Archive | April 2014

No One Ever Told Me

Is it just me or are there a multitude of campaigns out there? You’ve got the CADV – Campaign Against Domestic Violence and there is UNITE to End Violence Against Women. There is also Take Back The Night which raises awareness to end sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and sexual abuse and of course there are your run of the mill Anti-Bullying and Just Say No to drugs movements. Too many to name.

On top of that, we have color coded ribbons. When I was growing up the very first ribbon, at least I think it was the first, was the red ribbon for AIDS awareness. Then Breast Cancer became an epidemic and it’s – as we all know – associated with the pink ribbon. Now, there are not enough colors to go around. Take purple. The purple ribbon is assigned to – ARE YOU READY FOR THIS??? No…you’re not. The purple ribbon stands for awareness on 45 different causes. FOURTY FIVE!!!! Among them are child abuse, domestic violence, anti gay bullying, animal abuse and suicide prevention. That’s only 5 on the list. I chose these five because the rest on the list are mostly health related issues but these FIVE are things that can be prevented. How?? TALK TO YOUR CHILDREN!!!!

Since I’ve been blogging and going from website to website, reading information on shelters and hotlines and following tweets and Facebook pages the number of causes are insurmountable. The more I come across the more it has hit me (no pun intended) that these issues – all of them – are being discussed. Finally. Whatever the topic. But for these things to be so prevelant that one ribbon has 45 topics attached to it – it makes me wonder if enough is being done. It’s made me think back to my own childhood. Would I be where I am now if there was awareness? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not shifting blame. I just wondering if we all had the same – non-existent – talk.

My parents…my mother…my aunts…heck, no relative had any “talk” with me. Whether it be regarding sex, drugs, abuse, bullying. Nothing. There was no conversation about it. My parents were young when they had me. My mother was 17 and my father was 20. And it was the 1970’s. So they were still having sex, doing drugs (smoking pot), my father hit my mother (not excessively but in today’s world abuse is still abuse) and bullying…wasn’t that just the norm? Some kids got bullied and some kids were the bully. The biggest talk there was regarding that was your parents telling you to stick up for yourself. Basically, stop violence with violence.

In thinking back, I was never told about sex or how easy it was to get pregnant. I wasn’t even told about my period. The furthest my mother got with that was taking out a book from the library and leaving it on my bed. I can still remember the day I came home from school and saw it there. What the heck was I supposed to do with that? Everything (I thought) I needed to know was learned from the kids at school. We all had our own rendition of what certain words meant and how many sexual positions there were. Plus we were still at the age where we were amazed that the word bitch was in the dictionary – and that we (thought) we could go around saying it and when we got in trouble for doing so we just shrugged and acted confused….what? It’s a female dog. Look…it’s in the dictionary!

When I started liking boys…and chasing boys…catching and dating boys…there was never a talk on how I was supposed to be treated. Nothing about how he should respect me and never lay a hand on me. There was never a topic on saving myself for marriage or reputations that a girl could get. Oh and that…don’t let anyone ever touch you in your “private” areas talk…yeah, that never happened either.

I’m not even sure what has me bothered. I’m not even sure I am bothered. There are an awful lot of CAPS going on in this post. So I guess something has me twisted. Maybe I’m just hoping that this new wave of Public Service Announcements isn’t a fall back to parents not talking to their kids about the hard topics. Even if you haven’t been a victim of anything other than missing the bus and your life has been sunshine and roses, you should still talk to them about real issues even if you don’t know a single person that has been through anything as traumatic as domestic abuse. It’s not to put fear in their heart but awareness in their minds.

Maybe I am overreacting. It’s possible that these crusades are being lead by the children that were spoken to. That did learn about life not being perfect. In that case…thank you. To whoever took the time to sit their kids down and talk to them, no matter how uncomfortable a topic. It is quite true that knowledge is indeed power and awareness brings freedom.

My rant is over.

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To read from the beginning… my story starts here.

