Coming out Freed: Finding my sexuality and freedom from a sex shaming culture

*Parental Advisory/Trigger Warning*
Parental advisory may be recommended for this post. Please do not read this post if you are not in a mentally safe place. If you begin to feel depressed, suicidal, or have thoughts of hurting yourself or others, please call 911 or your local authorities IMMEDIATELY.

When I first started this blog over a year ago, I had no idea where it would lead to. I can’t believe I’ve gotten to talk to so many of you after sharing My Sexual Abuse Story and How I Forgave My Abuser. When I first posted the blog, I truly believed I was all alone in my pain. But soon realized that there were a whole army of you guys who were willing to support me because you understood every word I wrote. Since that day, I’ve made it a point to be 100% open and vulnerable about what I write. Sure there are some things I don’t know how to put on paper just yet. But when I am able to, I share them freely. Because I know somewhere out there, there is a person that felt as lonely as I did. And I never want anyone to feel they are alone.

In this week’s thinks, I want to share with you guys something that may be considered taboo. Especially in the religious community. I want you to know that this post is not in any way about throwing rocks at the LGBTQ community. It’s also not about church shaming either. And for those of you guys who’ve been with me for a while already know that neither are ever my intent.

I just want to share with you my personal experience, my heart, and every bit of my emotions when it comes to the topic of my personal sexuality. So please, regardless of your background, pull up a chair and we’ll talk like old friends.

Yeah… that’s a little too personal for us Joy.

Ok, so I don’t blame you if you quit reading. But you know since day one, I’m never going to hide anything even if it means being “controversial”. So here it goes.

The Birds and the Bees

Most kids start getting curious at a very young age about sex. They may start asking innocent questions like:
“How did the baby get in her tummy?”
“Do you have to throw up the baby or do you have to poop it out?”

While it’s funny to see a six year old kid ask these questions, eventually the stork answer is obviously not real anymore. At some point a parent will sit down and have “the talk” or kids receive a sex education class that explains the science behind sex and even sexual health.

Rape = Sex

I think I was about 5 years old. I remember watching a film that showed a female being raped and another film that showed a woman full in the nude as her father saw her in the back yard. (Probably not something I should have seen) Our home was extremely religious (see Healing from Spiritual Abuse and Forgiving My Abusers ) but seemed to have double standards when it came to certain issues.  I was never allowed to go to a movie theater but pornographic movies/movies that showed incest were on full display in our home. I had to mute a cartoon with “bad music” but shows with nudity or sexually explicit scenes I was only told to “close my eyes”.

This was my sexual education. As I got older, I never received any guidance or sex education from a trusted adult (See Do Christians Have SEX???). And since I was homeschooled, I did not have any opportunity to receive a sex ed class.

As a young girl I was taught that Rape = Sex.

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Where it All Started

If you have read my story, you are probably aware that sexual abuse started very young for me. However my abuse was not from a man. My abuser was my piano teacher who was also our church pianist. She had convinced me and everyone else around her that she could be trusted. However, teaching piano was never her motivation for becoming my “friend”.

When I wrote my first blog about this I did not feel comfortable sharing what had happened over the course of four long years. But I feel that I can now… at least a little bit of it. There are some parts of this that I cannot physically sit through reading or hearing myself talk about without going into shock, loosing my hearing, and/or having a panic attack. When the time is right I plan on sharing with you everything. But until then, this is what I can share.

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My First Time

When I first started taking lessons from my teaching, she started grooming me. She got me snacks, toys, and made me feel that I was important to her. She also began “testing the waters” to see what she could get away with. She began touching my back side and looking at my underwear. I got very upset the first time this happened and she laughed. She then tried this in front of my mother who then went on to laugh with her when I became upset.

