Tag Archives: children

Today was like…

…an emotional roller coaster. It’s Father’s Day, and I usually spend the whole day pretty sad missing, and thinking about, my dad and everything he’s missed out on, and everything I missed out on. But today was different. In fact, I didn’t get sad or teary until about an hour ago. I had other things on my mind. 

For the past few days I have been anxiously waiting for a childhood friend, Nicole, to make it to Vegas so I could drive down and see her. We met in 6th grade. We went to school together and were best friends, hanging out every chance we had. We bonded over the loss of our fathers, and our tough/harsh maternal figures, and NKOTB (what were we thinking?!?)…our lives were very similar back then, with some minor differences. The summer between 9th and 10th grade my family moved out of state. I hated my mom for making us move away (I had no concept of financial hardships at the time) and I vowed that I would make her so miserable that she would send me back “home”. Little did I know how devastating our move was to Nicole. We were inseparable, until our move separated us. We returned to our hometown for a visit the following summer. I don’t remember how long we were in town, but it wasn’t long enough. I was able to get in a visit with Nicole, and wanted to go back every year to visit her. Neither of us knew that we would not see each other again for 25 years. 

We lost contact after that visit. Many years passed and my mom contacted me to let me know that a letter had arrived at the family home for me from Nicole. I got the letter a few days later and responded. We wrote back and forth for a while, and talked on the phone occasionally…and then life happened. We lost contact again. I would occasionally look for her on Facebook, but didn’t have any luck. Just a few years ago she sent me a friend request. Life kept us both pretty busy, but we were better about keeping up with each other through Facebook. Our lives had taken parallel paths, both of us having many similar experiences, even our ex’s share the same first name (yes, I think all men that I have encountered with that first name have been asshats). We are both in a better place. 

I was so stressed out about seeing her today, the first time in 25 years, and I have changed a lot, I guessed that she did too. What if we don’t recognize each other? Which is kinda dumb because we see each other’s pictures on Facebook. What if she doesn’t like me anymore? What if I don’t like her anymore? What if we have nothing to talk about? J and I arrived at her hotel and she was coming down to meet us. As soon as we saw each other we smiled and hugged. It was so great to see her face light up, and I was put at ease. I couldn’t see myself, but I think I lit up too. We walked around trying to find a place to eat and talk. When we finally found a place we started talking like we were picking up where we left off. J said she heard Nicole say things and she thought to herself “That’s exactly what mom would say.”, and she’s right, it was what I would say. We talked about our kids and how both B and J were named after her. We talked about family and struggles and blessings and progress and church. An amazing visit, and the food was good too. We had to say goodbye too soon, but we both agreed to not go so long before seeing each other again. 

As J and I drove home I was replaying the visit and past things people have said to me about every friend I made after her. I have had some real doozies. I have picked some “real winners”. I suddenly came to the realization that I had never had a friend as true, loyal, reliable, understanding, compassionate…the list goes on…as she was to me. In every relationship there is some give and some take. For the majority of relationships I have had, there has always been more giving on my part and more taking on theirs, but not with Nicole. I think we both gave back as much, if not more, than we took. I cannot think of another friend who has been that way with me. 

Forward to an hour ago when I started texting my brothers to tell them happy Father’s Day, since I was traveling, catching up with Nicole, and having dinner with Jay and J, and by the time I got the chance to call the boys, it was too late. I got more emotional as I wrote each text. I made sure to let them know how much I look to up to each of them. I am sad that I don’t have the close relationships with them that I wish I had, and the ones I feel close to, I struggle with because of my emotional hurt. I have to find a healthy way to release grudges and hurts so I can move past the hurts. I miss my dad. I remember being a daddy’s girl. Maybe I remember right, and maybe I don’t, but I remember his love for me. I’m heartbroken, grateful and happy this Father’s Day. Happy Father’s Day to the many men in my life, present and past, who have had a positive impact on my life and the woman I’ve become. 

Life changes. Experiences change us. We change. Friends come and go from our lives. True friends may leave our lives, but reconnect as if no time has passed. True friends are selfless and love you for being you. I’m lucky enough to have one. 

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“No good deed…

…goes unpunished.” Isn’t that how the saying goes? Haven’t we been punished enough?

