Death of a friendship: recovering from the devastation of ending a friendship.

I wish I could say I write this article with happy spirits, but it’s been a tough week. This week I had the unpleasant duty of ending a friendship. A guy who I met when I was playing Dracula became really close friends with me and we had a good friendship and even came to consider each other as unofficially brothers. I wish I could say this story has a happy ending, but life isn’t a fairytale or a Disney film. The last couple of months had taken a toll on our friendship and I had become very clingy. With my disability, as well as my anxiety and depression, it is hard sometimes when it comes to social situations. I know how I have talked about how we should accept and treat our autism like a gift. There are times however, where my disability feels more like a curse than a gift. This is one of those times. One of the unspoken desires of autistic people is to have friends. Yes, being accepted into society is great and super important, but more than that is the desire to be loved and wanted. So I take it much harder than most when I lose a friendship because in my mind I feel like that is one less person who wants me. I’m not so upset about losing a friendship as I am with the knowledge that I am the one who caused it. I meant no harm in my actions and had every good intention, but I was still extremely clingy and smothering and I knew that this wasn’t healthy to be in this friendship so me and this person had a conversation and we both decided that it was best to end things between us. We acknowledged that we still loved each other as brothers in Christ and always would, but that this friendship was not feasible so we parted ways with some animosity, but little resentment. Though I am satisfied that I got closure, I am still devastated and feel like the villain at times. Maybe it’s because I’ve never actually been in a romantic relationship before, but I find that ending a friendship can be sometimes worse than ending a relationship. When you end a relationship, you at least have your friend to vent to. But if you lose your friendship, then what? It is a horrific and painful feeling, but it is survivable. For those who have gone through what I’ve gone through and for those who may be going through what I’m going through currently, I hope these tips bring you hope.

  1. Seek forgiveness: depending on the severity of the situation, forgiveness will come easy from the other party. I’m fortunate that the person I have wronged has forgiven me, but that is unfortunately not always the case. Sometimes forgiveness and closure won’t come to you. That is when you must do your best to forgive yourself. No one is unworthy of forgiveness. If God could forgive Paul and use him for his glory, then you are no less worthy of being pardoned for your transgressions.
  2. Realize that you are not evil: we all fail, we are all human. It may sound easy to say, but it is hard to believe and acknowledge when you are being eaten alive by guilt. But you must realize that you are not evil. Aside from a few handful of people I can name from history- Adolf Hitler, Vlad Dracula Tepes, H.H. Holmes, etc…-I don’t think anyone is truly evil at heart. We are all fundamentally good people. Please try to realize that. As I said, I do feel like a villain in this situation because it was my actions that led to this unraveling, but I need to stop that. A villain is someone who’s actions are done merely out of malice or spite. In this scenario, I wasn’t so much the villain as I was an antihero. That is someone who is good at heart and means well, but who’s actions aren’t always morally correct. Even though I have failed this friendship, and this person, I must still realize that I’m still good at heart. That is easier said than done, but I’m trying.
  3. Find closure: for you to move on, there must first be closure. Again, I was fortunate that even tense though it was, there was still closure between this person and I. Not everyone is lucky. My best advice would be to write a note as though it were addressed to that person but don’t send it. And in that note, write down your feelings and sadness and thoughts and everything you want to say to that person. At least in a way, you are finding closure in your heart even if the other person didn’t provide you with any.
    4. Cut off contact: it is impossible to move forward if you are still trying to stay in the loop. Even though it is difficult and tempting, I have not reached out to this person since we said our final goodbyes because he told me not to and also it would kind of defeat the purpose. I also unfriended and unfollowed him on all social media and deleted his number. Not because I hate him, but because having to see his posts and see him live his life knowing that I can’t be in it anymore would be unbearable and I can’t punish myself and endure that pain.
    5. Be around those that love you: just because you lost one friend doesn’t mean you have lost all friends. The person who I lost my friendship with is from a city an hour away from me and somewhere that I never go to, so it’s a bit easier to cope. However, my supply of friends here is abundant. So I am doing my best to focus and strengthen those relationships.
    6. occupy your time and treat yo self:
    what is the best way to make you feel
    better? Why the answer is elementary, dear Watson. Do what you love to do! And do things that you know you need to do. Try a new hobby, finish an old hobby. The world is vast and every opportunity is open to you.
    7. Let yourself grieve: it is ok to feel sad. There have been times the past couple of days where I’ve burst into tears, I even got the attention of one of my coworkers when I was crying. I will probably cry tomorrow and the next day and the day after that. That is ok. It is ok not to be ok. Losing a close friendship is never easy and you are allowed and even implored to grieve and cry and watch Disney while eating a carton of ice cream (oh…that’s just me? Ok). You have every right to feel as sad as you need to feel.
  4. 8: talk: talk to those closest to you and explain everything. Keeping your emotions bottled up will only rot you away from the inside.
  5. 9.have compassion and understanding: have compassion for the other person and understanding towards their decision.
    10. learn this pain and become better from it: just like when you accidentally touch a hot stove and it burns and you vow never to do that again, so you must you learn from this move on and better yourself from this. And just realize that God closed this door for a reason.

