I'm practically a cautionary tale


#1

Howdy all. Where to begin…

I grew up in a nominally Catholic family, and around my teenage years I came to learn of Christ through Evangelical Christian friends. After a few years being fairly anti-Catholic, my heart was converted. I experienced a depth of faith that I had never known, went through college preparing myself for Confirmation, and received it right before heading off to medical school where I currently am.

But my God, how things have changed. I’ll begin with… well, the beginning, then add my reflections on at the end.

Before I left to school, I met this sweet, wonderful Catholic girl at a student “Awakening” retreat. She was funny, had a wonderful smile, and most of all, she has a beautiful heart. So we spent the summer together before I had to move away, and to be honest, we were inappropriately close at times. We spent days together enjoying each other’s company knowing that soon the summer would come to a close, and feeling ready to enter in to an exclusive relationship with her, I asked her out. She gladly said yes.

Then things began to happen. 10 days before I left and a month or so in to our relationship, I made an incredible mistake. I have a friend, a friend who I had known for many years and while many years prior we had had a romantic interest in one another, we were two very different people and nothing ever happened. So we met up for drinks, drank way too much, and things went horribly wrong. When I began to sober up, I pulled myself away from her and began sobbing. The pain I feel that day still aches in my heart, two years later. I felt and feel so ashamed, so idiotic, so weak. Not only did I fail myself and God, I failed a wonderful girl who I was dating and who I felt God had placed in my life for a purpose. The next morning, I sought the advice of my confessor (and over the next several weeks, other confessors for the same exact sin), and the response each time was the same: “Do not tell her. You are sorry, you have repented, you are not married, and you won’t do it again.”

So I tucked it away in the back of my mind, but it poisoned me. It poisoned everything I did. I grew closer with my girlfriend, and we “shared ourselves” with each other. I made frequent trips back home, we tried abstaining, but failed miserably more often than not. But we tried, and we promised to work on it together. Yet over this time, me being far away with only a handful of friends near my school, things began to falter. I remember coming to school thinking to myself: “God has given me a great new chance to begin anew, to be a good man and to make Him proud.”

Over the next year, I developed an inappropriately affectionate relationship with a friend of mine (who had gone to undergrad with me, and also came to a neighboring school for professional coursework). Kissing and sex was never involved; it was always just getting lunch or dinner. But on separate occasions, it developed in to a “friend massage” and a nap. I felt bad, even going to confession for it, but each time the response was, “You made a bad decision, but there are far worse decisions you could have made. Let it go and move on.” There were other “incidences” that I guess aren’t all that bad, but were mostly things like going out to lunch with a friend and not telling my girlfriend, or helping a neighbor with her groceries up three flights of stairs without asking for my girlfriend’s permission. On top of all of this, when a group friends and I (all the girls were married in this group, or the guys were dating someone) would go out, I ended up dancing far too close to girls who I had no business dancing with (one who was married). It never went further than that, but that enough makes me sick to my stomach. And another time, when out with the guys, we ended up at a “Gentleman’s club” (what a laughable name). Most of these events occurred towards the beginning of our relationship, but the nap and the club were regrettably within the past 6 months.

Two months ago, my girlfriend began showing me engagement rings, and with that the most tremendous amount of guilt I have ever felt in my life came surging over me.

In the period of about three weeks, I lost almost 15 pounds. Since then, I haven’t been able to eat the same and I can’t even sleep on my own bed. I have my first licensing exam coming up soon, and I have barely been able to crack open a book. Heck, even reading the psychiatry section of my review book is like looking in to a mirror.

In the midst of this, one recurring thought came to my mind: if I love her the way I say I do, and I do, then she deserves to know.

So on March 23rd, I told her. I felt that God’s love and justice demanded it. I felt like I could not have a relationship with Christ if I could not confess these things to her. At first, I only told her about the first drunken night (a night which had never really left my conscious thoughts). And over the next few weeks, I unloaded details on to her from that and the other events. I had never had to confess anything like this to someone before, and I know I royally screwed it up by not remembering everything at once, but I couldn’t help it.

Things got dragged up from my memory that at the time that did not seem so bad but now seem as if though they are stones tied to my feet. I feel at times as if though I am drowning, and when I try to cling to Christ, I feel as if though I can’t get a grip.

