The letter

1 Hettinger, David (1946-...) Jordan in purple

‘Jordan in Purple’ David Hettinger, 1946

Two years ago I asked Blue Eyes to write a letter to the other woman as part of his ninth step. For reasons that have been discussed many times on my blog the letter was not and will never be sent to the other woman.

I do believe this letter catapulted my healing in a meaningful way. To see the words that had come directly from him after thinking long and hard about the destructive relationship he procured and nurtured over more than eight years of our marriage, made an impact. I asked him to do this exercise, for me, and after a lot of pain, he finally did do it. It was agonizing to hear and traumatic to read, but it accomplished my goal.

All his extra marital relationships were vestiges of his sex addiction, but this one relationship and this letter he wrote two years into recovery, to this particular woman, the only one that actually lives right here in Portland–the one that called my phone–allowed me to feel like he really gets it. After glorifying some of the details of his acting out during the first few months of disclosure, and objectifying certain body parts of some of these women, he finally sat down and looked at the disgusting nature of his addiction, face to face. Not face to face with the women, but face to face with reality. His addiction was all about fantasy. All about secrets, and lies and a clandestine life that filled some sick and empty voids in him, creating further destruction in his life, not solving anything at all.

The Letter.

XXXXX,

I need to set the record straight regarding the lies I told you. Lies I told you to your face, about you, and lies I told you about my wife. I need to share with you about who I really am, and how I really feel about my life, and about my wife, my partner, my best friend, and soul mate, Kat.

I lied when I said Kat was not affectionate, that Kat was not loving, that Kat had lost interest in the physical aspects of our relationship. The picture I painted of Kat not being a warm and caring and loving human being could not be further from the truth. Kat has been loving, and passionate, our entire relationship. She has been a caring, giving, and kind human being. Kat has given of herself in the most unselfish way – being there as my best friend, willing to listen and not judge.

From the start what we engaged in, me and you, was a sick relationship based on mutual misery. My relationship with you had nothing to do with you, but had to do with me trying to fix a deep hole that had existed since I was very young. When I reached out via a Craig’s List Ad I was a very sick person. I still am sick, but I am in recovery and making progress every day. At that time, all those years ago, I was looking to find someone that I could manipulate for the purposes of fulfilling my dark secret sexual desires. I wanted and needed power and control. The Ad was a total lie designed to manipulate. To find someone to feel sorry for me. Based on my pathology, I needed someone with low self esteem, that I could continually seek and obtain sexual favors from without having to pay. I was never willing to do anything illegal. I could have easily gone to prostitutes, but I thought that if I paid for it my chances of being found out were greater, and if I was arrested, my professional career could be jeopardized. I am sick in that I would seek out extramarital sex in the first place, but also that I would put a higher value on my career, than on my personal relationships. I had no idea if the Ad would produce anything. But I was hoping for a secret sexual relationship that didn’t cost me any money. Now I know I was looking for a free drug, on demand.

I was never attracted to you in the slightest. I used my mind to create and conjour up fantasies. You were just a vessel, a prop in my sickness that I could gain power over and control through manipulation. I was in fact repulsed by you and afraid to be seen with you. I knew your mere appearance was a great cover if I ever encountered anyone I knew. I knew no one sane would ever believe I was in any kind of relationship with you, particularly anything romantic or sexual. Not only was I repulsed by you, I was embarrassed to be around you. I lied and manipulated you just so I could use you to fulfill your part of my addiction. Every time I saw you I was left with great shame and hatred of myself and fear that I might be discovered. Every time, I told myself it would be the last time. Your continuous phone calls to me when I tried to stop the sexual hookups were torture. Your threats to tell my wife and even calling the home phone and Kat’s cell phone to get me to call you, took a horrific toll on me. I realize I instigated this mess, but you perpetuated torture. I honestly had no idea why I was doing what I was doing and I swore over and over that I wouldn’t ever do it again. Even now, whenever I hear a phone ring I feel great anxiety. You were an absolute monster that I was afraid of, who used the leverage of the secret to keep me on the hook. You had your part to play in this sick relationship. None of that shifts any accountability from me, but frankly, amends are owed to victims and you were anything but a victim. You know my situation, and you elected to torture and threaten me to keep getting your own hit.

