Sunday, June 10, 2007

Rape by Fritos

One of the problems that child sexual abuse survivors have is dealing with feelings of guilt for possibly having led the perpetrator on. It's very hard to see things in perspective and recognize the enormous power imbalance that was involved, because you're dealing with memories of your own earliest best efforts at coping with life. You're blind to the power that was being wielded over you.

I was 35 years old, in therapy, telling my therapist that my Mother routinely fondled my genitals to discourage me from masturbating. The theory Mother presented was that if I knew she would do it for me every few days, then I wouldn't do it myself and risk becoming "sick." I told my therapist I started getting suspicious about this when I was 8 or 9 and she couldn't be specific about the sort of sickness that would result, the bit about blindness and hairy palms being too absurd even for her to repeat.

Then suddenly it dawned on me. Even the fondling was rape. It was easy to understand the anal violations as rape because they had been so often frightening and distressing. But somehow I had convinced myself that the fondling was brought on by my own desire.

But I wasn't in control! She set the whole situation up, manufactured the need, and exploited my trust in my own Mother not to exploit me to convince me the need was legitimate.

It doesn't matter if I took pleasure from some of it. It is part of the betrayal I experienced, that my childhood ability to take pleasure from so much, my polymorphous perversity, as Freud called it, was used to satisfy HER needs at the expense of my emotional health.

I should have seen it before I was 35. My Father gave me a lesson in the principle well before that. We got a beagle when I was 19 or 20. My Father was nuts about Peanuts, so he had to have a beagle, name it Snoopy, and imagine it AS Snoopy. As it happens the beagle was neurotic as all hell when we got him, thanks to a very poorly run kennel. The dog was an over-eater.

In order to satisfy his own emotional needs my Father completely caved to the dog's over-eating. My Father would feed the dog all the time, throwing Fritos one at a time into his mouth, all the while talking about how I would be a decent son if I was only half as good as the dog.

"Snoop" literally died of obesity at the age of 7. The picture is one I took of him at his thinnest as an adult, when he was not yet two years old. I don't have any later pictures. You'll have to take my word for it that he was twice as wide as this when he died. His stomach dragged on the ground.

My Father never made a real emotional connection with any one in his life, least of all with that dog. It was rape by Fritos, really.

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