Thursday, March 24, 2011

My Birth Control Story

A while ago, Leila from Catholic Bubble had a very animated conversation going on over at her blog (which isn't unusual by any means!), but this time a college student chimed in about her experience with the "hook-up" culture on college campuses, and premarital sex. When I read her comments and responses to questions posed her, it really resonated with me, and ever since that time, it has been weighing on my heart that I should share my story here. Because I KNOW my story is not a unique one, and because it is not unique, it may be able to help just one person to not make the same mistakes I did.

Of course, it has taken me a long time to get to the point where I felt comfortable writing it for anyone in the world to see. But this is Lent. A time to reach down deep, confront old demons, and release them. I need to do this. And any lingering feelings of embarrassment and humiliation I may have when I click "publish post" I will be offering for the intentions of my Prayer Buddy. (Trust me, Prayer Buddy, you are going to BENEFIT BIG-TIME from this one.)

So, here goes. My birth control story.

When I was 19 years old, I came home from my first semester of college and begged my mother to take me to the gynecologist. I had been having irregular periods for about a year, but the bothersome part was the unusual bleeding. I would have a normal flow, followed by days and days and days of spotting. When one period lasted 21 days, I drew the line and knew I had to go to the Dr.

So off we went, to the gynecologist appointment together- me, a 19-year old college student and virgin, and my mother, a devout Catholic very much opposed to the birth control pill.

You can surely see where this is going.

The appointment that followed may still be counted among the most horrific, humiliating experiences of my life. What I know now that I did not know then is that, while a virgin, I did not have a hymen. I had had an accident on the playground jungle gym in the 3rd grade that caused me to bleed a lot; my mother at the time thought it was my period starting early (in actuality it didn't come until I was 14 1/2). It was, as it turns out, my hymen.
So, there in the stirrups at my very first Dr's appointment excepting my pediatrician and orthodontist, the Dr was examining me while asking me health history questions. "Are you sexually active?" he inevitably asked, without looking up. "No," I answered truthfully.
Next thing I know, he's explaining that I am going to feel something cold, and before I have time to react, I am in the midst of my first (UNNECESSARY) Pap Smear. It. was. excruciating. I remember limping in pain out of the office 30 minutes later. (Clearly, the Dr saw that I had no hymen and assumed I was lying? Or maybe he's just a sick, sick sadist?)
He tells me to get dressed and meet him in his office. There in his office, he begins his sales speech for the pill. He tells me that it will fix the abnormal bleeding that I've been seeing, and help to regulate my periods. He goes on to say that it has the added benefit of treating acne, and that my skin will clear up while I'm taking it. And finally, he closes with, "And when you meet that special someone, it is a very effective form of contraception!"

My head was spinning. I remember asking how long I had to take it, and he said 6 months should be enough to get my periods back on track. OK, I thought. I can handle 6 months. It sounded like a pretty quick fix, to me. 6 months of medication, during which time my periods would be normal, and then when I came OFF the medication, they'd be normal once again from that point on.

Oh how silly and uninformed I was.

As I limped out of his office and into the waiting room, with a slip of paper the Dr had given me, I was greeted by my mother who had a look of worry on her face. I think Abby Johnson said it best when she wrote that if only we based more of our decisions on what would make our mothers happy and proud of us, we would be so much better off. My mother knew all along, without REALLY knowing, that this was the beginning of my demise.

Still in a daze, I handed the sheet of paper to the woman at the front desk. Up until then, I had only been given "paper" by one Dr, my orthodontist, which was a follow-up sheet that I was to give to the front desk to schedule my next appointment. I had assumed this paper was the same thing. Then I was startled out of my daze and back into humiliation when the lady shoved the paper back at me and quite loudly quipped, "This is your prescription for birth control pills. I don't need this!" Talk about mortification.

In case you haven't already guessed, 6 months later when I came off the pill, my periods were anything BUT regular. However, in that interim, I had started to get used to the idea of being a sophomore in college with periods I could rely on, and more importantly, with beautiful, clear skin... especially since I was looking and waiting for a boyfriend. Now that I had stopped taking my pills, what I saw looming ahead of me was a return of crazy bleeding and acne flare-ups. NOT appealing. I told my mom I had to go back on them, but she wasn't convinced. So off we went to gynecologist #2.