Love was never a part of our relationship. While I said I loved you and other compliments, they were all said with the intention of keeping you calm and at bay so that you would continue to act out with me and also not harm me physically. I did not actually mean any of the compliments I said, it was all in the pursuit of the drug and preservation of the addiction and my secret life. I had an on demand morphine drip. I am an addict. I was never addicted to you, I was addicted to the pathology, the high that the control and manipulation–the secret–brought. You, the person, you were never in my fantasies nor did I think about you when we were sexting, ever. If in fact an image of you, the reality of you, popped into my head, that would have nauseated and stopped me dead in my tracks.

There was one time when I came over to your house and you were raving mad in your front yard, apparently yelling at a contractor and he looked at me and said, “your MOTHER is really sick and needs some help.” His words hit me like a sickening wave, coming up from my subconscious and I became very nauseous, and I realized that in some sick way this was related to my mother and that in fact YOU were a caricature of my mother, emotionally abusive, creating fear and anxiety in my life. I had recreated in some context the sick, abusive environment from my home life. It was only my sickness that kept me going back.

On numerous occasions reality would hit me and I would feel like I was letting someone drain my soul. Not only was I losing it, I was giving away what belonged to Kat and me. A sacred gift we should only have shared with each other. You were taking something that was not yours. You were stealing with knowledge. While I was giving it away and taking from my angel, transferring the harm from my bad acts to an innocent, you were doing the same and using blackmail to extort from me. Your relationship with me was based on misery and elements of extortion and addiction. It was based on lies and behind the addiction was a subconscious pathology emanating from abuse. It was all based on deception and dishonesty.

Sometimes when we were having sex, I would see you for what you really were and I prayed that God would take me and I would not end up in Hell. I literally saw the devil incarnate in you. This image still haunts me to this day and makes me sick. I do not believe in the devil. But what I saw was a true reflection of my shadow side. I hated myself so much I was willing to destroy it all and give in to the abyss, the darkness. And yet, I kept going back and now I understand my addiction.

I was a sick child that never developed and I needed to feed my entitlement, the bad and spoiled child, the child that never got his way. The preceding makes me nauseous as it brings me to the reality of how insane I was to jeopardize everything that matters, to throw aside all that is good and pure to just get the fix. Now I have replaced the self hatred and the self loathing I had for myself with love for me. I can be kind to myself and have started to discover my true nature.

I have learned, since I have been in recovery, that I reached out to you because of some deep-seated subconscious belief that I could master or tame my mother, a mentally ill person that suffers from narcissistic personality disorder, who is erratic, evil, and incapable of empathy. This acting out of mine from a subconscious need was totally insane and sick. What I found in you was an unwell, erratic, mean and evil personality that knowingly participated in a covert relationship, and preyed on and stalked my best friend.

You were able to rationalize the relationship in some way even though you knew I had a wife and children. Our relationship was based on lies, the lies I told you, which you had to know were untrue. Based on my actions towards you, my complete neglect of anything real between us, my chronic desire for quick sex and nothing else, I know you know I was lying to you. I tried so many times to stop. I told you what we were doing was wrong and that I felt bad every time. I told you that I could not stop. You were just so desperate to be loved and you equated sex with love and you were so desperate for human contact that even when you knew that it wasn’t love, for either of us, and that we should stop, you let it continue and when I tried to stop for any length of time you harassed me with phone calls and threats and the cycle started all over again.

