Master Negotiator

Another thing that has impacted me quite a lot is my mom’s major negotiations growing up. Now, I know this didn’t come from a bad place but it definitely bothered me back then and it’s bad because I find myself doing the same thing with my kids these days.

When I was growing up, there were lots of times my mom would trick me into doing something she thought would expand my mind by bribing me with something else, something she knew I wanted or was actually interested in. And don’t get me wrong, there is nothing bad about this when it’s done to an extent but I feel like my mom wen’t a little overboard with this.

For example, I have always had a big love for puzzles, I’m talking the more pieces, the better. And since my mom took me to a lot of museums so I can learn to appreciate art, getting puzzles of famous paintings was a treat and combined my mom’s love for art and my love for the puzzles. There was nothing wrong with that, until I would finish a puzzle and she would proceed to tell me that I had to report to her about what painting the puzzle depicted.

I am not going to lie, I resented her for it. It seemed my mom was really good at taking the fun out of things that should be only that. I mean, I wish I had the upscale tastes that she did (opera, ballet, art….etc) but I absolutely did not. I could definitely go to a museum and enjoy looking at paintings for an hour tops as compared to her being able to spend days and days there, never even getting bored. I think she was always hoping that she could fit me into her same “interest mold” and the more she saw that that wasn’t the case, the more she desperately tried to make it so.

But no, I could mildly enjoy doing all those things once in a while but it wasn’t something I ever felt any passion for. On the contrary, I had my own interests, at the time I was really into classic movies, yummy food and some other typical things kids my age were into. I wish my mom would have let me pursue my own interests with as much passion as I would have liked without trying to convert me over to hers. I know she was trying to expand my wisdom and get me more cultured but at the time it just made me feel even more like a complete failure because I couldn’t enjoy the upscale things that she did.

Some other examples of this include having to watching documentaries about things we were studying in school in exchange for things I wanted or even just her very emotional pleading with me to do it “for her”. Maybe I’m not as evolved as some more upscale kids, but I didn’t know many kids who wanted to study or do anything school related when they weren’t in school. No, that wasn’t my idea of fun or even remotely enjoyable. I was into teenage drama shows and computer games and other stuff like this. I feel like kids at school are exposed to a lot of information during the week and they need to refuel and recuperate on the weekends.

When I was younger, we also went to a lot of operas, ballets and other such upscale events. When I was younger I had a hard time even pretending that that kind of stuff interested me and when my mom would tell me where and when we were going to one of those, the look on my face spoke volumes to exactly how I felt about it. So, she took to bribing me with food. I have always been a big foodie and so of course I happily agreed with the promise that she would take me to a nice restaurant afterwards.

It’s import to mention here that my mom is the opposite of someone who’s a foodie, and by that I mean she really doesn’t care what or where she eats, as long as she gets something in her stomach. Although, on the other hand she will eat any kind of yummy food or take out that we have at home, almost as soon as it appears there. It just goes to show how complicated and contradictory my mom really is. With most things in life she tends to walk on opposite sides of both extremes, carefully navigating the middle area has never been a strength of hers.

So she’s always hated spending money on food but was more then willing to do it if it meant exposing me to the kind of upscale interests and society that she herself was really into. Oftentimes, she told me that I would appreciate all that I have seen and learned when I got older but all I really appreciate now is the effort that she put into at least trying to awaken a passion in me, even if it was strictly her passion.

The conclusion that I can draw from this, now that I’m older and wiser, is that a lot of my insecurities stemmed from her trying desperately to fit me into her personal bubble of exactly what she wanted for my life. Image and prestige are very important to her, so she has always tried to make me see similar. This is even more detrimental to a young girl who is still just trying to figure out who she is and what she can make of herself and her life. Lots of my arguments with my mom stem from the fact that I see different, I don’t care so much about being upscale as I do about being comfortable or happy. I guess that’s why I fell in love with my fiancé, Mike, because even though he was rough around the edges, the connection was otherworldly and my heart told me that he was the one I’ve been looking for my entire life.

Free Fall

Do you ever feel like you were walking and then all of a sudden the floor is ripped open from under you and all of a sudden you are in free fall, not sure which way is up and which way is down? Well, that’s exactly how I feel right now.

