blog by ViJo

I’m back… It has been a while since I hung up the keyboard to focus on other things, but it is time I returned to something I am passionate about… blogging. I don’t have an agenda, or topic of focus, I just write about whatever I am feeling in the moment.

Cake

Cake is represented in the asexual community, along with garlic bread, as something that is potentially better than sex. Agreed. Cake represents so much more for me, because of the different layers of complex deliciousness. Garlic bread is awesome, don’t get me wrong, I just have an intolerance to garlic, so I’d rather have cake. Dragons are also a mascot for Asexuality, however this is all about me and cake.

Everyone has their own cake; their own flavors, textures, frosting preferences, layering, fillings… and on and on. My cake is created based on me. Individualized for my liking. There might be others with similar cakes, but everyone’s cake represents their unique self. Also, and this is important to understand, cakes are fluid. Simply put, the cake can alter and change at any time. Today might be a butter cream with chocolate mousse filling and tomorrow might be cheese cake with cherry compote. I am going to reiterate, because it is important, cake not only represents what I would rather be having, but it is a metaphor for the different layers of my unique self.

My recipe is constantly evolving, and the more I learn about the asexual spectrum, the clearer my ingredients get. My base layer represents my personality, myself, and doesn’t alter or change too much. Vanilla bean, a flavor so simple but not easy to get just right. While the cake is mild, there are bits of vanilla bean increasing the flavor. Like me, vanilla looks plain, but after biting into it, it is realized there is so much more to this cake. Vanilla bean, represents ambivert, needing calmness but really wanting to stand out among the rest. The idea of vanilla bean is that it looks bland, but the flavor is a lot stronger and more resilient; it compliments the other flavors and textures around it. Vanilla bean has passion, love and trust that is usually not reciprocated or respected. Given the option, vanilla bean is not usually a first choice and would be handed off if a better flavor came alone. As depressing as that sounds, and it does hurt, I picked this flavor because I love it, and I believe in it and that is all that matters.

My next layer would be a marbling, a more complex layer of ingredients that alter and shift as I actualize in who I am. Even in realizing who I have always been and having compassion and forgiveness for myself. This layer is complex because my identity of self is complex. The more aware I became, the more I realize there are so many different elements in this layer. Acceptance of this layer was hard, and I am still not fully accepting of it. Just a few year ago, I would have tried anything to have some basic monotone bland flavored cake to just to be “normal.” Although, now, I find this layer utterly delicious and exciting. Each bite is new and enlightening. There are so many dimensions for me of being asexual and hetroromantic. There are elements of demi mixed with alterous mixed with gray aro/ace… and the list expands as my awareness and understanding of the A-spectrum grows.

I am a two layered cake kind of girl. I think two are enough, for now; too many can be overwhelming, and then it’s not enjoyable. I want to be enjoyable. Layers of a cake are not limited by their spongy goodness, I have frosting and filling that add flavor, hold me together and are my first impressions. My filling is a cherry compote (I really like cherry compote with cake of whatever kind). Cherry represents the cliché virgin experience, the first time, never before, brand new, the awakening. While I was born this way, asexuality and my romantic identity are still new to me. I am still finding language that advocates for me.

Frosting is tricky. I need my frosting, or outer layer, to be perfect. Of course I know that perfect is the one thing a perfectionist cannot never achieve. I have accepted that my frosting can be perfectly imperfect. The textures can be a little uneven, rough and inconsistent. Sometimes my topping is fondant, smooth and calm. Sometimes my toping is buttercream, strong and bold. Sometimes my topping is frosting out of a prepackaged container that requires a few layers to hide all the specs of cake that get pulled up and are exposed. Then there are the decorations. Sometimes, the decorations are just right and look great, other times the decorations are mismatched, falling off or there are no decorations at all. It all depends on the day, mood and weather. No matter the variation of frosting and decorations, I like to keep things simple in representing myself, for now, as an asexual hetroromantic.

So, cake. I would rather have a good slice of cake with someone I care about then have sex. I have said it before, I am sex positive. Sex is fine, there is nothing wrong with sex. I would just rather have cake.  

