I suffer from insomnia. I endure seemingly endless nights, dead tired, praying for sleep. When I was 11 years old, I found a trick that could make me go to sleep every night. A few years later I discovered the name for this trick: masturbation.
I quickly learned many synonyms for masturbation: dirty, disgusting, perverted, sinful, adulterous, and self-abusive. These descriptions of my secret habit came from my teachers, parents and church leaders. Unfortunately, I rarely heard words like addiction or sexual maturation. My church, church school, and family told me sexual deviants, mentally unstable people, and godless individuals did what I did.
No one told me many children experiment with themselves sexually—especially not girls. No one explained to me a baptized, healthy, young girl could be addicted to masturbation. By the time I was old enough to understand what I was doing and that it was wrong, I was already heavily addicted to my habit without even understanding it was an addiction. I had no idea the corruption and destruction I had brought into my life.
Sometimes I feel as though there was a “talk” I slept through. My parents are lovely, honest people, who told me the truth early on about sex, drugs, alcohol, rape, etc. But they skimmed over porn and masturbation. My church and schools talked a lot about it, without actually saying anything.
What everyone has failed to teach to me, and what I have learned on my own, is why it is bad and how not to do it.
Now I am 20 years old, in college, and engaged to a brilliant and beautiful young man. Every day I wrestle with my flesh, but it no longer controls my life. I am no longer trapped by my demon. It took me nine years to get here.
For years I tried to control my appetite while simultaneously keeping it a secret, with no one to turn to when I struggled and no one to hold me accountable when I fell. My shame made me hide, but it also made me more vulnerable.
Afraid of being scolded, punished, and misunderstood, I wouldn’t share my struggle with any authority figure. Believing no one could help me I tried to solve my problem alone. Besides, if no one else knew, my secret would remain safe.
I began to look for literature addressing addictions to masturbation; how it works, why it starts, and most importantly how to make it stop. Everything I found, however, addressed boys. I was pretty certain cleavage was not my problem.
A Friend in the Dark
Still broken and trapped, I went to college. A few short months later, I met my best friend. He was the first person who made me feel safe enough to share my burden. One lazy, gray Sabbath afternoon he told me his masturbation addiction story and I told him mine. Still, he later asked me to marry him.
By that time I clearly understood that porn and masturbation were damaging my relationship with God, but I had no idea the amount of hurt I would go through in my relationship with my future husband. I had assumed my problem would magically evaporate when I fell in love. True love’s first kiss would break the curse I had put myself under. I was disappointed.
Now, at least once a day, my fiancé and I take collaborative action in prayer and encouragement to prevent either of us from hurting ourselves, each other, or God.
God has taken my curse and transformed it into a blessing. It is the one thing that forces me to run to Him every single day. It has quickly taught my fiancé and me how to work together as a team, to uplift and forgive each other rather than rip each other apart. I am not angry that no one gave me the information I should have been given. I realize the reason I did not get it was because the ones who should have provided it were scared, misinformed, or just unaware of the need.
The Whole Truth
When I look at the next generation of parents, I am fearful for the next generation of children. We have an obligation to tell our children the truth. The whole truth. I have watched too many of my friends and family members not only leave the Adventist church, but forsake their Creator, because they encountered reality and realized the truth was withheld. They were denied a spiritual and practical life education that no one should be denied. Thus they ask the question, “If you lied to me about this, why should I believe anything you told me about God and salvation?”
We have an obligation to tell our children the truth.
Before this happens to our children, we need to answer the “why” question. We need honesty and transparency in all our communication. In order to educate our children we must first educate ourselves.
Author Caitlin Blize is a sophomore communication major At Union College from Calgary, Alberta, Canada.