Life

The Therapy Backfire Conundrum

We went to therapy.

Couples therapy.

It was supposed to help.

We were supposed to engage in couples therapy for an indefinite amount of time.

It was supposed to make it all better.

WE HATED IT.

Crazy, right? Therapy is supposed to help!

Let’s back up a bit, shall we?

My husband gets out of the Marine Corps and we are still living in Charleston, SC (USA). We decide to move to Illinois (his home state) a few years later. His PTSD has worsened, my depression isn’t always great, and we want to be near family.

We wait 10 months for the VA to get my husband into any type of therapy.

Read that again…..

We wait 10 months for the VA to get my husband into any type of therapy.

I would call and call and call….eventually we find out the therapy is better if we go to the Vet Clinic. The VA is a complete waste of time. They did nothing to help us keep him in therapy when we moved between states. The suggestion to go to the Vet Center is a God-send.

We do as we are told.

First we get Bill into therapy, but then couples therapy is offered to us.

We went.

It was a shouting match.

We went again.

This is stupid.

We literally went into the appointment fine, and came out ready to punch each other in the face.

So what did we resolve to do?

We WILL go back next week, because we have the appointment, and it must be helping on some level, but we talked about resolving to work on our marriage ourselves. Waiting for a 1 hour therapy session once a week, which actually made us more mad than we went in, isn’t what we are looking for.

I will say this: Our therapist is wonderful.

I just don’t know if this is the right approach for us.

There are a bunch of things we both have said we would work on ourselves. So hopefully we can do more at home, than a 60 minute shouting match (which, think about this…he’s a Marine, and I’m Italian-American…….it gets SO LOUD). Our poor therapist.

Working through relationship problems are hard, especially when you’re working with mental health road-blocks, like having PTSD, TBI, or depression. It means we need to work on those things AND the relationship.

We haven’t given up.

We resolved to stop saying things like “well then move out” or asking “do you just want a divorce?”

We feel like taking those things out of the vocabulary may help the healing.

Be well,

Tina

 

Life

It Makes Sense…

When you’re a military spouse, and/or when you have toddlers running around, nothing makes sense.

This morning was a perfect example. I gave our three-year-old a new sippy cup. It did not have Minnie Mouse on it…. We had an appointment at the Vet Center for both Bill and I, so I did not have time to dig out requested Minnie Mouse sippy cup.

Our daughter proceeded to act as though I had ruined her entire life, by throwing herself on the kitchen floor and wailing for a solid three minutes (which felt like a lifetime) and then only stopped when I pointed out to her she had forgotten why she was upset.

In the end, she took the sippy cup because her brother was about to grab it from her.

Ugh…

The sippy cup war is not the point of this post.

Since writing the other day about how I felt as far as life of a military spouse whose husband has combat-related PTSD, I have felt better about things. This blog now has a purpose. I feel as though I have direction. I need to share my story of pain, and share how we are healing, because the more mil-spouses I meet, the more I realize, I am not alone.

There are times when being in a relationship with someone who has PTSD is lonely. It’s worse when you factor in my own Major Depressive Disorder. It’s like a whole house of craziness (just kidding….sort of).

So where do we go from here?

Well, there’s a lot of hurt and healing in a military marriage, so I will be open and share that with you. As a yoga instructor who focuses on helping people with mental health, I will try and help there too (just remember, I am not a doctor, I don’t play one on TV, and I can only tell you what I have experienced and what has helped me.)

I am working on a page of resources for other mil-spouses going through the same thing. Check back next week to see how I am coming along there.

Most importantly, be sure to share this website with other mil-spouses who are in the same boat. It’s lonely. It can be scary. It’s nice to have a friend.

I feel as though there are some really great blogs out there about being a military spouse. I’ll be sure to share those as we go. I just am yet to really find one about the mental aspect of military life and mental health, so here we go……

Life

A Thousand Painful Words….

I’ve tried writing this post a thousand times, and each time I write over a thousand words…then I delete it all.

So let me try again.

The premise of this blog is the crazy adventure I’m on with my husband, kids, and our zoo of rescue pets…but it’s hard to update a blog and keep it funny and REAL when there’s so much background pain.

I have never hidden the fact I struggle with mental illness.

I do not hide the fact my husband had combat-related PTSD and TBI (traumatic brain injury).

