Guilt

Everyone’s been saying I shouldn’t feel guilty. That it is what it is. But I can’t help it. I feel like I could have done more. I could have stepped in. All that time, I was looking around for an adult to make a decision, to “man up,” but the only adult in the room was me. And I failed.

Father’s Day, 1989

I am still the little girl in that picture, looking up to him, waiting for him to do something. Waiting for him to take the lead. I didn’t realize until it was too late that it was my responsibility to step in. The role reversal that happens so often between parent and child–when the child must act as a parent to her parents–slipped by me. It’s hard to forgive myself for that error. For that missed opportunity. I can say that I am relatively young still. That my parents are older than is typical for a woman of 29. That I just wasn’t ready for this. But it feels weak and lame to say such things.

But then there are real reasons that I can point to why trying to help was made to be next to impossible at times. I’ve reread some conversations I had with a relative in March-April of last year when my mom was admitted to the hospital. I was reminded of how often I was lied to back then. How my mom was manic and didn’t seem to want to get better. She didn’t take her medicine. She lied about taking it. She made excuses. And my dad lied for her. It was non-stop madness. And as much as I can tell myself now that I “could have done more,” I don’t know if I could’ve. I mean, they have to help themselves, too right?

There was help offered from several different sources. To fix the plumbing. To fix appliances. To clean up. To buy groceries. To coordinate rides for doctor’s appointments. And all of it was shut down because my mom wouldn’t accept the help. Unfortunately, my mom’s pathological stubbornness doesn’t just result in her own suffering–it resulted in my dad’s, too. He paid the ultimate price for her inability to accept help. Could he have accepted help without her consent? Of course. But within the inner workings of their relationship; within the perceived confines in which he lived, he couldn’t have. Some psychological barrier prevented him from going against her. Actually, one specific thing from a re-read conversation sums up everything for me. It went something like this:

Me: I can order groceries online and have them delivered for you.

Dad: Well, your mom needs to put together a list.

[A week passes]

Me: Will you tell me what you need so I can order groceries for you?

Dad: Your mom needs to come up with a list. But I think she’s coming around.

Me: You can just tell me what you want and I’ll order it!

Dad: I can’t go behind her back like that.

Sigh. I didn’t really even have a chance at saving him from himself, did I? Not when a simple task like ordering groceries feels like a betrayal for him.

When he was in the convalescent home, I told him we were going to clean up the house so he could come home. He said, “That’s a lot of work for you guys.” I said, “It’s nothing. I’d do anything for you. And mom will just have to sit down and shut up because it’s going to happen and I should have done something about it a long time ago,” And he sighed and got a bit teary eyed and said, “I just don’t want you to have to confront her. She can be so mean.”

I hate that he lived in fear of her. I hate that he felt that powerless. I hate that I couldn’t “put my foot down” and have social services come in. But I know that my dad was losing himself and that was his biggest fear of all. I’m glad there was still plenty of him left, that most of our last conversations were of him being himself, talking about movies, the upcoming Olympics, and all the little things that made up our regular conversations. He knew his memories were slipping between his fingers and he didn’t want to lose them all. He’d already lost his will to fight my mom. But to lose the things that made him who he was? That was the final straw. He lost his will to live.

I’ve been saying it in my heart for over the past month and I’ll say it every day for the rest of my life. Goodbye daddy. I love you. I wish you’d loved yourself more. I wish. I wish. I wish.

Dad

I took some notes on January 10. My dad had been in the hospital for a few days already and had just been transferred to a convalescent home for cardiac rehab following a congestive heart failure diagnosis. Here is what I wrote:

His back had taken on the shape of the raised bed, curved and slumped.

That’s the first thing that popped into my head when I saw my dad laying on the gurney in the emergency room.

I’ve been so angry for so long I haven’t felt a thing. But how can I be mad at him now? He needs me and I’ve realized that now, more than ever, I need him. I was always a daddy’s girl and I realized today I still am.

I’m scared. I know he’s scared too. And to see him shaken, to see him cry breaks my heart into pieces.

I’m carrying a lot of guilt for not stepping in and doing anything sooner. I feel like I should have known. But I really didn’t. I didn’t know he was this bad. This weak. He has bed sores from laying in bed at home. On just a small sliver he slept. My mom built the hoard up around him. I wonder how long he lay there. I wonder if he ate. I wonder about a lot of things.

