"Love One Another!" 17/2010 → True Love Waits - Pure Hearts
My addiction to the sin of self-abuse began in elementary school. I was thirteen years old and I had no idea I was embarking on a path of evil.
I did not know I was committing a sin. My conscience did not bother me, and I had no sense of any fault at all. But then I had no one close to me who might have set me straight. I went to church, never confessed this sin, and received the Blessed Sacrament sacrilegiously. I came up with all kinds of lies in order to engage in self-abuse. I bought pornographic magazines, and watched lewd films; in short, just about everything in my life revolved around masturbation.
I began to have problems in my contacts with girls. My image of women, distorted by the magazines and films, translated itself into everyday life. When I looked at an attractive girl, I mentally undressed her and imagined having sex with her. I was unable to engage in normal friendly relations with a girl. Pornographic magazines and films satisfied all my desires. The only thing that mattered to me in those days was an attractive woman’s body. Spiritually, I was unbelievably weak and impoverished.
I remained in this tragic spiritual state for many years. Nevertheless, God did show me his grace. During a retreat at our parish, I learned that self-abuse was a sin. I realized what I was doing was wrong. My conscience began to trouble me, but I would justify myself with the thought that I was not causing anyone harm, so I could not be that bad. I went to confession less and less often. After a confession I would make no special effort to break my habit. Slowly I came to the realization that I was addicted. I was powerless and incapable of breaking the habit. It was then that my struggle began. I found help in prayer. But it was not easy. I compared it to drops of water wearing away a rock. After each failure, I felt degraded, violated, humiliated. I knelt down and prayed I might not fall into sin again, and then of course I would fall — the very next day, two days or a week later.
I often thought my struggle with this sin was hopeless and that it would never end. At such moments I would fall into despair and despondency. But one day a friend passed me a copy of Love One Another Magazine. There I read about lots of people like me, imprisoned and enslaved by sin. It gave me courage and hope. After every failure I tried to go to confession. Despite my constant lapses, I knew God was helping me. And although I knew I was a wretched sinner, I did not despair. I had hope. You would think the worst was now behind me. You couldn’t be more wrong. Satan does not abandon souls so easily, but uses every occasion to enslave you again. It is very easy to get lost, to trick your conscience, and talk yourself into love. How easy to let your selfish “I” take control of your life and that of others! That is what happened to me.
I was twenty-six then and she was twenty-nine. She was married and had a three-year-old son. I craved that woman. I lusted after her body and felt moved by the story of her life and unhappy marriage. I wanted to “help” her, but my help turned into mere sensuality and lust. I felt flattered that such an attractive woman should find me interesting. It did not occur to me that she was lost just like me and in search of the kind of support that I could never give her. I seduced her, and we were soon having sex. We began meeting secretly. Almost every encounter led to sex. I thought I was in love and could not live without her. Each day became one interminable wait for the next meeting. This went on for several months. The husband began to suspect something. Our love-trysts became more and more rare. The separation pangs tormented me — as did my conscience.
I went to confession, but found it impossible to take the priest’s advice. He ordered me to break off the relationship, to put myself in the place of the betrayed husband, and of the child whose family I was destroying. Of course he was absolutely right. Our affair was on the point of being discovered, and what if she became pregnant? I shudder to think what would have happened then. But I gave no thought to this then. I thought I would manage somehow. My desire to be with her was so great that I experienced almost physical pain waiting for our next meeting.
I was unable to work. I slept whole afternoons in that hope that when I awoke we would be together again by some “miracle.” The terrible state of my soul brought me to the point of wishing the husband dead, for he was an obstacle to our “happiness.” Yes, I wished death upon that man!
To alleviate my sorrow, I turned to self-abuse again, but with each sin I became more and more desperate. During these difficult times I began to pray the rosary. I went to CzД™stochowa for prayer vigils. I prayed a novena to St. Jude, the patron of lost causes such as mine. I knew perfectly well I was leading a sinful life, and yet I was unable to live otherwise. I saw no way out of my situation. I couldn’t stop thinking about her; lusting for her.
I can now say that every day then was hell for me — an unending spiritual emptiness. Never again would I want to experience what I experienced then. It is terrible what delivering oneself over to feelings, lust, and sensuality can lead to. When you reject God’s commandments, you can convince yourself of anything in an instant — even that adultery can be good. You even call it love. And yet love is perfect, the greatest of all virtues. It does not desire evil. It does not delight in injustice. Love is truth, and yet almost everything I was doing was a lie, or bore the mark of a lie. The weeks passed and our sick relationship fell apart. We no longer met and we phoned each other less and less often. Whatever had joined us burned itself out. In this I see the work of God’s grace, which I had prayed for through the Blessed Mother and St. Jude. Today I can say that prayer and the intercession of Our Blessed Mother saved both her and me. Had it not been for these things, I would have ruined her marriage and destroyed a sacramental bond. I would have robbed a father of his child and been incapable of taking his place. Today I thank Jesus for showing us His mercy and saving both of us from the trap we fallen into.
I thought I would never be able love another like her; but I was greatly mistaken. I did not know then that love was not a feeling. Yes, feelings are important, but they are not love. Prayer and trust in Jesus transformed my life. I rid myself of the sin of self-abuse. Thanks to God I soon met my present wife. We have three children. Only now do I understand what love is. It is above all renouncing your ego and caring for another entrusted to you in the sacrament of marriage: one who is, in body and soul, “bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh.” There is no love without respecting God’s commandments. God and love are one and the same. Only in marriage does love take on its full dimension. It is a call to become a better person. I am ashamed of and regret what I have done. I trust that God will forgive me this sin and give me a chance to repair my fault.
May all be warned never to enter into an adulterous union. It is a snare set by Satan. It destroys both parties and leaves wounds that last a lifetime. Masturbation is not a way of relieving sexual tension but an addiction that enslaves the soul and brings human beings down to the level of beasts. It causes you to lock yourself up in a world of delusions and lies. You become an unhappy person who shuts himself off from other people and from God, who is our one source of happiness.
In writing this testimony, I am aware of the miracle that has taken place in my life, for I was on the point of drowning in the sin of impurity. I lived in darkness, but Jesus saved me. Now I am a free man, albeit burdened by sins, imperfections, and day-to-day problems. But I know God loves me. May His name be exalted forever. Please pray for the woman I seduced, as well as for my family and me.
The article was published with the permission from "Love One Another!" in August 2016.
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