Ever since the big fight with my mom and my fiancé transpired, things were a bit rocky at first and then gradually, they started to get better. We were quite a ways away from being back to how we all used to be but we were on the right path. Today, all of that changed.

There have been some fights here and there but I’ve been working hard on how I react to things and haven’t allowed those fights to become anything more then just arguments in their initial states. However, I am human and sometimes things just trigger me and I can’t help but snap.

Growing up, my mom was often snippy and curt with me and at the time I thought it was just out of nowhere or that I have messed up in some way or other. Well, now I know better. All thoughtout her life, she was always going through something stressful and these things would take a toll on her nervous system and as always, I was the scapegoat. At this point her nervous system is so fried that I am not even sure we can ever get to a good place again considering we can’t even seem to be able to calmly talk things out without her hyperventilating or screaming her head of or crying buckets.

At the moment we are going through something particularly difficult, especially for my mom. My grandma is not doing well with her cancer and she is all the way in Russia so it’s extremely stressful. We are all coping with this in our own way.

Today my mom announced to me that she will be delivering the renewal passport applications to the post office, weather I’ve done them or not. She has been asking me to fill it out for a few days already but since I rarely have a moment to myself without kids climbing on me or making a mess somewhere, I wasn’t able to get it done. In response, I asked her if she could hold off for one more day to which she got angry and replied with a firm no. Oftentimes my mom gets these notions into her head and she needs to do something NOW. And even if it came out of nowhere and somebody isn’t ready, she will make that person sorry they failed her so horrifically. And don’t even think about trying to reason with her, that’s a language she is not accustomed to and will just say that you are bullshitting, even if your reasoning is on point.

So, after the kids are done with school and naps, she storms down demanding her stapler, which apparently I’ve misplaced or lost and for which she is pissed off at me. After I find it, she is working on putting all the applications together and makes one of her negative remarks. I think in this instance it was something about her not being able to live with us anymore and how she is going to move out. I’ve heard all of this so many times before and at this point I usually just roll my eyes and walk away but something prompted me to continue the conversation. Perhaps it had something to do with my desire for everyone to get along and my undying hope that we can fix this and should do anything in our power to do so.

I ask her a question about when we are going to talk about our fight and something triggers her to reply in a very mean and negative way and from there things just took on a life of their own. I tried to talk about things in a very calm and understanding manner but I was met with nothing but ridicule and negativity. She started hyperventilating and freaking out like she does when people don’t say things like how she believes them to be and screaming like a banshee. I was terrified for my kids to have witnessed a person literally be driven mad for no legitimate reason.

Then all of a sudden, at the height of her tantrum, she sees the kids and says out loud, “she is a blank space, don’t pay attention to her. She is just baiting you.” I stood there in shock, all I wanted was to have a calm talk with her and I wanted to be heard by her, finally, for the first time in my life. She proceeds to ignore me as I’m pleading with her to talk to me and to hear me out. At one point I try to get her attention by standing in the doorway and she literally pushes me and I am slammed against the wall.

And this is what really pissed me off above everything else, as she is ignoring and killing me with her treatment towards her own daughter, she talks to my kids as if nothing is wrong. As if their mother isn’t coming apart at the seams, sobbing her head off and wondering what she ever did to deserve that kind of disregard for her as a human being. This really upsets me and I go up to her and say, “Oh no, don’t talk to the kids as if nothing is wrong when you can’t even pay attention to what I am trying to say to you.” Her reaction of, “really?”, totally does me in because it’s unbelievable. They are a part of me and Mike and you have some kind of personal vendetta against us that you can’t get through? How about you work on that salvaging that relationship before the circumstances turn out dire for everyone.

She left, slamming the door and telling me that she is moving to a family friend’s place. This kind of hurt is unbearable. If it wasn’t for my kids, I would not be able to stay on this earth and continue living this nightmare. I think it’s true what they say, we were put on this earth to fulfill a purpose and I think mine has to do with overcoming my relationship with my mother and either healing myself from her or something like that.

She keeps saying that what Mike did to her was unforgivable but I’m pretty sure that everything short of murder is forgivable. It just goes to show how important mental health is, once it’s out of balance and damaged, you can’t really get it back. I am beyond fearful that at this point, especially with how far things have progressed, that we can never fix what has been broken. My mom is who she is and it’s extremely difficult for her to open her mind up enough to see things from others perspectives.

