A childhood of three parts

Has there ever been someone in your life you wish you could go back and thank for what they taught you? This week I have that chance. Today I want to share something extremely personal, something I never thought I would consider sharing with the world.

I had 3 parts to my childhood. The first two and a half years I was a sickly child but surrounded by love. No one knew then what was wrong with me but knew I wasn’t reaching any of the normal physical milestones. My parents didn’t want me so my grandparents cared for me.

That all came to a halt when my mother remarried a man who knew about my existence. No one knew he was a pedophile at the time and I would be his longest victim. My mother for her part was physically and verbally abusive to me from a deep resentment of feeling stuck with me.

That marriage ended after 6 years, it was during the divorce that my mother learned what I had gone through, but instead of being outraged or choosing to help me she saw an opportunity for herself. She met me one morning as I was getting breakfast before school. She told me she had believed God was punishing her for something by giving her a “cripple” for a child. But now she saw I was her way to have the life she deserved. She handed me a piece of paper, it was a wish list of all the material things she wanted but couldn’t afford. She had no plans to find a job but could now have what she wanted because “cripples don’t have feelings”.

My mother took what her husband had done to me and took it to a whole new level. She sold me for the next 8 years. I became suicidal, by 14 I couldn’t see living through more of this for another 4 years till I was 18. To control me she fed me drugs and alcohol which I quickly became hooked on.

Then one night a neighbor found me unconscious from a self-¬†inflicted drug overdose and sought not only the necessary medical attention I needed immediately but contacted my grandparents to tell them I wasn’t going to be around much longer if they didn’t do something.

This began part 3 off my childhood. At 14, I now had a safe place to live, but the damage didn’t end. My grandmother told me I was lucky because now I knew what all men were like. She said once they knew they could get what they wanted they wouldn’t care how badly they physically hurt you and for me to never tell anyone what I had gone through because no one would want to know me, I was damaged goods. This was so confusing to me, but it began a pattern of secrets and never letting anyone get to close.

My grandfather’s words were even worse. I don’t believe he wanted to hurt me, but to protect me. His generation’s views were very different. He told me not to consider dating because no man wants a woman they might have to take care of. He explained a man would never want to admit he had to stoop to being with a cripple and would move on as soon as someone better came along.

Needless to say I didn’t date. I was afraid of people and these comments stuck in my head making everything worse. But when I was 16 I net someone who I did want to know better. It took me an entire year to build up enough trust to go out with him, but it was doomed, I couldn’t trust enough no matter how patient he was with me, I ended things once I realized I wasn’t ready.

Shortly after realizing I was seriously messed up I met someone else. I gave him a hard time, again refusing to go out with him. Nearly three months later I saw the depth of who he was and was about to let my guard down when he presented me with a deal. Go out with him once and if I didn’t have fun he would never bother me again. That one date turned into months, I never did tell him I was about to go out with him moments before he made me that deal. I still gave him a hard time because I couldn’t say aloud that I had begun to care for him and even look forward to his showing up. I didn’t know how this would ever work and I was terrified of him seeing the real me and my hurting him. Yet I had never known anyone so patient and caring. In the course of just a couple of months I had met two of the kindest people I’d ever known.

I always believed he deserved someone better, but I had fallen for him. Things came to a crashing halt when my current boyfriend and my previous one met. I was so uncomfortable being with the two if them. It kept running through my head that my first boyfriend was hurt because I couldn’t learn to trust him and that seeing me with someone I did completely trust was painful to him.

By the next day my boyfriend walked away. He never knew I loved him because I had been too afraid to tell him. I held everything inside because I couldn’t handle the feelings I had for the first time in my life. It was too much too soon for me. My boyfriend thought I was in love with my ex and was hurt now too. As he walked away I wanted to explain all of this to him, but I heard my grandfathers words and told myself to let him walk away. I convinced myself at that moment he could do so much better than me.

I never wanted to feel that kind of pain again,the pain of loss or the pain of knowing I had hurt another person, although unintentionally. I decided to try to fit in. I would date but only men I didn’t like so I would never again care so much for another person. In some ways it worked. I didn’t get hurt emotionally, but I ended up in several abusive situations.

