Body Image, Faith, Identity, Relationships, Sex

Dirty Little Secrets- Don’t Touch

May 25, 2016

**DISCLAIMER: The content talked about in this post is of a mature and sexual nature. If you are uncomfortable with this type of material,  a young reader, or my grandma, please consider not reading. Thanks.**

Her name was Mindy. She lived up the street from me and we were in the same fourth grade class together. Her mom was a single parent so Mindy was home alone a lot. Often when I’d go over to play with her we’d be left alone in the house, no one to supervise what kind of trouble we might have been getting into.

Sometimes secrets come to you in obvious ways. Other times, they sneak in the back door. 

It was a typical afternoon at Mindy’s house. We had been playing with some Barbies when she told me she had something to show me.

In her room she had a daybed but not the pull out trundle bed that typically lived underneath. We’d often crawl in there and imagine we were hiding away on some kind of mysterious adventure. You know, kid stuff. However, this day, it became a place where secrets were born.

She began to tell me me she wanted to show me something that feels really good. What followed is a bit foggy still in my memory simply because, at the time, I didn’t have a name for what she showed me. Now I know it to be masturbation. I was nine.

For the next decade I would occasionally engage in masturbation,  knowing somewhere in my heart that it was wrong, feeling confused as to why it felt good, and still not understanding exactly what I was doing. It was a tornado of fear, shame, embarrassment and pleasure.

These kind of things weren’t talked about in the circles I operated in. My youth group would have never thrown around the word masturbation, and if they did, it was behind closed doors in hushed conversations. As I grew, I learned the word and what it meant, but only that it was a foul and horrific act that only the grossest of men ever struggled with. Women don’t lust and we most certainly NEVER ever touched ourselves.

I’m really not sure when all the pieces finally started to fit together and I had my big “ah-ha” moment that what I had been doing all those years was masturbation. Maybe I had known all along but was finally able to actually admit it. I don’t know. I just remember feeling like crap and thinking I had become one of those disgusting people my youth group leaders talked about.

I wish I could tell you the moment that the “ah-ha” came, my desire to masturbate left. But it didn’t. It took time. Lots of false starts and set backs. It was in the tiny everyday choices to desire something better for myself, and changing my thoughts to actually believe I was worth that something better, that finally made me stop altogether. But it was a long road.

The shame, well that one took a bit longer to go away. Honestly, I’m not sure it’s really left me yet. There are still moments I still feel like that scared little girl, hiding under that bed, wondering what just happened to my innocence. I get afraid that people (aka my friends and family) will find out and hate me and think I’m gross. I still struggle to believe that God has even forgiven me for it.

Maybe you’re in the thick of sexual sin right now. Maybe, like me, you’re caught between shame and freedom; longing for one but stuck in the other. Hear me when I say this: YOU ARE NOT TOO BROKEN OR IMPURE OR VILE TO GAIN FREEDOM. These places?  This is where grace is born. These battles? Well, they are the catalysts for growth and joy, and yes, even life.

I’ve been struggling to find a way to end this post well. How to wrap this messy topic up in a bow that will make it all nice and pretty and wonderful. But I got nothing. Because life isn’t like a tv show and things don’t just magically work out in forty five minutes.

So, instead, I am choosing pray a prayer for you. May it meet us both where we need it.

I pray that you will know that you ARE loved and are WORTHY of love.

I pray you know that even in your sin you are treasured and valued.

I pray that you would see that in these dark places, light is shining through, you just have to look for it.

I pray you would seek out the light.

I pray that you would see that there is an army of women, me included, who have walked the path before you and are ready to link arms and go to war for the freedom of your heart.

I pray you’d be brave.

I pray you’d find the courage to tell your secrets and let yourself be known.

I pray that those you tell would receive you with grace and love.

I pray you’d choose more for yourself than immediate and fleeting pleasure.

I pray that you would feel God’s grace, love and mercy, even in the middle of your sin.

I pray for you to give yourself grace. That you’d believe that it’s more about the journey rather than the destination. That you’d know freedom doesn’t come overnight, but that it will come.

And lastly, I pray that you and I would know that these secrets, well they may speak into our past, but they don’t dictate our future.

Lived loved sweet friend. Embracing hope with you. -H

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  • Kayla May 25, 2016 at 10:36 am

    So thankful for you and your words this morning, Heather! I really needed to hear your story. It is so encouraging to me to read your words and your prayer, and it did come to meet me right where I needed it.

  • Alexa May 25, 2016 at 3:22 pm

    Heather,

    I love this. Thank you for being brave, bold, and honest. I was someone who hid in shame for so long in my sexual sin, thinking no other woman, especially Christian woman, had the same struggles. I now lead a group at my college for women struggling with sexual addictions, and I am so thankful for your voice, and helping start the conversation among women. Thank you, sweet sister.

    Alexa

  • Emily May 25, 2016 at 7:39 pm

    Umm…wow. This is such a timely post for me. “Maybe, like me, you’re caught between shame and freedom; longing for one but stuck in the other.” This is EXACTLY where I am right now. “Hear me when I say this: YOU ARE NOT TOO BROKEN OR IMPURE OR VILE TO GAIN FREEDOM.” This is SO encouraging. Thank you for writing it. Seriously, it is such a grace of God that I’m reading it at this point in my day. It is way too lengthy for me go into details, but I am right there with you. Thank you so much for sharing!

