My reply to the prompt Unseen
There was a time back when I was first married that my sister and I played in a volleyball league together. We played every Wednesday night, and many times went out for beers afterwards.
We were in the league for a year or two when I became pregnant with my first child. I continued to play as long as I could, but by the 5th or 6th month, I had to stop. My belly would get in the way more times than not, and it was hard to curb the instinct to dive for the ball.
At the end of the season, everyone got together for drinks and food at a local bar. My sister asked me to come along, and even though I couldn’t really drink, it would be nice to see all my league-mates again and catch up. After all, I hadn’t seen anyone for a month or two.
At the end of the evening, they gave out silly awards. I clapped and laughed as each person was called up to get a certificate of merit for their particular talent (or lack thereof). With each new award, I thought, “is this me?” Nope. Next award, “is this me?” Nope.
And then the awards ended. I had been totally ignored. Nobody even thought to include me, just because I had missed a month or two of playing. Hell, my award would’ve been easy to come up with…”best setter with baby on board” or “best baby bump.”
But I got nothing, and it really hurt my feelings. l was forgotten. I was unseen.
The rest of the evening I forced smiles and laughs when all I really wanted to do was cry. I thought these people liked me. It felt like high school volleyball all over again; surround by team mates who in reality didn’t want to play with you at all.
I stopped playing with them. I might have gone back few times after I had the baby, but it just wasn’t as fun anymore. I didn’t feel at all like I was a part of this group. It was as if when I showed up to play, they were thinking, “oh, she’s here?”
My sister stuck with it. Where it had started as our league, it finished as her league. Sometimes I’d ask, “What are you doing this weekend?” and she’d mention a party someone in “the league” was having, and I’d feel a twinge of sadness, shame, and anger.
Hell, I spent most of my life outside the in-crowd, and at the age of 30 I was surprised at how much it still hurt to be an outsider.