I wish it didn’t hurt so much to have my brother tell me that he doesn’t want our family at his sons missionary farewell. He wants the weekend to be all about his son, and I get that, I really do. I have never once questioned the safety of my family around my siblings or their children. I have never jumped to the conclusion that they are a danger to be around, or worried that they would cause a scene and detract from whatever celebration was going on. We have always opened our doors to my siblings and their families and welcomed them with open arms. That’s why I hurt every time I think about my nephew leaving for his mission soon. Sending someone on a mission is something that we will never experience with our own children. None of our kids are active in the church, all but one is engaged, married, or has children. But because we have brought children into our home who, for one reason or another, are not able to be with their families, we are no longer welcome to stay with my brothers. Even though they knew before they agreed to let us stay with them, that there was a good chance we would have both T and R with us. Now, we are being asked to get a hotel room, and to stay away except for the 1 hour farewell at church.

So let’s lay this out: R is not able to live with his family because he used to be violent; he has been in our home for over 3 weeks and has shown no sign of violent behavior, not to mention the many visits before being released from residential treatment; he is happier than we have ever seen him; we are his only hope, his last chance, at a family/home life, his other alternative being to return to residential treatment where he would stay for the rest of his life; my brother asked us to find another family to place him with while we come up for a one hour visit; we would drive for 6+ hours, each way, to spend one hour sitting in church, and maybe a few minutes saying “hi” and “bye” to family, plus we would paying for a hotel room; my brother assumed that R would not be able to cope with being around a lot of people, but he didn’t bother to ask any questions, he just said R isn’t welcome, but R is as much a part of our family as any of the other kids; all of this is based on an experience my brother’s friend had with adopting a child which resulted in the child being returned to state custody and the adopted parents divorcing. R is not his friends adopted/unadopted child. R has spent the last 3+ years in residential treatment to have his issues identified and to learn how to live with them and appropriately deal with them.

When my oldest nephew received his mission call, we all gathered around the computer and waited anxiously for a call that didn’t come in time for us to hear him read it. Their reason for excluding us? They couldn’t get skype to work right. So why not call us? There was no shortage of phones in the room. We could see them all in the video they sent us the next day.

We brought T and R into our home, into our family, because they need us, and we need them. We can’t have more kids of our own, and it’s painful to feel like we are constantly being punished because our family isn’t like the my brothers families. We started the processes of fostering and adopting, but work and school had us moving too much, and the cost to continually move our families case around was more than we could afford. In vitro was not an option because of the cost as well. Multiple attempts at using donors, all ended in miscarriages; miscarriages that each left me feeling more broken, worthless, and alone than the last.

When we got the call from T’s mom that she needed us to take him for a while, well, it just felt like the right direction to take our family in. That was the beginning. Then Jay’s brother called and ask us to consider taking R in, if and when he was ever released from residential treatment. We deal with one nasty parent of each child, and one good parent. We are almost constantly put down, verbally (sometimes through texts) abused, put down, and second guessed by the nasty parent of each child. We hear, at least once a week, that we aren’t doing enough for these kids, by parents who don’t see, don’t know, and don’t ask what we do, how we do it, or why. We see how selfish the parents are because they don’t put their child first, ever! Their nasty phone calls or messages are all about the pity party they want everyone, including their children, to throw for them. These kids are essentially our foster children, although the state is not involved, the parents and the courts are. We fight for the, when the world would sooner lock them up and walk away from them. We tolerate the abuse from nasty parents towards us, but not towards the kids. We tolerate a good parent questioning us and siding with the nasty parent. While the other good parent is trying to remove the other nasty parent from the situation altogether for the benefit of the child.

All we really want is a complete family, in whatever form that comes in for us. We may never be able to complete our family, and we certainly will never be able to complete it the way my brothers all have, with 3, 4 and 6 kids all born into the family. I’m hurt that my brother would not ask questions about R. I thought he would always have my back, but this time he didn’t. I don’t know how to move on from the hurt I feel. All we wanted was to support my nephew, and to be there to share in the celebration. Instead I just hurt that my brother doesn’t trust us, or R. He’s never even met him.

It’s not fair! Because of the decision we’ve made to open our home to help children, my family is pushing me away. I never really felt like I belonged in my family, and this just makes it worse. I worked so hard to build good relationships with my brothers only to have it overshadowed by the past of one child.

