All posts by Walgo

It’s been a while

I’m sure I’ve had a whole bunch of different things I could have written about in between my last personal post in October and now, but this is the thing that made me really want to come back. I’ve been talking about starting testosterone for like a year, but I knew I had to tell my step-mom, my uncle, and my siblings before I could start. I finally told them today! The only one who has given an actual response as of 13 hours later was my uncle. My sister put a thumbs up emoji and that’s it. My step-mom and brother haven’t said anything.

I don’t think my brother would be bothered by it, but my step-mom might be. It’s weird though, because even if she’s upset, I doubt she’ll do anything about it, and since she probably won’t do anything about it, I’m fine with her being upset. I don’t think it’s worth being upset over, I just didn’t want them to be shocked when my voice starts getting deeper and my face starts growing hair. I don’t see why me changing my own body should matter to anyone else. It’s not like it affects them.

Anyway, the reason this made me want to write suddenly is that telling those four people is always the last step. They’re the last to know, usually, because I’m the most scared to tell them and I have to tell them all at once so they don’t tell each other. Once they know, it means I’m free to actually follow through! So now I’m suddenly actually free to start hormones. It’s scary and exciting. I’m so sick of my high voice and huge hips. I know not everything will change perfectly, but this has given me hope for my future.

I’m having such a weird time lately. My 26th birthday is coming up and, for some reason, it’s throwing me into a weird state of mind. I never expected to turn 26. I still find it hard to believe that I will. I didn’t ever imagine living this long. I thought my depression would have killed me by now. Last year, I suddenly felt I had to make plans for a future me. I started university, which I hadn’t done partially because I didn’t think there was a point since I wouldn’t live to use an education. I started therapy a couple months ago. I haven’t had a second session yet, but I have two more planned. Now I’m going to start testosterone, hopefully before the end of the year. I’m planning on being checked by a doctor for the first time in MANY years. I’m doing things for my health like cutting down on pop and coffee and trying to increase my water and tea intake. I stopped eating red meat this year, just for health reasons. I’m cooking myself meals instead of just eating instant noodles and spending money on take out. I’m budgeting.

I didn’t expect to live this long, but if I’m going to keep living, I’m going to make my life worth it.

Hairstyle Nonverbally Communicates Queer Identity

Merry Christmas, read an essay!

I know my professor has graded this essay, but she told us we had to go in to the school and physically get a paper that said our grades after final exams were finished. I didn’t want to do that so I don’t know what grade I got. I know I got an A- in the class over-all though! So far, I got A- on three out of the four classes I took this past term, and I don’t know my grade for the 4th yet. Feeling pretty good about these results.

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I am a queer person with short blue hair. A few years ago, my hair was purple and shoulder-length, and a few years before that it was long, natural, and dark brown. My hair changed with me as I become more comfortable with my queer identity. Because I have a personal interest in people’s relationships with their hair, I wanted to do some research and discover to what extent hair is used as nonverbal communication between queer people. I found that, despite the fact that some queer people have normalized hairstyles and naturally-coloured hair and some non-queer people have abnormal hairstyles and unnaturally-coloured hair, hairstyle non-verbally communicates queer identity because queer people need to be able to identify each other for emotional reasons (avoiding being misgendered), for social reasons (meeting like-minded people), and for safety reasons (avoiding prejudiced people).

For the sake of concision and clarity, I’m going to use the word queer as an umbrella term to refer to all gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and non-binary people. I will also be using they and them pronouns for specific and non-specific people for the sake of gender-neutrality, unless I know they use different pronouns.

Queer people use hairstyles and unnatural hair colours to signal their identities to other queer people. These nonverbal signals communicate to other queer people that they are safe to approach. “Common signals include […] non-traditional hair colors and styles (especially short hair and undercuts). This serves as a way for LGBTQ+ people to more obviously and explicitly disrupt the conventions of hetero- and cis-normativity” (Sims, 2016). Once a queer person believes they have understood some nonverbal communication of queerness, they may come out to the other person in some other small way, such as subtly mentioning a partner or a gay bar. For example, I was in a group activity with a man who I thought might be gay for a number of reasons such as his long hair, piercings, and mannerisms. We grew more comfortable with each other over time because we saw the nonverbal cues for queerness, and by the end of the course we were openly talking about gender and sexuality. If I had come out to him without having received the nonverbal communication, I would have been opening myself up to someone who may have been homophobic or otherwise prejudiced in some way. It’s important to avoid violence and harassment whenever possible, which makes nonverbal communication a key part of every queer person’s life.