      

Ode to Mrs. Faucheax 1938 – 2021

I look up into the night sky and see you there, watching over me
Continuing to love me, as you always have, without judgment
Miles apart, my heart ached always to see you again
Hear your voice, smell your smell that reminded me of home
You were born to rise up against all odds, defeat the monarchy of society
Delivered into a world of pain and disappointment, it seemed so
Unjust.
Orphaned, you always gave grace for why it happened
Presenting strong yet gentle, you needed control of your world
Forgiveness and understanding were your superpowers

I look into the night sky and I see you there, watching over your family
Family you created, brought in, raised and loved without condition
I walked into your home for the first time, it was that moment
I felt your love for me, a stranger, your child’s friend from school
Not a heartbeat of judgment, that I had always felt from others
Your love hugged my heart, soothed my soul; I sat next to you and felt it
Home.
Warm, inviting, safe… there is where I wanted to stay, sitting next to you
Your words “come here darlin’ ” when things hurt, you just knew
Compassion and unconditional love, were your superpowers 

I look up into the night sky and I see a phoenix rising from the ashes
Your body defied you, you never gave into the struggles or the pain
Life handed cruelty, heartaches and disappointment, you stood up
Your beliefs, dedication, love for everyone especially Him empowered you
When the world seemed too heavy, you took stance and held your ground
Pain raged through every part of you, you never complained, you always
Smiled.
Admiring you and feeling proud to have been chosen to be your daughter
Remembering words you’d say, bring me home to you, sitting next to you
Strength and perseverance, were your superpowers.

I look up into the night sky and I see a hero, my hero, my mom, the angel who wrapped her wings around whoever was there. The angel who always smiled when I walked into the room. The angel that gave me forgiveness and understanding.  The angel that showed me the power of compassion and how unconditional love spans the universe; no matter where I am, I can feel her love. The angel that showed me never to give up because standing up, no matter how much it hurts, will always be worth it. Showing me that having strength gets you moving and perseverance gets you there. The angel that empowered me as a woman. The angel that always had my hand, letting me know everything will be all right. The angel that imprinted on my heart and soul with such passion I will never forget the first time I met you, or the last time I saw your love for me in your beautiful eyes. When I look into the night sky and see you smile, it will always bring me home to you.

I Wished I Was Gay…

I remember, as a teen and into my twenties, thinking “maybe I’m gay?” It would have explained my lack of sexual attraction to members of the opposite sex. Although, the problem was that I was not sexually attracted to members of the same sex either. I was conflicted and confused at my desire to flirt with and be close to guys, but with very little interest to be sexually active with them. I was different and I had no idea what was different about me. Others saw it in me too, and through comments and remarks, it felt like they saw homosexuality. Was I gay? Stereotypically (for the era), the way I dressed and how I acted, perhaps I was gay. The pieces of social normality did not fit together for me. Being cisgender (or cis) required me to dress and behave in a certain way. I did not fit into the social norm. So, was I gay? I hated struggling to fit in as a cis female from the late 70’s and well into the 2000’s. My gender expression had nothing to do with my sexual identity. However, up until recently, gender and sexual identities were fused together. So, growing up, my gender expression misrepresented my sexual identity.

Self-identity is hard. Although, typically through finding one’s unique sense of self, other identities tend to fall into place. Then there are times during the expedition of one’s self, wherein identity can become even more confusing and blurry. Asexuality was not supported within my natural network of family and friends, mainly because no one knew about or understood it. Gay, however, was. Being gay would have been so much easier for me.

I thought if I could just turn the gay on inside me, flip the switch, everything would be great. I wanted to be gay. I really wanted some stupid “How to Become Gay for Dummies” manual. Shockingly enough, there isn’t one. I knew what I needed to do, no manual needed for me. But, I could not get past basic flirting. I did not want to be romantic with girls. I really did not want to cross any kinds of sexual lines with a girl, where I might with a guy. As gay as I wanted to be, I just could not be gay. Kinsey scale, for me, tilted heterosexual. As much as I tried to get it to flow the other way, it would not budge. Sadly, I was not gay.

As identities were finally seen as separate parts that build up a whole, it became easier and easier for me to find definitions of self. I want love and romance with a member of the opposite sex, and I really love being a girl. Finding the asexual spectrum felt like coming home.

