Being female and confession and an unusual lifestyle


#1

I have a hard time going to confession. In that, I don’t trust that what I have to confess doesn’t have an effect on a priest. I am a new convert and come from a background of a very strange lifestyle to most. And I struggle still in overcoming the sin associated to this lifestyle. I think I need the help of a priest, but from where I come from, my old life, sexual type confessions are part of the lifestyle. Being that, confessions of this type enable the man to have sexual mastery/ownership over the woman.

I confessed once, and after that the priest wouldn’t look at me when I would see him at Mass. So I think this is an indication of what I confessed, did have an effect on him. That’s the other thing with that lifestyle, it tunes you into every aspect of communication. I can’t stop seeing the cues, body language, eye conact (or not), tone of voice, etc. in men in general, which of course, includes priests.

That, and the priest sounded angry and told me that I need to work harder at living a Christian life. Perhaps this isn’t all that unusual to a person who has led a normal Christian life, but that lifestyle I am trying to overcome and leave behind, these sort of chastisements are expected and wanted really, as part of the same mastery/ownership.

I know this is way messed up, and I pray a lot, but I can’t confess to a man. It is too much like the lifestyle I want to forget. And so I think there is no way for me to confess and that I’m most likely going to hell, but, I would like to be with God.

I don’t know anything about priests, really. During my conversion I wouldn’t talk to a priest because I didn’t trust men in positions of authority. And honestly, I don’t know what to do, in any way, emotionally or just plain conversationally, with a man who is celibate. It kind of freaks me out. The experience of my messed up life has me believing that all men see women as things to own and use. I don’t know that I believe there exists a man in this world who is not out to own women, even if they don’t know it themselves, I see it.

I try to see priests, and other men as well, as non-threatening, but the places I’ve been and seen, I’m quite sure that they all have the heart of that lustful animal. And would in fact harm me. It is in my experience, something I know. Some just hide it better than others. I know very well how sexual confessions have an effect on that lust, and that is the last thing in this world that I want or need. As soon as I see it, it triggers that warning in me that says avoid that person. And I saw it in the priest, and so I can’t go back.

Isn’t there any such thing as a female spiritual advisor? If so, how would I go about finding one who wouldn’t faint at the things I would need advise with? I need someone to explain to me how it is that a priest is different than any other man. And how do you know this? How do you know that you are safe?


#2

My dear sister,
I think that the truth is that knowing how sensitive you are and how hurt, a priest would be careful not to engage you in amy way that might disturb your balance. If he meets your eye or not, either way you could find it confusing, but his best option is to avoid eye-contact until gradually you heal.

You can be sure that in no way does a priest wish to have mastery over you, but he does have to work out some way that isn’t threatening. The priest makes a choice to be different and his main concern is your spiritual welfare. Don’t go into unnecessary detail, just confess the basic sin, because healing of your sexual super-sensitivity will takes time. It isn’t just a sexual super-sensitivity it is also a relationship problem…you’ve had to be alert to the smallest thing.

I often have found, when I’ve inferred something from what I see as little signs regarding others’ reactions that I can be wrong. I’m very sensitive to body language myself.

So long as you are respectful towards the priest in confessing your sins and without detail that doesn’t really make any difference but might be a little self-indulgent, then you have to trust him. You can’t go around assessing whether you’re causing him problems. That’s between him and God.

There is a big difference between the men in what I suspect may have been a cult, and the priest. While the leaders in the cult were acting in their own interests, any priest I’ve ever met was seeking my best interests.

You can go to Confession again, but rather than go in depth about your sins if sexual, for now, for the sake of your soul and your healing I would recommend you to be very simple. “Father I committed a serious sin against purity”. In other’s case Perhaps more may be helpful in yours, spiritually and emotionally it would be unwise to say much more. It is God, after all, whom you must rely to dispense you with the graces you need.

Catholic priests have made a decision to forego, to give up, sex for their entire lives. That shows the depth of their commitment. There are a few who fail and they are removed from their positions, but the majority of priests are true to their commitment. Please trust your priest.

Please keep in touch as you work through this problem you are dealing with as I’d like to help where possible. By the sound of it in your earlier life you were much sinned against.
I’ll keep you in my prayers.
God bless you, Trishie


#3

Thanks, I didn’t know that I could confess in such a general way. That will work, and kneeling behind the curtain/screen rather than face to face. And maybe even at a different parish.

It isn’t possible for me to tell a priest my entire situation. I would literally sit there, and not be able to say anything.

