Excerpts from a Book I’ll Never Write

“What’s this?” he said as he held up the plain black journal.

“It’s a gift for you…for us. Open it up…read it…” she said as he stared back at her.

He opened the journal and read silently, the words of his soulmate filled the pages.

“It’s beautiful,” he replied as he closed it.

“I’ve always wanted to share a journal with someone,” she began to explain. “If you want,  I thought it would be nice to write letters back and forth. Leave it for each other to find – anywhere you want. It’s okay if you don’t want to, I’ll keep writing, but I thought this was a good way to share my passion with you.”

He reached out for her hand, pulling her close.

“I love it. It’s a great idea. I can’t wait to write to you.”

She leaned in for a kiss.

“I love you so much.”

“I love you too.”

It’s the Way I Grew Up…

(paraphrased)

“Do you know how many people I’ve told about you? About your story? You came from nothing and here you are…”

(end paraphrase)

It’s the way I grew up. The fights. The yelling. The hitting. The name-calling. The hurting. I thought it was the way everybody lived. I never doubted even for a second that my dad loved me – I knew he did. I doubted if anyone else did.

As a child, all my extended family either died or disappeared from my life. By the time I was 11, everyone seemed to have left. Our family was dysfunctional at best. My dad tried – he tried to be the peacemaker, tried to take us to church, tried to turn us into a functional family – but the damage was already done. Everyone had left and I didn’t understand why. I hated being home – it didn’t feel like home. Yeah, I survived and I’ve even learned how to deal with my family as an adult, but some scars don’t heal quickly. 

I didn’t really have friends in elementary school. I was smart and I knew I was smart and I held onto that. There was a group of girls I would play with outside at recess – until the day they told me they didn’t want to play with me anymore. I remember walking away feeling heartbroken – these people I thought were my friends really weren’t my friends. I didn’t understand what I had done wrong. I cried and tried to have fun at recess, but my feelings were too hurt. I didn’t really make friends after that. I stumbled across one around the fourth grade – we had known each other in preschool and I feel like God brought us together when we both needed it. We both needed a friend at school and so He gave us each other. My mom would spend the rest of my school years comparing me to her. Everything was a competition and I had to win over my best friend. It made me feel like she wasn’t my friend at times – she was someone I had to win against. But she was my friend. Was being the key word – I lost her in October 2012. She’s fine – don’t worry – but I made some bad choices and we grew apart. Part of me wishes I would have reached out to her and told her what I was going though. Part of me felt an overwhelming need to protect her from my life. In the end – I lost. 

I remember wanting to try out for volleyball. I remember my mother’s words. “You’ll never make the team – only the rich kids will make the team.” Way to crush my hopes and dreams. Everything was always about money – my family didn’t have enough, we were poor compared to other people, we were in debt. However, we never went hungry. There was always food in the house. We stopped going to the doctor and the eye doctor and even the dentist annually, but at least we never went hungry. 

All the relationships around me were rocky. My dad’s relationship with my mom was rocky – to the point that I remember the day he asked me if I thought we would be better off if he divorced her. I remember the tears in his eyes – he was scared that if he divorced her that he would never find someone who would love him. I question sometimes if my parents ever truly loved each other. Don’t get me wrong – I’m grateful they met and married or I wouldn’t be here and my little brothers wouldn’t be here – but I question what their marriage was built on. My mom’s relationship with everyone was rocky – there were more arguments than I could count. I remember the hitting and kicking and yelling. I remember the day I realized I was big enough to fight back. Most of the time I just wanted everyone to stop. The relationship with my brothers changed as often as the time on the clock. The relationship with extended family didn’t exist. I grew jealous of my classmates who talked about spending the weekend with their grandparents or aunts and uncles or cousins. I may not have had friends in school, but I hung onto every word my classmates spoke.

