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Happy Momentarily

—by Jessie, age 24

I grew up in a Christian school where I learned right from wrong and I accepted Christ as my Savior. I went to church and thoroughly enjoyed youth group meetings. I thought that I had things under control: no “really bad” sins in my life. (Boy, was I smug!)

Beer. Illustration copyrighted. My home life was depressing. My father was an alcoholic who took little interest in the children he had fathered. My mother was the type that tried to make everything LOOK good, even if it wasn’t. For instance, she was (and probably still is) having an extramarital affair. Of course, at church she was the “perfect mother and wife, trapped in a marriage with an alcoholic man”. My father knew: it just made him bitter and more determined to avoid people from church.

In high school, life consisted of little more than school, work and babysitting my siblings every night when my mom had an “appointment.” There was no time to date anyone. My life was very lonely. I lived at home but felt homeless. I was sure that my life would change for the better when I went off to college.

College was great for the first year. I felt as though I had escaped. By my second year, the financial strain of college was getting to me, and I had no idea what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. I struggled with choosing a major. Exceeding the usual 4-year bachelor’s degree time frame just made things worse for me. At one of the most terrifying and confusing times in my life, I couldn’t handle it anymore: the “lifelong student” jokes, the financial strain, being with my unhappy family, my controlling mother needing to know where I was at every moment.

I hated going home: it wasn’t a real home. I took things too personally. I started avoiding people. I didn’t want to go to church anymore. I stopped seeking God’s guidance. I was an emotional mess.

Then one summer I met Dan. He was much older than I. He was charming and adoring. I saw myself as a failure: he saw me as a success. He became my emotional support. He was the only person I needed.

We started seeing each other secretly. (My parents would have disowned me if they knew.) Because we knew a lot of people in the area, our dates consisted of dinner and a movie at Dan’s apartment, or dancing around his living room. I told him from the start that I was a Christian and I didn’t believe in premarital sex. But I had allowed my relationship with Christ to “fade”, so my resolve was short-lived. Soon I was spending nearly every night in Dan’s bed. I lied to my friends and family to keep the relationship a secret. I was happy momentarily.

Back at school, I grew distant from my Christian roommates and stopped attending the bible study I had always attended. My relationship with Dan ended up causing even more emotional turmoil.

Medication. Illustration copyrighted. I couldn’t concentrate on my studies in my critical senior year. I cried all of the time. I avoided everyone that I knew. I was convinced that I had done irreparable damage to my relationship with Christ. I became depressed to the point that my doctor prescribed anti-depressants.

I told Dan that we couldn’t see each other anymore. He begged. I gave in, on the condition that we end the physical relationship. Only then did I realize that I couldn’t stop. I was hooked.

Today I am a graduate student with no more hope than I had before. I long to get back to Christ, to follow only Him, to leave my selfish desires behind. I got myself into this mess by not following what I knew/know to be TRUE. I just can’t seem to get free of my relationship with Dan. We see each other almost every day, and still no one knows about us.

I need help. I still feel alone. Sex provides a high that fades too quickly. That high is replaced by guilt and regret. But I can’t seem to get away. I feel like lust is traditionally a male problem, but surely I am not the only girl in the world struggling with this sin?! Can anybody help me?

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