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Things are going well!  A bit of an overview:

I’m just over halfway done with “Back Class” at school, where it’s all book work and hand-on practice with a mannequin head and no working on paying customers.  So far we’ve learned everything except the actual cutting of hair, which the teacher said she will show us just before we get on the floor.

I made the decision to give up my nail booth at the salon I’ve been at because I just can’t afford it.  I’ve paid $800 for ten weeks of booth rent and have made less than half of it back.  The day I gave the salon owner my notice, planning to vacate the premises this week but she reminded me that I signed a contract requiring me to give two weeks notice so now I owe for two more weeks and I’m out of money…  I cried all morning – not only am I giving up something that is really important to me but now I owe for two more weeks and my only source of income currently is donating plasma.  Ugh.  Turns out that one of my instructors is opening her own salon in May and is willing to rent to me so that’s one option.  I’ve checked with another salon about only working on Saturdays and am waiting to hear back from them so that’s another option…  I’ve also applied at the local movie theater for a part-time, evening job because I love going to movies and I think the hours would be a good fit.  I have an interview Wednesday evening, yay!  And then on Monday I am planning to go to the home health agency my dad works at and apply there as well – I could easily be a personal care aid and do light housekeeping, meal prep, laundry and companionship.  I had a CNA license 15 years ago but I let it expire so I would only be able to do non-licensed care right now but that’s OK, I like helping people.

I did the online dating thing for a month but was over it and cancelled after the first two weeks – since I paid for a month it stayed on for the full month though and those last few days were filled with prayers that nobody would try and contact me, lol!  However, I feel like I made progress, I chatted online with 4 guys AND had one date, a vast improvement over last year when I tried online dating three separate times and only talked to one guy each time with no dates.  Baby steps.  What I find hilarious is the worship leader at church, and possibly the pastor as well, seem to think I’m being “impatient”, lol.  I don’t think they realize that my actual goal in online dating is not so much to get married tomorrow  (and it’s definitely not to get laid) as it is to get comfortable communicating with someone of the male species who just might possibly have an interest in taking me to dinner.  I know I’m damaged in this area and I also know that if I don’t actively work on getting better, the part of my life that deals with romance and intimacy will never ever improve.  At All.  And since I am the ONLY single person in my church and the two guys at school are both married – and one is gay – I don’t have any chance of meeting a single man at either place I spend most of my time, regardless of whether or not he would be interested in buying me food and staring deeply into my eyes… hence the online dating.  And the random, possibly desperate sounding jokes about needing a boyfriend that may be the reason my pastor and worship leader think I’m being impatient.  I’m just trying to get over being petrified but they don’t know me well enough to see beyond what those words would mean coming from an undamaged women’s mouth.

Men are so weird!  😉  Oh and the more Keanu Reeves movies I watch the more I fall in love with him… somehow it’s just easier for me to love men that I know will never love me back, lol, which probably means I’ll be single the rest of my life but now that I’ve survived a loveless marriage I know I’ll be fine, just occasionally whiny about it, ha, ha.

I bought my father a birthday present today, his birthday is in a couple of weeks and I always have the hardest time knowing what to get him because he’s so quiet about what he wants but I think I did pretty good this time!  He plays the guitar and has said a couple of times that he wishes he had a lighter case for his 12-string acoustical guitar – the one he has weighs more than the guitar does all by itself!  So I found the local music store, they had one in stock and I bought it!  Now I just have to find a place to keep it until Dad’s birthday…

Speaking of places to keep things – I am still living with my folks, sleeping on a couch in my Dad’s downstairs office, with just enough floor space next to the couch to keep my two suitcases, two totes and a small storage box.  On top of the totes is my CPAP machine and all the assorted bits of paraphernalia that goes along with everyday life – contact lens solution and cases, the small travel jewelry case that contains a few pieces I brought here with me, gum, cough drops, books, notebooks, pens, a bag I put all of my receipts into, charging cables and the like.  It’s virtually an open “junk drawer” and irritates me to look at it because, somewhat miraculously, I have become a neat and tidy person in my middle aged singleness.  Let me stress that I am soooooo very grateful that my folks let me stay here and haven’t asked for a dime.  I would have been living in my car without their graciousness in housing me and I try my hardest to leave a tiny footprint in their life.  I cart around a laundry basket of food in the trunk of my car to make my school lunches out of and try not leave a mess in the house at any time.  I can tell that it means a lot to my dad to have me here and I love finding bits of time to talk with him and just be around him, I feel like we’re really, finally, starting to connect with each other in a deeper way.  So I feel bad for missing my stuff and my own space… but I do.  I’m ready to find my own place to rent – except that I can’t afford it until I get a job.  <sigh>  My financial aid covers all of my bills like my car payment, insurance, phone, Netflix, etc, but there’s not enough extra to pay for housing so without the kindness of my folks letting me stay with them I would be a dirty, homeless bum right begging showers off the YMCA right now.  This is just another set of dominoes that need to fall in order and everything will be fine in God’s timing…

