Addiction

Addiction does not only affect the user. It affects SO many people. People that love and care for them. People that look up to them. People that rely on them. People that trusted them. People that only want the best for them. Husbands, wives, mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters..........SO many are affected.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

A New Chapter to Get Used To...

It was just over 18 years ago. I was rocking my precious 2 week old baby girl. It was a quiet evening. Her dad was working graveyard shifts. It was just the two of us at home. It gave me a lot of time to just be able to sit and hold her.  I was rocking her watching her peacefully sleep. I didn't want to put her in her bassinet. I just wanted to hold onto the moment I had right then. I was thinking about what she would be like in the future. What trials she may have to face. What her dreams would be. How she would look. I figured out she would graduate high school in the year 2020. It was so far away. It seemed that day would never come. Now, it has come, and she is officially a high school graduate. The visions I had of how she would be, what she would look like, what challenges she would have to face in life, and what her dreams would be have FAR exceeded my expectations. She is the most kind-hearted, non-judgmental, giving, caring, compassionate person I have ever met. She is inherently such a good person. She strives to be the best version of herself. She is not only completely gorgeous on the outside, but that beauty goes all the way through. The challenges she has already faced in her life are completely mind blowing. I never in a million years would have ever guessed that night when I was rocking her 18 years ago, that she would have gone through what she has at this point. Yet she has done it and she never let it take her down. She has risen above. She has become stronger. She has taken these challenges and made them stepping stones to a fuller life. She strives to stay close to the Savior and her Father in Heaven. She handles adversity with so much grace. Never did I ever imagine she would go through the most important years of her life without a dad there. She didn't have him there to hear about her first boyfriend. He wasn't there to see her go on her first date. He didn't see her learn to drive, or wasn't there to celebrate her making the high school drill team. He wasn't there at her countless performances, her end of year reviews, to see her earn awards. He wasn't there when she broke her foot and couldn't dance. He didn't ever see the pain of her first heartbreak. He didn't experience her first talk in Sacrament Meeting. Although her graduation wasn't traditional, we were still able to celebrate by watching it, and then she was able to be in the parade celebrating all of the 2020 graduates. He wasn't on the side of the road with all the family and friends cheering and waving as they paraded by. As I was driving her to get lined up for the parade to start, I looked over and saw tears streaming down her face. I figured she was sad she didn't have a car full of her friends like we saw many others pull up with. I just put my hand on her hand. She simply said, "he didn't even text me", as she looked out the window. At first I was thinking she was referring to someone else, but she was talking about her dad. The one who should've been right there in the truck with us. Celebrating, cheering her on, giving her all the encouragement in the world. But he wasn't. As the parade started, she wiped the tears away, rolled down her window, and made the best of it with a big smile on her face, just like she always does. She is my hero. My true hero.

As I have come face to face with what it is like to have your child leave home, grow up, and become an "adult", it has been harder than I ever had imagined. The loneliness has been almost unbearable at times, just thinking about this new phase in life. There won't be anymore drill performances to go to. There won't be anymore dances to watch her get ready for. No more sharing a room with her (although I am sure she is happy about that haha). No more road trips to competitions, or seeing her excitement and nervousness for state and region. I know this is only the start of a different kind of life, that will be just as great (or so I keep trying to tell myself), but it has been one of the hardest things ever. The loneliness is a real thing. There have been mornings I wake up in complete panic. It seems crazy, but it is true. It has truly compelled me to drop to my knees and plead with my Heavenly Father to feel His presence. I have often (although not comparable at all) thought about the Savior. He was completely alone facing the most horrendous pain that is humanly possible to fathom. He had nobody. No one. He did it and He did it alone. For that reason, I don't have to. I don't have to face this new challenge alone. Ever. He is always there. He is the reason I have made it through some recent days. I am so grateful for the Atonement. For the opportunity I have to turn to Him and KNOW that not only is He always there, but that He understands. He understands perfectly. So often I sit and look at so many others and start to feel sorry for myself thinking they have no idea the pain and loneliness that I am going through (although I am sure more people understand than I am aware), but it is so comforting to know that He knows. He already experienced the exact feelings I am having. He is there to bear my burden, to have me leave it at His feet. I am never truly alone. He is ALWAYS there.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

A Season of Loneliness and Isolation is When the Caterpillar Gets Its Wings. Mandy Hale

