You know how once you say something out loud, it suddenly becomes so real? Like if you could just keep yourself from saying the words then it’s not really true.
Today I finally said the things I’d been thinking about my family and our relationship. My parents don’t like me. I’m an only child. They are supposed to love me and want to be around me. They are supposed to want to keep me at home, close to them. Not my parents. It took my parents 11 years to get pregnant. I really think that they are a couple who could have lived their entire lives without children and been just fine. They are a couple who loves each other more than they love their children. That’s not to say they abused me. They didn’t. But I always felt….off. As if I had to try to earn their love by being better and doing more.
My dad and I were really close when I was younger. I’m pretty sure that made my mom jealous. She didn’t like it when Dad and I spent time together. She didn’t like it that he went away with me for weekends to play in softball tournaments. She was always knocking me down. She had no patience with me; I was always in trouble with her. When I dated a black man in college, my mom announced that she would disown me if I were to ever marry him. He wasn’t allowed in our house and I wasn’t allowed to tell our family about him. I tried to talk to my dad thinking he would be reasonable about it, but he said that if he had to choose between me and my mom that he would choose my mom. He wouldn’t be able to talk to me anymore if I continued in a relationship with a black man so I should think about that before deciding to continue the relationship. That really stuck with me; that he would choose my mom over me. That he would choose my mom’s racism over my happiness.
My dad had a hunting accident about four years ago. He broke all the vertebrae in his neck. He’s lucky to be alive and it’s a miracle he’s able to walk. After his accident, he started changing. He became more terse. He lost his filter. He became very distant, no I guess if I’m going to be honest he started becoming distant when I went to college and quit playing softball. But it’s gotten a lot worse since his accident. I tried to talk to him about it and tell him how I felt; that he was hurting my feelings with his actions and that I missed him. His response was, “That’s what happens when you move out.” And later he added, “When you get married” to the comment. I try to tell myself that it’s because he’s in constant pain from his accident. Dad’s a factory worker and his injuries from his accident don’t mesh well with his job. He is in constant pain. But I can’t excuse it all.
When I call they find an excuse to get off the phone quickly. They never, and I mean never come visit us in Columbus. We only live one hour and forty minutes away from them but they won’t come here. There’s nothing I can say or do to get them to come unless it’s Thanksgiving or the family birthdays we hold here in the summer. We’ve been here for six years and my parents have come probably 12 times? At the most? They didn’t help us move, they didn’t help us paint, they don’t come to visit. They always have an excuse. They’re too tired or Dad doesn’t want to drive this far. It’s frustrating because it’s too far for them to drive here, but they expect us to drive there. They expect us to come help them move and if we don’t go, we get a guilt trip. My dad has told me twice now that I don’t deserve my salary or my benefits as a teacher. That I’m overpaid, and he is always quick to point out that I make twice what he does. Like what I do isn’t important; isn’t enough somehow.
It sucks. I’ve felt this way for awhile, but until today I hadn’t really spoken the words out loud. But now that I have, it’s all I can think about. It makes me sad. So I’m sitting here tonight watching Law and Order SVU and eating homemade cookie dough right out of the bowl. Hopefully I will wake up tomorrow with my optimism and faith restored, but for today I’m going to snuggle up on the couch with my dog and cats and eat cookie dough.