On a fun note, I’m working my way through Grey’s Anatomy I think that if someone would make a spoof on the show using cosmetologists instead of surgeons it would be super-funny!  But seriously, I think the show is so popular because Patrick Dempsey can do the Man In Romantic Agony face really well and I think deep down every girl wishes a guy would be in Romantic Agony at the thought of not being able to spend his life with her.  I’m only at the beginning of Season 3 and most of Season 2 was spent with Derick and Meredith struggling with their feelings for each other in spite of his decision to “do the right thing” and make it work with his wife.  So far the show has nearly as much sleeping around as Friends did but it addresses some more serious life choice issues as well as some fascinating medical cases.  I’m really enjoying it.

This part of Montana is finally warming up and the falling precipitation has all been rain instead of snow, something I am very thankful for.  The tires on my car were wearing down and I had a noticeable bald spot on the center column of tread on my front tires, something my brother said was an indicator of over-inflation even though they were inflated to what the tire said it should be.  Hmmm…  I had taken a trip to see my best friend from high school and buy nail supplies in her (bigger) city, that was where I had my date that I posted about, and on the trip I was able to see both of my brothers who lived within an hour of my friend and my next older brother and his wife actually bought me a set of four tires from Costco!  I was shocked, amazed and overwhelmed.  I didn’t ask them to do that, I didn’t even hint.  They just offered and I am so grateful!

God is always good and takes excellent care of me through many different people.

What else?  I think that’s about it.  Being on the worship team is going well, school is going well, dating is still non-existent but I’m thinking kinder thoughts about it. My car is running fine, my health is okay, my hair color is no longer the fun magenta that bled all over every piece of fabric it came in contact with and is now a responsible, adult reddish color albeit with some nice black fading on the tips that nobody notices.  The gay guy at school seems to try and find ways for me to touch him by getting pedicures and manicures from me and occasionally touching my shoulder in the hallway and he gives me broad smiles with mischievous winks here and there – and then he ignores me all together.  Did I say men are weird?  They are.  Oh, and I put acrylic on my toenails so I can finally start wearing sandals and not be embarrassed about my toes.  There, now you’re all caught up!

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So I’ve decided to brave the wide world of online dating once again and signed up for an app on my phone.  Talk about feeling on top of the world!  I probably had 10 messages and “so and so wants to meet you” notifications in the first 24 hours.  That’s an amazing self-esteem boost right there…  just sayin’.   So the first person to send me a message impressed me with his complete sentences in the initial “chat”.

All the other guys were just like “hi”, “hi”, “hello”, “hey babe, you’re hot”…  Really guys?  Come on, you can do better than that… And seriously men, why are you not smiling in your main profile picture?  I’m fun, you need to look like it’s at least possible for you to have fun too!  Ahem… but back to my story…

It took us about three days to finally get online at the same time but when we did we messaged each other for 12 hours.  Yes, that’s right. Allllll day!  He was funny and then he was serious and then back to funny again.  He asked good questions and gave me real answers in return.  When we finally called it a night I wasn’t all swept up in euphoria or even twitterpated, I felt almost like I had been to one of those all-day informational seminars and was overwhelmed with everything I learned… I actually needed some time to decompress before going to bed.  I had shared something really important – and personal – regarding what I need to feel safe in a relationship and he came back with an excellent answer.  He didn’t make me feel stupid for feeling the way I did and he agreed that what I described should never happen and if he had lived in circumstances like what I shared he would feel like a slave.

That made me sit up straight… When it comes right down to it I did feel like a slave many times…

Later he shared something equally personal about himself and it blew me away.  First that he would share something so big on our first day of getting to know each other and second that it was so important to him that I know about it right away and he said he would understand if I wanted to “run away now”.

