branded

I’m the youngest of three, the baby of the family. This isn’t something that I’m just coming to terms with now at 40-something; it’s something that’s practically been branded.

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When I was little, Marco (3 years older) and Melinda (7 years older) would tease me all the time. That’s all I really remember about my youth with them– the endless teasing and taunting. Marco wasn’t so bad; he just didn’t want me hanging around him and his friends which was hard for this baby to comprehend because all I ever wanted to do was “boy things.” Melinda, on the other hand, oh was she ruthless. Actually it wasn’t so much teasing that she would do either. She just had these ridiculous expectations and when not met, she could be darn right brutal doling out her punishment.

It’s probably typical sibling behavior, but it doesn’t negate the fact that I very much felt like the odd one out when it came to my siblings and family.

When my parents split when I was 9, both Marco and Melinda instantly sided with our mom, leaving me, the baby, to vacillate between Mama and Papa.

Soon, it became quite clear that I was used as a fucking pawn.

Papa would ask me about Marco and Melinda; Mama would ask me if I had the child support check. Neither of them ever asked me about me and that’s not me being a baby, that’s me being a pre-adolescent needing reassurance, love, guidance and getting anything but.

Poor me, I know.

Every single time my dad would ask about Marco or Melinda, I would feel a sting inside. A slice to my heart. I tried convincing myself that I was being dramatic and that of course Papa loved me like he did them. I tried convincing myself that the only reason he always asked about them was because he missed them and they refused to have any contact with him. But. The bottom line is that it made me feel like… well… nothing.

brand NOTHING

I honestly started wondering if maybe the only reason my dad picked me up for weekends was to get details about Marco, Melinda, and my mom. Yet I never said anything to him about how it made me feel; I never told him to stop.

I would continue gossiping and when it would be time to go home, I’d inquire about the check to give to Mama when he dropped me off. Lord knows I didn’t want her wrath bestowed upon me if I came home without some money.

Fast forward a lifetime and honestly (and sadly), things haven’t really changed.

Today my 80-year-old dad can’t go a day without complaining that he hears from nobody and that he has to go on The Facebook to find out anything. And he always, always asks if I’ve talked with my one nephew (my brother’s oldest 23 year-old son). Rarely does he ask how my own daughter is doing. Maybe it’s because he sees pictures of her on Facebook; maybe it’s because he knows I won’t ever let that ray of sunshine turn grey.

It’s a damn good thing I have faith in myself.

It’s a damn good thing I’m a great mom.

I may not be the best (attentive) wife, but my mom pants are always on.

I refuse to do unto my daughter what was done to me.

She won’t be getting belittled on the daily. She won’t be made to feel like nothing on the daily. It’s not going to happen.

She won’t be branded to feel insignificant.

 

brand X

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on becoming badass

She made me feel like a badass when we hung out. Still in high school, we were so badass we even made a 12-hour drive to her hometown one weekend. Just the two of us.

We met junior year in high school. Or was it senior year? I know I met Danni* at the last high school I attended in the late 80s. She stood at maybe 5 feet tall—the most petite thing you’d ever see. She wore leather, lots of makeup, gaudy jewelry. She smoked a lot, talked a lot, lived a lot, sang a lot. She was pretty much the opposite of me, but she was also one of the few people to talk to me.

Danni worked at a gas station in town. I thought that was pretty rad, too. She closed up most nights with her boyfriend in tow. She constantly told me about her sexcapades with him. I’ll never forget her walking kinda funny one day and telling me it was because he went in from behind. My virgin everything was mortified at the idea. I don’t remember his name but he was kinda cute. And short, too. They really did make a cute little couple.

Danni was newer than me at school, which is probably why she talked to me. She wasn’t shy at talking with anyone actually; she didn’t really give a shit what others thought of her. At 16-17, she had more confidence in who she was than I’d ever seen before. I admired that about her. But I also soon learned that a lot of her confidence was a show.

Actually, Danni was kind of a show herself.

She was sexually and physically abused from a very early age on. I didn’t quite understand all of what she told me, but that part was pretty clear. That’s why I didn’t really understand why she wanted to go back home to visit since that’s where the abuse happened and that’s why she wasn’t living there anymore. But she borrowed her aunts car for the weekend and wanted me to come along—so I did.

I felt pretty badass driving shotgun in her big-ass car with her. Kinda Thelma and Louise (before Thelma and Louise) but without the guns, the cliff, and Brad Pitt (too bad).

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We weren’t best friends—she actually never really knew much about me—but we were on an adventure like them. At least that’s what it felt like to me.

Danni was a big flirt. Still, it amazed me how the guys flocked to her. She looked like she was a 10-year-old dressed up trying to look older because of how short she was. But the guys loved it and her. She loved fluttering her big blue eyes at them and putting on her best mischievous smile. She’d flirt with anyone anywhere. It didn’t seem to matter. We’d be driving down the highway about to pass a trucker and Danni would slow down and start mouthing shit to the guy, maybe even giving him a show of her itty titties too.

It really is incredible how different we were.

***

It’s been 20 years since I’ve last been in contact with her. But thanks to Facebook, that’s changed.

She’s still Danni. She’s still very different than me. She’s still very much a show. She’s still this little thing only now she doesn’t look like a 10-year-old dressing up to look older; instead, she looks like a 60-year-old dressing up to look younger. I was pretty astounded to see pictures of her to be frank. She’s aged a lot. I’m sure she feels the same about me and my white hair, though.

It’s strange, really. I feel like the last 10 years of my life have been the best years of my life. I’m certain of this actually. But when I look back 20-plus years, not all that much has changed. Not really. I’m still very much the listener amongst others. The only thing is that now I don’t need to hang with a badass person or take a 12-hour road trip to feel badass.

