Member Testimony: Mark

I thought I had the homosexuality under control. I’d been a Catholic for five years, went to daily Mass, prayed the rosary daily, went on one or two retreats a year, and volunteered at my parish. Yet, after a series of crises occurred, I once again became involved in addictive, homosexual behavior. So what happened? I’d had same sex attraction from the time I began to masturbate at age 12. I masturbated at least once a day, and developed a rich fantasy life by the time I did act out at age 24.

My family life was in many ways classic. My father was a “workaholic,” a great provider — but he was never there for me. He died when I was 15. My mother was controlling and overbearing. She was the disciplinarian. I had two brothers with whom I fought all the time. My older brother would beat me up and I, in turn, would beat up my younger brother.

In my late teens I had a dysfunctional romantic involvement with an older woman. Her jealous rages coupled with my emotional dependence on her made me give up every friend I had during an important period of development.

I had no faith life to speak of growing up, just a little Baptist training at a public elementary school for two years. The family never went to church or prayed. By the time I entered college, I’d become an avowed atheist and would argue with any believer. That’s why it was such a surprise when I had a spiritual awakening after a three-year period of homosexual activity and heavy drinking. In fact, my last “lover” before my conversion was a pious Israeli Jew who read the bible to me in Hebrew. God really does use every opportunity.

Over the course of the next several years, I went to evangelical and Episcopal churches, read and prayed. I then became attracted to Catholicism because of the Scriptures and the Eucharist. I took instruction in the faith and was confirmed.

The homosexuality seemed to fade into the background. The acting out stopped. I experienced long stretches without masturbating. I entered a long honeymoon with the faith during which I was quite sure God was healing me of my homosexuality. However, I realize now that I was repressing my homosexuality and not facing it.

Then several crises came: I quit my job, a second career opportunity fizzled, I had no place to live, and a business venture with my brother failed, resulting in a falling out with him. Meanwhile, I entered a “dark night” when God seemed to abandon me.

That’s when the temptations returned with a vengeance, and I gradually reentered the addiction going from frequent masturbation to watching soft porn on cable, buying porn, participating in phone sex, desiring to have sex again, finally acting out, and cruising on the Internet. I picked up where I’d left off and the addiction was worse than ever.

It’s almost a miracle that my faith survived through that period of deep unhappiness. But I had enough faith in Christ to seek His help.

That’s where Courage came in. I’d read about Courage in Fr. Benedict’s book The Courage to be Chaste. So I began to go to meetings, and met others with the same “thorn in their flesh.” I went to a Courage conference, went on a retreat, stepped up my prayer life, and made new “chaste” friends. I read books and articles about same-sex attraction. I also began to go to counseling.

As a result, I’m no longer “out of control.” I’m facing my problem. I’m working on the 12-steps. I’m discovering the “stressors” that trigger the desire to act out — anger, resentment, self pity, rejection, loneliness — and I’m trying to address them as they arise. My prayer life is now deeper, more realistic, less ritualistic. I try to remind myself often just how much God loves me with all my faults and failings, and that he is always looking for me, like the father searching for his prodigal son.