To get into more specific identities, lesbians and bisexual women have stereotypical haircuts that tell each other that they’re the same. This nonverbal signal communicates to other lesbians and bisexual women that they may be able to date, be friends, or at the very least feel safe in each other’s presence. The short-haired lesbian, such as Ellen DeGeneres and Rachel Maddow, is a well-known stereotype and is often used by lesbians to find each other. “The way we wear our hair is one of the more obvious ways we signal — to other lesbians and bi women and to the world at large — that we’re queer” (Thomas, 2016). Of course, there are lesbians who don’t follow this specific short hairstyle, but they are often overlooked by the lesbian community because they aren’t sending overt signals. On a similar note, “Not all women with short hair are lesbians, but most women with short hair are regularly read as lesbians” (Thomas, 2016).

Furthermore, transgender people use hairstyles to communicate their gender to everyone around them. It’s difficult to get hormones and it can be expensive to buy an entirely new wardrobe after coming out as transgender. Surgeries are on a whole other level of difficulty and expensiveness. A haircut or wig is often the very first step in transitioning because of how effective and accessible it is. “Part of being transgender, at least for me, means desperately wanting to be able to exert control over how I look — and doing whatever I can to take matters of my appearance and presentation into my own hands. […] My hair is a source of power. It’s the one thing I can always change, whenever the mood strikes me, easily and without any oversight, input or restrictions from anyone else” (Hampton, 2018). When a transgender person’s whole body feels like it is betraying them and causing others to view them as the wrong gender, a new hairstyle can make the difference between being misgendered all day and only being misgendered a few times per day.

This can apply to some non-binary people, but other non-binary people might see their hair in a different way. Hair is an extremely versatile part of one’s appearance and can be changed from day-to-day. This can be endlessly helpful for someone who identifies as genderfluid, for example, and wants to express themself as masculine one day, feminine another day, and perhaps androgynous on other days. “My small cabal of non-binary friends all have excellent hair, myself included. For better or worse, I’ve built my persona around my hair. It’s my biggest defining characteristic: Jamey with the revolving door of hair colors […] At first, I didn’t feel the need to analyze my preoccupation with my hair too much. […] But the more queer folks I met who had similar strong feelings about their hair, the more I started to think about why that might be” (Hampton, 2018). Non-binary people can become particularly obsessive about their hair because there is no set gender norm to follow to make people know what pronouns they use. Bright and interesting hair takes the focus off of gender and puts it on something much less serious, which can be a nice break.

There are people who believe hair is just hair and that it isn’t that deep. Hair may seem unimportant, but it’s tied to identity and spirituality in many cultures. Also, for many queer people, hair provides a sense of self-expression. “It’s definitely not just hair. […] It can be really important to a lot of people, and it can be really not important to a lot of people. It tells other people a lot about how you want to portray yourself” (“Shave It Off,” n.d.). This person also advocates for shaving one’s hair completely off at least once. I would have to agree with them because the first time I shaved my head, it was like a beautiful fresh start. It removes so many expectations surrounding looks and it’s a lot less work.

I wanted to find out how queer people communicate nonverbally with their hairstyles and dyed hair, and I found that queer people need to use nonverbal communication, including with their hair, in order to identify like-minded people, avoid prejudiced people, and to avoid emotional turmoil; this is despite the fact that not all queer people have abnormal hairstyles and that some non-queer people do have abnormal hairstyles. However, “Based on the results of our Counter Culture Survey, significantly more self-identified LGBTQ+ people have non-traditional hairstyles than not” (Sims, 2016). Therefore, it’s fairly safe to say that queer people will know who they can trust based on nonverbal communication through specific types of hairstyles and hair being dyed unnatural colours.

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Sources:

Hair That Comes Out For You

Shave It Off

Short Is the Length of My True Love’s Hair

Queering The Body

The Importance of Pronouns

Another essay! What student has time to write anything else?