When you told me that you would only continue seeing me if we went on trips together, I’m not sure how that changed anything in your mind? I guess you really knew that you were an unpaid whore, and you had resolved yourself to that? I guess looking back on it, I was your free whore as well. I do remember you offering to pay ME to spend more time with you and I told you that you could not afford me. I was worried that I would be discovered as I would be walking around with this extra money and that also I now would literally if not technically be a whore. I was your whore. This is all so unbelievable as I write this out to you. Again it was so obviously not real. You paid a lot of your own money to travel with me even though I gave you no time, other than sex. How could any of it be real? I hid from you at the airport until boarding, keeping my distance afraid to be seen with you. I constantly scanned the boarding passengers to make sure no one was there that recognized me. You knew I did not want to be seen with you in public places. When we arrived at hotels and I would have you stay outside instructing you to stay in the lobby, or elsewhere, only giving you the room number after I was safely inside, so we would not be seen together even in cities thousands of miles from home, you had to have known how desperate I was not to be associated with you. When I left the hotel room, I implored you to never follow me out. I was horrified and you knew it when I found out you would follow me and take photos. This was not a real relationship. I simply was embarrassed and ashamed and did not want to be seen with you or identified with you. Is this how someone would treat someone they loved and cherished? No this is how you treat someone you do not want to actually be associated with in any way. After we had sex, I felt deep shame and regret. My strategy always shifted to how do I manage this crazy person and focus on my business… what the fuck have I got myself into, what have I done…. swearing never to do this again. My mind was bombarded with thoughts of how to manage this horrible situation and keep harm from coming to me. How to exit and get away from it. The anxiety would become disabling when the trip would get closer to its end as there had already been several episodes with you acting irrational and crazy. I was afraid of your behavior. I was scared of you and just wanted to get away. I was a coward in that I never did the right thing and walk away from you for good.

I remember our last conversations and how I told you that I was sick and that I needed help. I had said this before but I felt that this time was truly different. That I could not continue the relationship and I must stop or the stress would surely kill me. I had started to become more self aware. I asked you not to contact me. I remember you started to call Kat’s mobile phone all the time, always blocking your number and never leaving a message. I would delete the incoming messages before Kat could see them. You were desperate to start the cycle using your emotional blackmail, but I wanted no part of it. You continued your obsessive and destructive behavior 5 more months. I was exhausted. I was waiting for you to just STOP! On that day in January 2014, I went downstairs when you started another barrage of phone calls, first to my phone. I did not pick up your calls because I wanted it all to end. I did not answer, I did not beg. I did not start the cycle over again. For the first time in my life, I said NO. No to the addiction. No to you. No to the madness. I could just not do it anymore and when you spoke to Kat and she asked if it was true… it was the beginning of not only indescribable torture for my best friend and soul mate, but the same for my children, my precious sons. The nightmare, the wreckage continues to this day. There are always reminders of what I did. There is no statute of limitations to the devastation.

I do believe I was in the process of change when I called off our sick relationship. I had finally started to talk with my therapist about sex addiction. We were getting there. I was on the start of a journey. While discovery and multiple disclosures have immeasurably harmed my family, and my Kat, they are my wreckage and I own them. But your continuous stalking and harassment of Kat revealed your true evil nature and that you would hurt another human being and multiple human beings in pursuit of whatever sick path you were on, is a special type of insanity. How could I have feelings about someone that I was repulsed by, that I did not want to be seen with, that was evil incarnate, that was a proxy in some way for an abusive family system, someone that tortured me and did the same to my family? I don’t know what I would do if I actually saw you again. I have a protocol to tell you to get away from me and to tell you never to contact or seek me or my family out. I will call the police and I will seek a restraining order and I will make your life miserable. But I also will protect my family, my best friend and I would not think twice to use deadly force to protect my family from you, at risk of my own life. To give my life to protect Kat and my children from the wreckage that I have caused in some ways is the only other redemption I can avail myself of besides my recovery work, which is putting me in touch with all that is good and pure in me. I am not in danger of relapse. I have no feelings for you or any other woman other than Kat. You are a product of self loathing and hate that I was never able to extricate myself from. You were the embodiment of self hatred. Nothing that lasts can be manufactured from hatred and misery. The universe does hear. There are no secrets, I was killing myself and I was taking from my Kat and my family what belonged to them. I betrayed the most sacred trust. In my mind I kept you a secret because I did not want to lose what mattered most, my family, and I wanted to keep my addiction. Well, what matters most is my loved ones stayed by my side and every day there is gratitude and awareness and recovery.

The truth about Kat? She has been there for me in sickness and health, in self-doubt, and crisis. I lost and found myself in those loving brown eyes from the first day I met her. I have been safe with Kat. Kat is my sanctuary without judgment. She has endless compassion and understanding. Kat has given of herself with her primary concern being my well-being and happiness in mind. Her generosity, her loving kindness, have enabled to me to hold on to that which is good in me and not give up on myself.

