Tuesday, April 1, 2014

"A" Is For Addiction: A-Z Challenge

A is for Addiction




“Read this, Elsie,” the counselor said. 

I read the sheet of paper he handed me and knew immediately this counselor wasn’t a good fit for someone in my position.  The paper was titled, “How To Move On After Betrayal.”  It went on to describe the healthy ways to leave your partner after they committed adultery.

This counselor, just like the three before him, just didn’t get it.  Sure, my husband had an affair.  In fact, he had multiple affairs – online, through a webcam, on the phone, and even two in person – but it wasn’t because he was a sex craved manic who didn’t care about his wife and kids. 

Nope.  Quite the opposite.  It was because he cared so much about our marriage that he had affairs.

Wait.

What?

I know what you’re thinking, “Elsie, that makes no dang sense!  If he loves you so much, why’d he run around on you?”

Because he’s a sex addict. 

My kids and I were the first real family he had and it freaked him out.  The seeds of addiction that were planted in childhood came to fruition once we got married. 

From where else?  Bing!
Since I’m a recovering drug addict, I had a unique perspective on addiction that most partners in my position didn't.  I’d been sober over twenty years and felt if I could be sober, so could he.

Rather than kick him to the curb, I chose to stay by his side while he walked on his path to sobriety.  It’s been a rough but rewarding journey.  I’ve learned so much about myself over the last three years.  And, our marriage has been completely transformed.  We’re not just physically intimate; we’re emotionally intimate too.

I’m now at a point in my recovery from his addiction, that I can truly say I’m grateful it happened.  If it hadn’t, I’d never have taken a good look in the mirror and made the improvements I needed to make.

I did find a counselor who didn't advise me to run.  He said, "Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater then recommended a specialist.   Thankfully, I found that specialist and she rocks!  How awesome is that?