Do you ever get that feeling…

…that there’s another, possibly better, way to go about something? Maybe you mishandled a situation, and it didn’t end well. As you replay the situation in your head, you realize that there was probably another way you could’ve handled that situation which would’ve resulted in a better outcome. As a parent, I feel that a lot! Like after yelling at one of the kids because I was too upset in the heat of the moment; or not thinking about the consequences my actions, or words, would bring about. There are even times when I think about actions that could’ve worsened a situation and still resulted in a better outcome.

I wonder if second guessing is as prevalent among other people as it is for me. I take my role as parent and guardian very seriously. I often find myself replaying situations trying to plan a better course of action if a similar situation ever happens again. Unfortunately I usually end replaying them in the middle of the night when I should be sleeping. This is one major drawback of being an insomniac. My mind races at night, and I can’t sleep, while during the day I feel like a zombie. I was talking to a sister-in-law last night and she said that her husband is somehow able to ignore the crazy that some people try to bring into their lives, but that she struggles because she can’t ignore the crazy, she gets upset by it. Jay and I are the same way, he can ignore it, but I can’t help but get upset by it. Balance. It’s hard to come by.

I went out on a limb last night to help someone I don’t have any positive feelings for, only to have it backfire and remind me, yet again, why I don’t have any positive feelings for them. So here I am at 5:30 in the morning, still awake, replaying the events of last night. 

I am a step parent, as well as a natural parent. One of the hardest lessons I’ve learned is that in order to help your children flourish in a blended family situation you have to have a respect and love for all of the other parents in your children’s lives. I still struggle with this as some of the parents of the newest children in our family do not even attempt to reciprocate any form of love or respect for us. The situations involving these parents are destructive to the children. These are the moments I replay most often in my head. 

I try to think of ways to lessen the emotional blows, but I can’t. There have times, in my distant past, that I’ve been so unhappy with the consequences of my choices that I’ve tried to cause others to feel as much pain as I do, it’s called being a bully. Some of the parents feel it’s ok to bully their children in order to be respected. Fear is not respect, though, it’s just fear. The reality of the situation is that each parent has to unselfishly give up their control in order to show any level of respect and love for the parents who are raising their children. Giving up control over trivial things is hard enough. Giving up control over your children sometimes seems impossible. I do my best to embrace the differences people have. I’m the first to admit that I’m still struggling to embrace some differences, but I try. 

Acceptance is so easy to fake for a short time, and disgust can be hidden for a while. The truth is constant and can only be the truth, although ones perspective can make their truth different than another’s. The hard part isn’t accepting that we have to tolerate certain behaviors from destructive parents. The hard part is actually tolerating them and then picking up the pieces in the aftermath. We teach. We struggle. Everyone does in their own way. We also rise above, most of the time. We are human, and not perfect, after all.

After days like today…

…I find myself wondering why we do this. Why do we take in other people’s children? I know going into it that there will be struggles along the way, both major and minor ones. I know that there are parents who all get phone calls and video chats and who create unnecessary heartaches. I know that there will be times when no one gets along and others where everyone gets along. 

It doesn’t take me long to remember why we take in other people’s children. We do it because every child deserves a chance; we love them; we want what’s best for them; we want them to be happy and to feel a sense of safety and security that they didn’t feel elsewhere.

One parent decided to call one of the kids and tell them that they will never be living with that parent again. Then he hung up on the child. This was after a week of no phone calls. I promptly called him to find out what’s going on and to let them know that their approach was unacceptable and causing undo stress on the child. I was yelled at and hung up on, and then sent multiple messages that were full of hateful, hurtful, and down right mean things meant to hurt me. In one message the parent said that I was never good looking, it was only my personality that kept people around. Another said that my motivation has always been to keep their child and to make the child my own because I’m unable to have more children of my own. I received a total of 17 messages, and every one of them was written to hurt me and my family and to put the blame on everyone besides the parent. One even said “And don’t think I don’t understand that you’re keeping every single text I sent you so you can use it to get a f****** restraining order…” Here’s the thing. I don’t scare easy, and I have no need for restraining orders. I’m not afraid of him. I have enough self esteem that I don’t really care if someone finds me physically attractive. If you don’t want to be around me, then don’t be around me. If I don’t want to be around you, I will not be around you. It’s not rocket science. My self esteem and self respect do not revolve around what you think of me. The fact is that you placed your child in my care, and while you have convinced yourself that it’s only because you needed a break, the truth is that you had a mental break, you were not physically able to take care of your child (your child was taking care of you), and you even admitted to me when I picked the child up from you that you had relapsed and started using again. I spent the better part of this afternoon picking up the pieces of this broken child because the parent was unable to keep the child out of the mess the parent finds himself in. One of the last messages stated that the parent wanted me to stay up all night with them, talking to them, so they don’t do anything stupid. So after 16 messages of putting me down, and tearing my life apart trying to make me feel as bad as the parent feels, they have the gall to ask me to stay up all night and help them out. Because what, raising their child isn’t helping them out enough? 

