So here I'm back again. The last time I posted, I felt this sense of numbness, and I had this unusual feeling that I wouldn't want to be touched by my husband right now if I had one. However, this is not the case anymore. In fact, I've been having struggles again not to resort to these wonderful fantasies of being intimate with my man; touching myself etc. This morning, I realized again that I should make it a point not to linger in bed too long after waking up. So I'm trying to distract myself from these thoughts triggered by my physical and emotional cravings.
I had also mentioned the article that I have started to write. Then I was still determined to have this published somewhere whenever the time is right, however I'm not so sure anymore. I actually sent it for review to a fatherly friend of mine. This man is well in his 60s and happily married. He knows quite a bit about my previous relationships, so I thought I could confide a bit more about my experience to him. I also wanted a male perspective on my article. Anyway, he was a bit shocked - not about the experience itself, but rather about the fact that I shared it with him. Although there are no gory details contained in this article, it stimulated his mind in a way he didn't feel comfortable with - mainly due to the fact that he knows me quite well. He thinks that this article wouldn't be appropriate to be read by men, especially not by men who know me personally.
Well, I don't know. All I want is to help other females through my experience. I do realize though that there are not so many female members on this forum, however I would like to post it here anyway. It's only the first part, which mainly tackles my past when it comes to relationships and sexuality. The second part will be more focused on how I overcame the habit of self-pleasure. I hope I can finish that part soon.
So feel free to comment if you can take the time to read it. But I'm warning you - it's rather long!
Just note that I have written down my experience from the perspective of a bible believing Christian. I'm well aware that most people on this forum do not share my moral standards, but I know that many here share the opinion that fantasy, porn and self-pleasure tend to be quite detrimental habits; and I also feel that the common goal here is to develop stable, mutually satisfying love-relationships with the opposite gender.
Battle for Purity – my personal story (part I)
Growing up, I lived with my family in a seven story high-rise block, quietly situated right by a forest. There were many children in the neighborhood and we would regularly gather together and play. Whenever the weather would allow it, we were playing outside, and since we were living in a safe area, we were normally unattended. I was about five or six years old, and as usual, I was together with a group of girls and boys my age. We found ourselves gathering in the leisure room of the basement in the block where our family lived. It was a large room with a table tennis in the middle. As we were quite curious in our anatomical differences, we decided to get undressed. I don’t have a lot of recollection of this incident, but I remember distinctly watching one of my girlfriends going behind the curtain with one of the boys, and that she was touching his genitals. I also remember the mother of one of the boys suddenly coming in. She just grabbed her son and ushered him immediately out of the room. I have no idea whether she reported this to the parents of the other children, but I cannot remember my parents talking to me about this occurrence.
Another incident that I clearly remember was during a family vacation at the beach in Spain, when I was six or seven years old. We travelled there together with another family, and almost every day we would spend time at the nude beach. I remember we were all enjoying ourselves in the shallow water of the Mediterranean Sea as the mild waves would play around us. My mother is a woman with rather big breasts. As I found them really interesting, I started touching her. However, she told me to refrain from doing that. Then I thought to myself: “When I’m grown up and have my own breasts, I will do that with myself!”
From childhood on, my fantasy world had always been very active. I remember daydreaming about “playing doctor” when I was little, a game that we would often pursue as children. Later on, these fantasies changed of course.
At age 13, I started menstruating, and as with any other teenage girl, my hormones began raging. I was longing for intimacy with somebody from the opposite gender, but it was mainly peer pressure suggesting to me that I needed this; as almost all of my girlfriends started having boyfriends, many of them becoming sexually active. However, during my teenage years there was nobody really interested in me. I was just too shy to get a boyfriend, yet my desire was still there. The only comfort I had at this time was one of my classmates who came from a Christian home. Her family didn’t want her to have closer relationships with peers from the opposite gender, and so I had somebody I could relate to – at least one who was not an outcast in my school class.
When I was around 14, I figured out how to give myself pleasure by stimulating my genitals. Little by little, this became a more regular habit, about which I initially didn’t talk to anybody. I wasn’t a devout Christian, neither were my parents; and thus there was nobody who would tell me that I shouldn’t do that. The denomination I officially belonged to, the Lutheran Church, didn’t really have anything to say regarding this issue. In fact, after my confirmation at age 14, I was part of a youth group in my local church. One of the leaders of this group, a young man in his twenties, even encouraged us to experiment with masturbation and premarital sex. There were also youth magazines I was reading on a regular basis. In these publications, young people were constantly animated to explore their sex drive with peers of the opposite gender. Girls could even find detailed instructions there on how to masturbate. It was considered as normal and healthy. I also remember one of my teachers in tenth-grade who encouraged us to engage in self-pleasure.
