Back to Egypt - Triggers

When Moses led the Israelites into the desert some of them despaired and begged to be taken back to slavery in Egypt. They were in unfamiliar territory, scared, hungry and fearful about the future. Some of them preferred the bondage of the familiar rather than freedom of the unknown.

This weekend I listened to a Podcast titled "If i was raped as a child does that mean I wasn't a virgin when I got married?". I thought the presenter was compassionate and thoughtful in the podcast. I confess that it triggered me though.

I have been devout about my faith since I began to believe as a teenager. I definitely fall into the "right wing conservative Christian" camp (as in - just to the right of Atilla the Hun) - including the obligation to be obsessed with sexual purity. While I believe that the call to sexual purity is for our benefit, I have for most of my life been judgmental and self-righteous in how I think about it. So I was happy to arrive on my wedding day "a virgin". It is only recently I understand how destructive my thinking was. Aside from my CSA, I used porn extensively prior to my marriage. So there was absolutely no room for me to think I was pure on my wedding night nor look down on anyone for the choices they made (though it certainly didn't stop me from doing it).

Though CSA didn't rob me of my virginity (whatever the heck that even means) it did create sexual brokenness I brought into my marriage. To be blunt, when I was 8 I had sex with a guy. Sure I was a victim in the assault but none the less I had sexual experiences I wasn't intended to have. I brought the damage from that experience into my marriage and my wife has suffered because of it.

So when I listened to the podcast it caused me to despair at my hypocrisy all of these years as I looked down on others while feeling self-righteous. It caused me to grieve that I was not a "virgin" when I got married. I got down enough that I fantasized about people hurting me. I haven't had those fantasies in months. I told my T today that fantasizing about being hurt felt like going back to Egypt.

He was, not surprisingly, quite compassionate. He mentioned that when I starting seeing him I was "living in Egypt". He said I was in slavery to those fantasies of violence which I couldn't control. Gradually, he said, I started to take "day trips out of Egypt" as I began to try new ways of thinking and acting. He said that I am in a much better place today. He said it was better to be taking a day trip back to Egypt than to be stuck there trying to get out.

It made me think of our conversation a few weeks ago when he said that it is important to measure sobriety one day at a time. One violent fantasy which took me back to a place I don't want to be doesn't mean I need to despair. I can start over again without losing all of my progress.
 
Last edited:
Since this isn't in the Spirituality section, I hope you don't mind that an atheist responds. To be honest, this is why I'm happy every day to be an atheist - I have a difficult enough time deciding what I myself need and want. It would be much more difficult if, on top of that, I had to also factor in the needs and wants of a spiritual being that threatens to torture me for eternity if I choose wrongly.

As an Attila the Hun Christian, I know that you must feel quite strongly that there's a real, physical Hell and that God sends sinners there forever. I wonder, though, if you could see your way to thinking about a new definition of purity that doesn't put you into Hell. If your wife had been raped before your wedding, would you have rejected her as impure? If not, maybe you could grant yourself the same compassion that you would grant to her.

What about if your wife had had a horrible car accident and was on crutches during your wedding? Would that have taken away form the solemnity and celebration of your marriage? I'm guessing the answer would be "no." Could you perhaps see that your use of pornography was a fallout from your own sexual abuse in the same way that the crutches would be a fallout from an accident? If you took a poll, I suspect that 99.99% of us have used pornography. That's not because using porn is fun. It's because that's one way our brains, changed from abuse, can find safety in sex. I don't think it's any of our faults, and I don't think it changes the fact that you were absolutely as pure as you, an abuse survivor, could have been on your wedding day.
 

dark empathy

Registrant
Okay, I'll admit, though I am not a right wing conservative christian what you said about virginity did resonate with me here.

For a long time I was genophobic, that is mortally afraid of sex. it physically hurt that the closest I'd been to anyone was whilst having my face literally spat in.
Was I a virgin? I don't know, without going into a lot of protracted, gory and possibly triggering details I'm not sure. but it did! bother me that a form of intimacy which was for so many people something beautiful, or at the very least pleasant, for me meant humiliation and disgust. I felt this lack as a literal, physical pain! as though someone had taken a drill and drilled a hole into my chest.

when I met my lady in 2015 and we actually made love for the first time (or at least, successfully), I realised something.
That sexual intimacy, and thus virginity depends upon the presence or absence of a person's mind.

During my abuse I had felt like a passenger in my own body, as though it were a car or a mechanical suit I could just climb out of, as though I could have any sort of different body.
this didn't make it hurt less, or make me less conscious of what was going on, but made it something external to me.
the difference is that when my lady and I made love for the first time, I was absolutely, %100 conscious, that it was a spiritual, as well as a physical experience.

I believed, and still believe, that my lady and I were bought together by God, indeed I've had no better evidence for the existence of the divine in my own life than the fact we found each other, against a hole bunch of odds. Indeed, even though we did yes, have sex before the formal marriage ceremony, in another sense, the first part of our wedding happened right there, and that was the moment I truly stopped being a virgin, because that was when I was spiritually, and physically united with another person. What had happened during my abuse was not spiritual, It was certainly physical, and there were parts of my mind it definitely warped, but there were other things that it simply did not touch in the same way.