I hope this helps. God bless.

Become a legend

Hey everyone, I’m back!!! First of all, I want to apologize for my many month-long absence of posting on here. Last fall, I was in a production of Annie and that took up a majority of my time until a couple of weeks before Christmas. On top of that, I have been dealing with a lot of personal things as well as starting full time at the job I work at, going on a cruise to Mexico, and being at the gym every chance I could get. I have a confession to make. Another reason I haven’t posted in so long is because I was suffering from writer’s block. But I promise that with this new year, I’m going to make more of an effort to post more frequently.

One of my all time favorite book series is the Harry Potter series. I have been a Potter-head since 2001 when I saw the first film in theaters on the weekend it premiered. The Harry Potter story-line follows the same basic story-line for all myths and fantasy. A boy/girl lives an ordinary and mundane life but feels like he/she doesn’t belong to this life. He/she feels like that they’re meant to do something more and that the people that he/she has lived with all of his/ her life know this and are hiding something. One day, some wise old and magical figure comes seeking them out and tells them that they are indeed meant for great things. Whether they are really the rightful king to the land as in the King Arthur legend or a wizard like in the Harry Potter series, they each learn that they are meant for great things. They learn that they have gifts and abilities that most do not and that it is up to them to use those gifts to become the legend they were meant to be or destroy the (insert mythical force of evil here) that is threatening the land and maybe even the world. Side note: I was in first grade when the first Harry Potter film came out. good lord I feel old but I digress. Anyway, that’s the basic outline of the hero’s journey. You can change things and tweak them a bit here and there, but the outline more or less remains the same.

I mention all of this because I started my own hero’s journey on the day that my mom revealed to me that I had autism. I had always suspected that there was something different about me. I just didn’t fit in with other kids as much. I didn’t have many close friends growing up. I had friends and no one hated me, I just wasn’t good at connecting and others my age weren’t good at connecting with me (that is still a bit of an issue today on some regards, unfortunately). Another thing that tipped me off was the fact that I was going to many doctor’s appointments. These weren’t medical doctors, mind you, but specialists. At the time growing up, I didn’t really connect the dots. It was around 5th grade that I started to realize that things didn’t add up in my life. It was on a day in 5th grade when I came home in tears just fed up and tired of not knowing what was wrong with me, that my mom finally revealed to me the truth of who I was. At the time, though I was relieved to some degree to finally know the truth, I was also scared and confused. I had never heard the words “Autism” or “Asperger’s” before and deep down, I felt like I was indeed a freak (there are days and instances when I mess up and annoy a friend unintentionally, that I still do to a degree).

But looking back on it now and seeing all that I have accomplished and have yet to accomplish, that memory plays out a bit differently. Now that day when my mom told me about my disability feels like the scene in the first Harry Potter when Hagrid revealed to Harry that he was a wizard. I feel now that it was revealed to me that I was a special being with these extraordinary gifts and abilities that few have and that though I was different and maybe didn’t fit in, that was OK because I was revealed to be an extraordinary individual.

I am here to tell you, my friends that are on the spectrum, that you are all extraordinary in your own ways. You all have gifts and abilities that could make others jealous of you and envy you, even if you may not realize it. As in every hero’s journey, the hero succeeds with the help of his/her trusted friends. In Harry Potter it was Ron and Hermione. In king Arthur, it was the knights of the round table. I promise you that you all have people there that will go with you anywhere and help you succeed with whatever your journey may be. For me, it is my family and truly loyal and loving friends.

