As a child I had a problem with pornography and masturbation. It started when I was 10 and I hid it until I was 16 years old. At 16 – after feeling super guilty at EFY – I finally decided to go see my bishop.
I had done my research – or I thought I did – before coming to talk to the bishop. I knew that he was going to be loving and caring and I expected that I wasn’t going to be able to take the sacrament for a few weeks. I went in and told him what was going on. He asked the standard follow up questions, how long, what was I viewing, etc. It was a little weird for me but I answered everything honestly and was waiting to feel loved.
Eventually the bishop got real quiet and told me that God was ashamed of me. That I had lied to him and committed this abomination. He then told me that I had to go 6 weeks without the sacrament and not to use the priesthood or participate in the sacrament until he tells me too. It was nothing like I was expecting and I was visibly shook – but I thanked him and told him I’d do that.
Fast forward 6 weeks later and I had only had one relapse with masturbation. I actually felt pretty good about myself, I went from everyday to once in 6 weeks. I went in to talk to my bishop and he looked at me sternly and told me that I had to restart – that I obviously didn’t try hard enough and that I wasn’t sorry.This went on for about a year.
This is relevant later. I had a friend that I used to talk to a lot. She would almost always start the conversations and I would always respond. I was very careful never to talk to her in person alone and I talked to her rarely in person. I made sure that I always had a friend with me when we were near to vouch that I wasn’t doing anything beyond being friendly. I did like her, she knew it but I never did much as held her hand. Eventually she stopped texting me and talking to me.
A couple of months after she stopped talking to me and months after I had tried to talk to her (through text), I got called into the bishops office again. He told me I needed to stop stalking this girl. That I was being a creep and was being bad and wrong. I told him I was super sorry and that I’d make sure I stayed as far away as possible. He went on and lectured me for another 30 minutes and so, talking about the standard stuff and how I’m not trying.
The next week the same thing happened. I hadn’t seen this girl, I deleted her number, but I still apologized and said I’d do better. Eventually the girl switched wards. I was a little hurt because I had several adults tell me I was the reason the so and so family moved, but I thought that finally the Bishop would stop questioning me about it. He didn’t. It went on for almost 2 years before my dad found out what was going on and put a stop to it.
I went through times where I felt that death was the only option, where I felt like I had to take my own life. I never did because I thought I deserved to be punished and I couldn’t think of anything more punishing than living. I still can’t enter an LDS church without feeling dread and self-loathing. At one point, I went silent for almost 2 weeks and then told my friends we couldn’t be friends anymore. I lied through my teeth to my best friend because I felt that by being my friend I would just hurt her. I believed I was the monster my bishop accuses me of. I still have to deal with that today.
I haven’t had any relationship with anyone since I was accused. The only people I actually hang out with now are my cousin and her boyfriend. I’m in college right now, but every time someone tries to get to know me I shut them down before anything starts because I can’t see myself as anything but a creep or monster. I’ve been to therapist and argued for hours about how I can’t forgive myself. I used to argue with my new bishop – singles ward – about how god couldn’t forgive me because I couldn’t forgive myself. I’m better now that I don’t go to church, but it still haunts me everyday.
I have no friends but family and can’t allow myself to make them. Years of conditioning have led me to be afraid of even talking to a woman – everything I say and do will be used against me. Whenever I do go to church (family is over) I spend the sacrament not trying to think of all the things I did wrong but all the things I’ve done right. Most weeks, I can’t even come up with one.