The first time I was asked was when I turned 12. I didn’t know what it was and, as a late bloomer, the idea had not occurred to me. It sounded bad though, so I blurted out “No!” My less innocent best friend who was also turning 12 that week, filled me in.
Fast forward to 18. I dated a boy in my ward and I was struggling with it. I would go weeks without doing it and then in a moment of weakness, I’d succumb. I was too ashamed to pray after, so I wouldn’t for a week or so. Then I would repent and the cycle would begin again. I was told that God didn’t allow insincere repentance and that every time I failed, all the past sins came back. The sins and guilt multiplied. I stayed on my knees for hours, pleading for forgiveness and strength to not do it again. I always failed.
One night, after failing yet again, I dreamed that Satan was in my room. He was dragging me out of bed and down to Hell. I was terrified. Even when I woke, I believed it was real. Satan was a very real part of my family’s and community’s belief system. I managed for awhile, but it never lasted. I felt weak and dirty. I married that boy, as soon as he returned from a mission, too young and too poor. We were afraid if we didn’t we would have sex.
My marriage bed was marked by dysfunction for both of us. It was back in the 80s a few years after the oral sex letter and rumors among the youth was that it was not okay, even in marriage. My husband wanted it, I wanted it. And I felt so much guilt about it. I spent so much time on my knees, pleading with God. The garments made me feel ugly. I didn’t dare touch myself or my husband in case what we were doing was wrong.
We had a lot of kids and eventually left Mormonism. We divorced and I remarried. I have no guilt about masturbation. But I still have a very hard time doing it. My body shuts down when I try. I probably need therapy. Still after all these years, those questions haunt my body.