What I have hidden from everyone is the pain and hurt it has caused.

I came to the realization last night, the relationship with my husband is in trouble and I feel emotionally abused.

It’s painful.

While he is absolutely the BEST father in the world to our children, I am currently living in a hell on earth.

My struggle has been, do I let this out? Do I put it out there for all the world to see? Or do I just suffer in silence and wish we had a better relationship?

If I DO put it out there, it could negatively affect my writing and yoga career. If I continue to hide it, no one else struggling with the same issues will see they are not alone.

It IS lonely in this place. There are others in this space. I know they are there….in the distance, suffering, and in pain. So I decided to let it out.

Though I know I should blame the combat and his eight years in the Marines, it’s hard to find solace in this, knowing we don’t connect, knowing I feel alone, worrying about the drinking, cheating, lying, money spending.

It sounds like a mess.

It is a mess.

It’s painful.

I could sit here and tell you all the horrible things he has done, but that does nothing to help anyone. Some of it is unbelievable….like when I thought he was going to kill me in the garage when he was on a drunken rampage talking about things from his deployments, specifically Iraq.

Can I hang on?

What about my kids?

I guess the focus of this blog must change.

I guess I need to refocus my life in general.

I’m 36 and in a lonely place, when I wanted to be settled, accomplished, and happy.

I am none of those things right now.

So if you’re a military spouse, if you know someone with mental illness, if you have mental illness…you…are…not…alone in this lonely, lost place.

 

Military Spouse Life

God Broke My Oven

Yes, you read that right. I feel like my busted oven is God giving me direction. Sound crazy? Well, I get that a lot!

I have always been super active. Even as a child, my parents were called in by my kindergarten teacher so they could ask my parents what to do with me. I wasn’t a bad kid…I just never sat still…for a second. I naturally brought this over to adulthood. I now work full time in hockey (NAHL), I run my yoga studio, I blog, I’m working on my third novel, I have two children/6 dogs/3 cats, and a husband….. I also have a million ideas for other projects. If I had all the time in the world, I would have my own vegan skin care line, and a hockey clothing company supporting youth hockey. I wish there were about 10 more hours in the day.

So I started to pray.

I know I’m a shitty Christian…I’m the first to admit it.

I prayed anyway.

I wanted to know what my purpose was in life. My pastor talks all the time about purpose….so what is mine?

I needed clear direction. I’m 36 years old and I feel like I’m just walking in circles here. These circles are full of half completed projects which are getting me nowhere.

So I continued to pray and try and weed out the things I was not meant to do.

I stopped some of the smaller projects because I just felt they weren’t “it” for me.

Then I decided I should work on my freelance writing and building up my clients, while making room to write novels on the side. I started pitching new clients, but everyone who was interested had a “limited” budget or no budget at all. I could feel this wasn’t what I was supposed to be doing.

Then I debated. Maybe I wanted to go back to baking full time. Maybe I should re-open my bakery. My mom and I had some killer ideas for Biscotti and selling them across the country. I knew where I could use a commercial oven….I thought I should make a go of it.

Then God killed my oven.

I had an order for a cake, and thank goodness it was for a friend….because my oven died half way through the baking process, leaving me a giant sheet cake pan, half-baked.

It was gross. I mean, how do you clean that???

Because I already filed our taxes, I knew we were getting a return. We figured we would use it to buy a new oven.

Then our taxes get held up for 45 days with no explanation from the IRS.

I’m aggravated, but I get the message. It’s not baking.

Then last night I get the whole message.

I was teaching my regular yoga class and just enjoying it. I hate being away from my family at night, but I have cut back to one hour, two nights a week. I contemplate how I can just get everything worked out to teach more. I also want to really get some more education on my chosen area of yoga, which is mental health.

My husband has combat related PTSD and I have Major Depressive Disorder, so naturally, yoga for mental health just clicked with me.

I really started making plans (while on the mat) to keep moving that education forward. I had been granted a scholarship for Warriors at Ease. I can do the class in a self-paced manner, but I need to put the other projects aside and step it up.

Then I started to think about the struggles my husband and I have in our personal/family life, especially with his PTSD…..I was waiting for him to get home last night and while talking to him on the phone, I opened up Facebook (I told you I couldn’t sit still). An advertisement popped up for a teacher training to work with Veterans in St. Louis, MO. It’s only about 90 minutes from me AND it’s over my birthday weekend. How perfect for us to spend the weekend as a family in St. Louis? (Here’s to hoping the Blues are home that weekend for pre-season!)