But I have only been to confession twice in a year and I want to go, just I didn’t know how. Now I do. :slight_smile:


#4

God bless you, Love.
I think only God can really know how much you’ve lived through. I am so glad He has rescued you.
I’ll be thinking of you…your sister Trishie.


#5

I too often wished that I could go to confession to a woman. I had difficulty confessing certain sins to a priest as well, until I found my present confessor. I have built up a great amount of trust with him and I can see him outside the confessional and there is no hint at all of what he knows about me. We can joke around, discuss theology and football, and now can even discuss sexual issues outside the confessional. However I do know what you mean. I have had terrible confessional experiences in the past with priests who, lets just say, should not be hearing women’s confessions, even if it didn’t have anything to do with sexual sins.

Yes, you can get a woman spiritual director, and that might be very helpful for you in your situation. With her you can discuss the more difficult things in depth and hopefully work them out. It is so much easier for a woman to discuss certain issues with another woman. Then when you do go to confession you can be a bit more sure of what you are going to say to the priest perhaps without going into too much detail than really necessary. Once you find a good confessor, and I always tell people to ask around as to who is good in confession, stick with him.


#6

I confessed once, and after that the priest wouldn’t look at me when I would see him at Mass.

The priest is not really supposed to be looking at you at Mass.


#7

:o i mean after mass, when everyone is leaving and the priest stands there shaking hands.


#8

While going to confession, behind a screen and at a another parish than you usually attend or a monastery (even, if you prefer, with a very elderly priest), you can just say “I’ve committed mortal/venial sin against the 6th or 9th Commandment” (and if mortal, the number of times) or as the above poster said “against purity”. That’s it.That’s the most common, everyday thing, and priest’s hear that all the time and there’s certainly no need to say any more (unless you’re seeing a nun for spiritual direction). Actually saying more is not part of the Sacrament anyway, unless you’re seeing the priest for spiritual direction also and the priests I’ve seen don’t have the time for more, lengthy, verbose (and self-indulgent?) confessions. The priest shortage doesn’t allow that for most priests.:shrug:

BTW, welcome Home!


#9

OK, thanks. My confessions are not verbose, but I worry about self indulgence. So, this is better.

I am not seeing a nun or anyone. I pretty much keep to myself.


#10

Welcome home, chromatica! God bless you on your journey!

If you live in or near a large metropolitan area, check with the diocesan website for whom you might see for counseling/spiritual direction. Perhaps someone at the diocesan offices could recommend someone familiar with the type of background or issues – for lack of a better word (not meaning to be offensive) – you have. It may not be a short route to finding the right person/people, but pls persevere – and pray for the Holy Spirit’s discernment in this matter. If you live in a less populated area, perhaps there’s a monastery or Catholic – real Catholic, not in name only – university near you which has people who can help.

Of course, besides regular mass attendance, a really good idea is to find a Eucharistic Adoration chapel and frequent it. Talk to our Lord and listen for the reply. Regular Eucharistic Adoration is really great – making time on a regular basis for the One who loves you and knows you more than anyone else.

I wish you well.

God bless,
Dan


#11

thanks everyone, i have been able to think on this a bit clearer. i have to learn how to see things differently, and i get better at it. just sometimes, i long for that life and then i feel guilty for that, and also know that it is a self destructive sort of life, and so i go in circles.

the head trip is that i was introduced to catholicism by someone in that lifestyle. the person who did own me. i don’t know why he did, he only said to go to mass, so i did, and soon enough i was getting baptized. my choice. and he said i belonged to God and then discarded me.

i try to figure out how i belong to God, and sometimes i think i understand, but it is something i need.which goes with the head trip as the person who owned me, always knew what i needed and took care of me in that way.

i get confused sometimes, as being owned by God is different, but the same in some ways.


#12

This must be so hard for you! I will keep you in my prayers and hope it gets better.
One thing really stuck out to me in this last post of yours. I feel like it’s important, with your history, that you realize God doesn’t “own” you. You and He have both freely chosen! Every time you are faced with a choice, you ‘choose’ again to love Him. Many people would use the terminology that they ‘belong’ to God; in one sense, it’s okay. But it’s really important that you not conflate your past conceptions of ownership with this one! It must be very difficult for you, and I don’t say this at all to hurt you, or to take away something that’s comforting.


#13

Hi, chromatica, I worry that I won’t be as helpful or knowledgable as the other posters here, but I really wanted to let you know that I’m glad you became Catholic. I hope you don’t mind if I agree with Trishie, it sounds like a cult that exerted power over you. The man in your last post sounds abusive, at least verbally & emotionally. Those things can be really difficult to overcome & heal from. In one of your posts, you mentioned being on your own a lot. In addition to a spiritual advisor & a priest, I hope you don’t mind if I mention that a counselor or doctor might be able to help you heal. I know I have been helped by this in the past. Your parish or diocese should also be able to help you find a counselor or doctor with a Christian or (ideally) a Catholic background.

