It’s day 7 of Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Shrink4Men is committed to raising awareness about male victims of domestic abuse, the invisible victims.
Today’s In His Own Words is about a man who kissed a princess only to watch her turn into a poisonous toad shortly after saying, “I do.” He thought he was marrying the woman of his dreams. In reality, she is the stuff of nightmares.
Princess Turns into a Poisonous Toad
In the beginning:
I planned to treat my bride to a tropical honeymoon full of adventure including, hikes, snorkeling, sandy beaches, exploring and animal watching on the Galapagos Islands. We didn’t have much money at that time, so I planned the second part of our trip on a yacht called the Darwin. It was not a Carnival cruise ship, and its cabins were rather narrow with bunk beds drilled into the starboard hull and no mattresses thicker than two feet.
The first night of the cruise, my wife’s displeasure at my ‘poor’ job in choosing a cruise with suitable conditions was evident. She constantly complained and criticized my planning ability to provide for a ‘proper’ marriage.
Soon the comparisons to daddy started. Daddy would know how to treat his girls on a trip. He would plan properly to make sure everyone was taken care of. How dare I not know that the boat I chose would be subpar for her! After I softly and unwittingly suggested that, while it’s not perfect, it didn’t mean we weren’t going to enjoy our honeymoon, I was able to assuage her temper that night.
The following morning while getting ready for the day, my wife had the misfortune to drop a contact lens. This event triggered a narcissistic rage episode. While rehashing my inadequacies in a loud, aggressive and tearful tone, she slapped me in the face and demanded that I help find her contact.
I was really bewildered. I did not know how to react.
In the end, in order to assuage her, I helped her find her contact lens and calmly reassured her that everything would be OK. A voice deep-down told me I should divorce her. However, given that we’d been married for less than a week, I allowed myself to rationalize away the incident.
I thought, “What about the fortune her daddy just spent to put on a spectacular wedding? My family just spent a fortune on travel just to support my wedding. I can’t leave her now. She was just upset, and rightly so. This cabin is a bit small. I probably could have researched it a little more and done a better job to make her happy, etc.”
I started to withdraw some that day from her. My wife then apologized to me, while still blaming me and said that that wouldn’t happen again. Since my image and reputation as a newlywed was vested in that, I happily accepted her apology and tried to forget the incident.
A few months later:
My wife was very ‘family oriented’ and “needed” to be around her family very much. I pointed out that I wanted to be respected as an autonomous person and balance that with her need to be with her family. My desires were secondary to those of her family and their plan and vision for my life.
One day, I had another engagement to attend to and was trying to hurry the family visit along. This upset my wife very much. While driving to pick up some food, she started in on how I was disrespecting her family and slapped me in the face while I drove. How dare I have my own schedule and desires! It’s important that the family leave the country club together and be together!
I rationalized this one away as well. I told myself we’d be moving to Florida soon and I’d be rid of that influence. Once in a new environment, she’d grow up and be a rational human being. She just needed to change her environment.
A few months later:
My wife and I were ‘happily’ adjusting to a new life in Florida. However, the loss of her family was too much to bear. My wife couldn’t function without them. I was a terrible thorn in her side for marrying her. She had many other suitors, but she chose me and I was making her unhappy. I had no career, no family, nothing for her.
I tried to ease her pain by staying with her, comforting her and making friends for her. I found other newlyweds from similar backgrounds and befriended them. Naturally, my wife was jealous that I was making friends and accused me of cheating with the married women I thought would be good friends for my wife and me.
In public, she can be quite charming and we arranged some double dates. On one double date, she didn’t understand a direct question our new friends were asking her. I didn’t come to her immediate aid and she felt stupid and humiliated. On the ride home, I got slapped again. I still felt terribly for her and tried all the more to make her assimilate and fit in. I felt I needed to ‘raise’ her into adulthood.
As the years pass:
My wife decided I was no good working menial office tasks with no future. She preyed on my desire to make something of myself, after firmly projecting how worthless I was to her. I wanted to finish my college education and be a ‘professional’ for her and give her the life she deserved. After all, all her friends were married to professionals.
She was ‘slaving’ away at a clerical position for me, while I was bumbling around. My previous college credits didn’t transfer, but it didn’t stop me from going from clerical position, to pizza delivery driver, to busboy, to server to eventually, a chemical engineer.