It seemed too perfect…and it seems maybe between the oven breaking, the desire to only write novels and closed freelancing doors, this was the answer.

I suppose it’s too soon to say, though I also found another online free training for businesses who work with veterans just on accident last night.

I ran all of this by my mom who also believes all these things are happening because I am faithfully asking for God’s help (but remember I already know I’m a shitty Christian) so sometimes it seems like he should not have the time or desire to answer me….but I guess I can start on this path and find out!

Writing & Publishing

Can I Get a Do-Over?

Did you set some New Year resolutions this year? I did. One of them was to blog more. Yeah….at least once a week. Don’t look back now, but that has NOT happened!

Why?

Things like The Case of the Missing Eggs, and The Butterscotch Pudding Incident have kept me away.

Allow me to explain.

Our oldest child (Talia) just turned three. She LOVES eggs. She thinks helping mom bake is about the coolest thing ever (poor kid). I noticed one day, there seemed to be some eggs missing from the tray. I didn’t think too much about it, since hubby often makes the kids breakfast to include eggs.

A few days later, I pull the laundry out of the dryer, only to see egg shells trapped in the lint trap…but no eggs. I asked Bill about it, and he just shrugged it off.

I moved on.Eggs Image

Three days later, I notice the dogs and toddler got into one of the cabinets in the kitchen. The pudding was missing, and a light brown dusting ran from the kitchen to Talia’s room. Sure enough, I checked her room and Peppa Pig, the bright pink comforter, and cream colored carpet were covered in several packages of pudding mix.

So now I have to strip the bed, clean up all the packaging, and wash the comforter without making pudding in our new washing machine.

I was about to hand over my mom card and toss the whole thing outside, when upon picking up the comforter, our rolls about four half cooked eggs. They weren’t raw, but they sure as heck weren’t hard boiled.

My mind immediately went to the eggs shells from the dryer, and then I pieced it all together.

My aspiring pastry chef daughter must have taken the eggs to play with, left them in the dirty laundry pile, and Bill didn’t see them when he loaded the washer. They then went with the bedding into the dryer, where they were slightly cooked, and peeled of their shells, which ended up in the lint trap.

Now I have a comforter covered in pudding mix, half cooked eggs on the floor, a toddler laughing, and three of the six dogs trying to get at the eggs and pudding mix.

Bill is, of course, MIA when this goes down, so I have to battle the kids, dogs, and mess on my own. I call my mom, who is laughing too hard to help. I hand the phone to Talia so my mom can at least long-distance-babysit for a minute.

I can’t toss the comforter outside, because the other dogs are out there. I can’t toss it in the wash, because both the washer and dryer are loaded.

In the end, I finally let all the dogs in, threw the comforter out the door, and organized the chaos just in time for Bill to get home and the laundry done.

So what is the point?

Well, no one is getting butterscotch pudding EVER again, but these are the reasons I have been so bad about blogging.

My lack of writing in general has been nagging at me lately, so I packed up all the extra things in my life which don’t make me happy. I cut back on the number of hours I teach yoga, I cleaned up my office, and I packed up the millions of little projects around the house.

I feel better.

So now, my new focus is on writing. I still have to work my 9-5 job for now (but seriously, I work in hockey, so it’s about the best 9-5 job you could ask for), but I’m moving toward being able to write full time.

Will you tag along on the journey? What if I promise to write to you, dear reader, more often?

Let’s try!

Writing & Publishing

Here’s to Lavinia!

I’ve been working for MONTHS on the research for my next novel. I have done everything from visit the scene of the crime (well, what is left of the site) to taking a ghost tour with my sweet friend, Beth (scroll back to previous posts where we visited Old City Jail in Charleston, SC.) I’ve read books, done online searches, and poured everything I have into the research…. I will be writing historical fiction about Lavinia Fisher (be sure to check some older posts for more on her! I’ll be writing more about the book later in the month.)