Let’s just say that we are both very broken people and many of our breakings are in similar places emotionally.  With the few things he shared that he’s been through it is a near certainty that he is even more broken than I am in those areas…

While he was sharing about his broken places my heart recognized him as if I was looking at my own face in the mirror and my soul sang out exultantly “I found you”.  Which is totally weird and freaked me out a little bit because that’s never happened before.  I kind of looked sideways at my soul and said “Really?  Seriously?”  I’m definitely not “in love” with this person that I have only talked to for two days and I’m still so broken myself is really it a good idea to be in a relationship with another, really broken person?  The answer to that is no.  I know this, everybody knows this…

But everybody is broken some way, somehow.

My ex-husband was just as broken as I was when I married him although our breakings were mostly in very different places.  I knew some of his broken spots before I married him and I foolishly thought to myself that if I loved him through those broken places that he would become whole and would be forever grateful and therefore would never stop loving me.  So I allowed him to push me into having sex before we were married and then I married him out of a combination of being positive that nobody else in the entire world of “good Christian men” would ever want to marry me because I was no longer a virgin, and, I still wanted to help him.

I want to help everybody, what can I say?  That is one thing that even though it was smothered and squashed for years it never went away.  I love helping people and have an incessant desire to “fix” everybody’s problems.  This is probably why all of my younger daughter’s good friends call me “Mom”…

After we were married, whenever I tried to talk about our marriage and specifically our relationship my concerns were turned around and became my fault and all of a sudden he was the victim and I was the mean one – he never did anything wrong.  After 7 or so years of this I quit trying to fix our marriage and focused on surviving it instead, because that was the “right” thing to do.

I can’t be a part of another relationship like that again, I can’t!  I won’t!  I don’t have to be!  Whew… calm down girl, this is the New You.  You are confident and brave in measures that you never had before.  You can walk away any time you want.  This is, well, it’s not even dating, it’s before dating so stop holding your breath and relax.  Just. Breathe.

But I’ve never felt my soul claim anyone like that before.  So this is very strange to me and I’m not sure what to do.  I decided to write a letter, here, that maybe someday I will show to him but most likely I won’t.  I just need to say this for myself.

Dear Broken Man,

I like you very much.  Even though I know I barely know you I like you.  You’re funny, you’re easy to chat with and my gut tells me that you’re honest in what you’ve told me.  All of the things we like that are similar tickle me.  The fact that you so frequently mention helping other people and seem to enjoy helping others like I do astonishes me.  We have intelligent conversations, you use good grammar and punctuation – and I have no idea why that impresses me so much – you’re not afraid to ask me the deep questions or give me deep answers when I turn deep questions (yours or my own) back around to you.  And our answers to those deep questions are very similar even though sometimes you answer first and sometimes I answer first.  All these things make me like you very much.

The multitude of “coincidental” things astounds me and the sheer number of them makes me think that meeting you was much more a “God thing” than any whim of fate.  Just to name a few:  even though we both live in Montana we both have an out-of-state phone number – from the same state.  We both wear a CPAP – which honestly is a huge answer to prayer because I’m so self-conscious and insecure about having to wear mine, how could I ever possibly look sexy to a future partner while sleeping in a CPAP?  But you have to wear one too!  Our emotional issues are extremely similar despite having different causes and I have been through where you are at now.  I understand where you are now, I “get it” and I know how hard it was for me to get from there to where I am now – but I know that you can do it!

I am realizing that your personality, and how do I say this, is “softer” than mine?  And I wasn’t sure that was possible to do…  It is entirely likely that at this point in your life you are even more gentle than I am in relationships – and while I feel like that is in part due to some of your broken places it also has to be a big part of who you are or it wouldn’t be there to come out so strongly now.

