August 10, 2007

Chapter Three: "Sex."

Okay, deep breath.

Now, here's the part of the story where things start going painfully awry. Before I dive into all of this heartache, I need to explain some things about Chris and I. We were both Christians, and this basically meant that we went to church on Sundays, and tried to be 'good kids' on the whole. But we were SO young and had been (in my opinion) completely spoon-fed our religion up until that point, so "religion" to us looked more like a set of rules than a REAL, genuine heart desire. Does that make any sense?

Like, I knew I believed in God, and I really did want to follow Him with all my heart, but I'd never been tested in my faith or pushed to the place where I really needed Him in order to make it through something difficult. So, my "Christianity" was not much more than trying to remember to read my Bible and trying to do what my pastor told me to do. I didn't drink, I didn't cuss, and I most CERTAINLY did NOT have sex before I was married.


Purity and abstinence had been drilled into my brain from the day I set foot in church. And I had planned on saving myself for my husband. There were no ifs ands or buts about it, and I just honestly didn't think it would ever be a problem for me. That was just ALWAYS the plan, because that's ALWAYS what I'd been told to do. I was going to be a virgin on my wedding night. Period.

But, I'd never been in love before.

Unfortunately, I had been told a bajillion times NOT to have sex, but I'd never been told where to VEER THE CAR if things started barreling down that road at a hundred miles an hour with no working brakes in sight. And by telling kids that sex is bad (outside of marriage), but giving them no soft, safe place to run to when they are either A. HAVING THOUGHTS ABOUT SEX, or B. REALLY REALLY CLOSE TO AND REALLY WANTING TO HAVE SEX, or c. HAVE ALREADY (oops!) HAD SEX, then there really is very little hope for them making it to the finish line. They can't do it on their own will power or strength. Kids today are practically DROWNING in all the sex on TV and in music and on the Internet, and if they don't have someone safe to run to when they feel they are going under, then how are they ever going to navigate through this mess ALONE?

When it came down to it, I had no support system in place. No safety net. No one to confide in or turn to with the turmoil that was tearing my heart in two. I felt ashamed and didn't want to admit I was struggling. I HAD TO HAVE IT ALL TOGETHER. Had to work it out on my own! So, I gave in. I had sex with Chris. I was seventeen. And the moment I lost what I'd been carefully guarding for my whole life, I fell to pieces.

If you spend years hearing that you shouldn't do something, and then you go and do it, what do you feel? I felt intense SHAME. I collapsed in on myself. I felt like I couldn't be a Christian anymore because I didn't know about God's GRACE for me in that situation. I didn't understand God's unconditional LOVE for me. My whole identity had been wrapped up in being the 'good Christian girl', and when I gave that away, I thought God would no longer want me on His team.

I didn't tell ANYONE. I remember, after the first time, I went over to my friend Rebecca's house and wanted so badly to just break down and weep and tell her everything, but the shame of it all gripped my mouth shut. I fought back tears as I lounged on her bed and tried to be my old normal self. But I felt like an impostor.

By this time, Chris and I were leading worship together at our church youth group. I felt like slime, like I wasn't even good enough to walk through the door. But we kept leading and we kept sleeping together and I kept spiraling downwards.

I just wanted to make Chris happy, and I thought that by giving myself to him, I was. But he was feeling the exact same things that I was feeling. We both wanted to stop and vowed over and over again that we would, but it never happened. Chris' way of dealing with the turmoil was to push me away.

Thus began the season of our relationship that I like to call 'The Third Ring of Hell.' He would break up with me because we had sex. Then, we would get back together, only to have sex 3 minutes later. Then he'd break up with me again. Then have sex with me. Then he'd stay with me because he felt bad for breaking up with me so much. Then, he'd break up with me. And on and on and on and ooooooooonnn. A reasonable person would have left the situation long before it got to this point, but I was not a reasonable person. I was a teenager. IN LOVE.

As you can imagine, this cycle was shredding my self confidence and my self worth to bits. On the outside, I still had everything together. I was the Student Body President and the Varsity Cheer Captain and the Homecoming Queen. But I'd never felt so alone in my entire life.

Let's fast forward a bit.

I'm now a freshman in college, living in an apartment just off the UNR campus with three other girls that I don't even know. The cycle with Chris continues. I'm completely alone, and I'm slowly being eaten alive by depression and self-hatred. I feel like a hollow shell of the person I had been even a year earlier.

And I'm becoming desperate.

