Weakening the Weakness

I read the articles about FKA twigs’ lawsuit against her former boyfriend, Shia LaBeouf, read her recounting of the ways he abused her and I want to feel something. I want to cry, or get angry, or remember. Instead, I find myself numb. I see myself in her story and my eyes glaze over – I know the story so intimately, even though the details are not the same – and I am forced to skim the pages. I cannot bring myself to read every word. Why would I need to? I lived this.

Not with Shia LaBeouf, obviously, but with my own version: an attractive, charismatic, successful man hellbent on breaking women. A tortured soul – god knows how long I’ve spent, dissecting what neurosis might be to blame for His actions: psychopathy, sociopathy, good-old-fashioned narcissism, a dash of all of that? – who caged me in control and terror for years.

For a long time, I thought that He had chosen me because I was an easy target – someone who lacked confidence and could be controlled. This was a point of contention between me and Cindy, the therapist with whom I was doing Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) – a specific type of therapy for people suffering from PTSD. One of my stuck points (a central tool of CPT) was the belief that “I am weak” – that there was something wrong with me that He had sniffed out. He had seen flaws in me, had known I was someone who could be easily preyed on. Layered on top of the oh-so-common “I am not good enough” that seemed to permeate every cell of my being, this weakness made me a lame duck. I was someone with so little confidence or belief in myself that it would take no effort to destroy me. I blamed myself for what He did. 

“What makes you believe that?” Cindy would ask, looking like she sincerely believed that I was good enough. That I was strong. That it actually puzzled her why this was a sticking point for me.

My brain knew the answer: this was what every talking head on Dateline told me, what I’d read in all those books I’d devoured to try to diagnose Him: predators looked for easy targets. Vulnerable women who could be preyed upon with minimal effort. To Cindy, I just shrugged my shoulders, spoke in sweeping generalizations. “I don’t know,” I avoided her eyes. “I just do. That’s what you always hear.” 

I did twelve sessions of this specialized therapy. Clinically, my PTSD resolved, my scores improving dramatically (there is no real “test” for PTSD, Cindy explained. She had me fill out a questionnaire to determine which symptoms I might be experiencing, what was triggering me. My initial score was 53. A score above 33 was considered to be experiencing PTSD. By my last session, my score was under 10). I felt better. However, inside I still carried around this belief: that the abuse I suffered was somehow my fault, because I had not been good enough, hadn’t been enough. That I was weak and I brought it upon myself.

I also grappled with wondering if what had happened to me was even really abuse. He never hit me. So, it shouldn’t count right? I stuffed the coercion – financial and sexual – down and pretended they didn’t exist. Pretended I wasn’t being tracked on my phone, told who to talk to or not talk to, like I had choices.

Did I even have PTSD? Certainly, according to Cindy and her diagnostic tools, yes, I very clearly did. But, as I told her – and my regular therapist – and my best friend, who was a therapist, and had been the one to tell me she thought I needed to do some CPT in the first place: I wasn’t a war veteran. I hadn’t been in combat. I felt like a poser claiming I had PTSD. 

But, I guess you might ask the friend I texted during a panic attack – feeling like I was going crazy and not able to catch my breath. Or the friend who had to break the news to me that He was in a relationship – who told me it was “scary” the kind of control He had over me, how I stayed in the bathroom for hours while He screamed at me – like it was somehow my fault He’d cheated on His girlfriend, lied to both of us – while she sat in my kitchen, listening to it all. Ask the friend who watched me shake while I opened an invitation to a wedding being held near His mountain cabin: declaring I wouldn’t be able to go. Ask my aunt who told me as I walked in the door – “Wow, you’re skinny, a little too skinny!” –because I weighed in under 100lbs for the first time since middle school. Ask them. They might not tell you I had PTSD but they’d tell you something was wrong.

So I did the CPT, and I felt better. Moved forward, mostly.

And then FKA twigs shared what happened to her. A famous, beautiful woman sharing about her experience with psychological and emotional abuse. She didn’t seem weak or vulnerable. In fact, she seemed pretty bad ass. I wondered what the talking heads on Dateline would say about her.