I have come to know a lot about myself in just the past few months. I have learned to sit with some pretty intense feelings of loneliness. I can honestly never remember a time in my entire life, not when I was younger being so introverted and awkward not really having a whole lot of friends, to living in a marriage where for a good 6 years, I didn't really have a partner, to going through my divorce, and not even right after my divorce for a good few years, did I ever have the overwhelming feelings of loneliness that I have in the past couple of years, and even more so in the past several months. Life is filled with twists and turns and unknowns. All of which are so amazing to help us grow, progress, and become stronger, and for me, closer to my Heavenly Father and Savior. However, the past several months, I have to say, I felt like I couldn't bear the feelings I was having. I don't mean to sound like I am feeling sorry for myself, or wanting sympathy in any way, I am just being completely vulnerable.

When my marriage started to fall apart in 2010 and my husband's secret life started to be revealed, I didn't think I could do it. It was a literal nightmare I lived in for a few years. I look back at the things that happened, the circumstances me and my two innocent children were put in and I truly am amazed we made it through. When my husband left for the very last time in May of 2013, it was HARD. My kids were still pretty young, 10 and 9, and they were more dependent on me. I had a LOT to figure out. How was I going to provide for them? I didn't have a dime to my name, a house, or even a car (as he took the one we had). I had a job as a part time aide in an elementary school that paid around $9 dollars an hour. I had to move in with my parents. I was so grateful I had somewhere to go. But it was hard (and still is) not having a home that I could call my own anymore. I needed to provide not only financially, but emotionally solely on my own for my kids. Their dad just left. They didn't see him for a year. They had him ripped out of their lives, lost their own home, their own rooms, and had a mom that was trying to hold it all together, but not doing the greatest job with it. But I was determined. I had no choice. I had to figure it all out. I was so busy with school, being a mom, and eventually starting a career, that I had no time to sit and think. My kids were dependent on me. Fast forward about 6 years and although I am still a single mom, my kids are much more independent. My career is busy, but I am well into it. My daughter is now graduating and going to be on her own. I have a lot of time to sit with my feelings. To think. To observe my surroundings a lot more. That is where the loneliness has crept in. As I watch so many with their spouses, attending their kids' events and activities, at church, out in public, even my own parents, it hits pretty hard. I have had people say, "but you have SO much! You have SO many that love you and are around you. Your family, your kids, your students." They're right, I sure do, and I am BEYOND grateful. I thank my Heavenly Father DAILY for that, but the loneliness is unfortunately still there. It was there going to my daughter's countless drill performances and competitions alone. It is there going to church and not having a spouse to sit with in Sunday School. It is there hearing my sweet parents as they do everything together, making decisions together, relying on one another, asking how each other's day was. It is there watching families out in public with BOTH parents. It is there as I scroll through Instagram and see all the fun family vacations with BOTH parents. It is there watching my beautiful daughter prepare to move out and be on her own. It is there when I want so badly to confide in someone, but I just feel so lost and don't want to burden the same people over and over. It is there when I can't figure out how to get my car fixed, or how to send my daughter to Disneyland with the drill team, or how to pay for graduation pictures, not having someone that will help me figure it out. It is there when I watch my sweet son come to me and tell me he just wants a friend, and not having a spouse, his father, to help me comfort him and then take him to do something that a father would normally do. It is there when I needed to figure out how to tie a neck tie, or how to fix a flat tire, or to help me figure out what is wrong with my car.

I have felt so guilty feeling lonely. Especially when I AM surrounded by so many great people in my life, especially my kids. But unfortunately, it is there because it isn't a loneliness that can be fulfilled by the people that I do have. Being a single mom has taken a toll on me more than it ever has just in the past couple of years. Like I said, I am not trying to complain or have people feel sorry for me, I am simply processing my feelings on here, like I do, and want others that may be feeling the same thing or going through other things to know they are not the only ones.

It is ok to be raw and vulnerable like this. I used to be scared of what people would think. And I think many people might think doing so shows that you are weak, but to me, it is a strength. I am so blessed in MORE ways than I can ever express, but it is ok to not feel ok and to vocalize that. I have come to know that more than ever as I have literally been saved by hearing other women's stories, feelings, and thoughts as well, because it then helps me know that I am not the only one. I am not crazy or just not strong enough. That these feelings are real and they are ok. I also know that these feelings won't last forever and that they aren't felt on a 24 hour basis either. But they are there. They are real. And it's ok. It is ok because in this loneliness, I have come to know me. Truly my core self. I know that who I am is deep in there and now I just need to work on having her show herself more and more.