After she knew that I was a prime target with no one to defend me, she took her opportunity…

over..
and over…
and over…
and over…

I remember the first time she violated me underneath my clothes… I remember the dress I was wearing… I can remember exactly where I was next to the piano…. And I was also in a church sanctuary…

There are some nights that I wake up because I can still feel her cold clammy fingers. Her tobacco scented hands fondling my prepubescent chest…

I was wearing my first training bra the day it happened… The one that I was so proud of because I thought I had finally become a woman. There were “new things” happening to my body that were supposed to make me feel girly. But instead, her pedophilic claws invaded my body as she laughed at how “small” I was. I don’t know how long I stood there frozen, but I couldn’t move… I couldn’t breathe… I didn’t want to breathe…

I wanted to die.

She and I had been alone downstairs in the sanctuary until we heard the front door of the church open. Her husband had come downstairs from the fellowship hall to tell her it was time to go home. After the main entrance, there was a hallway that lead to a double door entrance to the sanctuary. Just enough time for her to stop pinching my bare chest and nipples and take her cold hand out of my training bra.

This wasn’t the first or last time this was going to happen. And for her, this was only the start to the “fun” things she wanted to experiment on me.

Boys, Boys, Boys

My first crush I ever had, I was obsessed. Like any pre teen girl, there were diary entries and lots of giggles every time I saw this boy. He attended the church that my dad’s church was borrowing the building from, and we often attended the services at this church. Along with this boy (That I liked till I was 14. I was committed people.), I had a crush on every other boy in the church. And the junior girls class Sunday school had a list of all their favorite heart throbs, along with J.T.T. and Leonardo DiCaprio (of course).

I loved talking about boys with my church friends and was always wanting to know who “broke up” or was “dating” in our church.

I was so into boys that my friend once gave me a picture of my “secret” crush. It was a photo that she had taken of the youth group and he was in the picture. I was so excited. I was probably about twelve at this point.

Oh I knew I was chubby (my mom already told me that),  that I looked like a “gay boy” (my dad told me that), that I had disgusting satan eyes (my dad told me that too), I was hairy (my parents would not allow me to shave until I was 15), and that I had a ginormous unibrow (that was pretty obvious).

But having a picture of a boy??? I was Finally a normal girl! I liked a boy!
No, no… my middle school girl would correct myself.

I was in love!

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No Boys Allowed

My squealing journal writing nights with my crush’s picture sadly did not last very long. Somehow my mother found out that I had a boy’s picture and stormed into my room one night to demand that I return the photo to my best friend. I was told I was not allowed to look at a boy or like one. And if I was ever to talk to him again, I had to have a parent around. Although this didn’t change my feelings for him,

I was completely crushed.

I cried all night as my little heart had been broken into a million pieces. Maybe I was just a fat, hairy, gay boy after all…

No boy will ever love me!

Sexual Confusion

During the time my infatuation for my crush grew, the sexual abuse continued to get worse. As you can imagine, by the time I was 12 the hormones had already started kicking in. I was still obsessed with my crush, but something strange began happening with my body.

I became sexually aroused.

I felt so disgusting and worthless. And the more she would abuse me, the more my body would react. I felt so ashamed for the way my body was responding to her inappropriate behavior.

I didn’t want any of this! But maybe it was my fault? Maybe secretly I did like it? No, I wanted her to stop! Oh how could anyone ever love me now? I was a total creep! A piece of trash that deserved to die, no worse,

Go to Hell. 

Pleasing Peeping Tom

By the time my body had started going through puberty, it was always in some form of physical shock. I could never sleep peacefully and my bladder was out of control. I wet the bed until I was 14 daily and had wet the bed at 15 after having a nightmare.

I was 13 I had learned to be numb, to be silent, and to “stop telling lies”. I no longer fought her or anyone who tried to touch me inappropriately. I didn’t feel “sad” or angry anymore. In fact I didn’t feel much of anything.

But what I did feel was broken.

The physical abuse at home was getting much worse. My dad became more angry, and my mom’s mental health was beginning to decline. She also became physically abusive again as well as turned to her hoarding addiction to fill her emptiness.

I believe this could be where my eating disorder originally began as I went on my first “diet”, and lost 30lbs after my mother had laughed at me for being overweight.

During all of the chaos at home and at church, I noticed that there were several young airman that would sit on their veranda at night across from my window. The summers were extremely hot in Japan. But the kids rooms were not to have air conditioning at night. My parents room was closed off across the hall and we were to open our windows with a fan at night instead.

