I am sad and desperate and hopeless again

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by Copabanana, Jan 9, 2019.

  1. elizabrary

    elizabrary Active Member

    Copa- I want to tell you that I truly believe if I could get myself to this place of peace and comfort, then anyone can. It feels uncomfortable at first because we are so used to running on stress. But once I gave myself a chance to be free from drama I came to cherish it. I truly hope you spend the time and energy you have spent dealing with and worrying about your son on yourself. If you do, think of the possibilities!
  2. Baggy Bags

    Baggy Bags Active Member

    I think, in a way, we are all all the voices we have in our heads. We are torn between these thoughts and ideas and processes. It's so good to read each other for this reason. We validate each other on the good days and the bad.
  3. Triedntrue

    Triedntrue Active Member

    Copa you and i struggle with some of the same issues. Although my son is older he has some trouble organizing what he has to do and carrying through. I have to say that the more i back off the more he handles on his own. I agree with the others you need to focus more on you and less on him. He needs to focus on taking care of himself and causing you less pain and aggrevation. Think what you were doing at his age. I know there are extraordinary circumstances with his health but he is the only one who can do anything about that. You can be there when he asks for appropriate help but you can't force him. You might just find that he will step up.
  4. Elsi

    Elsi Active Member

    Copa I do t have much to add to the wonderful advice and insights others have posted here already. Just wanted you to know I’m sending you hugs and strength. I think you already know the answer. The only person you can control, the only person you can change, is you. J has to want things for himself. You can’t want them for him. And I don’t think you can go backwards, to the place you were before you kicked him out last time. Nothing has changed, really, since you made that decision. You don’t want to go through that again.

    For my kids, I had to acknowledge that I have zero control, and their lives are going to be whatever they make them. I will never cut the relationships - at least, at this time I can’t see myself ever making that choice. But I have to hold them a bit at a distance, and not get involved in their day to day drama and decision making. It is theirs, not mine. And yes, that means watching them make choices that could shorten their lives or harm their wellbeing. I can’t make make mine stop drinking or drugging, or get help for their mental health issues, just as you can’t get J to see his doctor. It’s the same problem, in either case. We want something for them they don’t want for themselves, or don’t want enough to do something about it. You ask what if he just isn’t capable. I ask the same thing. What if S does not have the mental capacity to help herself, wherever she is? (I still don’t know.). What if C isn’t capable of living what you and I would consider a normal, ordered existence? What is couch surfing or homelessness is all is he able to handle?

    But what option do I have, really, even if that is the case? I have spent thousands over the years trying to help them get on their feet, over and over again. I have bought cars. I have paid deposits and months of rent on apartments. I have helped them find jobs. None of it mattered. The cars are gone, wrecked or stolen or towed away by the city and auctioned off for nonpayment of parking fees and other fines. Drivers licenses lost due to DUIs. Apartments lost due to non payment, excessive noise from partying, friends who trashed the place while trashed. Jobs lost because they mouth off to the boss or just decide they don’t feel like showing up one morning. What can I do about all that?

    The truth is, it doesn’t really matter in the end whether they aren’t capable of better or just don’t feel like it. It doesn’t change the equation. I’m not going to be around forever. I don’t have unlimited resources. There will not be enough money when I’m gone to set them up for life, or even for a couple years, most likely. So whatever is going to happen after I’m gone might as well go ahead and happen now, while I’m still here to be a liferope and a cushion if they do, by some miracle, start to learn from their mistakes. I want them to make those mistakes now, and learn from the pain of them, and decide to put the work into turning things around. Then, if they truly aren’t capable but are really trying, I can do the work of helping them get set up with the right agencies and services to help them be independent when I’m gone. Or if they are capable I can provide a leg up or at least a little guidance.

    If I prop them up artificially now, without asking them to do the hard work of change, what happens to them when I am gone? Will it be any easier to be broke and homeless when they are fifty or sixty than it is right now? Will they have any more skills to fall back on if they don’t develop them now?