Sunday, January 5, 2020

"To solely attempt to love others without first loving yourself, is to build a home without a strong foundation." Yung Pueblo

I never got the help I have needed in my life and was living a life that my trauma dictated. Trauma from when I was a young girl, to a teenager, to a young mother and wife, to the ending of my 12 year marriage, to trying to have a relationship again. I have been to some counseling here and there over the years, but never really the therapy that would help me get to the core of my issues. That would help me start at that core and slowly peel off layer after layer until getting to the surface. I started going to a counselor that specializes in EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing). This is a therapy that brings you back to your trauma and has you process that trauma in a way that is healthy for your brain to help it leave your core and not let it fester inside,  a way to help by not allowing it to dictate your life (like I have). I am on the right road for sure, but I feel like it is a road that is 2,00,000 miles long and I have only traveled one of those miles. I don't love myself like I should. I don't give myself leeway when I "slip up" and have triggers. I am learning. SLOWLY learning. I know I've told my story on this blog and if you have or have not read it, it doesn't matter. I wouldn't bore anyone with the details again, but I have faced trauma in life for sure. We ALL have. EVERY one of us. Whether it is friends being mean, a boyfriend breaking your heart, addictions, abuse, people passing away, physical ailments, whatever it may be, pain is pain and it doesn't matter the magnitude of what we have gone through. If a similar situation causes pain to one and not another, the pain the one felt does not make that person weaker than the person that didn't feel the pain. Sometimes we even have pain that we don't recognize right away and maybe later in life it will affect us. Bottom line is life is a journey. We have choices. We can choose to be wrapped up so completely in our pain and cause a cycle of unhealthy relationships, or we can choose to face the pain head on. I am just going to say it... It SUCKS and it is HARD and it doesn't go away quickly, but it is worth it. Even earlier today, I thought, "well it's too late to change how I have let my trauma dictate my actions in life" because I lost a significant person, but as I have processed through the day, I realize it is something that will only make me that much stronger and I have reflected on all that I have learned through this specific journey about me, about love, about life.

I brought some pretty significant trauma into a new relationship. It most certainly didn't do good, but it definitely was a learning process now looking back at the last couple of years. For one, I didn't keep promises to myself. I didn't respect myself. I tried to mold to what I thought would keep someone around and not leave me. I let things become too complacent. I wasn't doing the work to be the Andrea I know is deep down there that has been missing for a long time. I was simply wanting to feel love, to have a partner, to not feel alone. The thing is, wanting those things so much with a potential spouse, made me blinded to what I already have. To who I REALLY am. I was on a path that I dare say, would have caused far more pain and heartbreak if my Heavenly Father didn't step in and, I feel, literally pulled this person out of my life because I wasn't strong enough to do so myself. He knows the big picture and I wasn't trusting Him. After my divorce, I had SO much faith and literally gave EVERY ounce of doubt, pain, fear, and suffering to The Savior. I got to a point, I didn't have a choice other than to do things that would only make my life even worse and more unmanageable. Unfortunately, sometimes we are compelled to have to choose Him when we're too stubborn (like myself) to choose Him on our own. I know that my journey to fully healing is still in full force, even though it seems I just added another 100,000 miles to it. I will STILL come out on top. I know with my Savior, EVERYTHING is possible and that I will find genuine happiness in Him and through Him.


