|I told my family I loved and appreciated them. I don’t say it enough even|
though they occupy the first row of my mind. I’m nearly 43 and my mother
still covers me with a blanket. I fear the day she’s no longer here. I’ll be
alone and that’s a fact.
Last night, I was dry-eyed as I moved a few pictures of “C” to a folder
where they would be out of sight but not deleted. Even the picture of the
apple and honey as he observed Yom Kippur with me long distance.
I’m compartmentalizing, I think.
Although as I nurse my forsaken body from a the most punishing training in
years, the grief creeps into the stillness. Of all feelings, there is an
intense loneliness that I havent felt in years. Back when I used to think I
would die alone and cry myself to sleep barricaded by pillows at night.
Well, I still believe I will die alone but I had reached a space where I was
okay with that. Now, I’m back to wishing I had someone that I could call
just to come over and “distract” me for an hour or two. Take the edge off.
Touch me. But it can’t be just anyone. Who do I even want? Who even wants
me? Both faces are necessary to make a coin so I’m flat broke as ever.
Thirteen days, I’ll be another year older and had plans to again, again, to summit
mountains. One of my few friends will be with me this time and as honest as
we have always been with each other, I’m afraid he will mistake my
loneliness as an invitation. I don’t know if I’m physically capable of doing
10+ miles a day on a mountain right now with my knees and feet swollen and
taped. I don’t know if I’m up for conversation either.
During a round of acupuncture at a community clinic, I watched him through
my eyelashes: former Cavalry, Afghanistan vet, a humanitarian, a healer,
married with two kids. Two fat tears leaked out and I was grateful for the
darkness. All the good ones are gone. Or their dick doesn’t work.
Or they didn’t pick me.
That’s something my mother gently reminded me of. Maybe that’s not THE point
she was trying to make as the only person I’ve discussed the death of “C”
with. But that was my take-away and maybe what helps me cope when the image
of him unstaring, with a bullet hole in his head comes unbidden to mind.
“You offered him a better life, and he didn’t take it,” she said. Reminding
me, he didn’t choose me. If I hadnt completely moved on, I must now. That
business will have to remain unfinished. It was finished to him. I thought I
could “save” him but he didn’t want to be saved. How often do we do that to
ourselves? Cling, thinking we will be the unshakeable force of change in
And I’m back to wondering if G-d exists, if there is a “plan”, if I have a
“purpose”, if I will die alone…
Later. X-rays confirm one of my feet is broken. Mountaineering is off. Well, postponed until September. I ate the plane tickets. I’ll be at work on my birthday but the worst part is my coping mechanism, dancing, is off the table for six to eight weeks.
I didn’t hear it from a personal source. No, I learned about it at work, in
detail. More detail than his family will see or know.
Sure, he told me he and his wife were separated, that they were getting a
divorce, that she was already seeing other people…he used to show me her
insane emails and texts and photos of the bruises and scratches she would
leave on him…I got a firsthand taste of her crazy when she found out about
us. But it doesn’t matter if she was nuts or if he lied about the separation
or how many girlfriends he had during his three marriages…none of that
matters because I loved him and it’s hard for me to call it a mistake.
Although it was the first and last time I ever got involved with a married
man. Every day, I drive by a road that bears his name and my eyes are always drawn to it.
And now he’s dead. Shot in the head by an enemy sniper on a night raid in Afghanistan.
Obviously, because of the circumstances of our relationship, I can’t show up
at the funeral. His kids never met me and his still-current wife
would very likely attack me. And I’ve disrespected her enough already for my part in the affair. So with exception of messaging my mom and my three closest friends who knew what he meant to me, I’ll bear this alone. I
read an article in which his second wife gave a beautiful testimony. I’ll
Unsure about the necklace though. The twisted pearl he gave me for Christmas four years ago. I often thought about dropping it into the ocean, but couldn’t ever bring myself to do it. Holding on, like a charm that might
bring him back to me. It didn’t and now it never will.
He was my Lightning Strike. He was everything I desired in a man. Perhaps I was blinded by the chemistry which was unlike anything I’ve ever felt with anyone else. The way he would look at me, unapologetic. We were confidants and compatriots in arms before we were ever lovers. Sitting outside in the darkness watching for incoming rockets like shooting stars. He set the bar by which every man after him failed to hurdle.
