In what feels like another lifetime ago, I was publicly face-raped by my ex-girlfriend’s father. It was a highly unpleasant but surprisingly educational experience.
I’m going to keep names out of this for confidentiality reasons, but here’s what happened.
My girlfriend at the time was a mature student at Lincoln university and she graduated in September of 2009.
The graduation ceremony was an extravagant occasion, oozing with class and flare. Gowns, suits, high heels and flamboyant hats were everywhere, the exuberant and buzzing crowd looked about as elegant as a gathering of proud family members & partners could possibly look. Exotic fragrances tickled the nose as people walked passed, smiling faces attached to the varying tones of expensive perfumes and scents.
The ceremony was held in the magnificent Lincoln cathedral, which is a grand and beautiful building. With it’s intricately carved columns and vast vaulted ceilings, the ancient & sacred structure never fails to hush people into a humbled awe upon entering through its studded doors. It was the perfect venue for such an important celebration.
I sat next to my girlfriend’s parents during the ceremony and we enjoyed every moment of seeing her walk onto the stage & collect her degree, after having seen her work so damn hard for it.
I’d only met her parents once before at this point and I thankfully liked them both, making the small talk easier as the day unfolded.
Her mother was a friendly, gentle and polite woman whose social confidence had blossomed with her maturing years, being formerly very shy and reserved.
Her father was a petite guy; polite, intelligent and socially awkward, being more comfortable in his garage workshop making model windmills than around people making general conversation. To his credit, he used to openly joke about his short height saying that in the same manner in which some miserable people carry around their own dark cloud… his feet travelled everywhere with a permanent dip in the ground which made him appear shorter than he was.
My ex-girlfriend had a strained relationship with her father, due to his controlling and highly aggressive parenting style of her youth, being the cause of a huge amount of emotional trauma that required a lot of healing work. We were able to relate to each other’s childhood experiences which helped in understanding each others damage and sensitivities.
After the ceremony had drawn to a close, the graduates and their loved ones filed out of the cathedral, walked across the old cobbled square and into the grounds of Lincoln castle. Huge white marquee tents had been erected in the beautiful castle courtyard and champagne was served to everyone, giving the graduates, their tutors and families a chance to mingle and enjoy the happy occasion.
After having made my way through the bustling crowds with champagne for the four of us, we stood in the centre of one of the busy marquees and chatted away whilst we enjoyed the buzz of the afternoon.
I noticed that one of my shoelaces had begun to work its way loose and with the intention of re-tying it properly later that day when my hands weren’t as encumbered, I reached down and tucked the shoelace into the inside of my shoe as a quick and temporary fix.
At that precise moment was when it happened.
With lightening speed, my ex-girlfriend’s father took a small leap towards me, grabbed my ears tightly with each hand and began to pound his crotch into my defenceless face.
My face was crotch-height due to my attending to my shoelace and in my left hand, I held a full champagne flute which I was trying not to spill and in my right, I held my camera which I didn’t want to let fall to the floor. I was caught so off-guard and with such surprise, that my balance was completely thrown. For a brief few moments, all that prevented me from falling over was her father’s firm grip of my ears.
Trust me when I say, that being held upright at such a vulnerable angle by your ears and having your face pounded hard by your girlfriend’s father’s cotton covered cocktail sausage is not a pleasant experience. He didn’t hold back and really used his hips to smash himself again-and-again into my shocked grimace, feeling the definition of his penis beneath his trousers as it pummelled into the lower half of my face.
That’s not the worst part, because I believe that he had recently been to the toilet as I felt a damp spot around the tip of his little fella as it was repeatedly smashed into my poor undeserving lips.
Having another man’s urine damp spot crotch-thrusted into my exposed mush was not something I had envisioned happening on such a day… or ever, come to think of it.
Due to being caught off-balance and having my hands full, my brain was briefly overloaded with abject shock and indecision, so was momentarily baffled as what I should have done to remedy the situation. My initial impulsive instinct was to push him away from my face with my hands, but I couldn’t without damaging the glass or delicate camera. I couldn’t have just stood up because his firm grip of my ears were holding me off-centre, I would have fallen over. A thousand remedial thoughts flashed through my mind in a single moment, but each one led to the same outcome, either me falling on the ground or damaging my camera. I thought about biting his penis, but didn’t want to damage it nor have his urine patch get any further into my mouth.
Even though the whole ordeal lasted about 4-5 seconds, my perception of time had slowed giving the illusion that it lasted much longer. I thought then of the wonderful quote, ‘How long is forever?… sometimes just one second’.
In the end, my brain opted for pushing him away, because no camera was worth that unpleasant fate. ‘Fuck the camera’, I do believe was the sentiment that roared through my mind.
