Tag Archives: marriage

Into the Abyss

Credit: Eddi van W.

hello Scott:

 

i would like to go, but i really have to leave after work today.  sorry.   😦

 

maybe another day

Well, I’ve told you nearly everything about my suicide attempt almost a year ago (August 24 to be exact) and the aftermath: the psych wards, doctors, therapists, meds, second attempt, etc.

But there are some details that I’ve hesitated to reveal. Details that I thought were too personal, too embarrassing to me. Things that, if you knew about them, would make me look bad, like some kind of jerk — or hypocrite.

Maybe it has more to do with that H word. I’ve mentioned in a previous post that I’ve been a Catholic for three years, blah, blah, blah.

I’m sure you’re wondering by now why I began this post with a cryptic note. It’s actually an email from my work account that I received at 2:22pm on August 24, 2012.

The evening of my attempt.

The above email message was from a single female colleague of mine. Needless to say, it was the straw that broke the camel’s back. It was in response to my asking her out. I thought I had deleted it, but, in the process of cleaning out my inbox recently, I ran across it and froze as all of those terrible memories came rushing back at me.

There may be people reading this, religious or otherwise, who will judge me. I can’t help that. It was one of the lowest points in my life. Nothing was going well: my marriage, job, finances, and so on. The future was obscured by dark storm clouds that weren’t going anywhere.

This lady, I’ll refer to her as Maria, had just started working in our department. She was a single mom, attractive, and very intelligent. I fell for her. Plain and simple. She seemed to show interest in me, and we started having lunch together in the break room. Every day we were around each other due to the close proximity of our offices, and each day I walked deeper and deeper into a fantasy world: I no longer thought clearly. I withdrew from my family, and all my thoughts were about Maria.

I even had entire therapy sessions that were about her. I told my therapist that I was ready for a divorce and that I didn’t mind not seeing my sons regularly because I would have two stepdaughters instead. I feel so ashamed right now while typing all this.

My therapist yelled, screamed, and threatened me to stay away from Maria. He told me I was becoming unattached from reality. I replied that I had finally found someone who I was compatible with. He couldn’t reach me.

Maria and I had lunch twice off campus during our lunch break. We talked about her two grown daughters and she proceeded to inform me about her nasty divorce years ago. (The only physical contact we ever had, though, was when we hugged on her last day of work before taking a summer break.) I thought it was only fair to tell her that I was married since my wife and I don’t wear our wedding rings anymore. She seemed completely taken by surprise, and then things went downhill from that day on.

She kept a distance, and the only emails we exchanged were business-related; no more smiley faces and cute little greetings. Anxiety overtook my whole body, and I was going insane from the panic of everything falling apart.

What would I do? Maria was my last hope. My depression became so intense that I refused to get out of bed on several occasions during the week, missing more and more days of work. I didn’t care. Nothing mattered anymore, and I just wanted all the pain to end.

When I did go to work, I searched frantically for any signs that Maria might still have an interest in me. What I had perceived as flirting only turned out to be wishful thinking. In no way did I want to face the truth, but my fantasy world that I created was crumbling all around me, and I was devastated.

That email was my last-ditch effort. I was already at the edge of madness, and the above reply that I received was the final shove that pushed me into the abyss.

You can read more about my suicide attempt later that evening in this post.

I am still here today by the grace of God. Apparently it just wasn’t my time. I like to believe that I was spared in order to give my testimony to help others who may be in the same situation.

Since late last year, I have rededicated myself to God and am free from being emotionally wrapped up in bad situations. My eyes have been opened. I’m human and am still tempted by sin of course, but I pray daily that I will never be blinded again.

~t


The Downside of Being Holy

Credit: Creative Commons

Living a life fully devoted to God is difficult. In a previous post, I mentioned that, since I had nowhere else to go, I decided to step it up a few notches from being a lukewarm pew-warmer to someone who totally surrendered himself to God (Revelation 3:16).

I have also written about my Josephite marriage with my wife. Basically we are friendly roommates who are raising our two kids together — nothing more. I met with my therapist this past weekend, and I told her that I came across this phrase on a Catholic radio program. Trying to justify the reason that my wife and I have been celibate for nearly five years, I told my therapist that my wife and I have this Josephite kind of marriage — end of discussion.

