I am bad at pushing myself. Like, really, really bad at it. Well, that’s not entirely true- I am good at pushing myself when it is something I am good at…like school or home repairs or budgeting my finances. I am bad at pushing myself when it comes to things I don’t want to do. I’m guessing I am not alone in this, though. It is frustrating to know what is good for me, what will help me, what will make my life better and easier, and yet I’m not doing it.
The two biggest areas I don’t push myself in are losing weight and expanding my boundaries with anxiety and agoraphobia. The weight one I think most people can understand. You eat well and then are tempted by a chocolate chip cookie. Or you are working out and it gets difficult or a muscle starts to burn a little too much. I just give up really easily on myself.
The area where is it most frustrating is with my anxiety. It is just so much easier to NOT do the things that I know will trigger anxiety, like driving longer distances or with other people. It’s like that saying “no pain, no gain”. It is hard because I literally have no one to blame but myself. I’m my own worst enemy. I always have been.
I have been very resistant to exposure therapy and I don’t know why. Well, I DO know why- because it is hard. Because I know it will trigger anxiety and panic. I am so complacent right now because I will do anything to avoid rocking the boat. Things are okay right now. Not great, but not bad. I can do okay. I’m okay with okay.
Last summer was one of the most horrible things I’ve ever gone through with my anxiety. I essentially had a nervous breakdown. It’s ironic because most teachers look forward to the summer more than anything, but I dread it. I think I’m the only one of my coworkers who jokingly says I wish we would have year-round school (but I’m not really joking).
In reality, the summer should be an opportunity to push myself in the areas I need to- with my weight and with my anxiety. I am trying not to be negative about it and set myself up for success. It would be easier to stay home and eat chocolate chip cookies, but I know in the long run those things won’t make me happier or healthier. I have to start pushing myself out of my comfort zone. I have to stop giving up on myself. I have nothing to lose…except weight, hopefully!
Being a high school teacher is so surreal sometimes. I have been teaching for 23 years. I started when I was 21 years old and have taught in a high school for the majority of my career. So, essentially what has happened is that every year I get a year older and my students stay the same age. The gap in years between us grows each year. Being 25 with a group of 16 year olds is much different than being 45 with them.
However, the more things change, the more they stay the same. The music, the pop culture references, the slang terms change, but a 16 year old is a 16 year old. The problems and issues and pressures and heartbreaks that I experienced in the 90s prepared me to deal with what my students are dealing with in 2023.
For example, last night I helped throw a Junior Prom for my school. I teach all 11th graders, so many of them were attending the dance. Prom + Teenagers = Inevitable Drama. One of my girls was crying in class yesterday during the school day and we stepped into the hall to talk privately. She had gotten into a fight with her boyfriend and did not know if she should still go to the prom with him. I gave her the best advice I could. I was relieved to see her check in hours later at the venue, beautiful dressed and wearing a smile, arms linked with her boyfriend.
I’m not sure what makes someone qualified to give advice to teenagers. Working with young adults for over two decades has given me a lot of experience, but I often think that simply surviving my own high school years is what makes me more of an expert than anything.
I think about my own proms I attended and the memories have obviously faded quite a bit. Teenagers now document every moment of their lives with their phones and social media. They have endless photos of their experiences. I have a few photos from my proms that were taken on a camera and developed (lol, I feel SO old). I can remember which color dress I wore and who my date was, but the minute details are long forgotten.
After all the work of planning the prom, my favorite part of the night is the moment I walk into the room, lights flashing and DJ music blaring, and just see kids grouped together dancing and smiling and jumping around and having a great time. It makes me happy to think I had something to do with creating an experience that is special for them and that maybe when they are 45 years old, they will look back and remember they had a great night.
My father was VERY verbally abusive when I was growing up. He had his favorite insults, which are burned into my brain: “scumbag”, “liar, cheater, stealer”, “do nothing taker”, “loser”, “thunder thighs”, among others. Ever since he stopped drinking a couple of years ago, his behavior has improved immensely, but he still uses insults regularly. Oftentimes, they are directed to women on TV. His new favorite word is “bimbo”. Although I am glad to not be the direct target of his insults, it still makes me very uncomfortable because he has a wife, two daughters, and two granddaughters. I have admonished him before about using this derogatory language in front of my nieces, but he just continues to do it.