From the first day Kat met me, I was sickly and needy. My family emotionally abused her and yet she decided to stay with me. When my parent’s withdrew their financial support of me, it was Kat who came through for me, supporting my dreams even when it meant I would be far away from her. It was Kat who put her entire life on hold so she could be with me. Kat is the mother of my children. She proceeded to raise and nurture and unconditionally love our children. She made sure that I spent time with them and to this day we continue to build great and joyous family memories. She put the children and my interests before hers, making sacrifices large and small on a daily basis so the children could have the best life and I could pursue my dreams. She turned my business around and righted the ship when it was floundering. My children’s lives, my professional success, even the house we live in would not have been possible with out her unselfish love, dedication, and kindness. Kat is my guardian angel, my best friend, my wife, she is my everything!!!! I will never do anything again to jeopardize my union with Kat.

Kat has chosen to not run, whether it was from the abusive environment that was connected to me from my family of origin or from my own abuse of her. Even at great jeopardy to herself, when it would be easiest and rational to run, Kat has chosen the more difficult and painful pathway. Her love and faith in me, despite all the lies I told about her and the misery I inflicted, has been the light in my darkness. She has been the source of constant gratitude and amazement for me! It has been the closest thing to a miracle for me.

You see, I love and cherish Kat for who she is and every day I thank the universe for this gift. This is what I am fighting for…this is why I will never give up…this is why I am learning to love myself and to embrace all of myself. Kat’s actions have never been about herself, they have always been about something much larger. Before my recovery Kat was my other half, she balanced me out, she completed what I wanted to be, she represented my ideal self. Now I am transforming so that I can finally meet her. Kat has given me the greatest gift of all, a path to completing myself.

Unsigned.

 

 

 

 

20 thoughts on “The letter

  1. It took OH about 3 years to write a letter like this to his OW (a draft one, for my eyes only, that was never sent, I mean).

    Whilst it did have some healing power, it never went nearly far enough in my mind. It was too kind. I still felt an element of protection for her feelings, but maybe I imagined that element. OH has never really been the type to slag someone off. Maybe he was just being himself.

    That said, it wasn’t as healing as it might have been as a result. He could have tried, for my sake, just this once, to be a bit “nastier”. Couldn’t he?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well, in my mind, YES!!! Since it was for your eyes only… as this letter was part of BE’s amends step to ME, I needed it to be about how he had rationalized such destructive choices and how she fit in to that scenario. They weren’t “dating.” He wasn’t available or hers or ever in love with her. The only reason it wasn’t sent is because no matter what he said, she would just believe I put him up to it, and she would feed off the contact. She’s so broken that even a mean letter to her would get her going and no doubt the things he said about me, in her mind, would be lies. This letter was for me and what he wrote at the time helped me a little to believe he was really starting to understand his addiction and how destructive the choices he made were to me. He obviously realized in the process how damaging they were for him as well. What he thought he needed to survive, was actually destroying him. I realize these women filled a void when our men thought they needed it, but it was hurtful. We deserve better! ❤️

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  2. WOW! Just wow. It certainly doesn’t take away his actions or the pain – but pretty amazing for him to be able to put that in words. That is full ownership of his actions. Total responsibility. I’ve often thought about asking my husband to write something like this. Something I can hang on to and read from time to time. Pretty sure he’d need a ghost writer. LOL. He does not express himself well, especially in writing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Everyone’s journey looks different, but it is important for you to feel validated and respected. I’m sure there’s something he is capable of doing that would help you feel better. When you figure out what that is, I hope he is able to give it to you! ❤️

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  3. Wow.

    We are just over 6 months in from full disclosure and about 18 months from when he admitted to a problem with pornography and started attending meetings. I know for a fact there is no way on earth my husband would be able to write anything like that. I seriously doubt he ever will be able to. I do however believe he feels it and I do hear snippets at times.

    I’d love it if one day he could but I can’t let myself hope that it will happen.