**to be continued...**


Misguided Mommy said... never saw this side of emery before...i only saw teh perfect put together one...i hate that we all felt like hiding who we were, because i know had any of us really ever talked we would have had so much in common and it would have been so relieving...i can't wait to hear what happens next

Anonymous said...

Hi Emery,
Jess has introduced me to your blog which I read with pleasure as I sit at work with nothing to do. It's heaven to me.
I have been enjoying hearing all the hot details behind you and Chris. I have always loved your honest heart.
Those are tough times. Growing up I mean.
But hey, what I really wanted to say was that I had absolutely NO hard feelings about you comming to the prom with us. Chris had asked me in his oh so spontaneous way when I was like twelve and I was absolutely THRILLED that I already had such a hot date lined up. A seventh grader's dream, really. The fact that he brought you just seemed natural, you being his new girlfriend and all:) I seriously was only slightly pissed for like five seconds, but the thrill of me, a freshman, being able to go to SENIOR PROM with CHRIS CLARK overshadowed the fact that he just happened to bring his new girl too. In fact, i don't even remember being pissed for 5 seconds. I think I was alot nicer back then.
Anyhow, you are a lovely writer, one of my favorites. Have you read Anne Lamott? I think you'd love her, especially, Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son's First year, and Traveling Mercies: Thoughts on Faith.
Love to all three of you!

meg said...

thanks for your honesty. it's been good to read, struggle and triumph, God is good.

kachina said...

I can NOTTTT believe how much our stories are so similar. When I was having those super sonic feelings of guilt and shame (while also not having had my faith tested) I thought that I needed all kinds of antidepressants...or therapy...or whatever. So my spiral downward was even MORE lonely while pumping drugs into my body. God's redemption...too beautiful for words. That He still choses to use and want people such as us.

Can't wait to read the next chapter! <3

Flo Oakes said...

Aren't you so glad you are not a dating teenager anymore??
Those are tough times.

I have really really enjoyed reading your love story so far..I am a sucker for real life stories and picture albums...I'm obsessed with hearing peoples stories and seeing glimpses of their lives...I feel like the first thing I want to know about people is how they met, and then look at their picture albums, so thank you for satisfying my border-line stalker tendencies. Hee hee.
I can't wait to hear more.

ktsavedbygrace said...

WOW! I am enjoying reading this so much and cannot believe how it sounds all to familiar! Being that christian girl that everyone at church and community adores and thinks so highly of, and inside fighting back Satan's temptation and his guilt is the hardest thing I have EVER gone through in my semi-short 20 years. And throughout the last 3 years I have come to realize that SOOOO many christians experience the same issues! It is always good to know that you have people can relate with you on those bad times! KEEP THE STORY COMING!!!! :-)

--the silly blogger stalker from West Virginia, Katy

lifeinsuburbia said...

Seriously, i thought I was the only 'christian' to feel this way about sex before marriage. my (now) husband and I had sex before we were married, and I too was racked with Guilt. Good ol' Southern Baptist Guilt. And church hasn't been the same for me since. Thank you for sharing this. Seriously.

Britt said...

Great story, EmJo! I love your honesty. I've also enjoyed reading your love story, and it makes me realize that I really need to write mine whether on my blog or just to have it down on paper for posterity.

I totally understand that religious expectation to keep yourself "pure" until marriage. Cody and I didn't have sex until we were married, but we did other stuff that we weren't "supposed" to do, and I felt that same horrible guilt. I just wanted to talk to someone about it. Someone who would really, really understand. Going to church on Sundays and hearing lessons of chastity were a killer. Ahhhhh! I'm so glad that's over with.

Flo Oakes said...

PS-I'm so hooked...I've checked your blog about 8,000 times tonight to see if there are any updates.
Well, maybe 8 times.
Seriously though...forget Harry Potter, I want to know what happens next to Emery!!

r-becca said...

Thanks for sharing this chapter Emery. I feel like there's stuff in here that I didn't even know (like coming to my house right after). Oh, how I wish I could have hugged you and been a safe, accepting place for you - but you know what, I probably wouldn't have told me either because of the church and our involvement and all the uncertainty. How backwards.

Jeninacide said...

I was actually wondering about the sex part... I assumed you guys may have "done-it" premaritally, but maybe not... I think a LOT of young girls go through those same feelings when they lose their virginity. Something you were supposed to save and cherish and then you give it away and you feel like damaged goods. I also remember when we had a class together first semester freshmen year of college and you seemed bummed out about something... I think you vaguely mentioned that you were having boyfriend problems, but I didn't talk to you after that and the next I heard you were engaged! So at least we know this has a happy ending! : )