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The Kindness of Strangers

 

“Whenever you find yourself doubting how far you have come, remember everything you have faced, all the battles you have won, and all the fears you have overcome.” — Unknown

Every once in a while I will look back on posts I have written, usually when I notice a random page has been accessed, and when I read the comment section I’m always taken aback.  When I started this blog, I had no idea what to expect.  I think I leaned more towards the belief that no one would see it or read it and honestly, that was just fine with me.  That belief was my safety blanket in telling my story.  I figured if no one read it, I could pour it all out.  Get out every last drop that was pushed way down deep inside.  All of the things I kept hidden, things I never told a soul, things I pretended didn’t happen because I had to keep going.

And then…it happened…

Someone read one of my posts.  I panicked.  I remember seeing the notification and kind of just freezing up like…oh no, someone read this.  Now what?  Who are they?  What do they think of me?  I went through the emotions of feeling embarrassed and humiliated.  I felt so small and ashamed.  Of course, I followed the link back to their blog and tried to see if I could figure out where they were from.  What are the odds of someone I know happening upon my blog, let alone the first person?  Probably one in a zillion.  Eventually, I took a breath and calmed down.  Realizing…they didn’t know me and I didn’t know them.

Eventually, more people read and after about two weeks, someone made a comment.  Kind and compassionate words that made me realize…wait a minute, I’m not alone.  Being as I was brand new to blogging, I was still in my own little bubble.  I wasn’t really venturing out into the WordPress society and looking for other blogs.  As people liked and followed me, I would in turn check out and read their blogs and in no time I found a slew of others writing about the same horrific experiences.  I was stunned.  Honestly.  I just couldn’t believe people were talking about…abuse.  I started reading other stories and I felt like I just walked into a place where everyone knew my secret and no one cared because they all had the same exact secret.

As more people started to comment on what I was writing about it made me feel … I don’t even know, it’s indescribable.  There was a calmness about it.  Just in knowing that other people totally understood and didn’t judge me.  One such comment was from my girl Abbbz from The Left Side, who said the following:

I will stand with you throughout. There is no judgment here. I understand that it is not an easy time you are going through and I understand that it is not always easy to up and leave. Be as safe as you can be. I look forward to the time when you will be a survivor as well. It will happen. Just remember. No matter what he says, You are strong. You are important. You are beautiful. You matter. Be safe. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

Simple words like that from someone I didn’t even know were such an amazing gift.  Especially in the beginning.  Not knowing what to expect or how to react to people now reading and reaching out to me, showing such empathy.  Another comment came from The Power of Wisdom and really hit home, making me feel like I was definitely doing the right thing in telling my story.  She said:

I read your post and just had to comment. You don’t deserve anything you are going through, period. I am an abuse survivor but I will be the first to admit that my level of fear was no where near what you must be dealing with. I was threatened, but deep inside I knew I was with a coward who would never follow through with such violence. When I read your posts…God I just wanted to hug you. You are hands down one of the strongest women I know. His threats are horrifying and you are still able to keep your head up for the sake of your children. You are an amazing woman. I recently started a blog to help women escape abuse by working on themselves first. Although I believe it’s still possible for all of us to take our lives back, with a situation like yours you can’t just stand up to him and leave – he has no conscience or remorse and this is a dangerous combination. I completely, 100% agree with you that the only reason to stay with someone like this has nothing to do with self-worth, self-esteem, etc. It truly does come down to fear – it would for me as well. I am going to follow your posts because I want to see you make it out. You are too tough, too inspiring, too amazing not to make it out. There has to be a way and continuing to blog will connect you with other amazing, kick-a** women that overcome monsters like these. Hang in there. Starting tonight, you will be in my nightly prayers – I promise. I’m rooting for you. :)”

I noticed the more that I heard from others – mostly survivors – the more I felt, possibly for the first time, that I am truly capable of doing this.  I’ve come a long way and have been through way too much to succumb to it all.  I didn’t really notice at first the confidence and strength I was feeling because of the kindness of strangers.  It just sort of snuck up on me as I continued to write.  As people voiced their views on my abilities, it made me feel inspired.  Wary, Contrary & No Virgin Mary told me:

What you are doing is intelligent. It’s also possibly going to save your life.  When you leave, you need to go somewhere with other people who can physically protect you.  If your husband has no idea this is coming, his reaction is going to be terrifying. He may not be violent right now, but he has been in the past it seems, and losing control of you to this extent is going to send him off his rocker.  You are incredible. You are strong and brave and intuitive. You are going to be okay.  And that really makes me happy. I don’t think you’re in danger of continuing in the abuse cycle the way I did, because you’re aware of what was done to you and that it was wrong.  I am excited for your future.

