We Call ‘Em Toxic People

Well, friends, I’ve talked a lot in the past about my older sister. Once upon a time, she was arrested for domestic violence against me. She got better. With therapy and medication, we both did, and we’ve had a much healthier relationship.

I’m sure you can sense the “but” coming.

And indeed it did. Because she’s been giving me the silent treatment for over a month, after I said something offensive (and I’m still not sure what). I’ve tried to apologize and explain further and further, but not only is it beating my head against a brick wall, I’ve realized that everything hasn’t been all sunshine and roses since we “got over” everything. No, I’ve spent this entire time still walking on eggshells to try and keep her happy. Even though our relationship, according to myself, has been so very great.

Take last Christmas, for example. She was trying to tie a mattress down in a truck bed, in the middle of an evening snowstorm, in a hoodie. She pulled me out of a vet appointment to help out. I offered her the snowboarding jacket I had in my trunk, but she wouldn’t take it, even though she was obviously cold, and got very snappy when I asked if she was sure. Snappier than she’s been with me since The Incident (aka the day she was arrested). And I was supposed to stay at her apartment that night!

So I told her to calm down, and I left. I finished taking care of my cats, and I drove back to her place, fully expecting to be locked out. But no, she wasn’t home yet. Second thought was that she went to her boyfriend’s place for the night so that she could ignore me. And because I’d pushed her so hard to take the stupid jacket (I shouldn’t have offered a second time), our relationship was strained, and it was all my fault. In short, I spent the evening flashing back to all the emotions of the times before The Incident, when I didn’t know what I could expect from her. Long story short(er), that night was the first cutting incident I’d had in years. And it turned out to be over nothing, as she came back a couple hours later, having stopped at DI, and wondering why I was sitting in the dark with my stuff half-packed. She had no idea, and treated me as kindly as normal for the rest of my visit.

As a precursor to this current incident, she got annoyed with me for thinking there was some deeper meaning behind a message she sent me, telling me I was invalidating her feelings. That’s when I lost it. After taking the time to calm down properly (I know better than to try to talk to her in the heat of the moment), I told her to remember that she was the one who abused me, and I can’t control my, for lack of a better word, triggers. She had been passive aggressive in the past, and my brain was still used to that. I told her it was invalidating to have your own former abuser tell you what to feel.

And thus, I have been shunned. Even on Thanksgiving, my parents were over at her place. My mother called and put me on speakerphone so everyone could say happy Thanksgiving. Everyone except my sister, who went into the other room so she didn’t have to talk to me.

Now, I realize, she hasn’t grown up nearly as much as I thought she had. She’s not the mature adult I can rely on. She’s not anyone I can rely on. She harped on me for suspecting something else going on, and then she proves me right. She’s being passive aggressive, and I can’t trust her. That hurts like hell, because I love my sister dearly. But maybe this time I’ll learn my lesson. I don’t need her. I have a fantastic support network: three amazing best friends, and the greatest boyfriend a girl could ask for. It’s time to truly detox my life (not that she’ll give me a choice, anyway), and stop being her doormat. We obviously can’t be close, if she’s going to be childish like this. And I’m better off without her.

My advice to anyone else out there who wants to forgive their abusers, or already has: yes, forgive them, but that doesn’t mean you should turn a blind eye to them, and what they’re doing to you. Be wary. It takes a hell of a long time to regain trust, and for good reason. Don’t take their shit. You’re better than that, and you don’t need them, if they’re going to treat you badly.

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Holiday Misery

It’s been a hard month. I can freely admit that. What made it worse? My two roommates being at their own homes for Christmas, and my parents coming and staying at my house. Christmas night, after a long day at work, I had to come home to deal with my parents getting in a fight, my mom yelling at our dogs for no reason, and all that. When I told her to chill out and not yell at the dogs (who weren’t doing anything, as usual), she said, “You weren’t on the receiving end, Mac. I was!” Here meaning the receiving end of my dad’s temper. Because she was being stupid, and he snapped at her.

But, because I just don’t care anymore, I replied, “Don’t even start that shit with me right now!”

So, I took the dogs into my room and changed clothes, all the while having to listen to my parents yelling. Flashback to many long nights in my childhood when those fights would scare the hell out of me. But I am not that little girl anymore. So I came out, and yelled louder.