    At least that’s my thinking. Perhaps it’s easier for me to draw the hard line because there really isn’t another option, and I know I don’t have the resources to do more than I have already done. If I had another property, sitting vacant, knowing they were homeless, I would also be agonizing. Honestly, if I had a vacant property I would have to rent it out, or sell it, or otherwise take it out of circulation so it wouldn’t be hanging over me all the time as an option. I feel guilty enough sometimes about my unused guest room. But I know having any of them under my roof is not an option. With another property, I would be tempted to let it happen. To let them come back and stay. And I would be having the same agonizing internal conversations as you right now - should I expect anything out of them, or just accept that they are going to stay there without changing, but at least with a roof over their head?

    But I don’t have the option, so I don’t agonize. What is going to be will have to be. When and if they are ready, if that happens while I am still here and capable, I will help them where I can, if they are also helping themselves. I have to accept that I may not get the outcomes I am praying for in my lifetime. I have to accept that their choices may mean they will not outlive me. That is a hard one.

    All I can do it live my life. And let them live theirs. And hope and pray things will change someday.

    Just my musings tonight. I’ve gone on more than I intended to.
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  5. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    Thank you Elsi.

    I had an interesting reaction and response to this. To me a reaction is different than I response. A reaction is automatic and unthinking. A response, is that: a deliberate and conscious decision to act.

    The reaction was this: Why not? Kind of defensive. And when I think about it, kind of unconscious, and external.

    The response was: you're right. There's no going back. Not that I can't try again with him. But the question is, why would I, if I factor in the cost to me, and that is what has changed. I have changed.

    Had I not changed I would not have freaked out last week, when he wrote he was on the train. I was traumatized. Why? Because I have begun to factor myself into the equation. I am now part of this. Before I was acting either unconsciously or like an inanimate object. Like a vacuum picks up dust from a rug.

    So. Yes. I could go back in time, and be that person, but why? Why would I?

    Could I close my eyes to self-destructive behavior? Did the trouble and the effort result in any betterment by my son in either functioning or self-care? The answer is "no."

    But the thing is this: I want my son to come back. I want him to come back and do well. And that is the problem, because doing well is amorphous, undefined, and a set up. I have no control over "doing well" and "doing well" is a completely subjective quantity.

    My son plays around with words like this: I'm doing bad. Really bad. Not good. Not good. So wanting him to do well. Does not cut it. It's a set up for both of us.

    But still I want him to come home. And that is problematic. Because nothing I have written lends me to believe that there would be a good outcome, unless my son takes affirmative steps to change. And there is no evidence he has.

    Except this: I can change. If I stay away from the marijuana issue. If I don't nag him about his medical care. If I let him work out his living situation, himself. If we set up clear ground rules in writing, if we have rent paid automatically. Like you guys have been coaching me. Then, there is a chance.

    And if I start to get a better handle on the tied to the train tracks feelings. And recognize that I have put myself there. And I can get myself off. And while I put my son's name on this, this has nothing to do with him.

    Thank you.
  6. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    What a good point, Elsi. Even if our adult kids are incapable of doing better, even if they qualify for services, we can only help them get assistance if they will cooperate with us and comply with the rules. I was very lucky that my son accepted the services and rules and lives independently. Many adult kids will not do what is needed to get services that they qualify for. If they wont accept help and are unable to take care of themselves, it is the same as if they were capable and just wont take care of themselves. It causes equal angst.

    If they have an illness.....either addiction, another mental illness or a physical illness.....and are more vulnerable.....we STILL cant help them if they refuse to take care of their illnesses. It is heartbreaking but up to them only.

    It still always comes down to one thing: only the person can take of himself, only the person can make his situation better. Even if it means applying for and accepting help. They have to agree to it. That is all they have to do. Agree they need help, accept it and do what is necessary to get help. Its not hard to do. But many wont. And .so they are worse off and we have no power to force anything.

    Copa it does not help J to tie yourself to the train tracks. And you are not helpless. Helpless to fix him....sure. None of us have power over another. But you are strong. You have taken care of yourself all of your life. Well! You may FEEL helpless but feelings arent facts (I like that saying).

    J at least qualifies for SSDI services. He isnt helpless. He CAN get section 8, a food card, Medicare, workforce development services and a case manager.He is capable of getting any sort of medical help. But so far he wont. Its very sad that you cant reason with him but he wont let you help him.

