Accountability

I’m dating myself. Does anyone remember Bartles and Jaymes “wine coolers?” I think it was the first time alcohol companies started aggressively marketing to young women.

My first job back in the day was at a grocery store chain. I worked in the meat department. No, I wasn’t a 16 year old butcher. I was the kid who steam cleaned all the equipment after the butchers had gone home. A good job if you are trying to quit eating meat. I’m not going to tell you how bad the meat grinder smelled after just one day of use. They gave me that particular job because I worked well without supervision. As I go on you will realize I probably needed more supervision.

Okay, back to the sickly sweet, fruity tasting wine coolers. Not only did they come in a nice 4 pack of glass bottles, they also sold them in plastic 2 liter bottles! This is where I came in.

I had the run of the store and nobody questioned anything I did. I got a good idea. (In my 16 year old brain.) I went out onto the floor and grabbed 2 two liter bottles of 7-UP and carried them back to the small walk in refrigerator at the end of the butcher shop. Then I went to the warehouse part of the store and stealthily took 2 two liter bottles of wine coolers.

The walking fridge had a drain in the floor into which I emptied the soda bottles. I carefully transferred the wine from the 2 liter bottles into the 2 liter bottles of 7-UP. At the end of my shift I would carry it down to the front of the store and pay the cashier 99 cents for two liters of wine coolers because that was the price of the 7-UP.

Looking back, I think it was a pretty ingenious way to start my alcoholic career driving home and chugging my pilfered wine.

I only lasted about a year at that job. It’s another funny story. I got fired but not for stealing wine coolers. I knew a kid who worked alone in the dairy department and our freezers were next to each other. We spent a lot of time talking. But this kid was a real wise ass. To the point annoying as fuck. He said something to me and I impulsively wrapped his head with the strapping tape I had in my hands. He tried to get it out but it was hopelessly stuck in his long hair. As he started to freak out the store manager walked through the swinging doors and wanted to know what happened. That was the end of my butcher career but not the end of my drinking. I guess I was pretty determined there.

All Night Long

This is a day in the life from when I was 10 years old and lived with my grandparents. Every morning my grandfather would get up early to drive my grandmother to her shitty job. Then he would drive to his shitty job. After a long day at work he would pick her up on the way home. On the way back to the house they would pick up a 12 pack of 16 ounce cans of Narragansett beer for him and a bottle of Jenkins whisky for her. (bottom shelf)

My grandmother enjoyed “Hi-ball’s” which in her vernacular was three fingers of Jenkins over an ice cube. My grandfather must have chugged the beer because that was a lot of liquid and he would finish it by the end of the night. (Every night)

In the evenings my brother (7) and I were only allowed to sit on the couch in the living room or to get something from the kitchen. My grandparents would sit on the other couch and start drinking. Back then there was no cable television. There were only 3 broadcast networks on VHF (Very High Frequency), 4 if you counted PBS. Those were the channels that came in clear if the rotary antenna on the roof was adjusted correctly. We also had UHF (Ultra High Frequency), which sounds better but it’s not. The picture would be full of static. That is where my brother and I would find “Creature Double Feature” and Texas Wrestling on Saturday mornings.

My grandparents would start the night in a good mood; Watching the news first and then moving on to prime time television. After that they were drunk enough to start arguing with each other. That was a sign for my brother and I to go to bed. It didn’t help much. I think my brother fell asleep quickly most nights but I never slept as a child and I stayed up listening to them yelling loudly at each other. Even from upstairs I could hear them clearly. By this time my mom had already slipped out the downstairs window to hitchhike to the bar where her sister worked. (My mom was almost 30)

They didn’t fight over normal things like money etc… They fought about things that happened years before. I don’t know if they looked at the clock but they always seemed to finish up around midnight. Then they would fight over who got the last word. My grandmother would be going upstairs and yell, “You want the last word, you got it!” and he would yell something similar. Both of them telling the other to take the last word but they were taking the last word by saying that. My grandfather stayed downstairs. They didn’t sleep in the same room.

The next morning would be the same day all over again.

Rock Bottom

They say every alcoholic has to hit “rock bottom” before they can quit drinking. I didn’t hit mine with a bang. My experience was fairly banal. I hit bottom softly like a feather floating down to earth. Of all the stupid things I’ve done when I was drunk and wouldn’t have done if I wasn’t drunk, it was something as simple as a hangover that brought me down.