    • agirlikeme
      agirlikeme May 28, 2016 at 12:52 pm

      Emily! Thanks so much for sharing! If you ever need someone to talk with, please feel free to email me at agirlikemee@gmail.com -Heather

  • Sarah May 25, 2016 at 8:43 pm

    Your prayer brought me to tears. I am a mess. It’s so hard for me to receive His forgiveness and grace. To tell someone I am close to scares me to death. I am afraid I will lose that relationship as it has happened in the past. I can go for months even a year and then fall. I want to get to the place where I don’t fall and stay strong.

    • agirlikeme
      agirlikeme May 28, 2016 at 12:55 pm

      Sarah,
      Sweet friend, you WILL get there. Try not to focus on the moments you fail, but rather rejoice in the times you are triumphant. I think we think that when we mess up that God is up there shaking his finger in disappointment over the screw ups we are. But it couldn’t be further from the truth. When we fail, God is right there, scooping us in our arms, telling us how proud He is that we made it this far and encouraging us as we step back into the fight. Keep going to war. You will win the battle. I promise.

  • T May 25, 2016 at 9:41 pm

    Heather, thanks for sharing. The struggle is real for me 2. Can u pls tell me how u managed to stop. Do u have any stratagies u recomend?

    • agirlikeme
      agirlikeme May 28, 2016 at 12:59 pm

      T,
      I honestly had no set strategy to stop. I think I just kept asking myself if this was the best thing God had for me in the moment. Masturbating is a conscious choice. It never just “happens.” So I would recommend that maybe every other time you go to masturbate, ask yourself if God has something better for you in that moment and, better yet, remind yourself that you are worthy of something better than this momentary pleasure. Stay strong friend. You’ll get there. Be patient with yourself.

  • Leah May 26, 2016 at 10:05 am

    Like Emily, this is very timely for me.
    It also helped me have some very needed realizations and, yeah. I just needed to hear it. Thank you for sharing hope and giving grace to yourself and others. I really needed that prayer, Heather.
    Thank you!
    You’re so beautiful. Keep remembering that Christ has made you pure and you are more. I love you.

  • Amanda May 27, 2016 at 4:36 pm

    Maybe I shouldn’t been asking this, but why do we consider masturbation to be such a bad thing?

    • agirlikeme
      agirlikeme May 28, 2016 at 1:06 pm

      Amanda,
      I think that is a great question, and one that really SHOULD be asked. I guess I would start by asking you what you think the motivation is behind someone masturbating? In my experience, masturbation is not just an act that operates separate from our heart and mind. Much like sex, masturbation requires the engagement of our whole selves to accomplish. When someone masturbates, their goal is to achieve sexual pleasure and fulfillment. In a sense, it is taking something (sex) that God had created as a scared and holy act to model his love and union with us and we turn it into a means for our own selfish needs and desires. When we masturbate, we are not only choosing to distort sex, but we are choosing to set our mind on our flesh and lust. Sex, in it’s true and pure form is a physical representation of our union with God within an earthly marriage. It is the most holy and intimate of experiences, and any distortion of that is acting outside of what God had designed it for. Make sense? It’s a pretty hearty topic to dive into, so if it still confuses you, by all means, please feel free to email me at agirlikemee@gmail.com -Heather

  • Beloved July 25, 2016 at 11:00 am

    Stumbled onto this blog post again. I needed to hear this.
    It may have been written two months ago and no one will ever notice this comment.
    but I want ya’ll to know that when you write blog posts on the “dirty” topics. The hope you are speaking into so many hearts is amazing
    To all the girls who struggle with this and were too afraid to comment right away or felt like talking about it in public was weird. I feel you.
    You’re not too far from grace.
    Thank you so very much Heather

  • E September 14, 2016 at 11:19 am

    I continuously come back to this specific post every couple of weeks, or even days sometimes. I’ve been struggling with this for seven or eight years now, and it’s been a tough road. I won’t do it for two months, finally feeling like maybe THIS will be the time when I stop, only to give in and do it once more, which leads to another month or so of doing it every so often, and then subsequently feeling guilty the second it’s done.

    It’s hard for me to talk about this, or even really admit it. I’ve always felt ashamed about this. I’ve always felt like I was the only one that felt bad about it (none of my other friends feel guilty about it). I’ve never been able to tell if it was bad or not, because on one hand all these doctors are saying that it’s totally normal while on the other it feels like it’s twisting God’s will and gift of the intimate act of sex. But then I found this post (I’ve been reading this blog for awhile now) and it made everything come into a new light.

    Thank you so much for this. To know that I’m not alone in this, and that there are other women who are feeling the exact same things as me makes me feel as though I’m not crazy. I’ve started to discover that I go to the act of it whenever something happens in my life that I can’t control, or that I’m stressed out. But recently, any time that I start to want to, I come to this specific post and scroll down to the bottom, to the prayer. And I’m suddenly reminded that I’m worthy and loved and that God’s love is bigger than any temptation or earthly pleasure. It’s nice that there’s a specific webpage I can pull up on my laptop or phone and be reminded that I’m not alone, and that God’s love and perfect will can (and will!) conquer all.

    So thank you once again for this. You reminded me that there’s hope no matter what.

    God bless. :)