With all that I have read on other blogs from people who have been through this, found the courage to leave and survived to tell about it gave me the courage to start letting people I know in to my world.  I found the strength to let people in one at a time and Aussa, of Hacker.Ninja.Hooker.Spy, said to me:

It is so scary when you finally confide a dark secret to a close friend… especially when it is one that you have kept for a long time. But it can also feel amazing. I’m glad that you are taking so many steps in the direction towards “Happily Ever After.” 2014 is barely here and you’re already winning at it!

With each friend that I have let in to my world (5 at the moment), I have felt overwhelming strength in my heart letting me know I am doing the right thing and I am on the right path.  As Michael of The I Am said to me:

You have the perfect attitude to manifest everything good that’s coming to you. It’s truly perfect! :)”

And I can feel that he is right.  However, all of this may not have come so quickly and effortlessly without the kindness of strangers, who are not really strangers anymore.  Never would I have thought I’d ever tell my story, admit to the abuse, admit to the fear but in the middle of doing it and because of doing it, I evolved.  As Omtatjuan once said to me:

It took everything you went thru to get you to this exact moment in time… I am glad you are right here… Right now.

I’m glad too.  With every page written, a layer of shame, guilt, and burden has been peeled off of my soul and with every kind and supportive word I know I’ve come so far.  And as the picture above says, whenever I find myself doubting how far I can go, I just remember how far I have come…and that is because of you.  So, thank you for reading.  Thank you for following my story.  Thank you for your ridiculously kind words.  It has all been beyond helpful.  I am looking forward to getting to the part of blogging my happily ever after story to all of you…once strangers, now friends.

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To read from the beginning… my story starts here.

I’m Not Dead

Every once in a while the numbers game takes a toll on me.  I guess because of my last post (Silver Anniversary), that daunting number – 25 years – has been lingering in my head.  When thinking back over all that time, bits and pieces of memories make their way to the front of my mind.  And sometimes, I can clearly remember moments when I thought I’d never make it this far.

I’m not really sure how long after I made the decision to stay did I think about my own mortality.  I don’t think it was an immediate thought, in respect to when the abuse started, because in the very early stages, as I’ve said before, there was always a logical reason.  So I don’t think I feared for my life at the very beginning.  It may very well have been the first time he clenched a knife in his fist holding it up in the air above me, ready to plunge it wherever he needed to for me to learn my lesson.  If not then – maybe it was when he pulled a gun on me for the first time.  Supposedly, unloaded but how many times have “unloaded” guns killed someone?

There were times over the first five years, before having my second child that I thought who am I kidding…I’m never going to see this kid make 18.  It was something I would think about, panic about, grieve about and then push down deep inside and move on.  With my second pregnancy I was so depressed.  I really couldn’t believe I was going to be stuck for 5 years extra.  This may have been the time frame in which I became determined to survive.  At all cost, I needed to make it out of this hell.

Of course, there were many, many times when I lay there crying after an incident and prayed for God to take me.  Please, please…just let me die.  I would go through phases of just giving up.  Who cares?  People die everyday.  Their kids and families are left behind along with everything they worried about while they were alive and you know what…life goes one.  People mourn them and then get back to life.  There were times I didn’t care if that turned out to be my story.  But there was something else going on.  Nothing that I really noticed until I was far past those dark days.

I’m not really sure how to explain it.  In a simple term…I survived.  I just kept going.  I sucked it up…took each day as it came and kept going.  I’m not sure how and I’m not sure why.  It just happened.  And each year that passed was tallied quietly in my mind.  I’d think, oh my God, I’m doing it.  I’m gonna see these kids to 18 and then get the hell out.  On my own, on their own, on his own.  Done.  Then…bam.  Kid #3.  Geez, I could not catch a break.  Although, strangely enough, with no birth control my kids are all 5 years apart.  So bizarre.  I always wanted to have kids close in age so they’d be close with each other but this way seemed to work out for me well because as one started school full time, I was home with the baby while he was at work.  So there was silence and bonding.  Maybe that was all part of the bigger picture.