Even during the years when I was not really a converted Christian yet, I would have only considered having sexual intercourse within a serious relationship. Nevertheless, I started experimenting with sexual activities from the age of 16. There were a few boys in my school who were interested in touching me. To some extent and at a few occasions, I allowed a couple of them to do so. Later, I regretted these incidences. However I had to accept the fact that these boys had somehow taken my innocence – although I was still a virgin.
I might add that, at a rather young age, I got acquainted with soft porn. In fact, even as a child I had sometimes been confronted with sex scenes on television, even though it was not on a regular basis. However, when I was in my late teens, the private TV channels in my home country emerged; and they started frequently broadcasting soft porn movies. Although I never really got involved with hardcore pornography, these movies were a temptation for me – even after I had become a Christian.
At the age of 18, through the influence of a group of young people at the local YMCA, I gave my life to Jesus. It was the conduct of these sincere Christians that made a deep impression on me. I wanted to walk with Christ as they did. Interestingly, after my conversion I did not continue with the habit of self-pleasure for quite a while.
At age 20, I was still part of this group at the YMCA, and one time a few of us got to attend a creative youth seminar in another city in my home country. There, two of the leaders gave public testimony about their own personal journeys. One shared about how he and his wife had waited with having sex until they were married, and he emphasized how beneficial this had been for their marriage and their sexual relationship. The other leader shared how his sexual behavior before marriage had influenced him in a negative way. Through these very candid testimonies, I got convicted to abstain from sexual intercourse until I would get married some day. However, there was another leader I got to talk to personally during this seminar. He and his wife had also refrained from sexual intercourse until they were married, however he still held rather liberal views on this issue, pointing out that the love you have for each other should be above everything.
Shortly after this experience, I had another “affair” with a young man I had met in the local park and who I wasn’t in love with; again by allowing him to touch, and this time even kiss me. Shortly after this incident, I met my first boyfriend. He was a 21-year old man of African origin. He had grown up in another Western European country, and he was a Muslim by tradition. So here I was, a baby Christian, entering into a serious relationship with a Muslim. One may suggest that I should have known better; however I was deceived into thinking that he was open to the Christian faith (which he indeed was), and thus I didn’t see a real problem. I was madly in love with this good looking young man. Unfortunately, if feelings are involved, principles are easily dropped; and this actually went down like a spiral. Besides, the liberal views on premarital sex I had held until then were still somehow ingrained in my mind. This entailed that I didn’t really see a problem in getting physically intimate with my boyfriend before marriage, as long as sexual intercourse would be avoided. However, this proved to be a dangerous standpoint. Right from the beginning of our eleven month relationship, we engaged in heavy petting – although on our first night out I had not really planned on it. For my boyfriend, this was only a substitution for real sexual intercourse, as he had been in a few relationships before we had met, and had even cohabitated with one of his previous girlfriends. In spite of the fact that he initially agreed to wait until we would get married, he was constantly trying to persuade me to go all the way. In the beginning, I was strong. I really wanted to remain a virgin until I would unite my life with this young man.
Nevertheless, it was only about eight weeks into the relationship with my boyfriend that I was finally determined to engage in sexual intercourse with him. In fact, it happened right after I had attended a Christian camp meeting. I’m sure if there had been somebody at this retreat whom I had been close to, somebody who would have taken me aside to appeal to my conscience, I would have reconsidered. But I thought I would marry my boyfriend anyway, so why the wait after all?
Losing my virginity has definitely been one of the most incisive and unpleasant happenings in my life. Right afterwards, it dawned on me that something very profound had taken place. At that point in time, I didn’t really grasp it, but there was an attachment created between this young man and me which could not easily be severed.
From then on, my boyfriend claimed to satisfy his sexual desires with me whenever he felt like. Even when I was not up to it, he would try to talk me into it, and at some point he even became manipulative. Only a number of years later, I realized that he had actually raped me several times, which was a devastating insight. After one of those occasions, I got determined not to allow him to touch me anymore. Our relationship still crippled on for about three months, during which we hardly saw each other. Finally, one day before I turned 21, I broke up with him for good.
About seven months later, I got acquainted with another man. It was through an advert that I had posted in a magazine, because I had the desire to connect with sincere Christians from all over the world. I hadn’t realized though that this was actually a publication designed for people who would like to find a life partner. It was a young physician from another city; a man in his mid-thirties who called me up in response to this advert. Although his Christian beliefs seemed a bit strange to me, I found him an interesting person. Two weeks later, I decided to call him back. This marked the beginning of a 15-months relationship; however the first ten months only taking place via the phone. In fact, my new acquaintance introduced me to telephone sex; a practice I would have never considered before. He didn’t seem so selfish to me like the previous boys when it came to sexuality, and this was new to me. But of course I realized that our behavior was not in alignment with biblical standards.