I attempted recently to help my parents downsize their house and move closer to my sister and me. My mother was very interested and even excited at the opportunity. It is an understatement to say my father was NOT. He barely would even entertain the idea and because I was the person who introduced the topic, he became angry with me. One day he told me that he and my mother got into an argument about moving and yelled at me that I “ruined his life”. A couple days later he called me a “scumbag daughter”. Both of these comments were completely unprovoked by me.
It REALLY bothered me for several days that he told me I ruined his life. Obviously I can see the irony in this statement, considering he ruined the majority of my childhood with his alcoholism and abuse. It also hurt my feelings because I was honestly just trying to help them by telling them about the opportunity to live near their grandchildren, who they are with every day. I also feel so bad now because I could tell my mother was genuinely excited at the idea and my father was so nasty about it. He was completely unwilling to compromise and when my sister tried to have a conversation with them about it at the dinner table, she said he got irrationally mad and lunges towards my mother. It is just unacceptable that he is using insults and fear to manipulate us and still has most of the power in our family. I am just as guilty as my mother and sister of not putting him in his place. We all just let him get away with what he says and how he acts.
AND the worst part of it all? He forgets. He says these hurtful, horrible things and then claims he doesn’t remember. A few days after he made the comment about me ruining his life, I brought it up and he was like “I didn’t say that”. It doesn’t seem like gaslighting, he genuinely seems like he doesn’t remember. It’s so frustrating. How do you hold someone accountable for something when they claim they don’t remember even doing it? I don’t know if he is lying or genuinely forgets, but it honestly doesn’t matter because the damage is done. Every time I start to feel comfortable in a normal father-daughter relationship with him, he does something like this to remind me that it will never be a normal relationship and I always need to be on guard with him.
He told my mother that he wants to continue living in their house and die there. He will most likely get his way about that, at the expense of the happiness of his family.
I have been very successful in my professional life. I set a lot of long-term goals when I was pretty young and achieved them all. I am really proud of my career and teaching has been my passion for over two decades.
My personal life, however…that’s been kind of a disaster. I think most of my colleagues would be surprised at how much I struggle outside of work. My relationships, for one, have been less than successful. My marriage ended within five years. My ten year long relationship with my exboyfriend, M., was a series of disasters and heartbreak. My current relationship is BY FAR the healthiest one I have been in. However, it is currently being tested by my anxiety and agoraphobia.
My struggles with mental health are such an area of shame for me. I think because it creates such a dichotomy between my professional life and my personal life. I know I present myself as being totally in control and confident at work, and yet the opposite is true in “real life”.
I met my therapist this week and we were discussing my relationship and how I feel envious of my boyfriend’s ex wife. That sounds crazy, so let me expand on that! He and I have been together for several years and have not made a ton of progress in our relationship. We are very committed to each other and very much in love, but sometimes our lives are still disjointed. He is with me half the week and the other half of the week, he has his two teenaged sons. Luckily, they have been very accepting of me and are amazing kids. But when he’s with them…he’s with them. A lot of that is my own fault, though. He always includes me in their activities, dinners, etc. Oftentimes it is out of my comfort zone and I do not attend. I do see the boys a good amount, but it isn’t as often as it should be. His ex wife has been dating her boyfriend for only about six months, but he has become a permanent fixture at her house and with the boys. They integrated him pretty quickly into their family.
I often find myself envious of this and then immediately feel ashamed because I know it is my own fault. My boyfriend is wonderful and always assures me that everything is fine and he is happy in our relationship and with me. My therapist basically said point blank that he is trying to include me and make me feel like a part of his family and I am “failing him”.
This was like a punch to the gut for several reasons. The first being that feeling mike a failure in general just sucks. The second is that my boyfriend is honestly such an amazing person who cares so much for me and is so, so good to me. He is the last person I want to disappoint. I love him and I love his kids and I want to be with them all more than I am now. It is important to me to create more of a family structure with him and I feel like my mental illness is preventing me from being able to make that a priority.
A third reason is M. His illness and his subsequent death will always feel like a failure to me, no matter what anyone says about it not being my fault. Logic tells me that there was nothing more I could have done, that I went above and beyond to help him, and that I was powerless. But, as with most matters of the heart, logic doesn’t win. I will always feel a pang when I think about M. and his final days. I will always wonder what I could have done differently and if he would still be alive if I didn’t give up on him. I will always feel like I failed him.
