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Growing up with an abusive father, I was longing to be a free woman. He always said: ”when you turn 18, I kick you out of the house”. So 18 was the age to become an adult.

In College I had decided to have my womanhood initiation with the first guy who asked me out. Strangely, it didn’t make me feel free or grown up.

Condoms broke and I was pregnant. I naively thought that boyfriends always marry their pregnant girlfriends but he wanted an abortion. He got his way and after the abortion, the doctor put me on the pill. I found out that my boyfriend had multiple relationships. I was a name on a list in a race-based sexual contest.

Feeling diminished, dirty and depressed, I started to multiply the relationships too but l wasn’t feeling empowered. I dropped out of College, started my professional life and pursued relationships with irresponsible men.

At age 25, I got angry at the feminist concept of “sexual freedom”. I wasn’t feeling free at all. Rather, I was feeling enslaved at different levels: men wanted exciting, sexy, contracepting women while they were just enjoying short term, worry-free sexual encounters. Many of them were too old for me or already married. They never gave me the respect and love that I desperately needed. I hated to be in charge of the contraception part because I knew that none of them would take responsibility for a child. And with a feeling of false security, we were not using condoms for STDs.

In rebellion, I stopped taking the pill. I didn’t have a religious conversion and didn’t take a vow of chastity but I decided that the man who wants me should fight to have me. After a while, sick of being lonely, I relapsed in the sexual relationships. That’s all I knew about love and older men knew how to seduce me. Again I became pregnant and had a horrible abortion that left me suicidal.

The first time I have read something that makes sense about womanhood and femininity was in 2006 in the Women of Grace study book. To my surprise, the patriarchal Catholic Church acknowledges the dignity and the uniqueness of women, things that were refused to me while I thought I was doing the right thing by giving all I had.

I have searched freedom and love in all the wrong places. Only in turning to God have I found who I really am. I never noticed how much I hate make up, tight clothes and high heels. They were part of an uniform that I thought I “had to” wear to be accepted. Now I feel free to wear what I really like and I choose to love God, my husband and to be open to life. I don’t have the feeling of being unfulfilled and manipulated anymore.