    Thanks for sharing with us. Xxxx

    Liked by 1 person

    • We’re all different. There was no way BE could have written that letter in the first year of recovery. He was still at times rationalizing some of his behavior and closed off from me emotionally. It was shortly before this point in time that he had the OW on his amends list… a total trauma inducing experience for me! I freaked and it wasn’t until his sponsor explained that having acting out partners on the list is not appropriate, they knew what they were doing and they knew all about me and the kids, they were culpable, not innocent victims. We were a mess back then. My husband was still deflecting and manipulating people to feel sorry for him. That’s kind of why I posted this two years later. I believe it was a turning point for both of us. When he finally wrote the letter, he did it in a big way. It helped me, but it was just one step in this very long process and everyone’s journey is unique. What’s important is that your needs are being accounted for. Hugs! ❤️

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      • Thanks Kat.

        Closed off from me emotionally just about sums the last couple of days up perfectly. He’s saying it isn’t safe to be close to me because he doesn’t know when I’m going to turn on him.

        So yes, I do get triggered and react with a trauma response sometimes but I’m only human and I’m trying so hard not too. I feel so misrepresented and it’s so frustrating!

        Hopefully we are making some slow progress too. I thought we were up until this latest turn.

        Lots of love xxx

        Liked by 1 person

        • I remember those days well, P. I felt like the therapists were working against me, kind of giving my husband a pass and saying I was triggering to him because I was self harming. I was self harming because I didn’t feel safe and I felt like my emotions were literally going to explode inside of me and I needed some release. He was still saying and doing things that made me feel like he was never going to be a viable partner again. This was after 30 years together, 25 years of marriage. I didn’t know what to do or where to turn. The trauma therapy helped some, but really it was just a long traumatic journey digging our way out of the mess. The bottom line was that I felt like I needed to leave unless he was able to be empathetic to me and my needs and also TELL THE TRUTH. He was still in a place where he felt his lies were his protection and he plainly didn’t want to talk about it. I could not believe that wanting to keep the lies was part of the progression, but it was. A few therapists suggested we separate, but BE DID NOT WANT THAT. So he kept fighting and I tried to be patient and kind and understanding, but mostly I was miserable, until I wasn’t anymore. There wasn’t a month or a week or day that I can pinpoint because it just is a progression.

          Take time for yourself. Do kind things for yourself. Remember you are fine, with or without him, then maybe give him some things to work towards… and keep your boundaries firm. What we need as partners can be very different, but you must feel validated on this journey regardless of how powerful 12 step or therapy is in his life, he needs to realize you are not going to just sit idly by. That’s my two cents. I kept pushing, as difficult as it was, for what I needed. A lot of people gently suggested I was expecting too much, or because I was so focused on him I wasn’t taking care of myself. The thing is though, without him, I was fine. He didn’t want me to go away, so HE needed to make the changes. But, they are addicts and most didn’t realize it and coming to terms with all that, takes time. If you want the partnership, hang in there. ❤ ❤ ❤

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          • Thanks. What you’re saying really resonates with me. I will hang in there and I am going to focus on me. I know I’m alright on my own. It’s not that I’m scared of being alone or I think I need him or anything like that. He’s my best friend and I love him and I want him in my life and for us to find a way to sort it out. Xxx

            Liked by 1 person

            • I hope this week is a good one for you. Do take care of yourself, but don’t stop communicating with him. Communication, truth, honesty, those will always be the cornerstone of a strong relationship. Sometimes they want to push us away because what we say and how we act from the trauma is ungrounding to them. Unfortunately, it’s called consequences and they cannot take away our pain, but they can help us feel more safe by staying with us and understanding our trauma and fear are byproducts of their behavior. Staying and rebuilding is possible, but it takes a lot of effort, understanding, compassion, and honesty from both partners. xoxo