That all changed when I was 23. I was pregnant, fighting cervical cancer that was a direct result of my childhood abuse, and single again when my baby’s father left because he didn’t want his family or friends to learn that he “got someone like me pregnant”.

I stopped being a victim at that moment. I looked back at the turning point in my life. I was given love and patience. I had learned to trust but threw it away and buried those feelings once again in drugs and alcohol. But that was over. I wanted, for probably the first time, to live. I wanted to feel. I wanted to laugh and have real friendships where I didn’t have to hide the real me. And most of all I wanted to be a good mother.¬† I dealt with all the baggage I carried for years, cleaned up my act and moved on. I have been straight and sober since January 1987. But there was one thing I never had the guts to do. That was to reach out to that special guy and tell him how he saved my life by showing up in a dark period and showing me there was good in the world.

it took me a long time go heal from my heartbreak, but as I did I realized I met him at the wrong time because I wasn’t whole, but I met him exactly when I needed to because I wasn’t whole. When it came time to really live and create a life I wanted I could look back and grab hold of those feelings of love and acceptance he gave me and learn to find it in myself first.

Today I received a request to become friends with him on Facebook. Talk about shocked.If he’s interested in reading this he will now know how he was responsible for teaching me how to save myself. I only have to tell him I wrote this and he will know how large of a role he played in my life.

I now have broken my Facebook rule and have one friend who isn’t family.

who do you wish you could thank?

68 thoughts on “A childhood of three parts

  1. You had a challenging start to life. I am glad positive people came into your life to influence you finding a better road in life. It is good that the circle has been completed in you re-connecting with this positive person.

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    • Alex, I believe the vast majority of people we encounter had some life defining moment or periods in their life, much of it painful, but we must go on. I was extremely fortunate to have met the people I did, at the times I did. Yes, the circle has been completed. I am finally in a,place where I could open up fully to let him know what a huge role he played in my life and now I get to call him my friend.

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  2. Thank you for your reply! For sure, none of us are perfect, and I believe we can all snap in one way or another under too much pressure. That doesn’t make us bad. I’m pretty sure that’s a large part of the reasons my parents weren’t always up to par (they did lots of things right aswell, just for the record), and why we’ve all done things we regret. For example, I remember being in elementary school and trying to hit my friend, because I was angry at her for some reason (we’re still friends and she doesn’t remember it today, and this is not by far the only thing I regret). Most of my friends have similar stories from their childhoods (even if they had a healthy home life), and none of us are violent today, just for the record. I’ve been very inspired by the book “Why good people do bad things” by Debbie Ford, and I agree with her that we all have light and dark in us, and we need to embrace that. And I don’t think anger is necessarily wrong, it’s a perfectly healthy emotion that can let us know when our boundaries aren’t being respected etc, but it needs to be let out in appropriate ways, and not be triggered too easily. Like you taught your son how to do, with the snow shoveling etc. :) That’s FANTASTIC parenting! Thank you for your kind and wise words, if I ever have children maybe I’ll ask you for advise if you still have this blog! How you taught your son to handle his anger was so inspirational, and also what you wrote about discipline really being about teaching. That’s food for thought for sure. Maybe you could consider writing an e-book or something!

    I consider myself really lucky that I’m starting to unravel my patterns and healing my deeper wounds in a thorough way at a pretty young age though. I’m SURE that will be of great help both in life in general, and in parenting if that will be a part of my life.

    Sorry, I’ve been making this mostly about me now, again, you are a true inspiration! Someone should give you a medal!

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    • Marie, no need to apologize, I enjoyed reading your thoughts as you began to put the pieces together to see that your worst fears don’t need to keep you frozen in the past and you can have any life you choose to have. I’m very happy to see you exploring the ways you were raised with your vision of how childhood should and can be, especially at such a young age. My best wishes to you, hope to talk to you again soon.