I remember my first crushes. Some of them went on to become really amazing guys. Others not so much. In sixth grade this boy asked me to the dance – I was crushing on someone else (hoping he would ask me) and so I said no. The whole class thought I was mean and that other boy never asked me. In seventh grade I asked an eighth grader to the school dance after art class one day. It had taken me days to get up the courage to ask him. He said yes and I was so excited. A day or two later he came back and said that he couldn’t take me because he had to take his girlfriend to the dance instead. Then I moved onto someone else who I would spent the majority of middle school and high school crushing on. He liked just about every other girl in school – except me. We became friends and we studied together. He started to attend church with my family. I admitted how I felt to him. He didn’t feel the same. We stayed friends for a while and then slowly drifted apart. I gave up on boys after that. Three strikes and I’m out. About halfway through college someone new entered my life. I wasn’t sure if I liked him or not – but he gave me attention and at that point in my life, I was craving some attention from a boy. We were good friends and I knew he liked me. I wasn’t sure how I felt about him. He would give me my first kiss. He would become my biggest regret. I guard my heart to this day because of what transpired.

Sometimes I drive people away before they can hurt me. It’s what life has taught me – that people will leave you and people will die and then I will be left heartbroken. The people who haven’t been driven away are the special ones – they’re the ones I realized were worth fighting for and will continue to fight to have in my life. The guys I’ve dated here and there though – those are the ones I tend to drive away before they can hurt me by leaving. My heart can only take so much heartache. 

Losing my dad ripped my heart apart. I didn’t know it was possible to be in so much emotional pain until he died. It all still haunts me. I would give anything to wrap my arms around his neck once more. To tell him I love him. Sometimes I feel guilty when I laugh because he’s not here to share it with me. Other times I’m relieved that life is working out okay. It’s a struggle.

I remember the day Allison invited me to stay at her house. I didn’t know what to say or do. I had moved out of my mom’s house a couple months beforehand. Allison cared and was offering me what I needed most – stability. I remember watching how her family interacted and being amazed. They functioned like a “normal” family should. There wasn’t the fighting and kicking and hitting going on. I saw what it looked like when two people who love each other work together to raise a family. I was amazed every single day.

Later I found out that she was worried I wasn’t going to graduate college. I had shared with her everything that was going on and she spent a while worrying about me. She would also introduce me to the college therapist and I would spend the next thirteen months trying to figure out life in that office. 

I cried a lot in therapy. I tried to work through everything that had happened. I tried to figure out how to move forward. I tried to make good decisions. It was a struggle. There were so many things to talk about, so many things to work through, so many things that I needed to say.

I was a very independent person – even back then. My therapist saw it, but he also saw how guarded my heart was. I was trying to protect it from being broken again and I was willing to protect it at any cost – even if it meant being a loner. I still hear his words to this day. “You don’t need anyone to save you, you can save yourself, but someday, it might be nice.” He’s right. I don’t need anyone to save me. I can save myself. One day maybe it’ll be nice. One day maybe I’ll be willing to take a chance with my heart. One day maybe I’ll find someone who’s worth the risk. 

My guilty pleasure from high school onward was Walker, Texas Ranger. Gosh – I still love that show to this day. But it was never the action that pulled me in. In was the way that the good guys always won. The way you knew everything was going to turn out. It was the way Walker protected Alex and how you could always tell how much they loved each other. I was never drawn to the fighting scenes – I was drawn to the way Walker loved Alex and I often wondered if anyone would ever look at me the way he looks at her. I understood it was a fictional television series, but in my childhood world of wondering what it was like when two people loved each other, Walker and Alex were the example I found and hung onto.  

I’ve loved animals since the beginning of time. Have you ever looked into an animal’s eyes? You can see straight into their souls. Each one has a story and each one has their own moods and emotions and attitudes. I wanted to go away and study pandas as a child. Then I wanted to ride free on the back of a horse. I thought about becoming a vet but science and I were never friends, I decided against it. Now I have dogs with dreams of recusing and fostering more one day. 

I love writing. Inspiration doesn’t always strike, but when it does, I can spend hours upon hours writing. Sometimes it’s a story that’s popped into my head. Sometimes it’s something that someone says to me. Sometimes it’s just how I’m feeling. I drift away from writing from time to time, but I tend to always find my way back to it. It’s the hobby I won’t let disappear, no matter how much time lapses. 

I want to get healthier. I want to finally run a mile without stopping. I want to look in the mirror and love what I see. I want to see what other people see in me. Sometimes I’m just not sure how. 

God and I have drifted apart many times throughout my life. I aim to be a good Christian, but in fall short daily. I will go periods of time without going to church or reading my Bible. I haven’t prayed daily in years. Yet, I know that despite all my struggles, God doesn’t leave my side. He walks with me and talks with me. He’s my comfort when I lay awake at night crying. He protects me when I can’t figure it out. Most of all, He loves me – despite everything that has happened in my life. 

