50 Shades of Pain

As some of you have probably noticed, I don’t normally speak out about controversial issues. However, this time I can’t be silent. The movie that the world has been buzzing about opens in theaters tomorrow. This is a rare moment when the self-inflicted pain that has shadowed me (and those close to me) for 20 years needs to shared.

Be warned… what you are about to read is raw and ugly. My heart has pounded every time I’ve thought about writing this. I almost chickened out. There are pieces of my story that only a very, very few people know. My mother does not know some of the things I’m going to share with you today. But out of pure love for all of you… teen girls, single women, wives, mothers… this is why 50 Shades of Grey is so. very. dangerous.

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I was 17 when I was first introduced to the traditional form of pornography, video-style. It seemed harmless at the time. We were teenagers just being teenagers, right? Not so ironically, the person who first exposed me to it was also my first sexual partner of many. Thus started Paula’s 10-year tornado-like path through life.

Something felt empty. College was a period of internal torment, although you wouldn’t have known it by looking at me. I was finally free, after all, which was great for this rebellious heart, right? Those years were filled with sickening insecurity and depression covered up by heavy alcohol use that seemed to cover the pain for a while. My deep insecurity led me to one-night-stand after one-night-stand, and also to several longer sexual relationships that again… left me empty. I could never stay faithful to anyone. Guess what? This made me even more insecure. I filled that void with more fun, alcohol, partying… and boys.

I had mistaken sex for love. And I needed love.

After leaving a destructive mess at ECU, I seemed to come clean, moved back home and met Jeff a couple of years later. He saw the “good girl” image that I had portrayed so well in high school. We got married and had a great first year. The only problem was that my brain apparently was still in singles mode… By the end of our 2nd year of marriage, I had been unfaithful to the one man who was absolutely made for me. How did I do this? I thought the sickening pattern was gone?

We separated for two months, but thankfully God brought us back together. I’m still amazed that he stayed with me. The next several years were extremely hard in our marriage. Just because he forgave did not mean things were peachy. Trust was shattered. But that man has loved me through all the hard times and the Lord has blessed us with 3 beautiful children.

Happy ending… yes. Easy path… no. In fact, a big piece of my healing just happened within the last year… After 20+ years of struggles.

Now, let me go back and explain how all of this relates with the 50 Shades of Grey books & movies.

It started with schoolgirl crushes that I let run amiss in my head. As a young teen, the Coreys & River Phoenix were all I could think about. This was my fantasy world. Boys didn’t seem to like me in real life (I was quite the nerdy tomboy) so I made up my own happy place. You know… the perfect mental images from the perfect pictures that Hollywood blasts in front of us to make us think we DESERVE for our lives to be just like the movies. For so many years, reality never lived up to my imagination.

Then a boy liked me. Then we broke up and another boy liked me. And that boy led me to “real” pornography. Images that I will NEVER be able to erase… images that flooded my head and mixed with the so-called innocent romantic scenarios I played in my head about boys I liked. It just snowballed from there…

That turned into real sex with the wrong people at the wrong time, destroying my purity and wrecking the next several years of my life (and probably the lives of those caught in the wake). Then it became erotic novels (but only secretly of course). Yep, I would stand in a bookstore reading a book and look around from time to time, making sure no one I knew was around. I was too much of a “good girl” to get caught… or to actually BUY these books.

We don’t call the books porn because it’s just a bunch of words on a page, not pictures on a screen.

We don’t call 50 Shades porn because it’s socially accepted… PRAISED… even though the entire story is demented and sick, promoting abusive relationships. (Quick disclaimer: I have not and will not read/watch, but I’ve learned enough about it to see how dark and messed up it is.)

We don’t call anything porn that we look at, read, or watch because…. well, that’s something only MEN struggle with.

NO! Women struggle too. Our mental struggles just look a little different.

It’s much darker now too. With these sexual fantasy type movies attracting so many female viewers, we are in a dangerous time! Our society is becoming so desensitized and it’s time we take a stand for our minds, our hearts, our marriages… and for Jesus, the One who died to save us from all of this mess!!!

We must protect our purity at all costs.

We must recognize that when we close our eyes and romantic scenes flash through our minds… it WILL affect how we view our husbands. It WILL affect our desires for our husbands. It WILL affect the amount of intimacy we share with our husbands. It WILL affect how we relate to other men. It WILL lead eventually to destruction. There is nothing that Satan likes more than for us to view a deadly sin as a little harmless fun. Please hear me… there is no such thing as harmless fun when it comes to sin.

It is pain. 50 shades of pain. Some shades with unknown color codes left in unknown locations. This stuff is death. It will suck you in slowly and destroy your life, along with the lives of others you care about.