    Have a cup of hot cocoa and a peaceful night!
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    Last edited: Jan 17, 2019
  7. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    This is what I have been struggling with. How to make him cooperate. How to get him to comply. It is like making a flea dance tango. And blaming myself for my inability to make it work.

    Reading this helps. It doesn't take away the heartbreak but it validates it. Thank you, SWOT.

    When I am able finally to see my son and speak to him, it will be interesting how we talk about all of this. I am as interested in what I will say, as what he will.

    Thank you very much. This has turned out to be a wonderful and extremely helpful thread.

    Thank you all, very much.

    PS. The point, that enabling them, while we still live, is really undercutting our own interests, as well as theirs. Because their best shot is to work this through if they can, while we are still here, to support and to guide them to the extent that they allow, and we can. And that makes it our best shot, too.

    I am still not sure what I want (because I surely do not want him in the street), but I think we are covering all of the bases here.

    What's tripping me up is this: From the beginning I tied my support to his doing things for himself, going to school, medical care, etc. I still believe in supporting an adult child who is helping him or herself. Like Littleboylost supports her son. Like RN is helping her own son. But my situation is different. It could be my personality, that I did not do it right. But it could also be that my son for whatever reason has not arrived at the point, where he wants to or can stand alone in a way that I can unambivalently help him.
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2019
  8. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    And dear Copa maybe he is in some way unable to make those decisions himself. E and RN's sons were drug users, but they had no brain trauma pre birth. But even if your son is impulsive or perhaps a bit different for ANY reason there are resources to help him make his life good.

    You have offered him so much help. If he doesnt want you to do it for him but still wants help, there are community resources to help him and since he already gets SSDI he qualifies.

    The state you live in, I assume, has probably some of the best resources iof any state as it is a more progressive state. The problem is J...He is deliberately choosing to live in the streets, not attempt to get help for either mental or physical disorders and doesnt even try to meet you to open up a dialogue that could help him. But it isnt hopeless. Any time he wants it, help is there. He need only ask. He managed to get SSDI on his own when he wanted it. He can get other services as well. And he probably knows how. But you cant make him cooperate. Take that burden off your shoulders. You cant.

    There would have been nothing I could have done to help my Sonic either if he had not recognized he needed marginal help and accepted it. But if he had refused and then complained but continued to refuse to help himself I would not have blamed myself. I would have put the blame on him. I do beat myself up a lot (less so now than before but I still do) but I couldnt blame myself because my son, all grown up, refused to live a good life. Refused some help in order to have a full life.

    You shouldnt blame yourself either. You loved/love J and gave him a great experience in childhood. You fought for him in school (you remind me of myself this way). You taught him how to be a good citizen. You went above and beyond.

    I know you are a psychologist and this is nothing against your profession, but sometimes in real life, away from academia, one plus one equals three or ten!

    A person with a good loving upbringing is supposed to turn out successful and confident, so psycholigy says. But it doesnt always work. There are so many X factors. Parents alone do not make an adult child the way he is, good or bad or neutral.

    You did not cause this. Nor can you now change it unless he willingly wants to work with you to change it. Only he causes his problems. Only he can decide to fix them.

    Your guilt is an illusion that he is like this due to yourself. We have less control over our kids than society tells us. I think a lot of it is genetics and luck. Stop blaming yourself. You did a very good job and like all of us we did the best we knew how. You and I were eons above our parents!!!

    If J wants a good, healthy, comfortable life it is his. There is so much help. And he has community access and the ability to work with you. So far he has chosen to do neither. One day he may!

    And if YOU want a good life, a brilliant, kind, indepe ndent woman like you can have one. That doesnt mean you are never sad about J....of course not.....but he doesnt maybe need to consume your thoughts every day, all day.

    Most of all, dont feel guilty. You were a great mom. This is about him, not you.