Gynecologist #2 was a very educated man, and after a brief physical exam (NO PAP), he took me to his office, and drew me pictures of ovaries with lots of tiny cysts on them. I had no idea what he was talking about, and frankly, I didn't care. I just sat there politely pretending to listen, waiting for him to hand over the prescription for my happy pills. Which of course, he did. This time with instructions to stay on for one year.

By the end of my sophomore year, I had fallen deeply in love with a guy I had met on my first day and told my friends back home he was the one I would marry. And to my surprise, by the end of my sophomore year, he had fallen in love with me, too. We had dated briefly right before he went to study abroad (he was a year older), and now he had just come back and we were back together and very serious.

You can surely see where this is going.

About two months into a "very serious" relationship with the man I was convinced I would marry, I somehow went from virgin to... well, not. I say somehow because it wasn't at all planned or necessarily talked about and decided. We had been physical already; such is the nature of college life, and I was no stranger to "hooking up," but at the same time was very proud that I had not given away my virginity to just anybody. I knew that I believed in the teachings of my Church. I knew that what I was doing was wrong. But in my mind, I rationalized that sex was reserved for marriage because you are only meant to do that with the man you are married to. I really didn't understand the complete beauty of sex at that point, but I was about to begin my education.

I remember that night vividly. Or maybe I should say that memories from that night continue to haunt me. I distinctly remember that we were very close to going that far, but still not quite there, when he suddenly jumped up and ran to his desk. I asked him what he was doing, and he said "Getting a condom... just... in case..." For some stupid reason, I assumed he meant "in case" HE went too far and we were at risk for pregnancy. (I may have been stupid about the pill, but I did know about contact pregnancy.) I told him "It's ok, I'm on the pill." To which he responded, "Oh... well... are you sure?" (This guy was not really known for his ability to articulate and convey an actual message.) And I responded, "Yeah, I'm sure. It's to regulate my periods, but it still 'works.'"
(I realize now he was basically asking me if I was "sure" that I wanted to have sex with him. So, basically, one of the biggest decisions of my life came down to not a well thought-out weighing of consequences, but rather an ambiguous exchange of "Are you sure?" "Yeah, I'm sure.")

This may seem odd to many of you, but I very clearly remember two things about that experience. The first is that my very first thought was: "Oh no... Mary never did this... I'm no longer like Mary." (Crazy the things that run through my head, but it's true.) The second is that the entire time, I washed away feelings of guilt with the overwhelming feeling that kept sweeping over me - a feeling of "THIS is so RIGHT! THIS is how it's SUPPOSED to be!" That feeling of coming together in union with another human being completely and totally, with no barriers (at least not in my mind) was absolutely intoxicating to me... the way it IS supposed to be, just not at all how I had warped it.

And so, ignoring the underlying guilt I continued to feel every once and a while, we continued being intimate. Over Fall Break, my prescription for the pill was up, and this time I was adament about staying on it. I threw a fit when my mother suggested I stop taking it for a while and see if my cycles normalized... because now, I actually needed that pill for contraception. But at the same time, both of us were not satisfied with the fact that no one had any answers for me about my health. WHY was I bleeding like this? WHY were my periods so irregular to begin with?? So we agreed to go together to Gyn/Midwife #3, recommended to us by my older sister. I was absolutely convinced that whether she gave us answers or not, I would be able to get more happy pills from her.

Gyn/Midwife #3 took me in her office first, alone. There she asked if I was sexually active, and I reponded truthfully that I was. She explained that she wanted to run a couple of tests on me, some bloodwork and an ultrasound, to find the issues that were causing my weird cycles. So we made a follow-up appointment for the following day for the ultrasound. On our way out of the office, I remember the ultrasound tech asking me, at the front desk where me and my mother were checking out, if I was a virgin. Of course being in front of my mother I said, "Yes," and she got a look of concern on her face and said, "Oh, wait a second, we can't do this type of ultrasound that was ordered... hold on, let me go tell the Dr." My face must have turned beet red. The tech came back, made minimal eye contact while she quickly said, "OK, it'll be fine, just come tomorrow as scheduled."
After the ultrasound and bloodwork, the Midwife took me back into her office and explained Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome - my diagnosis. I finally had an answer for all these years of crazy cycles! She was pretty detailed in her description, and finally, told me the solution was: (I know you've guessed it) The Pill. I was to stay on the pill up until the time I decided I was ready to have children. (I was 20 years old at the time.) Now this next part I rememer verbatum. I asked her: "Will being on the pill that long have any adverse effects on my ability to become pregnant when I want to?" (See, I was worried about my fertility even back then.) Her answer: "Oh, no, on the contrary- being on the pill tricks your body into thinking it's pregnant every month, so when you want to become pregnant and come off the pill, it should be very easy!"

