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.