This is Us (We Might Be Confused)

I have four older brothers. Some would say this makes me tough (which is true), but most would say this has affected my intellect (also true). The youngest is ten years older than I am, so my education growing up  was, to say the least, clouded with fibs my brothers told me that I believed the same way people believe everything they read on the internet.

We went camping as a family once (only once). I was very young, maybe four years old. Once we arrived to the camp ground, my mom explained to me that she and I would have to use the restroom outside, or we could use the porta-potties at the campsite, unlike my brothers who could  and did have pissing contests pretty much anywhere they wanted. After she walked away, my youngest brother pulled me to the side and whispered, “If you squat to pee on the ground, there are little tiny snakes that will jump up into your butthole and live in your body, and eat you from the inside out.” His dark eyes widened in a very convincing warning.  I quickly determined the porta-potty would be my best bet and spent the night in the camper dreaming about internal bodily snake infestation.

I have an extremely sensitive sense of smell, so my first experience in a campsite porta-potty resulted in not peeing and lots of gagging. When I came out, my brothers were laughing. The youngest (again)  told me that snakes lived in there too and that I should be very careful because they like to bite little girls’ butts. I decided that relieving myself  was highly overrated.

My mom still tells the story about the time we went camping and I didn’t use the bathroom the entire time. To this day, I don’t enjoy camping, and I have a very healthy fear of snakes, but apparently, I would still fight one because I’m bigger.

As a child though, I looked up to my brothers. I believed them when they told me things, which is why I think carrots are green. That’s weird right? Carrots are orange. I literally almost typed green. Let me explain. I see green as green and orange as orange, but I get the color wrong every time. I say green is orange and orange is green. Why you may ask? I’ve thought about this a lot. You see, three of my four brothers are color blind, two very severely, and I’m pretty sure they taught me my colors. Shout out to mom and dad for letting this one slide.

When my dad and my oldest brother were buying his first car, my dad told him the car was red. He didn’t know it was green until they were signing the final paperwork. When I bought a car in college, my brother told me it was gray. Another said it was silver. It was a gold T-bird and a total POS.

This is us.

My parents have lived in the same house for 35 years. There was a house across the street from us. My friend Jesse lived there. He lived in the green house. The green house across the street. All my life, I called his house the green house across the street. Nope.  Jesse’s house was orange. And nobody corrected me. How did I make it through elementary school with this backassward knowledge?  Thankfully, Jesse’s house is not green or orange anymore because someone realized orange was a terrible choice for exterior paint color.

And this stuff still affects my life.

I told my son this morning to put on his green shirt. He went into his room, closed the door and put on his clothes. He came downstairs wearing a -gasp- green shirt. I said, “Why are you wearing that? That’s not what I told you to wear.” He wrinkled his freckled forehead at me and said, “Mom, this is the only green shirt I have.”

I am thirty-eight years old, and I don’t know my colors.

And it’s all their fault. Brothers.

I won’t even tell you about the time my brother told me my other brother got a tramp stamp. Because I believed him.

What did your siblings tell you that wasn’t true? Do you see orange or green or green or orange?

green

Orange

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The Beast Inside

They say, “You’re not good enough.”

They say, “You’re not smart enough.”

They say, “Quit.”

They say, “What’s the point?”

They say, “If only you were…better.  If only you were funnier.  If only you were prettier.”

They say, “No one cares.”

They start off whispering little messages of doubt.  They quiet for a bit and allow the negativity to marinate, to percolate on their acrimony.  Then they start again, louder, full of malice and greed, seeking to pull out every ounce of self respect and esteem, pursuing to leave me buried in self-loathing and malevolence.

Then they scream, “Just run away.  You will never be enough…”

“Shhhhhh.”

I take a deep breath.   I see myself in the mirror.  The girl staring back at me is strong, smart, beautiful.  She is fucking good enough.

I look around at my surroundings.  I count my blessings.  I reach out to my daughter and pull her into an embrace where she wraps her chubby arms around my neck and squeezes me until I can hardly breath.  I listen to my son tell me joke after joke and relish in his sense of humor and the joy that he gets from making me laugh.  I take the hand that my husband stretches out to me and wrap my fingers around his, holding on to the foundation that we’ve created.  And I smile.

For a while, the voices will quiet.

They will return.  They always do.  But they won’t win.  I won’t let them.

Because I am strong.  I am smart.  I am beautiful.  

I…am…fucking…good…enough.

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