I know “failing” my boyfriend now is not a literal matter of life and death. And he acts like the issues with my anxiety are no big deal. But I can already predict what will happen…each little disappointment will chip away at his love for me. Each “no”, each “I can’t”, each excuse I make will cause him to take a tiny, almost indiscernible step away from me. It won’t be noticeable at first, but one day he will suddenly be very far away. I will most likely lose him at some point. I think that is why I have never allowed myself to really, truly feel comfortable in our relationship. The pain of losing him will be too much, so I protect my heart.
It was hard to hear it, but I know my therapist is right. I am failing my boyfriend. And I probably did fail M. in some way. But, most importantly, I am failing myself every single day that I let anxiety control my life. And that is the most difficult failure of all, because I can’t blame it on anyone else. I can’t ignore it, run away from it, divorce it…I carry it with me constantly.
I can’t believe that today is two years that you have been gone. There hasn’t been a single day that has passed that I haven’t thought about you. So many things remind me of you- hearing Beast of Burden on the radio, an advertisement for that green Rolex, a Facebook memory of you buying your recliner from years ago…
My dad has been so sick lately. He’s been in the hospital four times in just a month and a half. Today- right now- he’s having an exploratory heart procedure to see if the doctors can pinpoint what is causing the majority of the problems he’s experiencing. It feels like a weird coincidence that my dad is having a heart procedure on the same day you died of a heart attack. I joked to my sister that maybe you would watch over him to protect him, but I know you weren’t his biggest fan. I think you will do it anyway- for my mom and my sister and for me.
The heart is such a fragile thing, in every way. It is so easy to break and so difficult to repair. My dad keeps getting these second (and third and fourth…) chances. I wonder what would have happened if you had just one more chance, too.
I know I do not push myself enough when it comes to my anxiety and agoraphobia, but I do try. Ever since the summer when I had a semi-nervous breakdown, I have just been really focused on getting back to the semblance of a baseline. I am pretty close to that, but my comfort area remains really small. It is really hard to push myself when all I really want is to feel normal and I am scared to rock the boat. But in the past couple of months, I have drastically reduced the amount I take Xanax, which feels good. I am back to taking it on a as needed basis and I rarely need it (but that is because I don’t really go anywhere…)
Today, my boyfriend’s son had an important athletic competition about 30 minutes away. I have only driven that far a few times since the summer, but fortunately it was in a direction and on highways I am really familiar and comfortable with. My boyfriend went early and I met him there a couple hours later. All of the expected responses I normally have did not really happen. I did not wake up during the night thinking about the drive and I felt relaxed and in control all morning. I did check the traffic a few times to make sure it was smooth sailing and I did take a Xanax about a half hour before I left. But, I drove there with no problems!!! The last couple of times I have had to drive that distance, I had panicky feelings and was tempted to turn around and go home and that did not happen at all. I really did not feel anxious and I was really pleased about that. It felt like winning a small battle in a very ginormous war, but a win nonetheless!
When it became pretty evident my boyfriend’s son was going to be the champion of the event, I mentioned to him that maybe we should ask his ex-wife (who was also there) if she wanted us all to go out to dinner to celebrate with their two sons. I asked him if maybe we could meet in between my house and hers or have them come down a little closer to my house (she and I live about 20ish minutes away). He won (hurray!!!) and afterwards it was decided we would all go out to dinner. My boyfriend and I went back to my house and his ex-wife and son went back to her house to let him shower and get their younger son, who was home. The kids decided they wanted to go to a restaurant that is about 10 minutes further away from their mom’s house, which made it about a half hour away from my house, but in a direction I am not really comfortable driving.
I just could not do it. After pumping myself up for the original drive and then sitting in a gym for five hours (which was REALLY overstimulating with a tournament going on), I just immediately shot the idea of going out to dinner down. Of course, I told him I wanted him to go and because the kids chose the restaurant, I did not want to request a different one. I honestly NEVER want anyone to be negatively affected by my anxiety and I have so much guilt all the time about how it does hurt the people I love, whether because they are concerned about me or disappointed I can’t go somewhere.