I was sold. This stuff was the best thing on planet earth.

Back to school I went, and me and my boyfriend continued our physical relationhip up until I was about to study abroad for a semester. Soon before I left, we discussed our plans for the future, and he said he wanted to take a break. A break?? I. FREAKED. OUT. What did he mean a BREAK?? We were going to get married, what in the world did he need a BREAK for?!?! Didn't he realize what I had given to him??!! Inevitably, because I was not very agreeable when it came to the "break," we ended up breaking it off for good, instead. I was completely devastated. It was one of the lowest points of my life. It was as if I had just lost my husband, because, in a way, I had. I say that because I had given myself to him physically, in a way that I had always intended (and God had always intended) for me to give myself ONLY to my husband. I thought that if not in word, we were at least "physically married." But now what were we? What would we ever be? And what would be always be?? Everything was, in an instant, completely upside-down and backwards. What I didn't realize is that it had already started out backwards.

So then I left for Italy, and while on the plane from NYC to Venice, I sat right next to a very attractive guy with whom I would wind up spending the rest of my life. We hit it off immediately, exchanged phone numbers, and began talking on the phone frequently, in Italy. Eventually, he invited me to his roommate's birthday party, and we officially began dating.

Now, in my mind, when I began dating my DH, it was to be an Italian "fling" to help me get my ex out of my system. I still had a very unhealthy attachment to my ex that I just couldn't shake... and now looking back it makes perfect sense why I felt that way. Because sex, as beautiful and life-giving as it is, is only MEANT to be shared with one person, one spouse, one partner for life... and suddenly it no longer was that in my life.
I was determined to do something to release the hold my ex still had on me, across an ocean, over thousands of miles. (And the fact that he continued to email me things like "I miss you" and "Someone on the other side of the ocean is thinking about you" didn't quite help.)

Surely you see where this is going...

Way too soon, and way too impetuously, I slept with my new boyfriend (and present husband). And it worked... almost. I felt a physical detachment from my ex right after that, but I was still very much in love with him. And this poor new guy I was dating, well, he was just the catalyst to help me heal what couldn't really be healed.

I started to notice that my new boyfriend was quickly falling in love with me, but I did not, could not reciprocate the feelings. I didn't know what was wrong with me - hadn't I always told myself I would only sleep with ONE man, and now here I was sleeping with someone I didn't even love?? What a fast and furious downward spiral my life had taken, and I hadn't even had time to sit back and reflect on it.

Flashforward a couple years or so, when both of us were back in the States, still dating (long-distance), still sleeping together. At a certain point my birth control pill prescription expired, so off I went to another Dr. I was never worried that I wouldn't be able to get it re-filled, in fact, the thought never crossed my mind. I pretty much just had to ask for it and it was mine. No exam, no bloodwork, no other tests. So when one day the pharmacy charged me full price for them when my insurance didn't cover it, I was up in arms. "What??? What do you mean, I've ALWAYS had it covered!!" The pharmacist didn't know what to tell me, but finally asked, "Do you work for a Catholic organization?" "Yeah." (I had just started working as a Kindergarten teacher in a Catholic school.) "Oh, that explains it. They don't cover birth control." I was livid. "But this is for a medical purpose, I'm not on it for birth control," I practically yelled at the poor girl. Her hands were tied.

I refused to pay the full price for months on end, so I got one more month's worth and prayed for the best. Over the past 3 years, there had been several months in between prescription re-fills when I didn't take the pill, and R (now-DH) and I just used condoms. But I HATED condoms. Absolutely loathed them. I felt like there was a foreign "thing" in my body that did not belong there and was not supposed to be there, and it made me physically sick. I think about my reactions back then and see that I had the truth all along - I knew in my heart what human sexuality was all about, what sex was intended to be... but my being on the pill blurred that crystal clear vision to the point where I could now only see 3 feet in front of my face and not the whole picture. There was a time when I never would have thought of using a barrier method. Now it was just a necessary Plan B.