Because of this gentleness combined with the brokenness I think I may have overwhelmed you in my excitement to have found you.  Perhaps for the first time in my life I get to play the part of the blossom and you will be the butterfly.  If you want a friendship with me I’d like that.  If you’d like to take me on a date I’d like that too.  If you’re not sure what type of relationship you want to have with me that is also OK.  We live 100 miles apart and while that’s not actually a lot it’s enough to be a good excuse not to meet if only one of us is super excited about it.  I think that whatever happens, right now I am enjoying being your friend and I know that we were supposed to meet.  You proved to me, right off the bat, that you are nothing like my ex-husband and therefore good, single men DO exist!  And once again God has confirmed that He will bring me the right one when it is time.  Maybe it’s you, maybe it is not you.  Maybe I’ll end up adopting you as another one of my big brothers – because everybody needs a little sister, don’tcha know?  <wink>  All I know is that talking with you is very nearly like talking with myself and I really like whatever this is we have right now.

I wish you peace, joy and healing for the road ahead and have hope that it might include me, even if it is just in a friendship.

Sincerely,

Me.

I have come to realize that I Am Home.

I lived here for several years in grade school and hated leaving Montana when my folks split.  When my mother left my dad we went to Spokane and would make the drive back to see my dad several times.  For years I claimed I could tell, by the sheer feeling alone, when we had crossed the boarder back into Montana.  The skies were bluer, the mountains were taller, the air was sweeter…  For years and years Montana was home and I longed to move back there.  Until I had been away so long I couldn’t feel the change as I crossed over that border and then that memory of “Home” faded into distant memory and I began to feel that home wasn’t anywhere.

I caught glimpses of Home here and there, mostly with people like my best friend from high school, but only in one other place – the Oregon Coast.  Sigh.  I still love it there…

In the month since I officially moved here I have made two trips back to the city I came from, once to get a few more things out of mini storage for my  nail business and once to attend my younger daughter’s high school graduation.  This last trip back I was shocked to find that my old town wasn’t “Home” but simply a place I knew my way around.  That both pleased and concerned me slightly.  I had spent just over 10 years there, my kids had spent almost half their lives there.  Heck, my kids still live there!  I have more friends, good friends, there than I can shake a stick at and enough people who have offered me a place to stay on future visits that I will never, ever need to get a hotel or sleep on my sister’s couch. I have a tiny church there that I hold dear to my heart… but it isn’t home and I’m not sure that I want to live there again like I thought I would before I left.

Huh.

What a fascinating revelation.  I will continue to think on this…

But first a quick review of the graduation.  I was smiling so broadly the term “grinning like an idiot” probably applied but I was sooooo proud of my younger daughter!  She did it!  She actually graduated high school with a diploma and not just a GED.  She got to walk across a stage in her cap and gown and get her picture taken with a school official and she is ready to start the rest of her life.  I am so happy for her!

What was less happy was seeing my former in-laws, ex-husband and his fiance.  Actually let me clarify, seeing the fiance and his father was great.  He and his mother were, still, obviously angry with me and while they were kinder to me than they had been in June at my twin nieces graduation they still rattled me bad enough that I skedaddled out of there as quick as I could after hugging my newly-graduated daughter and telling her I would see her the next day.

Yes, that’s right, somehow he still gets to me so much that I ran away from my own daughter’s graduation as soon as I politely could.

I was talking to my best friend from high school and think I may have figured out (part of) what goes on inside of me whenever I have contact with dear old ex-hubby.  My particular personality type is desperate for two things to be accomplished in the people around me, I want you to be happy and I want you to be comfortable.  If I can’t make you happy and/or comfortable then I have failed and this causes me distress.  A lot of distress.  Sometimes even panic-attack type stress.  I will never be able to make my ex happy OR comfortable, he still has too much anger towards me to allow himself to even smile in my presence.

It occurs to me that when you don’t believe you did anything wrong you can’t change anything about yourself that was – and continues to be – part of the problem and therefore you continue to have a problem where there may not actually be one anymore making (mostly) just yourself miserable.

How do I accept the fact that I will never succeed in my driving need to make this particular person happy and comfortable?  That’s hard and I’m working on it.  Maybe it’s less accepting that fact and more acknowledging that I can’t make it happen and That’s Okay.  It’s Okay.  I can’t make everybody in the whole entire world happy and comfortable and it’s okay.

Yeah.  That one’s still going to take some more work… but I’ll get it.

My older daughter was in Thailand on a missions trip and didn’t get home until midnight of the day that her younger sister graduated.  I texted her, welcoming her home and saying I wanted to meet with her in the next two days before I left town again.  She never responded.  I texted again, at 8:30 pm the night before I left saying sorry I didn’t get to meet with her and she finally responded – sorry I didn’t get back to you, have a nice trip home.