Well now it’s time to write. If you have never heard of NaNoWriMo, you need to check it out! National Novel Writing Month happens each November and it’s the perfect time to write a novel. Now keep in mind a few things….I have two kids, a husband with combat PTSD, six dogs, two FIV cats (thankfully both are otherwise healthy at the moment), a full time job, and teach yoga for 5-8 classes a week. I also have some freelance writing I do on the side. My friend Michele also is getting me into essential oils for the studio, so there is a lot of learning going on. As if this isn’t enough, I did just get a scholarship to do some training with Warriors at Ease, so I can work with veterans on Yoga for PTSD.

I have a full plate.

I also plan on writing the first 50,000 words of my novel this month. The goal of NaNoWriMo is to write 50,000 words in one month. A traditional novel is 80,000-100,000 words, so the entire thing won’t be finished, but it’s a great start!

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I need to write 1,667 words each day to stay on track. So far, I’ve written well over this….in the form of FaceBook posts, this post, text messages to my husband, and of course…….find me on Twitter @TinaRussoKinney or on Instagram @TinaRussoKinney because I like posting there. Sadly, those things do not equate a novel, so I will bid you adieu for now. Hopefully I will be better this month about keeping up with this blog! I also have a website for this (upcoming) book, and I hope to get some work done for you on the site this month too.

If you’re also writing this month, here’s to you!!!!! If not, I hope you will come along for the ride and HERE’S TO LAVINIA FISHER!

Life · Writing & Publishing

Happy Birthday, Fix Your Liver

It’s been a busy few weeks since I last posted, but I wanted to stop and check in with you!

A few weeks ago I started teaching yoga again! I rented a space on Monday nights at a pop-up shop in the next town, and it’s going GREAT! Sadly, this cuts into my writing time, but I really love my time on the mat. Three straight hours of yoga is great for the body….especially as it ages!

Right? Wait! What?

If you count back 40 weeks from this week, you land on New Year’s Eve/Night. With the most popular birthday being October 5th, you can pretty much assume all of us first week of October babies are the result of some hard core partying on the part of our parents as they rang in the New Year. I apparently am no exception, with my birthday being October 6th.

Last week I went to the doctor for a routine checkup and to refill my depression medication. No big deal, right? WRONG. She thought it would be cool to stick me with a needle and draw some blood. (I had Talia with me and she scored not one, but TWO toys even though I had to give up the blood!!) Anyway, I didn’t think much of it, and moved on with my day. The next day though, the doctor called….and told me she needed more blood. Apparently, Dracula didn’t care for my elevated liver enzymes and wanted to do further testing.

Seriously? I’m turning 36, not 86!!!! (Though we all outlived Hugh Hefner, which I did NOT think would happen!)

So after I told Bill what was going on, and called my mother in a panic, and then my dad (demanding an extensive family history…none of which included liver disease) I turned to the World Wide Web for answers….

Here’s a pro-tip for you….if your doctor tells you something might be up, don’t get on the web. If you do this, you will convince yourself you are dying of some foreign disease not in existence for the last 300 years.

Me? I thought I was dying of liver cancer…..

I’m not dying of liver cancer.

My doc called back today and told me I had high cholesterol and had to stop my medication for ADHD because it could EFF you up! (I’m looking at you Lily Pharmaceuticals).

Thankfully, I just need to take a new medication and stop they other medication. I did however jump on Amazon and order liver cleanser…..I know, I know, but what can it hurt? It made me feel a bit better for about an hour.

So tomorrow is a new start. I’ll be 36 (still in my MID-30’s…..not late 30’s yet) and I hope with the new trip around the sun, I can be more diligent about posting on this blog! Be assured, if you don’t hear from me, I’m okay. I’m working on writing my next novel and doing a lot of freelance work! OH! How could I forget??? Hockey is also back as of tonight (I write as I sit in front of my TV). Hopefully I’m a better fan this year. Last year I was working so much, I didn’t log in much fan time.

#GoBruins

#BruinsForLife

Here is a picture of Talia when she turned 1!!!!! #HockeyBabyHockey Baby.jpg

 

Life · Writing & Publishing

I’m Still Here

It’s been awhile since I’ve updated this blog, alas, I am alive. I still think about you, dear reader, quite often. The reality is I’m working on a new project.

Let me back up.

We have settled into Illinois and I am sure we made the right decision to move here. I found a day job I enjoy (I literally get paid to drink coffee all day!) and our children are loving every minute of being with family.

