Learning to Reject Relationships that Lack Love

Letter from Kristy Martini

Photo by Julie Lai

Dear Sisters,

Healing from a relationship doesn’t always start right away – and sometimes, the healing process doesn’t end.

For me, that has been the case. I want to tell you about something that’s haunted me for years, sisters. I want you to know that relationships can make us feel broken, but I also want you to know that He can turn that brokenness into beauty.

In college, I fell for a Catholic guy who was sassy, eccentric, and shared my love of good food. For six short weeks, we shared our struggles, talked about our journeys with Christ, and drank a lot of coffee together. But during that time there were nights where physical boundaries were crossed in our relationship– nights when he was completely sober and I was not. I know that on some of those nights I drunkenly spoke the following phrases: “This doesn’t feel right” and “This is moving too fast.” The response I received: “It’s fine.”

I was naïve. No one had taught me about consent. No one had taught me that this wasn’t normal.

I knew it was wrong, I felt ashamed, but I didn’t know what to do. The incidents continued to occur. And we continued to go to mass together, remaining in our pew during the Eucharist. One time as we sat there he whispered “We shouldn’t have done that.” I felt as though it was my fault. He was more devout that I was, I felt like my lack of faith caused him to do this.

I went to confession thinking it would bring me solace. Sitting next to the priest, I struggled to choke out the words “impurity”, and “sexual acts”, “excessive drinking.” Because even though I knew what I had done was wrong, I didn’t fully remember what happened. I was confessing something that had happened to me, not something that I’d done. I didn’t feel God’s mercy when the priest absolved my sins. I still felt ashamed.

The relationship ended soon after when he spoke the following words to me after mass: “I should have ended this a lot sooner, but I really enjoyed the physical parts of this relationship.”

The weight of that sentence didn’t sink in until many months later, when I opened up to my college roommates about the relationship. It was then that I realized he’d taken advantage of me. In the back of my mind, I always knew that’s what had happened. But I’d refused to believe it at the time.

I had trouble accepting this had happened. We’d gone to mass together every week for months. He listened to me talk about my body insecurities. He’d taken care of me when I’d had too much to drink...or so I thought.

Over the next few months, I purposefully put myself into situations where I knew he would be. I was waiting for an apology and I wasn’t going to go to him for it. He had to come to me. He owed it to me. He had to apologize so that I could move on with my life.

But he never did, and I felt as though I wasn’t even worthy of an apology.

Maybe I’d actually been the one who did something wrong. Maybe I wasn’t Catholic enough. I was full of brokenness.

I decided to let it go, but in reality I never did. I forgave him in my heart, or so I thought. But for the next two years I pursued other relationships. At times things were beautiful and loving – but full of sexual encounters I’d decided I needed to reclaim for myself. The pendulum swung the other way as I tried to make sense of religion, love, and sex. I was not living my life in a state of grace. Once again I knew something was wrong, but I didn’t know how to fix it.

A few months ago, I found myself sobbing into my pillow. I had fallen into a cycle of sex and I wanted out. I didn’t want to continue down this path that was pulling me away from Him. But I was so scared future relationships would be ruined because I  hadn’t “saved myself”. I called my mom and heard the words I needed to hear at that moment. “You don’t get to decide if your past is too much for someone. They get to choose that. And if it doesn’t work out, they’re not the right person for you. And if they can’t forgive you, then they’re not understanding the beauty of God’s grace.”

I’ve been meditating on my mother’s advice for a while now, and in mass this past Sunday, I had the most beautiful revelation as I remembered her words. I prayed for the strength to forgive those who had hurt me. I prayed to overcome the jealousy I feel towards those in Christ-centered relationships. And I prayed for the courage to trust in God’s plan for me. And Jesus whispered back to me “I am calling you to me and not to them.”

He’s calling to me to Him, not to him or him or him.

For so long, I’ve wanted someone to tell me that I’m enough – that I’m Catholic enough; that I’m strong enough; that I’m enough for them. And all along I just needed hear it from Him.

Handwritten quote from the writer

Handwritten quote from the writer

Since Jesus spoke to me at mass, I’ve taken steps towards peace. I’ve been writing letters of forgiveness to those who have hurt me, sharing my struggle with supportive friends, and redirecting my thoughts when my mind wanders to the past. For so long I’ve put my worth in relationships, but my worth is in Him sisters, not him. And right now I need to focus on Him.

Sisters, you are more than the things that have happened in your past – especially the things that have happened to you. You are worthy of a love that is right and good.

And you have the strength to question any relationship or situation that makes you even the slightest bit uncomfortable. In the words of Edith Stein: “Do not accept anything as the truth if it lacks love. And do not accept anything as love which lacks truth.” We are called to relationships built on truth in the same way that truth calls us to Him.

Your sister in Christ,

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About the Writer: Kristy Martini

Kristy Martini is an engineer working in Seattle, Washington. She spends her weekends on adventures with her mountaineering club, embodying the spirit of the Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati. Her favorite way to love others is to cook for them.

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