This incident has stressed me out beyond anything and at this point I am realizing that getting a house together with my mom has been a dire mistake and at this point it’s more of a curse then anything else. I need to be able remove myself from her to be able to be truly happy but that’s not possible in the current circumstances. I pray that God will give me the strength to get through this and to ultimately deal with this once and for all. I can’t go on living like this, I just can’t.

And I realize, I did not handle the situation in the best way possible either but I am only human and there’s a kind of hurt you just can’t tolerate no matter how hard you try. At this point, I just need to focus on working through the damage that has been caused so that I do not repeat the same thing with my daughter.

And It All Gets Better In Time

Things are starting to improve and return to normal, slowly but surely. This past month or so I have grown immensely, I feel like a brand new person and that’s not even an exaggeration. I went from a girl who felt like she was stuck in her childhood because of constant fear of getting in trouble and doing something wrong to an adult who is more than capable of doing her own thing and making her own decisions and ultimately living her own life.

When this whole mess with my mother and Mike happened, I was terrified, mostly because I felt like my whole world was getting turned upside down and I knew that things were never going to be the same ever again. My carefully constructed world came apart at the seams and it was difficult to cope at first. And then when my mom didn’t talk or even look my way, that was downright unbearable in the beginning.

And then at a certain point it just clicked, I broke free and stopped letting her mood and actions control my own mood and actions. She would say something hurtful to me and instead of getting highly riled up and responding in tears and my own hurtful words, I would just feel a heightened sense of calm that was unpenetrable, even for her. I have thought about the reason for this and I seriously think it has to do with discovering and figuring out who I am at the very core, the very center. I have my own beliefs and my own perceptions and my own truth and for once I stand firm in all of it.

I was always so scared of speaking up, of having my own opinions because my mother has cemented in me that the only right way to think and act is her way. Well, guess what? I now know that that’s just not true. We are all too intrinsically complex to see the world one specific way and I understand that, for once in my life I see it clearly.

Just because she’s crying and speaking passionately about her truth doesn’t mean it has to be everyone else’s truth. I think the fact that I grew up in a different culture and then came here only to experience a totally different one has given me a greater openeness and understanding of different perspectives and point of views. I said this before but the world is not black or white, there’s a lot of other tones in between that make the world even more colorfully beautiful.

She’s starting to come around and as much as that makes me happy, there is always going to be a sense of being a bit on alert whenever she’s around. I guess I’ve just realized that I can’t completely lay my heart out to her and trust that she won’t be judgemental or unsympathetic to what I share with her. That’s okay though because recently I’ve gotten my mojo back and I found that as much as I like having her company around, I don’t need it!

The Intrinsic Uniqueness of Every Individual

Slowly but surely, I’ve been working through the issues that I have with my mom and how she acts when a conflict comes up or something bad happens between the people living in the house. For her, she tends to close everything inside of herself and retreat until she can come out and face the other people head on. For me, I hate conflict and tension in the atmosphere, so I tend to want to fix the situation right away and talk it out to get everything out in the open and to clear the air. This has been a huge factor in the dynamic between my mom and me and how a conflict between us unfolds usually. I have often found myself driven mad by the fact that my mom needs days (sometimes even weeks) to work through it all and be able to face me again.

What I am starting to understand for the first time in my life, is that the bad things that might come out after a conflict has already transpired between us and my mom is triggered again by something, have nothing to do with me in any shape or form. They are merely issues that she is still working through and if she calls me a mean name or says I am bad in any kind of capacity, it’s just her dealing with her own inner pain in order to find peace. In the past, I have always believed that what my mom said to me, even when she wasn’t fully aware or in control of the logical and rational part of herself, was indeed fact and I internalized those negative and mean things about myself to be true, believed it with every inch of my being. Thankfully, I am working on not doing that anymore and it’s getting easier and easier.

I just had a session with my psychologist so I just got a lot of very useful and amazing insight into myself, my mom and my fiancé (Mike). It’s truly amazing how different we all are and how the different ways that we were brought up and the different experiences that we’ve all had have shaped us all completely different from one another, into completely unique and different kinds of people. Of course, I do believe that we are born with some qualities already instilled in us but as to how extreme or to what capacity those qualities are revealed later on in life, has a lot to do with our lives and the obstacles we have overcome/ how we dealt with them.