I even told my therapist that I was okay with this type of arrangement. Actually… I’m not sure if I am; that’s just what I tell myself in order to try and overcome the frustration and emptiness. Five years is a long time. Since it was basically my wife’s decision (a Josephite marriage needs to be mutual), I just got plain worn out and tired of harping on the subject of sex with my wife. I really would like to think that it is God’s will, and I pray and cry out to Him all the time to show me, but the only response I get is… nothing. Just continued abstinence.

My previous therapist used to spend half of each session drilling it into my head that we were not normal, and he actually gave me homework: to have sex with my wife and report back to him about it. I soon left him and found another therapist that I felt more comfortable with and who didn’t keep pressing the issue. However, my new therapist does say that it’s not normal. Duh. I already knew that. I’ve tried everything: talking with my wife, asking her if there’s something about me she doesn’t like, asking if there’s something about her that she doesn’t like, telling her that we are not being a normal married couple, etc. It is to no avail.

So, I chalk it up to being God’s will. I have thought about being a priest since I love my faith and I love helping people, but (another duh), I’m married. Unless my wife passes away or we become divorced, it ain’t gonna happen.

I get extremely guilty when the thought crosses my mind of her dying early. Sometimes I have thought about our getting a divorce, but I couldn’t live without seeing my kids every day; plus, I can’t bear the thought of another man raising my kids. Yes, they will always be my kids, as my therapist says, but it wouldn’t be the same.

Well, it looks like you’re stuck, Topaz.

By the grace and power of God, I have overcome pornography and masturbation and no longer have any inclination for either. However, lust and impure thoughts constantly haunt me. Most of the time I don’t allow myself to dwell on these, but sometimes I do.

The bottom line is that I’m lonely. I live with a slim, attractive woman and I literally can’t touch her. It’s torture. I see women at church and long for a marriage with a good, faithful Catholic to share my life with. I see images on Facebook and other sites of a man and woman holding hands or hugging, and my heart aches so much. Oh, how I desire affection and intimacy.

I used to fall asleep at night imagining my soul mate curled up next to me. All that did was incite temptation, though. Now, I imagine the Blessed Virgin Mary, my mother in the order of grace, sitting in a chair beside my bed, her arm around my shoulders, whispering to me that everything will be all right. It always helps me drift off to sleep.

I’ve been a Catholic for three years, but I’ve only been a faithful, practicing one for the past 12 months. Since my mindset has become more in line with God’s, I no longer look at a woman’s chest, backside, or legs. Instead, I notice qualities like hairstyle, personality, and a sincere smile, and it makes my heart race just as quickly. My point is that I’m still struggling; it’s just in a different, non-sinful (?) way.

I refuse to give in to impurity. God has taught me how to channel my stubbornness into my battle with spiritual darkness. Instead of taking cold showers when I’m hit with lust — because that would be a lot of showering — I literally brace myself and pray until my hormones die down.

Some Christian leaders say that the only way to overcome pornography and masturbation is to get an accountability partner. I think that is very wise. However, I overcame by my sheer hatred of always sliding down the mountain after nearly reaching the top every time. I was sick and tired of not growing in Christ. I longed for a better life, one that I read about in the Bible over and over again but just couldn’t believe was possible for me. I’m not saying my “do it alone” method will work for everyone, but it did for me.

I would never consider infidelity. I love God too much and am faithful to my marriage vows. Maybe God is preparing me for the priesthood down the road. I’m in no way saying that I’m a saint, but maybe my celibate marriage will help me focus more on God and His will for my life. I will keep praying that He continues to unfold His plan for me. I guess I’m on a need-to-know basis with the Almighty. It sure would be nice to know, though.

~t


About Sex and Being Close to God (Not Necessarily in That Order)

life-is-good-BIG

Since I began receiving help from my doctor and therapists, things have been going better for me. What has really helped me, though, is my faith.  As they say, there are no atheists in foxholes.

Last weekend my family and I were on our way to the park to play 18 holes of disc golf (yep, even our two young children can hang with us for all 18 holes!). Out of the blue, my wife said that, if she could go back in time and do things differently, she would like to be a pediatrician. She is realizing that she loves being around children and helping them. Part of this is due to the fact that our youngest son will start kindergarten in the fall, and, for the first time, she will be home all alone during weekdays which is one reason she wants to start working outside the home.