Then, during anothe child’s scheduled video call with his mom, the mom realizes that my child is in the room and instead of talking to her son, she spends the next little while telling me that it is in the court order that no other children are allowed in the room during her time with her son (which, by the way, is complete b.s. and evidence of how ,anipulative she is). She demanded that I make all the children leave the room before she would talk to her son. All of the children in our home, except my daughter, have parents outside of the home that they have contact with. All of the children know that when one is talking to a parent, the tv is paused, and no one is to interact with the child on the phone, or try to but into the conversation with the parent. My child is an adult, so the moms point is invalid anyways, but I will not allow anyone to dictate how my home is run. I will not allow the children to see the parents disrespecting anyone in my home. I turned off the video chat service when she made it clear that she was more interested in yelling at me and trying to make demands than she was in talking to her son. She is allowed only 3 hours of contact with him a week, and she would rather yell at me than talk to him. I don’t understand. We will try again when she is supposed to have her next phone call with him. 

We do not say anything negative about the parents of the children, not around them, and certainly not to them. Just as my daughter did with her birth father, the children are allowed the freedom to form their own opinions about their parents without our biases being involved. So far, the children each have one parent they like to talk to, and one parent that they dread talking to. Still, we try to encourage them to communicate with each parent. We have given them a voice and taught them to use it. They know that their thoughts matter here. We do the best we can for these children, for our family. We are an extra blended family, and life is tough. We get by; we manage. We are protectors of the innocent and we are their guardians. We will continue to fight for them. 

So with phones shut down until sense and reason take hold, it is time to say goodnight. I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes: “Today was a difficult day. Tomorrow will be better” ― Kevin Henkes, Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse

When someone hits rock bottom…

…I mean really hits rock bottom, they are appreciative of every thing you do for them. It’s easy to say you’ve hit bottom, but to behave as if you have is not so easy to fake. We experienced this when S contacted us Thursday. Actually, he contacted me. I forwarded everything that was said, by S and myself, to Jay. We called a family meeting and let J and T know what was going on. Jay was convinced that S was really at rock bottom, and that if we help him, the only direction S could go was up. Based on this information, J and T agreed that it would be ok for S to come home and we would support him in getting back on his feet, with certain stipulations: he was to get a job; fix his status with the national guard; send support to M and E; pay rent; apply for Medicaid; absolutely no drinking, drugs, smoking, or chemicals of any kind allowed on the property or in his system; and he was to be respectful and help out around the house. 

Jay and I went to pick him up Friday morning from a shelter an hour away. When I saw him, immediately my anxiety level went up. Thoughts of “oh no, here we go again” went through my mind. I hoped that things would be different this time around. I trusted Jay, and I wanted to trust S, but I had my reservations. 

From Friday to Monday our home had a dark cloud over it. It felt different just walking up to it. Clothes and dishes were left out and I was sounding like a nag because everywhere I went S had left a mess. No progress had been made to gather his missing documents to be able to find a job, he had made no effort to apply for Medicaid or contact the national guard. He grabbed T and threw him to the side when T was trying to play by blocking the walkway and asking everyone for a password. He made unnecessary comments in conversations that did not involve him. By Monday evening I’d had enough. I pulled Jay aside into the kitchen and started to fill him in on everything that had been happening. S came in, already agitated, and tried to join the conversation. He tried to say that he didn’t have time to get anything done because it was the weekend. I called him out on it because he spent his days sleeping and his nights keeping me awake, and he could’ve applied for Medicaid online, and I was able to reach his unit in a matter of minutes, which tells me he put zero effort into doing either. 