I have found that, as if it’s not already hard enough being the middle person between Mike and my mom, that I am rather malleable and can see many different sides of a situation and how it could make sense either way and this only contributes to my crisis in dealing with both and trying to not get in conflict with either of them. Most of the time I feel as if I am being pulled in both directions, by the two most important people in my life and I honestly hate this feeling. So why haven’t I just told them that “enough is enough”, and made them deal with each other on their own? It all goes back to my hatred of conflict and my inability to move on with my life when I am stuck in the thick of one conflict with someone that I really care about.

And then, it’s all completely connected. Because of my fear of conflict and growing up with a mother who has bipolar, it’s really made me very in tune with energies and people’s auras. I had to navigate my mom’s mood my whole entire life and for this reason I have developed a “survival skill”, in which I test the atmosphere and the flow of energy in the room before deciding how to approach my mom in this particular instance and situation. The funny thing is, that even though growing up with my mom has made me rather skilled at reading other people’s energy and aura, it has not made me that skilled at reading my own mother’s. It might have to do with the fact that she is unpredictable and her behavior varies so much but it’s frustrating because that would have saved me so many tears and emotions.

I did like that Lisa made it a bit more understandable to me, she said, “unpredictable behavior is still a pattern of behavior” and this really stood out to me. So maybe the reason I haven’t been good at deciphering my mom’s moods day to day and her particular energy is because what she does doesn’t have a pattern. Delving this deeply into my own mind and psyche has really just helped me open my eyes even more and see things I have never seen before about myself. We really are such complicated and intrinsic individuals and it’s truly extraordinary just how deep our thoughts and minds can go.

No End in Sight….

What was supposed to be an amazing ending to a pretty great day, turned into a whole new onset of emotional pain. This emotional pain is beyond anything I have ever gone through in my entire life, it feels like somebody is holding me under water and I can’t breathe but I can’t die either.

Izzy is still on and off with fevers, so we had to get a urine specimen via catheter and that was torture for me because I know how much of a torture it was for her. I am glad that Mike was with me because I don’t know how else I would have gotten through it and even though we don’t agree on everything that has to do with her medical stuff and her sickness at the moment, we love our daughter and just want what’s best for her at the end of the day.

She cried so much and we felt so bad, even ahead of time, that we planned to take her to “Build-A-Bear” because she’s never been and we thought that she’d enjoy making her own toy, especially because she’s older now and understands things she didn’t when she was younger. However, on the way home we got hungry and stopped at a breakfast place instead and by the time we finished eating, it was already way past Nate’s naptime and he was cranky and we were all tired. So, we went home and put Nate down for a much needed late nap.

A few hours later, we had all fallen asleep (even me), and I had to wake everybody up because I still wanted to give Izzy her surprise since she’s been through so much and I wanted to see her beautiful smile. So, reluctantly everybody got up and we headed to the mall.

Turns out, Izzy has associated the mall with ice-cream because we usually go there after her gymnastics class and tell her that if she behaves well in gymnastics and participates, she will get yummy ice-cream. Before the ice-cream, she didn’t want anything to do with “Build-A-Bear”. Afterwards, she seemed a little bit more interested. We showed her all the toys she can pick from and guess what she goes for without a moment of hesitation? Mickey Mouse. I think he’s her favorite, considering she watches “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse”, every morning almost.

At least she enjoyed herself and it was worth every penny. Nate got a Star Wars/ Army bear, courtesy of daddy. Not sure who enjoyed the place more truthfully, the kids or daddy. Then, we went home, fed the kids, cleaned up and put them to sleep. I was so excited to relax and watch a few episodes of Bones but I did something that I should not have done because it opened a whole new can of warms and turned my optimistic night into something resembling a nightmare.

When I started watching, I texted my mom and asked her if she will be home that night, so that I can make sure that the doors are open and the dogs don’t wake up the kids with their loud barking. Well, I don’t know why exactly but she went off on me, telling me that I don’t “own her” and that she doesn’t have to tell me if she will be home or not because it’s her home. In summary, she went off on a tangent and the whole texting conversation catapulted into something unfathomable, considering I didn’t start it off with any kind of bad feeling or anything negative.