Life is complicated, and my parts feel extra complicated. I have an identity, and it is confusing. I do not owe anyone an explanation, but I also want others to understand. Asexuality is not as easily explained, or as comprehendible, as being gay in my personal world. Being asexual continues to feel outcaste, lonely, and isolated from normality. I had wished to be gay. It felt like I was typecast as gay, stereotypically speaking. I would have had struggles, but I felt at least I would have known who I was, and have a partner I felt right with. But, I am not gay, and as cool as it would be to be gay, baby I was not born that way.  

New Year, New Focus

Crossing the threshold into 2021, I have been feeling cynical. Trying to work through the beautiful traumas that 2020 handed out. I am angry, hurt and disappointed. My life was altered without my approval. Learning to accept, adapt and move on to this new version of me is a work in progress. As 2020 rounded the corner into its final stages, I could feel my passion and hope for… well, anything and everything slowly fade away. I wanted to find a cave, crawl inside and hide (I still do). I have been searching for a topic to write about but so many posts led to upset and delete. Then, as I was searching for a mouse pad (of all things) with a specific theme (asexual pride), I found something that expresses how I want to enter into this New Year…

Let’s talk about me and my sexual identity.

The asexual spectrum is a vast, fluid landscape with too many variables to mention. However, my personal spectrum, while also fluid, has less variables. Some ace-spec individuals are sex-repulsed, but I am not. I do not mind talking about sex, watching sexy times unfold in a movie, TV show or book, and thoughts of sex do not bother me. However, with a sexual partner, it can get warm, but when the warm gets hot, I get cold.

Growing up, I imagined spending my life with someone I loved. I was going to get married and live happily ever after with them. The wrench in the action plan was that, thanks to a multitude of influences, the idea of a healthy relationship is healthy amounts of sex. Who is defining the healthy? Asexuals amount to about 1% of the population, and hetroromantic asexuals even less I’m sure, so I am a lone fish in a big sexualized sea.   

I remember my fist (real) boyfriend. The art of the chase was the best part, as it is for most romantic individuals. I liked him and he liked me. Then he asked me out, we went on a date, and everything got awkward and uncomfortable. We were 13 years old, but at 13 my intuition was trying to guide me. I ignored it because I did not understand it. There was something different and wrong with me, but I hid it and struggled through it. I kept the confusion to myself, mostly because when I did say something I was handed comments such as, “you have to keep trying, practice will make it better.” and “He’s not the right guy for you, you’ll find him.”  

This was more or less the blueprint of how romantic relationships were going to go and the struggles I would have. And folks, it is unfair to be so conflicted about wanting the simplest things… romance, love and a partnership, and not being able to fully access it. It is like asking for cake without the icing or pizza without the crust. It is not supported even though it is still obtainable. This is the biggest misconception life has sold us. Cake is still cake without icing and pizza is pizza if you call it pizza.    

I fall on my asexual spectrum with a need for a romantic partner, without sex. I am an ambivert who hates being alone. Yet, hello 2021 and welcome to Isolationville. The pandemic bus picked me up, and dropped me here without my permission. Now, I am facing a fork in the road where I can either embrace or reject who I am, as well as where I am. I really want to reject it all, but suffering is a worn out old shoe that I want to let go of. I want to embrace the black, gray, white and purple this year. I may never find a romantic life partner, but I have supportive family and friends. I want to continue looking for community and acceptance, even now here in Isolationville. So, 2021 is a New Year and finding ME is the new focus. 

My Passion, Not Yours

I have always loved writing. If I were to compare my writings to those of great scholars or accomplished artists, my writing would be lame and rejected. However, I don’t write to be judged or to impress others, I write because it feels good and I enjoy it. Writing to express my emotions and passions is what I am good at. Story writing, I love it just the same. As a kid, I aspired to be a script writer. Life happens, and sometimes the things we are most passionate about do not turn out to be our full time career. I allowed negativity to be defeating and stifle my passion for writing. In high school, I wrote stories and letters… so many letters. My spelling was horrible and I am sure my grammar sucked, but I wrote anyway. I was ashamed of my inabilities and my writing slowed down and eventually stopped.

In college, I took creative writing as one of my first college courses. The course was fun and awoke the writing beast within. Unfortunately, as the course ended so did my creative writing. Over the years ideas swarmed inside my head, but that is sadly as far as they got.

Then something magical happened… the blog was invented. The internet exploded with these individualized thoughts, statements, stories, informational posts, recipes… I realized that I could write about anything. I was gifted (literally, one of the best birthday gifts ever) with a website and the platform to produce my inner thoughts and opinions for the world to see. I loved it. I wrote all the time and posted blog after blog.