During this time, my wife became pregnant with our first daughter. The resolve to be a good father came over me and so did my wife’s tyrannical behavior. This is when the mask started coming off completely. After all sorts of verbal abuse on how I don’t care enough, I’m not a good father, etc. It further cemented my resolve to be the best father I could be.
Eventually, there were more episodes of violence. I was slapped for asking her to be quiet while talking to her sister on the phone. Our daughter was sleeping. There were episodes of broken glass and then it happened, the first suicide attempt.
She was yelling about how all I cared about was our daughter and smashing stuff up. After trashing the house, she ran into the kitchen and pulled out a knife. I screamed, “No!” and wrestled the blade from her and calmed her down. I just had a kid with this woman. The psychological torture was horrible.
I asked her to get professional help. She replied, “I was never like this until I met you. I don’t need any help.” At that point, I I retreated further into my studies and fatherhood.
The verbal abuse, and sometimes physical abuse (not slapping anymore, but pinching and punching), continued up until I was about to graduate college. Then for a month, it stopped. She was kind, nice, sincere and lavished praise on me! I did it! I had earned my BS in engineering! We should have another kid! Are you kidding me!
I had sex one time and she was pregnant. Once the pregnancy was confirmed, she went right back to being worse than before. There was, yet again, a second suicide attempt. This one occurred after another episode of domestic violence. What triggered it? I didn’t take her to the beach she wanted to go to, I took her to a nicer one. This caused a rage episode in front of her sister who I was taking care of because of poor school behavior.
I was ready for this attempt. I scooped up our two-year old, ran out of the house and called the police. Naturally, the police found the house trashed with broken glass and took her to the mental health facilities. She then put on the charm and played the pregnant card. I stuck with her because she was carrying my baby. She knew I felt a strong obligation to our children and used it against me.
Next, she was diagnosed with a common pre-cancer in the cervix. How she milked that one. The awful conditions I was making her live in caused her cancer. Though I showed her report after report that it’s common and has a rather simple procedure to fix, it was high drama for her. In the end, a healthy baby girl was born.
After my daughter was born, I finished college and looked for work. I had an internship across the country in California. Though I asked my wife to continue working until I gained full-time employment, she decided she had worked enough and the children required her undivided attention. This included taking the children out of the country to visit her family for my entire internship, despite my logical explanations as to why this wouldn’t be healthy for the children. My eldest was completely lost to me once I got her back.
After my internship, I got a job in California and we moved as a family. Once there, I made every effort to acclimate my wife to a new life. It didn’t take long for her to hit me again, accuse me of cheating on her and try to throw me out of the house. Two weeks after buying the house I was never good enough to get for her, she staged a third suicide attempt.
Again, I pulled the knife from her hand after a long and deliberate campaign to ‘prove’ to the kids what a jerk I was. I comforted her and took her out for ice-cream. I was bewildered again, and had decided that I had done everything she demanded of me, worked my tail off to give it to her, but she would never be satisfied.
I asked her for a divorce the next day.
That put her into high gear. Divorce! No, never! How could such a good man like me divorce the mother of his children!? She promised she’d do counseling. I was exhausted at this point and told her my mind was made up, but she wore me down for counseling.
She went to see a therapist for depression. I came in two sessions later and the therapist told me, “You need to get out as soon as you can!” I was so relieved it wasn’t the same “communication and understanding” garbage I’d heard at the church after her second suicide attempt.
However, I was very afraid to pull the trigger. I knew what kind of a tyrant she was, and thought about my children. I knew that I had never held her accountable for her behavior, and in many ways enabled it by not knowing how to stand up for myself. Believe me, I tried to do it logically, but I fear the only language she understands is drama and craziness. Eventually, after six months of therapy, I worked up the courage to serve her.
When she was served, she had another narcissistic rage episode. I was fixing a child’s car seat for her so she could go out. She punched me twice. I threatened to call the police. She said, “Ouch, you just hit me! Who are the police going to believe?”
With this taunting and craziness, I got really, really scared. I tried to leave with my children, but my eldest, who is the emotional caretaker of her mommy wouldn’t leave with me. My wife demanded I hand over the children and threatened to take golf clubs to my car and call the police.
Her threats worked and she hung up on 911. 911 called back and my wife said there was no problem. She then took the kids and put them in her car and told me, “You’ll never win them. They’ll always love me!” With that she left.