That man did not own you. Was he older than you? It sounds like he manipulated you & made you think that he knew what you needed. He was smart, but he did not take good care of you. He was abusive & he put a negative spin on God by telling you God owns you now. You were not his (that man’s) to discard. It’s not that God owns you , but you are a precious child of God. I will pray for you, & I hope you will say a quick prayer for me.


#14

I think several people have explained that you do not and SHOULD NOT go into detail when confessing these sins. It is not necessary and one should never say anything that might draw the priest into sin…such as sexual thoughts from some description you give.

I think that what you need is some help beyond what a priest or a spiritual adviser can give you. I would suggest a therapist to help you with your problem with trust issues and control issues concerning men. I think these are more than a priest or spiritual adviser are trained for. Good luck and God bless.


#15

i dunno, i see what St. Paul says, that he is a slave to Christ.


#16

it was my choice, a life i chose, and wanted. one i enjoyed very much. he was a dr. of psychiatry himself, and i knew lots of people in the same life, financial advisors, engineers, artists, any type of living you can think of. our lives we lived as normal, what we called vanilla, on the outside. i have always had a job, and still do. no one i work with ever knew that under my clothes were things that identified me as owned.

but no, i was owned and wanted to be and wanted to stay that way. it was the one i called Master who put me on a different path, and now i see that it is a better path. i just miss him terribly sometimes. i miss things that yes, i know, people would tell me i am crazy for missing. he was never cruel. he understood me. i trusted him and still do. he kept me safe. now, i have no one to keep me safe. no one to tell my thoughts to as i could and did tell him everything. no one who can see me for who i am and accept that the world is different for me.

now i wear a rosary under my clothes. i need something there. i fast for long periods so that God knows i am serious about belonging to Him. i pray all the time that He will stay with me and never leave. so i need to confess sins, so that doesn’t happen.

it occurred to me today, that the priest is doing just fine. it is good that he did not have eye contact with me. it helps me to understand that things are different. and i need to learn how to live in a vanilla world. which, i can do. i just have to figure out the rules. the signals and what they mean. so it’s all ok. i pray to Mary and she keeps me safe in her arms.


#17

i agree. that is why i haven’t been to confession. i didn’t know that you were supposed to be vague in confession. so, that is better, for both of us.

i can work out the rest of the world. i don’t think that i should trust strange men. once i get to know someone, i’m ok.


#18

Chromatica, I find the confessional to be the safest place in the world. I can say absolutely anything and be understood and forgiven. If I said this stuff to anyone else, my reputation would be in tatters and no one would ever speak to me again. The priest is respectful, gentle and challenging. Sometimes he speaks very clearly to wake me up, and at other times, he’s so gentle that he doesn’t even want to mention the name of the sin again. Last week he did that - instead of making me feel the shame all over again, he said, “With regard to the first thing you said…”

I confess behind the screen, but I think he may know who I am anyway. Yesterday, I poured out my heart in confession about my weakness and sin, and after Mass, we (both musicians) chatted about our upcoming concerts as if there were nothing else in the world to talk about.

Somewhere out there is a priest like this for you. It may be at a neighboring parish - mine is. I just want you to know that it’s possible and you should keep looking until you find it. Ask God to show you the spiritual father He has chosen for you. God bless you - I’m so glad you’ve come into the Church!

Betsy


#19

All I can give you is my love and my prayers.


#20

i think i have said too much. sorry. i’ll just let it go at this. I love God. I love being Catholic.

i am just wired ever so different, and there is a group of people who understand, accept and embrace this about me. just, to be with those people, i have to let go of God. i fear this, more than anything.

I do have a Catholic kind-of friend, i guess, a deacon. He has no clue about this part of my life. And i will never tell him. no, i ask here, safely anonymous. he explains to me often, how we must die to ourselves. this is not an unfamiliar concept. but, very difficult, to say the least. but it is what i want. it is my choice. it is where i want to be.

anyway. i think i know what i need to do and thank everyone for your advice and prayers. please ask St. Mary Magdalene to pray for me. I ask her often as I think she understands, not only where i have been but where i want to be. God forgave her, she converted, and living a holy life of Love for God, she washed His feet with her hair. very beautiful, that Saint.

i will keep you in my prayers as well.

God bless.

c


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