I could just see her on the other end, in hysterics, drinking some wine and texting me back. She called me a “monster” and said that she doesn’t feel “safe” around me because I call her crazy to people and it was ridiculous. Yes, I have occasionally called her crazy to my fiancé when I am myself hurting and in pain but who else am I supposed to vent to? I know she vents to her friends about me, so I am not the only one at fault here. At first I was really upset, especially when she told me to “stay away from her” but after talking to Mike and having a cigarette, I realized that she is not in full control of what she is saying or doing at the moment and that I need not take it personally. This has happened in the past, it was just harder to decipher it at the moment because I was not expecting it and it seems she has crucified me more this time then ever before in my life.

And then, when I thought we were done and I calmed down, she started responding again. However, by this time I was totally calm and replied back with nothing but kindness and understanding. When she kept calling me a “monster” and going off on me I simply texted back, “No I am not and you know it” or “I don’t deserve to be called something like that and you know it”. I know that even if she told her friends about how ungrateful and horrible of a daughter I am, they wouldn’t agree that the right word to call me would be “monster”. And to be honest, I know she told all of our “family friends” all about this situation and for the first time I understand that they weren’t really “family” friends, they were only her friends. You know why? Because real family friends would have called me and asked me what was going on and if everything was okay and would have listened to my side of the story. But nope. I know they got an earful from her and that’s all they needed to make their opinion about me and decide which side they are on. Hey, you live and you learn, right?

I even turned my phone off last night, that’s how much pain I felt. I didn’t want her to be able to reach me anymore, the emotional pain was freshly opened and unbearable. Thankfully, this morning my fiancé let me sleep in because God knows I needed it after last night and the crazy wind that was keeping me up all night.

Today I feel better, somewhat rested and mentally stronger. However, my mom is here, in her room and I feel a sense of dread in the pit of my stomach. I am pretty sure this is anxiety to the max and even though I’ve had it almost my whole entire life, it’s never gotten this bad because I’ve never felt so much fear and dread towards my own mother. I am thinking of trying CBD oil actually because I feel like I can’t go on with my life because the emotional pain is literally disabling and overshadowing everything else in my life at the moment.

Shift of Focus

In the past few days the focus has shifted off the whole mess with my mom and the car and onto Izzy’s recurrent fevers. I don’t think I’ve mentioned it before but my daughter has been getting recurrent fevers since last summer and these just keep coming back, nonstop. In all, she was sick with fevers that summer probably over seven times. It was the most stressful, terrible summer ever. The only reason we were able to stop the fevers for the time being was because they found that she has a minor case of Urinary Reflux and gave her medication to make sure she doesn’t get UTI’s, which could cause the fever to come back and make the Urinary Reflux even worse. The medicine seemed to have been working, up until a week or so ago and she is back to getting unpredictable, recurrent fevers.

In addition, we know that there’s something else going on here because they tested her urine and only once out of about four or five times they confirmed that it was indeed a UTI, even if the colony was small and it was kind of iffy. This is where most of our panic comes from, we knew that the antibiotics they gave us to treat her Urinary Reflux wasn’t going to make whatever else is going on better. We wanted to keep looking for the answer but the antibiotics were helping her and she was acting more like herself and loving school, that we couldn’t imagine taking her off the medicine or dragging her to all the other doctors again.

Well, now since she’s getting fevers again, even though she’s not crying too much or anything, just doesn’t want to do much but lay on the couch when they happen, I found myself in panic mode all over again. Last time my daughter was getting sick, I retreated into myself, stopped working out, working on my business or doing anything that could benefit me in any way at all. All I could think about was her and helping her get through this and finding out what was going on and why it kept happening. I remember being in a daze, just going through the motions. I would take care of the cranky, sick, demanding kids during the day and then drink alcohol and binge watch TV shows at night. It was not a good place to be where I was.

Now, on Monday, when I realized that it’s happening again and could not just be a cold that she picked up from her brother who had just gotten over a cold himself, I closed off again. I stopped caring about everything else and was racking my brain, trying to see if I could do anything or try to do anything that could potentially help us solve my daughter’s fever troubles. I even started smoking again, that’s how stressed and completely out of control I felt again. I don’t think there are many things that can make you feel as out of control as your kids can. The uncertainty of not knowing how we will navigate this and what is even going on, freaked me out. I didn’t work out, stopped taking care of myself, started smoking after the kids have gone to bed in order to calm myself down in some small way.