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Pronouns aren’t a difficult concept for most; however, transgender people have a much more complicated relationship with pronouns than cisgender people. For this reason, sometimes there is a disconnect between the two. Cisgender people often don’t understand the importance of using correct pronouns for their transgender friends and family. Once someone knows which pronouns are expected, it’s extremely important to use correct pronouns for comfort, clarity, safety, trust, and respect.

In English grammar, pronouns are words used to avoid repeating a noun in a sentence. For people, we usually use either she/her or he/him pronouns depending on their sex assigned at birth. Most people don’t think about personal pronouns beyond a brief explanation unless they’re transgender. A transgender person is simply someone who doesn’t identify with the sex they were assigned at birth. Transgender people often feel the need to change their pronouns when they begin telling their families and friends about transitioning (socially and perhaps physically) from one gender to another. This tends to be one of the hardest parts of transitioning. It’s difficult for people to switch their language around and they might make mistakes with a transgender person’s pronouns long after first being told.

This problem is exacerbated when the person is non-binary and has more complicated pronouns. “Non-binary” is an umbrella term for people who don’t exclusively identify as male or female. Non-binary people can experience a spectrum of genders in varying degrees or they can experience no gender at all. For example, I identify as transgender, non-binary, and as a demiguy. Demiguys (often called demiboys) identify partly as male and often partly something else. I mainly fluctuate between feeling masculine and feeling genderless. There are sometimes debates about whether non-binary people are transgender, but this question should be left up to the individual non-binary person. Since people are not assigned non-binary at birth (non-binary people are not to be confused with intersex people), they can choose whether or not they feel comfortable claiming the transgender label.

Some non-binary people use the common she/her or he/him pronouns, but many find them too restrictive and tightly linked to social expectations of gender. Many languages don’t have gender-neutral pronouns set into them because the cultures in which the languages were built didn’t acknowledge other genders. While some people will argue against the grammatical correctness of it, gender-neutral singular they/them pronouns are the most common in English. This makes the most sense in our language, but non-binary people may create other pronouns for personalization and because they/them pronouns are so hotly debated: per/per/pers; ve/ver/vis; xe/xem/xyr; and ze/hir/hirs are some.

These pronouns become a problem with many cisgender people who don’t like the idea of genders or words which are new to them. Cisgender refers to a person who identifies with the sex they were assigned at birth. (In Latin, ‘trans’ means ‘on the other side of’ and ‘cis’ means ‘on this side of.’) As with the new pronouns, many people are actively against using the word ‘cisgender,’ but its use is important for the normalization of transgender people. Not having a word in place as the opposite of ‘trans’ meant that being transgender was abnormal and being not-transgender was normal. Also, saying the word ‘cis’ is much easier than saying ‘not-trans.’

Now, a person learning these new facts about gender and pronouns may be wondering how to know which pronouns to use for whom. This is a very good question to be asking and a slightly difficult one to answer. One might believe it’s best to have everyone state their pronouns at the beginning of every meeting with an unknown person. This would be ideal, but it’s unrealistic. “If a transgender woman, for example, who physically looks like a man has to announce preferred pronouns of “she/her/hers” to the class, then this reveal would put the transgender woman in an uncomfortable, and possibly dangerous, position. She would not only be telling the class her preferred pronouns, but she would also be sharing her identity with the class and making herself vulnerable to the attacks and ridicule faced by many transgender and genderqueer individuals. Asking for preferred pronouns in order to avoid misgendering is well intended, but the outcome could do more harm than good.” (Darr, 2016)

I have mentioned that people disagree about the use of singular they/them pronouns; however, I believe they are the best choice for the purpose of inclusion. “Singular ‘they’ would not only be inclusive of marginalized transgender and [non-binary] individuals, but also be familiar to cisgender people who think of gender-neutral pronouns such as ‘xe/ze’ as exclusive to transgender and genderqueer communities. In this way, students would be relieved of misgendering and avoid having to out themselves as transgender or genderqueer.” (Darr, 2016) There is a risk of confusion if people have never heard the use of singular they/them pronouns and sometimes they/them is difficult to use when talking about one person in a group. In confusing sentences, one could switch back to using the proper noun instead of a pronoun.

