An essay to release my personal pain and move on. Not my best work, too emotional to be.
If you’ve ever owned a dog then you know what I’m talking about. With all the suspicious things they eat it’s no wonder why dogs have such bad gas. So bad you send them out of the room, or at least out of smelling range. I’m a farting dog, but I’m a human and my digestive system is none of your business.
You see, I am my family’s farting dog. That doesn’t mean that they don’t love me or dislike me, but like flatulent Fido, they don’t love me as much they love everyone else in the family. And sometimes they just don’t want me around.
My cousins were the first to exclude me, push me away. Holidays themselves I like, but I always dreaded spending holidays with family. The adults ordered all the kids to the playroom or wherever we were supposed to play. Most of the time my cousins told me to get out right away (I was about 2 to 5 years younger than them), but when my parents saw that I wasn’t in the kids’ room they’d always send me right back. I was passed back and forth until finally my parents set down the law. Thanks. I wasn’t a tattle-tale, I hadn’t gone running to anyone asking to be included, but my cousins didn’t see it that way. The only thing worse than being excluded is being forcibly included. They never hurt me physically, but words hurt just as much, maybe more because they’re focused and intensely personal. Physical abuse would’ve just been run-of-the-mill malice or even just blind anger. How I hated spending holidays with family.
I finally started realizing as a teenager that I was also my own immediate family’s farting dog, too. My mom and dad loved spending time with my sister, nearly 8 years my senior. She sometimes got to go with them to more grown-up events, out to their gatherings with friends, and sometimes just out shopping. Without me. It’s just for grown-ups they would say, but I didn’t get automatic inclusion when I graduated, got a full-time job, or turned 18. Then, after I got pregnant (or let them know I was pregnant about one and half months after graduation) and after I had the baby, my new sin was selfishness. Even though all of their support was supposedly offered freely to help me, I was supposed to always show gratitude. Always. I wasn’t allowed to forget or even take for granted their help. Mom was the worst, my sister and dad just went along with it mostly.
I’ve never been consumed by “fairness” the way a lot of people are. But I, wrongly, expected equal treatment WITHIN equal situations. Yeah right. When my sister was home and studying in town (she mostly went to school out of the state and later in-state, but out of town) or just working she would often claim she was tired when it was supposed to be her turn to do dishes. They didn’t buy a dishwasher until I moved out, I guess they needed one then. Yet when I was pregnant and working full-time I was never allowed a break from dishes, no matter how exhausted I was or swollen my legs and feet were or if they hurt. One of my uncles lived with us for a few years and sometimes he offered to do the dishes instead of me, but they wouldn’t let him. It was the same with my grandmas. I started having joint pain, especially in my knees, when I was a teenager. I was supposed to be everyone’s waiter during family gatherings and when I would seek the occasional reprieve because of pain, one of my grandmas would get up, but like with my uncle, my parents always insisted I do it. (I have since been diagnosed with a disease well-known for being capable of causing joint pain. Vindication)
I married the father of my baby and years later, when I had tremendous baby fever and my sisters-in-law were pregnant (after the experience of my first pregnancy, issues surrounding babies and pregnancy were especially painful and difficult, still are even after a sanctioned second pregnancy) my mom became much worse. I know she knew how I felt because when I would lament how frustrating it was that Classic Pooh baby gear was popular now that they were pregnant and I wasn’t, she would make comments about how she hoped I would be nice to their babies and other inappropriate and even downright mean comments. Once when I said of course I would be nice to their babies, “I’m not a monster,” she said “I hope not.” Eventually I learned that it was better not to try and have a close relationship with mom, she always sorely hurt me eventually. I could write a list of all the things said and done that hurt me, but there’s nothing to be gained by it.
When I graduated from college five years after the birth of my first child and my sister told me how proud she was of me, I realized I had never heard that from my parents. I never have. I have a friend who’s really close to her dad, and even her mom, too, despite the issues there, and I get painfully jealous because I’ve never had, nor will I have, a relationship like that with my parents. You see, I’m the farting dog of my family. Even if I exceeded my sister in educational and career achievements, I’d still be the farting dog.