“’You asked me once,’ said O’Brien, ‘what was in Room 101. I told you that you knew the answer already. Everyone knows it. The thing that is in Room 101 is the worst thing in the world.’” -1984 by George Orwell. Those words hit me to my core when I read 1984 in my senior year of high school. Suddenly, I knew what I could call the bishop’s office it was my Room 101. I was the oldest of my age group and with a sudden drop in missionaries in a Los Angeles ward, my bishop decided to double down his effort on me.
I would be called into the bishop’s office on an almost monthly basis, but really it was whenever he laid his eyes on me. My church building had circular hallways. I lived in such a panic of running into him that I would only walk on one side of the building, making sure to be as far away from his office as possible. That didn’t matter, he would pull me out of Sunday school/priesthood, make me come in after church, or pull me out of youth activities. Nowhere was safe. If I crossed him in the hallway he would throw his hand to the wall blocking my path and then grab my shoulder. I would freeze every time because there was nothing that I could do. I was helpless. I would be questioned in hallways with people around me and no one would stop him. (Even 14 years later to this day I cannot tolerate someone touching my back or shoulders.) In his office, which is secured behind two doors with a white noise machine, I would endure hour long interrogations always being the same.
Bishop: “Do you follow the law of chastity?”
Bishop: “Do you know what that means?”
Bishop: “Describe to me what the law of chastity is.”
Me: “Well it’s remaining abstinent, not having sex, and masturbation.”
Bishop: “Do you know what masturbation is?
Me: “I guess, it’s touching yourself.”
Bishop: “Do you masterbate?”
Bishop: *stares at me*
Bishop: “Do you know what petting/heavy petting is?
Me: “Not really.”
Bishop: “It’s when you touch someone under or above their clothing. Do you do any form of petting?” Me: “No.”
It’s no wonder that I dealt with depression for a close to 14 years where I would struggle every morning with the strong desire to slam my car into the center divide on the freeway. I still have nightmares even though I haven’t stepped into a church building in years. I have panic attacks when someone shuts a door behind me trapping me in a room against my will. These are things I still deal with and I hate every second of it.