Moving forward…over the years my emotions would ping pong back and forth with deciding on jail, praying for death (his or mine), or being plagued with the fear of actually never making it out.  However, now that I have made it all the way to the end – even more so after coming to terms with and purging my secret life of abuse – I sometimes still wonder why…I’m not dead.  It actually amazes me…makes me wonder why.  What is so special about me?  Was I supposed to tell this story?  Are my kids going to play some important role in the future?  I can’t even grasp on to what it could be.  I’m just amazed that – even though I burdened myself with this timeline – that I have come within reach of it.  It’s not to say I don’t have my days when I still want to just give up but as a friend of mine said to me…”You’re 3 feet from gold…don’t stop now.

So, I continue to forge ahead.

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To read from the beginning… my story starts here.

Silver Anniversary

Last month was my 25th wedding anniversary.  There were so many emotions swirling inside of me that day, actually that entire week, that I was unable to even come here in that time frame and sort them out.  I wanted to.  I kept signing in and staring at the screen.  I knew if there was any place to air my anxiety this was the place.  And even though several weeks have passed since the “special day”, I still feel the need to come and write about it.  As anyone who is a regular reader would know…this was NOT a happy day for me.  It was a less than joyful event.  In the days leading up to it, I started to become angry, depressed, and emotional over everything.  I just wanted to skip past it.  I didn’t want to think about it.  Just get to the days that followed as if it never existed.

For couples who are happily married, when days like this come, they’re excited, especially a big one like this.  Maybe plan a trip or at least a night out, dinner, flowers, maybe a gift.  So the anger started pulsing because even though this is not an exciting time of year for me, as it was getting closer my mind started.  I was feeling ripped off.  We don’t really do gift giving as it is so I was not expecting anything but that started to bother me.  Like, I’ve thrown away 25 years of my life the least I can get is a damn gift.  But then in my heart I knew…I don’t want anything from this man.  I don’t want a gift, a flower or even a piece of chocolate.  Just go away and pretend like this union never even existed.  Now THAT would be a gift!

Then I started picking arguments.  Believe it or not there are days when he is silent.  Days when he does not bother me at all and days my kids and I can get through morning to night without the aggravating sound of his voice.  So on those days, I just picked.  Over stuff that mattered and stuff that didn’t matter.  Like how he can put his dish on the counter next to the sink but not actually inside of the sink.  Why?  Why can’t you stretch your arm out and inch more and put the damn dish in the damn sink?  Whatever could be done to put him in the frame of mind that I was in.  Even if we had to argue.  He should be in a pissed off mood…it obviously wouldn’t pertain to the actual anniversary but who cares.  His day should be ruined – because mine is.  But he wasn’t biting.  It all came to a head later that week (Finally…), which just shows how my frame of mind and emotions were because of this reminiscent day of marriage.

The day came and he was excited.  I was sad and moping around.  There was absolutely nothing special about the day except that he was trying to be nice.  I did get flowers, which is the usual.  (For the men reading this…I’m not downing the giving of flowers…this is solely particular to my own case with this particular person.)  In the big picture, the gesture is kind and appreciated.  Looking through the microscope though, who cares?  They’ll be dead in a few days and he’ll be an asshole again.  No gift, no dinner, nothing special.  I’m perfectly fine with that.  I’d preferred that it was a regular day, without the added title to it.  I cooked, washed the dishes, worked, etc. Normal day.

Over the years, I’ve made friends with the parents of my kids’ closest friends.  Some parents I’d feel closer to than others.  Some that I feel less close with I remained friends with longer.  I’m not really sure if that even makes sense.  But there was one mom who was great to talk to.  She was also a teacher in my daughter’s school so she was also smart and I felt smart when I’d talk to her.  And I felt admired when I’d talk to her because she always was in awe of how great my kids were and how well behaved and how smart they were.  When we had become semi-close she had just started her second marriage and had her second child – the first for her husband – and she always asked about my parenting skills and what did I do, if anything, differently from my first to my second, etc.  Our conversations always did come back around to how I was such an inspiration and how I should be proud of myself because I beat the odds.  The odds being that I was a teenage mother who married her boyfriend also while a teenager and who was able to maintain that status and go on to have two more children and create and sustain a whole family unit.  And for some reason, when she said it to me, I believed it.  I believed I had beat the odds.  I believed that it was this amazing feat that not many others I knew had achieved.