Even so, I found the strength to break it off, telling him I was not the
“mistress type” and sneaking around and never meeting his kids was a reminder that I was indeed, doing something “wrong”. I hoped he’d follow through with a divorce and reach back out to me eventually but he never did. Although “C” once told me I was better to and for him than anyone
in his life ever had been, in the years that followed, I thought of him often and never heard from him. So maybe I was the only one between us that cared beyond the moment.
Maybe now I should bury that necklace, the same as they bury him.
I’m oscillating between dazed indifference and involuntary bursts of tears.
I think of him, naked and shining, climbing atop the furniture in his room,
catching ladybugs and releasing them outside…
A man that I have no interest in, an acquaintance of an acquaintance, asked me out. I said I was fresh out of a relationship and not interested in dating but he said we could just have a drink and get to know each other, no pressure. I softened and agreed…when I have time. A few weeks passed and he asked if I was available on a Friday night, I explained that I’m on night shift for six weeks, and working every night this week except for THursday which is Cabaret rehearsal. I know I dont need to give a reason, I could have left it at, “this week’s no good”. Still he replied with an LOL and “Are you trying to avoid me?” I bristled with the not-so-distant reminder of similar sentiments from CK. I made time for him but it was never “enough”. I dont miss that guilt trip.
I calmed down and told this fellow “Work is inescapable as is the need for sleep. The breaths of space in between that I set aside for rehearsal with my cabaret troupe is non-negotiable as well.” Of course he replied that he was only joking. Because that’s the disclaimer behind an ‘LOL’ Hurt feelings and thinly veiled truths and all manner of insults can be written off with an ‘LOL’. So ‘LOL’ makes everything okay, right?
He also launched into additional cliche sentiment about how he can’t be compared to my ex. I bristled again and bit back what I really wanted to say which is: You are nothing compared to him. You are nothing to me. He was something to me. You wish you were worthy of comparison to him.
Instead I said “My ex was a wonderful man. Supportive and devoted and I wish things had worked out differently for us.”
In my annoyance and defense of CK, I decided I had no interest in drinks or dinner or friendship or spending even an hour of my precious limited free time with this lesser man. Not whenfamiy and close friends are all standing in line for a turn.
Three Thursdays ago would’ve been our month-a-versary. Which I never remembered but he always did. He reached out, in pain, said he won’t pressure me, he respects my decision though he disagrees with it and believes that our story is not finished. I told him that while I am sticking to the decision, I miss him and think of him every day. That was three weeks ago and it wasn’t a lie. Then another week went by and I saw his name pop up on Facebook and suddenly wondered, when was the last time I thought of him? Was it a few days ago? Yes, it had been several days since he crossed my mind. Then another week. And another. And I’m ashamed to admit that I don’t miss him at all.
Why is it that all my unworthy exes who treated me poorly took me so much longer to get over? Even when I was the one who ended it, as I always did, eventually coming to my senses, I thanked G-d as the time between thinking of them gradually stretched out a little further. Still, in every case, it was months and months get to that point. And they were nothing to my heart compared to CK.
Or so I thought. I feel guilty as I wonder again, if I didn’t love him as much as I should have, or as much as I thought I did. He’s suffering and I am not. I am busy as always between a new job (that I DON’T hate), working out new dance routines with my cabaret troupe and reclaiming some sanity with “me time”. If you ask me when the last time I had a climax during penetrative sex was…frankly, it’s been 4 years (since “C”). So as frustrated and rarin’ to go as I am, I’m still not actively seeking to get laid.
The team I work with right now is full of the sort of vibrant, forceful personalities that I would fall in love with (if they weren’t already spoken for). The type of people I’m instinctively attracted to. And as clever as CK can be, he’s not particularly interesting to me. In fact, I used to joke with him he should apply to be a member and the Dull Men’s club. Which is a real, long-standing club by the way. Not everyone has to live an exciting life but by comparison, he and I have little common ground. He sincerely believes his job is interesting and important which always made me want to roll my eyes when he’d tell a work story. Then there’s me, with the job(s) that I couldnt talk about except in the most general terms. Sure, we aligned on the important things like core values but otherwise, we had nothing in common. I don’t believe I respected him enough and I think he kept me on a pedestal, a disastrous combination for the long-term.
Add in bad sex and it becomes the relationship that never should have left the friend zone. My opinion which he doesn’t share.