I called the police to give them my side of the story. I was still in shock and feeling guilty — guilty for giving her divorce papers. I told the police, it’s not necessary to arrest her, she didn’t hurt me, but she did hit me and I don’t want her making false accusations. Essentially, I was still trying to be a white knight and excused her behavior. She ended up going to jail, but was released the next day.
I’m still living in the same house with her as we go through the divorce. If I leave the house, I lose my kids and the house. My finances are gone. Everything I’ve worked for is gone.
My oldest feels the need to reject me completely, especially when her mother is present. She is a miniature version of her mother. All of this has happened because I tried to love my wife and make her happy.
If anyone reading this is in the same boat. Stop protecting her. Tell somebody. Don’t keep it in and rationalize it away.
Chances are, most folks won’t believe you or care. But, you may find somebody who can really help. If you have kids, you will feel trapped. However, you still need to find help and find a way to protect yourself and your kids and get them out if you can. Find a good therapist to help you and read Shrink4men!
If you are in a relationship with an abusive woman and have considered leaving, but are still hopeful, for whatever reason, that you can make it work, please pay attention to these stories. Each of the men featured In His Own Words held out hope, tried their hardest to make their partners happy and were still brutalized, often with the help of law enforcement and the courts. Here are the lessons:
- Do not ignore, rationalize or minimize the red flags.
- Once the mask slips, do not ignore the crazy. Get out and get away as far and as fast as you can.
- If you “love” her and just “can’t” break it off, do not have children with these women. The children will become hostages and weapons. They will also likely become the next generation of Abusers and Codependents.
- Tell your friends, family or a therapist about the abuse. You might think you’re “protecting her,” but in reality you are enabling her. Get help and support for yourself.
- ABR (Always Be Recording) the abuse and DDD (Document! Document! Document!) the abuse. If you don’t, you may not be believed. Even if you record her abuse, you still may not be believed in our misandrist women-can-do-no-wrong culture.
- If she assaults you, don’t be a “nice guy,” be a smart guy and press charges.
- If she makes suicide threats, call the cops. If she’s serious, she needs psychiatric help. If she threatens suicide/makes a parasuicidal gesture, she still needs psychiatric help.
- It won’t get better. Develop an exit strategy and GTFO (Get the F*ck Out).
In His Own Words is a joint effort between DAHMW, Shrink4Men and AVoiceForMen to help raise awareness about the invisible victims of domestic violence, men. If you would like to submit your story, please follow the guidelines at the end of this article.
Counseling with Dr. Tara J. Palmatier, PsyD
Dr. Tara J. Palmatier, PsyD helps individuals work through their relationship and codependency issues via telephone or Skype. She specializes in helping men and women trying to break free of an abusive relationship, cope with the stress of an abusive relationship or heal from an abusive relationship. Coaching individuals through high-conflict divorce and custody cases is also an area of expertise. She combines practical advice, emotional support and goal-oriented outcomes. Please visit the Schedule a Session page for more information.
Want to Say Goodbye to Crazy? Buy it HERE.
It absolutely amazes me how similar the patterns of behaviour are with these type of women. As I read this, ( and other stories ) I found my mind having flashbacks as I identified with the craziness, rage, taunting, fear, unpredictability and stress. I’m new to this community and after reading on here for the past few months, I just signed up today. Thank-you for providing a truly life saving website. Finally someone understands. Words can not express how much it has helped.
Yes, I have been reading this blog a few times now. It has helped me realise the last serious relationship I was abusive.(I didn’t realise it until about 6 months after it ended)
I have had a few light bulb moments when reading it and thinking to myself ‘ oh that happened to me’.
While I won’t list all the incidents, but the moment I realised that something was very wrong was when I received a text message from her when I was on a night out with colleagues. She had enough of me, she couldn’t take any more of my lazy, inconsiderate and nonchalant attitude around the house. I raced straight back to the house and saw her in floods of tears, screaming that she couldn’t take it anymore. All because I forgot to take the bins out (trash cans).
I will never forget that moment standing in the kitchen, her screaming at me like she had caught me in bed with the neighbours’ wife. The relationship had come to an end and I realised that I had to get out.
