real life

'I was clean and she was not.' I shamed my best friend for losing her virginity before marriage.

Raised in a repressed Catholic home, all I knew is those who had sex before marriage needed my prayers.

I was raised in a strict, Catholic home. Throughout my childhood, if there was a way to be involved in the church, my family was there. My sister and I were part of the church choir, altar servers, and teacher aides for the catechism classes my parents taught.

Every Halloween, if we wanted to trick-or-treat, they only allowed us to dress up as a nun or an angel as a protest for this “satanic holiday”. (The pictures are priceless, I must admit). Our family attended every weekend church retreat available, and we never missed a Sunday mass, even on vacation.

To say our family life revolved around religion is putting it lightly. The church was our one and only form of bonding as a family.

I still wonder, if they allowed other ways of bonding, would any of their four children still believe in God?

Because after all of this, not one of their kids attends mass, takes part in any religion, or plans to teach their future children about the church.

After all their effort, shaming, and guilt, not one of their children follows the religion they forced onto us. It’s quite sad; they could have put forth effort into creating fruitful relationships with their children instead of instilling shame for their salvation.

By the time high school came around, my outlook on sexuality and my body was crowded with confusion.

There were the things my parents had taught me…

“Masturbation is a ticket to hell. The naked human body is sinful.”

“My body is a temple made for God and the man who will marry me one day. No one will want to marry me if I am not a virgin.”

“Homosexuals are sinners because God didn’t create Adam and Steve, he created Adam and Eve.”

But then there were the things I felt. I kissed a girl in sixth grade and was convinced that I was not only a lesbian, but also going to hell. I masturbated as a teenager and then questioned my devotion to God.

I was confused, and I had no one to go to.

At the peak of my brainwashed outlook on sexuality, I was in my junior year of high school. I was filled with guilt over the things I felt because they differed from what my parents raised me to believe.

I was somewhere in the middle of devoted and departed from religion when my best friend called me one night.

The Mamamia team on how they lost their virginity. Post continues after video.

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She was crying. She needed someone to talk to.

We spoke for a few moments before she confided in me that she had lost her virginity the night before to the boy she was dating.

I responded the only way I knew how in matters of sexuality. With shame, confusion, and judgement.

In her vulnerable state, I told her she had disappointed me, and I would pray for her soul. I was only mimicking what I learned was appropriate in that situation. The sounds of her cries seemed to get louder as I spoke about how disappointed God was in her.

I told her I would go to church tomorrow and pray a rosary for her salvation.

I had never spoken to her like this, obviously, or she never would have come to me with this confession.

I don’t know what came over me, but when she admitted her “mistake”, I felt a sense of superiority over her. I was a virgin, I was clean, and she was not.

When my best friend and I got off the phone, I told my mum and dad what she had just told me. I spilled her deepest secret with no hesitation, and the three of us knelt before the cross in our kitchen to pray for her soul. I cried so much that night, knowing my best friend was no longer going to heaven.

I was that brainwashed.

We remained friends for years after, but we never spoke about that night. It wasn’t until I left the Catholic Church permanently that she felt comfortable to bring up what had happened.

I couldn’t understand what an imprint it left on her. I had almost forgotten what I had said to her that night. It took years of being away from the brainwashing messages for me to see the damage I caused with my words.

Why did I have that feeling of superiority when my best friend shared she was no longer a virgin?

Because I was taught the girls who lost their virginity were unclean and in need of my prayers. I was taught those who sinned were below me. I did it because religion and my parents gave me permission to feel superior to those who sinned.

Jessica Mendez is a full-time writer living in Las Vegas. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology from Northern Arizona University and a Master of Science degree in family and human development from Arizona State University. In 2018, she left her career in the mental health field to pursue her lifelong passion of writing. She is currently working on a collection of bilingual poetry. Follow her on Twitter and Medium.

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