A month later, R and I were engaged. My plan had been to become celibate once we were engaged and wait until marriage to resume our sex life. (See what I mean? Warped indeed.) So, we did. R was at that point a very different man than the one I first started dating in Italy - he was matured, he had grown in his Catholic faith, and he welcomed my wishes to wait with open arms. And most importantly, he was a man I now loved.

When we got married and became intimate again, nothing was new, nothing was exciting. In fact, I remember for the first 6 months or longer feeling guilt every time we had sex. It was a feeling I just couldn't shake - why NOW did I have this overwhelming guilt? Why THEN did I feel the feeling of "This is how it's supposed to be!" and not now? Our marriage, while legitimate in the eyes of God, began on a rocky slope, and it felt like we had to constantly struggle to stay on our feet, specifically in regards to our sexuality. I felt like the bonding element of sex was not bonding us at all, and instead almost became a hurdle to our union.

And then came infertility. The biggest hurdle to our sex-life.

I don't think any woman (or man for that matter) could say that infertility didn't have some negative effects on their sex life. But in our case, it added a curveball to an already disrupted foundation. Over the past 5 years, we have worked through most of these issues, but I always wonder how much easier it would have been, and could have been, if I had made different decisions.

Being on the pill wreaked havoc for 6 years on my reproductive system. Syndromes and diseases like PCOS and endometriosis were exacerbated over those 6 years, and the pill masked them over to give me the illusion of normalcy and perfect health. But the worst thing the pill did to me was wreak havoc on my sexuality. From the moment I got my first prescription, I knew I was safe "just in case," and almost overnight my plans and goals shifted from long-term whole person wellbeing to short-term physical and emotional satisfaction.

I can't change my past, though often I wish I could. All I can hope is that God continues to heal my soul and my marriage. And praise Him, every day I see it happening more and more.

And that's my story.


Beth said...

Thanks so much for sharing, A. I'm so Sorry you had to go through all That. Damn pill :(

Sew said...

U could write a book! I so agree about the pill but I do also believe that their are so many attacks out there on sexuality. Especiallyvon the pure and innocent!

I can see where you were lead astray and i pray for thosecdo called doctors!!!

Thanks for sharing!

Living Advent said...

We have a lot more in common than I knew. Do you know how lucky you are that R was the 2nd guy? Otherwise you could be writing my story. The pill is a slippery slope for sure.

Despite the fact that P and I never had sex outside of marriage I still have issues due to my past. May God heal both of us. Thank you for sharing.

Carla Dobs said...

Thanks for you honesty...

Many a faithful Catholic gal has been "seduced" onto the pill by the medical establishment...

You do have a gift for clear and insightful writing as well!

JoAnna Wahlund said...

Oh wow, TCIE, what a story! Thank you for sharing it.

I'm sorry you were so misled about the Pill by your medical professionals.

[email protected] said...

You are so brave. I can't thank you enough for putting yourself out there. This line says so much:

From the moment I got my first prescription, I knew I was safe "just in case," and almost overnight my plans and goals shifted from long-term whole person wellbeing to short-term physical and emotional satisfaction.

So many of us have similar sad stories, and you speak for us.

Katie @ Persevere in Prayer said...

Thanks so much for your honesty and sharing your life with us. My beginning was also a rocky path...maybe someday I'll feel confident enough to post it all in depth.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for being willing to share your story for others. It must have taken an incredible amount of courage to be so honest.

Would if I linked to your story?

Blessing :)

Ceeb said...

Wow. I've read your blog before, but have never commented. I have always admired your honesty, but I think this post blew me away. God bless you for sharing this painful story - I hope it will inform and help many!

Rebecca Frech said...

Thank you for being so incredibly honest. I think this is such a common story. If only more women had the courage to tell it.

E said...

Thanks for sharing, A, that took so much courage! I hope it leads to more healing for you.

the misfit said...

This is very interesting to think about. When I was single, I thought the pill was pure evil, and even though I knew why it was prescribed for various non-contraceptive purposes to various young ladies, I was opposed to it. I even paid what was then (for me) a princely sum to take LUPRON so I wouldn't have to take depo for my endo, after my first surgery. (If I had taken the depo instead of taking the horrible lupron and quitting after 3 months because I felt so awful, I might be healthier now.) Now that I'm married, people say that it's a terrible, terrible thing to take the pill (why can't I just take progesterone, they ask? Depo IS progesterone. What moral effect could it have that that branding is also used for contraceptive purposes by others? Does anybody actually think I need contraceptives?), but it doesn't seem terrible to me at all. Far more degrading things have happened to me just as part of DIAGNOSIS. Perhaps it's being on the other side of the looking glass - it seems different because it IS different. And if that's the case, then I need to be very careful about how "understanding" I am toward single friends who are on the pill for whatever non-contraceptive reason - not taking contraceptives may be the best bulwark they have in preserving their virtue.

andnotbysight said...