When my son started first grade, things did not go as planned and we pulled him out of public school to homeschool him. Mommyhood took precedence over blog post writing. At the same time, I decided to go back to school and get a few college degrees. Writing for fun fell into the cracks of existence where things get lost and forgotten about.

I have long since graduated, started a career and was sitting in the breakroom with a co-worker/friend who, one day, expressed “you should write.” Well….. I explained my history with this passion of mine. When I got to the blogging she made a high pitched sound and demanded I start blogging again!

It took over a year but I finally sat down, looked at an empty word doc and told my brain to go. I told myself that it does not matter what others think of your writing, it’s your passion, not theirs. Haters gonna hate (thanks Tayler Swift) and I am really okay with that. Haters have the right to their thoughts, actions and opinions. My decision is to let it go and write with passion.

I am back and I love it. I am going to write whatever I want to write because I can. Others have the choice to read or not to read what I put down. I just want to be ME and I just want to write.   

Gender Roles and Societal Expectations: a brief collaboration

I was born into the last portion of generation X. Each generation, and culture, develops and creates their own set of social norms and expectations, including their identifiers as a generation. Some expectations from previous generations remain but alter and adapt to modern societies. Social norms and expectations are an idea of what is socially acceptable and what is not. There is no social norms committee, no written guidelines and no judge. The jury is society and the consequences of going against these abstract expectations are shame and ridicule.

I decided it would be interesting to collaborate, briefly, with my son, born into generation Z, on this topic. Generation X and generation Z coming together to discuss gender roles and societal expectations

Let me just be very clear that we are not discussing gender identities, since neither of us can properly discuss or represent this topic.

Generation X, I was born in the mid 70’s. We started the generation identifiers, such as gen X, Y and now Z. Growing up in the late 70’s and into the 80’s, gender role expectations should have been a lot more liberal than they were. Gender role expectations from the baby boomer generation were fading out and individualism was slowly fading in.

Generation Z, I was born in the early 2000’s. Growing up in the 2000’s and into the 2010’s, gender expectations seemed faint and almost mute, as I never experienced anything interesting regarding my gender or the roles expected of me. 

Generation X, I find it interesting how so many generations coexist and battle over who has created better expectations. Society has used shame and ridicule to create submission. However, it has caused uproar and defiance. Without defiance, there would not be change, and without change there would be only one generation, generation A. No thank you. I vote for change (I can due to gender evolution of woman’s rights). Generations are the epitome of evolution. It is disappointing that generation after generation some gender roles and societal expectations seem to evolve slowly. Women’s rights, for example, equity and equality continue to be fought for. 

Generation Z, generations are made from the changing of time. Life in the twenty-first century continues to want to bracket me into a specific gender role. I can identify gender roles and societal expectations but I do not follow any other’s idea of who I represent myself to be (gender or otherwise). I seem to be the exception, not the rule. I have never felt pressure to be boyish or to act or dress in a specific way; my family and friends just accept and support me for me. I view the world through a lens of equality, without judgment or bias.

Growing up in the latter part of generation X, with baby boomer parents and traditionalists grandparents, I was lucky to have an eclectic and diverse family. Gender roles and societal expectations had a heavy hand in my upbringing. Society set the standards and my family executed the expectations. No shaming or blaming to my family here, each generation, for the most part, does the best they can with what they have. Gender role expectations trickled naturally from branch to branch on my family tree. I was born holding the ax to end it. As a parent I try not to play by the same rules of setting gender expectations for my children. My relationship with society has always been rough because society and I have not always agreed on expectations. Regarding gender, societal expectations can bite me.  

Collaborating on this post with my son has been a lot of fun and helpful in fleshing out main points to the topic. This topic is so BIG I could write an entire thesis paper on it. I love that my kid shares my passion for writing and he shares my passion for humanity. He has always been and will always be my humanitarian. I have so much love and pride for him.  

A message regarding gender roles and societal expectations to all generations, be kind, be open, be understanding and accept change. Stop fixing and start hearing the messages asking for unconditional support and love. Each generation is created and designed to be different and defiant. Manipulating environments and disrupting norms should be embraced and cultivated. It is exciting to see what is next. It is exciting to watch seeds of change grow and thrive. 