Do you know anyone with an addiction?

~~~

This post is part of the A-Z Challenge.  Wanna see more?

Click this for the list of participants.

74 comments:

  1. I am glad that you found the right counselor, each and every situation is unique isn't it?

    Yes I do have a close family member with an addiction, though they are doing better now.

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    1. Finding the right counselor has made such a difference! It's like night and day in our worlds. I'm forever grateful we have her. I'm happy to hear your family member is on the right path, Keith. That's wonderful.

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  2. Your honesty is admirable. Such unconditional love is rare. Just popping by via the challenge. Happy A to Z to you!

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    1. Thank you, helen. I appreciate you stopping by and reading. Happy A-Zing!!

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  3. Your story is refreshing, uplifting, and just downright inspiring. Thanks for sharing and Happy A-Zing.

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    1. Thank you so much, sorcia. Thanks for popping by. The Challenge is going to be a blast!!

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    1. Thank you, David. I can't wait to see what you have in store for us.

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  5. Have to find the right one, as many are no help at all. Surprising what one can be thankful for to, when at first it sure doesn't seem that way.

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    1. We're lucky we have her. She's close to retirement age so that's a bit crappy. We'll use her and abuse her until she goes for good. haha I think time and perspective helped me with being thankful it all happened.

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    2. haha use and abuse you sound like the cat

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  6. I am so glad that you continued to find a counselor that you could trust and who 'got it'. And yes, I have known two raging alcoholics. One is a dear friend who finally hit rock bottom in late 1995. He had his last drink New Years Eve at my house, one beer before midnight, and his sobriety began on January 1, 1996. He's been sober and thriving since then. The other is my ex husband, who despite having Hep C and diabetes, cavalierly ignored everyone, burned all his bridges and drank himself to death. I left him in the spring of 2011 and he was dead by Sept. 2012.

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    1. Such polar opposites, JoJo - your ex and your friend. It's heartbreaking your ex wasn't able to find the help he so desperately needed before it was too late. I'm so glad you have your fiancé now and he takes such good care of you. I love hearing success stories like your friend's. It gives others the hope they need to carry forth in their sobriety. Thank you for sharing that xoxo

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  7. I absolutely cannot believe I'm going to do this, but I'm going to quote Bob Ross. Yeah, that's right.

    He said, while painting, you have to have dark and you have to have light, just like in life. If you have light on top of light, you have nothing. If you have dark on top of dark, you also have nothing. You can't truly appreciate either until you've had both.

    So while some might think that you being grateful this all happened is a weird thing to say, I totally get it. It's not until there's some darkness and our relationships are truly put to the test that we can appreciate the happy times. And frankly, anyone who says their marriage is nothing but sunshine and roses 24/7 is either bottling up everything inside or lying.

    Now let's all go back to pretending that I don't for some inexplicable reason have an arsenal of random Bob Ross quotes rolling around in my brain.

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    1. I'm sorry Bryan. I just can't do that. I now know you are an artie (is that a thing?) and you have a man crush on Bob Ross. Disregard that I know who he is and know all about Happy Trees and Happy Clouds, shall we?

      Fine, I will admit that his words are quite wise. I love the analogy. Without experiencing both the light and the dark, it's impossible to appreciate either. It's like that sappy song I listen to, *ahem* I mean my daughter listens to, Let Her Go - only know you're high when you're feeling low….or something like mushy like that.

      A good marriage will stand not just the test of time but what happens through it's difficult path. You're right, behind all closed doors there are secrets of some sort.

      Now, I'm headed to Bing (cause I won't Google) some Bob Ross. Side note: I first read Rick Ross….

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  8. I do know someone with addiction, but she's never acknowledged it enough to get help. Your stories are so inspiring, Elsie, and really show how strong a person you are. So incredible. I'm looking forward to learning from you this month!
    Happy A Day!

    AJ @ Naturally Sweet
    an A-Z Co-host blog
    @ayjaylauer

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    1. I'm sorry to hear about the person in your life with an addiction. My hubby denied his for a long time before he finally sought help. I think I'll be learning right along with you, AJ =P

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  9. Very brave of you to bare all in the A-Z and wonderful your faith and love were rewarded. I have people in my life with addiction and alcohol issues but through this have discovered the most amazing depths to myself that I would never have known existed otherwise. I am truly grateful to have had to go through the dark to get to the light as it is much brighter than it ever was previously. Thanks for a great and meaningful post.

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    1. Thank you, Claire. I appreciate the compliment. Although I am hiding behind a false sense of security with my alias. =)

      I have to agree wholeheartedly, Claire. I've learned so much about myself because of my hubby's disclosure about his addiction. Once I realized I had the strength to figure it out, I was able to begin seeing the positives rather than the negatives. Thank you for stopping by!

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  10. We're not a culture about doing the hard work anymore. I'm surprised you only had to go through three counselors that told you to leave.

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    1. I have to laugh but not with happiness. It's true, Andrew, it seemed much easier for everyone to say, "just leave" than it was to say, "what made you stay? fix that and I'll bet it can work as long as he works too"

      That was just my counselors. It took him the same amount to settle on our joint counselor.

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  11. leaving things is almost always the easier way.

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  12. I admire you for sticking around, and for being brave enough to talk about it. You are one gutsy lady! I know several people with addictions to alcohol and drugs, and they are all close family members. One has acknowledged it and is sober (and private) another has overcome meth (which I didn't know was possible) and is now living a real life, and one refuses to acknowledge her problem and continues to leave a wake of destruction...it's sad.
    I'm so glad you found a good counselor.
    I'm glad I found you.
    Tina @ Life is Good
    A to Z Team @ Blogging From A to Z April Challenge 2014

