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I'm so disgusted to write this.
The disgust I feel is directed almost as much at myself as the person who I am writing about.
Over the years, I've become a bit of a sucker for all things spiritual. So when a friend of mine handed me a flyer to meet a supposedly "enlightened being" who was in my town visiting, I took her up on the opportunity. Of course, anyone can call themselves a "spiritual leader," but this was a man who appeared to actually merit the title. He had a great reputation online and offered workshops and retreats to encourage personal enlightenment and growth in each of our spiritual journeys. At the time I was trying to say "yes" to any opportunity that seemed to come way that might help me heal in a lot of the problems I was experiencing in my personal life, and so I decided to plunge into this one as well.
The first time I saw this man -- a self-proclaimed "healer" who specialized in meditation, past lives, massage and prayer circles, with his spirituality drawing from Buddhism as well as various pantheistic realms of spirituality -- the experience was nothing short of incredible. I opted for a personal one-to-one session with him, and we prayed together.
One of the services he offered was a "spiritual massage," and I decided this was exactly what my stressed-out body needed.
When he began, I cried out in pain as he massaged away seemingly years of stress and pent-up frustration that were swirled into tight knots buried inside my back. I told him that I was so stressed that I was having migraines for months. He did something that appeared like praying above my head for a few moments, and the next morning the debilitating headaches that had been wracking me finally went away. This guy is magical, I thought.
Every few years when he was visiting my town, I would see this man, and every time it was a positive experience. I would walk away from the massages he gave with a few light bruises where he had worked especially hard on the tightness in my body, but overall, I always felt better after seeing him.
I felt lighter.
When I heard from him recently, I expected to have the same wonderful but intense experience I had always had. Worth every penny of his fee, and the result would be a kickstart to my health. After much coordination over the phone, he arrived at my small apartment, and he gave me a hug as he always does. Then he showed me some pictures of him and a few famous people he has met over the years. It was sweet, the way that someone who is amused by all the base ways of the non-spiritual world might be tickled by a ride at Disneyland.
I lay down and expected the same massage that I had always received. Painful, but ultimately freeing of the tightness that often radiated through my body from my temperament and disposition.
It was about a half hour into it that I really began to realize that he was touching me in a way that he had never touched me before, and my mind started racing. I felt as if I was part of a bank robbery, and the adrenaline was suddenly making me a complicit participant as I couldn't wait to find out if anyone got shot. I needed to stop this, I thought. Or should I?
Wait -- what? What was I thinking?
He was massaging the inside of my legs, and he kept lightly brushing where a legitimate masseuse would not, but I found myself both panicking about what was happening but also incredibly, undeniably aroused by the same powerful touch he had always used on me over the years.
I could stop this. I should stop this. Why aren't I stopping this?
I did nothing.
The hard near-bruising massage strokes I was so used to were now accompanied by highly sensory light feathery touches all over my body. The pain alternated with the pleasure was starting to consume all of my thoughts.
Maybe this is what is supposed to happen, I thought. Maybe this is a great story. Maybe this is sexy. Is this sexy?
He told me to turn over, and by this point, he was massaging my whole body, breasts and all. My eyes were firmly closed the whole time as if I could deny that this was happening -- even as I let it happen, even as my body relished the pleasurable parts of what was happening -- until his voice broke through.
He was massaging near my genitals, and he said, "Is this OK? Do you promise?"
That woke me up like a bucket of cold ice water.
I snapped to my senses, and suddenly the sickening feeling of what had gone down, what was going down -- and what I had allowed to escalate by not objecting to it from the beginning, even though I obviously realize that he was the one abusing his authority -- sobered me up, and I said what I wish I would have said earlier.
"No," I said. "I don't want to."
I closed my body off to him. I tightened everything. I opened my eyes.
I grabbed my clothes, and he started talking in the same spiritual mumbo jumbo that I had once actually respected. "You had a heavy energy over you," he said. "That heaviness is now gone."
I wanted to grab a heavy object, slam it against him and show him what real heaviness felt like.
"I have to leave," I said tersely. "Why don't you grab your things and go."
He was not getting a cent for what had just occurred. I just wanted him to leave.
"Do you want to take a shower?" he asked.
"I need to leave," I said again. "I'm going to get ready as soon as you go."
"Do you want to walk out together?" he asked.
"No," I said. "I need to get ready. Grab your things."
He gathered up his belongings and left, and then texted me the next day as if everything was wonderful and normal between us.
"Don't ever contact me again," I texted back immediately. "I'm serious."
I wish I had some greater lesson in this story beyond the titillating details of what occurred. I wish I could tell you that I was doing something more than writing an anonymous post on xoJane. But I can't. I'm not capable of that because of the repercussions of what would occur if I were to publicly confront him.
If there is a lesson to myself, it is to never ignore my gut for the sake of momentary pleasure that I know will make me feel terrible after. I realize that he abused the years of trust I had put into our relationship, but I wish that I would have punched him in one of his chakras the instant that I realized what was happening.
I know that he doesn't represent all spiritual leaders just the same way a Catholic priest who abuses a young boy does not represent the entire church, but I am sad that it occurred.
For now, I'm going to do what has helped me over the years when something happens that makes me feel bad.
I'm going to let go, and let God.