But still, all this made for a very stressful, depression-triggering night. By the time we got to my sister’s house, where she had made dinner, I was ready to kill someone, and couldn’t help crying for no real reason. I’m fortunate to have such an awesome sister. She took me into her room, away from my parents, and let me talk it out, staying with me until I’d calmed down.

The next day, I couldn’t face going to work. My sister was working that night (she works at the same place in a different department), so my boss told her he was worried about me, and asked what was up. She told him about the family fiasco, to which he replied, “Well, tell her we’re her real family.”

Even as I write that, I’m tearing up a little. Those words mean so much to me. There are people out there who worry about me, and want the best for me. They have more right to claim familial ties to me than my mother ever did. And that was something I really needed to hear.

Of course, the month is still hard. I’m thinking a lot about Scott when I have nothing else to fill my mind. I can’t bear to even think about getting rid of anything that was his that he left at my house. Or anything he gave me, even if I never wanted it. Everything he gave me has become too sentimentally precious. The memories are sparse, but cherished. Almost sacred. And it hurts. A lot. I don’t want to remember the dead body I saw at his funeral. I want to remember the tall, gangly kid with the huge smile who joked about everything. But they’re too intertwined. It’s hard. Yes, I’ve been better since the funeral. But does a wound like that ever fully heal? And depression’s never going to make it easier.

But I’m getting better. Yes, sometimes it’s so hard I just want to give up. Sometimes I’m not sure I’m going to make it. But there are people who love me. If nothing else, I have to keep going for them. I am strong. I will protect them from knowing what this feels like.

That helps.

Life on Anti-Depressants

Well, WordPress, I’ve been taking it easy since being put on drugs. Lazing around. Writing. Feeling a lot less moody than I normally do. Let me tell you guys, that’s been great. It’s a weight off my shoulders.

I’ve also talked to my sister. Actually sorted things out.

My sister, who admits she abused me, now. My sister, who was also diagnosed with depression. My sister, who’s found so much through counseling and fiction that I never would have thought of. It’s amazing. Things are actually working out between us. We can talk our problems over rationally.

And so many of the paranoias my mother imposed are crashing around my ears.

As I’m writing this, I’m sitting in a hotel room in Arizona, where I’ve been visiting my mother’s parents with the rest of my family since Sunday. My mother told me she was abused by her own mom. That my grandma was a horrible, terrifying, abusive woman. I was shocked, of course, to discover that’s not the case, at all. Grandma just happens to get that my mother is a narcissistic, compulsively lying hoarder. My mother’s parents are fantastic people, who completely understand the problems of dealing with my mother and my aunt. I thought I didn’t have grandparents who loved me, honestly. This realization is shocking. And wonderful.

Also, I never realized just how far my mom went into making my sister the scapegoat. But, just recently, my sister told me a story. How, at the age of fourteen (when it typically happens at age twelve), she finally dared to apply for a temple recommend (need to follow specific Mormon rules to be eligible). She didn’t get one before because she thought she was such a horrible person. Because she believed what my mother told her. And when she brought that brand new recommend home, she showed it to Mom, trying to show her that she wasn’t worthless. You know what Mom did? Shoved her up against the wall and told her she’d lied to get that recommend. A fourteen-year-old. A kid.

I’ve heard things no little kid should ever have to hear. Mom and my sister, fighting. Or so I thought. But my sister was always just a kid. Only two years older than me. How could those noises I heard coming from her room ever be a real fight? Her screams? How could she possibly fight back, when my mother was the one with the power? I was only about six. I wanted to go solve the problem, but I was too scared to see. And when my mother came in to talk to me, her golden child, I believed what she told me. After all, Mother is God in the eyes of a child.

She lied to me. And I believed her.

Now, my sister is no saint. She was trying to protect me in her own way, but as a kid, she resented me for being the golden child, and went about protecting me all wrong. She’s a parentified child who thought that I needed looking after. But let’s face it. My mom was a much better mother to me, because I was her golden child. I didn’t see the dark side until I was older, really. But in my life, there were always those two opposing female forces, neither one of them completely trustworthy. Always telling me different stories. Thanks to all that, I’m a huge fence-sitter. Apathetic, for the most part. Peacemaker might as well be my middle name, because I will always see both sides of the issue, and trust no one completely.

