Monday, September 26, 2011

06.29.10 Discovering Jesus Part 4: Shame

My freshman year of college changed everything.  For the first month of school, I never slept in my dorm room.  I am still not quite sure how this happened, but I usually ended up sleeping in bed with one of the sophomore guys on the first floor.  A different guy each night.  And, just sleeping.  Not sex.  Weird.  I can only imagine what people were thinking and saying about me.

Soon enough, though, I started dating an upperclassman, and I was able to sleep over at his place most of the time.  I had made it very clear to him that I was not interested in having sex, but he helped me push the pre-sex boundaries further than any guy I had dated in the past.  It happened quickly and it was exhilarating.  Unlike high school boyfriends, this man was very giving and very focused on me when it came to our physical relationship.  He easily expressed his love with both words and actions.  I felt adored, admired, and very excited about exploring physical intimacy.

So it should be no surprise that we ended up having sex.  I had heard people describe sexual encounters as "it just happened" but I always doubted that excuse.  Until "it just happened" to me.  We didn't plan it, hadn't talked about it, weren't prepared (as in, protection).  We were just fooling around as usual and suddenly it was actual intercourse.  Suddenly I was no longer the virgin I had planned to be until my wedding night.  I freaked out.

I went to the doctor to have an exam and go on birth control so that I'd be ready for what I expected to be a regular sexual relationship.  And then I learned that, in that one unthinking and sudden experience, I had contracted HPV.  My boyfriend had only been with one woman before me, and he told me he was clean (we had had this discussion long before we had sex, so pregnancy had been my only worry after that night).  I had never even heard of HPV at that time, although it was the most rampant STD.  The problem is that HPV is not necessarily active in the people who are infected; someone can carry the virus but not be affected by it, so a test would show up negative.  And it is (was?) impossible to test for HPV in men at all - it only affects women when active.  So it can easily spread through hundreds of people and only show up on just one.

My boyfriend and I shed alot of tears over this revelation.  He was genuinely distraught that he had not only 'taken' my virginity but also given me a disease.  A disease about which I now had to call my parents and tell them that their insurance was going to pay to surgically remove.

For the first time in my life, I felt ashamed.  This was the first time that I felt like I had not lived up to my own standards of goodness.  I was deeply disappointed in myself and actually afraid to face my future husband.  While my parents and I had butted heads over the years, I never felt like I had done something to let them down until I had that conversation about contracting an STD.

So in the sixth month of my freshman year of college, I became depressed.  I didn't recognize it at the time because I buried myself in sex.  But I didn't know myself any more, and I didn't trust myself, and I thought I would feel better if I just kept doing the very thing that had started the whole mess.  I was with a good guy who loved me, and it was easier to escape into physical experience than to address the emotional scars.  

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