I have this very vague memory of being at my grandmother’s house sleeping on a cot when my teen-age uncle came in with his girlfriend. He had this big toy stuffed donkey, and he threw it at me on the cot. Apparently the stuffed donkey had been won at a fair by another young man and given to my uncle’s girlfriend. My uncle did not like that and was giving the donkey to me. I did not understand all of that at the time, because I was only about six years old. I just knew that he was giving me a wonderful stuffed animal. It was nearly as big as I was. From that night on, I slept with that donkey until I went off to college. It was my favorite toy.
When I was a little older, I saw a similar donkey (only smaller) in a store. I asked my dad if I could have it, and he said no. It made me a little sad and I teared up, but I was really okay with Dad’s decision. I didn't really need the donkey; I had just thought it was cool. Then he gave in and said I could have it. I remember feeling torn. On the one hand, I wanted the donkey – on the other hand, I didn’t want Dad to be upset with me. Dad bought the donkey for me. Although I put the donkey in a place of honor, it always bothered me. I never liked that donkey like my other stuffed animals. Maybe it was because I had gotten the donkey by crying. Maybe it was because Dad gave it to me under duress and not from his heart. The donkey always made me feel guilty, and I never enjoyed it. That is the problem with showing your emotions or voicing your thoughts. Sometimes it is just better to suck it up and try not to be a martyr later on when things don’t go your way. Chances are, you will be happier without the guilt.