And then yesterday it feels like my prayers were answered, even if in an uncertain way at this point. I remember feeling like I need to do anything in my power in order to see if there are moms out there who are going through the same things with their kiddos or maybe have gone through it already in the past. So how did I decide to do that? By posting my problem into all the mommy groups I am part of on Facebook. I have never done this before but it seemed appropriate to utilize this channel considering Facebook can reach so many more people then is possible in any other way.

Almost right away, or maybe a few hours later, a woman commented that she was going through the same thing with her daughter and they finally diagnosed it as PFAPA after six years! I had no idea what that was but after reading about it, I got goosebumps because it sounded like exactly what Izzy was experiencing and going through. That’s when I started to feel like there was hope again and like God heard my prayers. What made this even better was that Izzy has an appointment with a Rheumatologist on the 28th and the timing couldn’t have been better. I have a good feeling about this and feel like we are on the right track, finally! We have scheduled this appointment like over half a year ago because it was difficult to get in but I am definitely grateful that we didn’t cancel it when we thought that Izzy was better already and wouldn’t need to see any more doctors.

It’s kind of amazing, when things like this happen, they make you realize that everything else doesn’t matter at all. As long as everyone is healthy, what more is there? Like for real, I am beyond done with this whole issue with my mom and Mike, I am now focused on making sure we figure out what is going on with my baby girl and how we can fix it for good so that she can go on with her life and won’t be hindered by being sick and feeling down all the time.

Insecurities and Accusations

Wow, what a productive session we just had, especially the last 30 minutes of it. For the first time since this whole incident with the car I feel hope that we can eventually all move foreward from this and have even a closer/stronger bond with each other. I was not feeling like this at the beginning of the session but I definitely feel like this now.

My mom is still downtown, staying at her condo, so we had a three way Skype session which didn’t start off too great. I found out earlier that my mom was still stuck in the whole, “throwing things that she’s done for us in our face when we’re going through some sort of conflict” thing. Basically, the accusations that Mike made against my mom, weren’t really based on fact and conspired mostly because Mike got upset and had a lot of negative feelings to communicate towards my mom on behalf of himself and me as well. Let me point out that my mom and Mike have never had a direct conversation with each other in that way.

So, she can’t move on from this whole incident because she feels that we are using how much Mike is worried about me and my relationship with my mom as a bandaid to not discuss and talk through specifically the accusations that were made against her by Mike. What she is finding difficult to understand is that Mike didn’t mean all the accusations he made against her because she doesn’t want anything like this to happen in the future. I don’t know what it will take for her to understand that Mike actually didn’t mean what he said on account of her and what he accused her off. It seems my mom is not believing many things that we are saying and trying to communicate in terms of this whole fight, which is actually not very new for her because she doesn’t believe most of the stuff I say anyways.

Halfway through the session, she got really upset about me bringing up her saying little “remarks” in a passive aggressive way and how much they hurt and bother me. She actually got so upset about them that she outright left the session and I was just one-on-one with Lisa at that point. That last half with Lisa was really helpful though and I was able to understand where my mom is coming from, at least partially. I can understand her getting upset by me bringing up her little remarks because she’s been working hard to improve this and not do it as much. I have seen an improvement in her doing it less definitely, it’s just something that was inevitably brought up during the huge blow out argument because things tend to come to the surface when emotions are running high.

Lisa also brought up a very good point, that what usually triggers us and makes us more emotional or upset in some way, usually happens because it addresses something in ourselves that we are either insecure or feel negatively about in some way. For example, my mom’s remarks about me being a bad mom really hurts me more then anything else that she says does because I am insecure in my own success or failure as a parent. Being a mom has by far been the hardest thing I have ever had to go through or do in my life and for this reason it’s still very new and I am trying to figure things out as I go along. I question myself all the time, “Am I doing enough social things with the kids?”, “Do other moms struggle as much as I do?”, “Are my kids hindered in some way because of how many temper tantrums they throw daily?”…..the list goes on and on. My mom actually wanted back into the conversation but Lisa called her at the end instead to share what I shared with her about how I feel about being a mom.

All in all, it was a very good step in the right direction and I hope that we just keep making progress towards improving everyone’s interaction and relationships with each other. Also, we came to the conclusion that Mike needs to be part of these sessions as well because he is a big part of this family and can benefit from this as well.