Well, that’s the serious part of what I had to say. The rest of it? I could regale you with the fascinating tale of the dam we visited on our way to Arizona, and the storm of dam jokes that didn’t stop (and I was the queen—even after we left, I was on a dam roll!), but that might get tedious and repetitive. Or how about my sister’s dramatized impressions of my mom’s passive aggressiveness? Making jokes with grandma behind Mom’s back? Mom mispronouncing the word anise (“Oh. Anus!”), or any other number of little amusing things (an adventure at the Hard Rock Cafe!). But, once again, repetitive and boring, quite probably. Humor and light stuff is not the point of this blog, you know. We want darkness. Doom, death, dying, and depression. Not necessarily in that order.

So I’ll leave it at that for now.

Thanks for reading. I’ll be here all night, pretending I’m funny.

Holiday Cheer. . . or something like that

Twilight Zone logo

Dysfunctional family during the holidays? Play the theme song!

Sometimes there will be those days—days where my family pretends to be a normal, happy, loving family. They’re called holidays. Oh, we’re a fine bunch, spending Thanksgiving at the empty house where my sister is staying. Traditional down to the cranberry sauce. And then you think, this isn’t my life. It’s too foreign—like an episode of The Twilight Zone. Invasion of the Body Snatchers. My family is anything but traditional. We hardly know what a table is for!

This, I think, is where my hatred of holidays comes from. The only one I proudly participate in these days is Halloween, and that’s because Halloween means horror—fear. All things quirky, weird and dysfunctional. Thanksgiving and Christmas, on the other hand, are two of the worst offenders. You try to pretend to be a positive, happy family. Shove all the problems under the rug for a while. Me, I can’t stand that. It’s just putting on masks and pretending, and every store in the area lives for it. It’s all so commercial. They know we long for those happy families that really don’t exist, and they ruthlessly play to our weaknesses for all they’ve got. You can have a happy family if you do this.

I’m so sick of playing house.

Thanksgiving and Christmas are for the fakers. New Year’s is an excuse to throw wild parties. Valentine’s is for the mushy romantics. St. Patrick’s day—the sum of all evil on my list—is for the idiots. Easter for the Christians and family enthusiasts. Mother’s and Father’s day for the family enthusiasts to ignore all the crap their parents ever did to them. Independence Day for family enthusiasts and red-blooded American nationalists. And Halloween—it’s for the dysfunctional screw-ups like me: the freaks and the loners.

So over Thanksgiving, while around the country people were sitting around with their friends and families and having a fantastic time, and others were wishing they could, there I was, sitting in a dark corner of a stranger’s house, wishing I didn’t have to play the charade.

Now, with Christmas on the horizon and the stupid Christmas music becoming practically unavoidable, I’m dreading a repeat. Out comes the rug again, just waiting to be put to good use. This time, though, at least we’ll all be at my apartment, where there won’t be the awkwardness of a strange house. Even better? I’m working that day! It’ll cut down on all the cloying, saccharine-flavored bull crap I have to put up with this year.

Today in church we had a special Christmas program, where a few families sang some Christmas songs, and talked about how lonely we college students who weren’t going home for Christmas must be, because Christmas is a time for family, etc, etc, etc. It’s a time for being together, and being grateful for what we have. They all talked about how grateful they were to have such an awesome family, and singing about how there is beauty all around when there’s love at home.

It’s moments like these which can cut the people like me to the core. Those of us who maybe don’t have parents kind and dear. Who look at our own homes and think, there’s no love spoken here. Those of us who got lost at the dysfunction junction so long ago that we don’t know the way back. What are holidays but a reminder of what we’re missing?

To those of you out there who are like me, I wish you the best. Merry Christmas, happy holidays, and so on. Enjoy this time in whatever way you see fit. If you don’t have a family you can spend this time with, remember that family doesn’t need to be defined by blood. Do what it takes, but happiness, joy, and peace to you all.

Pent-Up Anger Isn’t A Sleeping Aid

An insomniac night. Sleepless. Left to stand the watches of the night alone with my thoughts, as they roll through my mind in wave after wave of restlessness.

A good part of this insomnia is due to working a late shift. But there’s more to it than that. Always is.

Sister, oh Sister, wherefore art thou, Sister? Deny thy victimhood and refuse thy childishness. For what is in a child? That which we call thou by any other word may make me want to punch your teeth out just as much. And so Sister would were she not Sister called.