Just as I was about to empty my hands and push him away, he let go of my ears and stepped back.
I immediately regained my balance and stood up, feeling my flustered face glowing crimson underneath a brooding scowl. I quickly wiped my lips with the back of my hand, shuddering at the thought as to what I was wiping off.
I was not impressed.
Upon reorientating myself to being vertical, I was greeted by a staring, open mouthed and silent crowd. In a marquee full of professors, university staff, graduates and loved ones, everyone was staring in my direction in total astonishment at what they had just witnessed at such a dignified and prestigious event. My girlfriend and her mother were also staring wide-eyed in shock, hands across their open mouths indicating their total surprise and horror.
It was if everyone in the marquee tent had held their breath waiting for my response, curious to see what consequence was going to explode out of me in retaliation. Many of the men in the crowd were giving me that look that men often give each other on such occasions, quietly broadcasting the question, ‘Are you really going to stand for that?!’
It was such a strange, highly unpleasant and embarrassing experience, the kind that leaves you feeling dirty and emasculated. This socially awkward petite guy had utterly humbled me with the very symbol of masculinity in front of a huge crowd AND my girlfriend… I’m confident in saying that no man would feel comfortable with that.
Before I share what I did in response, I need to first explain the reason why I’m telling you this story.
You see, there exists an important space between two moments that I only became aware of through meditation practice. A brief but powerful window of opportunity that allows us to check ourselves and choose a better level of behavioural response instead of clumsily lashing out with words or actions in retaliation to a challenging or unpleasant experience.
There is a world of difference between a reaction and a response. A reaction is when we impulsively act on autopilot… a response is a verbal or behavioural decision.
I used to be a hot-headed younger guy with a fiery temper, never violent towards others but would regularly vent my anger verbally or lash out at inanimate stuff. If I couldn’t squeeze a box onto a shelf after repeated attempts for example, would throw the box onto the floor in sheer frustration and kick & stamp the box into oblivion. This was before I had addressed the wounds of my childhood, not realising at the time that anger is an outward manifestation of unhealed pain and trauma.
This temper would often land me in various unpleasant dramas, trouble and arguments; my unhealed wounds at that time were very much in control of the steering wheel, so-to-speak. The unprocessed pain stored in the depths of my subconscious covertly controlled my external behaviour without me even realising.
Had my ex-girlfriend’s father crotch-pumped my face before I had attended to my inner wounds and learned meditation, I honestly believe I would have exploded with a furious rage and overreacted, probably acting in such a way that I would have regretted once the red mist had dissipated.
Meditation’s physical health benefits have been well researched and documented over the years but what is often overlooked is the powerful and positive changes regular practice makes to one’s inner world. Being a mind discipline, meditation allows an individual to develop a better relationship to thought. This helps massively in mastering one’s busy brain and incessant overthinking but just as importantly, it allows an individual to respond and not react to life’s various challenges.
In Zen meditation practice, we work on cultivating a little space between our conscious awareness and the thoughts that buzz around the mind. We are more than just our thoughts, consciousness being far more than just brain software. With enough practice, we are able to spot varying layers of thoughts as they first appear and choose whether to act on them or not. This prevents the mind from being controlled by subconscious behaviour, disabling impulsive reactions before they physically manifest.
As I stood there in the moment, with everyone in the marquee staring at me awaiting my reaction to being face-fucked, I noticed my mind going into overdrive. My mind was flicking through various possible reactions at high speed like nimble fingers navigating an old fashioned rolodex. There was a part of me that wanted to retaliate in such way that shifted the spotlight of humiliation onto the perpetrator of this nonsense. My inner caveman wanted revenge.
It was at that moment that I spotted the word that allowed me a deeper level of understanding into my own thinking, ‘humiliation’. Why did I feel humiliated? Where did it come from?
As humans we often attach ourselves to concepts and perspectives that allow us to solidify our sense of identity. The mind’s inbuilt software is based on fear which is there to keep us safe and alive. However, an undisciplined mind controlled by fear is like a grease-smeared lens through which all of life’s experience becomes indirectly tainted by the data merely passing through, adversely affecting our day-to-day behaviour. Due to our subconscious fear of not knowing who we really are and why we exist, the mind grasps at identity labels in order to feel more grounded and less frightened in its not knowing. Common labels of identity attachments are; roles, professions, wealth, hobbies, interests, etc… and of course, gender.