Friday, December 27, 2019

New Year, New Adventures

I haven't written on here for a long time. I was writing on here often when I was going through what now feels surreal. It feels like a movie that I just watched and it wasn't really my life. So many things that happened that simply seem like a dream (or I guess a nightmare). Fast forward ten years and I would love to say that life is now just blissful and care free, or even make it look "Instagram perfect", but I can't and I won't. My divorce has been finalized for over six years now. It has been quite the adventure, this life of mine. Over two years ago, I was told I should get on one of those dating apps. I am very old fashioned and was completely against it. Finally I succumbed and hesitantly made a profile. Now living in a smaller city, there wasn't a lot of options. I thought I wasn't going to meet anyone anyways, so I might as well put my search settings to anywhere in the country. I talked to a few people. It wasn't fun, I'm not going to lie. The small talk, people saying two things to you then never responding again, arrogant guys who only talked themselves up, feeling like it was all about the surface stuff, the stuff that I didn't care so much about. One July day, July 7, 2017 to be exact, I matched with a pretty cute guy. He lived clear in Orlando Florida, so I thought nothing would ever come of it. Just someone nice to talk to. However, it was pretty crazy that only a few days after we started talking, he was coming to Utah to see his family. They all live in Northern Utah. I decided I would drive up there and meet him in person. Why not? We had great conversations and I felt extremely comfortable talking to him. It wasn't all about the surface stuff either. There was more depth to him than any of the other guys I had talked to up to that point. I drove up, we spent the day together, it was easy and comfortable. He began coming to Utah every 3-4 weeks to see me. He travels for his career and so it was feasible for him to do so. I was scared. I had walls up. I had armor on. I wanted to be with him and have a life with someone, but was it worth risking heartache? Not to me at that point. I didn't trust at all. I didn't feel that it would work anyway. I had it made up in my mind he would just up and leave anyway, just because of past experiences. I hadn't properly worked through my trauma. I had SO much work to do. He came from a broken place with a lot of trauma as well. It has been a VERY long, long road. We have had so many issues, growth, trials, laughs, triggers, good times, and learning. It isn't easy, and it won't be easy, but doing the hard work to get where we can get will be worth it! We have learned so much, and have so much more to learn and experience. I know this isn't the regular sounding engagement announcement that sounds like a fairytale, but it is real and it is my story. I am grateful for what I have learned and that I have Ryan Woolley to continue this adventure with as we continue learning and growing together!

Sunday, September 22, 2019

You are NOT Your Trauma

I have been incredibly blessed to be doing some pretty intense trauma therapy. It is called EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing). It is a therapy specialized to help someone that has gone through any type of trauma and suffers from PTSD. As you reprocess traumatic events, both your left and right brain are being stimulated either by your eyes following an object back and forth, or what I do in my sessions, is hold a tapper in each hand. They vibrate in a subsequent rhythm as you are replaying traumatic events in your mind. The purpose of this is to desensitize those negative emotions caused from trauma that tend to dictate the present. Stimulating both sides of the brain while reprocessing these events, allows you to let go of these emotions and no longer allow them to dictate your thought process, especially when conflict of any kind arises.