Diversity is beautiful, embrace it. 

2020

I had such hope for 2020 because 2019 sucked. Although, in retrospect, I will take 2019 back. Alas, there is no time machine, no TARDIS to transport me back to a time I unknowingly took for granted. I say “sucked” but it really was not that bad. I just wanted and needed a new chapter, and the start of a new decade seemed like a good place to begin. I know I was not alone in this thought, so many people were expecting a better tomorrow with 2020.

Needing a new chapter, for me, was like needing to come up for air after being underwater for a little bit. I was not drowning, I was doing okay. I was just going with the flow, but it was time for oxygen. Setting a date, such as 2020, set everything up for failure. I put too much pressure on a date; on an idea that is merely an expression of time. However, 2020 has been really, really bad. 2020 has not possessed the healing, and life altering power I had hoped for, instead it has thrown down some ugly punches.

Pandemic. Mic drop. Show is over. Everyone, go home.

In the early stages of quarantine, I felt uneasy. With places closing, such as theaters, museums, trails, parks… everything! I was not doing well. I needed to find something I could do within the confines of the safety parameters. Going for walks and being mindful of social distancing was an easy way to get out of the house to get exercise and fresh air. So, one early misty Saturday morning in mid-April, I took my dog for a walk. 2020…. 2020 is the year that broke me. Literally smashed me and snapped me. That, my friends, is a story for another day.

Murder. Protests. Riots… more murder… I have been quiet on this front. It is not because I do not care, it is because I care SO much. I care about equality and I care about humanity. Everyone has a voice and a right to be alive. There is a quote, believed to have originally stated by George Santayana in 1905, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” It breaks my heart and rips my soul that humanity continues to not only repeat history, but refuses to learn from it. It is not until we realize the mistakes we have made, and identify the awful injustices we continue to commit, that we will end this war on humanity. There is a need, but the need cannot be met without a want and a drive for change.

The placebo effect is exactly what I had intended to experience crossing the time line from 2019 to 2020. I am an educated adult with realistic expectations. I, personally, do not believe in magic, however I believe in the power of thought. Believing in something and wanting a specific outcome is the ground work for change. Application of an idea and manipulating the variables within ourselves makes change happen. 2020 was my placebo and I was ready for that psychosomatic high. It was going to give me the energy to swim to the surface; I was going to get the breath of oxygen I knew I deserved.

Almost eight months into this promising new decade and I am deeper under water than I was when I cheered “Happy New Year!” to 2020. The lights on this bright new beginning dim with each passing day and hope feels like a dream I am trying to remember but am slowly forgetting. There was a need to come up for air, but not an emergent need. Now, my body is starting to feel the panic for oxygen. Poetically painful. Emotionally and physically wrecking. Life unhinged and simply falling apart. 2020, what is happening and why are you doing this?

Blaming a number, a year, for everything that has happened and continues to happen is easy. 2020 does not have cognition, no abilities to maliciously want to hurt me, or the world for that matter. 2020 cannot take back or apologize for the wrong doings caused, or, may continue to cause. 2020 is life reminding me what is important. 2020 has been a train wreck that has forced me to stop. Just stop and listen. It is not what I wanted it to be, and it continues to be one of the biggest struggles I have ever endured. If I do not walk away from this seeing and hearing the messages this year (alone) has been giving, then 2020 has not failed me… I have failed me.

An assumed NASA quote by Gene Kranz is “Failure is not an option.” Not saying that life is a pass or fail mission, it definitely is not. It is that falling down means getting back up. The beauty of life is forgiveness, chances to learn and grow from mistakes, failures and struggles. 2020 has smacked me across the face, grabbed me by the shirt and spoke to me in a stern tone. “The time is now,” it said, “to alter yourself and grow.” 2020 reminded me that life is here and gone in a heartbeat. Pain and struggles are real because the journey is not easy. There should never be shame or blame for having a hard time making it through a moment. Scars are stories about struggles and perseverance. I have a lot of scars because I have a lot of stories. I am here 2020, because I am a fighter, no matter how defeating the moment may seem. I woke up in 2020, a part of me did anyhow, the part of me that needed to wake up. The part that saw I was drowning. The part that, without hesitation, dove in to save itself.