She was so hurt by my actions. She was angry and said some horrible things to me that I don’t think even the lowest scum on earth (which is about where I feel that I am) deserve to be told, but I forgive her and pray for her all the same. Yet it is a daily struggle for me to fend off this absolute self-hatred that I feel towards myself. After so many years and so much time spent in the confessional, even after opening up my heart to this beautiful girl, I am having the worst time forgiving myself.

(cont.)


#2

(cont.)

I love this girl with all of my heart. I don't believe that I could feel this kind of sorrow if I did not love her. I was there for her and her family when her father passed away from a year long battle with cancer, and supported her through long study nights before she graduated from college. She deserves the very best, and I failed her so miserably.

She is still with me, but things are rocky as one might imagine. If it's not my trouble with trying to forgive myself with the past and prayerfully trying to avoid developing scrupulosity (it has gotten to the point at times where even the thought of texting any friend of the opposite gender was a stab in my chest), it is her not being able to see me as the person she thought I was. She tells me that she can't give me a kiss without thinking of someone else having done that too, or she can't ever imagine taking a nap with me or anything like that. She tells me that she doesn't know how to forgive me.

I feel regret for everything that I did. For not being honest and too afraid to come clean when I should have from the very beginning (I believe that I received some very bad advice from the priests; please let me know what you think about this), for treating her as an object by sharing our bodies when we have no right to share them yet, for doing her and our sweet Savior such grave injustices, for having inappropriate friendships with girls.

Even now I am reevaluating friendships with people to see what needs to be changed and fast. I don't want this to ever happen again. I can't bear the thought of hurting her, or anyone else, like this ever again.

I know she loves me, and I love her. I know I should have been hypervigilant from the get-go, but I'm doing the best I can now. God is doing something new in me. I know that God, even at this moment, is at work in the midst of all this agony, trying to bring about a greater good. It hurts that this is how He chose to rekindle this fire in my heart, but I know He loves me and is doing this only so that I might be nearer to Him.

So why all this story? I want to ask: is there a chance for us?

I know with God all things are truly possible, but I am having the worst time discerning if He desires for us to remain together. I can see why He might: we are forcing each other to be better people. If it were not for her, my faith and strength would not have been tested so and my weakness and need for Christ would not have been made so vividly apparent. If it were not for my failings, her inability to forgive and her judgmental attitude towards weakness would not have been made apparent.

But I also know that God wants us to be happy. He did not make us for sorrow and for suffering, and I have every bit of confidence that in His time, God could make me nothing more than a distant bad memory in her life as He heaps His love upon her.

I just want to do what's right for her. I want to prove that though I am weak my love is not false, even if that means that I should have to let her go so that she might be happy once more.

Please don't judge me too harshly. For these things and for all the sins of my past life, I already feel a great deal of agony and heartache; a heartache that I am having difficulty giving over to Him.

Thank you for taking the time to read all of this. God bless you all and keep you in His peace.


#3

No, I wouldn’t bet on it. Have you ever been able to turn down a girl’s advances? It seems that you feel really bad about it, but you keep on failing in the same way. You have guilt, yes, but that is just part of being a Catholic. Whether things are good or bad you’re simply going for a stroll in the park you’ll always have crushing Catholic guilt. I am not sure that guilt means that you’ve changed. You are the way you are and it seems unreasonable of your gf to expect faithfulness from you. Expecting things from people that they are either unable or unwilling to give you can only lead to a broken heart. She either has to accept you for who you are or move on. I can’t imagine anyone being ok with a philandering husband, so I say she should move on and that you should help her.


#4

Back off Kosta pull in them horns a minute; Peter denied Christ 3 times and he became the Leader of the Catholic Church. Of Course there is hope and prayer with honest repentance cannot fail to bring healing. Give the Girl some space ; let her understand that you understand the hurt she is feeling but you cannot rewrite the past and if she can bring herself to truly forgive you how grateful you will be but if she can’t move beyond it then the relationship will be pointless and though you know it will break your heart you will understand and hope that both of you can move on and find a new and healthier relationship. Then if the answer is I can forgive you then realise what a lucky man you have been and what a treasure you have and never fail her again but if the answer is no take it wish her well and move on. You don’t know what the future holds and although you sinned you are only human don’t spend the rest of your life in that sin; just because she couldn’t find it in her heart to be truly christian and forgive you doesn’t mean Christ won’t and again be thankfull because sooner or later you would have found out that this woman was wrong for you anyway.