    Hugs, love and sweet dreams. You deserve peace.
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2019
  9. CareTooMuch

    CareTooMuch Active Member

    Copa, I was one of the posters who thought if you could just get over the marijuana issue it could work out That's what I did and we were better for several months .UNTIL last night when I found an enormous amount in his room enough to sell and have our home taken away. So I calmly called him and told him to come home and pack up for an indeterminate amount of time. I also gave him the choice of taking the stuff and never being allowed to live her again, or we dump it and the future may remain open. He picked us getting rid of it, cane home calmly packed and handed me the key. I'm so sad but it was the right thing. He had several important things that must be done this week and I hope he follows through or he could be in bad legal trouble But that's completely up to him. Mommy is taking a break.
  10. mentalcase

    mentalcase New Member

    The thing I don't understand is why we have to compromise what we want in our home? I think if my son wanted to continue smoking pot and he was over 18 I would not be thinking how I (who works full-time, created my nice little oasis of a home, etc) should have to "get over" the fact that I don't want pot in my home.

    Sorry- I just get a little miffed about the subject because I know some parents in my community who allow their kids to smoke (as long as it's outside/etc) but then they cringe when they see their child smoking in the backyard or see them high? Why??? What are we teaching our kids there? As long as you stay in my home and have some sort of relationship with me, I'll let you do something that makes me literally sick to my stomach to observe. I don't think that's healthy.

    If you're smoking with them- have at it. Under 18- not too much you can do. Over 18 - they need to figure it out. I'd guide him to some resources. There are plenty. As a single mom, I've been on welfare, I've studied with financial aid, I've had roommates and lived in crappy places, etc. until I could get on my feet. There is nothing spectacularly special about me. I suffer from depression/I had a crazy childhood and yet I manage my depressive tendencies. I have compassion for our addicts but I'm not going to give myself a lobotomy so I can still talk to them. Sorry for the rant.
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  11. Baggy Bags

    Baggy Bags Active Member

    I agree, if it bothers you to the point of making you cringe or feel sick, it's not healthy or sustainable.
    For me, it's my son's laziness - not continuing his education, not doing exercise, unhealthy diet... these are the things I can't bear to watch.
    I feel similarly about his technology use. It also makes me slightly sick. But it's something that I can *maybe* let go of.
    Bottom line is, like mentalcase says, it's our home, we choose.
  12. New Leaf

    New Leaf Well-Known Member

    Copa, I am so sorry for your troubled heart. It has been a while since I have posted,trying to sort things out and have been in survival mode. The holidays pretty much magnify feelings and my situation with my two.
    I do know that it is important not to abandon ourselves when we feel every second of our beloveds waywardness. Heavy it is upon our hearts and minds. It can be suffocating.
    The difficult part is that even though you have reached out to your son, it seems he cannot, or will not meet you even half way. I am sorry. The whole thing is bizarre. Reading through your post, I can’t help but shake the feeling that he is so clever in his texting, keeping you hanging on the edge of his words, pulling out the rug, tugging at your heart and hopes for him.
    When does it end?
    When they decide.
    To want better for themselves.
    What was the word RE used? Feral. Street life. Rain has been out there going on four years now. I haven’t seen her since September. It hurts. Some days more than others. There is not a damn thing I can do about it. Tornado was just released from prison again. She called and pleaded to “come home.” For a few days, she asked, I urged her to go to rehab. “I applied but there is no room. “There is no place for me to go Mom.”
    I am swallowing that lump down with a big cup of guilt and sorrow.
    Would she get help if she came here? I would be breaking my promise to my son if I brought her here. And, like you, the thought of having her here sends me into a ptsd panic, heart palpitations and short of breath, the whole nine yards. Those old memories flooding back. I don’t think I would survive another round, honestly.
    Yet, the court released her the other day, to the streets. I called her public defender who flatly said she was released on Tuesday and “I don’t know where she is.”
    Neither do I.
    But, I can guess.
    Living in this sort of limbo certainly takes its toll on our health and hearts. Just wanting the best for our beloveds, wanting that peace of mind for ourselves.

    Wanting something that has absolutely nothing to do with us.

    My son said something very simple the other day that is reverberating through my mind.

    “It’s up to her, Mom.”

    It certainly is.
    Simple truth.
    I wrote it down.
    Then I wrote

    It’s up to you.