Which leads me to here – what is the point in me writing all of this now? My friend said she wanted to understand why I’m so scared – she wanted to help. I don’t understand myself sometimes and I didn’t know where to start so I figure I’d start at the beginning. Sometimes it’s hard for me to sort through all the feelings running around my head, but it’s easier to sort through them when I write. 

I’m scared of falling into financial trouble like my dad. I’m scared I’ll marry the wrong person and have a marriage like my parents. I’m scared I’ll never have kids and if I do, they’ll lay awake at night questioning if I love them. I’m scared I’ll raise them the way I was raised, despite my promises to myself that I would never do that. I’m scared that I’ll never find a group of friends who I can rely on and will always be there whenever I need them. I’m scared of leaving my comfort zone and I’m scared of falling. I’m scared that I’ll always hear the words ringing in my head that I’ve heard all my life. I’m scared of having my heart broken again – I’ve barely survived it every time before when it’s broken. I’m scared of being in a loveless relationship. But most of all – I’m scared of missing out on wonderful things because I’m scared. 

There are people around me who I know will always be there for me. I’ve discovered which family members will be there through thick and thin; and which ones I need to set boundaries with. I’ve discovered co-workers who have become family. I’ve discovered a family I never knew I needed but always wanted.

Sometimes I feel guilty for this – for loving the people in my life. I’m on this path because my dad died. I’ve met most of these people as a result of this death. I wish I could say I would give all of them up to have him back – but honestly, I don’t want to go back to my childhood life. I just wish he could be here and I could keep them. It makes me feel guilty most days. But I can’t feel guilty for living. 

It’s often easier for other people to realize how strong you are as a person. When I look at my life, I don’t see myself as someone who is strong. I see myself as someone who has learned how to survive but at the expense of being fearful. Other people see a strong person who has overcome so much to get to where she is. 

Perhaps it’s easier for others to see our strength. We don’t see it within ourselves because we are too busy trying to figure out how to survive. Maybe it’s about taking a step back and realizing everything that you’ve overcome. Maybe it’s about realizing that there’s still a fight left within you. Maybe it’s about fighting for the life you’ve always dreamed of.

It’s not always easy to keep fighting for what I want, sometimes I need a nap from all of it. It feels like an endless battle. I’m not sure if I can see the light at the end of the tunnel anymore. 

But maybe if I fight long enough and hard enough I’ll finally have the family I’ve always dreamed of. 

“A warrior is the woman who gets up despite the enemy trying to destroy her. A woman who declares her victory before seeing it. A woman who believes she will receive her miracle because she knows the Lord she serves is alive and by her side.”

Excerpts from a Book I’ll Never Write

“Just tell me when it’ll all be worth it,” her eyes were begging to know. 

“I can’t tell you when.”

“Why? Why can’t you tell me when? You want me to take this giant leap of faith but you won’t tell me when it’ll pay off! Can’t you see how scared I am? I need to know!” she declared, tears streaming down her face. 

“You have to trust that it’ll all work out.”

“I can’t do that! I don’t know how. You don’t have to give me an exact date – just give me a year or tell me how old I’ll be when it finally pays off.”

“But then you’ll spend all your time waiting and you won’t ever do the things that will get you there.”

Tears streamed down her face. “Will you tell me about the moment I will know it has paid off then?”

“There will be a couple moments when you know it has paid off. The first is when you run that mile without stopping and you finally look in the mirror and are happy with what you see.”

“How do you know I’m unhappy?”

“It’s written all over your face. You think you hide it so well. You don’t hide it from me.”

“Okay – so I’ll be happy when I finally run a mile. Is that it?”

“No. There’s a few other moments that you long for but are scared will never happen.”

“What are you talking about?” she asked as she fought the urge to run and hide. 

“It’ll be worth it when you realize you’ve found your soulmate – the person who understands you and loves you just as you are. The first time you kiss, it’ll be like nothing you’ve ever experienced. When he wraps his arms around you, you’ll feel safe. You will talk about where you want to live and all the things you want to do and how you want to raise your children – and you’ll believe him. The day he asks you to be his wife – gosh – you’ll realize all the dreams you held onto for so long are finally coming true. Oh you’ll be scared – scared it’ll all fall apart – but the love the two of you share will see you through. You won’t plan a big wedding – you’ll probably elope. You’ll settle down into a nice house with a little bit of land and you’ll live a great life.”