I wonder if perhaps, whatever happened with your abuse your actual virginity, your spiritual irginity was something that you chose to give at another time?

Again, I don't know here, and of course depending upon your beliefs about basic physical sex, this answer might not help you, since certainly though i was bought up a christian, matters in Britain are waaaaaay more relaxed than I observed in the states, and I was never instilled with a shame about sex through religion either, all of the shame came directly from my abuse.

Still hope some of this helps.
 
Since this isn't in the Spirituality section, I hope you don't mind that an atheist responds. To be honest, this is why I'm happy every day to be an atheist - I have a difficult enough time deciding what I myself need and want. It would be much more difficult if, on top of that, I had to also factor in the needs and wants of a spiritual being that threatens to torture me for eternity if I choose wrongly.

As an Attila the Hun Christian, I know that you must feel quite strongly that there's a real, physical Hell and that God sends sinners there forever. I wonder, though, if you could see your way to thinking about a new definition of purity that doesn't put you into Hell. If your wife had been raped before your wedding, would you have rejected her as impure? If not, maybe you could grant yourself the same compassion that you would grant to her.

What about if your wife had had a horrible car accident and was on crutches during your wedding? Would that have taken away form the solemnity and celebration of your marriage? I'm guessing the answer would be "no." Could you perhaps see that your use of pornography was a fallout from your own sexual abuse in the same way that the crutches would be a fallout from an accident? If you took a poll, I suspect that 99.99% of us have used pornography. That's not because using porn is fun. It's because that's one way our brains, changed from abuse, can find safety in sex. I don't think it's any of our faults, and I don't think it changes the fact that you were absolutely as pure as you, an abuse survivor, could have been on your wedding day.
I love that an atheist responds! I purposely didn't post in the spirituality section because for me it isn't about spirituality. It is about my inclination to return to old ways of thinking which are self-destructive. One thing I think about spiritual narratives (regardless of the which religion) is that oftentimes there are things which can be gleaned from them regardless of one's overall perspective on that particular faith. In this case the narrative suggests that the Israelites preferred the familiar over the new and better. I can relate to that. Even though I am moving in a new and better direction there have times when I wish I could just go back to the way it was before all of this stuff got drudged up. Change is hard - even good change.

A few other thoughts in response. My politics have been pretty conservative but my faith more tempered. Ironically while I have become more certain of my faith in the past 6 months I am becoming less judgemental and more willing to say "I don't know". I think the problem of faith you refer to about a God who would doom people because of their choice is an important one. I would suggest that the problem of sexual assault and faith are even harder than that. It gets to the fundamental issue of why would a higher power allow bad stuff to happen...but I digress.

Your point about my wife is well taken and speaks to another aspect of my hypocrisy. I would never view her as impure. But I sure as hell consider myself that way. My T observed that I referred to myself as damaged goods this week for the first time.

I guess where I am at is beginning to grieve for what was stolen from me. I wanted to enter my marriage "pure" but didn't because of what someone else did to me. I also brought sexual baggage into the marriage because of choices I made. But I believe in restoration and healing individually and in relationships. My wife and I have work to do. But I have a great wife and overall we have a good marriage. We love each other, laugh a lot, express appreciation and are excited about our future. It isn't perfect but it is something to build on.
 
I like your therapist... day trips to Egypt. I use the phrase "old friends come to visit" with the question eternally... will I invite them in for tea? Sometimes I do.

I also am mindful of a line from a spiritual teacher "the mind creates the abyss that the heart crosses." In my experience as a lapsed Lutheran, fundamentalists have a great many requirements the mind can use to beat themselves up. Funny that we're told on this website that "It was NOT your fault," and we welcome the relief of not being lost in shame. But the shame message is a powerful one that can be easily triggered, especially when our religious faith keeps us measuring ourselves against the standard of what God wants of us. Funny that for some people of faith the emphasis is on God's love, while for others it is on God's rules. I actually left because of the rules which invariably produced shame in me. I was a sexual abuse survivor and the experience unleashed in me behaviors that confirmed I was "by nature sinful and unclean" as was spoken during each Sunday service.

You're the only person Greg who will chose whether shame or compassion is called for, whether you want to allow your mind to run the show or invite your heart to hold you in this moment... God's love or his judgment? Do you believe God rejects you because you used pornography? If so, I'd say that God is not worth knowing, let alone worshipping. But that is me and I've already left the Christian church.
 

tony passey

Registrant
Hey Greg,
I’m English so therefore was entitled to free rehab unlike as I understand unfortunately other countries aren’t. During my year in rehab I learnt to address the needs of myself as a child. Children love day trips as we all know. Don’t over think it my friend. Trust in the Head Master like Moses did and get counted back onto the bus for your journey home.
As virginity goes, you found a beautiful lady as a virgin, what happened to you as a child has , I hope, no relevance to your rebirth as an adult
Love is consensual, mutual and healing
Kindest regards
 
Top