Sissy Darling is living with her ex-boyfriend’s family, free of charge, and seemingly treated like a princess. Me, I work full time, and pay all of my expenses myself. But I’m still supposed to safeguard my darling sister’s things that she left at the apartment we used to share. Which, apparently, is why she’s dodging the issue of giving her key back, no matter how much the landlord says he’s going to replace the lock and charge my dad for it.

My dad. Who got forced into retirement (though still basically supporting my sister and I) a few months ago. But Sissy doesn’t have a job. So she can’t pay for it herself. Poor little princess, lost in the big, cruel world! I think my heart just might break for her!

Well, maybe it would bleed a little, if she wasn’t blaming everything on me. How stupid of me for standing up to her. How could I possibly be so inconsiderate as to make her attack me with scissors? How dare I call the police and tell them lies to get her arrested? Why, is there anything in the world lower than this humble slave to her older sister?

Then she’s accusing me of stealing things. Breaking her DVD player. So, what does she do? Use her key to get in while I’m gone, and steal some of my things. Though the kindhearted princess was considerate enough to inform our parents of this.

I want her stuff out of my apartment. I want her gone. I don’t want to see her or have to put up with her anymore. Let her be someone else’s headache, for cryin’ out loud! And my landlord has been a saint about the entire thing—not pushing. But I want that key back, too. Maybe she wants to keep it for her own twisted security reasons, since she left so much of her crap here, but I have my own security problems. Somewhere in the distant back of my mind is an irrational fear that I’m going to have my throat slit by a pair of scissors in the middle of the night. Or that she’s going to feel free to keep playing klepto.

I know that if she doesn’t respond the next time I ask her about the key—or if she tells me to chill out and deal with it one more time—I’ll pay for the damn lock change myself, as well as the new keys to be cut, and earn that money back when I get rid of all the stuff she left.

At least, that’s what I tell myself I’m going to do.

Father Poppa Daddy

I’ve posted repeatedly about three fourths of my family. But, I realized that I’ve never really written much about my dad. I’m too busy complaining about the other two.

My dad is an awesome guy. He’s put up with my mom’s crap for twenty three years. And he managed to make sure that I didn’t go totally insane.

When I was home schooled, he taught me and my sister more than our mother ever did. While Mom had us reading Amish primers, Dad was getting me hooked on DraculaHarry Potter, and Lord of the Rings. All of which my dear mother considered evil. While she neglected our education all day long, Dad would come home and ask us geography questions. It’s thanks to him that I managed to pass my high school geography class with a B+ without doing most of the homework, and get 100% on all the tests without studying.

While Mom was always the one restricting us and telling us what we couldn’t do because it wasn’t appropriate, Dad was the laid back one who could be firm if we got out of line, but generally allowed us to be who we wanted to be. He taught me about Christmas lights and computers, geography and science, music and books. That living in a hoarder’s house isn’t normal. Most importantly, he’s taught me that humor is an important part of life.

Every one of my friends who meets my parents share an opinion—my mom is scary and crazy. My dad is really cool. He’s the funny old guy who tells all the jokes, and is unfailingly generous.

Of course, Dad isn’t perfect. He’s terrifying when he’s angry. He’s a highly conservative homophobe. He gets road rage. But I’m incredibly grateful for him.

Without him, I know I wouldn’t have turned out so well. In fact, I’m pretty sure I would have become a sociopath. All seriousness and none of that sarcastic and very witty sense of humor. No androgynous qualities in sight. A proper lady who wears dresses and sits up straight and speaks when spoken to—and becomes a serial killer. Or who, conversely, is a victim all her life.

Thanks to Daddy, I’m better than that.

Just A Little Sibling Rivalry—Nothing to Worry About

Due to our charming legal system, I haven’t spoken to my sister in almost six months. We’re not allowed any contact with each other.

For some of you, six months may be nothin’. But, seriously, we were practically best friends before this situation got out of control. And after such an emotional thing, there are a lot of feelings we haven’t been allowed to talk out. So, bitterness has developed. And boy, do I make use of it. I complain about her to almost anyone that’ll listen. Precious little of this six months has been spent missing her. I guess that’s why they say never go to bed angry, huh?