After having to change with the windows open (and a thin lace curtain), I realized that there were people watching me. The men were coming outside to smoke and watch me change clothes in my room.

And for the first time, I didn’t care.

I would see them pass me in the hallways of our apartment as they gave me creepy looks.  I would smile back. I finally had someone who was giving me attention and liked my body. Besides, my parents had already told me I would grow up to live on a street corner as a “whore” (I was wearing a skirt that showed my calves one day and this was the response) anyway,

so I was on the right track.

small phto

Isolated, Suicidal, and Sexually Confused

After I turned 16, my Japanese grandmother passed away. It was as if it was the last straw to my fathers rage and bitterness. After inheriting my grandparents former home, we moved several cities away to the countryside. Although I was not allowed to see friends very often as it was, moving to the new house meant complete isolation. My abuser had already been kicked out of our church (not for abusing me, but because she wanted a leadership position as a female) and there was only one person attending our “church”.

I was still homeschooled at this time, and was not even allowed to go to the neighboring park without my little brother. I got in trouble many times for not asking to step outside the front door first before taking out the trash. It was a complete prison.

My mother once got upset with me for telling her that I was lonely and wanted friends. She told me that she was my friend and that the Bible says we are to endure suffering (in this case my dad’s heightened physical abuse).

The one escape I did have were the friends I had online. Most of them were in the US and I would often have to discreetly plug-in the internet lan cable at night just to have some human interaction with people my age. I joined an online art community, and had a couple of emo friends that introduced me to musicians such as Avril Lavigne and Green Day.  (The song “Keep Holding On” kept me from committing suicide many times)

Through the internet, I also discovered pornography.

And although I was extremely attracted to men, I somehow could not look at men. I would feel ashamed and hear the same voice that yelled at me when I had a picture of my crush. I felt dirty. So instead, I looked at women.

Although I had not had a desire to have a relationship with a woman, looking at sexually explicit images of women seemed “ok” to me. I wasn’t looking at “boys” and it was the same violent imagery I had seen my whole life. And some of the things I saw were the same things that were done to me as a child, so it was… normal.

normal…

I don’t think that’s ever supposed to describe violent sex… ever.

I would look at the images and compare my own body to these women. If only I looked like them,  maybe someone would love me. It would trigger flashbacks to when I was abused by my piano teacher, and my body would start becoming aroused. I would feel guilty and disgusting. Yet, I still dreamed of the day a young man would want me to be his.

But how?  I was unloveable.

Anorexic and Asexual

By the time I turned 18 I had absolutely no sexual drive left. My body, including my sexual organs were failing. I weighed in at 78lbs the first day of college and lost more weight within my first few weeks to my lowest of 72lbs. I hadn’t had my period in almost a year.

As I became surrounded by people who genuinely cared for me, I started to let people in my life. I was away from ALL of my abusers, and I was finally able to talk to people alone. I started to gain back the weight slowly, and my body began functioning again.

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Sexual Confusion After Marriage

After college, I married my 4 year long college boyfriend. We had saved our “first time” for our wedding day but had definitely “messed around” before (all you perfect kids know exactly what I mean). And although both of us had our first experiences after we married, there was something that I did not know even until after I was married.

Sex ≠Rape

I remember sitting down to talk with Seth in our bedroom one night after a very embarrassing situation. He went on to explain to me that love-making was about giving to each other. And for anyone to only think about taking from someone was not love.

This was the first time that someone who was sexually attracted to me had told me that I deserved to be loved in an intimate way.

I deserved to be loved.

Attraction Guilt

Even after I was married to Seth, I still struggled with the feeling of being “dirty”. I would even feel guilty if I looked at someone’s face and thought they were attractive. This was especially the case if the person was male. Perhaps I was just a “whore” after all. Or worse yet, maybe I was scared to look at men because I was gay???

But what would I tell Seth. I loved him! I loved everything about him, and I was most certainly attracted to him! And I’ve never wanted to be with a woman.