It’s disheartening to know she didn’t want to see me but I wasn’t terribly surprised.  Even though she had just come back from overseas after 3 weeks the whole, entire weekend was mostly about her sister and less about her for both her father and grandparents – and me.  It’s very difficult for a narcissist to deal with not being the center of attention when they think they should be and I get that.

In the end I came Home when I had planned to.  I drove the long hours and came home, listening to an audiobook of Eat. Pray. Love. and finally finishing it about an hour and a half away from Home.

I signed up for an online dating app within an hour of arriving at home, I’ve decided I need to stop hiding my head in the sand and pretending that every man out there is as bad as my ex-husband and at least talk to a few guys and see what happens.  I’m not in a hurry to hitch my star to just anyone’s wagon but it would be nice to be friendly with a guy I could  maybe, possibly see a potential future with.

School is going well, just started week three and we learned how to wrap hair for a perm today… I’m really hoping to get myself a perm here soon, either that or cut my hair short again, it’s driving me nuts, lol!

I’m off to bed, I’m not getting anywhere near enough sleep now that I’m a student again, ugh!  If you pray, pray for me for strength to get through long days of standing on my feet and never getting enough sleep because despite everything I’m still a night owl and can’t sleep when I go to bed early.

Hugs to all of you ❤

It’s a new year and I’m going on a new adventure which will possibly, probably, hopefully? include dating.  After being on my own for almost two years I still cringe slightly at the thought of actual dating – especially because of the three times I tried online dating last year…

Soooooo in preparation of future dating I decided I should at least write down what I’d like to see in a guy.  In the order that I thought them up, here is my list of character traits that are near and dear to my heart and that I try to live out myself:

  1.  Kindness.  Nothing melts my heart like someone who is kinder than necessary and has compassion for others regardless of whether or not they look like they deserve it.
  2. Light-hearted.  I like to laugh, in fact I LOVE to laugh – but not at the expense of others, that’s a huge turn-off. I want to be around someone who thinks I’m funny (that one may be hard to find) and can also make me laugh (easy to do).  Someone who sees the humor in things without turning everything into a joke and never being serious.  It’s a fine line, I know, but an important one.
  3. HELPFUL.  This is probably one of my biggest pet peeves, people who aren’t helpful.  If you see something that needs to be done, do it!  If you see someone struggling with something, help them!  Someone who volunteers to help with everything from carrying in the groceries to doing the dishes to lifting heavy objects… like my piano, lol, without complaining earn themselves a special place in my heart.
  4. A Gentleman.  For the first time in my life I know I am worth being treated like a lady and I would like to be around a true Gentleman who treats all ladies with dignity and respect.
  5. Affectionate in word and deed.  I crave affection but I also give it.  I’m a very touchy-feely kind of girl and I am constantly touching my friends (both male and female) on the back, shoulders, waist, arms – basically everything that’s “PC” for friends – and I hug them as often as I think I can get away with it.  If you’ve never read about The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman I encourage you to do so.  One of my primary Love Languages is Affectionate Touch so that means I give and feel loved when I am able to touch and be touched affectionately (which is non-sexually).
  6. Kind, positive, encouraging words and sincere compliments also mean the world to me.  I want a man who can say those things as well as receive them from me.
  7. I don’t care about the color of a your skin.  I could never be mistaken for anything but white so almost everybody’s skin is darker than mine and I actually love darker skin tones.  I grew up wishing I was a Native American, they’re such a beautiful people…  However, after being adopted by my Vietnamese family I have come to realize that a complete understanding of the English language is a must-have, since I don’t pick up other languages easily and effective communication is super important.
  8. A man who has goals and dreams I can help him reach… and who wants to help me reach mine, hopefully our goals and dreams are very similar if not the same.  I don’t want to be “kept”, sitting at home, bored with nothing to do.  I want to go places and help others, to accomplish things that will create jobs and teach people real life skills.

This is getting to be a long list… I should stop now.  Yes, I want the fairy tale.  No, I’m not beautiful like Julia Roberts but Richard Gere wasn’t really that good looking, maybe I can be the Average Joe in the relationship, hee, hee.

The Whole “I Love You”… Thing

My teenagers are a sophomore and a junior and I’m noticing that everybody, I mean EVERYBODY in high school, including my two daughters, are saying “I Love You” to everybody else. Everybody else that is, except their sister and parents. What’s all that about, seriously?