It just felt like a real anxiety rollercoaster and because I always, always focus on my losses over my wins, all I am thinking about now is that I couldn’t make it out to dinner. I am so upset and disappointed with myself. I feel so bad about myself. I don’t feel worthy of being with my boyfriend. I am embarrassed that he has to make up an excuse for why I am not there, although I told him to tell the kids the truth. They are teenagers and I told them about my mental health issues in the fall and I never want to lie to them. Having this problem makes me hate myself. My therapist said something this week about how I make anxiety such a huge part of my identity when it really is just one thing about me. I don’t have a good answer for that. I just am so disappointed in myself right now and I feel like even through I should focus on how I was successful for the drive that I did, I am just upset about the one that I did not do.
My teenaged students often ask me (innocently) why I don’t have kids. I talk about my life and my nieces all the time, so it makes sense that they are curious. They are also at a point in their own lives where they are thinking about their futures and whether marriage and a family is something they eventually want.
When I was a teenager and just becoming sexually active, I was terrified of getting pregnant. At age 16, I had an older friend drive me to Planned Parenthood to get prescribed birth control pills. I always assumed that at some point when I was older, I would just know that I wanted children. Spoiler alert: that time never came. The idea of pregnancy and childbirth terrified me and when I got married at age 27, I kept waiting for my biological clock to start ticking. Then my marriage went to complete shit. My ex husband gave me an ultimatum about having a baby and I knew better than to bring a child into a bad relationship. I chose divorce.
In my 30s, more and more of my friends announced their pregnancies and I was delighted to buy strollers and onesies and pack-n-plays, but still never felt envious. If anything, experiencing pregnancy through the eyes of my friends made it even more unappealing to me. I excitedly met and cuddled their babies and still never felt the pull to be a mother. The only feeling I remember having is waves of guilt that my mother was not becoming a grandmother like her contemporaries were. To her credit, she never pressured me in any way about whether or not I wanted a baby.
When I was with my exboyfriend, there was a period of time when we discussed marriage and whether or not we really wanted to both close the door for good on parenthood. I was in my late 30s and he was five years younger, so the decision mostly fell in my lap. He, like most men, had more time. My time was running out. I went to my gynecologist for my annual exam and for the first time ever, she mentioned that I should really start seriously considering whether or not I wanted to have a baby. I told her my concerns and she offered to do a blood test that would determine my fertility.
I went into the test pretty nonchalantly, having the confidence of always having good health. My results were unexpected. She essentially said that I would not be able to get pregnant on my own and if I wanted to have a baby, I would need to see a specialist and most likely begin IVF immediately. Although it was surprisingly disappointing to have the choice of motherhood taken from me, I wasn’t devastated and felt as if that was the last real sign I needed that it just wasn’t in the cards for me.
As a teacher, I felt as if I had an opportunity to have a positive influence on children, just in a different capacity and it was fulfilling in a lot of ways. However, when my sister had her first daughter, I understood for the first time what parents always said about their children. My first niece made my heart explode with pure, unconditional, overwhelming love. My second niece made my heart expand in ways I didn’t think were even possible. I don’t know if I could love my own children as much as I love my two nieces. I would literally give my life for either of them and I desperately want them to have the happy childhood my sister and I did not have. I am so lucky to be a very active auntie. My sister lives in the same town as me and I see them almost every day. They are truly the loves of my life.
My mother jokes that my sister’s children are miniature versions of us. My older niece, who is five, is very much like me- in looks and temperament. She is fair skinned with blue eyes, and is so smart and sensitive. People often mistakenly assume she is my daughter when we are all out in public. My little niece, the two year old, is a clone of my sister. She has darker hair and brown eyes and is impish, funny, and stubborn like my sister.
My older niece (I will refer to her as Five) is very sensitive. She gets easily upset and her feelings are quick to be hurt. She is so sweet and cares about other people. Five also seems to be a little predisposed to anxiety- she is scared of thunder and afraid to fall of her bike. Her younger sister is fearless, like my sister was. I was terrified of rollercoasters growing up and my sister would be pulling my mom’s arm to get in line. Even when I was a teenager, I was still scared of storms and would climb in my sister’s bed at the first sight of lightening. I was the older sister, but was always more cautious, a natural worrier, and overly sensitive.
