I once had a spiritual teacher who was a sexual predator. He was my minister, and, in many ways, my mentor. I should have seen his acting out, but I was naive and young. He raped a friend of mine, but I didn’t know that until 40 years later. If I had known, I would have left. I guess I did leave. My friend left the church and went to another church, and I followed her.
This man, a man of the cloth, opened many doors for me, although he had a shadow side that allowed him to take advantage of his position. I quoted him Sunday AM from the pulpit. I didn’t mention names, and as sad and horrifying as his actions were toward women, he helped me immensely. I don’t discount that. I would have been “out of there” sooner if I had been able to see the abuse, but my family history allowed me to deny it. I too was caught in an unhealthy sexual perspective, though I didn’t know it. I was a child of the sixties, and there was a sexual liberation movement that was well-needed, but with it came a time of experimenting. There was no AIDS, no herpes, but there were few heart-centered guidelines.
I had a friend who disclosed that he was a peeping tom. He was one of my best friends and he had always treated me with respect and admiration. He asked me to read Patrick Carnes’ book, Out of the Shadows. It’s about
sexual addiction. I cried when I read the book. It opened new doors of compassion in me. I never looked at my friend differently. I couldn’t excuse his behavior, but after hearing his confessions and reading the book, I saw a different point of view.
There are many women who are coming forth these days with stories of sexual abuse. People ask why they didn’t come forward sooner. Maybe it was fear, but, for me, it was because I was raised in a culture where men took advantage of women, and I didn’t even see it as wrong. I thought it was just, “This is what men do.” It was like a Stockholm Syndrome for our culture.
My husband has been great when it comes to sexual openness. He admits that he, too, has his sexual baggage. He was raised as a Jehovah’s Witness, and, in their book, just being alive is practically unacceptable.
I once took my mom to a weekend retreat. She asked me some specific questions about sex. I was shocked at her naivete. She had three children, was married to a womanizer (I’m being kind with that assessment), and hardly knew anything about sex. I won’t go into details, but the generation I came from was one step away from Puritanism. Those values keep parents from allowing sex education in the schools and make sex a forbidden fruit, thus creating intrigue and mayhem around sexuality.
Take religious repression, violence, domination, and sexual liberation, mix them together, and you have a mess - a milkshake of sexual wounding. There are a few brave souls who address this. Of course, I had to put my toe into the turmoil, thinking I could contribute something of value. I gave a workshop on sexual pleasure and a seminar on sexual boundaries in the workplace, but I just scratched the surface. There’s not an easy solution, but there is a calling coming forth that demands that we, as a culture, take a closer personal look. Sexuality is a topic that, when explored, offers poignant possibilities for introspection. Sexuality is a part of the mind, body, spirit connection. It should be an intimate act, done in full awareness, that allows us to learn the deeper aspects of our being, because when we do, life becomes EZier and EZier.