Of course, every journey has a villain. In Harry Potter it was Voldemort, in The lord of the rings, it was Sauron, and in the legend of King Arthur, it was Morgan Le Fay. These are what is called the antagonist; the force that is there to destroy and be an obstacle to the hero. My personal antagonists, my personal “Voldemorts” are both my depression and anxiety that I struggle with everyday as well as people who hate me. Yes, even I am hated by some people. Even people that I once thought of as friends but for whatever reasons have grown bad feelings towards me. I have been told things by people that are truly damaging and hurtful. every one of you will have an antagonist on your journey, but like Harry Potter, in the end, you will defeat it. Whatever challenges are in your way or whatever people think of you will not matter because you will rise above it all because we are all amazing. Even if there are times that we may not feel like it.

Your hero’s journey is to stand out and show the world what exactly a person on the spectrum is capable of and how much of a (forgive my language) badass you are. It is OK to be different. embrace being different. Use that to your advantage and become legends in your own right. Find what you are truly good at and use that to let the world know your name and then make sure it never forgets it.

As always, I hope this helps. God bless.

The mask I wear.

Hi everyone. I am sorry for not posting in a long while. There are two reasons for that. one: I have just been swamped with so many things. two: I have had a serious case of Writer’s block. I apologize.  This post is going to be different from the usual posts I have done. But I feel it touches more on a subject that I’ve probably have talked about ad- nauseam: the subject of depression. I think there is sometimes a misconception about those of us who suffer this: that we aren’t strong, that we are extremely vulnerable to everything. This isn’t true, this is the furthest thing from the truth. I think that it is those who have depression who are the strongest, or at least hide our weaknesses and give the illusion of strength. I think we all, depression or not, wear masks. We wear masks to hide hidden pain or insecurities. That isn’t a bad thing, but sometimes it’s OK and even necessary to rip them off. The one issue I face with this is with my autism, I can’t very well articulate how I feel. This is why in this post, I thought I would write an open letter. I am writing an open letter to everyone who asks if I’m OK when they suspect that I’m not:

To the relative or friend who noticed me,

I thank you for noticing and asking. I want to tell you the truth because I love you and respect you like you love and respect me, but I’m going to lie to you. I don’t want to but I’m going to. I am going to because I can’t tell you the truth, I really don’t know how to speak it in words. If I was able to tell you, I would and it would probably be this. here’s the truth. I am not O.K. there are times where I feel as though I am in the funnel of a tornado and I can’t breath because the wind is suffocating me and I can’t see anything but darkness and debris. I want to scream but the roar of the wind blocks it out. The wind and Debris keep battering me and knocking me down each time I try to stand and the only light I can see in this darkness is the occasional flash of lightning. I know deep down if I tell you this, it might make me fell better but I can’t. I am so afraid that if I tell you this, you will think I’m a psychopath. I also don’t want to tell you because I don’t want you to be sucked into the storm with me. So I am going to lie to you and tell you I am fine. I am going to lie to you and wear this mask of strength and joy so you are protected from seeing the horror and darkness that I am facing. I will wear this mask because I don’t think you can help me. so I will endure my pain alone. But since you have noticed that there is something wrong, you can do something. just be here with me. don’t ask what is wrong or try to get me to talk because I won’t be able to say. Just be here with me and do something that cheers me up. Talk with me, make me laugh until it hurts, watch a movie or tv show with me as I ride out this storm, or just give me space to deal because these storms always pass. That is what I want to say to you. I love you and respect you deeply and I know you would do anything to help me, but you can’t so I’m going to lie to you and tell you that I’m fine. I’m sorry.

sincerely, Spencer.

 

When words actually do hurt.

Good morning, everybody.

I hope everyone is having a good week and a peaceful Sunday.  I was struggling to find a topic for this week’s post. Yes, even I have writer’s block sometimes. But there was an incident at work that happened last week that prompted my next topic. As mentioned before, I work at a place that caters to teenagers and young adults with special needs. One particular client there is higher functioning than a lot of the other clients and he sometimes will do everything he can to remind us of that. I am not going into detail of the incident because its not really my place to do so, But he said things that were derogatory and disrespectful to the clients. For my part, it made me beyond furious at what he said and it prompted me to write an article on a subject that is a sore-spot for me because I have gone through it many times. That subject in question is bullying.