My wife then asked me if there was anything that I wished I could do over. “Nope. Nothing. I’m happy with the way my life is.”

Huh?!  Did I really just say that?

My wife was just as shocked. “Really?” I expected her to say something smart like, “Well, I wish you could have chosen a better major in college so we’d have more money now,” or something to that effect.  Instead: “Wow. You’re lucky!”

Yes. I am lucky. For the first time in my life, I am totally happy in my relationship with God. I have made many sacrifices and have gone through many trials in order to be so close to Him. It was hard. Man, was it hard. But after all these years, I finally understand what St. Paul is saying: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” (Galatians 2:20)

Sure, it would be nice to have a job that paid a six-figure salary like so many of my friends who are my age or even younger. It would be great to be able to take my kids to the Harry Potter theme park in Florida even though they are totally thrilled just to watch the DVDs at home. It would be nice to pay my mother back for the thousands of dollars she spent on my hospital bills over the past 12 months.

But what I have now is peace and joy. Peace because I know God will continue to provide for us. Joy because I have never been happier doing God’s will. I gave up everything that was hindering me: extreme metal music, going out drinking every weekend, pornography, ogling every female I came into contact with, and so on.

Believe me, sin is fun (as if you didn’t know). But it leaves an emptiness inside after the high quickly wears off. But by giving up all that stuff to God, He is able to use me to my fullest potential, filling my whole heart and soul with His spirit. It is the most wonderful feeling.

Before, I would achieve various states of this, but it was always a self-fulfilling prophecy: I was afraid that my joy and trust in God would evaporate after a few days’ time, and, sure enough, it always did.

This wasn’t the first time that my wife had asked me about what I would do over in my life. We are both intelligent and earned degrees in fields that we loved back in the day. However, as people get older, they change. Sure, it would have been really cool to learn how to play drums when I was younger so that I could be an expert now. But those are just thoughts; not even bucket list items. As I mentioned in another post, I’m not really into bucket lists. I’m not sure why. I guess there is so much stuff that I’ve already done, and I am completely happy with my two little sons, even though our marriage has morphed into something that neither one of us expected. This was my wife’s decision, but after MUCH prayer and advice, I decided to offer it up to God, and now we are both okay (?) with it.

Credit: Fotolia

Anyway, I believe that in order for me to avoid mortal sin (contraception, coitus interruptus), and since my wife is a non-believer, a Josephite marriage (see above link) is actually a good idea for us. Would I recommend it to Catholic or non-Catholic couples? Absolutely not. There are so many factors involved; taking it on a case-by-case basis would be the best idea. Plus, talk to someone who is licensed.

Do I hope that we become intimate with each other again one day? Absolutely. But it’s not like I’m holding out or anything. I never thought it would be possible for me, but it really is not a problem. Now that is proof that there is a God; there would be no way that I could remain totally abstinent, being the gross sinner that I am.

So, teens and young single people: abstinence is indeed possible. If a married guy living in the same house as his wife can do it, then so can you!

“I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13)

~topaz

What are your thoughts on married couples who choose abstinence? Is it too strange? What if one party is not open to marriage counseling? Should a Josephite marriage be established to avoid divorce? Please let me know your thoughts. I’m just a blogger and could benefit from your feedback.


A Drug Called Pornography

As a flesh-and-blood male, pornography is something that I struggle with — even as a faithful Catholic. So many times, I feel like St. Paul must have felt. I plead with God to take away this load of bricks from my shoulders, but He gives me the same response: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)

Huh?! What the heck does that mean, anyway?  Why don’t you speak in simple, straightforward English, Lord? Because I’m an idiot and I need for you to be clear. I want answers, darn it!

Then I’m reminded of that final epic chapter in Job where God does indeed answer Job’s complaints about Him. So, maybe I’m better off with the enigmatic response that St. Paul received.

There are some good resources out there for men and women who struggle with purity and pornography.

Yes, women, too.

I always thought that porn addiction was a problem that only men encountered.  That is not true. According to a 2013 study by Covenant Eyes, 20% of all Christian women (and 50% of all Christian men) are addicted to pornography.

