I simultaneously hate that I carry residue of my brother’s DNA and think it’s super cool that I carry the residue of my sister’s DNA. These two facts sit in such opposition for me. What is true of one sibling, and somewhat thrilling, is also true of the other and therefore horrifying.
I’m waiting in my therapist’s office, and the Scientific Journal Article I just finished reading confirms this reality. The article describes how every child you bear leaves behind trace amounts of DNA. It is called Chimerism, named after the part goat, part dragon, part lion thing, from Greek mythology. It is said to reduce a mother’s risk of cancer by 60%. Who wouldn’t want that? I want my mom to be less likely to get cancer. I like her, and I want her to stay alive and healthy. Having residual DNA from three offspring may help, but sometimes I genuinely wish I’d been the only fruit of her womb. Not only because I think I am extremely well suited to be an only child, but because I really wish I weren’t inextricably connected to my brother’s DNA.
My sister is way older than I am. She lives in Europe and is totally fabulous. She left home for NY City when I was only five and has never looked back. She comes home for Christmas like once every three years and brings spectacular presents and stories. But she wasn’t around at all when I was growing up, so I don’t really consider her a factor in my lack of only child status. Now, I discover that she is literally a part of me because I’m carrying around bits of her genetic makeup. Maybe that means that my future can be as awesome as her present. Although, technically my brother is also carrying around her DNA, because he’s the middle child; It doesn’t seemed to have helped him at all in life.
My brother is one of the most nauseating humans ever to walk the earth. I like to tell people we’re estranged, but that isn’t entirely accurate. I have to see him all the time. Even though he’s 22, he still lives in my parents basement, and I live at home, because I’m in high school. There is no escaping him. He’s like a video game playing, fridge emptying, pet ghoul my parents keep in the bowels of the house. He’s got some kind of a video gaming blog or something, and he spends hours in front of his computer and never showers or washes his hair. Mom is always making excuses for him. She thinks he’s going to make some kind of a fortune as a YouTuber. Dad disagrees and has been trying to get him to move out or go to college since high school.
Now, I find out that because he occupied our mother’s womb before me, I will forever be stuck with tiny fragments of HIS DNA. That is REVOLTING. I don’t even like to use the bathroom after him. However, when it comes to washrooms it’s not just him; it’s all washrooms, public ones anyway.
I am terrified of public washrooms. My fear being that one of my fellow humans hasn’t bothered to flush or aim and that their bodily waste will be in, on, or around the toilet. You can’t even always see it. Sometimes it’s just residue, but it’s there. I won’t use the toilets at school. Teenage girls are the worst, well the second worst: my brother is the worst. But teenage girls are almost as disgusting. For the most part, they look nice on the outside, but go into a girls washroom in any high school, and the ugly truth will be unveiled. I just hold it in and won’t drink liquids at school. My mom is super worried that I’m gonna get dehydrated. It’s kind of why I’m here.
My therapist say’s it’s called Toilet Phobia. I don’t have Parcopresis, also known as “Bashful Bowel Syndrome” or Paruresis, “Shy Bladder Syndrome”. I just know public washrooms are gross, because people use them and people are gross. So I have “Toilet Phobia,” which doesn’t sound at all cool. I’d rather have something with a better name, like Agoraphobia—the fear of being trapped in small spaces—but nope that just isn’t my problem. Even being afraid of clowns gets a more interesting name, Coulrophobia, and that’s a ridiculous fear. Public pools are gross too and so are movie theatres, with gum all stuck under the seats and lice in the head rests, but that’s just fact, not phobia. To say I am squeamish is a broad understatement. I know it’s a problem. It’s why I’m in therapy, and my therapist is trying to give me “coping mechanisms,” but they aren’t really working. Now I learn that my gross, loser, older brother’s DNA was swirling around in my mom’s womb with me during the nine months I was in there. In all that repulsiveness, I actually absorbed his DNA and it’s part of me FOR-EV-ER.
When I look in the mirror, I will no longer be able see me, I will only see him. Ew! Yuck! Ew! It’s a good thing I already have a therapist.
I am less photogenic than my dog.