It wasn’t just one hangover; it was six hangovers in 12 days. My new thing was “control drinking.” I would pace myself through 12 beers so I wouldn’t do anything stupid. The problem with pacing myself was I never felt drunk but I did get the full 12 beer hangover the next day, all day and night.

Last spring I was just coming out of a long depression and I went on a kick. It went something like this. I would control drink 12 beers and not feel anything, spend the next day and night with the worst suicidal 12 beer hangover and the next day I would be sober until I drank again that night. I did it for almost 2 weeks.

The last night of drinking I couldn’t control my pace anymore and I got that feeling and by the end of the night I did something stupid. It wasn’t major. It was just crossing a line I wouldn’t have crossed if I wasn’t drunk. It was something simple and had no consequences but I feel dumb about it so I’m not going to write anything here. Besides, it was the hangovers that made me want to quit.

I’ve had worse hangovers. I’ve had hangovers that lasted 3 days before. I never drink that many days in 2 weeks. It was drinking every other day and hungover every other day. Finally I couldn’t take the suicidal thoughts and the fear of acting on them and the guilt that comes along with that knowing from personal experience how suicide can fuck up a family for generations.

It was a sober day and I was fighting the urge to buy more beer, remembering how awful I would feel the next day. I still wanted to drink. I’m not sure how I did it but I finally broke the cycle. I didn’t know it would be a long term thing. I’ve read that hangovers are a bad reason to quit drinking because the memory will fade and you will drink again. I’ve also read you have to do whatever it takes to stop drinking. It’s the memory of the torture I put myself through with absolutely no reward. I put myself through it mentally every time I think I want to drink.

It’s working so far. That was my rock bottom. I went out with a whimper, not a bang. I didn’t do anything stupid I would regret. I didn’t get arrested, I didn’t kill myself, obviously. I just had a hangover. Actually several, but very boring compared to other rock bottom stories I’ve heard over the years.

Maybe the memory will fade. Maybe I will trick myself into thinking it wasn’t so bad. I can think of 2 reasons I might start drinking again.The first one is stupid. I would meet a woman who wants to go for drinks. I would be too embarrassed to admit I am an alcoholic so I would lie and just say I’m not much of a drinker and just go with it. The second would be much worse. I’ve never had anyone extremely close to me die. I don’t know how I would react to it but considering my past behavior, I would probably go straight to the bottle. Maybe I wouldn’t but if something ever happened to my daughter I would definitely give up.

My First Drunk

Not my first drink. My first drunk. I was 6, that made my cousin about 9. It was the high school kids across the street. They scored a bottle and thought it would be funny to get a couple of the neighborhood kids drunk. They called us in the front door of the split level ranch. When we saw the bottle we knew exactly what it was. We were excited about what was about to happen.

The first sip burned but in a good way. It made me warm and soothed me. The high school kids were right, it was funny; to them. I think there were 4 of them. I don’t know, it was so long ago and I was drunk. They stood in a circle around us and laughed their asses off as my cousin and I rolled on the floor fighting over the last sip. That’s how much we liked it. We were on the floor, both clutching the bottle, laughing. There was about one shot left in the bottle. I was smaller than my cousin but I won and claimed my prize.

Our parents were calling for us to come home because it was after dark. The older kids threw us out the bedroom window telling us not to say where we had been. We rolled across the grass laughing, got up and ran around the house and across the street.

This is when I experienced my first blackout. This is another story our family never talks about with our excellent communications skills. My cousin and I pieced it together through the years. We were at the bottom of the steps laughing our asses off; obviously drunk. Our parents were yelling at us asking where we were. We never ratted any of the older kids out, even though we owed them no allegiance. I made it to the second floor deck and fell backwards through the railing. The story goes I just missed hitting the pavement and landed on the edge of the grassy marshland, unhurt. My cousin got into the house and puked all over the kitchen floor.

We got into a lot of trouble. I remember my cousin having to stand in the corner supporting a broomstick across his outstretched arms. I got off easy and only had to stay in my room for a few days. Maybe they felt bad for me because I almost died. I don’t know why we were punished. It’s not like we went and bought the booze ourselves.