This all might seem like too much work for such a small change in vocabulary. One might wonder, “Why can’t trans people just get over it?” Other than safety, there are many reasons why it’s important to use the pronouns transgender people request. For one, there is a huge emotional risk that comes with choosing to misgender someone. It’s extremely disrespectful to refuse to use someone’s pronouns and it displays a lack of care for them or belief that they know what’s best for themself. This shows them that others’ thoughts and feelings are being put far above theirs. The transgender person could stop trusting people who won’t use their pronouns and cut them out of their life.

This is something I have had to do myself. I had a friend who said he couldn’t use any pronouns for me other than she/her because I was assigned female at birth and he’s a Christian. He claimed that it would be condescending since he didn’t believe I could change my gender. It would be like telling a child they can be an airplane when they grow up. I removed him from my life because I don’t think there’s a future for a relationship in which I feel so disrespected. If I can’t trust him with something so important to me, I can’t trust him at all.

When a friend or family member of a transgender person uses the wrong pronouns, it communicates to everyone else that those are the correct pronouns. When others hear the wrong pronouns being used, it leads to more and more people calling the trans person the wrong pronouns and it becomes emotionally exhausting for them. Language is a very powerful tool, which has the ability to build people up and tear them down. After experiencing being misgendered often, many transgender people will feel hopeless and at a loss for how to deal with this hopelessness. Many become depressed, anxious, and/or suicidal. Pronouns might seem like a small matter of little consequence to some people, but the truth is that it can mean the world to a transgender person.

It may not be any one person’s responsibility to stabilize the mental health of their transgender friend or family member, but it’s more considerate and helpful to be careful with pronouns and gendered language. A good step to take in not misgendering strangers is to use they/them pronouns as often as possible. It’s important to use correct pronouns so that respect and trust can thrive. Sometimes using the correct pronouns is a matter of safety as well. It isn’t transgender people’s jobs to explain the importance of their pronouns. They should be able to say their pronouns and be respected enough to be heard.

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Sources:

Pronouns and Thoughts on Neutrality: Gender Concerns in Modern Grammar

What You’re Actually Saying When You Ignore Someone’s Gender Pronouns

What’s in a pronoun? Why gender-fair language matters

Transgender Children: Consistency is Key

(Did I start university just to write about trans issues? Maybe. Here, have an essay I wrote for school to replace my silence.)

In her article “Transgender Kids: Have We Gone Too Far?” Margaret Wente discusses how many more transgender children there seem to be now. She believes this is because it has become trendy to embrace your diverse child without question. Transgender children are represented in the media now more than ever, and Wente believes this has made children more likely to believe they are transgender as a solution to other problems in their lives. She says physical transition will harm children who are likely to be okay with their gender assigned at birth by adolescence.

I believe children are not given as much power over their gender as Wente thinks. Before a child can be diagnosed with gender dysphoria, they must “experience a marked difference between their experienced and assigned gender which persists for at least six months, and causes significant distress or impaired functioning” (Shumer, 2016). Until those criteria are met, I believe speaking gently with children is the best approach, allowing them to experiment with their gender expression so that gender variance doesn’t seem taboo to them. With this approach, whether they change their mind about transitioning or not, no harm has been done and the child still feels very safe and loved. If you tell a child that they are wrong about their own gender without letting them experiment or discuss it, they will likely pretend they aren’t showing the signs of gender dysphoria simply because they no longer trust you to support them.

Some have said that parents should immediately allow their children to socially transition, which means having people call them a new name and new set of pronouns. I believe that children must show the long-term signs that they wish to transition before this occurs. If a child socially transitions before they are absolutely sure, it could cause them problems later if they decide not to transition. I don’t believe these issues would be physical, as Wente suggests, but social. However, kids who show a persistent desire to transition should be permitted to. Wente says treatments for transgender people are neither simple nor benign. “They may, among other things, retard maturation, suppress your growth or render you sterile.” Wente also spoke to Alice Dreger, a bioethicist and professor at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, who said, “Some kids need [hormone therapy], but for the kids who don’t, it’s dangerous. All else being equal, it’s better to avoid long-term hormone therapy and major surgery that removes a lot of tissue.” I believe this is an attempt to play on parents’ fears, because small children do not physically transition. Another source (“Transgender children in Canada,” 2013) says seven is the earliest age one can receive hormone blockers, which only temporarily suppress puberty and are completely reversible. They cannot receive hormones like estrogen or testosterone until they are in their early teens, and surgery is usually not available until adulthood, which renders Wente’s concern about children’s physical well-being unfounded.