A few weeks after the story broke, I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts, Natch Beaut. The host, Jackie Johnson, started discussing the allegations against Shia LaBeouf – someone she’d joked about having a crush on for years. Jackie shared that she is a survivor of abuse, and she shared her support for other survivors and thanked women like FKA twigs for coming forward to share their stories. I’d been walking my dog, but kept listening when I got home. Now, listening in my kitchen, with my earphones still in, I hunched over my kitchen sink as I heard Jackie say this: “[abusers] get more satisfaction out of dimming the shine of someone extra bright.” As her own voice started to tremble, I broke down crying, sobbing. I had to hold onto the counter to steady myself. I fell to the floor in tears. Even now, as I write this, I have to take off my glasses and squint through the flood of emotion. 

I won’t lie and say hearing that little nugget of wisdom magically made that stuck point of “I am weak” unstuck. It didn’t. I still have moments, some longer than others, when I wonder how I could have let this happen, why I didn’t leave, how I fell for all the bullshit. I see myself as I imagine others must: weak, pathetic, so desperate for love and attention that I will put up with being manipulated and lied, cheated on, used, degraded. I feel humiliated by my choices. I let myself drown in victimhood, shirk the label of “survivor” – I want to both dismiss what has happened to me (“He never hit me! I mustn’t make this a ‘thing’”) and also wallow in it (“this was not right. I deserve to be acknowledged for my pain.”), knowing I can’t have it both ways, knowing holding it will only hurt me more. 

I am glad that men like Shia LaBeouf – those in the spotlight, with power and influence – are being called out, named and I hope they will in some way be held accountable for their actions. I know that there are far too many more – especially those not in the spotlight, with power and influence over their partners – who will never be called out, or named or held accountable. I wish I were brave enough to type the name of the man I am writing about here. But I’m not. Among the veiled threats I learned to decode – the bits of information he fed to me over our time together – was how litigious he is, and I know, even if I did write his name, the consequences he would inflict upon me are greater than any he is likely to suffer. And I’m done dealing with his wrath.

I spoke to my therapist today, told her most of this. How I’d felt weak, even when Cindy told me I wasn’t. Told her I was still holding on, even when I knew I shouldn’t. I talked about FKA twigs and Shia and the Podcast. She nodded. I should start to think about being weak with a bit more flexibility, she said. She explained that I did have a vulnerability – I wanted love and affection not because I was weak – but because I was human. That He – consciously or unconsciously – exploited that, and wanted to dull someone’s shine because He saw it as superior. 

We looked at each other, through the computer screen, and I sighed. I’ve been wallowing in my victimhood for five years, waiting for something. Maybe it was this: understanding I could be vulnerable and also not at fault, all at once. 

Finding Peace

This article is the conclusion to a journey I began years ago. I’ve shared some personal stories about domestic abuse, some destructive coping mechanisms I used, and now it is time to talk about the peace I found after it all. I kept reiterating in my previous articles how we are not the victims forever, and I stand by that to this day. I wouldn’t be where I am without these humbling experiences. I grew my own wings that my gut was trying to tell me to do for years. With the help of my friends and family and self-determination, I was able to be the woman I always knew I was.

Initially, I was scared. I had no money, no motivation, and felt like my career was in the hole, and I had to block out a lot of people in my life. But what was really happening was that I was saving money, building stronger relationships with my close friends, and truly focusing on myself for once. I found myself developing a skin routine and a forming a healthy diet. I planned my future. I went back to college and now am on a path to graduate in a year.

What also became a constant in my life was spirituality. I never had been a religious person and I’m still not. Yet, I found spirituality really explained and helped me with a lot of things that have happened in my life. We all say cliche things like “everything happens for a reason” and “there are no such things as coincidences.“ Heck, I truly believe all that now! I believe people are put into and removed from your life and it’s all apart of the journey. Some people are not meant to be along for the ride and that’s okay. I came to the conclusion that I could find peace in knowing the things I can control vs the things I cannot and should not force. I have everything I need in my life to make the difference I’ve always wanted to make.

I made a vow to not let another person, especially a man, ruin or disrupt my inner peace. Yes, there are days where that was very hard to do, but ultimately, I am happy without the stress and chaos. I truly am blessed to have gotten to know the side of a man that I never thought I’d see again. I had been given a gift in the form a gentle, kind, selfless, respectful human. My boyfriend was put into my life and I have cherished every waking moment with him. He is a significant factor that has played a huge part in my searching for peace. He helped me realize that just because I was a victim and enabler before, doesn’t mean it’s going to happen again and that is such a relieving feeling to know I’m still able to love and to be loved.