To any non-believers reading this: Please do not hate on us and call us hypocrites. Yes, viewing porn is not very “Christ-like.” Duh. I’m not making excuses, but it is extremely difficult to resist the temptations of the world.

I will be the first to tell you: I am no better than any non-Christian. Shoot, I can probably name numerous atheists who do better at holding to good morals than I do.

But we Christians need to keep striving to imitate Christ and to get this stuff out of our lives.

Why, “Topaz”? You crusading, holier-than-thou prick? What’s wrong with a little porn? It’s natural. We’re human after all, and it helps jump-start my sex life with my spouse or significant other.

Dudes, ladies, I ain’t here to condemn you. When God looks down from heaven, he see all of us as sinners. I’m no better than anyone else reading this measly little blog.

And I mean that.

Oh, how I would love to tell you about my life before I got serious about practicing my faith. Heck, if I were to tell you about some of the stuff I struggle with at the present when I fall into sin, you would stop visiting this blog right away.

Yes, I’m rambling; I tend to do that when I get emotional about an issue. Please forgive me.

Anyway, here are just a few stats from that study over at Covenant Eyes:

88% of scenes in porn films contain acts of physical aggression, and 49% of scenes contain verbal aggression.

9 out of 10 boys were exposed to pornography before the age of 18.

The first exposure to pornography among men is 12 years old.

71% of teens hide online behavior from their parents.

28% of 16-17 year olds have been unintentionally exposed to porn online.

6 out of 10 girls were exposed to pornography before the age of 18.

15% of boys and 9% of girls have seen child pornography.

32% of boys and 18% of girls have seen bestiality online.

39% of boys and 23% of girls have seen sexual bondage online.

83% of boys and 57% of girls have seen group sex online.

51% of male and 32% of female students first viewed porn before their teenage years (12 and younger).

70% of wives of sex addicts could be diagnosed with PTSD.

56% of divorce cases involved one party having an obsessive interest in pornographic websites.

There are awesome resources at XXXchurch that include accountability groups via videoconferencing, accountability software, and other stuff. Unfortunately, the guys at XXXchurch take a lot of flak from Christians for the name of their site. I say, hey, whatever gets peoples’ attention. “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” (Jesus)

These aforementioned sites are Protestant (hey, we’re all on the same team).  A good Catholic resource can be found here.

OK, to change gears a little bit: Last week was my monthly Knights of Columbus council meeting. It was the first meeting in which I attended as an officer since the new fraternal year began July 1. (Proof that there is a God! Just a few years ago, there was no way that I would ever have been nominated and elected as an officer in a Catholic fraternal order.)

I brought up the topic of accountability partners because I haven’t seen anything like that at my parish. The typical pew-warmer tends to be lazy (hence the term pew-warmer), so I took it upon myself to initiate the idea. Again, this is something so unlike me; not only am I a pew-warmer, but I’m a wallflower as well.

Anyway, as I was afraid of, I received a pretty indifferent response from the general members as well as from the other officers. Dejected, I vowed to go to the parish priest and ask him for advice on how to initiate this much-needed accountability program.

Little did I know, though, that my fellow Knights were too hesitant and embarrassed to voice approval in front of everyone else. After the meeting had finished, several Knights approached me and opened up about their personal struggles with pornography and masturbation.

I was vaguely aware of the hall becoming empty as I chatted with brothers about their issues as well as mine. However, sitting in a corner of the hall, in semi-darkness, was a very prominent member. What was he doing? He usually had to rush out directly after the meetings because of his busy schedule.

After I had finished speaking with the last brother, it was only the prominent guy and me remaining in the hall. “Do you have a partner yet? I could use one. I look at porn,” he said, avoiding eye contact.

Oh. My. Goodness.

This was someone who I barely spoke to because his time seemed reserved for the “important” people. For him to wait and humbly admit this to me in an empty K of C hall really blew me away. “I’ve got your number. Can I text you?” I asked.

“Sure. That’ll work.”

I went home that night to my little prayer closet — they’re not just for Evangelicals anymore  — and just sat before the crucifix, electrified and humbled. Electrified because God was using a mental, introverted fool like me, and humbled because some of the most important men in my council and parish were now looking to me for a way out of their spiritual bondage.

St. Augustine, pray for us!

St. Maria Goretti, pray for us!

~topaz