I actually became acquainted with him exactly at the same time I became acquainted with the denomination I later became member of. It was through an evangelistic youth campaign in my home city that I got invited on the pedestrian precinct to attend an evening meeting at the local church. At that time, I was searching for the right denomination to call my spiritual home. In this congregation, and in particular within the youth group, I was kindly received. I also came to the conclusion that their beliefs were biblically based.
However, I noticed that, especially amongst the church members who were in my age group, there were deferring views on premarital sex. In particular I remember one young man, somebody who had grown up in this denomination, who tended to emphasize that marriage would begin with the first sexual intercourse. He argued that after all, in biblical times, they would have just gone “into the tent”, and the matter had been settled. He obviously found this a less complicated approach.
So the long distance relationship with my boyfriend continued. We talked a lot over the phone, and I felt comfortable sharing with him about my previous sexual experiences. In fact, I was glad that I finally had somebody I could talk this through with. He also shared a great deal with me about his past. He had been divorced because of adultery of his then wife. In addition, another woman, with whom he had cohabitated for a while, had left him. Thus, he was afraid of being rejected again, and this was the main reason why he initially didn’t want me to meet him. Ten months into the relationship however, I got to meet my boyfriend in person. Although we did not engage in sexual intercourse right away, he became way too physical with me from the beginning on. However I would allow him to approach me in this manner, as I really enjoyed being touched by him.
At this time, I was taking evening classes to complete my high school education; and we happened to go on a class trip to the city of Rome, Italy. There, I had an interesting conversation with a young immigrant from Romania whom I got acquainted with while visiting the local church there. He was newly married and had just come to Italy to start a new life there. His wife was still staying in their home country at that time, and one of the local church congregations provisionally hosted him in their building. I got to spend part of the afternoon talking with him, and he asked me straight forward: “So if you are in a relationship, how far do you go?” As we were walking alongside the bank of the Tiber, I started arguing the same way like the brother from my home church. Wasn’t it indeed the case that a couple was actually married as soon as they engaged in sexual intercourse? Then my Romanian brother shared a bit about his own experience and the struggles he had had prior to getting married, however he ended our conversation very firmly, basically by saying that premarital sex was not the right way to go.
Back home, my conscience spoke to me more and more, and I realized that I couldn’t go on like this with my boyfriend. So I told him over the phone that we couldn’t have sex before we would get married. He became furious and eventually ended up breaking up with me in a very nasty and hurting way. The relationship seemed to be irreparable. So I decided to have closure over the matter and to renew my relationship with the Lord.
However, six weeks later he called back, inviting me to meet him again, acting as if nothing had happened. I hadn’t expected this at all, but I agreed to come and see him. However, this time my only intention was to have sexual intercourse with him – and then break up the relationship. I knew for sure that he would give me something better than my previous boyfriend. So I allowed it to happen again.
Afterwards, I realized the full extent of my action. I saw the ugliness of sin in a way I had never seen it before. I felt dirty and defiled. I remember kneeling down in the dark room and asking the Lord for forgiveness. However, I didn’t have the intention anymore to walk out of this relationship. I couldn’t ignore the deep bond that our sinful action had created.
We still kept communicating for a short while afterwards; primarily via the phone. However, we started quarreling quite frequently – mainly about our differing views when it came to religious beliefs. I got convicted that I could not continue in this sinful union. I realized that he was not going to give his life to Jesus, although I had tried everything to make that happen. Thus, about three months before I got baptized, we ended our relationship.
Nonetheless, I never really gave up the vice of self-pleasure. I somehow realized that I should not do that, but I always found good reasons to excuse my behavior. Furthermore, this issue was never really addressed at my church – and if it was addressed, it would be in a way which wasn’t helpful to me. Over the years, this habit even became excessive.
At age 30, I got to attend a youth camp meeting with a lay pastor from the United States. In one of his sermons, he spoke very emphatically about the issue of masturbation. He made it crystal clear to me how detrimental it was, pointing out especially the effects on the nervous system. This struck me deeply, and I got convicted that I had to stop this vice. The next few weeks were a real struggle for me. However, I was determined to break the habit, and by God’s grace, I managed to go without for two and a half years. In fact, during this time I even felt repulsive against it. Nevertheless, this did not entail that I also stopped fantasizing. Often I would imagine having sex with my future husband. However, at that time I wasn’t really aware that I also needed to get my thought life under control.