My own fearful identity attachment to being a ‘man’ in that moment was being challenged in such a way where my masculinity felt humiliated. A much smaller man had not only manoeuvred himself into a position of physical domination, but was using his manhood to disempower and emasculate me publicly whilst in front of his daughter; my lover. The whole ordeal was challenging my own perspectives of masculinity and made me feel highly uncomfortable in the process. No man likes to feel disrespected and challenged in such a way by another man. Male pride can be a very overwhelming and destructive force and mine felt like it was being attacked. The caveman part of my brain saw this moment as a direct threat to the understanding of itself and wanted to defensively react.
In Zen, it is said that life provides the exact experiences we need for the evolution of our consciousness and I thankfully remembered this in that moment, so quickly asked myself, ‘what am I learning from processing this?’ An intuitive voice responded with the perspective that life was providing an opportunity to practice letting go of my identity attachment to the toxic and fragile concepts of masculinity.
Consciousness has no labels, we are so much more than the concepts the mind grasps on to due to its fear of unknowingness. My consciousness is inhabiting a male body but who I really am is not a man, consciousness has no gender. From my perspective I see my body as a kind of organic spacesuit that anchors my consciousness to the physical universe of form and matter, my male body is not my identity. To react and retaliate in such a way in the heat of the moment to defend a false perspective of self would be foolish, creating avoidable and unnecessary drama for the purpose of protecting a falsehood. If I’m not really a man, then there’s no need to defend my concepts of masculinity with destructive and adversely consequential behaviour.
My girlfriend’s father was looking rather sheepish at realising that perhaps he’d gone a little too far. He could tell by the look on my face that I was annoyed and contemplating possible retaliation.
Being socially unconfident, I believe that the grandiose and bustling ceremony was agitating his social anxiety, making him feel very uncomfortable. Such a build-up of anxious energy exploded out of him in a spontaneous and random act of inappropriate male bonding tomfoolery. His lack of social experience affecting his better judgement, not realising that perhaps comedy face-rape was better suited to the confines of a men’s locker room or a lively house party. My girlfriend assured me afterwards that her father doing that was very much out of character. I also believe that there was a subconscious impulse behind his actions, perhaps feeling a little threatened by me and in the same manner in which one dog will try to mount another to establish dominance, crotch-mounted my face in a crude and immature attempt to disempower my social value in front of his daughter.
Of course, I’m taking my time in exploring this in detail now but in that moment, all of this processing happened in a flash.
I took advantage of the space between two moments that meditation practice had awarded me, having spotted the reactionary aspect of my mind wanting to go into overdrive regarding the ordeal. With the time granted within that space, I chose instead to not act upon those impulses, acknowledging with compassion that my girlfriend’s father’s actions were born out of fear and by allowing myself to react to those actions in revenge would simply make an unpleasant situation worse. I also believe that everything happens for a reason and that this uncomfortable experience had manifested as an opportunity for me to let go of my attachment to my masculine pride.
I surrendered to the moment and inwardly let-go of my need to prove myself a bigger and stronger guy in order to validate my value as a man. I choose the merits of my value, not have them indirectly dictated to me via the actions of an anxious and fearful individual. A dog does not lose value because a smaller dog attempts to mount it.
In that moment of surrender and acceptance, I felt stronger and more confident than I did before it all happened. I felt my shoulders lower, my face relax and my eyes soften; my whole body untensed. Having pushed past my own fearful attachments to arrive at an empowered perspective, I saw beyond myself, acknowledging the absurdity of what had just happened.
That’s when I began to laugh.
Laughter bubbled up and exploded out of me, my eyebrows lifted and my scowl turned into a smile.
Everyone in the marquee relaxed, the tense moment lifted. My girlfriend’s father looked relieved.
I laughed all the way to the men’s room and whilst I washed the piss off my face.
I learned a lot about the power of meditation that day, whilst experiencing the sense of empowerment that is awarded for stepping beyond an identity attachment to pride and a false sense of self.
I share these words not to congratulate myself on having developed a stronger level of self control, but to simply bring awareness to the effectiveness of meditation practice and inner-healing work in the hope that it will encourage anyone who maybe thinking about beginning their own journey. Without either, there would have been no way I would have had the mental discipline to restrain myself from seeking immediate retaliation via an impulsive reaction. My subconscious would have grabbed the steering wheel and steered the experience into further chaos, making an unpleasant situation far more unpleasant, potentially ruining my ex-girlfriend’s special day.
Of course, this is just one example of mental discipline being useful, however the applications potential reach far and wide. A stronger mind and greater behavioural control positively affects all areas of life, especially those challenging moments when we’re tempted to vent regrettable words or behaviour. There is no freedom or joy in being a slave to one’s subconscious impulses. Meditation is an effective tool for mastering one’s reactionary behaviour, granting a higher degree of control over the thoughts we choose to action.
The journey of peace and self mastery begins in the mind.