FROM THE ARCHIVES: “I had flings with over-sexed football players, a boss at a TV station — and now see them as fallout from sexual abuse in my Catholic home”
MARINA GIULLIANI (Read part 1 , 2 and 3 of this Soul’s Code excerpt from the book, Sins of my Faith) — Being sexually-pleasured as a young child meant I was always very uncomfortable in situations where using my sexuality to get my own way was not an option.
The thought of heading to a segregated Catholic high school was pure torment.
My sister Angela had chosen the school a year earlier, and I was stuck with it. Now four to five years of nothing but girls and nuns loomed ahead of me. I was completely disillusioned by all things Catholic, and I hated the boxed-in feeling of girly stuff.
In high school I’d soon be totally engulfed by both.
Even in grade school, I had a hard time making girlfriends. Grade nine was hell until I met Adrienne, who became my best friend from grade ten through college. We bonded during a remedial French class with the demon Sister Anna and wreaked havoc for the next three years.
A child’s garden of grass: my survivor’s code
Adrienne was the only non-Catholic in an all-Catholic school, and I would have loved her for that reason alone, but she also had everything else I could have wanted in a friend. Brains, beauty, an amazing sense of humor and a sky blue Corvette she received for her sixteenth birthday.
The girl was a magnet for men, and together we rocked. We went everywhere together. She’d lie and I’d swear to her fabrications on a stack of Bibles if I had to.
Throughout my high school and college years I lived by one motto: “Grass will see you through days without money, better than money will see you through days without grass.” After I smoked my first joint at fourteen behind the church with some of the kids from the Catholic Youth Organization, I never looked back.
If I could get high while I was waiting for the bus, I knew my school day was made. There was always a gorgeous guy with long dark hair standing at our stop, waiting for the girls from the Catholic school, ready to spark up a doob as soon as we arrived. I was totally in love with that guy, and I never even knew his name.
Prayer retreat: teenage wasteland
Our teachers-nuns were notorious for sending their girls on prayer retreats. Since it meant three days of freedom from regular classes without wearing our uniforms and as our teachers were not responsible for the agenda, I was signed up and headed out of town before the ink was dry on my permission slip.
Thinking themselves very progressive, the nuns decided that smoking was permissible, and, as ringleader of a three-day party, I decided that everything else was permissible: I organized a séance; snuck onto the university campus to buy grass; gathered a group to consult a Ouijee board; and asked a Jesuit Father if priests ever get horny.
On the last evening I convinced everyone to join in on a levitation experiment where one girl was accidentally dropped from five feet in the air with a crash that sent nuns scurry around for an hour trying to find the source.
I also spent a fair amount of those three days worried about something much more serious than being caught by the nuns for goofing around.
My first sexual encounter — outside my family
The summer between Grades eleven and twelve was when I met James. James was beautiful, with long blonde hair. He and I got high together and we had sex together, lots and lots of sex. The two of us knew next to nothing about love, but taught each other a whole lot about heartache.
After the second time we slept together, even though we had used protection, I was scared and when I called him from the prayer retreat to tell him so, he made it clear that he wouldn’t consider marrying me under any circumstances.
James was a regular, over-sexed male, and one night I could feel in my gut that he betrayed me. He and I were connected somehow. We just never understood how. Within six months of giving it up to him, one night I paced the hallway from my bedroom to the phone, until I couldn’t stand my anxiety any longer. I dialed his number and demanded an answer.
“James, what are you doing to me?”
“I can’t believe you Marina, how do you always know?”
“Just tell me.” It was more than intuition and we both knew it.
“I brought this girl home with me and when we got in bed, I couldn’t get it up.”
“I guess you’ve suffered enough”, I said, and slammed the receiver down.
Work all day, party all night
Somehow Adrienne and I passed with the rest of our class and progressed to a place where thoughts ran free and so did the smokeables. Art College! Now you have to realize that coming from a very disciplined Catholic high school environment to this carefree climate was like being on a daily vacation. Adrienne looked even hotter now than she did in high school, and at seventeen we took on the campus.
We met the football team. The football team met us, and we took over with a vengeance. All night parties, pub nights and playing the boys. We thought we’d died and gone to heaven.
Needless to say, my first year wasn’t overly successful, scholastically speaking. Neither was the second if you want to know the truth. So I quit school and wound up working at a Top-Forty radio station. Getting the gig was a complete fluke, but, my God, I’d arrived.
Rock concerts, band parties and a disco daze filled my life with glory! I knew every DJ (radio and disco), the words to every tune on the charts and where to get the best pot in the city. I was totally rebelling against my Catholic roots by dating a Jewish guy, and my mother’s voice still stings in my ears:
“He’s a very nice boy Marina, but his family will never accept you!” My head always questioned, “Who might not be accepting whom”? Turned out the guy was a jerk and the romance short-lived, but who cared?
At twenty, I moved out of my parent’s home and into a singles high-rise with a co-worker, then worked by day and partied by night. I was finally free of the Catholic influence, and I wasn’t letting anything stand in my way. We threw a party one night with so many people that I asked four guys to be my dates and not one of them knew that the other existed. I was in control and that’s just how I liked it . . . until I got fired.
There was a certain new all-night DJ who decided he’d make a play for just about all of the young, attractive, women at the station. Robbie Knight was irresistible to the eye and had a voice as smooth as black velvet. He made a pass and I refused. If I wasn’t in control, why bother? Well Robbie told his DJ friends that he helped himself and I was furious. I confronted him in the station lobby and made him admit publicly that he hadn’t had his way with me, but I was the one they fired.
The blow was devastating. How could they? I was the coolest thing that station had going for them! I was in control here! What difference did it make that I couldn’t keep my mouth shut? I proved, in front of everyone, that he lied! This was my first indication that too much control perhaps wasn’t a good thing. With this lesson under my belt, I would be brilliant in the future.
Next stop, the local TV station. Now these people were beyond cool! How could I have ever thought the radio station was anywhere near as cool as this? And this time I was very clever. I took control of only one man at a time, fell madly in love with a director/writer, sucked in as much information as I could, learned the craft well and before I knew it I was right smack in the middle of an Irish Catholic nightmare.
Marina Giulliani’s book, Sins of My Faith: Innocence Lost to Incest, chronicles a true story of stolen innocence and the ultimate redemption of a little girl raised in the Roman Catholic tradition.
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- Finding, and losing, love