"Just do not cross the line!". Confession and ruined marriage
An anonymous story about how the wrong perception of sexuality in the church environment can be a source of problems in family life and relationships with God.
In the article “The Prayer Book and His Boy,” Vladimir Berkhin talked about how the church subculture affects awakening teenage sexuality: deeply neuroticizing a teenager, loading him with an incredible guilt and heavy neuroses just because he has a body, and the body – healthy sexual impulses. Vladimir specifies that he can only talk about young men – he is incompetent in what happens to churched girls.
I want, without naming my name and without going into details, by which I can get to know, tell about what is happening with the churched girls. At least what happened to one girl — me. I will not talk about the history of my churching as a whole, although its other sides were also rather sad – only about the sexual aspect.
The story will be unsophisticated. This is not an article, not an essay – it is a confession that still “hurts”.
Perhaps he will seem too frank, cause embarrassment or ridicule. I would not dare to write about it under my name. But I want to tell everything as it was, without hiding anything or softening. In the end, I did nothing wrong. And for me it is important that you hear it.
“Do not cross the line! Don't think of a white monkey! ”
I churched at seventeen. I was a virgin and in general a completely innocent man – the classic "philological girl with glasses." As a matter of fact, the first real “boy” appeared to me right there, on the threshold of the church – my age mate, an equally intelligent young neophyte. We fell in love with each other at first sight, both dreamed of having a large family, immediately began to invent names and professions for future children.
I remember how, explaining to each other in our feelings and deciding to get married, the next day we — holding hands, beaming, with the air of the classic lovers of fools — went to take the blessing for marriage. The confessor blessed us, but at the same time he added very impressively and sternly, even repeated several times: “Remember: now that you are a bride and groom, this is the most dangerous time for you! Do not cross the line! In no case before marriage, do not overstep the line! ”
Before that, we probably didn’t think about the sexual side of things. At first, love is somehow not interesting. You love a person entirely, not dividing him into body and soul. But the principle of "do not think about the white monkey" worked: since then, the forbidden "side" firmly settled in our thoughts.
Unfortunately, it was impossible to get married right away – I had not yet reached the age of eighteen, and family business required to postpone the wedding for a long time. And this period of “grooming” became for us not only happy, but also painful – precisely because of the “edge”.
We were very attracted to each other. No matter how we struggled with the temptation – but, being alone together, we could not tear off the hands and lips from each other. We never crossed the “edge”, but we were close to it more than once.
And each time – during meetings or immediately after – I felt horror and burning shame. Because I do something vile, dirty, absolutely unacceptable, I commit a “sin of fornication” that makes me dirty and unworthy in the eyes of the Lord. Not only that, and being alone, I continued to think about my fiancé, dream about him, tried to imagine intimacy with him, got excited … and it was also a vile, bad sin.
At the same time, I experienced strong cognitive dissonance, because in my heart I could not understand what was wrong with that. I am not deceiving anyone, I am not taking anything away from anyone – I just love my fiance! Why is it so bad? Gradually, half-consciously, I came to the conclusion that filth and sinful – sensuality itself, physical intimacy itself.
Torture with shame
Worst of all was confession. At the confession, I had to admit to all this. It was torture, which is still hard to remember – torture with shame. Stumbling, unable to take my eyes off the floor, I – a little, bashful virgin – told such intimate things about herself to a stranger adult that even my own mother would be ashamed to tell. She bitterly reproached herself for “doing it again” or “thinking about it again”. I was dying of shame. He listened calmly, apparently without noticing my condition. I was already going to take the communion “on the machine”, not perceiving anything, just being glad that it was finally over. And then a few more days came to their senses after this moral self-rape.
Only once the confessor tried to give me, so to speak, pastoral instruction. When I particularly bitterly complained about the prodigal desires, he said: “Well, if your fiancé is kindling you to sin, maybe you should break up with him?”
But then I was outraged. With all the cockroaches that have already had time to breed in my head, I still understood: to disperse due to the fact that we feel for each other what both husband and wife should feel – some kind of madness. “Well, well,” he said, as if reluctantly, “if you really love each other so much, marry. But, most importantly, in no case do not overstep the line! ”
Respect for the Lord or escape from the filth?
I think I would endure abstinence immeasurably easier if someone explained to me at that moment: there is nothing wrong with sex, sexual attraction to the groom — also, the Lord wants us to wait for the wedding, out of respect for Him. But everything that I heard and read around — prayers from the prayer book, Orthodox literature, sermons, and pious talk — all convinced that “all this” was a kind of creepy, indescribable filth.
I will give one example, and not the brightest. I do not remember where I read the pious Byzantine legend about the girl who sang on the choir. This girl fell ill and died, and some time later appeared in a vision to the abbot of her church. He was surprised to see that she was in hell. "What happened? – he asked. “You were so pious, virtuous, you didn’t do anything to anyone …” – “Alas for me! She answered. – A handsome young man went to our church. Standing on the kliros, I stared at him, dreamed about him and was kindled by prodigal passion – and was ashamed to admit it at confession. For this unrepentant sin and fell into hell. "
Eloquently, yes? As if this story was addressed directly to me. It is for very familiar feelings and a very clear situation – the Lord recognizes a person as the last scum and sends him to hell.