Wow, I'm so sorry you went through all that. Thanks for being so brave in sharing your story--I pray that it will help others!

Nicole C said...

Wow, God bless you for sharing. I know people who use it for the acne issue. It seems so innocent, but obviously there are so many other problems related to it. Thanks for bringing it to light!

Miss G said...

I just wanted to say that I couldn't agree more that most doctors do not handle well/listen/respect young women clients.

My first trip to the GYN was in high school for irregular periods and the quick solution was to give me a pap smear which immediately caused me to faint. I woke up with my mom and the nurse hovering over me and the nurse cracking a joke that "well, we know for sure this one's a virgin" And I was given birth control pills to manage the irregularity. I stopped taking the pills after a couple of months though because I didn't like the effects and had no plans to become sexually active.

Thank you for sharing this story


Heather Raven said...

Good sharing. I remember clearly one day getting prayed over and Jesus told me that He had given my husband to me to heal me. At the time we were on quite shaky ground. Over the years I have realized that it is true. I didn't pick my husband, Jesus did. Thank God. Thanks for sharing. I may just do the same on my bloggie.

Little JoAnn said...

You are such a holy person. I know you are going to nod your head when I say this. But, your honestly shows how true you are, how willing you are to reveal your weakness so we can all learn from your grace and bravery and example.

God must know this. Your baby is taking his time arriving because these teachings just keep pouring out of you. Once baby arrives we will just be getting little stories of how he is eating and not spitting up; how he has outgrown all his onsies.

But, still you have shared your whole heart and soul. We have been blessed beyond measure by your Cross.

I am struck by the part of your story that you had irregular bleeding since you first periods.

The line about your Mom being there after you had been lied to by the doctor takes my breathe away.

TCIE, have I done enough for you?

Is there anyway I can serve you?

Please ask!

Hafsa said...

Wow A, this was heavy stuff! I am so glad that you found perspective and I want to save this post and share it with my daughters when they become teenagers. I had a similar expereince when asking my doctor if the pill would affect my ability to have children and she responded the exact same way yours did. It's as if they are given a script when asked this question. Good reading!

JellyBelly said...

I admire your courage for writing this post!!!

I was also seduced by the pill and it makes me so angry that I was led astray by so many doctors!

You are my hero TCIE!

Hebrews 11:1 said...

I commend you for sharing!! I'm so sorry you had to go through that but it is so brave of you to share your story and hopefully spare someone else!

I wasn't ever on real birth control, but my first doc put me on Lupron after my surgery. I even went to a Catholic in-network gyn (not PPVI) for a second opinion and he said it would be fine, and wouldn't stop ovulation. He was wrong and for a year I had no period, no ovulation, and no sex drive. I wonder how much worse the endo was getting inside me as I took those horrible and expensive shots.

Hebrews 11:1 said...

Oops, I published my comment before I was done. I meant to many girls are led astray by bad doctors so that's why it's wonderful when brave ladies like you spread the education!!

Kaitlin @ More Like Mary said...

Oh this is too familiar..... Thank you for sharing.

Megan said...

You are amazing. This took a lot of courage to write, and I appreciate you sharing it! I agree that your story will help someone.

WheelbarrowRider said...

Thank you for your honesty. You know, I can't even remember for sure who put me on them or when, but I think it was a medical slipperly slope with me as well. And what came from that, the damage to how I viewed sex, the attachment to the wrong person, which then led to more than one person and my dreams of marrying the ONE person I slept with out the familair. And sad. We were sold a lie. Seriously hope this post stops someone prior to this happening! MY WORD VERIF WAS BLESS :)

J said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
sweet jane said...