At first, the comparisons between Five and me would make me so happy. I loved her so much and I felt like there was such a connection between us that went beyond the normal auntie/niece bond. I glowed with pride when strangers would comment how much she looked like me (my sister would jokingly call me Aunt Mommy) But, as Five got older, I started worrying about the ways I DIDN’T want her to be like me. I don’t want either of my nieces to have their lives dictated by fears or anxiety or mental illness.
When Five would overreact and exhibit signs of any kind of anxiety, my sister would make comments like “she’s just like you.” This hurt me so much. I know my sister never said it to hurt me, but it did. Because of all the fears I have (and there are a lot), the biggest one I have is that Five will end up like me. It makes me sad to write that because I know I have a lot of amazing traits that I would be proud to pass on to her and her sister, but I do not want her to experience mental illness the way I have. I think deep down that was a big part of why I did not want my own children- that wanted to avoid having a child be genetically predisposed to the mental health issues I have.
My nieces are a huge reason why I fight to stay healthy and try to manage my anxiety and panic disorders and agoraphobia. I know I am not doing a great job at it right now, but I am working through it all. I just worry as they get older, they will start to notice things more and more. I just want every aspect of their lives to be better than mine and I want them to be better than me.
There is a little girl across the street from my sister’s house who is a couple of years older than my five year old niece and the two of them hit it off and became fast friends. She comes over almost every day to play with my niece (I will refer to the girl as A.) A. has two older brothers and her parents spoil her lot (she seems to really rule the roost at her house), but they often take advantage of my sister’s generosity when it comes to watching their child. A. is bossy to my niece and often does not have the best manners. My family nicknamed her “Kimmy Gibbler” (Lol! If you know, you know…). I find A. quite annoying and I do not think she is a great influence on my niece’s behavior, but she still is a child, so I always try to be nice to her. If I pick up a little gift or candy or balloons for my nieces and I know A. is at the house, I get an extra one for her. My sister makes sure she has A.’s favorite juice boxes, even though her girls do not ever drink them, and she often makes her plain, buttered noodles for dinner since she is a picky eater.
I think my sister and I both got the impression early on that A. gravitates to my sister’s house for a reason and that something was not right at A.’s house. A.’s mother is originally from Russia and is a very sweet woman. When I first met A.’s father I definitely got a negative vibe from him. Another neighbor told my sister that she had once called the police out of concern after overhearing loud arguing coming from A.’s family’s house. A. would occasionally say disturbing things about her family. When my niece had her first wiggly tooth, we were having dinner and talking about it. A. said something about her older brother losing a tooth when their dad hit him in the face. My sister and immediately locked eyes across the table.
One day over the summer, A. had eaten dinner at my sister’s house and it was getting dark out, so I offered to walk her home. She told me just her dad was home and that she needed to use the back door, so we headed to the back of the house. The back door was locked. She rang the doorbell and no one came to the door. A. started to knock loudly on the door and I heard her father scream, “fucking go away and stop fucking knocking!” in a really furious voice. My heart immediately started to race and I swear I had a moment of PTSD of my father yelling at me in the same kind of tone. I calmly took A.’s hand and said, “let’s go back to my sister’s and wait for your mom.” This was the first of two occasions that I heard her father scream at his seven year old daughter like that . It bothered so much and my sister and I talked about it a lot, but both agreed there really was not much we could do, except to offer A. a safe space. My heart went out to a little girl that I could unfortunately relate to all too well. Even though no one explicitly said it, I just assumed her father was a drinker, most likely because of the parallels to my own dad.
The other day, A.’s mother confided in my sister that things have gotten worse and that she is concerned that all of the fighting that has been happening between her and her husband has been negatively affecting their children. Their middle school aged son has been suspended two times from school for fighting. She told my sister that her husband has been drinking more and is in “denial”. I feel so bad for her and the children, and it is a helpless feeling to know that someone is in a bad situation like that. It is also bringing up a lot of negative memories about my own childhood and what my sister and I experienced with my parents.
It makes me wonder if my mom ever tried to ask anyone for help or how many people tried to help her. A lot of our neighbors knew that my dad was abusive, evidenced by how often they called to police to come to our house. My paternal grandmother supposedly offered to give my mother money to divorce and leave my father. I just don’t know what my sister can- or should- do. I said that we should put together some resources for her. My sister is in a group text with a few other women on her street, who are all concerned and are on alert to watch out for the children if they need help.
