I hesitated to write my story because I wasn’t sexually abused. I decided to write it though, because my experience around these interviews has been a big contributor to my depression and constant feelings of shame.
I remember my first orgasm at 12 years old. I was downstairs watching TV and I was flipping through the channels when a fashion show on VH1 caught my attention. There were women walking down the runway wearing sexy outfits and I quickly became aroused. I remember reaching down and readjusting myself because it hurt. I immediately felt I had done something wrong because my bishop had explained what a great sin it was in my worthiness interview to become a deacon several months before. At the time of the interview, I didn’t know what he was talking about, but it immediately became apparent to me now. I quickly turned the channel as soon as I realized I was in danger of committing a serious sin. There was an unknown pressure building inside me. I tried to think of Jesus and started singing primary songs in my head but that didn’t help at all. The pressure continued to build and I didn’t know what to do. I decided to put a pillow between my legs to rub up against. This way I wasn’t touching myself so I decided it was okay. It took me all of 5 seconds of thrusting to orgasm. It was the most amazing feeling I had ever experienced. It felt like pure ecstasy for several moments, then a wave of shame came over me that I’d never felt before. I realized I had just committed a huge sin and I immediately fell into a deep depression that I’m still struggling with as a 36 year old man.
I couldn’t believe what I had done. I just wanted to die. My shame was so deep. I think I masturbated 8 times the next day. Each time I had the same experience. Pure ecstasy followed by pure shame. I remember going to church that Sunday and trying to look invisible when they were looking for deacons to pass the sacrament. I knew I wasn’t worthy but also didn’t feel safe to tell anyone. I got asked to pass the sacrament and I didn’t know what to do so I said yes. I remember being afraid to touch the sacrament tray because I thought the water in the cups would turn to blood, and that everyone at church would know what I had done. I managed to survive that encounter, but got to live it over and over, week after week.
Several weeks later, our deacons quorum leader taught a lesson about the sin of masturbation. I remember him almost yelling at us saying, “IT’S WRONG…and if you do it you are unclean and unworthy and you must tell the bishop immediately!” I remember telling myself that I’ll recommit to stopping and as soon as I do, I’ll confess my grievous sins to the bishop. I tried and tried, but wasn’t able to stop. I remember being so afraid to die because I was living in sin and I wouldn’t be with my family in the afterlife. I was a mess. Several months later, my worst fear came true. It was time for bishops interviews again. Boys were getting called out of class, one by one. I was so scared. There were a couple dozen deacons, so I was hoping I wouldn’t get called in that day. Luckily I wasn’t called in and class was over, what a relief! I decided again to stop masturbating so that I could go in the next week and tell the bishop that I had masturbated, but wasn’t masturbating. I wanted to show him I was truly sorry and had a repentant heart. Again, I wasn’t able to stop and continued masturbating that week. Masturbating was the only way I had to escape my shame. Sunday eventually came around and I was sick. Not only had I masturbated, but I was masturbating several times a day. I decided I was going to confess and just deal with the consequences. I walked into his office with every intention of confessing, but when the question came, I just said no. I couldn’t believe I lied to him. I remember feeling so overwhelmed with shame when I walked out of his office. I was so ashamed of myself. I didn’t know what was wrong with me. From then on I lived in constant fear of losing my eternal family. As the years went by, my depression got worse and worse. I carried that shame into all of my relationships. I never felt worthy of love.
It’s taken me years of therapy just to get to a place where I’m starting to accept myself. My depression is still a struggle, but I realize now, as an adult, that what I did was normal and healthy. I still get triggered into shame when I masturbate, but each time I remind myself that it’s an act of self care and a tiny bit of the shame gets chipped away. I really hope the church will stop these shaming and traumatic interviews. No kids deserve to experience what we have experienced.