I was going to write more but didn’t get around to it. By January 17, my dad had passed away. I don’t know the exact time. I know I received a call from my mom at 10:56am that morning, voice panicked telling me they were trying to get my dad’s vitals back. I know I called Matt to get him home. I know right before that I had to stop and let out a  sob while leaning on my computer chair. The fear hit my gut. I was already afraid. But this was every fear realized. I knew then he was gone. I could feel it in my heart. But I hoped. Oh, how I hoped.

Matt got home, we gathered September’s things, and we hopped in the car. My phone didn’t ring, just popped up with the missed call signal. And I waited. I waited a few more moments. I held onto a world where my dad was still live. Then a voicemail notification popped up. I took a heavy breath and pressed play. My mom’s voice coming from my dad’s cell phone. Her message was at least 30 seconds long but I only listened for a moment. “He’s gone,” she said. And I hung up.

And I sobbed. And I couldn’t feel the loss even though I knew there was a loss. Even though I was crying, I couldn’t feel the reason why I was crying. This can’t be happening, I thought.

Now it’s January 30. My dad is in the ground. And there are still moments where I think this isn’t real.

I have so much more to say and there will be plenty of time for that. But for now, I’ll say I’m sad. I miss him. This is the longest I’ve ever gone without talking to him and I know it will only get longer now. So much longer. When he called my house, his voice would play out on the answering machine: “Hey Bren, it’s your ol’ dad. If you’re there, pick up.” The same every time. And now every time the phone rings my heart leaps into my throat and I think maybe.

I dreamt last night that he was sick. That I was at his bedside and coming up with schemes and plans for his recovery. Then I woke up and remembered he was gone.

And it’s that feeling of losing him all over again that I can’t bear. People do this every day. But how? How am I supposed to keep going without him? Without him saying, “I love you” and “Remember your ol’ dad when you’re rich and famous, okay?” Without his laugh and smile and warmth?

I get up. Get dressed. Work. Play with my daughter. Live my life. But it is a grayer life.

Depression and the fear of slipping

In terms of mood and my general well being, 2013 has been a good year. Probably the best for me in a very long time. Longer than I’d care to admit. Upon reflection, It’s safe to say I’d been depressed since I moved out of my parents house in 2007. That’s five years of my life spent in a fog. Five years waking up every day only to find the act of getting out of bed next to impossible. Insurmountable, as though I carried lead weights on each shoulder and the ticking of the clock only made the burden heavier. It seems so silly now. Trying to summon the strength to put clothes on, to make myself food, to take a shower, felt so difficult at the time. I couldn’t wrap my brain around how to do these things. It all seemed like so much work. Too much. And yes, I did them. But each task took much longer than it should have so I was left at the end of the day feeling even worse about myself because I hadn’t accomplished anything. Process repeat. But when the very basics take all of your energy, consume all of your strength, it’s all you can do to get out of bed, put on clean clothes and run a brush through your hair.

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Then after the hormonal up and down wrench works of the baby blues, I’m feeling better. Much better, in fact. I wake up each morning, get dressed, and eat breakfast. Partially because I have to. September wakes so I wake. She needs to eat, so I need to make her breakfast and I might as well eat when she does. We go for walks and go outside every day. My depression used to always get worse during the winter because of a lack of sun exposure (and sleeping all day meant I had very little time to get myself together to get outside into the sun) and a lack of sun exposure can cause seasonal affective disorder (SAD), of which I definitely suffered. This year though, I’m much better. We get out daily, I have full days. I don’t feel like I’m wasting time anymore. All good things.

But I’m afraid. You see, I’ve been working at a breakneck pace the past year. Working hard. Working every chance I get to build my business up to where it should have been a long time ago. Most of all, I’m working so hard so I can help us to move into a bigger place and so we can provide a better life for September. That’s my motivation.

In freelance business (well all business, really), the holidays signals a universal slow down. I’d been working furiously the week before Christmas then it all just sort of stopped. It’s fine. I have enough money (for once) and things are going well. My clients are set to pick up the pace again come January. I’m not worried about it.

But I don’t know what to do with myself. I can’t relax. I’m always on the move, looking for things to do, to finish, to accomplish. Because if I sit still, even for a moment, I’m  afraid I’ll get too comfortable. I’m afraid I haven’t really escaped my depression and that it will reach its warm fingers out from the couch cushions and envelop my waist and whisper in my ear please, won’t you stay a little longer until I’m locked in place. Until it has me back and this time, I might not wake from the numb slumber again.