    I don’t want to spend the rest of my life anywhere near the rabbit hole. Not on the edge of it, or even from afar peering into it with binoculars.
    Time and circumstance has to teach me that.

    I have come damn near it, with Tornados contact from jail, her tugging at my heart strings, the lack of services because the system is overwhelmed with the epidemic of homeless addicts.
    I find myself struggling with the insanity of it all, juggling work and bills and housekeeping, putting on daily living like a pair of jeans, then slipping in and out of the grief of the reality of having two completely lost adult daughters.

    Rinse, repeat.
    Trip, fall down, then rise.

    That’s up to me.
    And you.

    All of us, who are in this completely insane debacle of dealing with wayward adult children.
    I don’t think we would be human if we didn’t feel sad and desperate and hopeless from time to time. It is a tough road we walk.
    But, we are tough too.
    Wishing you better days, dear friend.
    As you work to switch focus, so am I.
    Keep on keepin on.
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  13. Tired out

    Tired out Active Member

    Copa. The long and the short of it is. YOU have to step back and let go. You have to say "whatever will be will be" and be happy for each day and for yourself, for whatever you can find joy in.
    I was upset/sad? that my son hold this attitude that everything is his dad's fault when maybe (pushing it) 2% could maybe be his dad's fault. Dad isn't all warm, all accepting like mom. Dad expects a particular standard. (I find that ironic because he himself was more like Ben at Ben's age, not a thief but not driven either, he blames that on HIS dad..ironic? His dad was not encouraging--I can attest to that) Hubs evolved to being driven with high standards. MY dad had a lot to do with that. Anyhow. I was upset becasue of Ben blaming his dad. I decided. Hey. It's not my problem. Let it go. I used to text Ben and started to worry if I didn't her back within 20 minutes of so. Many times it would be days. Now I decided not to text at all unless he texts me. Then I will answer when I feel like it and NOT before! HA! what's good for the goose.
    Also I ask myself. "Do I really want him to come over?" the truthful answer is "NO". he is too stressful. I felt bad he wasn't here for Christmas, but realized it wouldn't be good so why did I want him here? Control? because that's the way it should be? Because I wanted to know where he is? BINGO. Control.
    So for you..unless you get a call saying , "help, you are needed at the hospital." RELAX. Enjoy life. take care of yourself. You are responsible for YOU. You aren't responsible for J. You have given him the tools and the resources are there.
    Tanya is spot on! for J and for Ben.
  14. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    Dear Tired

    This song was from an Alfred Hitchcock movie I loved as a child, called, The Man Who Knew Too Much, and is sung by Doris Day. This is a very pleasant association. I still remember going to the neighborhood theater with my mother and my baby sister, who cried. My mother (and I) always loved movies, and I can imagine now, how stir crazy my mother must have been to risk bringing an infant to the movies.

    But back to "Que Sera Sera." This will be my mantra.

    There is so much truth to what you say. Because I cannot alter what will be, by my suffering.

    I know what you say is so. Yes. I believe I seek control over an outcome that I do not control. I know that. But I am also trying to control my life story.

    I cannot accept that all of this love ended up in the place we are. It is not self-blame, that it is all my fault. I accept that my son had a tough start and I am not completely responsible for the outcome. It is that I believed irrationally that I could make everything all right. For him and for myself.

    But you know what? He is holding his own. He's way more stable than he was. Less impulsive. He is more self-protective than before. People like him a lot. He has friends. He works intermittently. He is very kind-hearted. He does not like to hurt anybody. He is highly intelligent. He can be very likable.

    Much of the trouble we have had has been because I have had poor boundaries, and kept trying and trying, when I should have stopped. I was intrusive and meddling. And controlling. Because I wanted to protect him and myself. I saw this as protecting myself because I saw my life story and his as joined at the hip.

    That is what you are telling me to stop. I am closer than I have been for a long, long time.
    Yes. I will. Thank you very much.
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  15. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    Copa.. ...you freaked me out.

    My precious grandmother whom I called Mom used to rock me and sing *Que sera sers. Whatever will be will be. The future's not ours to see. Que sera sera."