There no doubt that she had BPD, and she developed it due to her father who himself was probably BPD as well. What’s worse is that her two brothers have also got it. One of them is married with children unfortunately.
The relationship only last 18 months, and I am fortunate for that. I feel sorry for the rest of you who have to put up with it. I do wonder, now and again, how things would have turn out if I had stayed. I shudder to think.
Insane… sounds so much like the stories I’ve heard about my husband’s ex wife.
Itza Sekret says
“I felt I needed to ‘raise’ her into adulthood.”
BAM! I got sucked in by that same crap! Thinking she just needed a better influence than her Hi Drama Hi Conflict Momma. This guy wrote about exactly what my life -would- have been, no question.
“She is a miniature version of her mother.”
Anytime you hear a woman talk about being treated like a “princess” or if she is an only child…that is a red flag.
I would ask her on the first date. Ask her if she has any brothers and sisters and see what kind of lifestyle she is “accustom” to (then and now).
Never ignore those flags!
I dated one woman and her name was Angela, but she preferred to be called “ANGEL”. The first 6 months were not too bad, after that more extreme selfishness came to the surface. The alcoholic drinking emerged, violent outbursts, depression and anxiety, from not being the center of attention enough. I ran not for the hills the mountains.
Awareness is getting out there. This was in an article in the local newspaper today:
“Kimberly Fleming from Horicon plays “Chandra,” a verbally abusive girlfriend to one of the sons.
‘I think Chandra is a very distinct character — one that is believable. The fight that goes on between Chandra and Jeff is actually one that I have seen between many couples,’ she said.” http://www.fdlreporter.com/article/20131010/FON0101/310100109/Domestic-violence-theme-UW-Fond-du-Lac-play
So Cal Dad says
“My oldest feels the need to reject me completely, especially when her mother is present. She is a miniature version of her mother.”
This perfectly describes my life as well. I have separated and gotten divorced since my last posts here, it’s been 8 months since leaving. The alienation has increased, especially with the younger 15 yo daughter. The one time this summer that the kids and I have gotten time some alone on a trip for a few days, my daughter started to come out of the fog. But as soon as she is back around here Mom, the rejection of me quickly returns, and it breaks my heart. She is becoming a mini-version of her sick mother and I feel helpless and despondent at times.
Best Days Ahead says
Hi guys. Thanks for responding to my story. I finally got a user name for this thing. Here’s an update. I just had a custody evaluation done with a child psychologist. The evaluation consisted of a meeting with me, then a meeting with my wife, a meeting with both of us with the children, then a meeting with my wife and I. The decision was, the bond of my youngest daughter is stronger to her mother than it is to me. This is because I work and my wife does not. Any emotional instability that my wife has demonstrated was due to the dysfunction of the marriage and does not affect her ability to parent. I was more likely to be the abuser due to my Type-A personality, while my wife was more likely to have been the victim. My extra hard work of providing letters of support from people who have watched me parent for years, letters of support from two schools where my eldest attended, 6 months of detailed journaling, video recordings of my wife’s aggression and admitting to abuse while she was ‘hoovering’, police reports showing her to be mentally unstable and arrested for DV were not even considered or looked at. I even gave her a copy of the above article and she told me that I was a good writer, but this means nothing as I could be lying.
Towards the end, I told her while I wasn’t surprised at her decision, she could be enabling more abuse. She said she understood, but it would be more abusive to put them in daycare all day away from their mother while I worked.
Unfortunately, my daughters will turn out to be her. There’s not much I can do any more other than be the best I can be when I’m with them.
Dr Tara Palmatier says
That just sucks. I am so very sorry. I am also so very, very angry for you and at the national disgrace that is our family court system. I’m just disgusted.
Please, if you have the time, be sure to post an update on the AVFM copy of this article. I’m sure people who read about your experiences there will be curious as well.
Ghost Rider says
I have been reading the blogs and following this site closely for the past 2 years. First time posting. This story literally describes my ex to a t with the exception of the suicide attempts. She is WAY too NPD to do that. Why would you want to kill yourself when you are Gods perfect example of a woman? Lol. Thanks for posting this Best Days Ahead. I pray for you that your daughters will see the light of day as they get older and start to see your ex wife for who she really is.