Maybe the fact that this next generation of young women can find these anonymous online forums to share their experiences, thoughts, goals and mistakes will help them avoid that all-too-common feeling that they already messed up, and that their virginity was their sole reason to hold out for marriage. Perhaps then they will find the reasons and the desire to forgive themselves and to maintain their high standards, despite their mistake.
I hope so. And I wish I'd had access to a support network like this in the past, to help remind me of what I wanted for my life, and why. I think a lot of young women have similar experiences to yours, TCIE. And, sadly, I think most never come to see it clearly because it's so hard to make peace with and forgive, and to feel worthy of ones former ideals.

We have to remember that despairing our mistakes is turning our back on the abyss of God's merciful love. It pleases Him to forgive us completely over and over. None of our imperfections can ever outweigh his mercy and love. To focus to such an extent on our failings, rather than His eager forgiveness, is to deny Him...on the cross...conquering our sins with His love.

I hope anyone else reading this, carrying any remorse or guilt over their past mistakes, can change their outlook about it by meditating on the crucifix. Our mistakes and failings and sins don't define us, though the devil will try to convince us they do.

I may have gotten off subject here a bit, as your post was mainly about B.C., but the other part of it really struck a chord with me.

Anonymous said...

BC is the devil. Seriously. An army doctor told me I needed it because of my painful periods - I didn't know any better, and had never heard of endo, of course!
It's never something I would have taken otherwise (pain makes you desperate), but yes, it does start you down a road you never wanted to travel in the first place.
I can definitely identify with quite a bit of your story...
You are very brave for this post! I hope it was cathartic for you to get it all out there :).
By the way, I have HORRIBLE skin on the pill - never had a breakout in my life until I got on those things. But that's endo - all that extra estrogen in the pill is sooo bad for me on many levels. Luckily, I didn't stay on it more than a year or so. Enough to do some damage though...

Sarah said...

Thank you for sharing this. I think many (myself included) can relate. It's only by some supernatural grace that I was only on the Pill for one year of my life (18-19). But there are so many other decisions I made that were harmful sexually and completely lacked reflection (weird how even the most reflective types can just zone out when it comes to this stuff, especially in the teens and young adult years??). I get so worked up when I see "experts" encouraging youth to keep blindly following an unhealthy path.

Lauren @ Magnify the Lord with Me said...

You are amazing for sharing this story. Your honesty and openness are so authentic and real. This post is relatable and totally understandable. I am so so sorry that you've had to deal with all of this pain and suffering that could have been prevented. I'm so glad your DH is your DH and such a wonderful man! Thank you for sharing your story.

Faith makes things possible said...

Thank you for sharing your story! I can completely relate to you on certain aspects-like many women I'm sure. It takes a lot of courage to share your story and I completely admire you for doing so.

Awaiting a Child of God:) said...

I'm with Kaitlin. Wow. Brings back memories. Thank you for your brutal honesty. You are such a good have me holding on to every word.

Angela said...

Thanks for sharing! You are very brave!! I can definitely relate to your story, (unfortunately). I do have a question...did you always understand the depth and beauty of why the Church teaches what she does on sexual intimacy? For me, I don't think I really understood it...until when DH and I were engaged. I just knew "you're not supposed to do this or that"...but not really all the beauty of the reasoning why not. Just curious!

Julie said...

I am so sorry for all you went through because of the BCP!

You are so humble in writing this and I am sure you will gain many graces for sharing your story!

Mary said...

Thank you so much for writing this post, for being genuine and honest. I hope we can help future generations avoid the pain so many of us went through. Thanks again for sharing your story.

...And I really hope that "Baby centric" thing is a spam/computer thing and not a person saying something so incredibly horrible and rude.

St. Rita's Roses said...

TCIE- such a powerful story. Thank you so much for sharing it-you are really brave. I agree with the others BCP is evil. Your witness is inspirational~

A dang Md placed me on BCP in my
20's for my severe PMS- it made me have projectile vommitting within days- was off of it in 3 days. Md says, "O yeah, that is a side effect, increased intracranial pressure in your brain that makes you vomit". A-thanks Doc.

The Comeaus said...

I've only just been able to comment on this touching post.

There is so much more I wish I could say, but I will narrow it down to this: our merciful Father loves you SO MUCH and wants more than anything to heal you, your husband and your marriage from all the harm of the past. In fact, He is so great that He can make your life better BECAUSE of the past!

We all have baggage and are all in need of mercy and healing every single day. He will turn all the past into gold if you let Him--which it seems you do! There is no condemnation for us in Jesus, only purification, healing, restoration... There is no more shame after we turn to Him.

I, for one, love people even more when they share stories like this.