As a young woman, I struggled with boys. I was backwards and shy, and lacked confidence in myself, especially when it came to boys. I was nineteen before I ever had my first kiss, and it went from first kiss to almost having intercourse in one evening. I still struggled in confidence with boys though, therefore there were only a few more incidents such as this while I was still in the church, and so I only ever confessed to two bishops in my life. Coming from an inactive family, the idea of confessing to a bishop wasn’t taught in my home. But while in college and living with roommates, I came to understand that I was supposed to confess for what I did. In hindsight, this created a lot of confusion in my mind. I felt no remorse on the one hand, I had thoroughly enjoyed myself during these encounters. On the other hand, I felt a lot of shame. The guy ended up proving that he didn’t love me back, and now I was not going to be worthy for another man. I was tainted goods, and the need to confess validated this belief about myself.
After leaving the church five years later, I looked back on these confessions in horror. Why would I share such intimate details about myself and my sex life with these men I barely knew? I was lucky, both of the bishops I spoke with handled the situation with care, and I cannot say that anything inappropriate was said. In fact, the first one had a manner that somehow made me feel normal, he was compassionate. During the interview with the second bishop, however, I had the distinct sense that he was aroused. To give him credit, if he was aroused, he managed it and there was not anything inappropriate said or done.
But looking back, it makes me sick to my stomach that I put myself in a position to be the method of arousal for a man I wasn’t in that kind of relationship with and barely knew. Despite my newly acquired sexual experience, I was still incredibly naïve when it came to men, due to a great extent on the attitude towards sex in the church. If I am honest with myself, there was some excitement in talking about these things, as naturally happens when we talk about sex. Did that excitement contribute to his arousal? If he had not been honorable, I could have been in a very vulnerable position to be hurt. The expectations were confusing – I wasn’t supposed to be doing these things or even thinking about them, but if I did them, I should go and share the details with a full grown man whom I was just supposed to trust because of his position.
So while I can’t say that I was abused in my experiences with confessing to a bishop, I still somehow feel gross about them. I’m deeply embarrassed that these two men know such intimate details about me, and that I willingly gave them this information because I was just doing what I was told to do. I hope that their minds left these details at the door of their office, but I cannot know for sure, and that makes me incredibly uncomfortable.