An interview with Dawn Wilde, the author of ‘Confessions of a recovering lesbian’
FAIRBANKS, Alaska, January 20, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – In a compelling testimony titled “Confessions of a Recovering Lesbian,” a woman struggling with attraction to other women shares how, despite being involved in a youthful lesbian relationship, and ongoing attraction to women, she is now a Catholic, happily-married homeschooling mother of five children.
In her testimony Dawn Wilde (name changed) takes to task the argument that homosexual people are simply “born that way” and says that that people don’t have to “indulge same-sex attraction” just because they might “experience it.”
LifeSiteNews contacted Dawn and asked her to reveal more of her gripping story.
LSN: You wrote in your story that there were many factors in your past that made you “vulnerable to same-sex attraction”. You were not only abandoned by your birth mother, but grew up being physically abused by your mentally-ill adoptive mother. What kind of physical abuse did you suffer from your adoptive mother?
Dawn Wilde: My adoptive mother suffered from agoraphobia, depression, and anxiety stemming from her own abusive childhood and a brutally violent rape at age 16, for which she never received counseling. She would physically beat me with objects, burn me with cigarettes, and lock me in rooms without heat for hours at a time in winter. She frequently criticized my appearance or beat me in public places. Because of her own past, anything having to do with sexuality merited a very public humiliation. I was actually legally emancipated as a teenager due to her abuse and lived on my own until I graduated.
LSN: You said in your story that after you broke up with your lesbian partner Nora she exposed your lesbian secret to anyone who would listen. Why do you think she did this?
DW: I believe Nora did so out of desperation. I suspect she thought that if we were both “outed,” that I would not feel the need to have a relationship with men. I think she thought it was the secrecy that bothered me, not the acts themselves. She truly did come unhinged during that time and tried to bribe a friend to “break the legs” of the young man I dated after her.
After our relationship, Nora came out and lived exclusively as a lesbian. She has had a series of lesbian relationships and no longer dates men at all. I know this from mutual college friends. We have taken very divergent paths.
LSN: What do you do when you find yourself in an actual situation of being attracted to another woman? How do you cope?
DW: It is easy for me to recognize the signs of being attracted to a woman; I very much have a physical reaction to the person. The first thing I do is offer a quick prayer to Jesus: “Lord, help me!” Then I call on the holy angels, to whom I have a great devotion. As soon as I recognize the attraction, I will disengage from the conversation and make whatever excuse I need to exit the person’s company. I follow up with a phone call to my husband as soon as possible, to ground me and help me remember why I’m fighting these temptations.
At that point, I tend to consciously limit my time with that woman. I do not share that I’m attracted to her nor do I shun her entirely, but I will work hard not to cultivate a deeper friendship with her. To me, that is just playing with fire and a near occasion of sin. For women especially, sexual attraction is so tied up to emotional attraction and I know that is a major trigger for me to feel emotionally close to someone. If the woman is someone I cannot really avoid, I will at least go to great pains to avoid her when I am emotionally vulnerable, such as when my husband and I have an argument. I find that the times I feel estranged from my husband are the times the temptation is the strongest.
I also am very upfront with anyone (but especially a woman) who seems to be seeking an unusually deep emotional intimacy with me that my husband is my greatest, most intimate friend in life. I think so much infidelity in women stems from them not feeling loved, appreciated, and understood by their husbands. Female friends often fill that void, to the detriment of the marriage. My same-sex attraction makes me vulnerable to taking a deep emotional attraction to a woman beyond its proper limits, so I don’t put myself in that position. My husband and I both work hard to keep our marriage honest, supportive, and loving so neither of us feels the need to go to another person for that intimacy.
LSN: You say that after studying the late John Paul II’s Theology of the Body that you understood that you would never be satisfied with Nora. What was at the heart of this new understanding?
DW: It was first and foremost understanding why God gave me a body in the first place: to give and receive love and to nurture new life. It changed how I saw sexuality, from a primarily recreational activity to one that had profound, eternal consequences. It wasn’t “sex” anymore; it was “making love” and “creating a new, immortal soul.”
Though I did not go into it in the original article, I was wildly promiscuous with men before I met Nora. Theology of the Body helped me put a name to the desperation that drove me to seek physical intimacy with men I knew in my heart just wanted to use me for their own pleasure. My deepest desire was every person’s desire: to be loved and accepted, body and soul. I was frantically searching for that pearl of great price – agape - but I did not have the language of faith to even name what I sought. John Paul II gave that restlessness in my soul a name. He taught me that I was dissatisfied with Nora and with the casual sexual relationships because I was going against my own nature as God had made me - as a person designed for giving and receive the gift of self and sheltering new life. He helped me see that chastity, far from being a restriction on my sexuality, was the virtue I needed to obtain authentic love instead of just the counterfeit of lust.
LSN: Is your husband aware of your struggles? If so, does he help you through them?
DW: My husband has always known of my struggles, though I’m not sure he understood just how pervasive my same-sex attraction was until he read the article this week! We converted to Catholicism together after years of indulging in fornication and pornography together and we’ve always seen our struggles simply as a brokenness that only the Lord can heal. But we do believe wholeheartedly that 1) many of our desires are disordered and 2) Jesus CAN heal our souls. When we’ve fallen, we’ve sought forgiveness and graces for the battle in confession and in the Holy Eucharist. We know that if we don’t avail ourselves of the graces through the Church, then temptation is almost certain to win.
As for how my husband supports my SSA struggles in particular, I’d say his greatest contribution is that he works just as hard as I do to ensure our intimacy is exclusive to each other. A few days ago he said, “You know, we’d be completely lost without each other.” We’re married to help each other get to heaven, first and foremost. That’s the goal we’ve articulated to each other again and again since we became Catholic.
LSN: What advice do you have for someone reading your story who is struggling as you have struggled?
DW: Don’t believe the secular hype that you were “born this way.” Or that your “orientation” is immutable. The dissatisfaction you feel in homosexual relationships and that restlessness in your soul are there for a reason. Trust the wisdom of Mother Church, who does in no way wish to condemn you for your struggles, but only wishes to help you along the path to holiness. If you encounter individual Catholics who either react with disgust or conversely, encourage you to indulge your homosexual desires, don’t listen to them. Listen to Jesus, who wants to love and heal us through His Church’s sacraments.
As my experience and that of so many other “recovering” gays and lesbians attest, it is possible to be healed of our brokenness. If you’re someone who experiences NO attraction to the opposite sex, this may mean a life devoid of a romantic relationship. But God calls heterosexuals to celibate chastity all the time and living out a vocation as a single person truly can be joyful if you center your life on Christ. Don’t assume, however, that just because you struggle with SSA, you are NOT called to marriage. God’s plan may be a happy, fulfilling marriage where you are blessed with children.
I live out my vocation as a married woman joyfully because I rely on Christ’s own strength to sustain me. I am profoundly grateful for the chance to build a life with my husband. I’ve experienced great peace and happiness because I surrendered my will to God instead of allowing my sexual desires to lead me away from His plan for me. The graces you need to live a chaste, happy life are there—through prayer, confession, the Eucharist, and fasting. You just need to ask for them.
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Read Dawn’s personal testimony, “Confessions of a Recovering Lesbian,” here.