My cousin and I turned out to be the biggest drinkers of all the kids in our family. That was probably the start of our careers. Not that we didn’t have plenty of opportunities to drink other than that. There was a game in our house where the first kid to bring an adult a fresh beer was awarded with a big swig. Real bright.

Heredity

Sad girl on dock

Tuesday

I was supposed to see my daughter today but when I got up this morning her mom texted me she was crying and could I come another day. At first my all or nothing thinking had me worried my daughter wouldn’t want to see me again. Then I thought of something worse. I was there last Thursday and we were all having a good time out on the porch. My daughter suddenly got melancholy and looked sad and was barely talking. I know mental illness is hereditary. I am schizo-affective and her mom suffers with chronic depression. Luckily my daughter has not experienced any trauma but I still look for signs of depression. She is only fifteen so I know it is normal for her to be crying and not know the reason. Still I think in worst case scenarios so I am always worried. Hopefully it is unfounded.

Wednesday

My daughter has never liked talking on the phone. Since she was 3 the most I could get out of her was, “Hi daddy, I love you, bye daddy”. Now that she is 15 she is the same. In the days between my seeing her we text a little. Today she told me she was tired but she had slept and then she sent me the heart emoji. That means she is done texting. Her mom said she is being 15. I hope so. I am going to try to see her tomorrow. I’ll see how she feels.


I just spent 5 hours frozen in bed. My fight or flight was in full force. My chest was so tight I was barely breathing and it felt like a fist was clenched around my heart. I put the tv on to listen so I could have part of my mind diverted. The rest of it was swirling in my head. I don’t know what started it. I already took my anxiety meds. I don’t have extra. The whole time I was making deals with myself. I knew I could get rid of it by drinking one of those 24 oz. beers from next door. But the punchline is one of those cans of beer is equal to four regular beers; and I never stop after four. Still I kept bargaining. I could buy two cans and pass out early and get up on time to see my daughter tomorrow. Like that would happen. I don’t pass out early. I drink until all the alcohol is gone. No matter how bad it makes me feel the next day; And I feel bad the next day.

I don’t know how I made it through. I kept thinking I am going to see my daughter tomorrow. Maybe I just had too much anxiety to even get dressed and walk to the store. Whatever it was, I made it. I wasted the whole night, but I made it. I got up and microwaved yesterday’s soup. Then I remembered. I must have had a premonition this morning. I bought a pint of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream without even thinking about it. I don’t know if I felt better and ate the ice cream or if I ate the ice cream and it made me feel better. Now I am cruising around on half anxiety. They say writing helps but I couldn’t even think of it earlier. I couldn’t get out of bed, never mind open a draft and wrangle a keyboard. They? They have all kinds of helpful hints, but what can you do if you don’t even have control over your body? All I had planned was shaving my face for tomorrow. I couldn’t even handle that. I’ll have to plan it for the morning before I leave. I bet anything it will be like nothing ever happened.

Thursday

I told you I would feel fine today. (I already shaved my face) Even though I woke up at the ungodly hour of 8am. I did go to bed early. (2am) I usually fall asleep around 5am. That is enough sleep for me. I don’t feel tired during the day. I always have a lift in my mood when I know I’m going to see my daughter. It’s already 80 degrees outside. (I don’t know celsius since we gave up on the metric system) We might go to the beach (a block from her house) but she only likes it at high tide. It is too rocky to swim at low tide. Plus the seaweed drifts in closer to the sand.

Friday

Yesterday was fine. We just hung out on the porch all day. It was beautiful. People ask me what we “do” when I visit. I feel like saying we hang out and talk; don’t you talk to your kids?

After I got divorced visiting my daughter was a huge trigger for me to drink. Seeing her was great but I would spend the day like a family and then go home to be alone. I used to drink heavily on those nights. Luckily I stopped that and can enjoy the carry over of a good feeling. It is never dull at her house. She is there, her mom, 12 year old twin step brothers. 4 dogs and 2 cats. Plus there there are a lot of people who stop in once in a while. That cuts both ways because sometimes it is friends from when we were married and it is strange because I lost touch with them but my wife hasn’t. I get along best with her cousin. She is much younger but she has always been nice to me. I see her most often when I visit.