Guys say it to girls seemingly regardless of whether or not they are The Girlfriend and I myself have witnessed several studly, 18 year olds shout out “I Love You Man!” to other teenaged guys. These same young men will pack at least one more body onto my sofa than it is designed for and all sit there, jammed in like sardines but grinning like the Cheshire cat and pretending to be just as cozy as can be, some with their arms around the other’s shoulders and sometimes there’ll be one or two guys sitting on another guy’s lap. I see strong indications that the Personal Bubble space has shrunk in this last generation and is all but ready to pop! And thankfully, the message seems to finally getting through that Real Men can hug and say “I Love You” without losing their Man Card, yay!

Today’s teenaged girls seem to be on the same page because they not only say “I Love You” to their girlfriends, they also write it, and sing it and my girls in particular like to shout “I Love You” from the open window of my car at anyone they see and might possibly know (and that’s only a slight exaggeration) as I’m driving them home from a school function. I’ve heard girls say “I Love You” to guys where there is no Girlfriend/Boyfriend relationship there. I hear my daughters say “I Love You” at the end of nearly every phone conversation and in-person goodbyes, IT’S EVERYWHERE! Either this generation is a bunch of first class saps or maybe they’re on to something…

To quote the Princess Bride: “You keep using that word, I do not think it means what you think it means…” We all know words change in meaning as cultures change, for example to be “gay” used to mean you were happy and now it has a homosexual connotation. So has “I Love You” changed in meaning as well? Or maybe I never learned the true meaning of love in the first place.

I grew up thinking there were two kinds of love – romantic love between a husband and a wife and family love between parents and children. Anything else seemed to be wrong. (Yes, the more I write about my childhood the more I realize it was pretty screwed up and heavily contributes to the mental mess I am today. Thanks Mom.) Needless to say my growing-up years saw very few hugs, kisses or touching of any kind that was not discipline and I’m struggling to remember my mother ever saying “I Love You”. Once I turned 17 my mother seemed to see that something was wrong with me and she started to say “I Love You” and tell me that I was pretty but by then I didn’t believe her.

To have feelings of “love” for my best friend in high school meant, to my mother, that I was on the verge of becoming a lesbian. I don’t think I ever told Mom that sometimes we would hold hands, hug each other or wrap our arms around each other’s waists just to be affectionate. As much as I craved the physical affection and desperately needed it – I felt evil for participating. My best friend from high school is still my best friend now and to this day I have a hard time saying “I Love You” to her in our phone conversations even though she’s always saying it to me. I am so grateful she’s hung in there despite over 20 years of my crazy weirdness in trying to figure myself out. I wasn’t very nice to her sometimes and she just stood back so I could work things out and when I finally looked up she was right there, waiting for me to be ready to be friends again. Girl, I know you’ll be reading this – I Love You!

I have one more best friend, unfortunately I moved 8 hours away from my high school best friend so while we have great phone conversations we don’t get to see her much. My “new” best friend is a gal I used to work with and we’ve been friends now for just over two years…wow it seems like longer than that though! She is only about a half an hour from me and we try to hang out as often as we can. I love her too.

I’m afraid I’ve become far more like my mother than I intended to. I don’t say “I Love You” to my children nearly as much as I should – although I saw it far more than it was said to me. I try to give hugs to them but it still seems so foreign to me, almost wrong, because that’s not how I grew up. All I can do at this point is pray that when they’re parents they do better with their kids than I did with them. I think that’s every parent’s prayer for their kids.

I used to say “I Love You” to my husband all the time, hoping desperately that he would say it back and believing that if I said it enough with my mouth that my heart would start to feel it. Neither happened. The people who say that love is a choice are correct. I have chosen to stay with my husband of almost 19 years because I made a commitment to him at our wedding ceremony and it’s the right thing to do. I choose to love him by staying in this marriage and by trying to make our house a home. I do not have feelings of love for him and as far as I can tell he feels something that he thinks is love for me but cannot properly express it. I’ve always been a good girl and tried to do the right thing and so I will stay with him.

As far as the whole high school fad of saying “I Love You” to anyone and everyone I’m thinking I approve. At least their hearts seem to have something in them and they are getting affection from their peers. May their lives be fuller than mine!