I’m afraid that I’ve been running from the monster and if I sit still (especially when I’m alone) it will get me. It’s waiting for me in the dark. Part of of me (the sane, rational part) knows this is nonsense. I’m okay. A little nervous, perhaps, because my life is so good right now and it hasn’t been in so long that I don’t know who to handle it. A normal reaction. But the other part, the part that feeds my tendency toward darkness, is looking over her shoulder and wondering when the bubble will burst.

Because happiness and me don’t go together. At least, they haven’t in a long, long time. And part of me feels so guilty for being depressed at all. What a downer I was. How useless. Part of me knows I still have a long way to go to not hating myself for so many things.

Before, thoughts like these would render me powerless. I’d curl in a ball and not move. I’d fail to face the day at all. But now, I am defiant. My depression can’t have me back because I have me back. And it’s been a long time coming.

Photo source: Flickr

When You Can’t See Beyond Yourself…

Sorry I’ve been remiss in posting here. I promised myself I’d only do so when I felt inspired. Blogging in lieu of therapy shouldn’t be an obligation, I decided, so I only post when something is really eating at me.

My daughter is going to be a year old on Monday.

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Image Source: fraencko

As you can imagine, this brings up many feelings, joy and pride being the first and foremost on the list. But lingering there just beneath the surface are other emotions I’d rather not have to deal with, but there they are nonetheless.

Regret. Sadness. Anger. Resentment. 

I talked to my mom briefly a few days ago. She didn’t have much to say. Those who know me know she barely ever talks to me anymore. She tries to play nice but I can tell she’s sort of tired of trying. She’s aware I know she’s full of shit most of the time and that she can’t get away with her little games with me. So it’s best that she doesn’t talk to me, I suppose. Maybe she’s afraid I’d call her out on it?

In any case, we spoke for a few minutes because my dad was asleep and she picked up the phone. She asked how my daughter was in passing. Didn’t ask for details. Don’t grandmas want to know if their grandchildren are walking and talking yet? (She is.) But she didn’t even ask. She only had the breath to tell me how she isn’t feeling well (what’s new) and that she’s having such a hard time (cry me a river). She has insurance and won’t use it. If I was about 10 years younger, I’d scream and yell, beg and plead with her to go to the doctor. I don’t have it in me anymore. She wants to be sick? Go ahead and be sick. It’s not my problem.

She asked me how I was because that’s what you do when you have a conversation. I said I was okay. That we were working hard and barely paying the bills, but you know, we were hanging in there. Her response? “I sowwy.”

I shit you not.

She can’t even speak to me like a real fucking adult. She has to trivialize it. Make it cute. Because I don’t think she’s ever dealt with a real goddamned emotion in her entire adult life.

I read somewhere–probably in the comments on this blog–that hoarding must be a form of narcissism. Or at the very least, tied inextricably to narcissistic personality disorder. I believe it. My mom doesn’t have room in her brain for anything other than herself.

And you know what? It hurts! Whenever I hear people on TV talk about how having a child made them grow so much closer to their mothers, I want to cry. It hurts. She’s robbing me of that experience. My mother-in-law has stepped up and been massively supportive, but you know, nothing could replace that bond, that moment of understanding with my own mom. And I’ll never have that.

I guess what I’m trying to say is it’s not fair.

And I’m tired of getting upset and feeling tears brim at the corner of my eyes because of another person’s actions. When will I let go of it? When will I be set free from the madness?

The Thought Hoard and Letting Go

I wish I could let go.

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That’s the mantra of my life. I wish I could let go of all the little things. The things that:

  • Occupy my mind
  • Hold me back
  • Prevent me from living in the moment
  • Distract me from joy
  • Fill me with sadness
  • Fill me with anger
  • Fill me with fill-in-the-blank emotion
  • Make me resentful

 

I wish I could let go.

I’m not a hoarder of things. I don’t stack tissue boxes up in piles. I don’t accumulate and store. I don’t hide away in a mess of junk.