I just am. Badass.

 

 

*Danni is not her real name

Scary Cheri: A social media tale.

I work a full-time job in an office in front of a computer. I’ve been here for more than a decade, and I’m quite good at what I do. It’s not rocket science, but I know how to get things done efficiently and effectively. That said, there’s plenty of down time spent reading or watching random stuff on the internet. Some people would probably call it stalking, to be honest, but I don’t really do anything with the information I may find other than store it in my head (for the time being) and confirm my theories that people are really stupid when it comes to social media.

Case in point is a woman I’ll refer to as Cheri*.

A couple months ago, I didn’t even know Cheri existed. Then, through her ex-husbands Facebook account (he’s dating my ex-sister-in-law—neither of whom I’m friends with), I soon discovered that Cheri’s children are not with her, but rather with their father. I find this peculiar—especially since they live states away. So I look more closely at Cheri’s profile and she seems to be a pretty miserable woman suffering from daily ailments; but, I don’t find a reason behind why she’s living in a tiny hole in the wall half a dozen states away while her ex-husband and children aren’t.

After a little more digging, I come to discover she once had three children and now only has two. Obviously this gets the better of me, so I dig more and quickly learn her middle child died “suddenly” when he was only three years old. My heart breaks a little—for her, for these people I don’t even know.

How on earth could this woman be living a life without her children, one of whom is dead?! The idea alone saddens me immensely but pushes me to dive further into her life and keep better tabs on her Facebook account.

And then I see an update from her about how she’s unsure how she’ll survive till her court hearing. So I start searching more and soon a link with Cheri’s photo and “manslaughter” appears before my eyes.

Turns out, Cheri was arrested almost a year after her middle child died for purposely overmedicating him on some drug he was on for his “out of control behaviors.” Nobody really thinks she did it to kill the child, but that’s what happened. And that’s why she’s still half a dozen states away, where the death occurred, while her other children and ex-husband aren’t. That’s why she’s posting updates on Facebook all the time about how miserable she is.

I can’t even imagine.

I do one more search on something I picked up from her Facebook page and find a couple different blogs with posts about her life with her kids—all before the middle child died. She admitted to being stressed, to taking (prescribed) drugs to calm her nerves, to maybe even being a little addicted to the drugs. She talked of her children—how the oldest isn’t biologically the ex-husbands, how the middle was perfect until 6 months old when things started changing, how the youngest was a complete surprise.

All this information right there for anyone to find.

If a bored-at-work, forty-something mom can find all this out in a couple random searches, imagine what some of the sick fucks out in the world can find out. Now imagine what they could do with this information.

Social media is fun and useful, but wow can it be scary, too.

 

 

 

*not real name

if it’s public, it’s open for judgement

Dear Dipshit ex-SIL,

Did you know your Facebook profile is open to the public? Did you know there are people who go around stalking Facebook profiles? Creepers like me? Did you? Well, now you do. You’re welcome. Tighten up that shit, would you?

For a while now, I’ve actually enjoyed the fact that you openly Facebook. I’ve enjoyed your reiteration of how ignorant you are. I’ve enjoyed reading proof that your love of alcohol and partying still is a top priority in your life.

But now I see that you’re in a relationship again. Actually, you’ve hinted around for some time now, but then just last month, it became “official” on Facebook. You and he are in a relationship. You’ve both even changed your profile pictures to match: an image of the two lovebirds. So sweet.

I wonder what is wrong with him? He seems like a decent guy. From what I can tell he’s the sole custody parent of two young children, around 10 and a newly-turned 5-year-old girl who no longer wears pull-ups to bed. At first I thought he was a weekend dad, but then I found the baby mama’s profile and she’s several states away and since I can see dad was at Red Robin with the kids on Wednesday night, it’s obvious the kids are with dad and their baby mama is … much like you. Well, at least much like you were back in the day.

That’s what I don’t get. You left your kids when they were 9 and 4. You left them. You wanted to party so you left them with their dad. You picked them up on some weekends but you worked most of those weekends. Then you kept the 9-year-old one weekend and returned the 4-year-old. Do you remember this? You must. I mean, how could you forget leaving your 4-year-old with his dad like he was a borrowed shirt and keeping the 9-year-old with you as if she was your only child? You did do this though and man, was it fucked. It still is. It’s been over 15 years now and it’s still a super fucked up thing you did. And you did it over and over again. You’d pick the boy up for the weekend, work, the older girl would watch the boy, then you’d bring him back to his dad’s house, like a load of laundry being dropped off. That’s exactly how you treated that boy. Like a load of fucking laundry you drop off at the cleaners for them to wash and dry and fold. Then when you were ready and needing some clean clothes, you pick them up. Like you picked up the boy on occasional weekends.

How fucked up. I mean, I cannot be the only person who sees that as being fucked up. You weren’t there when he learned to ride a bike without training wheels; you weren’t there when he learned to tie his shoes, when he aced his first spelling test, when he scored his first soccer goal, when he had his first school show. You weren’t there, period.

And yet, I type your fucking name into the search bar on Facebook and see pictures of you with your latest boyfriend’s 5-year-old as the two of you frolic in the snow. What the fuck?! Your page is open for all to see. Don’t you know your now 22-year-old boy can see that? Does it not even click in your head that, golly gee, you did NONE of that with him??

What the fuck is wrong with you? And what’s wrong with your boyfriend? Your vag must be made of Nutella or something. I just don’t get it, and I’m tired of trying to get it so do us all a favor, set your Facebook to private. Please.

Yours,

Just another Facebook Creeper