He started to play the victim and once again denied that E was his. She is 14 months old, and he still calls her “it!” I was furious. I got in his face and told him that he had sex, with my friend, in my house, and that whether or not he believed she was his, he was going to accept responsibility for her as long as I had anything to do with it. Whether or not E is his (and I fully believe she is, she looked just like him when she was born, and everyone else has accepted her), he broke the rules and the consequences are that he is now a father, and he must accept responsibility. He started yelling excuses at me, and raised his fist up to swing at me. My instincts must have been stronger than I knew, because before he could hit me, I reached up and grabbed him by his throat. The swings were coming, but I wasn’t going to let go until I was safe from the blows. Jay jumped up and grabbed him and told him to leave. S turned around and kicked a hole in our kitchen door. Everything happened so fast. He went outside, undressed down to his underwear, and started screaming for the “Mormons” to come help him, he was trying to wave down passing cars, and yelling obscenities. The police were called to remove him from our property. The police came to talk to me, and I told them what happened and Jay confirmed it. Which is totally different from what S told them, but I fully admitted that I grabbed him before he touched me. The police asked us to gather all of his things and bring them outside. We did, and the officers told us to go back inside and they would take care of everything.

Lesson learned, he’s out of chances. I know S blames me for growing up the way he did, although I was the one who pushed Jay to fight for custody of him and K. Their mom made sure that I was always the bad guy, and the kids always tried to play both sides. The children are now adults, and they have to decide for themselves what the truth is about their parents, all of their parents. I’ve read many articles and blogs about the importance of parents being accepting and supportive of the step parents in their children’s lives. I refuse to talk badly about other parents around the children. It’s not fair to the other parents, or the kids. I’ve seen the damage that can come from sharing negative feelings about others around the kids…the parents are a big part of each child, and who they will grow up to be.

I wish that we could trust all of our children, but 2 of them have already burned the bridges beyond repair, at least in my mind. We hope that they are able to learn the importance of good decision making and find success for themselves. I believe that S is not mentally capable of making decisions for himself, but we do not have the means to have him declared incompetent, and with R coming in only 3 more days, we can’t have the violence and disrespect in the home. There are certain things that can no longer be tolerated. We are R’s last chance at a family life. If we fail him, he will spend the rest if his life in residential facilities. He is still young (almost 13). He needs a family environment where he can thrive and use the skills he’s learned from the residential facilities he’s been in. 

I can’t bring myself to go…

…to church anymore. We are in a great neighborhood, a great ward. The people there genuinely care about me and my family. I love The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I believe the things that are taught. I know I am a daughter of a loving Heavenly Father and I believe that Jesus suffered and died for me. I believe in our living prophet, and I feel the Holy Spirit confirm to me every time that I hear him speak, that he is a true prophet of God. Sure, I get distracted easily at church, and the lessons and speakers can be so boring. The 3 hour block can be hard to sit through.
I want to be at church…but I don’t want to be forced to look at happy families, with their new born babies (or newly adopted little ones), and their spiritual teenagers who are preparing to go on missions, or the parents who bear their testimony about how amazing it is to watch the changes they see in their missionary children. I want to break down and cry when I see a new baby being blessed, and children being confirmed, and pregnant women glowing. I think horrible things about myself as I watch loving husbands help their wives with the kids, instead of ignoring them or egging them on. Then there’s the loving couples with no children yet who can be overheard talking about how happy they are, and their plans for the future. I think of my marriage to my eternal companion, and I get sad, because if THIS is what my eternity is going to be like; stuck with a childish man who can’t, or won’t, think before he acts; never considers the consequences of his actions; is unable to effectively communicate with me, and who neglects the emotional needs of me and our children; if this unhappy marriage is my eternal gift for doing my best…then I don’t want it! 

I always wanted lots of kids, and while I have lots of kids now, I only have one who loves me and respects me as her mom. Others have never liked me being in their lives, one is always angry with me for choices I made, ones dad likes to put a wedge between us. I wanted a happy marriage where I felt safe, emotionally supported, physically wanted, where kisses and “I love you” were a daily occurrence. It’s not that I don’t want my family; it’s that I don’t want my family to be like this. I love my husband, he is the father of our children; but I don’t love him like I used to. I have grown accustomed to pretending that I’m happy. It’s one of those bad habits that you do without realizing it. We can be in a huge fight, or can I be really mad at him, but as soon as we step out in public, the act starts and nobody suspects that we are anything but happy. 