I am sure that like me, some -if not most- of you who are Asperger’s have suffered at the hands of a bully or bullying behavior. Whoever came up with the saying  “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me” is either an idiot, lying, or has never been put down in any way and so therefor is ignorant of what it feels like to be bullied. I was almost reluctant to write this article because this is a very sore and difficult subject for me.  I have a very strong fear of snakes and spiders, an almost paralyzing fear of them. One of the deadliest snakes on earth, the eastern diamondback rattlesnake, has a very nasty bite to it. When one of these creatures bite you, their fangs excrete a venom that has a necrotizing effect to it. That means that tissue is destroyed by the venom and even if you are lucky enough to survive the bite, you have a high chance of going through life with a missing limb do to necrosis or gangrene from the venom, or a horrible scar. I don’t mean to be gruesome or graphic in my imagery here, but I tell you all this because the cruel words said to us and their effects on our self esteem are like the venom of a rattlesnake and its effects on living tissue. When things are said to us or about us that are bad, or when things are done to us that are bad, the venom from those actions or words can have a very necrotizing effect on our self esteem and psyche and though I have survived, I carry scars with me that will never fade. I have been called “retarded”, “half-retarded”, “slow”, “incompetent”,  etc.  There was one time at work a couple of months ago that I was doing paperwork and there happened to be a fire-drill with the clients. I stayed behind to finish the work I had been doing and one of my coworkers walking by stopped and told me that he hoped that I burned. Now deep down I knew he was kidding, of course. Him and I always get along and he’s became a good work friend of mine. But that hurt me when he said that because I have a fear of fire and being burned alive and that affected me.

I have had friends that had cruelly dumped me out of their life out of the clear blue. Sometimes I can be annoying, I do struggle with social issues after all. But these ending of friendships hurt me because they were so sudden and just made no sense because I had done nothing to offend them. It has made me paranoid that maybe I’m not a good friend to others like I think I am and that something about me offends people that I don’t know about. Though I am very strong and can survive almost anything, I am also a human being…a human being with a disability. So when someone does things to hurt me, whether they mean to or not,  it really does effect me. But I have found ways to cope and survive and so here are my tips for those of you who have ever suffered bullying.

  1. Shrug it off and take time to realize it’s not you, it’s them. As Ms Swift says “haters gonna hate” we should follow their advice and shake it off
  2. Stick to those that find value of you. Even if it is your  mom or even your dog or cat, talking to someone who loves you and understands you for who you are does wonders for healing.
  3. Realize your value. I have said this before and I will say it again, God does not make mistakes. He made you as a perfect masterpiece in his art gallery called life. Don’t let other’s perception or views of you make you forget that. They are not God and so their feelings of you aren’t important. But God’s feelings are and I can assure you that he adores everything about you.

As always, I hope this helps. feel free to ask any questions. God bless.

 

 

 

The invisible war.

Good evening, everyone.

I want to talk about something that I truly suffer from and something I feel that those of you who are on the spectrum as well may suffer from or struggle with also: Depression. In addition to Asperger’s, I also have clinical depression. which means I have the following characteristics from time to time.

  • Feelings of sadness or emptiness
  • Loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities
  • Weight and appetite changes
  • Sleep problems
  • Feelings of being either slowed down or excessively agitated
  • Tiredness and lack of energy
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
  • Problems with concentration and making decisions