But on this day, my Silver Anniversary, when her words rang in my ear, it wasn’t something that was admirable … it was sad.  Just sad.  I wasn’t doing anything wonderful for people to be astonished by I was sitting still.  Paralyzed with fear.  Scared to leave.  Allowing the days of abuse and duties of being a wife and mother just take over and eclipse my heart and spirit of who I really am.  I never told my friend the secret I was hiding.  I’m not sure if she would have been surprised.  I wonder if her opinion of me would have lessened or been any different.

All of this just boils down to the fact that on this day when I should be happy, I should feel accomplished, I should be celebrating with friends and family and a significant other that I should be in love with….I couldn’t.  For me it was a spotlight on the years that have been wasted.  Time never seemed to make such an impact on me as it did this day.  I can never get back the 25 years that have passed.  What I can do is harness the way this day made me feel to keep myself on track.  So I can easily, and hopefully peacefully, get out and start a new life with a new goal.  Once I press the restart button, I will be counting the next 25 years with peace of mind, happiness and loving life each and every day I’m given.

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To read from the beginning… my story starts here.

Sunshine Award – Part Deux

Thank you so much Persia Karema for nominating me for my second Sunshine Award.  The way you are unraveling and retelling your story takes much courage, and I applaud you.  I hope everyone reading this will take the time to stop by her blog and show her support.

Rules for accepting the Sunshine Award:

1.  Thank the person who nominated you and link back to their blog.

2.  List 10 facts about you.

3.  Nominate 10 other blogs for this award.

4.  Announce the nominations to the nominees.

10 Facts About Me:

1.  I love to bake – my newest endeavor…cake pops.

2.  When I was a child I wanted to be a teacher – always playing “pretend school” with my younger sister.

3.  When I was a teenager I wanted to be a child psychologist – the amount of time I’d have to be in school scared me out of it.

4.  As an adult the closest I got to teaching was being a Girl Scout Leader and the closest I came to being a psychologist was analyzing my friends and giving free advice.

5.  I always wanted to learn how to play the electric guitar – thanks to Prince and his Purple Rain album.

6.  I grew up in the 1970’s listening to a diverse range of music – thanks to my father – my favorite being mostly Motown.

7.  My favorite movie is Gone With The Wind.

8.  Pizza is my drug of choice and my ass can back me up on that.

9.  My favorite flavor of ice cream is chocolate with pistachio being a close second.

10.  I love tattoos.

My 10 Nominees are:

1.  Pagan Girl Poetry

2.  Passion Living Out Loud

3.  Becky Says Things

4.  It’s Not My Fault

5.  The Running Thriver

6.  Tell Me About It

7.  The Chronicles of Navi

8.  Fish of Gold

9.  Busy Mind Thinking

10.  Life With A Voice

If I have nominated you and you do not accept awards on your blog, please forgive my oversight.  Just know that I only felt the need to nominate you all because I admire your writing.  For one reason or another, it’s you I remember, your blog I check in on, and this is my way of letting you know how special you are to me and all of your followers.  Bravo!

Brave Heart Award

 

Thank you very much to morganfeese23 who has nominated me for the Brave Heart Award.  I am truly honored and appreciative for the accolades.

Rules for Accepting the Award:

1.  Thank the person whom nominated you.

2.  Post a comment on your nominees blog (with a link back to your Brave Heart Award results), notifying them that they have been nominated for The Brave Heart Award with the quote below.

Stand Strong You Are Not Alone

I call you a survivor, because that is what you are. There are days when you don’t feel like a survivor and there are days when the memories trigger your past and it feels like you are losing the fight – but you are not. Take the past and heal with it. You are strong. I want you to know that the abuse was not your fault. It does not matter what age it happened. You did not deserve it, you did not cause it, and you did not bring it on yourself. You own no shame, guilt, or remorse. In your life, you have faced many demons but look around you and you will see there is hope, and there is beauty. You are beautiful, You are loved, there is hope. You deserve to be loved and treated with respect. You deserve peace and joy in your life. Don’t settle for anything less than that. God has plans for you. Your future does not have to be dictated by your past.

