Wrestling with impure fantasies at night


#1

Hello, brothers and sisters in Christ! :slight_smile:

First of all, I would like to say… thanks be to God for all of His graces and blessings! He has been so good to me even though I don’t deserve it! It is truly humbling and beautiful, and I just know that if I surrender to Him and open myself to His will, then all obstacles can be overcome. May I turn to Him now as I pick up my cross to follow him, even unto the necessary death of myself.

Here is my story, and I will make it short. About two years ago, I came back to the Faith at the age of 21. In reality though, I should say that I was coming to my faith for the first time, as I don’t think I ever had it to begin with. Growing up, watching pornography and turning to self sexual gratification were part of my routine, until one day I decided to quit but found I could not. And how frustrating it was! There was nothing, it seemed, that I could do, to rid myself of my obsession, even though I was trying my hardest. During the past two-three years, in fact, it seemed that it was getting worse, and I was despairing. Not even God, again it seemed, could deliver me from my situation! Yet thanks to working the 12 steps, I came to acknowledge that I wasn’t letting go, that I wasn’t surrendering, that I wasn’t putting God first in my life, that I was being a fake. What wasn’t I letting go?

Well, ever since I came back to the Church (and even before), I began to have a growing sense that I was being called to the priesthood. I tried to ignore it, tried to rationalize my way out of it, tried to push it away by picking up my shield of sin, but it wasn’t leaving me alone. It was there no matter what I tried to do! Yet I was scared, scared to let go of the beautiful girlfriend I was dating, scared to let go of my dreams (start my own business, becoming financially free, etc), scared to let God in my life in such a radical way. Well, thanks be to God, almost five months ago I was able to do just that (with a spiritual director, of course), and life has never been better! It is as if though the door that I had neglected to open to God for so long had finally and honestly been open, and a flood of graces was washing over me. Now I am finding life ever more beautiful, and every day it just keeps getting better. :slight_smile:

In terms of my problems with impure images and self-gratification, there has been a dramatic change. I have not turned to either of them ever since I said Yes to God (whatever His Will may be), and the obsession has been dispelled (not that the temptations do not come every now and then, but these are brushed off with God’s help). I am beginning to experience a freedom I never knew existed, and I breaking forth into life. Thanks be to Jesus and His Mother!

However, I am in need of your prayers…

I am having the most difficult time at night wrestling with impure fantasies. Unfortunately, I did more with my two ex-girlfriends that I should have done, but thankfully never went all the way. Now, at night, I find myself taking it to those steps I didn’t dare take it to. As soon as I catch myself, I turn to prayer and offer it up, but it seems that almost as soon as I am done, I am doing it again, perhaps for a few minutes before realizing that it is happening again, and the cycle continues. I guess this goes to show that deep down I am still attached to that grave sin of lust, and that more surrender needs to take place. I can’t do this alone, my brothers and sisters. I know I can’t. And so I am asking for your prayers, that I may surrender to God fully, and that I may always be willing to offer to Him whatever is not pleasing so that it may be uprooted and thrown into the fire.

The thing is, the following morning, I don’t feel great about the whole thing. Even though I don’t give in, it bothers me that I end up fantasizing for minutes before realizing what is happening, and that I end up slowly backing away from it rather than running full speed towards the arms of My Mother (how good she is!). I feel like as I’m falling asleep I linger in that mode because a part of me may want to, even though another part of me wants to be rid of it. And so I wrestle, and then I wonder whether I wrestled hard enough.


#2

In The Courage to Be Chaste, Benedict J. Groeschel asks this questions concerning fantasies,

  1. Did I voluntarily augment or add to the fantasy?
  2. Did I respond to it in a physical way, either by voluntary sexual arousal or by some action in pursuit of augmenting the fantasy, e.g., by looking at stimulating objects on purpose?
  3. When I became aware of what I was doing, did I refuse to turn my attention to something else?

If the answer to *all *of these (especially the last) is clearly and unequivocally yes, then the person (according to Fr.) is culpable.

For me, the answer to the first is a yes, since how can one fantasize without engaging at least a *part *of the will? The answer to the second is a no. And the answer to the third… I think so, although I wish it would take that long to get to that point and that, once that point is reached, that I could remove myself from the fantasy completely and not enter into a cycle.

Yet maybe this is unrealistic and unhealthy, as trying to stop the tide, as Fr. puts it, could be a form of repression that, eventually, brings devastating results. According to Groeschel, we don’t have that much control over fantasies. The best response seems to be conscious control, in which a person is aware of turning away, or at least of not adding to the fantasy or desire.