For the women or men that have walked in these shoes, there is happiness and success resting on the other side of this hill. Peace is found in many forms: a loving friend’s smile, a cup of coffee in the morning, and instead of thinking about your troubling past….you think about your exciting dreams, a week secluded in the woods watching the sunset, connecting with a religion or your spirituality, starting a self care routine, or even writing about your journey and being able to appreciate the things currently around you that you never thought would come from it. We all deserve peace and you will find it.

. . .

If you or someone you know is being affected by abuse and needing support, call 1-800-799-7233, or if you are unable to speak safely, you can log onto thehotline.org or text LOVEIS to 1-866-9474.

You are not alone.

Honesty: Humility: Growth

This part of my story is pretty real and raw. This is the part I am not proud of. However, it’s important to share because even after I left John Doe, I struggled with self-identity, structure, discipline, and self control. I decided to make a few decisions that ultimately put myself in terrible predicaments and changed my life, but in some of the worst ways. I searched high and low for closure and answers, but all I found was temporary satisfaction, disappointment, and trouble.

There were weeks I spent several nights at bars, drinking heavily. I made many new friends and developed a social life I never had before. I was getting attention from people, but not all of it was positive. I decided to explore the dating scene and embark on a new adventure to “find myself”. Well I admit the alcohol abuse played a part in some, if not all, of my poor decision making. I found myself getting involved with a few people and making decisions I should not have done. I was naive and very trustworthy of people when I should not have been. They lied to me and I should have known better because I always have acted better in that sense; I have always preached to my friends about being safe and making good choices and not jumping into things without completely evaluating everything. I have always told them to think about the consequences before acting. I have failed to listen to my own advice. However, feelings and actions do not justify an individual hiding important information from a person.

I refer to these few months as me being crazy and doing things I never had the chance to do. So many people told me it was okay, and that this was normal. Now looking back, it wasn’t. Or if it was, I didn’t want my normal to be like that. I changed my behaviors and decided this way of life wasn’t for me; I stopped casually dating and became very selective. I have been left with physical scars now and life has been altered for me in ways I never thought would be. I never thought it’d be me. My advice here is never forget who you are. Try to stick to your morals and be very careful who you surround yourself with. Acknowledge that theses mistakes may be made and if they already have been, understand how you got there and try not to do it again despite the temporary satisfaction and attention.

One evening I was leaving a bar and I made one of the most terrible decisions ever, I chose to drive home. Well, that ended with me in jail for the night and with a criminal charge. I was beyond embarrassed. I did the very thing we all should never do – drunk driving. Thankfully, I was not in any accident or anything like that, but it still scared me and changed my life in many ways. I stopped drinking heavily and set limits. My advice here is clear, do not rely on substances of any kind to cope with heartbreak, depression, or grief. I know it’s harder than it sound, trust me, but this was one of the worst things I ever did and I have residual effects from it. Again, trust your friends, family, therapist to help you through hard times. Talk about your feelings.

Another topic to touch on is what I realized and came to accept and admit to. I looked back on my relationship and saw things I did that contributed to an issue, unknowingly. I realized I was going out to bars more, spending more money than I should have. I also acknowledge that listening to your partner is important and communication is key in working things out. In my recent article, I mentioned that I would ignore John Doe’s requests of being left alone when he was in a fit of rage, all because I thought that was the right way to handle it all. It wasn’t and it was wrong of me. However, being honest with yourself and others is a growing process too. I was also an enabler and turned a blind eye to a deeper issue at hand for years. Admit your faults. I will never deny what I did during and after my relationship because it was a stepping stone for me to find my peace and it allows transparency. Again, doing these things still do not give a free pass for anyone to be abusive. It is important to understand that.

I went down a path of destruction, and nothing I was doing was benefiting me. I was getting no answers. I had no closure. What was I even doing?

My decisions I made during and after my separation were wrong and foolish. I made choices and rolled the dice of life. I’m not perfect and I will admit this and the things I’ve done. I’ve used these experiences to help educate others who are struggling with coping from loss—that be of a loved one or maybe even a divorce, failing relationship, stress, etc. I was ashamed but again, it’s part of journey. It’s also to make people aware of how important it is to be honest with oneself and grow from these things. It’s a chapter in my life that has closed and left me with valuable lessons.