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  4. Thanks for sharing this again, Kat. I vaguely remember reading it before but I think that I was so confused myself at that point I couldn’t process it. I think this letter shows the different levels of addiction and the importance of eventually figuring out the brokenness that is underneath the addiction. I say eventually because I don’t think most have the emotional stability to tackle it early in sobriety. It’s definitely a process. It’s interesting to me how often with sex addiction the brokenness is related to the relationship with the mother. My husband’s addiction was actually set in motion many years ago when a counselor sent him to a week long retreat to deal with his issues with his mother. The week after the retreat my husband picked up his first prostitute. The retreat served to uncover buried feelings that he then chose to medicate. Now, over 30 years later and almost a year of sobriety (real sobriety) his CSAT and his psychiatrist think he may be ready to deal with the Mom issues again. Gulp. But he has tools now.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s incredible how different we all are in terms of how we react and respond to trauma and abuse in our lives. I can’t imagine doing what BE did, but it’s not my place to question or judge at this point. It’s my job to take care of myself and to hold true to who I know I am and what I want for myself. You have been through a lot, Maggie, and you are an inspiration! ❤️

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    • Do you remember how much torture went into the process? I can still remember Sam telling me I was being too hard on his Dad, and maybe I should go back to the therapist. I sat on the floor and wept. But when he finally presented the letter that appears on the blog, I knew it had been worth it! ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

  5. The level of acknowledgement – the detail – is really impressive. I understand that can be hard if not impossible relatively soon after disclosure, but I still wish these guys could see how healing it can be for us to hear this without waiting years for it (if it ever comes at all).
    xo

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    • I agree, but I guess shortly after discovery/diagnosis, whatever, they aren’t able to do it. I didn’t link to the original post here, but those 8th & 9th steps were torture for both of us. I have numerous posts about that time period. This process of recovery is just so difficult and painful. It took BE more than three years (if I remember correctly) to finish the steps, which of course are never actually “finished.” Steps 1, 4/5, & 8/9 were just so difficult to live through for both of us. I cannot go back and read through my old blog entries without feeling depleted of energy and sometimes triggered, but I do remember all of it. The hours and hours and hours spent in therapy, and spent talking, but feeling like we weren’t getting anywhere. In hindsight, we were making progress, just very slow. That’s how this works.

      I knew it was important for my healing that BE at least appear to be moving forward because it is much easier for them to just go back to living life and white knuckling through the stressful days knowing they don’t want to be that person anymore, but addiction doesn’t work that way. They have to go through a process and unfortunately they will always be vulnerable. And then… there are the co-addictions as well. There is always something to use to medicate the pain (in BE’s 12 step group co-addictions come in all shapes and sizes, drugs, alcohol, food, gambling…), thus the therapy. Trying to get to the bottom of the pain is part of that process… just knowing they did wrong, handled their adult life wrong, doesn’t really cut it. Something got that ball rolling and usually that something didn’t just go away. The days around this letter were torture. He absolutely did NOT want to do it. He fought it, HARD. I was relieved and a bit shocked that when he finally did do what I asked, he took it very seriously. I mean I know I am a great person/wife/mother/whatever, but to hear him acknowledge how hurtful and wrong and broken and just plain fucked up that relationship was with the OW… it was painful and cathartic all at the same time.

      I was looking for something else on my blog and ran across the letter and because it was almost exactly two years ago, I decided to post. I didn’t post it because it appears to vindicate me, or make me feel like the perfect wife (because I am far from that), but in fact that it shows how LONG this process is. More than two years from discovery and two years ago, and I’m still at it. Still talking it through. We’re all different. Not everyone has that letter in them, but they have something that shows progress, and healing and recovery will bring that out. ❤

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    • It was rough, especially two years ago when I was much less stable than I am now, but just him acknowledging all those things he did and the thoroughness of the letter, I believed he meant it. I don’t want him not wanting to hurt me to be the only thing that keeps him sober. I want him to want to be a better person, for himself. xo

      Liked by 1 person

  6. This is an amazing letter. I cried when I read it. I hope that someday Will is able to write such a letter…I hope someday I am as loved and cherished as you are, sweet Kat. Thank you for sharing this. ❤️

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    • I’m sure you are, Leigh. Maybe he’s just not so great at putting it into words. It was like pulling teeth to get BE to do this task for me, but when he actually did it, I was blown away. I was also happy that even though the OW was never going to see that letter, that I knew it existed and I knew it was actually the truth. I was looking back on my blog for something else and ran across it. I had forgotten how detailed it was. I still think about that creepy woman, but I know BE didn’t care about her. I just wish she didn’t exist. xo

      Liked by 1 person

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