In addition, conversations among comrades, such as church-chized young men and women, were also inclined. For obvious reasons, young people tend to think a lot about sex and talk a lot about it; but we have such conversations had a specific shade. Sometimes I learned such amazing “details” about intimate life that are not that then – now I’m ashamed to repeat; and they all confirmed that we are talking about something terrible, disgusting, unacceptable, about falling into the mud, inevitably leading to eternal death …
Impossibility to be a wife
In general, when we finally got married, and after the wedding the first wedding night came – it turned out that I could not be a wife. Physically.
I developed a severe neurosis. In medicine, this condition is called vaginismus.
We could not become a husband and wife – neither this night, nor the next, nor in a week, nor in a month. “Crossing the line” seemed to me a catastrophe, the end of the world, after which it would be impossible to live. I squeezed my legs so that it was impossible to push them apart even by force, screaming, sobbing and fighting. It was an irrational horror that could not be overcome.
At the same time, my sexual desire persisted, I still wanted my husband, really wanted to be a good wife and have children … but I could not help myself.
He is just as young and inexperienced as I am, too, did not understand what to do with it. I was scared of my tantrums, very afraid to hurt me. In the end, he retreated. We were still engaged in frank caresses, but no more than that – and both tried to pretend that everything was fine.
The question arises why I didn’t go to the doctor and didn’t try to overcome it at all. It is difficult to fully explain. Perhaps the essence of neurosis is that you cease to be your own master. The problem hanging over you is so terrible, so overwhelming, that you cannot approach it — you prefer to close your eyes and live as if you don’t have it.
It did not occur to me to go to treatment, because I did not perceive it as a disease – it seemed to me, rather, that this was another sin. Another proof of my sinfulness, depravity, and this time – also cowardice and weak will. But I couldn’t even confess in this “sin” – let alone consult with someone, because I didn’t understand in what words to explain what was happening to me. And I was ashamed. Unbearably embarrassing.
The only way out that I had imagined at the time was, so to speak, independent actions with my body, aimed at overcoming this fear and relieving muscle spasms. The problem is that all such actions unequivocally related to the sin of masturbation. So that this path was closed.
A few years later my husband left me. I can not blame him – he could not solve my problem for me, wanted a normal married life and still wanted children, but I could not give either one or the other.
Even before that, we both left the church. He subsequently returned; I "churched" completely and stopped to consider myself a believer. But I didn’t go away from my problem.
And the most flourishing, fruitful years, the years of youth, I spent in deep depression. In the conviction that I am a “cripple”, a “woman-neuter” who can have neither family nor personal life. From which men will shy away in horror, recognizing her "terrible secret." And if someone nevertheless agrees to deal with me – whatever it is, you must hold on to it with both hands and agree to any conditions. Because I am nothing better than “inferior”, ugly and nasty, and I do not deserve it.
It is difficult to describe how much grief it brought me.
Not a curse, but a disease
Gradually, I overcame it – there is no need to tell in detail how.
After thirty it dawned on me that this was not a “curse” or something like that, but a disease that could be cured and cured. I went to be treated. In the gynecologist's office, she finally got rid of virginity. Years since thirty-five beginnings – slowly, carefully, overcoming fear and complexes – to meet with men and enter into “full-fledged” close relations with them. And now, at the age of forty, I suddenly realized that, in fact, nothing already prevents me from fulfilling my dream of becoming pregnant and having a baby.
Well, like "nothing" … Of course, it interferes very much. Age, health, loneliness, habits of “hardened bachelorette” – all the luggage, which was not in twenty years. And even in the best case – more than one, at most, two children, I do not pull. That family I dreamed about so much – I will never have.
Everything is surmountable
I do not know what else to say about this.
I was crippled. Broke my life.
I do not know why. I didn’t do anything wrong, I was just very young, naive and impressionable, I wanted to be a good wife and mother – and a good Christian.
The first years after that I hated both Christianity and the Orthodox Church. Then he calmed down. I realized that it was stupid to blame people who have nothing to do with it. Or faith and ideology, which, generally speaking, is completely different.
Now a lot of things in Christianity are nice to me, cute, and many believers, the topics they discuss are often close and interesting … but the return is absolutely impossible. The church is the place where I was mutilated. The god to whom the Orthodox pray (provided that He is) is the one whom I trusted, as a daughter to the Father, and who allowed such a thing to create with me. If He is still there – well, after death I will explain myself to Him. But no more middlemen. This chapter is closed.
But be that as it may, this system failed to break me. I overcame everything, although it took many years. Although it still hurts and will probably hurt until the end of life – but now I am stronger than my weakness and pain.
I want to sympathize with all those who received sad experience and psychological trauma in the church, wish them good luck and say that everything is surmountable.
The author asked me to convey that she carefully reads the reviews here and on social networks and is very, very grateful for the words of support and sympathy. It is very important and expensive for her. Thank.
Walter Trobisch was very good at talking to teenagers about sex and love from Christian positions – you can read his books here.
More materials about Christian attitudes towards sex are available here.
Vladimir Strelov "Boy, prayer book and family"
Priest Maxim Brazhnikov "On the Gospel Axioms of Love"
Andrei Zaitsev "Sex and fear, or How not to talk with a teenager"
Natalia Kholmogorova “Not“ Who is to blame? ”, But“ What is to be done? ”
Vladimir Berhin "Prayer Book and His Boy"
Vladimir Shallar "Saved Sexuality"
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