I have been doing this therapy now for about three months. I started my therapy reprocessing clear back when I was about 12 years old dealing with some mean girls and when I started losing my self worth. I then worked through the events that lead to my eating disorder, through my eating disorder, up until I met my ex husband "J", and now into the memories of events that played out in my marriage that, honestly, seem so surreal to me at this point. My last two sessions I leave the therapist's office physically and emotionally drained. As I began reprocessing when things began to unfold and my world started to crash all around me, I remembered the anxiety, despair, hurt, and flat out fear that those situations brought. I felt those horrible feelings again, this time doing so to help me close the door on them hopefully forever. I remembered ,and once again, felt overcome with hopelessness. Seeing myself sitting on the couch in my parent's living room on the phone, hearing J's friend on the other line telling me, "I think you should know that J  is drinking a lot. He is abusing his pain medication" and the words that burned the worst as if a million knives were stabbing my stomach, " and I really hate to tell you this part, but you should know that he has also been communicating and spending a lot of time with another female." Reliving finding the solid proof through Facebook messages between he and another girl. Reliving myself dry heaving all night after his friend told me. Reliving myself laying on the couch all night pleading with Heavenly Father to feel any ounce of relief. Listening to conference talks, church hymns, doing anything to relieve the pain. Reliving my kids and I stranded in Las Vegas as he reassured me over and over that his "paycheck" from a job that, I now know, was non existent, would be in the bank account and we would be able to be just fine with gas and food. Reliving calling him after a day of not being able to do anything, eat anything, or go anywhere, checking the bank account to only find $43 dollars each time, and him telling me to go to a Walmart so he could wire me money (something I didn't even know was a thing) just so I could get home and finally get my two hungry kids some dinner. Finally finding a Walmart and calling him telling him I was there and asking what I did next, to hear him say, "just hold on" and losing it yelling that I couldn't hold on anymore. My kids were hungry, I just wanted to get home. The next thing I know he's shouting at me, "I need to call you back!" as I just stood in the middle of accessory department not being able to put the phone down, in awe that he really didn't care about me, about our kids, about our eternal family. He thought he had hung the phone up, but he didn't. I was reliving hearing what happened on the other end next that he was completely unaware of. Hearing him telling other people (I still to this day have no idea who), that he needed to figure out a way to get his (insert vulgar language here) wife some money, and then laughing about it with whomever he was with. I had to relive running outside the store trying not to let my kids see me as they were waiting in the car with my friend, as I sat on a cement barrier sobbing. Reliving calling him back and telling him that I heard his whole conversation and having to hear again him say, "you are crazy! I NEVER said those things!! You are absolutely crazy. You don't know what you're talking about. Stop making things up." Reliving the moment of panic thinking "am I really crazy? Did he really not say those things? What is wrong with me?" This therapy session caused me to not only relive how I felt and what I heard and saw that day, but this time to envision what my two "little" children must have saw and felt. Being only 10 and 8, watching their mom hysterically sobbing, not paying attention to them, so consumed with something, something that was scary, something that was bad, but not knowing what it was. I envisioned them with tears running down their cheeks, scared to death. I thought about so many of the things they both struggle with now and how so many of these traumatic experiences that literally were happening on a daily basis in one way or another, have most certainly played a role in their way of dealing with things, and seeing things nearly seven years later. Trauma is no joke. It is real. It can be the dictator of your entire life. The dictator of how you look at yourself. The dictator of how you believe others look at you. The dictator of how you cope, how you see things, and the quality of your relationships on any level. Trauma is not fun. It is what comes between you and peace, you and hope, you and even happiness. It robs you of who you even are and how you portray yourself, if you let it. I am finding out through a long, hard path that what I wish I would've known so many years ago.

If you have gone through ANY type of traumatic experience, PLEASE get the help you need through professionals that are trained to help you overcome such skewed ways of thinking, causing you turmoil and pain, and in turn, also causing those you love the same.

Monday, May 6, 2019

A Not So Perfect Instagram Life...

     Writing is a therapeutic outlet for me. For lack of a better phrase, I just kind of throw it all up on paper (or in this case the computer screen)...I deleted my Facebook account a few months ago. Great decision. However, I still have an Instagram account. Why? I am not quite sure, other than I do like to see people that I don't get to see very often, or not even at all, in my life. I am finding more and more that, although it is fun to stay connected to others, it rarely (if ever) brings me joy or peace whenever I decide to scroll through the feed. Most often, it brings feelings of inferiority, anxiety, envy, sadness, and even resentment. None of which are feelings that I like to have as my companions. Now I can say that if I were more confident in myself, had millions of admirers that couldn't wait to see my next post about my workout routines, my healthy eating habits, fashion/beauty tips, home decor, me traveling the world, or just to see my picture perfect family photos, that those feelings wouldn't overcome me when I would scroll through the Insta feed, but I dare say those feelings would still be there. My life is NOTHING like you see on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, VSCO, etc. I am even guilty of mostly only posting the exciting, happy, glamorous-seeming, events that take place in my life. So I often think, what if I was just "real" all the time on social media? I'm not saying getting on and airing my dirty laundry, going off on my soap box(es), or NEVER posting those happy, glamorous-seeming events. When I see or read of someone that has similar challenges and trials in their lives and how they are working through those things, it is so empowering to me. It makes me feel that I am not alone. I am strengthened. I feel peace. I am motivated to be the best ME I can be. Not to be better than anyone else, but only to be a better me than I was the day before. 
     Some days (especially like today) I feel like this single mom gig is more than I can bear. Don't get me wrong, my kids are honestly amazing in every way. They are truly better than I could have ever hoped to have had, which makes flying solo in this role SO much easier. I can't imagine, and truly feel, for the single parents out there that have to deal with kids that make heart breaking choices without a partner to work through it all with. All of that being said, no matter how ideal the situation can be, I never imagined I'd ever be a single parent, and I never imagined how difficult it can be some days. Just difficult in terms of not being able to provide so many of the things that it SEEMS most kids they associate with have. Trying to decide if this month I can pay for extra curricular activities, or get the oil changed and a tune up that the car is in desperate need of. Putting off braces for Koleman, saving for college/missions, getting into our own home, and getting some dental work done because I need to figure out the month to month expenses and miscellaneous surprises that pop up before I can even think of those things. Trying to figure out how I can work a second job, but not quite sure how to fit that in with a full time, pretty demanding career. Having Koleman come home from school often asking how he can make friends and how to interact with kids, not knowing what to really tell him other than to just keep trying. Wishing so badly I could talk about it with a spouse that loves and cares for him equally and would be able to take him to do things that only a dad can do. Or listening to Addie and all the things she is struggling with, wishing so badly, once again, that I could confide in a spouse and, together, we could help her through it. Not being able to say, "hey this time will you talk to Addie about ditching school so much." Or, "It's your turn to talk to Koley about making sure he is handing in all of the homework he needs to have done." Some days I feel like I am stretched so thin, that I can't even function well enough for them to have even one parent that isn't always feeling like an emotional wreck. But even without having financial and emotional support that a spouse can and does bring, in my opinion, the most difficult part of raising kids on my own, is seeing the pain, that they try so much to conceal, of not having a dad as a constant in their lives. Watching them as they watch and listen to so many around them interact with and/or talk about their own dads. Wondering what is going through their minds, and having it rip my heart out not being able to ease the pain or make it feel better. I can't even sympathize with them. I grew up with a dad. A dad that was a faithful husband and father. Who went to great lengths to take care of our family and was always there no matter what. 
     I KNOW that we truly are so blessed and have SO much. Today has just been 'one of those days'. I am sure tomorrow will be better!