    What a great memory of her and me. What a wonderful song. I can feel her holding Little Me and rocking me as she sang. She would sing the whole song. "When I was just a little girl I asked my mother, what will I be. Will I be pretty. Will I be rich. Here's what she said to me."

    I let my Mom hold and rock me. I would not let my Mother hold me. Memories!!!! Sweet! And so much wisdom in a song!

    I will have to remember and keep that right up there with my dear father's "It is what it is."
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  16. Tired out

    Tired out Active Member

    Ditto. BUT I have decided that I have to. What is in j's or ben's brains? who knows. I think by letting go things get better. Like the old poem.. "If you love something let it go. If it comes back it is yours."

    This is also true of Ben. Ben has held the same job for 7 months that is a record for the last 2 years. As I have stepped back I am seeing things improve. I didn't just totally step back (yes I know some thought I should, but I needed to be able to sleep at night). I run into people that know him (he still lives in this city) and they tell me what a nice man he is. That we did such a good job (OMG. if they knew the havoc he reeked at home!)

    ME TOO! But when I started to pull away he had to handle his issues himself. At first he didn't, he ignored them. When that didn't work he had to ask me to help. I did not offer help. He had to ask. He had to tell me exactly what help ($$) he needed, and he had to tell me what he was going to do so that he wouldn't continue to need this help. I didn't set a deadline. He has the lead on this. He has needed less assistance each month. I gave him the tools. He has to use them.

    Maybe you can't stop cold turkey BUT you can slow down, step back. Offer a step and just wait and see if he takes it. It seems he is trying.

    YES. me too. Guilty. Even though mine was an absolute $hit. I didn't want to see Ben's name in the paper becasue he did something desperate becasue he needed money. I don't regret helping.
    But now he HAS to ask for help. If he doesn't tell me there's a problem I don't know about it becasue I do not google him of look at court listings. If he has a ticket he hasn't paid etc..not my problem anymore. His car insurance is paid. that I help with. I said yes to that becasue if he was in an at fault accident I do not want the other driver to be stuck with bills they do not deserve.

    Yes.. My mom always said that. and that is what came to mind when I posted the message to Copa :) We used to watch the Doris Day show and my mom would walk around humming and singing that song. Awww..good memories.

    I always think of the song "The dance" by Garth Brooks.

    Looking back on the memory of
    The dance we shared beneath the stars above
    For a moment all the world was right
    How could I have known you'd ever say goodbye
    And now I'm glad I didn't know
    The way it all would end the way it all would go
    Our lives are better left to chance I could have missed the pain
    But I'd have to miss the dance
    Holding you I held everything
    For a moment wasn't I the king
    But if I'd only known how the king would fall
    Hey who's to say you know I might have changed it all
    And now I'm glad I didn't know
    The way it all would end the way it all would go
    Our lives are better left to chance I could have missed the pain
    But I'd of had to miss the dance
    Yes my life is better left to chance
    I could have missed the pain but I'd of had to miss the dance
  17. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    I'm scratching my head here: sleeping in a truck and peeing in a bottle? Refusing to take any responsibility to do one thing that will give him stability or dignity or a better future?

    Oh. I know what you mean, but still.
    I don't remember the show!
    This is beautiful, Tired. Thank you.
  18. Tired out

    Tired out Active Member

    I know he has bailed on you and plans multiple times now. But at least he made them to begin with. I don't think he really planned on cancelling when he made them. My feeling in that when he is really contemplating he has an dawning and he misses you and he thinks he can comply with your (for lack of better word) demands to get to see you. Then he has a bit of a panic attack and feels he can't/doesn't want to comply.

    I pray he will be able to follow through soon.
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  19. KTMom91

    KTMom91 Well-Known Member

    "The Dance" is one of my favorites.That song came out while I was pregnant with Miss KT. Not a great time in my life, with an increasingly useless husband, a crappy work environment that got worse after she was born, a three hour commute, etc.

    I could have missed the pain, but I wouldn't want to have missed the dance.
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  20. Crayola13

    Crayola13 Active Member

    That is exactly what I think.