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  3. I knew you had had a bad childhood, but I didn’t know that it was that bad! I’m just horrified! You are so strong and inspirational!
    In a weird way, your story gives me hope though. In some ways I had a bad childhood too (not nearly as bad as yours though), and I’m in the middle of the process of dealing with it. I’m in my twenties, and I’m not sure if I want to have kids or not. One of the reason I’ve not wanted a child is because I’ve been scared that I’ll mess him/her/them up, the way my parents messed up me. I’ve been scared that I’ve somehow inherited the evil that was in especially one of my parents (although that parent wasn’t all bad), and that it can somehow break out in me aswell, or maybe in my children. You strengthen the belief that it doesn’t have to be that way, that if we deal with our past we can be great parents if we choose to. I obviously don’t know them, but your sons seem nice to, so maybe evil isn’t inheritable at all.

    All the best to you!

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    • …I’m sorry if this came out wrong, I obviously didn’t mean that you are evil, you seem great and amazing! It’s just that I have this gnawing fear, hopefully irrational, that I can somehow have inherited the evil of one of my parents, and it makes me happy when other people who have been abused in one way or another turn out to be good parents with kids who are non-abusive aswell. Not that parents necessarily are to blame at all if their kids do something wrong, I’m sure there are lots of great parents with kids who have done bad things! We all have a free will after all, and there are always lots of different factors.

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      • Maria, I took no offense and completely understand where you are at. I am sorry you have had such a painful start to your life, but I believe that the answer lies in the very fact that you are asking these questions. For me I was super sensitive to possibly hurting another person because of the pain my childhood caused, so I could never harm my children or any other. Parenting brings with it a whole range of challenges, before my first child was born I explored what discipline meant. I looked it up in the Websters dictionary which defined discipline as to teach. I was stunned by that, if we are trying to teach through corporal punishment what are we teaching? This caused me to devise punishments that would teach my children without violence being part of the equation.

        By the simple act of your concern leads me to believe you would be a great parent as you will respond to your children with love.

        That being said, my eldest sons father was violent and bipolar. My son inherited those traits and was exhibiting a tendency towards violence at a very early age. I feared he would grow to be an abuser, so I worked very hard to teach him how to control his anger and if he couldn’t how to step away or even vent it in appropriate ways. One example was to send him outside, alone, to shovel. I would watch him witnessing the anger die slowly as he worked. None of us are perfect, myself and my son included, but my son is not an abuser.

        Yes personality traits can be inherited, but proper behavior and moods can be taught. Good luck to you, Marie.

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    • Thank you Jayne. I’ve been given so many gifts in life since that time, one has been the renwed friendship of my ex-boyfriend who had changed my life, taught me some people were trustworthy and gave me hope.

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  4. My goodness. There’s really nothing more that I can add that hasn’t already been said. I’m glad you’re here. You have been able to inspire so many, and to show the hidden beauty in what others wouldn’t give a second look. That is a true gift, but one that I think rarely comes without an initial cost.

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    • Jamie, I think the person who learns to question life and how they want to live who hasn’t gone through some life-changing event is very fortunate and special. Thank you, it’s nice to know I have been able to inspire others through my blog.

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  5. Oh Lois, what you have been through breaks my heart, no one should have a childhood like this. I just don’t know what to say. You are such a lovely person, I wish I could give you a bravery medal for having survived this and for being so resilient, you are amazing. I have loved having you for a blog friend, but right now I just wish I could give you a hug in person. You said in your post that you wanted to be a good mother and you have been and are now being a wonderful grandmother, neighbour, gardener, furniture restorer, crafter, writer, eco warrior and inspiration to others. I hope you and your family are proud of the woman you have become.

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    • Thank you, Jen. I am proud of the person I have become and am so glad I didn’t give up on myself as back then I couldn’t have ever imagined life could be so good. We hear all the time that those who are abused will abuse. I can’t understand that as I could never inflict harm on anyone, I couldn’t never be the one who changed anothers life in that way. Many years ago I doubted whether my life mattered, so I made a list of all the things I accomplished to create change, it was very helpful to me to see it on paper. Thank you, Jen, I really appreciate your kind words.

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  6. I was away this week and was very surprised to return and find such an untypical post from you! When I don’t think too much, I take it for granted that everyone writing a blog on the environment, or any topic, has come to it fully formed, and their journey about the environment (or whatever) is all they are. I look back on their body of work (on the blog) and I think that their interests are them. I never expected to hear such a personal story, but I appreciate you sharing it. Not just because it lets us know you better, but because there is so much a struggling person can take from it. I don’t believe in fate or destiny or the idea that everything has a purpose. But I am very happy you are where you are, and who you are, today! I hope I can show more kindness – and perseverance – after reading this.