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    1. Not so sure about gutsy - maybe just really stubborn =PP I wanted to talk about it on a blog because I didn't want people to think they were alone on their journeys with this. Come to find out, people on Blogger helped me more than I could ever help them. I'm glad to hear about your sober family members. It's a great process to witness and even better to live (my addiction is cocaine). I'm so sorry about the family member who hasn't acknowledged her problem yet. But, you never know…it could still happen.

      I'm glad I found you too, Tina. You rock!

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  13. This A to Z Challenge is turning out to be really interesting....

    My dad was an alcoholic...and of course we all ended up with our own dysfunctions and addictions which I won't detail now. He was a chain smoker, too. After a fractured knee which cost us about US$3000++ to repair and two rounds of TB, he finally kicked the habits (as far as we can see). Actually, it took all of that plus a whole lot more that he lost (namely my mother who separated from him) before he stopped. It's hard work now for him and all of us to restore the broken relationships but through God's grace, I believe anything is possible and that nothing is impossible. It's good to hear that you kept your vows to stay with your hubby through thick or thin, praise God!

    Great kick-off for the A to Z Challenge! Looking forward to reading what you've got in store for us. Thanks for dropping by my blog. God bless you.

    Regards, Mary

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    1. Hi Mary. Your tale is heartbreaking. I'm sorry you went through it and I pray the relationships are fully restored. I'm a recovering addict so it's no wonder I was attracted to Devin, despite not knowing about the disease he has. It was those traits he carried to hide his addiction that made me attracted to him - you know…rescuing, being the hero for someone, etc. I'm so grateful I had my Faith throughout his recovery. I needed it and still do. God bless you too xoxoxo

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  14. Admiration - that's my A word for you sharing your honesty with us, for being willing to take the difficult path, for choosing to love your husband through his struggles. I'm so glad that you found the right counselor for your situation, although I'm surprised that you only went through 3 who told you to take the easy way out.

    TaMara
    A fellow AJ's AtoZ wHooligan
    Tales of a Pee Dee Mama

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    1. Aww, that really made me smile. Thank you TaMara! I'm grateful I stayed by his side. It allowed me to see his recovery in action and while it's not always easy, there are more happy times than difficult times. Now. It wasn't always that way but it was well worth it. =)

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  15. It's such a challenge to stay by someone with an addiction. With an alcoholic father, I had the opposite experience as you, but each must follow their own path. I'm really glad yours is paying off.
    (new follower)
    Lexa Cain’s Blog

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    1. I'm sorry you went through the experience of an alcoholic father. It's a rough road to travel and I'm glad you made it through. Many hugs to you and thank you for following!!

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  16. That's a big start for A . . . .Well done and if I say so myself a cool picture. . . .
    I will try and keep popping by but I have this huge list of blogs to look at. Maybe I should not volunteer to help next year.

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    1. I am digging all of your pictures, Rob. I plan on using just about all of them. You're quite talented. No worries if you can't make it back over. I'm doing the same thing on my end. It's a ton of fun!

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  17. That was an amazing thing to do. Think of where he'd be without you. For better or for worse - you lived up to that vow.

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    1. Don't think I haven't wondered the same thing myself - "where would he be without me?" but then I squash it…. =)

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  18. There is no one path. We do what we must to find happiness. I am glad you were able to find someone who was willing to listen before giving advice. I have known many with addiction issues and have seen many come out the other side of it.

    Brandon Ax: Writer's Storm

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    1. Nope, there is not a single path people in recovery take. It's full of potholes, bumps and ditches. For some, it's smooth and easy and for others is nothing but one nightmare after the next. I'm glad you've seen people see it through!

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  19. And so it begins, the A-Z challenge! You've done well with your first one and I wish you the best on keeping it up without a migraine making it more difficult.

    My grandfather was an alcoholic as was one of my sisters. They excelled at damaging their lives and the lives of those around them. Grandfather never got help, but my sister did and she's not had a drop in over 20 years. She did a 12 step program and now she has a degree in Social Services helping families of addicts.

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    1. The migraines will definitely make the Challenge more, well, challenging. =P But, I know I can do it. I'll have to put a disclaimer for spelling errors on the day I'm writing with one. I know I caused a ton of damage back in the day. It was hard to clean up the mess I left behind. You know I'm a huge fan of 12-step programs. It did us a world of good. I'm glad your sister found one too. She's doing exactly what I wanted to do with my life - social work with addicts. Paying it forward, good for her!!

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  20. oh dear Elsie what difficult live all this, I think not all people can resist, you are amazinf Elsie!
    Im happy your work with a good counselor Elsie, not the other:(
    that's reminedr me a doctor many years ago when I have to go when I canno't have babies, was TERRIBLE.
    Thanks God I find other and finally you know I adopted and Im so happy with my twins lol
    love xxxxx

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    1. I'm glad that doctor is long behind you now, Gloria. You have your precious babies (fine, they're big) and you are their true mom. Just like my parents are for me. Many hugs to you! xoxoxo

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  21. We are sometimes slaves to our addictions until we get help.

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    1. So true, Fran. We can't see what we're destroying in the midst of it.

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  22. Wonderful post. And that specialist sure gave some sound advice.

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    1. I think he gave us the best advice for me to remember during those dark times in the beginning.

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  23. Wow, what a journey--and this is only your first A-Z post! Advice should never be one size fits all, and good for you that you persevered to find help that worked for you and kept your family together.
    What an uplifting post. Thank you!

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    1. I hold no punches, huh? =) I think the counselors heard the word sex addict and dismissed it rather than try to understand it. One day, at least it's my hope, it will be seen as a real diagnosis in the medical books. Thanks for the kudos, Kirsten!

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  24. I was not expecting this post but I actually do know people who suffer with addiction and various ones which have allowed me the oppurtunity to have real life examples about how life is not black and white - there is no right answer and there is no way to prepare against any addiction that you're not aware of. Good luck!!!

