Okay, deep breath.
Now, here’s the part of the story where things start going painfully awry. Before I dive into all of this heartache, I need to explain some things about Chris and I. We were both Christians, and this basically meant that we went to church on Sundays, and tried to be ‘good kids’ on the whole. But we were SO young and had been (in my opinion) completely spoon-fed our religion up until that point, so “religion” to us looked more like a set of rules than a REAL, genuine heart desire. Does that make any sense?
Like, I knew I believed in God, and I really did want to follow Him with all my heart, but I’d never been tested in my faith or pushed to the place where I really needed Him in order to make it through something difficult. So, my “Christianity” was not much more than trying to remember to read my Bible and trying to do what my pastor told me to do. I didn’t drink, I didn’t cuss, and I most CERTAINLY did NOT have sex before I was married.
Purity and abstinence had been drilled into my brain from the day I set foot in church. And I had planned on saving myself for my husband. There were no ifs ands or buts about it, and I just honestly didn’t think it would ever be a problem for me. That was just ALWAYS the plan, because that’s ALWAYS what I’d been told to do. I was going to be a virgin on my wedding night. Period.
But, I’d never been in love before.
Unfortunately, I had been told a bajillion times NOT to have sex, but I’d never been told where to VEER THE CAR if things started barreling down that road at a hundred miles an hour with no working brakes in sight. And by telling kids that sex is bad (outside of marriage), but giving them no soft, safe place to run to when they are either A. HAVING THOUGHTS ABOUT SEX, or B. REALLY REALLY CLOSE TO AND REALLY WANTING TO HAVE SEX, or c. HAVE ALREADY (oops!) HAD SEX, then there really is very little hope for them making it to the finish line. They can’t do it on their own will power or strength. Kids today are practically DROWNING in all the sex on TV and in music and on the Internet, and if they don’t have someone safe to run to when they feel they are going under, then how are they ever going to navigate through this mess ALONE?
When it came down to it, I had no support system in place. No safety net. No one to confide in or turn to with the turmoil that was tearing my heart in two. I felt ashamed and didn’t want to admit I was struggling. I HAD TO HAVE IT ALL TOGETHER. Had to work it out on my own! So, I gave in. I had sex with Chris. I was seventeen. And the moment I lost what I’d been carefully guarding for my whole life, I fell to pieces.
If you spend years hearing that you shouldn’t do something, and then you go and do it, what do you feel? I felt intense SHAME. I collapsed in on myself. I felt like I couldn’t be a Christian anymore because I didn’t know about God’s GRACE for me in that situation. I didn’t understand God’s unconditional LOVE for me. My whole identity had been wrapped up in being the ‘good Christian girl’, and when I gave that away, I thought God would no longer want me on His team.
I didn’t tell ANYONE. I remember, after the first time, I went over to my friend Rebecca’s house and wanted so badly to just break down and weep and tell her everything, but the shame of it all gripped my mouth shut. I fought back tears as I lounged on her bed and tried to be my old normal self. But I felt like an impostor.
By this time, Chris and I were leading worship together at our church youth group. I felt like slime, like I wasn’t even good enough to walk through the door. But we kept leading and we kept sleeping together and I kept spiraling downwards.
I just wanted to make Chris happy, and I thought that by giving myself to him, I was. But he was feeling the exact same things that I was feeling. We both wanted to stop and vowed over and over again that we would, but it never happened. Chris’ way of dealing with the turmoil was to push me away.
Thus began the season of our relationship that I like to call ‘The Third Ring of Hell.’ He would break up with me because we had sex. Then, we would get back together, only to have sex 3 minutes later. Then he’d break up with me again. Then have sex with me. Then he’d stay with me because he felt bad for breaking up with me so much. Then, he’d break up with me. And on and on and on and ooooooooonnn. A reasonable person would have left the situation long before it got to this point, but I was not a reasonable person. I was a teenager. IN LOVE.
As you can imagine, this cycle was shredding my self confidence and my self worth to bits. On the outside, I still had everything together. I was the Student Body President and the Varsity Cheer Captain and the Homecoming Queen. But I’d never felt so alone in my entire life.
Let’s fast forward a bit.
I’m now a freshman in college, living in an apartment just off the UNR campus with three other girls that I don’t even know. The cycle with Chris continues. I’m completely alone, and I’m slowly being eaten alive by depression and self-hatred. I feel like a hollow shell of the person I had been even a year earlier.
And I’m becoming desperate.
**to be continued…**