Or perhpas the nudge to move on came from G-d’s celestial creation as the Vernal Equinox and darkening moon in Aries pulled me away from that which no longer served me. Or so my horoscope said.
And yet CK was always the suffering face of servitude even as I recognized that face of martydom that I wore myself in all my prior relationships…and began to resent him for this unattractive role reversal.
Two months has passed and the only thing I really miss is having someone to talk to everyday. Someone to give a mutual damn about. But I don’t miss the guilt trips, intentional or otherwise. I don’t miss the attempted sex: his timidity in and out of the bedroom, his fumbling and insecurity which had, I came to believe, as much to do with ignorance in the bedroom as his malfunctioning cock. I realize that sounds harsh, even mean, but it was such a turn-off. And I don’t miss the floppy dick.
So yes, I’m alone again after 15 months of sincerely trying to be a good sport but I AM relieved.
Here’s how my conversations with myself are playing out on my commute. It‘s probably a rehash of everything I’ve written over the course of the last year-and-a-half with CK but that’s what we do isn’t it? Second-guess ourselves ad nauseam? Like with any break up, my way to get over it is to get pissed off. With CK it’s a bit difficult to do because so much of this “fault” is my own. He’s still the best, healthiest relationship I’ve ever had. We didn’t really fight and he wasn’t particularly mean (passive aggressive snarky at worst). So instead I focus on all the reasons we weren’t going to work out. But if I’m being honest, all those reasons were not reasons to break up. Really, the sex was the only deal-breaker. Everything else just became a compounding annoyance that I would have likely overlooked had things been good in the bedroom. For instance, his dull job that he loved to talk about as if it was as stressful and paramount as a political ambassadorship. His wholehearted disinterest in ever learning to dance. His lack of initiative or opinion on everything from what we were going for date night to what we would have for dinner. His hollow reminders that he was ready to help to give me more breathing room to free up quality time for us. He didn’t present concrete solutions to problems which made his offers to help sound more and more like lip service. Folks, if your partner looks like they are drowning, don’t sit on the side of boat and say “I’m here if you need me”, jump the fuck in and help!
Everyone has habits and hobbies that annoy their partner but it’s usually not a reason to break up. Still, these reasons that I nitpick at until they bleed, I only do so because I’m sexually frustrated. Fifteen months without good sex is an eternity. When we first started out, I was consoling, encouraging, told him “it’s okay, we will work through this”. But things didn’t improve much as time went on. Some treatment helps, like the injections to correct the worst of his Peyronie’s curve. But then other treatments such as the bevy of erectile dysfunction pills only upset his sensitive stomach (another irritant) and that “GainWave” therapy which he paid entirely out of pocket for was as useful as snake oil.
Fifteen months later, he still lacks the length or the firmness to get in there! We purchased a silicone extender which worked well to give him an added inch but then his dick still flopped around under the weight, even after the Trimix injections directly into his penis! So sex was still awkward, careful and unsatisfying. Also, after 15 months, I am convinced that he didn’t know how to fuck. Quite simply, quite sadly. At least he didn’t know how to fuck me. The last time we attempted sex, I spelled it out for him: before he came over, I said I was going to lie down for a nap and I wanted him to come in quietly, do what he had to do to prepare, and then fuck me awake. I was hopefully excited in anticipation. But when he came in to my room completely naked, he started kissing my face and then he asks me how did I sleep? My eyes snapped open wide and irritated I asked “You really want to have this conversation right now?” Even when I told him exactly how I wanted it, he shied away! I was sick of his excuses “I need more practice” . Do I really need to teach a 50 year old man how to fuck? He told me later he literally wept over his inability to please me. I know he did. I know he does. I never wanted to hurt this man. I do love him evern though I type this and feel like I don’t deserve a good man. CK was the whole package for me minus the sex. I did enjoy his company. I miss him when he’s not around but I don’t miss the pressure of the expectation of sex, or his increasing insecurity both in and out of the bedroom which was making him less attractive to me. And I was tired of my own mounting sense of guilt for the constant night dreams and daydreams about sex with other men. I think probably the only reason I didn’t cheat was because no one made a pass at me.He messaged me last night for the first time in 48 hours which is the longest we’ve gone without talking. He said he felt okay Friday and most of Saturday but then by Sunday he was ugly crying again. That breaks the heart of the woman in me. And it hardens the heart of the man in me.