But why would I still be aroused when I had nightmares?

Maybe I could at least look at someone’s face when they talk to me? No that would most definitely make me a harlot!

I felt so confused, hurt, and ashamed. This cycle of guilt would just play over and over again in my mind. I was also at a place where I was wrestling with my spirituality (Why I stopped pretending to be a Christian.  )

But there is something supernatural that happens once Jesus is in the picture of healing our hearts.

But God

After I chose to follow Christ, there were a lot of things that changed for me, but none of it happened overnight. God does not make you perfect or exempt from reality once you become His follower. Instead, He gently guides you to a path that reveals more of His love for you and your purpose in life. He never forces you to love Him but calls you to His tranquil peace.

And that’s when I learned about true love

I had learned earlier that sexual love was two people giving to one another. And after following Christ, I learned that agape love (unconditional love) was God reaching to me no matter if I believe I deserved it or not.

515 Garson Drive

In 2016 my husband was deployed overseas for six months while I moved to Atlanta Georgia. Through my time there and attending Passion City Church, God began to speak to me in a series of messages called the Label Maker series. Each week Pastor Louie talked about key words that God identifies us with. Words like Chosen, Heir, and Holy…

By week three I was completely wrecked

God sees me as an Heir to His thrown? The King of the universe sees me as Holy? Me? I prayed in my seat unable to contain the words I needed to speak with my Jesus.

Jesus, You see me as Holy?
Yes daughter you are.
But you know every thought in my head. How unfit I’ve felt. You know how confused I feel. I don’t even know where I belong.

You belong. You are mine. 

Life’s a Journey and I’m Still Walking

As I have mentioned before I am still in therapy for the trauma that I experienced as a child.
There are some days that I still feel worthless and unworthy of love.
There are some days the PTSD is so bad that I can’t be intimate with my own husband.
Do I still have panic attacks that take me 20 min to snap out of? Yes.
Are there still days I question my identity? Yes.

But I have finally found the truth and have come to a place that I can identify which “voice” I can trust.

And this is what I know now.
Thinking someone is attractive does not make me a monster.
Taking care of my appearance doesn’t make me a “slut”.
My body is God designed and meant to be treated with respect.
Thinking someone has a beautiful face does not make me sexually attracted to them.
There is nothing shameful about having sex with the one I love (My husband).
I am not less deserving of love because of anything I’ve done or anyone has done to me, and I am through Christ a chosen daughter, an Heir to the kingdom of God.

 

Dear Cherished Friend,

Thank you so much for reading my story. I imagine a number of reasons could have brought you here. Maybe you and I have had many conversations together, or maybe we have never met. Perhaps you have stopped by because the most pain you have ever felt about your sexual identity was from a church.

I am not here to judge or condemn you, I could never do that and neither can any other human. But I want to tell you that I love you. You are created and designed by the master of the universe. And His intentions were never to allow anyone to “shun” you or call you anything but worthy of God’s love.

Perhaps you feel unclean. Maybe someone took advantage of you. That too was never His plan. This broken world also comes with human choice. Unfortunately there are people who choose to hurt others.

I know, you never asked for it, I know. Neither did I. But somehow we sit here as broken people. You don’t need to be “fixed”. But we do need a healer.

I don’t know what God you pray to, or if you pray to none. But I want you to know that as I am writing this post, I am praying for you. (and not in a “There’s been a hurricane and I don’t want to send $10” kind of way). I am truly crying out to God for you. And if anything at all that you would feel His love and compassion for you.

Please feel free to reach out to me anytime if you want to talk. If I forgot to tell you, you also deserve friends too.

I love you so much,
Joy

 

 

There’s no wall You won’t kick down
Lie You won’t tear down
Coming after me

Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God
Oh, it chases me down, fights ’til I’m found, leaves the ninety-nine
And I couldn’t earn it, I don’t deserve it, still, You give Yourself away
Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God

reckless love,Cory Asbury

 

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4 comments

  1. You are so young and I am so very glad you are grasping these truths now. I am older….and I’m still struggling to believe these. Your post brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for sharing your heart and your story.

    Like

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