Best Days Ahead says
I’m sorry to hear that! Now my BPD ex has chastised me for even bringing up those suicide attempts. She was able to convince the psychologist that they were just hormones and I am a difficult person to live with. I was wrong for trying to hold her accountable and am now paying dearly for it. I’m now stuck with a mother of the year candidate with two girls who validate and support her every chance they get! It’s terrible. I don’t know what my role is anymore as a father. I’m not sure how much I should fight to be relevant in their lives. I now listen to the chorus of “Mama! Mama! Mama!”. This happens even on my time with them. They constantly worry and need to be with her. Any attempt to try and point this out makes me aggressive and the difficult one.
I would just be willing to bet you couldnt do enough for her. Dont blame yourself. Self centered women on the extreme . Spoiled princesses from childhood that cant live in real life. The poor men that marry those kind of women are in for an emotional roller coaster ride they will never forget. I like that description Gods perfect example of a woman.
Dave Gordon says
How sad to read this story – I am so sorry that she was successful in cloning herself via her two daughters and at your expense. Most people unfamiliar with PDs would read this and think, “Nah, this couldn’t happen this bad. No way.” For those of us who are in the know via experience – we do know the painful truth and this is not far fetched at all. If there is any way I could help I would. Any suggestions out there? dg
My God I really thought that I was the only one living this crazy nightmare!
Guys what do you think?
I am completely confused. I could write a long story but the bottom line is I am taking real strain at the moment with my wife. I came across the book “Walking on Egg Shells, how to cope with a family member with Borderline Personality Disorder” last week and I thought the book was written for me. I have beaten myself up and I have tried my best to please my wife and help her to be happy. We live in one of the best places in the world, she doesnt work, has 3 nanny’s, etc but yet she is unhappy and I get into trouble for different things on virtually a daily basis.
Although she has bi-polar and is on medicine I have tried my best for many years. However in Dec I thought we were in an amazing place. Since Jan the wheels have fallen off the bus. One minute she is wanting to have an affair and the next minute she wants to have our next child. The inconsistencies I have never dealt with before.
The bottom line is for 5 years I have believed all I need to do is get my wife to deal with the fact her mother died in a car accident when she was 16. I keep thinking “If I can just do this” then it will be fixed.
Problem is my son is 2 years old and I really dont know what to do. I believe he needs me. However she wants to leave now. In her mind, if she gets rid of me she will be happy.
I have three choices:
1. Stick in there and hope she gets through this cyclical. My son grows up in a stable family.
2. She wants to leave and I accept without a fight. How I see and involve myself in my sons life is going to be extremely difficult. We live in a very small holiday town and I cant stay in the same place.
3. I fight to stay in the relationship and then 5 years from now I cant continue and I want to leave and then as a lawyer she will take me to the cleaners.
Bottom line is I really love her and she has some amazing charateristics. I dont want to leave, but at the moment I feel I am not been given an option. I have always believed it can solved and I have done everything in my power to solve it.
What do I do? I need some help please.
I have a niece that has borderline personality disorder and bipolar also. I had a sister that also had borderline personality disorder that took her own life. To me all you can really do is educate yourself on this disorder and at the same time you are going to feel sorry for her and no doubt have empathy for her. At the same time you have to think about your own mental stability your child and really what can you put up with. Do not let your self esteem go in the dumpster, think about yourself. Its hard to do that when you care about someone else. You have a child that needs you just as much as they need their mother. I feel for you. Go buy books, go visit a social worker do whatever you have to do to learn about this. When you have done your best thats all you can do. There is life after divorce also its hard but you can do it, because I was there myself. Many of us are in the same boat.