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    1. I have the feeling most people who pop over from the A-Z may be caught off guard. Hopefully, it won't scare anyone away. I'm just a normal chick married to a pretty normal guy. =) I hope the people in your life with addictions are doing well, Nats. Thanks for stopping by!!!

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  25. This is great. An inspiration. A lot of hard work and hurt feelings. Sticking it out is not easy, neither is leaving. Knowing the path that you needed is amazing. I congratulate you for making it work!

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    1. You're right, Melanie - both choices are difficult. It's a situation that really makes you sit down and think about marriage. Thanks!

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  26. i am proud of your perspective...as i think it will open the eyes and heart of those around you...and those that read you...sticking is hard...being grateful it happened so that you could make the improvements...seriously challenging in how we handle things...thanks for sharing your story so elsie

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    1. Thanks, Brian. I'm hopeful that people will understand the complexity of sex addiction and realize it's not an excuse to cheat. It's a real addiction - and a friggin' nightmare! I loved your poem from yesterday. You really had me thinking.

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  27. Such good writing about a very personal subject - I love when I meet people so open and willing to share the truth with the world. I think we all have addictions and knowledge is the key!

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    1. Hi Yolanda! Thanks. It was so scary when I started writing my first blog three years ago. I was petrified how people would react to some chick saying her hubby was a sex addict and she was staying. Turned out, I didn't have much to fear. Most people were very understanding. =)

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  28. The reward, if there is one I suppose, is that you probably found a deeper relationship after going through so much crap. How many people just go through the motions in life?

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    1. Oh, there's definitely a reward, Lu and you nailed it! We have such a strong bond. One like we've never had before. We're not afraid to share anything with each other. Hmm, need to check your weather and see if it's still cold.

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  29. I chose addiction as my A post too. My husband recently celebrated 23 years of sobriety and my stepson 9 years.
    I love the saying about not throwing anyone away.
    doreenmcgettigan.com

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    1. Twenty-three years and nine years! Beautiful, absolutely beautiful. I'm so happy for the both of them and also for you. Serenity is a wonderful thing. =)

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  30. What an inspiring post! Thank you for sharing such a personal journey.

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  31. I'm still surprised by how many people throw away relationships over cheating. I have a kind of unique perspective on the subject, being the product of an affair. Sex seems a rather mild thing to throw away a marriage over. I've seen people stay through so much worse.

    I'm glad to see how you're making your peace with what happened.

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    1. Monkey!!! How the heck are you?? I haven't seen you in a long time. Your situation is truly a unique one. You "get it" it for sure. People do stay through worse and walk for less. I find everyone's tales about their relationship very interesting and deeply appreciate when they share it.

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    2. While I missed the official sign up, I am doing the A-Z challenge so I'll be around again. I've missed blogging but have been making excuses not to do it. I'll actually cover that this month sometime. Anyway, i'm well and hope you and yours are too.

      I am very interested in people, their likes, their loves, their triumphs and tragedies. Not Hollywood style autobiographies but everyday people and the things that have shaped them, especially their relationships, both romantic and platonic. I find it fascinating.

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    3. Yay!! I'm adding you back into my blogroll. I thought you dropped off the face of the earth. I love how you write, Frank. It's refreshing and honest. We are similar in that you and I share our interest in common folk. I couldn't care less about what the stars are up to.

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  32. What a heartfelt sincere first post. Truly brave of you to share it.

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    1. I wanted to make sure I knocked everyone's socks off! haha

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  33. I like how you can see this from a different perspective. Most people take things at face value. They never look at the reasons why people are the way they are. If you can see the good in people and the reasons why they act the way they do, then there is hope for help. I know this to be true as well. 24 years of marriage, going through bi-polar, PTSD, chronic pain, and suicidal tendencies with my husband has taught me to see that there is always more to what you see.

    Jamie Dement (LadyJai)
    My A to Z
    Caring for My Veteran

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    1. As soon as I saw your blog name, I felt an immediate connection to you. Reading your comment made it that much stronger. I thank you. Thank you for who you are and what you do. My hubby is also a military vet with some issues from his service (although not combat related). A career in the service changes people. Mostly for the better, but if they aren't cautious, it can also put them into that military mentality and when it doesn't translate to the civilian sector - man, it's rough. So, I commend you for sticking by your husband.

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    2. *hugs you* thanks for you lovely reply! It makes my heart sing to know that we connected :D
      Jai

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  34. Hi It's Tom Benson (http://www.tombensoncreative.wordpress.com) even if it says 'Anonymous'. Thank you for dropping by my place. Due to my present novel getting in the way, I've been finding it hard to keep up with the A - Z thing, but hopefully I'll get there. I'm going back to the start with all those like yourself, that I missed.
    Good post with a frank and open attitude to what happens, happens.

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    1. Hi Tom! Thank you for stopping by during the Challenge. I'm in the process of editing my first novel. It's a bear of a task and taking me forever, so I totally understand. Good luck with the edits and the Challenge!

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  35. Glad you found someone to help you get through this and come out on the other side.

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  36. Such compassionate writing, Elsie.. one the part of everyone... you and your commentors...

    I needed a counselor back in '96 after my Dad died, and my then-wife filed for divorce...

    All I will say is that my counselor saved my Life...literally...

    ~shoes~

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Thank you for taking the time to comment. I'm here to help any way I can.