I believe children should be respected and accepted no matter their gender identity. People should be educated on the process through which children and adults transition because that would quiet a lot of the concerns about transgender children. Everyone should work together to make all children feel comfortable in their own skin and we should do what’s best for them in their stages of development, including social or physical transition if that’s what the child needs.

 

The Articles:

Main Article

Other Article 1

Other Article 2

The Wedding

I have my last day of work this Thursday. I’m so glad it’s almost over. I’m going to just be doing school. Homework is so overwhelming, and work is taking up so much of my time and energy. I’m super behind in my reading for classes. I’m starting to think I should just read bits and pieces.

I went to a friend’s wedding this past weekend. A friend from Bible college. There were lots of people there I hadn’t seen in years, some of them were people I purposely cut out of my life. One of them called me by my old name. It was such a gross feeling. It felt terrible. And then I saw a person I always hope I’ll never see again. He brings up my fight or flight, but mostly I want to fight him. I’m always hoping he’ll give me a reason to hit him. For a few day or weeks after I see him, I get random urges to find him and start a fight. He didn’t talk to me though, so it’s already calming down.

I hope someday none of them will recognize me anymore, when I’ve been on testosterone for a long time. I’m sure it’ll happen because some people already don’t recognize me.

Marz was my date to the wedding. Marz’s mom thinks we’re dating and it’s both hilarious and kind of frustrating. She’s all concerned about Marz, as if I would be so terrible for her. But also, this has only become a problem to her since I came out. We’ve been going to things as each others’ “dates” for years, we act exactly the same as we always have, but now that she knows I’m queer, it’s a problem. I came out to Marz as bi when I was 13. If things were going to happen, they would have already.

Friendships are hard

September 10th:

There are some people I really would like to be closer friends with, but nothing happens unless I put in the work. I know this is half my fault, but when I ask to spend time with people every single time and they never ask back, I feel like they’re just being too nice to say no to me. My social anxiety requires some reciprocation from people, or else I just feel like crap even when we do hang out.

Most of the people I’m talking about I asked the last several times, and stopped asking early this year. None of them have reached out. I wasn’t doing this out of pettiness, I’m just tired emotionally and can’t handle doing the work alone anymore. It makes me so sad though. I really want to be friends with them.

I feel like I’ve lost so much. I usually hold onto things and people with an iron grip and now I can’t because I don’t have any energy. I know I shouldn’t be so clingy, but I’m so easily forgotten and so afraid of being forgotten.

I’m not sure why I’m so upset right now.

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September 16th:

I had to write a letter of introduction for my English class, and I figured I could post it here:

“Hello to everyone in [English class]!

My name is [Walgo]! I’m non-binary, and my pronouns are they/them or he/him. If they/them pronouns are confusing to you, it’s like how you talk when you don’t know someone’s gender. For example: “Someone left their coat, I hope they come back for it.”

I’m in my first year of Bachelor of Communication Studies. I’m hoping to be an editor one day! I used to be passionate about fiction writing, but I got writer’s block after a difficult creative writing class in high school and I haven’t written fiction or decent poetry since then. That’s quite a long time ago since I’m now 25. However, I’m still very interested in writing as a career, hence my focus in editing and publishing!

I write a personal blog, and have recently started a sort of spoof review blog that some of my friends read. I write real reviews with my actual feelings about the item in question, but I make them ridiculously serious with over-the-top descriptions while I’m reviewing silly things like a specific flavour of chips. I think that’s a pretty good way to understand my personality.

I love Halloween! It’s my favourite holiday, and I always decorate my home in early September in anticipation. I’ve read many of Stephen King’s novels, and I’m a big fan, but I haven’t read some of his most famous work, like ‘It’ or ‘The Shining.’ I play a lot of older Nintendo video games for the N64 and GameCube. I love painting, but I’ve also taken up cross stitching lately and I like how easy it is to do while watching shows. I spend a lot of time playing board games with my friends as well.

