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God's Word ] A Letter to... ] [ 17-Year Old Reflections ] Life is Sacred ]

I came across this at St. Margaret's Catholic Church in Maggie Valley, North Carolina. It's a little long, but it is an incredible account, by an anonymous young girl, of a very difficult decision.

Reflections of a 17-Year Old

    I guess that 2 a.m. on an autumn night is as good a time as any for an emotional breakdown. Which is why my pillow is wet and the mascara (so carefully applied to impress you, Richard) is spread across my nose and cheeks. Waterproof mascara, they cal it, but sometimes life's setbacks are too much for waterproof mascara. Why don't they market "Loser's Mascara", so a teenage girl can get dropped on her head by a  football hero and fade out of the picture glamorously? 
    We've been dating steadily for three months now. But when you drove off half an hour ago, your masculine pride wounded, I realized that we're through. You didn't say as much, but I know you won't call again. You said, "I've been patient, Fay, but three months is a long time, and well... you know..." Sure, three months is a long time to date a girl who won't put out. The pressure's been building up slowly as we've become more intimate, more fond of each other. At least you were nice enough to bother with me for three whole months. I mean a virgin and a football player! Not a workable combination, is it, Richard?
    But I won't be dateless forever. In spite of what people say, there are a lot of guys who will date virgins. After all, I'm only 17 and you're 18 -- we're not in the "compulsory affair" age group yet. I'm pretty enough to have guys calling me up, Richard, but I'll admit they're not superstars like you.
    Because your jaw is square and you're very handsome, you're charming and witty, and you led the league in rushing last season, you expect a girl to put out. And I know plenty of my girlfriends who would (maybe will?) do that just for you. But why won't I? That's not easy to explain.
    And sitting in your car a little while ago with the engine on idle and your eyes blazing angrily at me, the reasons fell out of my head like shingles on a roof. I felt stupid for not wanting to make love. And yet there are many reasons for why I'm unwilling.
    You'd say they're dumb reason, and tonight I'm thinking so, too, but maybe tomorrow they'll seem valid again.
    Is it because I'm Catholic, you asked? In a way, but that's not the whole reason. Having sex with you tonight would have caused a chain reaction, and lying alone in bed now, I can see that chain more clearly.. (Why is it the answers only appear only after the argument is over?) If I slept with you I couldn't go to Communion on Sunday, and as we go to Mass as a family that would set my parents worrying, and what do I tell them? So, that's two people that I love hurt right there. Plus, I'd feel hurt and guilty and probably stop going to Mass altogether.
    I'm no saint, Richard, but I don't want to abandon my Faith. It means a lot to me. I believe in it -- in God -- and that belief gives my life a sane perspective. I like being a practicing Catholic, but as you have no religion, that's like saying I like being a chimpanzee. You don't understand.
    What other reasons do I have? In a way, my generation is shell-shocked. Since the sexual "revolution" is no longer a revolution -- it's an old hat -- we can stand back and observe the outcome before getting involved, and frankly, I don't like what I see. If I could look at my friends and family who have partaken in the "revolution" and say, "they lived happily ever after", I might be a convert. I might even now be snuggled in your arms in that warm car. But it's not like that, Richard. I see a big lack of happiness out there and it's off-putting.
    My older sister Ruth lived with her boyfriends for 12 months when she was 19, and then it fell apart -- his doing mainly -- and she was so hurt by it that she warned me to never get caught in the same situation.
    She didn't have to warn me. I could see the agony involved. And she wasn't even pregnant. Imagine if she'd been pregnant and dumped! She might be a single parent struggling along trying to juggle a baby and roommates and high rents. Her glamorous single existence would be long gone.
    She's still not married, and I think the experience has hurt her so badly that it has warped her attitude towards making a future commitment.
    What other reasons come to mind as I lie here in bed? My generation -- our generation, Richard -- sees a lot of scary outcomes from having casual sex -- herpes, AIDS, venereal diseases, warts and sores and abortions. Back in the 60s, teenagers didn't have to worry as much. I mean, there was V.D., but that was about it. Today, when a girl loses her virginity, my friends joke, "Now she's eligible for the 'Big D' -- D for death." If you get AIDS you can die from sex. Which makes "casual sex" less casual.
    I don't personally know anyone who has herpes, but one of my sister's girlfriends caught it off a guy whom she considered very nice. It was only the second guy she'd slept with. Now herpes has given her a lifetime of problems -- like who would want to marry her; and when she has babies, if the herpes is active, she will have to have them by cesarean. All of these things give a girl cause to think.
    And there's another reason, Richard, why I'd like to hold onto my virginity. What could have started tonight would have been a "relationship" -- an open-ended affair with no strings, no commitments, no ground rules at all. How long would it last? Six months, a year? But not forever -- that's for sure -- because neither of us is ready for marriage.
    Two of my close girlfriends are in just such relationships now -- totally non-binding. And that's where the chain reaction comes in. When the relationships end, they will move onto somebody else's bed. I've heard about secondary virginity where someone loses his or her virginity and then regrets it and opts for celibacy, but it is rare. If I lose my virginity at 17, how many men will I sleep with before meeting the one I marry?
    And I don't want to be somebody's casual "relationship". When I give myself, I want it to be in marriage. I want to be someone's lifelong lover, the person my man can't bear to live without. I don't want a relationship -- anyone can have that. I want a passionate, committed, 50-year love affair with the same man. That is the stuff poems are written about. Elizabeth Barren Browning wrote: "How do I love thee? Let me count the ways..." Elizabeth Barren Browning did not write: "How do I relate to thee? Let me count the ways..." I want poems and flowers and a diamond ring and children and a history together. And I want our history to end "happily ever after."
    It's 3 a.m. now and I'm feeling better. I should have laid out all these reasons for you tonight, my handsome friend, but at least in replaying them in my own mind I am better equipped to handle the fact that we're through. Tomorrow, I'll wipe the mascara off my nose and get on with life.
    Will I see you at Diane's party? And who will you have on your arm? Will my heart churn as I linger by the punch bowl pretending to be having a marvelous time engrossed in a conversation with someone else? Yes, it will.
    I've lost you, Richard, but I retain my independence, my self-respect, my simple, uncomplicated existence. Tomorrow, my eyes will be swollen, but my future will be free and unfettered. So, I guess I'm not a loser after all...
                                                                                            -- Anonymous
Copyright 1987 The Foundation for the Family, Inc.

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