“That’s it? But what about…” tears came to her eyes again as she thought about her greatest wish. She was so scared it may never come true. 

“What about children? You can say it. It’s your greatest wish and your fear. You want it more than anything but you’re scared to want it. You’re so scared it may never happen and that is your greatest fear. You’re scared that you’ll have held onto this dream forever and then it won’t come true. You’ve promised yourself since you were a little girl that your children would be raised differently than you, but you’re scared you won’t ever get that chance. You’re so scared that you’ll disregard the symptoms until you visit the doctor. That’s when you’ll probably find out you’re pregnant. In that moment, you’ll start to realize that it was all worth it. You’ll be so incredibly happy. When you see your baby on the ultrasound for the first time and feel your baby kick – you’ll know it was worth it. But the day of your firstborn’s birth, that’s when it will all finally sink in. On that day, you’ll realize that it was all worth it – the painful childhood, losing your dad, losing yourself and struggling for years to find yourself once more, throwing caution to the wind and not letting your fears dictate your life, going on that date with your future husband and realizing he was the one, getting married, buying a house, and admitting to yourself that you wanted all of it. When you look down at your child, you’ll realize that it was all worth it – all of it – and you’d do it all over again to end up in that moment once more.”

“Promise?” she asked barely above a whisper as the tears flowed unchecked down her face. She looked at the ground, to scared to look up. 

A hand reached down and lifted her head. “I promise, but it all starts with you.”

She nodded her head. “I’m trying. I promise I’m trying. I’m just so darn scared.”

“But you can’t let fear run your life. I know you’re scared. I know how much it hurts. I know that your mind is telling you everything that could go wrong. Have faith.”

She tried to wipe the tears from her eyes.

“It’s okay to cry. You’ve earned every single one of those tears. Just remember that it starts with you and it’ll work out – I promise.”

I Miss Him

It’s difficult to explain the loss of my dad to people who have never lost a parent. It’s an indescribable  arrange of emotions that don’t make sense and contradict each other. It’s hard to pinpoint what I miss the most because I miss everything. My heart screams in pain at what I’ve lost, but it can’t figure out how to put those feelings into words. When tears stream down my face and someone asks why, the only words I can find are “I miss him.” Simple, yet, those words describe how I feel at the sixth anniversary of my dad’s death perfectly. 

I’ve learn over the years that nothing anyone says to me will make me feel better. When someone tells me he’s always with me, I fight the urge to roll my eyes – it’s easy for other people to say that – they can still call their dads, I can’t. They can visit their dads, but unfortunately for me, Heaven doesn’t have visiting hours. They can tell their dads that they love him and hear those words spoken back to them; I can tell my dad I love him, but never again will I hear him speak those words. 

I try to go into the week leading up to my dad’s death with no expectations of how I will react, yet, I get frustrated when the tears come. I’ve cried those same tears for six years. I know that no matter how many tears I cry, it won’t change anything. The tears allow my heart to say the words that I find myself unable to speak. When I can’t express why I’m so upset, the tears try to communicate it. Yet, my mind knows that no amount of tears or words can ever change what happened. Perhaps that’s what’s most difficult. 

The tears flow for what I’ve lost – my dad. They flow for all the hugs I’ll never get, all the “I love yous” that were left unspoken, all the stories left untold. They also flow for the things I’ll never get to experience with my dad – he’ll never walk me down the aisle, I’ll never see the look in his eyes when I tell him he’s going to be a grandpa, I’ll never look across the hospital room and watch as my dad stares into the eyes of his grandchild. The tears flow for everything I miss as well as everything I lost and everything I’ll never get to experience with my dad. 

On this anniversary of my dad’s death, I find myself still struggling with words. It’s the one time of the year when I find words to be the most difficult to find. The tears that escape my eyes, the sobs that escape my soul, and the heartache that fills me are what define the day. 

What I Miss the Most

“What do you miss the most about him?”

With the sixth anniversary of my dad’s death fast approaching, I find myself wanting to talk about him. About how special he was to me. About how much losing him hurt. About all my memories of him. Losing him tore my heart apart. 