It drives me crazy, this whole thing. When I hear her talking to my parents, she sounds so happy. What friggin’ right does she have to be happy? She messed everything up! She got arrested!

Oh, but she blames herself for everything. I forgot. Friend of hers told me that.

Well, look at the precious little victim. What a drama queen.

We’ve always had a rocky relationship, being so close. The fights we got in became rarer as years went by, but also more violent. After her first summer working at a scout camp (she was eighteen and I was sixteen), she came back and started telling me how much I’d changed. How immature and selfish I was, etc, etc. And she started playing mommy, which led to deeper problems over the next year and a half. We got in more arguments, and I’d always apologize because I hated it when she was mad at me, but never once did I get an apology back.

When I was seventeen, I got so fed up with it that I wrote her a note (because writing is my preferred medium, and I feel that I can express myself better in it) trying to explain my side, hoping she would see it, and hoping that, in return, she’d help me see hers.

Nope.

The next morning, the note was crumpled up in the garbage, and she was being more hostile and passive-aggressive than ever. Of course, she wouldn’t tell me what had offended her about it. All I got, five months later, was an, “I’ll never forgive you.”

Right. Did I ask to be forgiven? Nope. Because I didn’t know what I did.

Then came our first big fight, which involved violence and even a punch or two. I won. And, as always, I apologized first. Her response? “No, you’re not.” After which she ignored me for a week. We were still living in the same house, and the family went places together. But she refused to address me about anything. That’s right. I got the silent treatment.

After the first couple days, I found it amusingly immature of her, and was perfectly ready to tell her to grow up.

Then she started speaking to me again.

About a week later—two weeks to the day after the last fight—we got in another fight when she grabbed an electric skillet lid and started beating me with it. Being the awesome, action-movie-loving chick that I am, I couldn’t find a suitable weapon, so I used a side-kick in her stomach to get her out of my room, and somehow I managed to wrestle her to the ground. When she got up, she ran to her room, and I went to my parents, who I told my side. They went to talk to my sister, who dared to claim she’d picked up the skillet lid (which was aluminum—hardly lethal—and now severely mangled) in self-defense.

BULL.

Anyway, somehow, we straightened that whole mess out, and sorted out our differences (though she never once apologized) well enough. She finally went off to college, and then eventually invited me to join her in renting a house with our mutual best friend. I had misgivings, but agreed.

Feel free to start calling me stupid, now.

But it wasn’t that bad until around November, when my sister, who had been up all night, overheard me half-jokingly asking my dad for a car over the phone. She went ballistic, saying I was so selfish and ungrateful and she couldn’t believe I’d done that.

Even though on the other end of the line my dad had already agreed, I backtracked, telling him never mind, that I was just joking, etc, etc, etc, before hanging up. But I’d already snapped the twig, and my sister was yelling at me for being ungrateful, etc, selfish, childish, and so on. I asked what she wanted me to f***ing do about it, since I’d already told Dad it was a f***ing joke.

That was when she got up from her chair, stood directly over me where I sat in mine, and said, “Don’t you swear at me,” then using my full name, which I hate. (You have to understand that Sister Darling is a hypocritical, holier-than-thou Molly Mormon. Swearing is a sin in her eyes, and she snaps every time I s-a-y the “damn” word. It can be kind of funny. Funny like being trapped underground with a bomb that could explode at any second.)

I knew violence was close at hand. I knew she was trying so hard to intimidate me, which always came before her sissy hits. And I’m a smartass. So, I said, “I already did.”

So, she threw my chair back, with me still in it. Broke the chair. Started yelling at me again, told me to get out, because she didn’t want to deal with me, etc. Long story short, I left, situation diffused.

But she did apologize for that one. After a few minutes, she came into my room, where I was getting ready to leave, and said, “I’m sorry, I’m out of control.” Or something along those lines.

So I said, “Yeah, you are.”

Didn’t help matters, but I gotta admit it was fun.

On our last day together (aka the day she was arrested), I thought I was home alone, so I was cleaning my room while listening to music on my laptop (the night before, we’d had a large text-argument), singing along with the rock gods of the eighties as I went.

Suddenly, who should bust in but Sister! You know what she did? Told me to turn my music down and criticized my singing, saying I was off-key (quite possibly), and that I could never hope to be a singer because my voice was terrible.