At age 31, I moved to another Western European country to start a new job. Shortly after I settled in there, satellite television entered my home. I obtained it in order to be able to watch a Christian television network from the US. Thus, I wanted to upgrade my spiritual life, especially as they were going to air an evangelistic campaign with a well-known speaker. However, there were also many other programs aired via satellite. From time to time, I would zap through the channels. There was no free hardcore pornography available; not even soft porn. However there were some erotic shows, where one could see women scarcely dressed lolling on the sofa. Men could call in and talk to these ladies. They would then get undressed until almost naked. One might think that such shows would never lead a woman into temptation, however watching these scenes; I was almost led into self-pleasure again.
Shortly after, through the Internet, I got acquainted with a young man my age who resided in California. This happened after I had sent a prayer request to a Christian prayer website. In fact, I had asked for prayer on that site that the Lord may soon send me a husband. So this young man, the president of that prayer ministry, got in touch with me. He shared with me that he actually had the same problem, as he was in his early 30s and still unmarried. So we started exchanging some emails, and he became interested in learning more about me. At first, he asked me rather harmless questions, but then he started inquiring more intimate and absolutely inappropriate things from me. We had also started to talk via chat. In a very subtle way, he was leading our conversations more and more into sexual topics. At a certain point I became very upset with him and rebuked him about his behavior. He didn’t like that, but in the end he apologized, and we continued chatting. At first, he accepted to carry on corresponding with me in a “normal” way. However little by little, his questions became sexual again. The problem was that I was already infatuated with this man, and I had the feeling that I could trust him. Unfortunately, I made myself completely vulnerable by sharing a great deal with him about my sexual past.
Eventually, I got to counsel with a Pastor about this matter, and it finally became crystal clear to me that what we were doing was not right at all. I tried to explain to the young man the issue at stake, and pointed out to him that we could not keep on doing that. As a result, he dropped me like a hot potato.
Shortly after this online relationship, I fell back into the habit of self-pleasure. From that point on, over the following nine years, I experienced defeats as well as victories in this regard. Periodically, I would fall back into the habit – usually after many months of abstinence. Typically, there was a trigger in my thought life and then I would succumb to the temptation again. It often tended to happen during times when I was physically and emotionally exhausted, as I then used it to medicate myself. I figured out that the two things I would use to medicate myself would either be food or self-pleasure – or both.
From ages 34 to 37, I lived in the United States, primarily to receive medical-missionary training at a lay-managed institute of my denomination. Although I learned a great deal there about biblical principles on the issues of courtship and preparation for marriage, the problem of self-pleasure was never really addressed. I suppose it was mainly because it was not assumed that the students would have issues in this regard; and a general reluctance in broaching this topic might have fallen into play as well. Nevertheless, it was a recurring issue for me. In fact, during my first home visit from the States I even found myself looking for pornographic material on the internet. In retrospect, I was shocked about my behavior; and I thank the Lord that my endeavor to find such material was unsuccessful.
My prolonged state of unintentional singleness caused feelings of embarrassment in me. Many other women my age, and even younger ones, got married and had children; however it seemed that I was being left back on the shelf. From time to time, doubts and fears crept in. Will I ever receive the gift of marriage? Will I ever be able to enjoy the pleasures of marital sex? After all the traumatic experiences I had gone through, I was longing for something better. But would I ever have this privilege? Or should this have been everything?
I was hesitant to talk with other people about my dilemma of being over 30 and still single. From my baptism on, which took place when I was 23, I was very open to get married any time soon. In fact, I even expected it to happen within a few years or so. However, my time schedule didn’t work out the way I had hoped. While there were quite a few Christian men I took an interest in, my attention was usually not reciprocated, or the interest faded when we got to know each other better. The latter mainly applied to the men I had met on the numerous Christian dating websites I used to sign up at.
There were only a few trusted friends I confided in. Usually, I would rather turn to books where such issues are addressed – mainly publications written by other Christian women who had the courage to write openly about their journey of being unintentional single. I learned a great deal from them, and I’m thankful for these women. I also found a lot of material on the internet (articles, websites, etc.) on which these concerns were dealt with. At some point, this even motivated me to write an article myself; on my personal journey on waiting on the Lord for a husband, which was published in 2011 in an e-magazine.
Due to my past experiences, I was especially interested in articles and books which also addressed the issue of sexuality for single women, and there was some material I found very helpful. One book I still find outstanding in this regard is “Sex and the Soul of a Woman” by Paula Rinehart. It helped me a great deal working through my past experiences, as well as my present circumstances.
To be continued…