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Trauma

I am sure 99 percent of people have gone through some type of trauma in their lives. Whether it was kids being mean at school, divorce, abuse, betrayal, addictions, etc. I don't think we realize the affects trauma, or different life experiences have on us. It is so real. It is so debilitating. It is downright evil. SO many of us don't get the help we need to overcome things in a healthy manner, which in turn affects our happiness, relationships, and even the way we present ourselves. How do I know this? I am a prime example of allowing trauma to dictate my life. I've allowed it to determine how I respond to situations, how I feel the world views me, how I view myself. I have allowed it to sabotage relationships. I have allowed it to push people out of my life that I want and need. I have even allowed it to determine my worth.
I had a girl in jr high tell me I was annoying, stupid, ugly, and did all she could to make it so I didn't feel included or have friends. I was such a confident, outgoing, happy person. However, I got to the point where I believed her. I believed all of those things. I hid in the bathroom at lunch almost daily, usually crying. I began to seclude myself from friends, feeling I wasn't good enough to have any. I believed I was the ugliest, most annoying, worthless person to walk the earth. I ALLOWED myself to get to that point. I became extremely introverted. I was depressed. I didn't even know who I was anymore. I developed an eating disorder that nearly took my life, and I honestly was at a point that I hoped it would.
Fast forward about 8 years, and I experienced major betrayal in my marriage. I experienced neglect. I experienced abuse. I eventually experienced divorce. I moved on by busying myself. I focused on my kids. I focused on my new life of being a single mom. Having to figure out how to do it all on my own. How to provide for my children by myself in every way. I didn't get the help I needed to rid myself of the trauma and pain so deep inside of me that had built up and lingered for many years.
Fast forward another 7 years, I have moved past ill feelings for any that have hurt me in those traumatic ways. I have moved past the hurt of wanting to be with my ex husband and missing him. But I NEVER focused on healing me. I just moved on as if it was all said and done and I could live my life the way I wanted now. I am now at a point where I feel almost more despair, pain, hopelessness, confusion, and chaos in my life than I did when I was actually in those traumatic experiences. It has hindered my progression in developing healthy relationships. I have allowed it to make me react irrationally in many different situations. I have allowed it to put up walls and not trust. I have allowed it to completely dictate how I respond, how I act, how I feel, and even how I treat others. I am FINALLY getting the help I need. I am FINALLY on the path to getting my life back, to being ME again. I URGE anyone that has experienced trauma, to get the help you need right away. Don't let it do to you what it did to me. I wouldn't change life experiences at all. I wouldn't. They have taught me, strengthened me, made me more aware of others and their trials, but I WOULD change the slow process of getting the help I needed so long ago.