It is just SUCH a sad situation. As much as “Kimmy Gibbler” drives me crazy when she is at my sister’s house, I have so much empathy for her. Being the child of an alcoholic, and an abusive one, has defined and shaped a lot of my life. It is difficult to reflect back on how terribly my father treated my mother and my sister and me. I never want anyone else, especially a child, to experience that. I know I am making assumptions and I do not really know what is going on in A.’s house, but I do know that she wants to be at my sister’s house for hours and hours every day and there is most likely a reason why. I am so proud of my sister for breaking the cycle and creating such a safe and happy home for my nieces…and for A.
To help reduce my anxiety, one of the things I have been working on is “not sweating the small stuff”. This is incredibly difficult for me, because not only do I have anxiety, but I also am have a complete Type A personlaity and a touch of OCD. I made mountains out of molehills constantly.
It is a work in progress and I try to keep things in perspective. I have a really beautiful bathroom with a double sink vanity. When I lived with my exhusband, my sink was the left and his was the right.
Now that I live alone, I still use the left hand sink just out of habit. Recently, the faucet started to leak. It was just an occasional drip, but then just kept getting worse. I tried to fix it today (I am pretty handy and my father worked in the plumbing industry for decades so I understand the basics) and somehow I made it worse! It started running steadily, when when the handle was off. Then I tinkered under the sink and made something under there leak. I was starting to feel anxious. One of my big triggers has always been something breaking in the house and not being able to fix it. It makes me feel so out of control and helpless. I have lived alone for a long time now and have tried to work on this, because something is ALWAYS broken when you have a house (lol truth!!)
I finally just needed to walk away from the leaking sink. I turned the cold water off underneath and told myself not to sweat the small stuff. I reminded myself logically that nothing in the house was getting flooded or ruined, that it is probably an easy fix for a plumber or if I do more research, AND in the meantime I have another sink right next to it that I can use.
This all seems so dumb and trivial as I am writing it out. I know so many people that have “real” problems and I also hear my therapist saying that my problems are real to me and not to compare myself to other people. I am just trying to keep things in perspective and not obsess over this.
So much of my anxiety is anticipatory. Like 90% of it. I know this, yet it is really hard to control. It is almost impossible to tell myself to just simply not think about something. It would be like me saying to you, “close your eyes and DON’T think about the color blue.” ALL you are going to do is think about and imagine the color blue. Since so much of my anxiety is related to travel and most travel or trips or drives are planned and not spontaneous, I suffer from anticipatory anxiety almost constantly. If I am invited to a dinner or event, I anticipate it for the days leading up to it. I overplan, checking Waze and other maps to see how long it will take to get there. I overthink all the different things that could go wrong or the elements I can’t control.
Even with horrible anxiety and panic disordered, I have always been pretty independent. I preferred (and still do prefer) to drive somewhere alone. I never want to be a burden to someone or ruin their time by having anxiety. My sister went away for a weekend over this past summer, during the same time I had a negative reaction to a new antidepressant, and I had the closest thing to a nervous breakdown I have ever experienced. It is still hard to think- or write- about. My sister has been planning a girls’ weekend trip to Florida for the first weekend in December (like fly out Friday and home Monday) and I have been soooooo anxious about it. It has literally ruined the entire month of November for me. I just think over and over, like a broken record, that I don’t want her to go. Selfishly, it isn’t that I think something will happen to HER, rather it is that I think something will happen to ME.
I have never been or felt so dependent on other people. I never had this kind of a reaction to someone else going away. I was desperately hoping for something to happen to prevent her from going, but I also knew that wasn’t fair to her. She didn’t ask to be my person like this and she is a hard-working mom who deserves a fun weekend away. It has been difficult because she is the person I am closest to and who I would confide in the most about these things, but I don’t want her to feel guilty about leaving me or me being upset.
The most confusing thing about this is that I don’t logically know WHY I need her so much or why I am so afraid for her to be away. But, like most people with anxiety, I know that logic really goes out the window. My therapist has pointed out many times that I am actually the one who does things almost daily for my sister, whether it is babysitting my nieces, running errands, picking something up for her, helping her with something at her house, etc. I do a lot for my sister and yet I feel this immense panic at the thought of her being far away.
It is frustrating because I don’t need ANOTHER thing to be anxious about. I have enough things already and now it feels like I am adding something new to the list, while still not making a lot of progress on my existing triggers.