Learn the Lesson no matter what happens don’t ever be so selfish and stupid again :slight_smile:


#5

Yes, there is a chance for you. You are not doomed to continue your sins. Not if you truly repent and resolve to abstain from sin in the future. It isn’t difficult to do so, just impossible without the continuous help of God. Listen and do what He tells you. You heard His voice, but chose to ignore it in the face of passion or drink or whatever.

You chose. Now choose again, but this time choose better. Listen. It isn’t about YOU. It isn’t about your errors and your suffering. It is about what God wants done at this moment. You have obligations to the one you hurt and to the vocation you have chosen. You cannot now abandon those obligations while you indulge in remorse. The devil rejoices when humans revel in anxiety and self hatred.

What happens to the two of you is in Gods hands now as always. Do not worry about it or try to make something happen. Make your atonement for this situation, learn from it, tell her what you have learned, and then ask God for the fortitude to await his will with patience.

Peace be with you


#6

Dear brother.

Having been through some pretty crushing remorse myself in matters of sexuality (though I never cheated), I have an idea of how ****** you must be feeling and my heart goes out to you for the pain you have inflicted on your life and your disillusionment with your self..

You have cheated on your girl friend in the phase where it is most unlikely to happen, because this is the emotional honeymoon stage, right?
So how can she trust you to not cheat when you are 4 years married and the romantic feelings give way to a hard life of agape, sacrifice, and children?

Two things I give you as advice for the future is stop sharing every little detail. There is no need to do this.. One day you will even have forgotten many of these details yourself. Details have very damaging potential.
I never wanted to know what my last boyfriend actually did with his ex girl friend. Human beings are wired for exclusive love and jealousy is normal.. You demand too much if you expose details and want someone who loves you and has hopes for the two of you, to accept these things and carry them for you, so that you may have peace..
And I know that transparency and forgiveness does bring peace. Thats why all acts of impurity before marriage are dangerous for marriage, because they look very ugly when brought to light.. and at the same time the need for disclosure is so great in us. So strive not to do anything that you'll later wish you'd never have to tell anyone.
I shared too many past details with my last boyfriend (I still have hope for us), because I wished to be accepted. It became a conflict material between us at stressful times..

The other thing I wish to advice you is that you find a good Catholic therapist and find out what it is in you that makes you take risks like these. What is it that makes you unable to, in a bad situation, take control of your will by your reason, and say no.. You walk around like things just happen to you, and then you afterwards have to deal with the consequences. This is not mature, and its not normal for healthy persons.
Also something I relate to. This is a sign of some emotional problem that you will probably have to deal with in therapy.
So don't despair. Okay.. I think your posts indicate some deeper issues in you that make you not an "evil and despicable" person, but someone with a problem that might be able to be healed so you can live a life where you take healthy responsibility and can trust youself.. Because I guess you don't feel you can right now, and neither does your girl friend.

You ask if there is hope for the two of you. I Think for the time being you must work on your own issues and become a man that can marry this lady, or someone else in the future.
Engagement or marriage will be on hold for a while. And I think it would be very wrong of you to go on with any plans until you are both reconciled with what has happend.. this will probably take a while. Forgiveness and rebuilding trust will be a hard task. I advice you not to enter a marriage with a person who has not forgiven you, begun to truly trust you, and use your past failures against you, which would make you miserable.

Lastly... remember when we get disillusioned with ourselves to the point of despair we are very full of pride. Its the EGO that has to die, and that is so painful. You have to realise that Jesus ALONE is good. He alone is your justification. Your failures should not come as a surprise to you.
But know this: He came for you. And he knew before one of your days were lived, that you would fall like this, and it doesn't diminish His love, nor any of the great and good plans He has for you.

Peace be with you.


#7

[quote="NewinChrist, post:1, topic:238254"]
Howdy all. Where to begin...

I grew up in a nominally Catholic family, and around my teenage years I came to learn of Christ through Evangelical Christian friends. After a few years being fairly anti-Catholic, my heart was converted. I experienced a depth of faith that I had never known, went through college preparing myself for Confirmation, and received it right before heading off to medical school where I currently am.

But my God, how things have changed. I'll begin with... well, the beginning, then add my reflections on at the end.

Before I left to school, I met this sweet, wonderful Catholic girl at a student "Awakening" retreat. She was funny, had a wonderful smile, and most of all, she has a beautiful heart. So we spent the summer together before I had to move away, and to be honest, we were inappropriately close at times. We spent days together enjoying each other's company knowing that soon the summer would come to a close, and feeling ready to enter in to an exclusive relationship with her, I asked her out. She gladly said yes.