I need to type with music or the television going so I can have 2 things happening to distract my mind from itself. I drank 2 cups of coffee earlier. Sometimes it has the opposite effect and calms me down. I had high anxiety earlier but now I am pretty relaxed. I used to drink a lot more coffee but most days I only drink 2 cups in the morning. Regular cups, not extra large. I would quit but I need something because I wake up before my meds wear off.

I’ve been reading posts about Dry July where you don’t drink alcohol for the month. I’ve been longer than a month but I still don’t find it as easy as they say it is. It probably doesn’t help that the 4th is in July. They do say not to be afraid of having treats. I already had ice cream the other day and last night I found 2 chocolate bars in the freezer I had forgotten about. I just ate now and I am thinking of what to eat next.

Saturday

My anxiety kicks in as soon as I wake up. Sometimes it wakes me up. Not a welcome nudge into reality. Most mornings all I can do is keep my usual routine. A couple cups of coffee and make my lentils. (I know it’s a weird breakfast) I have to put on music before I do anything. Then I get on the computer for some distraction. After an hour or two I can usually face the day. This new blogging thing seems to help. Instead of passively reading I can activate my mind in the morning and other points in the day.

Nature vs. Nurture

This post was supposed to be about hereditary illness but I got distracted by my illness. I’ve been up for 2 hours now and I feel pretty good today. The person I am worried about inheriting illness is my daughter. Both her mom and I are diagnosed. I am schizo-affective and her mom has chronic depression. She is an excellent mom but she needs a lot of down time she spends it in bed away from the family. I don’t live with my daughter so I don’t pose a clear problem. I can usually pull it together for a 1 day visit.

Her mom and I are also both alcoholics. The studies say it is genetic but I’m not sure. I was taught to drink by other drinkers at a young age but does that mean I was born to drink? Maybe. I found out my father died of liver cancer from alcoholism. Her mom also fares better in the alcohol department. She keeps it under control. I’ve seen her buzzed but never really drunk. On the other hand, I have been sober for some time but I feel like even today I could break my streak and just get smashed.

So far my daughter is against drugs and alcohol. That is exactly how I was at her age but the next year I was out all night partying with my friends half the week. We are always keeping a close eye on her looking for signs of mental illness. She experiences some sudden downturns in mood but maybe it is just part of being 15. Who knows when someone is that young? I just don’t want my daughter living through some of the horrible things I have experienced. I worry for her a lot.


This was supposed to be a themed post but I got distracted and couldn’t formulate the ideas. That is why it turned into a journal post. Today is Saturday and I am going to post it tonight. It hasn’t been a full week but yesterday I finally got the impetus to write a real post for Sunday, so I broke my spell. I sometimes give up on long blog posts. I hope this one isn’t too long or boring. Let me know if you made it this far.


It happened again. Hours of being rigidly frozen. Not as bad as before but this time with the paranoia. Every sound in the hallway someone trying to break into my apartment. I know it’s not true but I can’t talk myself out of it.

I feel better after midnight. I always feel better after midnight. I feel like I’ve accomplished something; made it through another day. Maybe it’s the bens I took finally kicking in. I don’t know. It’s the main reason I stay up so late. I’m not overcome with fear like I am during the day. I can finally relax. I stay up forever.

It’s 1 am now. This is my first shot at a diary type post. I think it is a little long but I didn’t know what else to write all week. I have sticky notes on my desktop with title prompts to give me ideas but I couldn’t get started on any of them. Finally yesterday I got one down about quitting smoking. Now seems like as good a time as any to post. I’m just repeating myself. It’s still yesterday in my country but they are well into a new day on the other side of the world.

Independently Yours

Pink Panther drunk

9pm. I planned on being drunk when I posted this. It may still happen. I don’t know. Seriously, I had it all planned out. All the way down to the detail of how many beers I was going to drink per hour. My attempt at controlling my drinking. I started writing this at 9pm for two reasons. One is that was the time we used to get to the bar when we were partying a lot. In our minds the alcoholic was the guys falling off the barstool when we cam in. We couldn’t be alcoholics, we have it under control. ( even though we partied until the sun came up). The second reason is later in my attempt to control drinking I would buy beer at 9pm. That way if I nursed it, by the time I ran out of beer the store would be closed and I couldn’t buy anymore. So I would just go to sleep after the beer was gone.

