I was born in the church and presented as a very devout, chaste and faithful girl my whole life. It wasn’t an act. For the most part, I really was. But I had a secret : I masturbated.
I was never asked about this, and masturbation was never addressed in YW. I came away with the idea that masturbation was a male issue, and I felt like there was something profoundly wrong with me because I was a sexual being. I was afraid that I was some type of sexual monster and that if I ever dated I would immediately lose all control and go too far with a boy. So I didn’t date. I made it through high school having never done more than hold hands with a boy, all while privately struggling with white knuckle “sobriety” from masturbation (with many “relapses” and the crippling shame that came with that).
Once in college, I found it increasingly difficult to avoid all members of the opposite sex. I started dating. Dating brought my first sexual experiences (no actual sex, but kissing and touching that eventually went too far by LDS standards).
Over the course of a few years, I confessed my sexual “sins” to 3 different priesthood leaders. I never confessed that I masturbated. I felt that was far too taboo for a woman. All three bishops I spoke to asked very explicit questions that made me uncomfortable, but I answered them nonetheless because I felt I had to…
Did you climax? Did your boyfriend penetrate you with his fingers? With an object? Did he touch you over or under your clothes? Where did this occur? In your apartment? In your car?
All these questions in response to a confession of ‘passionate kissing.’
I was barred from taking the sacrament for 4 weeks. Twice when I moved wards, I was pulled into unsolicited interviews with the new bishops and asked suspiciously pointed questions that made me think that my previous bishops had talked, or put a note in my records about my previous transgressions.
Probably the result I hate most though is that I changed who I was. I turned off my sexuality. I pushed my boyfriend (a kind person that I loved and trusted and desired) away, and cruelly shamed and guilted him. I parroted the shame-based teaching I was taught even though they felt contrary to my true nature. I didn’t enjoy college or courtship. I went into hiding and denied a basic, healthy part of myself for too long.