My crazy ex NPD punched me once. We were driving in my pick up truck,I was taking her home. We started arguing about some trivial thing and she started lambasting me with one sarcastic remark after another. I was patient and nice for several minutes,but finally got angry and made just 1 sarcastic remark to her. She gave me the most evil,hateful look. But she shut up,so I thought that was the end of it. We got to her place-I was just dropping her off. I got out of my truck and walked around to open the door for her and give her a hug and kiss good-bye,as I always did. When I got up close to her-BAM! She punched me in the face. My glasses broke in half and went flying to the ground. I was stunned. I jumped back and said WTF was that for? She said that was for the 1 sarcastic remark I made. She then walked off. I didn’t talk to her for a week after that. When we spoke again she did apologize for hitting me,but was quick to point out that she only did it cuz I made that 1 sarcastic remark. So,it was really my own fault. Forget that she had made scores of sarcastic remarks to me 1st. Talk about being able to dish it out,but not being able to take it. She also told me that she made the decision to hit me the moment I made that 1sarcastic comment. But she didn’t do it while I was driving,cuz we were on the highway and I was going 65mph. She said she didn’t want me to have a wreck cuz SHE might have got hurt. So she waited till we got to her place and I had stopped the truck. Notice…her concern was that SHE might get hurt. Not that I might get hurt…or others might get hurt. Her concern was only for herself. I should have ended the relationship then,but stupid me…I forgave her and stayed several more months. She never actually hit me again,but mainly cuz that taught me to KEEP MY MOUTH SHUT when I was with her in person. I could be a little more honest over the phone and she did admit that there were a few times on the phone that I made her so angry she would have hit me had I been there in person. Simply because I expressed some honest feelings,or called her out on one of her lies or bad behaviors. What kind of a sick relationship is this,when I can’t even be honest with my girlfriend about my feelings,for fear she will punch my lights out? Cuz she knew I would not hit her back. And why did I stay with this crazy woman for 20 months? All valid questions which I am asking myself now. I can only say thank God I found Dr.T’s website when I did,or I don’t know how much longer I would have stayed. She was wanting me to move in with her and get married,and I was just about ready to do that when I found this website. God,to finally understand what I had been dealing with the last 20 months! Knowledge is power,and I was finally able to muster up the strength and courage to end it. Thank you so much Dr. T for all your insight and hard work-and for this website. It has not been easy but I am moving on. And with all I have learned I think I can safely say I will NEVER get in a relationship like this again. At the 1st sign of ‘CRAZY’ I am outta here! Thanks again Dr. T.
I think we have all had very similar experiences, just some more than others depending on the creativeness of Crazy and how long we stay with them – in my case, over 20 years.
As an aside, my wonderful second wife says that women should use Shrink4Men as a dating site – you meet the nicest men here, picked by Crazies for exactly that reason. Unfortunately, it’s also a great hunting ground for Crazies too, except we are all guaranteed to be broke, so not much use to them
We all say we stayed for the children. There is much skepticism about this but I think we all mean it. After all, if I had a known pedophile down the road, would I deliberately leave my small child with them and say “Do exactly what you want with her”? Society and the authorities would hold me criminally responsible if anything happened to her – but that is what we are told is the wisest thing to do, to get out and leave our children in the hands of a Crazy, whether BPD, NPD or psychopath.
I thought my first wife was a BPD for the longest time, but now I don’t think so at all. I think she was a straight-out psychopath, score in the high thirties. Crazies are entirely happy to claim the craziest things, like she had liver cancer she cured herself, so why wouldn’t she pretend to be BPD? Being BPD elicits a lot of sympathy and extracts her from the normal laws of responsible behavior.
I took a lot of persuading to leave my children behind. I even went back to my first wife for 6 months to see if there was any solution whatsoever to protect the children, turning my back on my perfect new wife. I knew I could never get my children out of there despite evidence of her apparent dementia, blackmail emails to my family and a school Head who was willing to testify that Crazy had loaded child porn onto my elder son’s FB page. Suffolk (UK) CPS just weren’t interested. They wouldn’t even talk to the school Head.
What persuaded me in the end was my new wife giving me the benefit of her 20 years experience as a CPS worker in Alaska. I wasn’t protecting my children, I was putting them at risk. Crazy most likely wouldn’t harm them as psychopaths are fiercely protective of their own possessions, but they will use the children against their target which will always have serious consequences. My elder son went into anaphylactic shock under the stress and had to be given CPR, by me but Crazy said she saved him by giving him homeopathy.
Plus, my two sons were much more attached to her than to me, and at 13 and 10 were quite old enough to make their own choices.
I stopped trying to contact them eventually as any contact with them resulted in contact with Crazy. You can’t put them back in the firing line once you have left.
I adore my two sons but they are very happy living in a nest with Crazy. Why disturb their pleasure, especially as I really have no power to change the situation anyway?
I once made the old joke to the excellent Father Michael of St. Dominick’s in San Francisco that He’ll might be more fun than heaven. He laughed and then said “Absolutely not. Sinners are all the same from my many years of reconciliation. Decent people are far more interesting.” And very much nicer.