I hope we all have a great term together!

-[Walgo]”

Bache

I’ve been accepted into university. I’ve actually managed to go through all the steps, and now I’m starting school soon. There were several times that I tried, but I basically stopped telling people because of the times I failed to complete some steps. I’m going to get a bachelor degree in communication studies, and hopefully become an editor. At the very least, I would like to write for a living. Maybe I’ll end up working for an online magazine or edit novels. As long as I’m writing, I think I’ll be pretty lucky.

There was a night when I was sure I wasn’t going to be able to go through with university and I felt so hopeless and terrible, I felt like my life was over. My mental health has been so improved since finding out I’ll be able to go to university, but it’s now declining again. I’ve been wondering if I’ll ever feel like a whole, complete person. Probably not.

Marz and I were talking about bachelor/bachelorette parties the other day, and she asked what I would call mine. Then she said “bache” (like batch), I laughed, and it stuck. I mean, I would be fine with just “bachelor” but bache is fun.

I feel weird about marriage. Like, I want it, but I also think it inevitably ends in pain and legal problems. Also, not to be a negative stereotype of pansexual people, but the idea of choosing one person to be with forever scares me a little. What if I marry a man and never get to kiss a woman? What if I marry someone before I’ve finished transitioning and they then don’t really like my anatomy as much after? What if my spouse just isn’t being honest with me in general?

I’m attracted to such a variety of people. I would love to date a short lady who is super cute and fashionable. Or a punk woman. I would love to date a man with unnaturally-coloured hair who appreciates my queer masculinity. I would love to date someone covered in tattoos, someone artsy, someone nerdy. I don’t know, I’m just so full of love to give to people, but I’m scared of letting people into my life. I could have had several meaningful relationships in the time since I last kissed someone. I think it was around four years ago.

I don’t feel like I’m worth peoples’ time. I think I’ll disappoint them, or they’ll disappoint me, and it won’t be worth it. I have high standards to keep myself safe, but maybe I’m just keeping myself lonely. I’m more than ready for a romantic relationship. I still have problems, but they aren’t as bad as they used to be, and my main reason for not dating was not being sure of myself. I’m out now, and 100% okay with my gender and sexuality. I just haven’t opened up to anyone.

I also am different from a lot of people in that I want to be friends before I consider dating someone. I need there to be a connection, but most people don’t want to ruin a friendship by making it romantic. I don’t want physical intimacy until there’s an established bond. Some friends have made comments about “Operation Get Walgo Laid.” It sounds good in theory, but I always brush them off because realistically I wouldn’t even be able to kiss a stranger. There’s a reason I’ve only kissed 4 people. I can be physically and sexually attracted to strangers, but I can never act on it. If someone I was extremely attracted to but didn’t have a connection with tried to make a move, I wouldn’t be able to go through with it.

Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe, given the right circumstances, I might have a random encounter with a stranger, but it seems so unappealing to me when I really think about hook-ups.

Dating is hard, and I’ve never really dated. Hopefully I will sometime soon.

Dysphoric

Yesterday I did laundry. My mom wanted to go for a walk while my clothes were drying, so I wore a bra instead of a binder (for the first time in a long time). She called me “she” on the walk. Today at work a customer kept calling me “sister” and I felt so upset I had to try to stop myself from crying. My dysphoria is so bad, I think about coming out at work every day on my way there, even though I plan on quitting my job in September. I need to get top surgery. I need to get a legal name change. I need to change my gender marker. I’m considering using the male gender marker. It would make my life easier. I need to get on testosterone. They’ve become needs now. It’s 33°C and I’m still binding. I can’t stand to not bind.

Douche

When Keith decided to stop talking to me, I pleaded with him and said if he ever changed his mind I would be here. I keep feeling tempted to email him and say never mind, but I’m sure he won’t contact me anyway. Why would I want to hear from someone who cut me out like that, with no real warning? I apologized, admitted my fault, and said I would try to tone down talking about things we disagree on since this was the first time I found out how upset he was, but that wasn’t enough, somehow I was supposed to go back in time and change my past behavior. Anyway, he knows about this blog, but probably doesn’t read it. But if he does look and see this, he’ll know. He hurt me more than I thought possible, and I’m done inviting people who hurt me back into my life.