Sadly, my paternal grandmother passed away in July. Bill and I had to take the kids to PA and then CT to say goodbye. I won’t get into the sadness of it all. The lady was 95 years old! She lived a good life and now it’s time for her to be with her youngest son and my grandfather again.

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I was able to see my her in April at my cousins wedding. Here is the last photo of us together. Please note my daughter had on pants which were too big, so the last picture of her with my grandmother entails her pants being around her knees….only my kid!

My own kids are growing like weeds, as they say…and Liam was kind enough to wait until we were in a hotel in CT, completely tired and stressed out, to break his first tooth. He’s much happier now, and since getting the second tooth in, he has taken on everything from pasta to Pop-Tarts (the Pop-Tarts are his fathers doing!)

Talia is talking up a storm, and just when I thought she was already into everything, she finds something else to get into.

Back to the project.

I completed the book Seeking Sita. I’m still working on finding a Literary Agent to work with, but in the mean time I am writing The Legend of Lavinia Fisher. Because it’s a historical fiction novel, I have had to do an extensive amount of research, hence my lack of updating this blog.

I did start another website, http://www.LaviniaFisherLegend.com to detail the book. I’m hoping to put together a book trailer once the manuscript is complete and edited. I’ll keep you posted.

In the meantime, I am almost done with research and I’m outlining the book so I can start writing.

I’m also baking again, going back to teaching yoga, and finally finishing my degree. I have chosen Forensic Psychology as my major, since most of my coursework has already been in Criminology and Psychology. I feel it will help my writing, since the main theme in my books has been setting the main character free from whatever their struggles have brought them. I can talk more about this once this next book is finished. As crazy as it sounds, I also have ideas and themes for the next two books as well. Basically, I need about 10 more hours in each day!

Until next time!

Life

11 Things I Learned in the South

I’ve been in Illinois a week and thankfully I have not had too much in the way of culture shock! I was a bit surprised when I tried a new grocery store and they required a .25 deposit for the cart, then charged me for bags, then made me take my groceries back out of the cart to bag my own bags…which I just paid for, but nothing was as surprising as the things I encountered when I moved from New England to the South. Some of them are funny (now) and so in no particular order….

  1. Texas Pete is not a biker dude. When I first moved to the south, I left the world of law and my position as a paralegal to wait tables. The money was much better, and I was not stuck behind a desk. A rather large man with a Harley Davidson shirt asked me for Texas Pete. The restaurant was loud on a Sunday morning for brunch, so I did not clearly hear the way the question was phrased….I just heard the name. I was taken back for a moment. I know I have tattoo’s, but what about me made this guy think I hung out with a guy named “Texas Pete”? When I told the gentleman I didn’t know him, he asked for hot sauce in an aggravated tone. It wasn’t until I got back to the server station and asked if anyone knew my mystery man, did I realize my mistake. Texas Pete IS the hot sauce. This was 10 years ago, and I’m sure Texas Pete has made it into New England supermarkets since then.
  2. Armadillos are roadside ornaments. In the 10 years I spent in the Carolina’s, I never once saw a living armadillo. I only saw them on the side of the road….dead.
  3. Alligators will fuck you up. I’m not kidding when I saw my first “Beware of Alligators” sign and about choked. I had no idea I was moving to the land of gator, and I thought they only lived in the Bronx Zoo. Not only do they walk about freely, there was one found at a drive thru window in the heavily populated Tanger Outlets near our house, just looking for a burger. Not cool.
  4. They are still fighting the Civil War. This one is sad. As soon as I landed in North Carolina, and even more-so in South Carolina, it was evident racism is a BIG deal. Having grown up an hour outside of New York City, where you can be anyone you want to be, I was shocked. I can’t tell you how many times I was called a “Yankee” with negative connotation. Some people just automatically hated me because of where I was born. They have not realized the Civil War was over 150 years ago, they lost, and my family didn’t even get here until the 1920’s…..we really had NOTHING to do with it.
  5. They call Cockroaches “Palmetto Bugs!” Not only is this the state bug (gross), it’s a damn cockroach. Southerners can call it what they want…it’s a cockroach and it’s nasty!
  6. College Football is a Religion. It doesn’t matter if you even went to college, or where. Everyone has an affiliation they pull for on game day. Some of the major teams include USC, Clemson, Ole Miss, Florida State, and Virginia Tech. Like I said, you didn’t have to go there, you just have to wear their colors and carry their koozie around….which brings us to number 7….
  7. Everyone uses a Koozie. I had never heard of this until I showed up in the south. Everyone uses koozies for everything from soda to beer. They come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. They even personalize these things. Having a bakery, I delivered cakes to a lot of weddings. Personalized koozies were so popular, I swear 3/4 of all weddings I did the cake for offered guests their own koozie commemorating the happy couple. Koozies bring me to the next thing…Moonshine.
  8. Moonshine exists. In high school and college I could drink a lot of people under the table….then I met moonshine. People in the south still produce the illegal substance in sheds and can it in mason jars. It comes in a variety of flavors and is often given as a gift…you know…on the down low. This stuff is no joke! My first sip almost knocked me off my stool. I’ll just stick to my Amaretto Sour, thanks.
  9. No One is Ever in a Hurry.  Dear Lawd I cannot express to you how frustrating it is when you’re trying to do ANYTHING in the south in a timely manner and everyone else is just taking their time! They don’t drive fast, talk fast, or just move fast at all. Yes, I grew up an hour outside of New York City where the term “A New-York Minuet” comes from, but seriously folks, people will just miss entire green lights and NO ONE will hit their horn AT ALL…EVER….. These same people enjoy sitting out on their front porch, just sitting. They aren’t even reading a book. They just sit there with dogs next to them…..doing nothing!!!! The dogs bring us to number 10.
  10. Hunting Dogs Are Working Dogs. Here is another sad one. So many people in the South actually use their dogs as hunting tools. When they are done with the dog, they abandon them. The most common of these dogs are Treeing Walker Hounds. I have had 3 in total….all abandoned.