Good news is, the police dept offered me the job. Sad news is, I had to decline. Four months of waiting while they invested time and money to vet me, I had convinced myself that I would accept the offer, if they made an offer, no matter what that offer was. But that was before I saw how bad the offer was. When it arrived, I doubled back over the email looking for active links or attachments, thinking they had simply forgotten to include them. So I asked. No medical? No life insurance? And a salary so low, I can’t afford it out of pocket. An inflexible leave policy and a convoluted promotion scheme. I did expect a low salary but not AS low as what they offered…which was also not negotiable. Was this why they refused to have the conversation about what was even on the table before an offer was made? I could have saved them time and money (which obviously, they don’t have) by admitting months ago that the terms were not acceptable. The more questions I asked, that “No” cake baked up higher and higher and frosted itself.
I asked G-d for guidance and he answered with the voices of my friends and family: Stay where you are. You like the job. Benefits and pay are generous. It’s a good company. Take the financial breathing room and something else will come along over the next few years. Then when my mother didnt have enough money to buy her medicine this month, that gave me the final answer. I would not be in a position to help my family financially if I accepted that job. And my mother isnt getting healthier/younger.
It was still a hard email to send. The “thank you, but no thank you”.
CK has finally accepted my resignation notice on our relationship as well. THat step back that I took before the holiday which didnt result in any change to status quo…now we arent even speaking. He’s hurt. Angry. Some of what he says is true like I probably didnt try “hard enough”. But other accusations like I took advantage of him nearly caused me to snap because I was careful NOT to ever take advantage of him. Fact: What I sacrificed for him was not good enough. He needed more time and attention and there just werent enough hours in the day to make him feel loved. Yes, the attempts at sex were for me, always disatisfying and often disastrous. In the end, I realized how bitter he was. He raged like a martyr (I know a little something about that) and finally I told him “I think you don’t love me as much as you love feeling self-righteous. The neglected, lonely, victim”. The tragic poetry of it. He did his best writing while “suffering” under me.
That part makes me angry. Like I spent 15 months with him for nothing. Yesterday was the first full 24 hours we’ve gone without speaking. When you talk to someone (even if you only see them on weekends) every day for that long, the silence is a little unsettling. Of course I miss him. He was my best friend. I wish I could chat with him like “normal” but that would be misleading. He said I never loved him and THAT bothers me but I can’t, right now, try to convince him otherwise without falling back into the rut we were in. He’d rather be miserable with me than happy with anyone else. That’s horrifying to me. Here, let me do YOU a favor and clip that cord once and for all>
lAST weekend, I went to an annual swing dance event out of town (that’s what started his passive aggressive snide comments that led to me saying “Enough. I really don’t want to do this anymore.”) I was trying not to let the fight ruin my mood but I must have been scowling as I stood there stewing angrily over his words, over how I didnt like the band, and how I didnt like the crowd…then a man proposed to his girlfriend on the dancefloor and the band started playing “Come on, get happy”. I put my street shoes back on and left, dry-eyed and suddenly tired.
I am sad. I loved him more than I loved anyone else. But maybe it wasnt enough. And it certainly wasnt a good sexual fit. But I appreciated feeling like, even if it was lip service, I wasn’t alone or lonely for more than a year. But he was lonely, he told me. So I ended it as much for him as for myself.
I slogged (slow jogged) a 10K today across the Skyway today. This time last year, I was in ‘okay’ shape and made it across without too much damage but this year, I probably shouldn’t have done it. Sitting here with ice on my knee and unsure what is going on with the pain in my left heel that started less than 2 miles in. My time sucked too. I hope I can walk tomorrow because it’s a quarter mile from my car to my office.
Speaking of, I did a year at the VA, took stock of where I was heading, and put in my two-week notice. Then I promptly accepted my “old job” back, more or less. I tell myself it’s temporary but at least I wont be living paycheck to paycheck while I have it and that will be nice. Meanwhile, I still jump through vetting hoops for the local police dept and hope, if/when they offer me a position, that the salary is negotiable or it will be right back to paycheck-to-paycheck I go.