I’ve actually been doing this since Thursday when I was at my daughter’s house. I was pointedly uninvited from today’s party. It’s the best of the year. And it’s my favorite holiday. I’ve never been a patriotic, celebrate America type of guy. I jsut like fireworks and partying in the summer. That’s why I was uninvited. Last time I was there I drank most of the Jagermeister and got really drunk. It’s a bad idea for me to be at a big party. A band, a bonfire, beers. A bad combination for me. I can drink and have a good time. My problem is I don’t stop until the beer runs out. Anyway. I was both anger and despondency. But it’s turned inward on myself. I’m pissed because it’s my fault I can’t go.

It was on the ride home I gave myself permission to drink. It only took a second. It was a thought of reaching into the cooler at the store and pulling out a potent six pack. Then the dopamine rush. The tingle in my brain. The plan was set in action. Everything I did was because I was going to drink on Saturday night. (This sucks. I can hear fireworks all around me but can’t see over the trees) Yesterday I listened to an audio book for the first time. It was to take up most of the day so my mind was kept busy away from thoughts of drinking. Today I made it to the food store so I could stock up on a good meal. Get my belly full before I started drinking. It was dinner that did it surprisingly. I had my once a month rib eye steak and mad a full dinner out of it and while I was doing that I did a 180 and decided I wasn’t going to drink. (Or at least try not to) Every thing turned into a treat. I ate a can of Pringles and 2 chocolate caramel bars. Hopefully I didn’t celebrate too early.

That’s my new addiction If I quit drinking. I will eat. I’ve already gained some weight. Better than smoking. I’ve done that and it’s awful. Some people pick up a serious habit after they quit drinking. I’ve seen people fire down 2 cigarettes in a 5 minute break. I can’t start smoking again. I was horribly hooked. Oh well, I’ll get fat. I’m not really unhealthy. I”m just addicted to everything.

11:02pm This is the time I would assess my situation. The store closes in half an hour. Last call for alcohol. If I bought a 6 pack of double alcohol beer at 8 I would be out by now and would buy another 6. That’s why I have to wait until 9. I’m doing pretty well tonight. I just rested in bed. No pangs. I think what made my decision for me was the hangover. Now if I drink it takes commitment. Not only commitment to drinking all the beer but also a commitment to an all day hangover the next day. And I mean all day. Until the minute I sleep again. All this time hearing a voice telling me I’m worthless and should kill myself.

Of all the stupid things I’ve done while drinking that could have been my rock bottom. Who knew it would be something as mundane as a hangover that made me want to quit. It was the repetition. I did it 14 days in a row. Really drunk. The next day deathly hungover. Over and over again. I just couldn’t take it on the last day. How could I do that to myself?

I don’t know what makes this holiday so special. I made it through my last birthday no problem. Same with Memorial day. It was the summer holidays I drank on the most. I think it was having it put right in my face. People talking about the upcoming party as if I wasn’t sitting right there. Knowing why I’m not allowed. And deserving it.

The witching hour I didn’t even use the shut down as an excuse to drink. That’s pretty good for someone who doesn’t need an excuse to drink. I never had to drink every day. That doesn’t make a difference though. I usually go periods of time without drinking and then drink heavily. So I have to watch out. Tonight was pretty weird. I can be stubborn when I put my mind to it. I don’t remember backing out when I made such a detailed plan to drink. I always follow through.

I’m good, but it’s easy now that the store is closed and there is no way to get booze. I just don’t think about it. Plust the bar is shutdown so I didn’t have to go through that period of knowing the bar will serve me until 12:30am. I had to stay away from that place. After a manic month in there drinking like I was rich and putting it on my credit card. It took me forever to pay that off.

I don’t think I need to type anymore. I’m going to cram my head into the pillow and listen to the t.v. until it is time to go to sleep. I’m still surprised. I don’t reverse course like that. I fully believed I would be writing some fucked up shit while drunk. Since I found out about it I’ve been scheduling my posts for after they are written. Yesterday I wrote a “review” of the book I listened to but it won’t show until Wednesday. I didn’t want to do that Here. Either way I wanted to post when I was done writing and see what came ouut. Also I don’t think anybody will be reading on the Holiday weekend. that’s another excuse to drink. I’m “special”. I”m the only one at home alone while everyone else is out having a good time, right? Good Night.