But I am a hoarder of thoughts. Mostly negative ones. They eat at me, gnaw at happiness, until I can’t ever fully enjoy what I’m doing or where I’m at. I get mad at myself for being this way, but maybe it’s my way of coping. Maybe I take comfort in the negative self-talk. It’s the way I’ve been my whole life. It’s routine. In a childhood without structure, without order, maybe these thoughts are at least my old reliable. The one thing I could always count on. Thoughts like these:

  • You’re ugly
  • You’re stupid
  • Don’t say anything, lest you prove yourself to be stupid
  • Don’t attract attention because someone might say something mean to you
  • Why do you even try? You won’t ever be good enough.
  • Everybody hates you
  • Did I mention you’re not good enough?

For a long time, I thought these ideas originated in my own brain. That I conjured them up due to insecurity after being made fun of one too many times at school. Fueled by feeling the compulsion to lie about trivial things because that’s the behavior I saw modeled at home. “Sorry, you can’t come over. My parents are remodeling the house,” and “Of course, I take showers, not baths because our shower totally isn’t broken,” And “Of course I like the things you like even though I’d never heard of it before.” I was/am insecure because of school teasing, yes, but more so because of things my mother said.

The negative self-talk thoughts I mistakenly assumed started in my mind actually began as things that left my mother’s lips:

  • I wanted to get contacts in the sixth-grade because I felt like the glasses I wore were causing breakouts around my nose. After getting contacts, my mom said, “I thought you said getting contacts was going to make your skin better?” She laughed, because that was oh-so-obviously not the case.
  • I wanted to tell her something about my day, life, whatever and she was too busy to listen. Had to watch the same rerun of the same show for the ten thousandth time first because she hadn’t seen/heard every last little bit of the other times. She hadn’t watched it “right.”
  • I did everything wrong. Nothing I did could ever manage to measure up to her impossibly high standards. Seriously, if a coaster in the living room was an inch too far from where she wanted it, I’d screwed everything up and pretty much ruined her damned day.
  • When Matt and I started dating, I told her that he was my boyfriend. She smirked at me and said, “Does he know that?”

That last one really hurt. So I sold it as a short-short story to One-Forty Fiction. At least there may be profit to my pain. Ha-ha.

So yeah, things my mother said stick with me. They’ve bored into my brain and I can’t shake them no matter how hard I try. I’ve collected them, sorted them, and catalogued them. The hurt and pain and ugly words make up the hoard inside my mind.

Going for a Walk

I went for a walk. The sun was shining, birds singing. The air, crisp. A lovely day to get outside.

And it’s a simple task. You put some shoes on, glance at yourself in the mirror to make sure you look half decent, then out the door you go. You spend some time in the sunshine walking then go back home. Easy.

But I have a baby so there are some added steps. It goes something like this. Make sure she’s fed, changed, dressed, wait was that fart, poop? Should I check her diaper again? Yes. I check her diaper again. Clean! Dodged a bullet there. But of course, it takes five minutes to wrestle her pants back on. “Mommy, don’t you know I have more important things to do than get dressed?”

Should I take her in the stroller? Or, hey, maybe we can try the Moby today. Haven’t done that in a while. Should be fun. I spend several minutes tying the damn wrap around my body, trying to prevent my shirt from bunching up underneath it in the process. Okay. it’s tied on. Time to put the baby in. Wait. I have to pee. Okay. Now I’ll put her in the wrap.

Lots of fiddling ensues. I try to put her in facing me, but she just keeps squirming and wanting to face outward. Little thing wants to see the world! So I oblige her. In she goes, facing out. She’s happy. Good.

Shit. I forgot to put my boots back on. Now I must attempt the acrobatic feat of bending with a 16 pound baby hanging off the front of me. Fun! But I manage. The boots are on, people. The boots are on! But hmm, if I’m going out, I better stop by the market because we’re almost out of toilet paper and that would be a bad thing to run out of. So I’ll go to the market. Yay! A walk with a purpose! But wait, that means I need to take my purse. And I’ll need to carry a bag home from the store. I can’t carry anything while she’s in the wrap. Yes, it’s hands-free but she wiggles so much, I like to have a hand on her at all times. Okay, so it looks like I’m bringing the stroller anyway.

Forty-five minutes later I’m heading out the door. Wait, she ate two hours ago, she’ll probably get hungry while we’re out. Should I get a bottle? Yes. Maybe. Do I really want to whip my boob out while walking down the street? I don’t think I could manage that anyway. Not that coordinated. Eh, I’ll risk it.