But it’s also exciting to be back in the saddle so to speak. I didn’t miss the traffic on the commute or waking up at 4:30 AM but I did miss the smell of the flight line. Back to wearing flip flops to the office and changing into heels. It’s too early to say how I’ll “like” being back but already, I’m grateful for the professional relevance (as well as the breathing room financially). It will be difficult to walk away again if the PD job pans out. Finally, I know this will sound arrogant as fck but it’s nice to come back to a job where I’m not the smartest person in the room and the toilets flush automatically (yes, two completely unrelated ‘pros’). Where I worked within the VA felt like a repository of people who couldn’t function or hold down a “real job”. Now I’m surrounded by high speed, moderate drag (because it IS still the government after all). But no one that I work with acts like they eat paint chips for breakfast.
Separately, I was bitching trying to set up my accounts at work because the questions to reset passwords were all “Where did you meet your spouse?” and “What is the middle name of your first born child?”. One of my coworkers said another comedian complained of the same thing: Where are the Single person’s security questions? You know what we (single people) get? “What was your phone number when you were 10”. If I could remember that, I could probably remember all my passwords and wouldnt need security questions.
Getting back to the old job means getting back to my old schedule too which was more conducive to catching a 4:30pm ballet class or a 6pm aerial silks class (because Gym Sock Burrito class doesn’t sound as sexy). Most folks are triggered by the New Year, New You but I needed a new job and a compatible schedule to recommit to my health. So as soon as I started the new/old job, I re-upped my membership for ballet and purchased a few other packages on Groupon. Plus, I started a 6 week poi spinning foundations course just to learn new tricks that might come in handy for Cabaret performances. Or not because I can’t stop socking myself in the head with the poi.
I also took inventory of my closet. Going back to work in a professional environment, I needed to face the facts of what fits and what does not. I have a bin of clothes in the garage labeled “Do not open for 20lbs”. Over the years, I’ve packed and unpacked and repacked that bin as my weight yo-yo’s with my endocrine problems. This time I changed the label to “30 lbs” and added more clothes.
But I’m not going to beat myself up because I’m back on track for the time being. I think. It’s too easy to blame my wonky lab results for the way I look and feel but I also wasn’t trying. Now excuse me while I hobble away for a fresh ice pack.
It’s the “here we go again” 70 page background check and polygraph prep: Recall my mailing address two decades ago in South Korea? Nope. My ex-husband’s social security number? Nope. His current mailing address? Definitely not. Have I ever allowed recreational marijuana use in my home? Define “allowed”. Have I ever worked at a job where alcohol consumption on duty was allowed? Yes, in fact, it was encouraged. It’s called “radio”. Ever blog about porn? Guilty! Oh wait, that’s not one of the questions. Wheew!
I’d rather be bedazzling on this Friday night. My grandmother was a costume designer in the golden age of Vaudeville in Miami and she made it look so easy, affixing rhinestones armed with nothing but a metal nail file and her own acrylic tipped fingernails.
I just returned from a few (too few) days in the woods with my dog. We were along the GA/SC border and it was cold! I’m part lizard so I’m always cold but even my wanna-be mountain dog didn’t want to get out of the car on Day 2 after traipsing (more like tripping) 8 miles through the hills the day prior in 30 degrees. Probably spent more time on the road than in the woods, I simply didn’t have much PTO to spare.
But road trips are a game of Name That Roadkill, of signs warning me that Judgement Day is coming, and old trucks on the side of the road that I salivate over the idea of buying and busting my knuckles on, , singing to my dog for 10 hours, choreographing dance and comedy routines in my head, wishing I’d thought to be a Park Ranger when I grew up, and overthinking in general.
Thinking about random shite. Like…
And so it begins again, New Year, New You. The usual suspects on my social media checking in to their gyms and taking pictures of their salads as if NOT doing this would negate any benefits of their temporary new routines and diets.
If I had a New Year’s resolution it might be to run (okay, slow jog, ie: “Slog”) every day (yes EVERY day) and replace wine with tea.
Then I think about these studies that say running is NOT the best form of exercise and I think “Those are conducted by people that sincerely hate running”. And I eat them up like gospel because I sincerely hate running. But the fact in my experience remains that I do not know a single sincere runner in bad shape. Even those like me with bad backs, knees, etc…their conditions improved with running (ie: losing weight). When I ruck 15 miles carrying an extra 50lbs, I hurt the next day. But I’m carrying an extra 50lbs all over my body EVERY day. So I hurt. Dur.