A lot of people don’t know this about me. I try to hide it well. The reason being is I have been ridiculed before for it.  I have been told to “get over it” or “get a grip” etc. What people don’t realize is that it isn’t something I can simply “get over” and I can’t simply “get a grip”. It doesn’t work that way. If it did, then why would I continue to be sad? Believe me, it’s not fun and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. I don’t begrudge the people who told me these cruel things because they were just ignorant and didn’t know any better. But I go through an invisible war with myself everyday from the moment my eyes open in the morning, until they close at night…if they ever close at all. Elizabeth Wurtzel, God bless her, said it best -“That’s the thing about depression: A human being can survive almost anything, as long as they see the end in sight.  But depression is so insidious, and it compounds daily, that it’s impossible to ever see the end.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself. Going back to using literary examples, my favorite book of all time is Bram Stoker’s Dracula. I do not empathize with Dracula,  but I do empathize with the characters hunting him. Like Count Dracula, depression acts as an invisible and emotional vampire that torments and drains you without warning whenever it pleases. Unlike the count, however, depression can’t simply be dispatched and turned to dust by a knife through the heart. It is something that never truly goes away. There are days where it takes every bit of my strength to just get out of bed and start the day. There are days where I fell alone and hated by everyone. There are times where things that normally bring me joy, hold no interest to me. Depression is a truly terrible thing and I know those of you who suffer from it feel the same way that I do. You may feel alone and helpless. You may feel like there is no light at the end of the tunnel. you may just feel like there is no reason to exist in the first place. I know this because I have felt the way you do many times. I have felt that recently, in fact.

Depression is a horrible monster that will never be destroyed. but there are ways to keep the S.O.B at bay.

*Make others around you happy. I know what you’re thinking. “Why should we worry about making others happy when we can’t be happy ourselves?” I promise you, there is no greater joy than serving others. by making them feel happy, you fill fulfilled and you feel that you were meaningful to someone. By being a light to others, you don’t give the darkness much of a chance to show its face and slip in.

*Focus hard on the positives. There is always light in this world, you just have to look hard enough. You will find it though, I promise you.

*Be friendly…ALWAYS. When you are friendly and warm to others, sometimes that warmness will jump right back onto you.

*Talk. This is self explanatory. Talk to someone. Just let someone know what you’re going through, be it your mom, dad, friend, grandparents, even your dog (dogs are the best listeners BTW. They don’t say anything. they just stare and listen to you while you rant and rave and then lick you. No judgement at all.) I will admit this is something I’m afraid to do at times. But I’ve been getting better at it.

I hope these tips help. The struggle with depression is war that will never be resolved, unfortunately. But that doesn’t mean depression will win. much love to you all.

Let’s be friends.

Good evening, everybody. I apologize for posting an article late. I have recently got an apartment of my own and so I’ve been busy with moving and packing, but I digress. I thought this week, I would talk to you all about a subject that is very important to me. That subject is friendships and relationships. For us on the spectrum, having and maintaining a friendship or relationship can be particularly difficult and scary at times. For me, having a friend is a gift that sometimes feels like a luxury that can be hard to afford rather than something that should just be a given. In addition to Asperger’s Syndrome, I suffer from depression and anxiety…in particular, social anxiety. Three of my very favorite works of literature are Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Victor Hugo’s The hunchback of Notre Dame, and Gaston Leroux’s The phantom of the opera. The reason these three stories are among my favorites is because in one way or another, I can empathize and even identify with the main characters.

All three of these stories concern a person or creature who’s physical and intellectual disability makes them feel ostracized by society. In Frankenstein, the creature is ostracized and  shunned by the human population for the fact that he is considered hideous and terrifying looking. In The hunchback of Notre Dame, Quasimodo: the titular hunchback, has a deformity that isolates him from normal society. Finally in The phantom of the opera…The Phantom, or Erik, is shunned and feared by the normal population because of a hideous facial deformity that makes his face look like a grinning skull. The reason I identify with these three fictional characters is because there is a theme connected to all of them. In each of their stories, their motivations and actions all stem from one desire: the desire to be loved and accepted by others. Now unlike the creature in Frankenstein, I won’t pummel anyone to death. And unlike the phantom, I don’t make it a habit of kidnapping sopranos who I may develop a crush on, hanging stagehands from rafters who insult me, or dropping a chandelier on an audience because I’m angry my demands were rejected. But I still identify with them because even though my disability isn’t physical like theirs, it can still hinder me at times and can sometimes make me feel as though I will never be understood or accepted..or at worse, seen as a freak.

But I have found that that is not the case. I have met people who not only accept me and my disability, but celebrate me for it.

