Twice now I have discerned the call to marriage. Once with a woman and once with a man.
I am a woman driven by my desire to love fully, to give of myself fully to those in my life. My desire for love and my understanding of the best way to give love became distorted through a significant trauma when I was 5-years-old; many misogynistic encounters afterwards reinforced that wound. As a late teen, I became utterly confused when I was raped by my best male friend. I hadn’t lost my original desire to love as fully as I could; still, I couldn’t find a safe place for my desires to land.
A few years later, after more troubling encounters with men, I fell in love with my best friend, a woman. She was safe and seemed to satisfy my desire to love and give fully. This was a conflicting experience because I also loved my Catholic faith and knew its moral precepts. Yet this same-sex bond was compelling and powerful: it offered me the safest embrace I had known since I was 5.
We were together for years, completely committed to one another. We wanted to get married. We talked about it in depth. But each time I got closer to making that full commitment, to proclaim our love publicly, I was stopped by my unanswered questions about love and marriage. What are they, in truth? I had this aching feeling deep in my soul that our relationship lacked fullness, that our biological ‘sameness’ would always prevent that fullness.
On the verge of coming out and walking towards ‘gay’ marriage, I took those questions to the Church one last time. Through the voice of a good priest, the Church spoke words of love, understanding, kindness and hope over me. The Church had an answer for my questions, an answer that confirmed my original desire to love fully. It was an answer that acknowledged the good ways that I was trying to love while correcting the ways I had overstepped the boundaries set in place by nature.
This answer set a track for restoring the boundaries that had been broken by past trauma. This answer blessed my femininity and defended the ways my femininity had been assaulted. This answer was a 5-hour conversation that held me and heard me. I have been walking out the truth of those answers ever since.
I honestly never thought I would discern questions about marriage again. I was content to live chastity either through a religious vocation or the single life. I was still looking for a safe place. The Lord oversaw a long and thorough work in me which opened the possibility of a man becoming a safe place to land my desires for love and self-giving.
Still, the impact of misogyny from my traumatic history continued to wreak havoc in my relations with men and (to some degree) with the man to whom I became engaged. That surfaced at the Living Waters session on ‘Restoring Woman’s Honor.’ When I could see ALL the men in the group acknowledging the damage done, I broke, and Jesus delivered me in a visceral way from an ugly deposit of misogyny that had been growing in me over the course of my life.
Now I find myself on the brink of giving myself fully--spirit, mind, history, heart, and body--to a good man through the sacrament of marriage. I am getting married this month. Nothing will be held back, the fullness of who I am will be given and received and will find life in the fullness of who he is.