My advice here, is anyone trying to overcome such things like stress, divorce, separation, loss of a loved one, whatever it may be — should seek out help. This is something I never did until later. I could have avoided the trouble I got in after the separation if I just had better coping skills. My advice: keep communicating with people. I will say this time and time again, talk with your family and friends. Maybe seek out a therapist or counselor. Whatever you need to do to be safe and healthy while you heal from the wounds that life left you with.

What is just as important as healing, is being honest with yourself, learning from your mistakes, and taking back control of your life. We all have one chance at life, and we need to respect ourselves more. We are worthy of that.

If you or someone you know is being affected by abuse and needing support, call 1-800-799-7233, or if you are unable to speak safely, you can log onto thehotline.org or text LOVEIS to 1-866-9474.

You are not alone.

Warning Signs

If you have read my previous article, you were made briefly aware of my experiences with domestic violence with “John Doe”. I never will give his name. This is solely for awareness purposes. I brought up certain things that cannot and should not be tolerated in a relationship as they will lead to inevitable abuse of some form. As much as I would LOVE to jump to the happy, joyful life I live now, it’s just not realistic and frankly not appropriate.

It is important for me to dive a bit further into specific situations that occurred so that I can shed some light on the reality of being an enabler; furthermore, providing people, especially women, the tools to recognize the warning signs. It is important to know that due to certain things I went through, my brain has wiped some of them from my recollection. And it took me awhile to accept that and understand why it’s OKAY to not remember everything, it’s just apart of my experience.

❗️ I also must make known some content will be graphic and might be triggering to some people. Proceed with caution ❗️

Warning Sign One ⚠️

Consistent lying and hiding things


This was an early on sign I was too young to decipher. He had a need to do drugs (marijuana, etc) and I was ultimately the one thing standing in his way. I went against my gut despite him hiding the act behind my back and finding out from one of his friends that he never stopped, nor intended to stop. I will later down the road expand on my opinion about addiction’s effect on mental illness. Ignoring this sign led to poor money management, risking job opportunities, further damage to his already fragile mental state, and opening the door to future lying.

Warning Sign Two ⚠️

Never following through.


Time and time again, whether it was after a rage outburst or getting caught in a lie, he would always apologize and say he would do better.

Things would go so well for about a week, then we’d be right back at the drawing board. A time where this was very prominent was when we discussed counseling or therapy. His lack of consistency in an effort to better himself would often result in outbursts of rage and emotion.

Unfortunately, nothing we had planned to help solve this issue was followed through. It is important to acknowledge this behavior because it will lead to both people lacking trust and ultimately, ignoring it will lead to enabling the abuser. I was a textbook enabler. I kept believing him and saying, “Maybe next time he’ll mean it and do something about it.” It never happened.

Warning Sign Three ⚠️

Verbal aggression, extensive cursing, & name-calling.


There were times in our relationship, and outside of it, when he would choose to yell and make a point that everyone in our apartment building should hear him. Within the yelling, there would be name-calling and total disrespect for me as his girlfriend/wife. I will admit that there were times when during an argument that I should have left him alone and walked away, but I chose to stay and try to talk it out. It never ended well for me. I ignored his personal warning signs in order to try to solve our problems. That was wrong. However, I believe there is no excuse for verbal or emotional abuse. Ignoring or making light of aggressive yelling and name-calling led to just that – verbal and emotional abuse.

Warning Sign Four ⚠️

Destruction of personal property.


This was also an early warning sign and I chalked it up to him being an angsty teenager. There were several times where this progressed, and also what I personally believe led to the physical abuse in the end.

There was a specific time where he explained to me he got mad at his parents and he punched a hole in his wall. He hid the hole behind his clock. I never told his parents. I never thought it’d happen to me or with me. Well, it did. We would argue, and it would escalate to him punching a hole in our first apartment. I had to lie to the complex and tell them he fell and that’s what caused the hole. One time, he totaled his car and when we went to get his belongings out of it, he punched a large dent in the hood of the car.

Another instance, which made me scared for my safety, was when we got into an argument while I was away from home, and he went into our garage and took a knife to everything that was cardboard and paper and shredded it. He also took my box fan and demolished it. Before I got home, after he apologized for whatever it was we argued over, he told me not to go into the garage because he did something he was not proud of. Well, I went into the garage and I was in utter disbelief of the damage. I never told him or brought it up.