(OOH, ouch! How could I ever recover from a zinger like that? That was too harsh, man! I mean, everyone knows how it’s my secret dream to be the next American Idol. Like, for reals! How could she crush my dreams like that?)

Then she told me to turn the music down, and slammed my door.

So I did. A bit.

She came back. With scissors. Yelling at me to turn it down, etc. I shoved her out and closed the door. There was a loud pound, then silence.

I remained in my room for a few minutes, knowing I’d broken more than one twig, this time. Possibly cut down the whole forest. So, I readied myself. I grabbed my pocket knife and the pepper spray that she’d loaned me earlier (didn’t plan to use them—just wanted to be prepared, because she was armed). Only then did I dare open my door, mainly to make sure my two cats weren’t anywhere near her. There was a hole in my door from where the scissors had penetrated, but the scissors weren’t there.

(Now, keep in mind that this house was rented from a couple that my sister admired and looked up to like no other. And she put a hole in their door. Just sayin’.)

At this point, I don’t recall if the music was still playing or not. I don’t remember what happened, but The Beast emerged again, with its talons.

Argument ensued. She tried to break my laptop, still wielding the scissors, though not forcefully. Intimidation, mainly, because she thinks she’s scary. I pulled out knife and pepper spray, more argument, I took laptop back to my room.

Sister came, demanding pepper spray back.

Put yourself in my shoes. Pepper spray is the most dangerous weapon of the three. I knew I was in control—thinking somewhat rationally, just as I always was in these situations. I knew she wasn’t. I couldn’t be sure she wasn’t going to use the stuff on me! So, I refused. She tried to take it by force, still wielding the scissors. We wrestled.

I had fifteen pounds at least on her. I had more muscle. I’d seen more action movies. I was thinking pretty clearly. So, of course, I won. I put her in a choke hold, thinking to knock her unconscious, therefore eliminating the threat. She started gasping and wheezing. I said, “I’m sorry I have to do this.” She was clawing at my arm, saying I was killing her. So, I relaxed the grip enough so she could breathe, but not letting go. She kept on saying I was killing her, coughing and hyperventilating.

“If I let you go, will you stop trying to hurt me?” I asked.

“You’re killing me! Let go!”

“Will you stop?”

“Yes, I’ll stop. Just let me go!”

So, I did. I got up, watching her gasping and hyperventilating on the floor, trying to encourage her to take deep breaths.

“I’ll call the cops on you!” She said between gasps.

“I’ll tell them it was self-defense.”

She hyperventilated a little more. “I need an ambulance!”

Panicking a bit, thinking I’d overdone it, I called 9-1-1.

That calmed her down pretty quickly. As I was on the phone with the dispatcher, my sister started crying, saying she didn’t need an ambulance and she just wanted to talk to one of her friends. She even handed me the scissors. Score for me.

But a car was already on its way to “check up” on us, and I followed instructions and stayed on the line with the dispatcher until they arrived. And it was only when I opened the door for the cops that I started crying.

Interviews, pictures and statements later, our best friend came home, my sister was arrested for domestic violence, and I was stunned. But at the same time, I felt good. My friend and our other roommate were on my side, as was practically everyone else. I’d stood up to my sister, and told her that I was done taking it. Being arrested proved she was in the wrong. I’d proved that I was done being a victim.

She told our other roommate that she was scared to be around me, now, because I’d caused her to go unconscious (except I remember her fighting me every second), and I was violent, etc. Uh-huh. That’s right, sweetheart. When things go south, play the victim. Ploy of the worst kind of women everywhere.

I don’t know what’s going to happen in the future. Apparently, the case is almost over. My sister’s been diagnosed with some mental problems and is getting treatment. I’m bitter as hell about the whole situation. I expect one hell of an apology to make up for all the ones she’s missed, if I ever see her again. I know I wasn’t entirely in the right (I’ve since learned how close I was to crossing the line of self-defense laws), but most of this wasn’t my fault. She can blame me all she wants to.

Our best friend says that once this is over, me and my sister need to patch things up. Go to counseling together. So the three of us can be like we were before—inseparable. She’s probably right. But I’m not sure I can deal with Dearest Sissy anymore. I can’t look up to her as the leader over the other two of us anymore. I’d be more likely to trust an armed bomb. It’s more entertaining—and less of a whiny drama queen!