In the week leading up the anniversary of my dad’s death, I never know how I’m going to react. Sometimes I’m fine and can go about life like everything is okay. Sometimes I cry for a week leading up to the anniversary and when the day arrives, I’m fine. Sometimes I try to sleep the entire day away to block it from memory. I roll with it and have learned not to make plans or set expectations. 

I tell a couple people around me – the people most likely to notice if my attitude or mood suddenly changes. I don’t want them to worry about me, but I need them to understand if the bubbly person I try to be who cracks jokes suddenly goes into hiding and a little girl emerges who is trying to hold back the tears threatening to fall. 

This year, I told two co-workers. The ones who I see every day, the ones I’m always talking to, the ones who will notice if something isn’t right. One of them posed the question above to me – my initial response was that I miss everything and that I really miss his hugs.

I’ve kept thinking about it though. It’s hard to pinpoint one thing that I miss more than the others. I truly miss everything. 

What I Miss the Most

I miss the way that my daddy would wrap his arms around me – the feeling of complete security, knowing that I was safe from the world. I miss the proud look in his eyes whenever I reached my goal and I miss the joy in his eyes whenever he was happy. I miss our talks in the garage and I miss sitting down at the table with him. I miss the daily text messages – the reminders “Love you. God Bless you. Have a great day!” and I’m ashamed that I ever once considered those reminders to be annoying. I miss taking time to spend with him and I miss how he always picked up the phone when I called. I miss the reassuring voice in the other end of the line. I miss the sound of his voice. I miss knowing that whatever happened, my dad always had my back. I miss the parent in my life and I miss knowing that he was okay with whatever decision I made. I miss my protector and my hero and my friend. I miss the feeling of never questioning if someone loved me because he showed me daily that he did. I miss him directing the church choir and I miss learning new music from him. I miss the look in his eyes as he stood there before the congregation and led the choir in a performance. I miss the happiness in his eyes and the concentration on his face and the achievement of standing up directing a choir where he wanted to be. I miss hearing stories about how he wanted to be a musician and about the record he made. I miss hearing him sing and I miss all the lessons he tried to teach me. I miss the sound of his voice when he talked about God and how he knew exactly where he stood with Him. I miss reading the Bible together and talking about how Revelations scared me as a child. I miss being told there was nothing to be scared of. I miss waking him up in the middle of the night when I was scared and I miss when he left for work at 4:30am and snuck into my bedroom to give me a kiss – oftentimes I was awake, although I never let him know. I miss everything. 

I just miss my dad. 

And it’s one of the hardest things to do – living life knowing that a piece of your heart was ripped away from you. Understanding that God has a plan and being grateful for where you are, yet longing to go back in time to the person you lost.

Usually the days go by and everything is fine. However, sometimes the days are long and hard. On those days I find myself leaning on those around me to help pick me up or offer up a comforting word or just listen to me. Those are the people I find myself hanging onto these days. The ones who will help see me through the happy times and the sad times and show me similar love to that my dad always did. 

Learning to Love My Body – Learning to Love Myself 

I’ve been quiet over the last couple months. It happens from time to time. Words continue to fill my head, yet, I struggle to put them into sentences, paragraphs, and blogs. 

I’ve been doing some soul searching lately. I’ve always had a pretty good idea of why I do the things I do – I just have a hard time admitting to most people how I’m feeling. I want to be seen as a strong, independent, intelligent woman. I’ve worked my whole life trying to prove that I could to anything – I could survive. Yet, I tend to keep so many feelings hidden from the world. Honestly, I question my decision to share those feelings here. However, when I started this blog, I promised myself to always share my feelings openly and honestly – this was going to be my space and a small glimace into my world. Maybe someone would stumble across it one day and realize they aren’t as alone as I feel some days. 

When I originally started the series “Learning to Love My Body” it was about my quest to get healthy and how loving my body meant more than just eating right, exercising, and going to the doctor for checkups. It was about all the different aspects of learning to love oneself. Overtime I’ve come to realize that those blogs aren’t just about learning to love my body – they’re about learning to love myself.

Learning to love my body was easier to admit to than learning to love myself. People have all sorts of “problems” with their bodies that aren’t problems. They’re differences that make each of us unique. Learning to love myself almost makes it sound like I don’t like myself – I do! But it’s about learning how to love myself. It’s about admitting that sometimes I need to take time for me, and I should never feel guilty for doing so. It’s about figuring out what I want and doing it – even when it scares me. 

