Hey guys, just wanted to post some encouraging words here for anyone who needs them. My whole life the people who have "loved" me have manipulated me, abused me, used me, expected perfection from me, etc. Well, once I finally stopped trying to please those people and just accept myself, I couldn't be happier. I'm in a relationship with an amazing guy, the chivalrous type who is affectionate, smart, attractive, and hilarious and expects great things from me, but only because he loves me and thinks that I'm incredible. Those are the people who you need to actively surround yourself with; people who will compel you to do your best for *your* sake, not theirs; who believe in you because they know the strength inside of you. It's hard sometimes to just let yourself be happy and stop worrying, for sure. To quote Chuck Palahniuk, "People don't want their lives fixed. Nobody wants their problems solved. Their dramas. Their distractions. Their stories resolved. Their messes cleaned up. Because what would they have left? Just the big scary unknown." And it's sadly very true. But you really just have to accept that you have one life, and you might as well not bullshit it or fuck it up. We only have a short amount of time, so we shouldn't waste it manipulating people or putting other people down (including ourselves), and should just accept that we are who we are, and hell, we should make the best of our existence. Furthermore, to quote Vince Lombardi, “The only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary.” If you want happiness, you're going to have to work for it, you're going to have to take action and do it, not sit back, be lazy, and let the world overwhelm you. And not everything will be perfect... I know that all the deaths, depression, mental health issues, awful, abusive relationships in my life have only made me stronger, so now I have the power to provide open, empathetic arms to a person in need and change their life for the better as well, and, honestly, who doesn't love being able to make a friend happy? And on a similar note, we can only grow, mature, and strengthen by *listening* to other people... not letting them speak (another Palahniuk reference) just to be able to tell our story... really listening to what they have to say, and learning from their experiences. To close, I just want to say that the painful memories can heal with time... my ex-boyfriends, the death of my step-dad, and other stressful moments in my life have all started to fade to a point that, unless someone brings them up, I really don't think about them. I've analyzed them, grown from them, and now focus on the positive in the present and hope for the future. Cliffs: You deserve to be happy, so let yourself do so.