I still don’t want to run.
And I think I’ll stick to the state highways and off the interstate as much as possible in the future. On these now “back-roads”, there’s less traffic and I don’t have the peer pressure of keeping up with the speeding flow or avoiding leapfrogging semi-trucks or impatient assholes psychically nudging my bumper to force me to drive even faster than the 20 over I’m already traveling (by the way, Bitch, I can pit you. Back. Off.)
And I think about CK and his love of museums. I told him the only museums I enjoyed were the Smithsonian in DC and…I think I’ve been to the Louvre but that year was a blur for me. “Where is the Mona Lisa?” I asked. The Louvre, he answered. Then yes, I’ve been to the Louvre because I remember her. I don’t enjoy the Ringling museum but there are two pieces I like, the portrait of Salome and the three muses: spinning, measuring and cutting. I’m particularly drawn to the one that cuts.
But back to CK, the man who loves museums and spends Friday nights organizing his desk drawer and kitchen cupboards for the 5th time this year. I told him he is a prime candidate for the Dull Men’s Club and should apply. They’d send him a certificate that he can frame for his office and everything.
My head is screaming today in this corporate hell. I hate the sound of the spoon scrape, scrape, scraping against her yogurt container breakfast because she’s too polite to lick the bowl when no one is looking. Followed hours later by her shake, shake, shaking a plastic bowl of salad at lunch. I hate how they close the doors conspiratorially as if they assume I give two shits about their gossip. They don’t realize I am a Priest, full of secrets, classified and lifetimes of thrilling experience. I was influential. Now I’m “nobody”. So retired, I could be dead. I am disgusted daily. Some days, my face bears the truth of my disdain and I barely bother to conceal it. Headphones on, I tune out their prattle about their genius, overindulged spawn and focus on the menial tasks I’m relegated to. I never thought I’d be here a year later. I thought I’d be gone in a week. And months passed. And the chip got too big for my shoulder and now it’s a monster of a mountain handcuffed to my fat, slow feet…
Praying, begging for inspiration, patience, a break-through, a light, a rope…pull me out, even if it’s by my neck. I promise I’m not unreachable. If you rescue me, I would be so grateful, work so hard, give you my life. What I have left that I haven’t already donated…
Tis the season when the sun squats low in the sky and that may be part of the problem. Not enough “D”. Not enough “O” either. Weather permitting, I will disappear into the woods along the Appalachian trail for a few days with my dog next weekend. I burn my leave time from work just as fast as I earn it. But it’s a known fact: unhappy workers are absent more.
I masterbated tonight like I was single. Am I single? Depends on if you’re asking Rachel or Ross, I suppose. CK and I are still talking, went on a date last weekend but he didn’t stay the night. I told him if he gets up the nerve to shoot himself up in the c*ck with the Xiaflex, to give me a call for a ride because I’ve waited a YEAR and call dibs on the first erection he gets.
But back to masterbating: I was increasingly aroused all day (did I mention I keep a mini vibrator in the glove compartment of the car in case of emergencies? Hey, some people meditate on their breaks. Some of us take the edge off another way). Got home, fed the fur, stripped, poured a drink, closed the bedroom door… It was nasty. Like lube, vibrating anal plugs, double-penetration, whiskey rape myself, over in t wo minutes nasty. Cleaned up and felt much, MUCH more relaxed. Sure, I still masterbate but not like THAT in the year I was in a relationship. Of course I’m not insinuating that sex with myself is cheating and obviously, I’m not shy about my sexuality but I’m sure CK would have been hurt to not be included. And I didn’t want to include him. Not if he cant participate and contribute with his c*ck. I don’t need a spectator. I don’t need the distraction of an unhelpful set of hands. We already know I don’t get off on tongue, but A-for-Effort. So I just played Susie Celibate all year. Even with myself, more or less.
And that’s that.
Oh but separately, while I’m on a roll with the R-rated content, to all the designers that make dresses with zippers in the back: Fuck you.
No really, go fuck yourself. Are you still designing for an era when post-pubescent women were hurriedly married off but at least had a man to help them get in and out of their clothes? I’m done being half-dressed between home and work and asking my dog’s daycare staff to zip me up. Only a contortionist could tackle a hidden back zipper. Modern women would like to be able to dress themselves.