Learning to love myself means being honest with myself. Not just about the things I don’t want to do, but about why I don’t want to do them. What’s holding me back? Do I genuinely not like the thing I’ve said no to? Am I scared? Is something hurting me? Loving myself is being honest with myself. It’s about taking baby steps to get me to where I want to be – not just health wise by eating right and going to the gym – but whole health wise by taking time to see the people I love and not being scared to step outside my comfort zone. I could be missing out on the greatest experience of my life and I don’t even know it.

However, I understand I’m scared to try new things. Sometimes the past has a way of haunting us. We can put on a fantastic act for all the world to see, but something inside could be eating us alive. We don’t know how to express our feelings and then we feel embarrassed for having those feelings. 

It’s important to recognize that feelings are uniquely our own. No one can tell you how to feel and no one has a right to make you feel guilty for the way you feel. It’s embarrassing asking for help in certain situations – I understand that. It’s hard to put yourself out there and attend that Sunday School class or join that kickboxing class you’ve had your eye on. It’s harder to think about life passing you by while you’re sidelined. It’s about learning to focus on what you can do in the next 24 hours to get you where you want to go – wherever that may be. The rest will fall into place and if it doesn’t fall the way you think, perhaps it was never meant to be. Learning to love myself is about taking care of every aspect of my well being. 

Let’s Just Talk…

When was the last time you had an open and honest conversation with someone? How did they react? Did you have a difference in opinion? Do you felt like they heard you when you spoke? Were they upset when you felt differently than them? Did they accuse you of judging them or tell you to never speak to them again? Halfway through the conversation, did they tell you that all you’re doing is arguing when you weren’t even aware that you were having an argument? Did you feel anything was accomplished or were you left feeling defeated and emotionally drained?

I’ve always felt that the best way to solve differences is to leave the line of communication opened but also be honest with your feelings without taking offense to how the other person is feeling. If I have a disagreement with someone, I want to be able to talk it out and I want to feel comfortable expressing to the other person exactly how I’m feeling without fear that they will think I’m judging them or being difficult – simply because I have a different opinion. Likeless, I won’t take offense to what the other person’s opinion is. Do you have a different opinion than me? Cool! That’s part of life and we are free to have as many opinions as we want. 

The problem comes when the other person doesn’t understand how to communicate and takes offense to everything that is said. You’re often left feeling like you’re walking on eggshells. You try to understand the other person, you ask what you can do to help, you try to understand the situation. If you give an opinion that is different, obviously you are judging the other person and that is a reason to be cut out of their life. 

I don’t do well with threats of any kind. I’ve cut people out of my life before and I couldn’t care less if someone cuts me out of theirs. I very firmly believes that God is in control and He lets people enter and exit our lives as needed. If someone feels the need to cut me out of their life, I see it as God’s Way of removing that person from my life. Why? I’m not always sure, but since I have faith in God, I trust Him. Perhaps that’s why that threat has always bothered me – either talk to me or don’t – I believe that God is ultimately in control. 

But what about if I have a different opinion than you? Is that judgment? Should I lie to you when I feel differently simply to avoid hurting your feelings? You should never hurt someone’s feelings on purpose – that’s mean. But having a difference in opinion is normal, healthy even. It allows people to grow and understand. The problem arises when someone views a difference in opinion as a judgment and takes offense to it. Perhaps that is a battle we will always be fighting – figuring out how to communicate with people who view words spoke as an attack against them when you’re only stating your opinion. 

However, there’s another part of communication. Sometimes, you need to be blunt. If I believe someone is being a brat, and then they are complaining to me, I will tell them how I feel – they are being a brat and need to knock it off because adults don’t act like that. It’s the same way my friends and family call me out when I’m acting like a brat – they give me their honest opinion of my actions and how I’m being perceived. What I do with that information is up to me. But the point is that someone cares enough to be blunt with me about the way I’m acting, the same way I care enough about other people to be blunt with them. 

Perhaps communication is difficult for all people. Most arguments and disagreements could be solved if people were open to honest communication. The problem is, a lot of the time, people don’t want to communicate. They want people to be on their side and if they aren’t, they take offense. What happened to being able to communicate without fear that someone would take it the wrong way? What happened to have a healthy conversation and working out problems? What  happened to communication?