[Post Script] I made it through the night but still woke up feeling hungover. My anxiety was out of control. Enough to activate my “fight of flight” response. That lasts forever. I usually drink to take care of it. This week was the perfect storm for drinking. I took care of everything so I felt I could use a reward. I saw my daughter for the day, I cleaned my apartment, I did grocery shopping. I even got laid so that was out of the way. I also felt slighted for not getting invited to my favorite event of the year. Seeing my daughter cuts both ways. I am so happy she is a good kid and part of my life but after I see her I go home alone and I am not part of the family. When she was born the plan was to stay a family. I used to drink after every visit. I just couldn’t handle the fact that I fucked up my life plan. She really is the most important thing in my life. Without her I would let everything else go.

Blame it on Bukowski

I blame it on Bukowski. I blame it on Burroughs, Hemingway, Huxley and all the other alcoholic/addict writers and artists. They are the reason my writing and poetry sucks. Their addictions were glamorized and made to seem like they contributed to their greatness. The truth is I can’t do anything better when I am under the influence. I can’t even read, never mind write. Maybe it’s true for others that drugs and alcohol enhanced their creativity but all I got out of it were substance abuse problems.

Before I started drinking it was Huxley who got to me . Reading the “The Doors of Perception” got me thinking hallucinogenics would be the key to unlocking my creative energy. I was wrong. When I was on them I couldn’t even think to write. The most I could do with a pen and paper was doodle all night only to wake up to find out I had no talent at drawing either.

Maybe the addicted writers et al. really were better when writing under the influence. Bukowsi and Hemingway were committed daily drinkers and they wrote some amazing things. Burroughs wrote “Naked Lunch” during an intense opiate binge. He pieced together scraps of notes he didn’t recall producing and made a best seller. But my favorite of his was “Junkie” where he talks of his attempts to get sober.

My only true muse was a good session of hypo-mania. Many times I would spend my days at work sketching out thoughts and phrases on scraps of paper and then go home to piece them into some sort of sensible poem. Still after many years of rereading and discarding, I’ve only got about 30 poems left worth showing to another person; never mind publishing. (Which was my goal)

At first I thought I was doing well with my substances. I didn’t drink or use drugs every day. Instead I binged. Going long periods with no use, then going over the top for a day or two or three. It wasn’t until much later in life I learned that style of drug use is a major red flag for addiction. Although I’ve ended my days with alcohol and other dangerous drugs; I still struggle. I think about doing something every day. My mental illness doesn’t help matters either, as I used the same substances to try to moderate my symptoms.

My main creative outlets now are this blog, emails I write to pen pals and my Twitter account. I guess I am doing better now if I can write something that makes sense to other people. But that is not always the case.

I don’t want to be one of those people who fucked up his life and now preaches to others. I just want to pass on my experience and the experience of countless others I’ve met later in life. I started out having great times under the influence. But later; I’m not sure when, a lot of my problems came as a direct result of using. My brain was too clouded to realize the cause and effect. Or I would go a while after a disaster and forget and try again. My experiences got worse as I got older but I was too addicted to pull myself out.

I want to say to anyone going down my path. If you are using to deal with your “demons” or bad things start happening as a direct result of using; stop as soon as you can. I wish now that someone had given me that advice when I was young but there was no one available. My uncle committed suicide the year I was born and it pretty much turned everyone in my family into extreme users of drugs and alcohol. I learned at a very early age to deal with my problems in the same unhealthy manner.

I guess I shouldn’t be too hard on myself. I still have some creativity. I wrote this too long blog post rather easily. But I can’t help but wonder where I would be if I had never started using. I write pretty much for myself these days. I hope at least a few people read and can relate. I know a lot of older people can but this post is aimed at young people and telling what I wish I had heard at their age. I would suggest going over your work sober; no matter which creative field you are in; and see if you think it really is better.

So fuck you Bukowski. How can you quit your job and commit to being a full time drunk and still become famous? That is most certainly the exception while so many others labor in anguish. I think if I had any talent to begin with it was severely diminished by my chosen lifestyle. I can’t even think of a good way to end this post. I just want to ramble on forever. But I’ve already repeated myself too much.

In school, I wish they had taught us evidence based science about drug and alcohol abuse, instead of a police officer coming in and telling us that smoking weed would turn us into bloodthirsty killers. Here is a link to a post with more warning signs. Digital Nomad . Another huge red flag is continuing to use after a substance has caused damage to your life.