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You can go home on the following conditions: 1) You will take Prozac, the high dose, and you won’t even think about getting off it for an entire year, and 2) You will make yourself run, every day, for at least 20 minutes.Because your life depends on it.” I agreed, and stood behind the Plexiglass window by the nursing station, waiting for the bin that held all the belongings I had been required to hand over the day I checked in: my wallet, my keys, and the laces from my running shoes.As I threaded my sneakers and prepared to keep my promise by jogging home to the apartment I shared with four other Yale grad students, I remembered another deal, the one that started this whole mess.The one I had made about a decade earlier with my high school boyfriend. I fell for my first boyfriend when I was 15, arriving home from church on one of those sticky, Upstate New York, summer afternoons.We swam in Lake Ontario every chance we got because it was the one permissible activity that allowed us to gaze at and lie next to each other with the least amount of clothing on our bodies as possible. I had to explain that, as a true believer and follower of the faith, I was 100 percent committed to: no drinking, no smoking, no coffee, no tea, church for three hours every Sunday, and, of course, no premarital sex. ” I blushed, and admitted I didn’t even know what those words meant; at that point in my life I hadn’t even watched an R-rated movie. The only rules about sex his hippie parents had taught him to live by were to always give a girl more pleasure confine his competitive streak to running — he wanted to win my body over so bad.John Lee’s refrain:” populated the doodles I penned in the margins of my lecture notes. “And when I say no premarital sex, what I mean is…I think kissing is fine. Or below my collarbone.” Making sure he understood me, he asked, “So, wait. And are you saying like…even no…premarital fingering? He worked every angle, came up to the edge of every line I had designated as “off limits,” trying to turn me on as much as I would possibly let myself. I began to cross my own boundaries, and try things my church had never explicitly stated were wrong, but felt so good I knew they must be.I was skinny, muscular and scrappy, but this never translated to excellence in any of my athletic pursuits.By my teen years, I had bounced around, a few seasons here and there, on every team imaginable: basketball, softball, soccer, gymnastics, volleyball, even one tragically desperate year in cheerleading.
But these momentary, forbidden pleasures always morphed into aching guilt. Why are you putting yourself through this suffering and denial of every urge and instinct?
When our lips got worn out, he’d tell me mine were so swollen I could pass for Steven Tyler or some other insulting dig that would get me mad enough to hit him or wrestle him to the floor — which is what he really wanted more than anything. The first time my boyfriend tried to lift my shirt, asking me if he could just touch the places my modest one-piece bathing suit concealed, I shut him down and explained the rules governing my morality and chastity.
We’d fall asleep spooned together, waking up just in time for me to scramble out of his room at dawn, and for him to drag himself to early morning practice. I was the first Mormon he’d ever dated — and he was the first “non-member” (the term Latter-day Saints use to identify those not of their faith) I’d ever dared try out as a boyfriend.
” Our worlds, up to that point, had been too different. Running was his church, the dogma behind discipline, self-sacrifice and denial.
He promised to try to understand Mormonism if I would learn to run.