The final time this happened was when we decided to try to work things out before we called the divorce final. We came back after a night out and we got in another argument. He became violent and shoved me. He then threw a picture frame at me and it shattered, destroying the precious contents inside – my uncle’s obituary. That is when the police were called by a listening neighbor.

But again, I chose to ignore this and clearly, I should not have. This is toxic behavior and ultimately led to physical abuse.

Warning Sign Five ⚠️

Total disregard for human life.


Some will argue this is a characteristic of sociopathic tendencies. I am not a medical professional so I cannot draw any conclusions or assumptions. I can only share what I experienced. This began, not early on, but about the last 3 years of our relationship. We would be driving and when cars would cut him off, or maybe just not drive properly, he would make a point to see if they were elderly. And if they were, he would say something along the lines of, “Thank God you don’t have much time left because…” And those words would either be introduced with, or followed by, yelling and cursing, then aggressive driving.

Never in my life would I think that those ideas of his would trickle into my personal family life.

In 2017, my grandmother passed away. This was one of the hardest things I ever had to deal with. However, what was very important to me was that she saw me get married, which she did in 2016. After our separation in 2018, he made a remark on social media that involved my grandmother. It’s honestly burnt in my brain…

Well at least her grandma got to see her marry before she croaked, so I guess that means she wins lol

John Doe

The disrespect and disregard for human life, my grandmother’s life, was a big sign. I was doing the right thing at that point, though. I was already gone and we had nothing to do with each other at that point.

Warning Sign Six ⚠️

Physical changes in appearance when in a rage.


This is probably the biggest sign I had that I honestly could not ignore. I just lived with it. This is a description of what I saw when he would have a rage outburst. This is a combination of mental illness and lack of self control.

Again, his mental illness was not a contributing factor to why I left. It was the lack of care on his end to do something about it despite his family’s extensive efforts.

It was almost like you’d see in a movie where a person would transform or morph – like the Hulk. When he got uncontrollably angry, his green eyes would turn black, his forehead would throb and you could see his veins. He would get this side smirk where the left side of his face would twitch. He’d develop this condescending laugh/chuckle. His fist would ball up. He would grow almost, it seemed, in size. He would pace around, shoving and throwing things. At times, if he was angry with himself, he would punch himself, pull his hair, cry. I was always so scared. For himself and for myself.

If this was a result of mental illness, it was clear he was suffering. But there was nothing I could say or do to convince him to get the help he so needed. I cared deeply for him and his health. Everyone who knows me, knows this to be true. I do not judge a person because of this. But this falls within a warning sign because, I never removed myself from the situations, I stayed and tried to calm everything down. It always ended with him saying, “You make me this way. You make me do these things.”

This is a classic sign of manipulation in order to make me feel crazy or like I deserved the abuse – gaslighting.

With all this being said, I do not share my experiences to criminalize his actions. I don’t anticipate anything to be done. I don’t want any hate being spread. I am fully over what I went through. It mostly humbles me and allows me help others. That’s the goal of this all.

This isn’t revenge. This is education.

Candid conversations discussing experience with domestic violence and domestic abuse has always been taboo. It’s time to end that. It is OKAY to talk about it. It is OKAY to not be okay. Do not hide and do not protect the abuser. Acknowledge being an enabler. Acknowledge where you went wrong. But never tolerate any of these events in your life as they are toxic, destructive, debilitating, and can be fatal. And if you find yourself as the abuser, seek help immediately. It is never too late to better yourself and the ones you love. Address it now and make sure you are grounded in your values for the future.

If you or someone you know is being affected by abuse and needing support, call 1-800-799-7233, or if you are unable to speak safely, you can log onto thehotline.org or text LOVEIS to 1-866-9474.

You are not alone.

I Needed Saving

Many of us grew up with like-minded aspirations of falling in love, getting married, starting a family, and making memories with them. This is the story of my first love.