    This is Tremor. He survived one of the worst abuse cases in SC history (by the skin of his teeth) and was once a great hunting dog. Because he’s older, he was abandoned and given to a man who killed over 200 hunting dogs. Tremor was one of 45 to survive.

  11. BBQ is important. In Connecticut, we used to drive over an hour to get the best BBQ in the state….it was also the ONLY BBQ in the state. In the south, BBQ is so serious, each state has their own signature flavor or rub. Some people will only eat certain types of BBQ and I’ve even heard people fight over what is the best. Seriously, I was just happy to have it wherever I went! Some people take their BBQ so seriously, they drive around with smokers attached to their vehicle. I guess it’s “just in case?”

So there it is! The good, bad, funny, and ugly of living in the south.

Writing & Publishing

Book Club: Review of Thirteen Reasons Why

I have been without internet for a few days, but we made it to Illinois! I’ll be posting more on our trip later! (Including how I ended up stuck in a cemetery on moving day and how the rabbit was free and under my seat in the truck most of the trip!)

For now, here is a book review: (Be sure to friend me on Goodreads where I post my reviews!)

Thirteen Reasons Why

by Jay Asher (Goodreads Author)

Tina Russo Kinney‘s review

Apr 30, 2017

 

Have you ever wanted to love a book but just couldn’t? I REALLY wanted to love this book. It had been brought to my attention twice in the past week, so I bought it off Amazon and had it shipped. As soon as it arrived, I started reading. By the time I finished the book, I almost hated it!

The book is about a teenage girl who has killed herself. Before committing suicide, she makes a set of tapes explaining the reasons why she killed herself, and the people leading her to commit suicide.

Let me say the book is well written. The first 2/3 of the book had me captivated. Then I found out the reason why the main character was part of the tapes.

I felt cheated.

The main character did nothing wrong. The reason he was on the tapes was quite cliche. At this point I considered putting the book down, but I was quite vested. I read to the end, but was extremely disappointed. I think I held out to hear the last reason amd hoped it would make it all worth the read. I was even more let down by the last reason why!

As someone who has a mental illness, I understand first hand the feeling of wanting to be dead. I understand the thoughts of suicide. None of the reasons given by Hannah Baker deemed ending her life. The girl really needed some perspective. The character also needed more reason to struggle with suicidal ideologies. I know high school can be rough, but none of the stories warranted the feeling one needs to die to escape their pain.

The back of the book included the first chapter of the next book by Asher. At first I was excited to read the sample chapter. By the time I finished this book, I did not bother to read the start of the next one. I had been too let down.