Then things began to happen. 10 days before I left and a month or so in to our relationship, I made an incredible mistake. I have a friend, a friend who I had known for many years and while many years prior we had had a romantic interest in one another, we were two very different people and nothing ever happened. So we met up for drinks, drank way too much, and things went horribly wrong. When I began to sober up, I pulled myself away from her and began sobbing. The pain I feel that day still aches in my heart, two years later. I felt and feel so ashamed, so idiotic, so weak. Not only did I fail myself and God, I failed a wonderful girl who I was dating and who I felt God had placed in my life for a purpose. The next morning, I sought the advice of my confessor (and over the next several weeks, other confessors for the same exact sin), and the response each time was the same: "Do not tell her. You are sorry, you have repented, you are not married, and you won't do it again."

(cont.)

[/quote]

Very amazing that you don't regret mis-using your female "very good friend."
Are you mature enough for an intense on-on-one relationship at this point?
I doubt it.

You sought the advice of priests.
They gave you similar advice.
You decided to ignore their advice.

One needn't be a rocket scientist to deduce
that you need to do a lot of maturing before you
attempt to tie someone down to the choice of you.


#8

Not that I need to justify myself to you, catharina, but I do regret what happened with my friend. I called her a few weeks back and asked for her forgiveness; she didn’t seem to think any of it was a big deal, but I owed her that apology nonetheless. Please don’t expect me to post every single thing on this board that doesn’t immediately come to mind. And Kostya, yes, I have been able to ward off advances from women, even during this relationship. Even before this relationship. And after this relationship… well, that is God’s territory, but I think I am being armed with the tools to change everything so that something like this never happens again.

Additionally, I am well aware that I have made some very bad mistakes. Outright ignoring the priest’s advice with malicious intent? No.

My girlfriend thought the same thing. My girlfriend thought I actively sought out trouble, as if though I thought to myself, “I don’t care how she feels; now let’s go out and see what kind of trouble I can cause.” If you think that is the kind of person that I am, then I am sorry that you feel that way. I am not some malicious philandering man, I view marriage as sacred (this what spurred me on to confess these things to her, knowing full well that she deserved to know so that she could make the right choice), and I detest my sins for being so offensive and contrary to the love which I have for her and for God.

Some where in me, there is a disconnect between my actions and my heart. I don’t know why it’s there, but I know that it shouldn’t be. So at the moment, Catholic therapy being unavailable to me (money is tight and whatnot), I will go to where I should have been all along: fasting and prayer. This issue with my sexuality (and it is an issue) is my cross to bear, and I will do what I must to make sure this never happens again.

Thank you all for your thoughts. God bless you all.


#9

Fasting and prayer are very good ideas. I do believe there is hope for you, but you’ve got to be willing to work hard. I think you need to learn to recognise a situation where you are in danger of doing the wrong thing, and then to get out of there. If you need to lose a few friends to protect yourself, then that’s what you should do.

I think it was possibly a good thing that you told your girlfriend, because of the guilt you were carrying. At least it’s all out now, and if she stays then you have the chance to be completely open with her in the future. Right now it has only been a month since you told her, and she’ll probably be hurting for a while. When she said to you that she feels like you didn’t care about how she felt, I can fully understand that in the pain of the moment, that’s how she would interpret it. When things calm down a bit, she will (hopefully) see things a bit differently.

But now it’s up to you to do your best not to let this weakness (and trust me, you’re not the only one. I have my own particular weaknesses too) get the better of you. Strengthen your spirit by mortifying your body. Do reparation for past sins, and be joyful and grateful for God’s forgiveness. Do reparation for others’ sins, and may I suggest you take on sins of the flesh as your particular crusade.

If you mess up again, pick yourself up and start again. I’ll be praying for you.


#10

OK, you do seem to be learning, and yes, you seem to be very sorry for what you've done to your girlfriend. You already got a lot of good advice, but one thing from your story, (a rather trivial point, when taken by itself), makes me wonder about the nature of your relationship, aside from your infidelities:

There were other "incidences" that I guess aren't all that bad, but were mostly things like going out to lunch with a friend and not telling my girlfriend, or helping a neighbor with her groceries up three flights of stairs without asking for my girlfriend's permission.