I give myself a glance in the mirror. This is what I see:

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Then it’s out the door we go. The stroller lists to the right. September pulls her arm out of the wrap, trying to twist toward me. So I steer the stroller with one hand and hold onto her tummy with the other. We’re managing though. Good god, we’re managing!

We get to the market, buy toilet paper and a few other items then leave. All is good. Of course, that’s when the wind kicks up. Every step is taken straight into the wind. The resistance keeps blowing off her hat. At one point, I chase the damn thing at least twenty feet like I’m in a Buster Keaton bit. The wind is just too much. I put her in the stroller, but of course, this makes her cry. She’s hungry. Ugh. Should have fed her before I left the house.

Too late now. Almost home. We walk and walk and finally we get there. I feed her and she’s happy again. Wearing her in the Moby like that was uncomfortable so I research it online to find out you’re not supposed to wear babies facing out in carriers. It causes hip damage and it puts too much pressure on their spines. Mom fail.

I don’t get around to unloading the things I bought at the market until seven at night, after Matt got home and after dinner. But it all gets done eventually.

Still, sometimes I miss the simplicity of just putting on shoes, checking the mirror, grabbing my keys, and dashing out the door. I really took that for granted.

But September and I go on walks. And she loves them. At the end of the day, that’s all that matters.

So, I Have a Brother…

1350860_hand-in-handI grew up thinking I was an only child. You and me and the baby makes three. What a perfect little family. My mom and dad met, got married, thought they couldn’t have children, then thirteen years later, they had me. What a perfect little miracle. You know, I remember my mom saying that over and over again: “We tried for thirteen years then finally had Brenda. She’s our little miracle.”

Of course, none of that was true. Because my family tells lies with the ease others tell the truth.

Turns out, my dad was married before and had a kid. Apparently, his parents made him pay child support because they wanted to be a part of their grandson’s life. And he may very well have left his first wife for my mother.

That would all be bad enough, right? But that’s where my story begins. My mom, wanting the perfect family, decided to hide the fact that I had a brother and that my dad had been married before. And my dad went along with it. Why? I couldn’t tell you. But it’s obvious he doesn’t think for himself. I thought it was something that developed over time as he got older, but apparently, the passivity is a trait he’d honed to perfection years ago.

My dad told me about my brother a few years ago finally, out of guilt. I was 22. Yes, the truth (or some semblance of it) came out when I was 22 years old. Ridiculous, right? And as more details surface about the circumstances of his divorce, things start to click into place. Of course, my parents would lie to me. Of course they would. Because their relationship was born out of lies and if my mom was to hang onto the narrative that we were the perfect little family, she’d have to cover up the fact that she was the other woman. My dad would have to cover up the fact that he’d made some seriously bad choices. The burden of information would tarnish my image of them.

After 29 years, brother and sister meet.
After 29 years, brother and sister meet.

What’s funny, is if they’d just told me about my brother in the first place, I probably wouldn’t have dug for more information. But the notion of being lied to is toxic and eats at you until you have to say something, do something. Finding out the truth is imperative.

All of this rests heavy in my head but the real reason I’m writing this post is positive. I met my brother for the very first time last weekend. He’s 45. I’m almost 29. He’s known about me my whole life and I’ve known about him for about 6 years. That dynamic is weird enough. But seeing him face to face solidified a lot of things I’d been trying to avoid: my parents aren’t who I thought they were; they’ve lied to me since I could understand words; my upbringing was even stranger than I give it credit for.

The good news? My brother is pretty cool and damn if he doesn’t look exactly like our dad. That’s a weird thing to say. “Our” dad. Small things like that drawn attention of the strange situation we’ve been put into every time I open my mouth. His wife, my sister-in-law, is super nice and apparently, I have two nieces on that side. After reconnecting with my cousin recently, it’s nice to have even more blood-related family. After enduring a childhood where I was kept away from everyone I was related to because my parents were afraid I’d learn the truth, it feels good to be making these connections.

Don’t get me wrong. My in-laws have been wonderful. They’ve been there for me for the past almost 11 years, giving me the support I needed, being there for me, and giving me family experiences I missed out on as a kid. Still. It’s nice to know my blood line isn’t entirely tainted with the crazy.