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    • Dar, i just read your post on your trip and so enjoyed your pictures.

      I struggle at times wanting to keep my past buried because ibwant people to connect to me as the person I am today and wondering if my sharing could possibly help someone else. My finger hovered over the publish button for a bit trying to decide. I’m glad I did it, it is now out there for all time and maybe will be seen when most needed.

      The subject of fate or believing there is a reason for all things has been another issue i kept visiting for many of my adult years. At one point holding on to that very thought kept me going on some of my rougher days.

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  7. Lois, I am shocked by this post and find it very hard to find words. I feel the need to comment though because I have so much admiration for you. I have enjoyed being your friend by blog. I’m so sorry that you went through such a horrible situation. I can’t believe the very people who should have protected you were the ones who hurt you. Thank goodness you were strong enough to make yourself a good and meaningful life. I am all the more in awe of you! Re contacting your friend must have brought up a lot of strong emotions. I’m so sorry for what you went through.

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    • Thank you Linda. I feel such inspiration from you and the love for your Buddy Boy. It gives me hope that mire children will find the love and acceptance they so deserve. As for connecting with my friend again, it was wonderful to hear he’s happy and that he never held any I’ll feelings towards me. I never knew how my responses to people during that period of my life affected them. I do now.hearing from him was actually a relief for that reason.

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  8. Lois, the way you handle yourself – with such exuberance and optimism for life – I would never have believed your childhood had been so traumatic. It is just so inspiring to see a person who has been through the mill come out the other side so strong and determined in life. It was an honour to read your personal story. How I wish more people were as kind and sweet as you, whether from good or bad backgrounds. I hope you’re so proud of yourself for becoming the person you are today.

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    • Eimear, thank you so much. I am happy with where my life is today but know I couldn’t have been able to get here on my own. It was a long road to get here but worth every minute of the struggle now.

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    • Sarah, thank you. The funny thing is I wrote this for thtee reasons the first was to thank a special person, the second to show that many times that person you always wanted to thank may really appreciate, or even need, to hear what an inspiration they were. The third, to reach out to someone who may be in a bad place at the moment and let them know it can get better.

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  9. Thank you Lois for sharing such a personal and inspiring story. I have been following your story for some months now and really appreciate your honesty. Your happiness is catching and I just love your blog.
    Fitzie

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  10. Oh Lois, I knew that your childhood had been difficult, but I had no idea just how horrific it actually was. I’m so, so sorry that you had to endure such pain. It must have taken such courage to write about it. Thank you sooo much for sharing your story. It has been obvious to me for a while that you are someone who has done your own personal work, and faced your own demons in a way that most people aren’t willing to. I just had no idea how big those demons actually were.

    You know, I spent a lot of my life wishing that my childhood had been different – wishing that I had come from a “normal” family with parents who had the emotional resources to give me the love that I so desperately needed. But over the years I’ve come to see that all of those “normal” people aren’t necessarily happy. I sometimes think that I am fortunate to have grown up in a situation where all of the family dysfunction was fairly near the surface, with only the thinnest of veneers on top for the sake of keeping up appearances. I think a lot of people end up in situations that look good but feel terrible, and I imagine that it would be really difficult to find a way to deal with that sort of a legacy, because it would be so hard to even put your finger on what the problems were.

    Don’t know if you’re a fan of Stephen Colbert or not, but I once heard an interview with him that was done before he became uber-famous and decided to do all public appearances “in character.” Anyhow in this interview he talked about his childhood, and the plane crash that took his father and two of his brothers. The interviewer asked him how he felt about it now. He paused for a long time and then said that in a funny way he felt grateful, because it made him into the person he is today. Honestly, I have to say that I’m not quite there yet with my childhood, but I am most certainly grateful for the supportive people (especially CatMan) who helped me to come to a place of relative peace with it all.

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    • Cat, it doesn’t seem to matter what the degree of pain was that we endured it’s how we respond to it. When you were little you noticed all the families you thought had what you didn’t, so that was your point of reference to go on.