Here seem to be some good news though. These occasions of wrestling used to happen more often, almost every night, yet lately it has been subdued. In fact, yesterday was the first time in perhaps a week. That may be a sign of healing! According to my spiritual director, mine seems to be the case of someone who looked at an intense light for very long. Once you finally are able to turn away (through God’s grace, in this example), you will still see the light bulb even if you try not to, and you need to have the patience to let it go away with time.

So please, brothers and sisters, pray that I may have this patience, and that I may have the strength and courage to turn to Jesus and His Mother completely every time fantasy hits. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!

And thanks for letting me share. I think just writing about it has helped me, and bringing it to the light has been most helpful. It seemed that I ended making this far too long, but we gotta do what we gotta do.

As a side note, I am also getting ready to consecrate myself to Jesus through Mary according to the montfort way. I’ll be doing it in February and am now going through the second week, knowledge of self. Please keep me in your prayers so that I may completely strip myself of self, in order to make as much room as I can (again through His grace) for the spirit of Mary. Mother, I am all yours, and all that I have is yours, for the sake of your Son, my Lord and Savior. Ave Maria, virgo fidelis!

Alright. I’m finally done now. :stuck_out_tongue:


#3

Probably the best advice I’ve ever seen on this topic:

I can second that with a yes, this absolutely works.

With prayers,
Becky


#4

As someone who frequently confesses similar struggles, I understand what you’re dealing with. It’s still sometimes hard for me to accept that a thought could be so sinful and lead to so much culpability – but I am what I think, aren’t I? And fantasies, they are. The more I give in, the less I truly know myself. I’m hardly the Cassanova I’d like to think myself as! :stuck_out_tongue:


#5

Epistemes,

You said, “The more I give in, the less I truly know myself.”

How true this is! Ever since I’ve been able to say Yes to God’s Will (whatever that may be), I’ve been able to experience an interior freedom that I never thought was possible. With this freedom, I have been able to turn to God in an act of surrender when impure thoughts come, and I have thus been able to live a life where such thoughts do not determine my actions. I am disconnected from them, and I move on. And the more this has been happening, the more ME I feel I am becoming. It is as if though I am coming for the first time to be who I was meant to be, rather than what sin disfigured me to be. How blessed I am!

Becky,

Thanks for your suggestion. That’s what I am trying. During the day, it works wonder. Surrendering my needs to my Holy Mother does the trick, and I am amazed as to how true it is when Jesus said, “my yoke is light and easy.” When I try doing it by myself, the weight of my cross always ends up crushing me. The thing is, as I am trying to fall asleep, I seem to enter into a fog, let’s call it, where the fantasies seem to permeate my consciousness and it seems as if though turning to prayer works only for a slip second before all it takes over again. It is then that the wrestling begins, and who knows for how long? It seems to go on forever to me! And then the question is: how well did I turn away when it came? I’d like to think that I did the best I could, but then I feel like I could have done better, and that I wasn’t fleeing from it with my whole being. I can easily trick myself, and I want to make sure that I am being 100% honest. I pray that the Holy Spirit may continually shed God’s Light on this subject, that I may expose the sin where it is to be found, that I may uproot it, so that I may better do God’s will, and that being receptive to it I may allow Heaven’s will to enter the world through me.

O, Mother, let it be so! I am yours, and all I have is yours, including all of my imperfections.


#6

Seeker, here are a couple bedtime prayer suggestions you may find helpful. I’ve known them to work for people having terrible nightmares, and I imagine they would be powerful against impure thoughts happening as you’re falling asleep:

Bedtime Protection Prayer

In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, strengthened by the intercession of the Immaculate Virgin Mary, Mother of God, of Blessed Michael the Archangel, of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and all the Saints and Angels of Heaven, and powerful in the holy authority of the name His Name, I subject my mind and my dreams only to the work of the Holy Spirit. I ask you Lord to bind up all powers of darkness and forbid them to work in my dreams or any part of my subconscious while I sleep. Amen.

Liturgy of the Hours Night Prayer

A more powerful bedtime prayer is found in the official prayer of the Church, the Night Prayers of the Liturgy of the Hours. When praying the Liturgy of the Hours one is not just praying by themselves or with their families, but praying with the entire Church – the Church in heaven, in purgatory, and on earth. To pray to appropriate Night Office go to the ebreviary website Night Prayer page

Source: Spiritual Warfare Prayer Catalog


#7

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