Now, I can understand how going out to lunch with a friend (especially a female friend) could be something you should avoid, but helping a neighbor with her groceries? Is this a rule in your relationship?

[LIST]
*]Was it your idea, or your girlfriend's?
*]Is this normally something that could cause temptation?
[/LIST][LIST]
*]Are there any other rules you have agreed on, which are similar to this one(seemingly trivial, but somehow important to you and/or your GF)?
[/LIST]

If it's something you feel guilty about,and you really did nothing but help carry groceries, you have no reason to feel guilty, In fact, most women would think better of you for doing this, as they may be, or have been, in the situation, themselves. If you and your gf have never discussed this, or she is OK with it, you don't have to worry about becoming overly scrupulous-you already are!

If it was your idea, do you have similar rules for her? If hers, is it her way of "keeping you in line"? Neither of these scenarios speak of a healthy relationship. Now, or in the future.

If you plan on staying in this relationship, you NEED counseling.There are always ways of paying for it-speak to one off your confessors, and, if they can't help you themselves, they have lots of info about others, or agencies with whom you can work out a realistic payment schedule. Your school may be able to help, too.

I'm, not "nitpicking"-I just noticed that one sentence, and, as you have already received good advice, I just thought I'd point that out to you. As I'm writing, no one else has addressed it. As it stands out like a "red flag", it probably is one-not something to ignore.

But, remember, you-and your girlfriend-are people for whom Christ died. He wants you to be whole and happy-and, separately or together-in relationships worthy of His plan for you. It will probably take time for you, but I'll be praying for both of you-and, I bet many others will be, too.

May the Lord bless you.


#11

[quote="Legend, post:10, topic:238254"]
OK, you do seem to be learning, and yes, you seem to be very sorry for what you've done to your girlfriend. You already got a lot of good advice, but one thing from your story, (a rather trivial point, when taken by itself), makes me wonder about the nature of your relationship, aside from your infidelities:

Now, I can understand how going out to lunch with a friend (especially a female friend) could be something you should avoid, but helping a neighbor with her groceries? Is this a rule in your relationship?

[LIST]
*]Was it your idea, or your girlfriend's?
*]Is this normally something that could cause temptation?
[/LIST][LIST]
*]Are there any other rules you have agreed on, which are similar to this one(seemingly trivial, but somehow important to you and/or your GF)?
[/LIST]

If it's something you feel guilty about,and you really did nothing but help carry groceries, you have no reason to feel guilty, In fact, most women would think better of you for doing this, as they may be, or have been, in the situation, themselves. If you and your gf have never discussed this, or she is OK with it, you don't have to worry about becoming overly scrupulous-you already are!

If it was your idea, do you have similar rules for her? If hers, is it her way of "keeping you in line"? Neither of these scenarios speak of a healthy relationship. Now, or in the future.

If you plan on staying in this relationship, you NEED counseling.There are always ways of paying for it-speak to one off your confessors, and, if they can't help you themselves, they have lots of info about others, or agencies with whom you can work out a realistic payment schedule. Your school may be able to help, too.

I'm, not "nitpicking"-I just noticed that one sentence, and, as you have already received good advice, I just thought I'd point that out to you. As I'm writing, no one else has addressed it. As it stands out like a "red flag", it probably is one-not something to ignore.

But, remember, you-and your girlfriend-are people for whom Christ died. He wants you to be whole and happy-and, separately or together-in relationships worthy of His plan for you. It will probably take time for you, but I'll be praying for both of you-and, I bet many others will be, too.

May the Lord bless you.

[/quote]

That really stood out to me too. I think it kind of goes hand in hand with his anxiety, that he seems to feel like even after going to confession that he isn't really forgiven. To me that is the biggest problem in all of this, he needs to ACCEPT God's mercy and know that he is forgiven. I think accepting that mercy, knowing that it is real, will go a long way in his walk of faith.

To the OP, it's really important not to rehash and not let go of every wrong thought and action that you have ever had, because those are ties that bind you to sin. Let them go. Don't go and contact old relationships to apologize. Don't rehash things with your girlfriend. She should not be the one to have to shoulder your anxieties over this. Don't give her your burden. Continue to go to confession and DO see a counselor. You reallly will find peace and strength if you do those two things.

Today is Divine Mercy Sunday. What a perfect day to accept the gift of Mercy from our Heavenly Father, a gift that Chris suffered and died to give to us.


#12

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.