I love my husband so much. For YEARS he dealt with the repercussions of my sexual sins, and not just the physical ones. My fantasy world was destructive! It still tries to rear its ugly head now, but with Jesus it is so much more under control. My life-long fantasy vs reality sickness still affects how I relate to men. It’s just ugly. Girls, I can’t stress this enough… it may seem harmless now, but it is truly a slow fade that stays painfully shaded for a long time.

If you’ve read the 50 Shades books and now want to see the movie, please reconsider. Please choose to stop it here. I am not judging you, friend. My stand is not legalistic, but coming from a heart of care and compassion for you. I’ve been there. If anyone can relate and share with you what it’s like to go down that path, it’s me. The words in the books, maybe you can let go of. But once you see the movie, those images will stay in your memory!

There is no delete button!

To my married friends, how much is your marriage worth to you? How strong do you want the intimacy to be with your husband? Give all of your love to him… mentally, emotionally, physically. He deserves to have ALL of you, including your mind.

To my single friends, how much is your purity worth to you? How important is it to share that purity with the man God gives you? Save it. Not just physically, save it mentally and emotionally as well.

This stuff is trash. It is ugly. It is sin. Let’s not sugarcoat it.

It is porn for women. 

Don’t just avoid seeing the movie, girls. RUN away from this and anything else that causes your mind to be distracted from the man God has given you (or has for you in the future).

PLEASE, I’m BEGGING… completely out of love for all of you! RUN!

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. – Proverbs 4:23

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If you’re struggling with this or you need someone to talk to about anything in this post, PLEASE feel free to contact me! I’m here!

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15 Comments

  1. I love your heart and your courage. Thanks for being brave and speaking your truth and experience. Much love to you friend.

    Reply
    • Thanks, Karen! Love and miss you!!!

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  2. Thank you!!! As you may know, I’ve written a couple of articles on this subject. The sad thing is I knew when I wrote them I would receive backlash, and I did. The sadder part is that it’s all from Christians defending the film, stating because it is consentual it is not abuse. When did the lines become so blurred that we don’t know how to define right from wrong? Many are arguing that BDSM is not sinful, even though it is considered a psycholgical disorder. All we can do is educate people on the subject and talk openly with our children and others about the dangerous consequences of a film like this. Thank you for your honesty and candor. Your story may help change a life.

    Reply
    • Yes, Michelle! It is so so sad just how messed up the thinking has become in our world. Breaks my heart. All we have to do is read comments on articles to realize how much hate and misery people are living in. All we can do as Christian writers is share the light through the voices God has given us. Thanks for the encouragement and thank you for YOUR bravery in sharing as well!!!

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  3. Thank you for your pure heart and transparency. I love you for being exactly who God wants you to be…using all HE has allowed in your life to help others. You are a beautiful example of 2 Corinthians 1:4. I know that many who read this will be impacted by your heart. O, that ALL could read it. Love you!

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    • Thank you so much, Melissa!!!! I love you too!!

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  4. Thank you for your bravery and honesty. There are many parts of your story that resonate with me, and I applaud your courage. Praise God that He got a hold of you, and me, when He did. He can redeem. But you are right, its a constant battle and a battle against the views of the world and people in our sphere of influence who have softened their beliefs just enough that they can justify this filth. I pray for the same kind of courage you have. Blessings.

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    • Thank you so much, Patti!!!

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  5. Thank you so much Paula for your honesty and courage. God is now using all you have been through to help others. I know myself and so many others can relate to your story.

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    • Ruth, thanks so much for your encouragement! Thankful for grace!!!

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  6. thank you for sharing. I too, have struggled with feelings of insecurity and guilt. As a Christian woman I have felt very alone in my struggles, so it means so much to me that you have shared your heart.

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  7. Thank you Paula!

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  8. Paula,

    I can’t express how much your story means to me. I felt The Holy Spirit calling me out and telling me it’s time for me to share my story as well. It’s very similar to yours. Some minor differences. There’s parts of my story that I’ve never shared with anyone either. It’s time! Thank you for being willing to share. I agree with you wholeheartedly! Watch for my post. We all need to ban together and stand for Jesus and to knock satan to the ground defeated… because God already won the battle.

    Reply
  9. I was so heart-broken to read all of this. I have three beautiful daughters and five granddaughters. The world that we live in now, has completely hidden behind a veil of deception that only the enemy could develop. Women do not even know what is sin and what is not. The majority of them are not being discipled in the church, to be able to evaluate what is righteous and what is unrighteous. Its like anything goes and there is so much that is definitely wrong in God’s eyes and much deliverance is needed in our world. I applaud you for coming forward with the truth and being transparent enough to alert those that do not know. May God bless you abundantly for your efforts.

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  10. Soooooooo very powerful, Paula. Thank you for daring to be vulnerable with your pain so that others could be strengthened. Truly the Father is continuing to bring “beauty from ashes” in your life in amazing ways as only He can do. May He lavish you with His love this day and each to follow!!!

    Reply

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