      I can honestly say that if I lived your experiences, with your mother selling the house and leaving you no way to reach her the minute you turned 18 and headed out to college, would have made me feel unloved and mistrustful of forming relationships.

      The people l, like Dave for me and CatMan for you, who can see below the surface to find our good are the best presents we could have ever received.

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  11. My dear Lois,
    I’m so sorry that you had to go thru that horror. My god, i had no idea. It was a pleasure to call you my girlfriend and I was always proud to walk next to you and place my arm over your shoulder. I am a lucky man to have had the honor of placing my hand in yours. Thanks for accepting my deal. All my love. Dave

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    • Hi Dave, you know that was the most amazing thing, I could feel that you were happy when we were out together I never felt that before. I am so glad you were persistent. You should also know when it became time to figure out how to be a mother I chose your mom as my inspiration. She was a special lady.

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  12. Lois, your story left me full of tears and admiration at the same time…. I come across so many abused souls in my line of work.. And for you to tell your story takes so much courage… I can not even begin to imagine your pain and suffering … There are so many young children subject to unmentionable horrors, and who are left alone and unloved and made to feel its all their fault as Adults hide their own shame or as in your case twist the knife even further into your wound..
    You have my hold hearted admiration and respect…
    The gentleman in question should he read this post Lois, should know he has met one remarkable lady who is truly an inspiration to many….
    I knew the moment we met you were special…. Special in that you see and feel and understand so much.. Now I know why… Your Spirit shines Lois.. and although your heart broke and it must have taken so many shards of pain… You have managed to keep it beating and you bring to us through your posts and insights such love and we love you for living your life simply free…… And that dear friend even though I have only known you such a short time.. Shines…. For this act of courage in speaking out and letting go of those hurts and pains of your past are helping you bring your present into line…
    So I am overjoyed that you have one new member to your Facebook circle who isn’t a family member!

    Love and light sent your way
    Sue xox

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    • Sue, it must be hard to see the horrors in life on a regular basis. Your job is one I couldn’t do, I tried many years ago to use my experiences in rape counseling but I took everything home with me, I couldn’t leave it at work.

      As for the man who taught me so much, I tried to keep his identity a secret, but he left a comment here. I was so fortunate and think of him fondly even after all these years.

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  13. You are such an inspiration! I like what you said about designing the person you want to see in the mirror. We all have that opportunity, but I think most of us never think about it. Most people struggle with something; I find my own challenges have made me more sensitive to other people and what they may be going through.

    I think we could do more to show and teach young people how to move forward from huge traumas. My own challenges were different from yours, but I struggled for years with some of the same feelings. When I read Viktor Frankl’s “Man’s Search for Meaning”, it offered me a whole new point of view. The work of Edgar Cayce made a big difference, too; I don’t know if I would still be alive if my doctor (a wonderful woman who also introduced me to alternative approaches to healing) hadn’t given me his biography years ago. Understanding makes all the difference to me, and that body of work brought (and continues to bring) understanding, patience and compassion to me.

    Thanks for sharing your story; even more, for sharing your insights. There are people to whom I owe much, and reading this brought them to mind.

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    • Linne, I read bot Frankl’s book and many of Cayce’s writings but that was much later in life. Your doctor was wise to realize you needed alternative forms of healing. I’m glad you found your way and found a good life.

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  14. Lois, I have so much love for you. You have long been one of my favorite “internet friends” but reading this I know in my heart how very special you are, to me and the rest of the world. So many people would have come from a childhood like that in shambles but you have risen above it all and now you are so full of joy, and art, and energy, and inspiration… This post broke my heart and put it back together stronger. You are amazing. Thank you so much for sharing this with us all.

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  15. I know that had to have taken a ton of strength and courage to post Lois, you have my utmost respect for having come out the other side of that trauma and making a better life for yourself. Thanks for sharing your story!

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  16. I’m writing this with many tears in my eyes. I could’ve written most of that myself. Many times I have wished that I could change so many things from my past, but then I remind myself that if anything was changed, I wouldn’t be right where I am this minute – with a wonderful husband and adorable children. I have regrets only about my own decisions, never about things done to me. It took a lot of courage for you to write this. Thank you.

