I hate soap. It’s a weird thing, this hatred of such a benign item…one that most people actually like; usually enjoy. But I can’t even stand to touch a bar of soap. If it’s hard and dry, I can, maybe, if I’m feeling particularly strong that day, pick it up with two of my fingers as long as I have minimal contact. It’s better if I use my fingernails. Better still if I have a tissue between myself and the offending bar. I can’t force myself clean up the sludge that forms beneath the bar without wearing gloves. And even then, it causes me to gag. A foamy, wet bar is enough to send me over the edge. I cringe. I am repelled. I’m nauseated. Soap and I just don’t belong together. As a result, I’ve used the liquid form of soap ever since it first became available on the market. I don’t like it much either, but as long as the stuff doesn’t get too soapy or foamy, I can endure using it. In our society, people want to be around people who smell like soap, for some odd reason. So I buy the liquid brand and use it sparingly. It gets me by. I prefer to scrub myself without using anything other than water and my hands. Washcloths and sponges get to me too. There are things that are socially acceptable and things that aren’t. As long as I’m washing, no matter how hard it is to make myself do it, I figure I’m okay. Even if it takes a lot out of me each and every time I step into a shower. Speaking of which. I hate soap for the same reason I hate showers. And the color red. There are probably more things I hate for the same reason…things that I just haven’t realized yet. But this past weekend as I was in the shower using the non-foamy liquid soap that I tend to buy, it struck me as odd, how I have this aversion to bars of soap. You would think this would have become evident to me long before now, but it’s one of those things I haven’t exactly dwelt on. It’s just something I know about myself, somehow, so I haven’t given it any thought. Knowing how I am, I simply never bought bar soap. I avoid contact, and all is well. For some reason, this time it registered and I paused as I squeezed out a dab of my handy-dandy liquid body cleaner as a question popped into my head instantaneously. Why do I hate soap anyway? What did soap ever do to me? It didn’t take much to connect the dots. Like most things, those dots lead back to my childhood. Where everything bad and quirky and awful and sick seems to come from. Back to the abuse. In this case, back to the sexual abuse I endured when I was a kid. Thanks, dad. This is the weird thing. I have this aversion (such a tame word…doesn’t even come close to fully describing how desperately I despise certain things) to harmless items. Things like bars of soap. Like showers; wet tile. Like getting a little bit of water on my body (stomach, arms, face). Like the color red. My reaction to these “harmless” events or items is way out of proportion to what it should be. I freak. I get nauseated. I cringe. I have high anxiety. I despise them. My toes and fingers curl in distaste as I attempt to avoid contact. I want to run and scream. But it isn’t about the soap or the color or the water or the tile or the washcloth. Not really. It’s about being sexually abused by my father. In a red bedroom and bathroom. In the shower where he soaped me all up and made me do the same to him. Where he then raped me. It’s about being forced to perform oral sex and getting sperm on my face. Or having him pull out of me at the last moment and shooting sperm on my stomach or arm or leg. Yet, instead of despising him, I despise all the things that surrounded me while I was his prisoner, being used as a sex object. And here’s the really crazy part…I protected him ‘til his death. I let him get away with it. But every single shower I take is a mine field of pain and horror which takes all the inner resolve I can muster because I DESPISE being in the shower. Because of him. And I can’t handle the feel of a bar of soap. Because of him. Because of what he did to me. In my parent’s red bedroom with the attached red bath. How stupid is that? I feel nothing when I think of him. Nothing. It’s all projected into objects and colors. I hate the house I lived in when he abused me. It’s repulsive to me. But I don’t hate him. And I need to. Because I’m not getting better. And I’m not getting better because I can’t seem to face the pain and anger. My emotions remain safely disconnected from the man who destroyed my life. I gag over oral sex. Pornography infuriates me. I don’t have children. I can’t stand red. I hate soap. I can barely make myself take showers. I freak if I get a little water on my body. God knows what else. All because of what my father did to me when I was a child. He lived out his life and died fairly peacefully. I have been tortured every moment of every day. My entire life has been destroyed because of him. And yet, I feel nothing. Not about him. Only about the things that surrounded me when I was being abused. I don’t think I will ever be free. Not until I can feel what he did to me and hate him for it. Instead, I hate myself. And numb the pain. And tiptoe through the world trying to not breathe too much air or to bother anyone inordinately. Do this one thing for me. When I am dead, do not bury me in anything red. Don’t send red flowers. In fact, don’t bury me at all. Cremate me and set my ashes free. Please. Because I have a really bad feeling that this will be the only freedom I will have ever get to experience. And that is more pathetic than how repulsive a bar of soap is to me. But at least in death, perhaps, I will be liberated. At least then, maybe, in heaven, I will actually be able to take a bubble bath and enjoy all the suds. Without curling my toes. Without feeling the urge to puke. Free. Of all pain. At last.