I was 14 when I first figured out how to masturbate. Before this, I was under the impression that it was not something women were physically capable to doing. With this new discovery, I finally had an outlet for my sexual frustration that came with puberty. I felt so guilty about it.
My first temple interview, I was asked if I followed the law of chastity by one of the bishop’s counselors, a man who I hated due to his extreme arrogance (I had complained multiple times to my parents about things he had said to me, but they went to him about it and didn’t take me seriously). I said I didn’t understand what it was and he explained it to me. I felt so guilty. I lied. I said no, but I was sure he could tell I was a liar. I felt shame and guilt the entire time I was in the temple doing baptisms for the dead. I wondered if the people I was being baptized for were upset. I wondered if it didn’t count for them and they would be screwed over by me. I was sure all my ancestors and God and Jesus were viewing me with disgust.
Another temple trip was coming up and I made excuses to not be interviewed and to not go. I had this deep secret and I couldn’t tell anyone. My parents became upset with me. My mother asked me why I didn’t want to go to the temple as she dropped me off for morning seminary. I said I just didn’t want to. She yelled “Is it because you’re masturbating?” I fled inside the church and hid in the bathroom during class. When I would take long showers, my parents would hit the door (and eventually started to just open the door) and yell at me, asking if I was masturbating.
I felt so wrong, but I couldn’t get myself to stop. I was thinking about other women, and I pushed that out of my head as much as I could, ashamed and avoiding two sins at a time. I was able to shove the realities of my sexuality into a deep pit of denial. I made rules like “no masturbation on Sunday”. When church events would come up, I’d pray to God and try to bargain with him “If I stop masturbating, will I be able to get out of girls camp?”. This didn’t work and I didn’t feel any less guilty. I became deeply depressed and suicidal.
At 18, I moved out of my parents house and found a man who wanted me to move in with him. I reluctantly agreed, and when my parents found out they pressured me into marrying him. It didn’t feel right, but I didn’t want to be disowned by my family. After two miserable years of marriage, I left him and I came out of the closet. I was finally able to accept that I am a lesbian.