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    • Paula, I am so sorry for what you went through. It is true that we can come out of it and create a life we love and deserve. We are a couple of the fortunate ones who found help just when we needed it. I try to remind myself that I only did my best in every situation and not to blame myself, I hope you do too.

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  17. I tried to post my commment here twice last night, but for some reason it isn’t working.

    Anyway, Lois–WOW.

    Thank you for sharing. That is an amazing story.

    I pity the child who had to go through such horrific abuse. But I admire the woman who has made it through to the other side, who has decided to live life on her own terms, and who inspires others to do the same. I don’t buy the platitude, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” but I do believe that it is possible to rebuild a life and continue on, no matter what has been thrown in our way.

    And the life you’ve rebuild is absolutely beautiful.

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    • Thank you, Bethany. In some ways what I went through did make me stronger. It would take an awful lot to break me today. Please, don’t pity the child either she had one heck of a fight in her or I wouldn’t have created this life from it. I believe I am kinder as a result because I know how it feels to be hurt so my entire personality was formed from those experiences.

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  18. This posting, Lois, brings to mind, a sort of “saying” “truism” that I heard often growing up/as a young adult. Somehow, it was quite common, or at least somehow I heard it often.

    “You never know what others are going through/coping with”.

    It wasn’t until I was “not” quite such a young adult that I began to realise, the truth of it. Somehow I would end in situations where folks were discussing things which had occurred/they had coped with as children/growing/etc…. It became to seem, that a huge / maybe even majority/ had something awful / horrible they had coped with/overcome….

    I came to think that on any given street, there were / are huge numbers coping with “things”…

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  19. You, my dear lady, are a extraordinary example of the good and the strong that can be found in human beings. The fact that you were born out of what is the worst of human examples is a testament to that strength. How you managed to climb your way out of such a sad situation to become the warm and sharing person you are today is still a mystery to me. Yes, sometimes there are people who positively touch our lives and make a difference, but the seed of your rebirth into the person you are today was/is inside you and you cultivated it. YOU are the hero of this story!

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    • Elaine, thank you for your kind words. I believe I was just too stubborn to let anyone break me completely. I found some of my strength from Native American beliefs and from watching the world around me. Not everyone gets me or why I live as I do, but that’s okay forming my own reality was how I found happiness.

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    • Jean those memories and demons have been pretty well banished. Like anyone I have moments of self-doubt or an irrational fear but I’ve learned to deal with it quickly. It has also helped that I only have supportive people around me now. Anyone who can’t accept me as I am, flaws and all, has no place in my life. That helps to keep the negative voices that pop up out of the blue at bay.

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  20. HUGS…

    It is sure a long way that you have travelled…And you make such good points…(design my own life..etc..)…
    and “realized i would have turned out to be a completely differrnt person”….Now, ain’t that the truth…about so much in life..

    So often life is horrendous/horrible…and it is often amazing what a person turns out to be.

    (as you have obviously turned out amazing).

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    • Thank you, Lynn. If I can even help one person to look for their personal angel it will have been worth it. We never know, or are ready, to accept letting someone in if we are damaged from a trauma.

      Appreciate the hugs, but that person now exists in my memories as a distant story rather than an emotional burden as I am not that person any longer.

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  21. You had more thrown at you as a child that anyone deserves to deal with during their entire life. You are a incredibly strong person to have come out the other side as a productive, happy person. Now for the rest of the story. When did you meet your ex that comes to visit on holidays?

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    • Thanks, but for any one living in a bad situation their situation at the time is the worst their mind can comprehend and it all comes down to what they decide to donwith it.

      As for my ex who visits. it took a long time for us to get to where we are. he is the one who left me while I was pregnant. He grew up and i wanted the best for our son. He came back when our son was 16.

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  22. You have dealt with so much in your life so far, Lois. In your case, the bad brought out your good. You are a wonderful lady who seems very devoted to friends and family. Sharing your story must have taken a lot of courage. Thanks for the raw honesty.

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    • Thanks, Heidi. I never planned to tell this side of my life until today when I dawned on me how many other people might be wishing they could say one last thing to a friend who gave them courage.

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    • Thanks, Dan. There was a time I didn’t want my life, thrn i realized i would have turned out to be a completely differrnt person, one I might not be proud of. As it turned out I got to design the person I wanted to see in the mirror.

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