Each step you take you are not alone.

Stand Strong.

3.  Take the 12 question interview yourself and share your answers on your blog.

4.  Nominate 12 blogs.

5.  Share the 12 question interview with your nominees to answer.

6.  Share your 12 nominees website/blog links on your blog page.

7.  You can not nominate a blog if they have already received the Brave Heart Award.

Brave Heart Q & A:

1.  Tell us about your blog. Who designed it?  My blog is about – as plainly stated – a Battered Wife Seeking Better Life.  This is the first time I ever blogged and I really didn’t know what I was doing as far as sharing my information.  I didn’t know how popular this particular blog sight was and therefore I had no idea who or how many people would actually happen upon my information.  So I figured keeping the title simple and honest was my best way to continue to write honestly even if no one ever read it.  I picked the design from one of the WordPress preset design choices.  It’s called From Dusk to Dawn. Both the style and the title stood out to me.

2.  What is the title and description of your blog?  As stated above, Battered Wife Seeking Better Life is the title of my blog.  It is about my life as a victim of abuse from start to present.  Not a pretty or lighthearted subject.  Just an honest one.

3.  Who is your intended audience?  Initially, my intended audience was no one.  I figured it was a drop in the bucket of however many blogs might be on this sight and I didn’t really think anyone would pick up on it, which was completely fine by me.  However, it turned into way more than anticipated.  So today, my intended audience is whoever wants to read it.

4.  How did you come up with the title of your blog?  I was just trying to keep it simple.  It’s what came to mind first.  

5.  Give us an interesting fun fact about your blog.  Fun fact? Hmm… I don’t know.  I guess the fact that my blog has been accessed all around the world still amazes me.  To date it has been viewed in 45 countries.  A couple of which I have never even heard of before.  Also, as I publish this (my 58th) post, my blog has been viewed exactly 3,500 times.

6.  What other blogs do you own and what makes them alike?  This is the main blog, which is more than I can handle some days, and I started a second blog Your Path to Peace, which is a collection of stories from women who escaped their abusers.  I haven’t been as active on that one lately but I hope to be more so in the future.

7.  Do you have any unique talents or hobbies?  I’m too tired to zone in on any one thing in particular.  I guess you can say I’m pretty crafty – kind of Martha Stewart-esque.

8.  How can we contact you or find out more about your blog?  My contact information is listed on my Gravatar.  It lists my blogs, Twitter, Facebook and email info.

9.  What can we expect from you in the future?  In the future, you can expect me to chronicle my life from victim to survivor.  I’m very much looking forward to bringing you that exclusive story.

10.  What can readers who enjoy your blog do to help make your blog more successful?  Keep reading.  Keep sharing.  On this journey, reading blogs from other women who have been through the same ordeal and who made it out has been inspiring.  Maybe my words can reach those who are on here blogging about a completely different topic and possibly inspire them to shed their shame and tell their secret.  

11.  Do you have any tips for readers or advice for other writers/bloggers? The only advice I have to offer those of you writing about your life of abuse is…don’t stop.  Keep writing.  It may make you sad or ashamed to relive and retell some of your darkest days but in doing so you are truly letting the light back in to your soul.  It’s indescribable.  You need to experience it yourself – and you should.  So, keep writing.

12. Before you go, could you share a snippet from your blog?  Here you go:  “What people who are not the victims of abuse don’t understand is the power of the words.  Why would I stay?  Yes, I was afraid but it wasn’t only that.  I knew him.  I knew what he was capable of.  I knew what he’d be willing to do and far he would go.  In essence…I believed him.  With 100% faith in my heart and mind, I believed he would do what he said.”

My 12 Nominees for the Brave Heart Award:

1.  Teela Hart

2.  Surviving Narcissistic Abuse

3.  I Won’t Take It

4.  Finding My Inner Courage

5.  Shedding Light On Darkness

6.  Refining My Life

7.  Love Honour And Respect

8.  Persia Karema

9.  A New Free Life

10.  Makes Much More Sense

11.  I Am Finding Away

12.  Avalanche of the Soul

Each one of you are truly awe inspiring to me.  Thank you so much for sharing your stories.