I’ve been kind of fired up about things in the past few days. I don’t know if it’s the mess that is going on in Wisconsin or just the climate in general but before I continue, I want to make something very clear:
My history is closer to that of Mary Magdalene than that of the Blessed Mother.
Oftentimes, parents are afraid to talk to their children about drug use because of their own past drug use. They fear being seen as hypocritical or telling their kids “Do as I say, not as I do.” Well, I can tell you, the only illegal drug that I ever consumed was alcohol before I was 21 (I was and am far too paranoid for anything more,) but I did find myself making what I now consider to be poor moral choices when I was a young adult.
I had grand plans of saving myself for my husband and that pledge to self was easy enough to keep in high school. I was not part of the popular crowd and I didn’t really hang out with the partiers, I was more of a floater… but I was really into my studies and I was a band geek (in fact I was a drum major.) So, yeah… kind of nerdy. But my studies paid off as I received a scholarship to the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
I started Madison in the Fall of 1998 and I did a pretty good job to balancing the studies with the party lifestyle that I adopted. I managed to keep my resolve not to go “all the way,” but that didn’t stop me from engaging in some heavy petting. (Yes, this is kind of weird to write considering that I am pretty sure my mother and my mother-in-law both read my blog, but it is what it is.) Sophomore year, I really spent too much time partying and drinking and as a result, failed Organic Chemistry which effectively killed my dream of being a doctor. Now, keep in mind, I was on scholarship at this point and as it was an academic scholarship, failing classes is not really part of the deal. Basically I was told to straighten up and fly right or kiss my scholarship good-bye. Failing that class was a wake-up call for me and I never earned less than an B since then. Junior year started and I had been dating my boyfriend at the time for the entire summer. We were doing the distance thing, so we were only together on the weekends. Then a weird thing happened… September 11. For some reason, that horrible act lead to me to decide that we could all die tomorrow so it was time to “Carpe Diem!” I slept with my boyfriend not too long after then. I was 21.
He and I broke up later that fall and it was after that break-up that things got kind of crazy. I really bought into the notion of female empowerment by being able to pick up a guy in a bar. But I can tell you, with every “conquest” I felt crappier and crappier about myself. For a few hours, I was loved, I was admired, I was favored… and then I was discarded. I fell into depression and was under treatment by a Cognitive-Behavioral therapist for almost 3 years. While in therapy, I learned how to form healthier relationships and it helped lead me to where I am today. I really wish that I could write that the Church had more of an influence on me at that point in my life, but I really can’t. While I converted in 2002, I didn’t start learned about the Church’s teachings on sexuality and contraception until after the birth of the Bear, in 2007. (I used contraception, both chemical and physical, from 2001 until 2006. Since after the Bear’s birth, we’ve used the Sympto-Thermal Method of Natural Family Planning.)
The Soon-to-be-Blessed John Paul II wrote that the opposite of love is not hate; it is use. It seems, with sexuality, we tend to take two avenues: repression or free-for-all. Neither method is healthy nor works. Why am I putting all of this out there and writing about such sensitive and private topics? Because maybe one of you reading is where I was in 1998… in 2001… in 2007. Ignorance is bliss… but do we really want to live life blind, deaf and dumb? So, what am I planning on telling my daughters (and/or sons if we are blessed in the future?) I will teach them that sex is a beautiful and powerful act. It is simple but at the same time incredibly complex. It has the power to create and the power to destroy and the only difference is in how it is wielded. I will teach them that we all make mistakes and we all may have regrets, but in acknowledging those mistakes and desiring to change, to be better than yesterday, is the mark of maturity.