belongings on the front porch of my mother’s house and his stroller through the front door.
Sometime during then, my early 20’s, I realized that my body was beautifully and wonderfully made. I heard the Lord call me. I was a beautiful creation, but to my great sorrow, knew in my heart that I had aborted my future children with birth control. My mother backed me up when I was pregnant. She wouldn’t let me be shamed like she was when she had me out of wedlock. I cherished the life within me more than myself. My mother had a very unfulfilled marriage, but was open to having a grandchild, but we had fights. When I tried to voice my feelings, she said “you just need to get laid!”
I wanted to give him up for adoption to a man/woman who could get him what he needed to get to heaven. She thought I was trying to keep him away from her. I just wanted him to get to heaven. Someone showed me a picture of Jesus of Divine Mercy. I called on the Lord to forgive me and He did. I could see the Father and his love for me, the prodigal child, but it was just starting. The war raged on. I ended up in a psych ward and suicidal. It was hell on everyone around me. I was back living with my parents and son. I had terrible shouting matches with my mother. I had no control over anything and was in a corner alone. I just kept crying “I have no control over him!”
I was back to zero self-worth and had other affairs. I was worthless now. What difference could it make? My life was shattered all around me. I had been sexually “off the rails” since I was a teen and it spiraled to the destruction of me. My son was cutting himself and using drugs/drinking, and I lost my 1st grandchild to abortion when he was 16. He was so confused and angry and had no compass, no male figure to guide him, except for my dad, who became his surrogate. I will always blame myself for his eternal welfare. He was never baptized, but I gave him to God in my heart. I ask for mercy all the time and pray for him/us. I don’t know what else to do. I have two beautiful grandchildren now. Maybe God works with crooked lines and it will be okay.
Women’s lib is a lie. You can’t have it all. We are sold lies, and I devoured them. I was so angry once I knew the truth, but learning/hoping/asking/wanting mercy. It’s all any of us have. Thank you.
Submitted by C.L.