Pleasure is Normal

The welcoming faces of the congregation sat there smiling and nodding at me as we carried our hymnal down the aisle to our pew. I felt anything but the joy church used to bring me. Back then dirty and secretive had never been a part of my life but lately that's my brains default. I used to hum these beautiful songs as I rocked in the rocking chair and crocheted or while walking to and from the church. Now they have been replaced with mostly Metallica. I had always been a fan their music until I met the Deacon in college. I was pursuing my teaching degree and he was studying religion. His smile so perfect with his friendly gestures came off as flirting. It was just enough to get me curious to what this straight laced young man had to offer. The answer to that - a lot. I loved the fact that he was serious in his religion. His behavior was unlike the men that still wanted to raid and do keg stands on Friday nights. The Deacon wasn't ashamed to love God and I wasn't ashamed to be his. Metallica slowly dwindled from my playlist and the rise of all things holy emerged.

My grandmother, Victoria had been the one to share God and Jesus Christ with me. Most of my family were either agnostics or atheists. I was never taught to dislike God, but I was never taught to worship Him either. My father was an unidentified sperm donor so it was just me, my mother, my drunken uncle Frankie and my Grammy V. She was the constant in my life while my mother bounced from one married man to another and my uncle Frankie bounced from the trap house to prison back to the trap house. Finally, he was caught with too much meth to get Grammy V to call in a favor and help him out. He was sentenced to 15 years. Mother pushed her luck with married men with crazy ass wives. As it happened, that dreadful night she never seen the butcher knife coming down to her torso as she lay drunk, high and naked in that married man's bed. His bat shit crazy wife got off on temporary insanity. Grammy V and I wept briefly for her tortured soul at the memorial. We hadn't seen mother in four years and most visits were spent listening to the whines of how the world  was against her. She wasn't interested in saving her soul or hearing how prayer can help because ''she didn't believe in fairytales or imaginary men in the sky.' With a smirk on our faces and Jesus in our hearts, we drove away from that dismal, drudging memorial three years ago blaring The Unforgiven. Grammy V wasn't raised to be religious but she had joy and faith in her heart. Out of the three of us she cared for, only I accepted God into my heart. It was a wonderful feeling when I was blue, to just pray.

The Deacon shared that passion and it convinced me to switch to Sunday school teaching as opposed to elementary school. The pay was quite lower but it was so rewarding sharing the word of our Lord. Oh and I was with my sweetheart, the Deacon. I had never given him a second thought but I then again, I had never felt this dirty looking at anyone. I felt like I wasn't innocent, sweet Elizabeth because more and more often I felt like I was her alter ego. I was just Liz.  What if everyone were to find out the censored things I viewed when I was alone or worse, the results of said thing that were left in my panties. My panties that I share with or have sold to a man. I had to stop my imagination before the anxiety attack I feel coming grows into a stroke. That night as the Deacon was late at the church I had two hours of nothing but time to reflect on my behavior lately. I struggled with my feelings of my guilty conscience. Why should I feel like I am doing anything wrong? Why should I feel like the body and emotions that are natural, are bad?

Grammy Victoria taught me to love and accept the Lord into my heart and life but she also taught me that sex is healthy. Healthy, exciting and a great way to show your partner love. Birth control was introduced senior year of high school and she made me feel very comfortable about it. She would say, "Elizabeth, don't be embarrassed, but be responsible. Always use protection however, there may be a time protection isn't around but you proceed to give in to your feelings. It's only natural and birth control will be there to back you up". It was there to back me up until two years ago when the Deacon and I said our 'I do's' and moved to the North part of West Virginia where his family was from. I didn't mind the move since I was all alone in Charleston now that grammy Victoria gave in to the cancer and uncle Frankie was still causing ruckus in prison.

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