2020, you suck. There is no denying that. The world is burning and crumbling. If the people do not realize that they, each and every one of them, obtain the control to stop it… I fear this is just the beginning of an epic saga. This is not a script to a movie. Unless we do something to stop it, it is going to continue to rage on. I can only do my part and I am working on it.

2020, I hear you.  

Coming Out of the Dark… for Cake

I am coming out of the dark, not only literally but figuratively as well. It has been such a long time since I have put my thoughts and feelings into words to share publicly. Time has evaporated; my babies are teens and my career has a solid foundation. I sit here in the middle of 2020 wondering what has happened to the world and to myself. There is global pandemic, the country is falling apart and I am wincing due to the pain shooting up from my shattered hip that is on the mend. In the darkness there is light… right? While I struggle to find the positives of everything happening in the world right now, I recognize there is good happening. We, as a world, absolutely need to stand up, be loud and stop unjust hate crimes that plague this planet. When the pandemic hit, the mantra “we are all in this together” meant camaraderie, support and peace. Through the protests and riots, this manta continues to hold meaning. Humanity has the ability to hear it; they just need to stop and listen.  

Coming out of the dark has a personal meaning for me.  As I continue to reach new levels of self-actualization, life becomes clearer. I understand why life had, and continues to have, certain struggles. Coming out of the dark is a realization of my sexual identity. I lived in the dark as many have lived in the closet. I have lived in a state of confusion regarding my sexual orientation since I can remember.

In my mid-twenties, I had watched a documentary on Alfred Hitchcock. The documentary talked about Alfred’s sexual orientation and his relationship with his wife. Alfred Hitchcock was reportedly sexually inactive for most of his life, alluding to a definition of asexuality. This information resonated throughout me. I was under the misconception that asexuals were automatically aromantic, and it was inspiring to find out that was not true. The seed was planted, but I was living in the dark, and my asexual awareness needed light to grow so it remained dormant.   

Being attracted to the LGBTQIA+ community was confusing in itself. Was I gay? Was I failing at romantic relationships because I did not want a male partner? Maybe I was bisexual? Pansexual? I was, and continue to be, attracted to members of the opposite sex… girls are shiny, just not romantically. Education and awareness regarding asexuality was not available to me, so I was grasping at what was. The dark just kept getting darker.  

Every relationship I was in imploded. I would lose momentum of trying to be someone I was not. Worse, I blamed my partners. I was conditioned believing “you just haven’t met the right guy yet.” I did meet the right guy and I married him. Unfortunately, like all my relationships before him, my marriage suffered. My life suffered and my world was a chaotic mess. I was with someone I admire and love (always and forever), but I was nasty and mean. Struggling to find balance and not understanding what I needed, created an individual I am not proud of being.   

The journey coming out of the dark has been rough and unsettling at times (more often than not). I threw hate at others for being confident in who they are because I was envious I could not be as strong. The stepping stones, as cracked and uneven as some were (some continue to be), have been my path out of the dark. I remember saying “I am asexual” out loud for the first time to a friend in the car just last year. I said it without conviction. I am still in the dark as most individuals I know do not know I am asexual. Why would they? I felt like a fool for wanting to come out of the dark. I felt like I would be judged for behaviors and actions that I did not take ownership of. I felt, who am I to jump into the LGBTQIA+ community? I felt like I was trying to take something that did not belong to me.

A pivot occurred, where I carefully and cautiously placed a foot gently into the light… I had a conversation with my oldest son, in Vegas, on his fifteenth birthday, regarding his sexual and romantic identities. My son never came out as asexual and aromantic; he just grew and developed naturally into himself. I came out to him as asexual heteroromantic, my heart filled with pride as he gave me the same unconditional love and acceptance I have always given him.

I decided to come out of the dark to my brother-in-law, and apologize for slamming the door on him when he came out of the pantry. I was greeted with an understanding and acceptance I felt like I did not deserve. I told my husband (unfortunately now separated) and again, I was given respect and love I did not feel like I deserved. There is a lot of wrong I did, and I am humbled by the support and unconditional love all around me. 

I am asexual heteroromantic. I am no longer lost, confused or lying to myself. It is not that I have not found the right guy. It is not something I am just saying as a front to hide behind… this is who I am. I love romantic partnership but I would rather sit and eat cake with a partner than have sex with them… It really is that simple.