  1. Jacob Kendall: Jacob has been a true friend to me ever since he and I met in 2016. though he doesn’t share my disability, he accepts me as a brother and treats me like family every day.
  2. Johnny Hickman: Johnny and I both actually graduated from the same program at TAMU together and we both actually share the same disability. he is an amazing guy and a great christian…as well as hysterical.
  3. Shelbi Davenport: Shelbi is one of the sweetest people you would ever meet. beautiful on the inside as well as out. Like Johnny, She and I graduated together from the same TAMU program as well.
  4. Barrett Sawyers: like the other three I have just mentioned, Barrett is the very definition of a true friend. I am truly blessed to have come to know him every since we met each other when staying in the same apartment complex in College Station.
  5. Zachary Guillory and Katie: I put both of these as one because they are brother and sister. I have been family friends with them for years and even had Katie as my prom date my senior year. Love these two.
  6. Joseph Linville: Joseph and I met in 2014 when I attended A&M. He is one of the kindest and most genuine people I have ever come to meet.
  7. Whitney Wyatt: I can’t say enough good things about this sweet woman. Her love for others and creative spirit inspires me daily. I met her when we both performed in a show for my community theatre company.
  8. Margo Staley: this woman is crazy in all of the right ways. She and I met in 2007 when I joined The Art Park Players: my local theatre company
  9. Austin Montgomery: Austin and I met my sophomore year of high school when we were both in choir. He is an amazing and talented man of god and I am blessed to know him.
  10. Susan Mele: Susan is actually the owner and founder of the theatre company that I met Margo and Whitney at. She welcomed me with open arms and to this day, I give her credit as the one who instilled a sense of confidence in me. I love her to death.

Now I have so many others I want to list because I am truly blessed by so many wonderful people. If I did, however, I’m afraid we’d be here all night. But these people- as well as others- have accepted me and celebrated me for who I am and I love them all so much for it. For those who are lonely or feeling lonely, let me assure you that you aren’t. I promise you that there are good and compassionate people in this world. All you have to do is look hard enough. I encourage you all to seek out friends. here’s how I did it and my tips.

  1. Find a group of like minded people who share the same interests as you.
  2. Seek out someone, at least one person who you know accepts you, and then work from there.
  3. Join an organization or club you like. You never know who you will meet.
  4. Try to be more outgoing.
  5. Be patient and just be a good listener.
  6. Be understanding of others’ needs.
  7. Always be kind.
  8. BE YOURSELF!!!!!!!!!!!! No one will accept you if you don’t accept the wonderful person you are. Once you learn to realize you are one of God’s own masterpieces and of value, others will see that as well.

I hope this helps. Much love to you all.

The world according to me.

The world according to me.Thank you for joining me, everyone. with this blog, I aim to make people more aware of my disability as well as help those who have it know that it can be a blessing rather than a curse and that it does not define the beautiful people that you all are or have the potential to be.

My name is Spencer Langseth. I was born on may 11th, 1994 in Houston, TX in a hospital room with no air conditioning…or so my mother says . At the age of three, I was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome. For those of you who don’t know what that is, allow me to explain it to you. Asperger’s syndrome is a developmental disorder that mostly affects the ability to effectively socialize and communicate. It is a rare disorder, with only less than 200,000 US cases per year. When my doctors announced to my parents my disability, they said that I most likely would never be able to speak or amount to much of anything. My mother decided that the doctors were full of crap (parden my french) and made it a mission to prove it. now 21 years later, here I am. Not only can I speak, I can speak quite elegantly and can have very intellectual conversations (though the real problem is getting me to shut up) if given the opportunity. I have also accomplished much in the 24 years I’ve been alive. I graduated High School, attended TAMU (WHOOP!), and I have a very respectable job at this place called Next Step Transition Center. It is a place in Deer Park that caters to adults in the community with special needs. We offer independent living and job training skills as well as general education. I provide transportation, I take care of clients when they’re at home periodically, I help with the daily activities and staff duties of the center, and i periodically teach reading and social studies to the clients. In addition to this job, I have also Spent a summer in Cedar Hill, TX working at Mt Lebanon baptist encampment where I helped spread the word of God to many children and teenagers. In my spare time, I am a singer, actor, painter, and aspiring author. Though every day is a struggle with me with my disability, in addition to anxiety and depression, I don’t let it define me at all.

my main goal in life is to help others and be happy. I am blessed by so much but I know not everyone who has my disability is like me. Some of you may be lost and alone. I am here to show you that you aren’t. If you will allow it, I would like to be a friend and a voice to those of you who share my struggles as well as those of you who know someone who does and just may not know how to help them. I am here for you all. you are not alone.