I discovered masturbation at age 5. I did not know it was a “sin” until my mother had caught me. Ever after she would try to catch me in the act. So I had internalized the shame from a very tender age.
Shortly after my baptism at age 8 after I had masturbated I had suicidal ideation due to the shame. I thought I had destroyed my purity.
By the time I was ready for my deacon interview just before age 12 I went into the bishops office for my priesthood worthiness interview. I thought that I was unique that other boys and girls did not masturbate that I was somehow deviant.
I tried to cease masturbating but as I started puberty at age 11 it was basically not possible. Masturbation was a common ritual for me and the shame I internalized after each time was immense. Especially since I thought I was alone and that other boys and girls didn’t masturbate.
I was taught in church that the Bishop could “discern” if you were lying. I dreaded turning 12 because that meant I would be interrogated about masturbation.
Sure enough, just before turning 12 I was interviewed by the Bishop. I remember him asking me directly: “Do you masturbate?”. I lied and said no. But there was a long pause after and I felt like he could see right through me.
After the interview he sent me out and my parents went in and as I sat outside the bishop’s office I was certain the Bishop was telling them that I had lied.
All through my youth I was regularly queried about masturbation. As a youth I always lied but felt tremendous guilt and shame. The loneliness from thinking I was the only bad person was immense
It wasn’t until I was out on my mission that I confessed to masturbation. To his credit my mission president didn’t make a big deal out of it. And I started to clue in that masturbation wasn’t just me.
I continued to “struggle” with masturbation in adulthood. Sometimes lying about it and sometimes confessing. I had thought that just getting married would solve the problem. Which it did for the most part but every once in a while I would masturbate and all the shame of my childhood would return.
Occasionally confessing to masturbation as an adult resulted in me not having a Temple recommend when I needed it. Even for important events. I wasn’t able to go to see 2 weddings of siblings because of not having a Temple recommend for masturbation.
This basically amounted to me being shunned (from weddings) and publicly humiliated for being honest while everyone else was just lying.
Eventually in my late 30s a Bishop sent me to an LDS 12 step program where I sat in group with other Mormons that struggled with masturbation and other issues. This actually worked out as a blessing because I learned that it’s really common and I wasn’t some unique monster.
After about a year of going to 12 step groups I finally realized that the shame and guilt was manufactured by the church. A lot of other factors combined but I eventually ended up resigning from the church. Well actually my entire family of 5 we all resigned together.
Today, I have a healthy view on sex and have been trying to teach my own children that masturbation is a normal body function.
I support the cause of Protect LDS Children. I hope not one more child has to endure sexual interrogations and shame like I had to endure.