During our late lunch, I felt oddly at ease. I’m a pretty high strung person but I think the fact we had so much to talk about and we had some shared knowledge drew the attention away from “OMG this is weird” and put it on “Can you believe this situation we’ve been put in?”

The truth of the matter is what’s happened to Todd and I wasn’t fair. We were denied the chance to be in each other’s lives from the outset. Nothing can get back that lost time but at least now we can connect and have some sort of relationship.

Because that’s what we deserve.

In the Center I Lie in Fear

I know I talked about shame in an earlier post. How hoarding is a shame my parents hid from the world and how they instilled that same shame into me. They made me fear what the outside world would think. Because really, when you’re living in the center of a hoard, you lie in fear of what will happen if people find out your secret. What will they think? Will they look at your differently? Will you be even more of a freak?

And let me tell you, I felt like such a freak.

It didn’t matter how many friends I had or how many extracurricular activities I participated in. I was always the freak, always weird and never fit in.

Because my parents were so lax at fixing things when they broke, I was forced to hand wash all my clothes up until I was about 21. The real kicker? They wouldn’t let me go to the laundromat. How freakin’ crazy is that? They said laundromats were dangerous. I guess they’d rather I smelled bad like they did than actually get out of the house and realize people didn’t live like they did. They were probably afraid I’d call them on it. 

I mean, they were right. That’s where I am now. But when I lived under that roof, I was held back and stunted, made to fear the world and distrust everyone. Everyone else was wrong. How dare they all live like they do? We are living like normal people. The rest of the world is nuts.

A common conversation in my household went something like this:

Me: “I disagree with something you said. It doesn’t make sense.”

Mom: “What? Why would you say that? That’s not like you at all. Act like yourself.”

Me: “I am acting like myself.”

Mom: “No you’re not. You’re acting like those kids at school. Stop it.”

By “acting like myself,” my mom invariably meant “acting like her.” If I didn’t act exactly like her or believe the same things she believed, I was being influenced by my peers too much or pretending to be something I wasn’t.

She couldn’t bear the thought of me being anything other than the same as her.

I couldn’t bear the thought of being anything like her.

As Matt and I picked up my mom from the hospital the other day, she kept commenting on how grown up I was. How I handled everything so well, from getting her prescriptions to talking to the discharge nurses. I’d hope I’m grown up. I’m almost 29. And part of my brain wanted to speak up, interject:

No thanks to you.

Which is horrible to think, but the thought danced along the surface of my mind anyway, begging to be spoken aloud. There’s always a snide remark just waiting to be uttered. It makes me feel cruel for thinking such things.

I don’t say them.

I probably should.

I Never Thought to Ask

I got the idea for this blog post a few weeks ago but after recently watching Amanda Palmer’s TED Talk, “The Art of Asking,” I was reminded that I need to set these thoughts down now before I lose them. So many thoughts parade through my mind on a daily basis, if I don’t carve out a moment or two for them, they’ll be gone.

1392558_japanese_gardenI’ve come to a realization in the past few months: sometimes all you have to do is ask.

When I was pregnant, and even before, I felt alone. It was Matt and I against the world. I was so used to not getting support from my family that I assumed no one else would support us, either. Now, I’m not talking financially here. My parents have always helped me out if I needed money. They’re good with “things.” But in terms of emotional support, it’s lacking these days. I digress.

I assumed that no one cared about my pregnancy. That sounds so ridiculous now. I rejected help. I felt like we had to do it alone because I assumed that’s what we’d have to do. That when it came down to it, we’d have to do everything ourselves.

Little did I know that by having that attitude, I was making that my reality. I was making my worst fears come true by being so closed to the world. By saying “no.”

Then something funny happened. I had a baby. And I started to say, “yes.”

If someone offered help, I accepted. I still struggled with the concept of being on our own and alone but slowly, people started coming into our lives. My mother-in-law helped out, offered to watch the baby, leant an ear when I needed to vent and offered support. Slowly, my mindset changed.

Then, just last month, I put out a request on Facebook for a babysitter. Lo and behold, a family friend came to the rescue.

All this time, I thought we were alone. Our little family, floating on an island by ourselves, ostracized and removed. I thought it was because other people didn’t care. That they couldn’t be bothered.

Now I realize I didn’t ask. If I needed help, all I had to do was ask.

I’m humbled. Help was there all along. Wow.