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If my family had a coat of arms, it would have one corner of boxes stacked to the ceiling of other people’s secondhand garbage, another corner would be empty bottles and stubbed out cigarettes, flanked by a bus stop ad for a personal injury lawyer. The rest would be unfinished. Our motto would be something like “needlessly and infuriatingly complicated.”

I can’t control other people. I can only attempt to move seamlessly around them. Failing that, and when interaction are necessary, I no longer feel compelled to accept the unfettered nightmare that are embedded in the compulsive and all-encompassing fixation. I am attempting to grow a backbone and take measures to protect myself.

Still, I feel such a draining and exhaustive sadness. Eliminating the more heavily charged elements from my life has made me realize how much the endemic damage is already done, how much can’t be undone, and the sinking worry that I might never feel truly healthy. But hope remains. Each new day is an opportunity to climb back up the mountain.