I married my high school sweetheart at the age of 21 and divorced at 24. I lived a life of domestic violence that was somehow disguised as happiness and common place struggles. I spent 9 years of my life dedicated to pleasing him, caring for him, nurturing him, and ultimately enabling him. We had the best times and we had the worst times. I never saw the damage being done to me and my soul until I hit a breaking point. I found myself exhausted from just waking up every morning. It was to a point where I just didn’t want to wake up anymore. I share my story with the hopes that other people that were in my shoes will not wait until it’s too late to see the warning signs of an abusive and toxic relationship.

We met in high school, 2009. We were honestly smitten with each other. We just clicked. We would talk about everything and anything together. We found ourselves spending an incredible amount of time at our local park, as that was the only thing really to do at the age of 13 with no means of transportation. We had so much in common: Passion for music, love for animals, the outdoors, video games — just to name a few. We had all the right ingredients to have and build a solid relationship. And that is what we did.

In the beginning, he made it clear he liked to smoke marijuana. I made it clear I was not okay with it. Him choosing me over the drugs was the best case scenario. Well, I found out later the first year of our relationship, he was lying to me and he was still doing drugs behind my back. We came to an agreement and I caved in and continued my relationship with him because he meant more to me than a “harmless” joint. With that behind us, he continued to show me love and kindness. He respected me and listened to me. We gave each other a reason to keep pushing in life. We were living the dream. Little did I know, he would be the reason why I wanted to stop pushing in life and what made me want to give up.

Fresh out of high school, we both went to college. We had dreams and goals that we shared together and set forth to make happen. Well, life happened instead and we both wound up dropping out and moving in together and took on full time jobs. Things were rocky, but I saw that as typical issues couples go through. I never understood the severity of the yelling, cursing, and occasional abandonment. He always came back and apologized and cried and said he would never do it again. I believed him. Every. Single. Time.

We got married in 2016. The wedding was not ideal. But it wasn’t what mattered to us. We loved each other and we wanted to share it with people who loved us too. This is when the verbal abuse escalated to mental and psychological abuse. There would be days where he would twist stories around and I believed them to be true. I was the perpetrator. I broke him. I never loved him. I used him for his money. I believed I was this monster because he was the one with chronic depression and I was not. At some point, I asked myself, “Then why doesn’t he leave me if I am this way?” I reached out to my good friends who honestly never knew anything behind closed doors; from an outsider’s view, we were the perfect couple. This is when my friends and family started getting concerned. Well, I sometimes listened to them but explained they will never know what it’s like living and loving a person with mental illness. They won’t get it.

I felt alone. I felt isolated. I felt like I was fighting a battle that was never going to end. The days of him attempting suicide were escalating and it seemed to be his shield or defense against me speaking out or retaliating. He was slowly losing his control over me because there was something in my head that clicked one day. I decided enough was enough. I sat him down and had a very deep conversation about respecting me and how he needed to do better and I was no longer tolerating his abuse. He acknowledged his wrongs, like always, and we went about our life together.

In 2018, we split up. We needed space, I needed space really. He did not take it well. He kept blowing up my phone, trying to force himself back into my life. He would get super understanding and be peaceful but then the next day, he was calling me a crazy bitch and that he fucking hated me. When we did see each other, that was the first time he got physically abusive. Sure he’s put holes in our walls and wrecked cars out of anger but never once laid a hand on me. It was the first and last time that happened. It was over. The police were involved and he was gone. That was my wake up call.

My rope was at its end and I was either going to hang from it or swing and jump from it. I chose to jump and take my life back. And boy, I have never looked back, only to reflect on the signs I chose to ignore.

I want people, especially women, who find themselves in my shoes to know lying, cannot be tolerated. Name calling, cannot be tolerated. Using suicide and mental illness as a crutch to manipulate you, cannot be tolerated. Punching holes in walls or destroying property, cannot be tolerated. All these are signs that lead to domestic violence of every variation. We wind up being the enablers but that is what happens when we are THE VICTIMS. However, we aren’t victims forever. We are survivors and there is life after all the chaos. It’s not easy. We will have our fair shares of struggles. Best advice: use the resources given to you: your friends, family, work place, hobbies. Do not deny help as we want to, it’s necessary and will only make the process easier.

My divorce was finalized on a summer day in 2019. This is known as the day I was finally free. I no longer needed saving.

If you or someone you know is being affected by abuse and needing support, call 1-800-799-7233, or if you are unable to speak safely, you can log onto thehotline.org or text LOVEIS to 1-866-9474.

You are not alone.