I think most girls grow up with unrealistic expectations of family life. I know my expectations were far higher than what I have. Maybe that is my problem. I don’t want to lower my expectations partly because deep down I still want to believe they are achievable. I wanted to give birth to at least 5 children, be happily married to a man that always puts the kids and I first, an income we can live comfortably on (even if we were barely scraping by). I wanted to be the stay at home mom who had meals on the table and always had time, and energy, for the kids. We never had children together like I thought we wanted to. He brought children and so did I, but none together. I loved being pregnant. And I loved the way my husband cared for me when I was pregnant, even though he reverted back to his childish ways after every miscarriage. I feel like I always had to cope with the miscarriages on my own because he never shows emotions unless he’s watching something emotional on tv or in a movie. I don’t think he’s ever cried for our family. 
That’s why I struggle every Sunday. I want to be at church, but when I go my emotions take over and I can’t focus. I see all the happiness everywhere. Maybe they’re all faking it too, but I doubt it. The happy women, doting husbands, children everywhere…it’s all so overwhelming. I’ve had to fight for every tiny bit of happiness, and when I go to church and see that everyone else has so much of it, well…I don’t want to fight for it anymore. I’m too tired from fighting for it. I’m worn out and don’t have the strength. I’m tired of pretending to be excited about everyone else’s happiness, when I’m actually jealous of it. It’s just easier to avoid everyone than it is to hold back the jealousy and fake the excitement. I can only imagine how ridiculous and selfish this all sounds. I hope and pray that some day I can come to terms with the shortcomings of my life, and that all these feeling fade away into true happiness. I haven’t given up. I can’t give up. 

Divorce is difficult…

…and affects more than just the divorcing couple. Ending my first marriage affected me, my daughter, and my family. It also affected my ex and his family. My daughter was only 5 months old when I packed what I could carry for her, and very few essentials for me, and got on a bus. It took us almost a week to get across the country and finally arrive at mom’s. I regretted leaving almost immediately, which seems silly to me now when I think back. The relationship was abusive, and he made it clear that he never loved me; I meant nothing to him. I was now a single mother, living with my mother and her new husband, no job, no car. I was a failure. I think I was hoping that taking our daughter and leaving the state would be a reality check for him, it wasn’t. Like I said, he never loved me and he was burdened by being a father. His problems were more solved than not, by us leaving. 

My relationship with my ex was unhealthy. And I had never really been on my own before. I had lived with family and friends, but never really on my own until I married my ex. Even then I had the support of a navy paycheck and benefits, and I knew I was in a good place. Once he was out of the navy though, we had nothing to fall back on except his family. 

How do you know it’s time to file for divorce? I’m going to say that when you constantly and consistently finding you are unhappy for a long time with no sign of happiness in sight, then maybe it’s time to consider divorce. I’m not talking arguments or disagreements, I’m talking about unhealthy explosions of emotions, and zero communication, and no intimacy (not just physical, but emotional as well) for years, and feeling the emotional distance between you getting bigger and bigger until you are no longer acknowledging each other as a form of keeping the peace, and when you have no trust in the other person. And, of course, there is abuse. I stayed in an abusive too long for many reasons, so I get it, but abuse is bad. And infidelity…that’s another reason. 

When is it ok to file for divorce? You don’t need anyone’s permission. You are your own person, with feelings and needs that matter. You don’t need permission from family or friends. Yes, it would be great if you had their support, but you don’t need it. Don’t worry about what others will think. Someone in your life will see you as a stronger person. 

Who should be involved in the decision to divorce? Definitely NOT the kids! A divorce can leave kids feeling like they are to blame. They will wonder if they could’ve saved your marriage if they had behaved better, helped around the house more…the list goes on and on. An amicable divorce is possible if both of you agree and are able to compromise and be reasonable. There is little room for selfishness. Taking too much in order to force the other person to suffer or remain responsible for you is asking for a nasty divorce. Be reasonable and realize it’s hard for everyone.

Get legal advice. 

Divorce is difficult. Don’t let it define you.