It has been so, so long since I have posted a blog or recipe on here! I truly do love the idea of having my own website and a place to freely write about whatever I please. Recently I have started writing for a website, called Raise Vegan, as well as their digital and print magazine.
I write articles for the Raise Vegan website, as well as for the monthly magazine, which you can subscribe to in digital or hard copy! Of course, I am still a stay at home mom and running around after my 16 month old daughter, Norah. Having my own website was never about self promotion, it was about getting information out there that someone might not have otherwise known. Being able to write articles about what I believe in, and for a much larger platform, is something I could’ve only dreamed of doing! And who knows, maybe every now and then I will pop back on my own personal website and spill out a blog post.
I have decided to link the articles here, that I have written for the Raise Vegan website, in case you’re still interested in reading my posts! I cannot link the articles that I have written for the magazine, obviously, as that is a paid subscription. Some of these articles are written from personal experience such as; “40 Weeks, No Baby, Now What?”, “Breast Milk Donation: The Pro’s And Con’s”, “Why I Chose Not To Have An Epidural” and a couple of others, it is very obvious by the the way I write the post, that it is from personal experience. Posts such as “Can Cabbage Really Help Mastitis”, “Failure To Thrive: What Is It & How To Help” and “Placenta Previa: What It Means & What You Can do” were not written from personal experience, but I know that they are such real and intense issues, I poured hours of research into each one. But please, enjoy all of these articles (I will have the oldest at the bottom and the newest at the top- updated weekly) and check out Raise Vegan for more amazing articles by my fellow vegan mamas!
People sometimes have difficulty understanding what the problem with eggs is, it is just something that came out of a chicken, right? Yes, it did come out of a chicken, but that certainly isn’t the whole story.
Similarly to women, hens have ovaries, although only one ovary develops for the chickens. Nevertheless, this ovary sends a yolk through the reproductive tract and it is either fertilized, or it’s not. A woman’s period is an unfertilized reproductive cycle, and the eggs at the grocery store are also unfertilized reproductive cycles. Technically, chickens don’t menstruate, but the egg is the equivalent to a woman’s period.
Chickens may be the animal who experience the most abuse in factory farms, as they are small, and easy for the workers to pick up and throw around. The life of a hen used in the egg industry starts off very painfully, in order to prevent pecking each other to death, the baby chicks have their beaks and claws cut off. This is done without any painkillers, and results in severe malnutrition and dehydration, especially for the first two weeks. However, the male chicks have an immediate demise, as they are useless to the egg industry. Male and female chicks, are placed onto a conveyor belt, as workers separate them by gender. Females are filtered into big bins, where they will live until they’re big enough to not fit through the cracks of the wire battery cages. The males are either ground up alive, or tossed into large garbage bags, where they suffocate to death. Their lives are considered useless to the egg industry, and therefore they are brought into this world, only to be immediately killed.
Roughly 10 egg laying hens are brutally crammed into battery cages that measure 10” by 24”, although a single hen has a wingspan of up to 36”. These cages are wire all around, and multiples are stacked on top of each other, meaning the feces from the chickens in the cages above falls onto the chickens below. Disease and death are common among these hens, and it is not abnormal for a deceased chicken to be left to rot inside the cage, among the rest of the live hens. Due to an inadequate diet, many hens can have their eggs break inside of their bodies, causing major discomfort and leading to infection. After about 2 years of living this way (while their normal lifespan can be up to 10 years), hens are ‘spent’, meaning they no longer are producing the number of eggs the industry wants them to. This means that is it is their time to go off to the slaughterhouse…
Their journey to the slaughterhouse often ends up with many broken wings, legs and even necks. This is caused by their cages being thrown from place to place, and being crammed so tightly that their body parts are pushed outside the bars, and prone to injury. Did you know that turkeys and chickens are exempt from the Humane Slaughter Act (although no slaughter is truly humane), they are not required to be insensible to pain before they are killed. They are hung by their legs, and have their throat slit, all while they’re still completely alert. By the time their tortured bodies reach the slaughterhouse, their flesh is unfit to be sold in supermarkets. They are often made into pet food, although there have been cases of their meat being used in the National School Lunch Program.
Contrary to popular belief, eggs are also extremely bad for our health as well. About 70% of calories from an egg are saturated fat, and they contain 213 mg of cholesterol, the human body has zero need for any cholesterol (as we make our own). Eggs are known to cause salmonella poisoning in 100,000 Americans each year, and many years ago I was one of them. According to the International Journal of Cancer, people who consume 1.5 eggs per week had nearly 5 times the risk for colon cancer. By consuming 2.5 eggs per week, men increased their risk of having prostate cancer by 81%. Also, a study published in International Urology and Nephrology showed that even moderate egg consumption is likely to triple your chances of bladder cancer. In a study done by the American Journal of Epidemiology, they showed that consuming eggs can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease by 19%. If you have diabetes, your chances of cardiovascular disease leap to a whopping 83%.
Fancy labels on eggs, showing happy chickens in green pastures, is extremely unrealistic. For the most part, hens live their lives in completely cramped, and unhealthy quarters. So, those who eat eggs from backyard hens (whether they’re own, or somebody else’s), it’s great that they are not supporting the cruel egg industry. However, eggs are still a by product of an animal’s work, they are still bad for your health, and are still a chickens unfertilized reproductive cycle.
I love animals, pretty much any animal that you put in front of me I will hold, pet and love on! Our daughter loves animals too, dogs are her favourite and every animal that she sees ‘woofs’ apparently. But it can be a common question among people trying to live as kindly as possible, is it ethical to keep pets? This answer varies based off of where exactly you are getting this creature from.
Sadly, many times animals come from breeders, where the goal is to sell as many animals as possible, in order to create the most profit. They do this in a few ways:
- The animals are kept in cages that are far too small and crowded, the more animals they can cram in, the more babies to sell.
- The cages are filthy, as cleaning that many crowded cages takes time and money.
- Often the animals are fed very little food and what they are fed is very poor quality and tends to not be a wholesome, breed specific diet.
- Because of the overcrowding, animals become sick and injured quite easily, but are very rarely (if ever) given vet care, as that would put a dent in their profit.
- Taking babies away from their mothers far too young is a common practice, as the smaller/fluffier/cuter the pet, the quicker and more likely they are to sell.
Regrettably, many years ago I worked in a Pet Store, before I knew any better. Although, I believe that working at that pet store is what opened by eyes to the cruelty that goes on behind closed doors. Very quickly after I started that job, I learned about the breeding industry and the fact that the pet store itself has profit at the top of their priority list. It wasn’t a surprise if when breeders brought animals to us, one or two mice or hamsters had died during transport, they were simply thrown in the garbage. It was common for dozens of fish to die per day, they were flushed or thrown in the garbage along with the fish that looked like they weren’t going to make it, but were still alive.
One time the store had a very sick hamster that the staff were told not to take to the vet, because it was too expensive, no one was even allowed to take him to be humanely euthanized. Instead, an employee of the company put that sick little hamster (that was still alive) into a plastic bag, placed him in the parking lot and ran over him with their car. The other way in which the employees would terminate sick animals, was to put them in a bucket of water with a lid and wait. None of these instances happened while I was working, and I felt sick when I found out what had happened. I was constantly feeling like I needed to work all day, every day, in order to make sure the animals stayed healthy and safe. Often, I would bring sick animals home with me and nurse them back to health, on my dime and on my time.
After seeing what went on in the pet sale industry, my mindset quickly changed and I dove head first into volunteering for animal rescues in my area. I would say that purchasing any animal or any pet supplies at all from a pet store that supports the breeding industry is NOT ethical. Even if the store only sells fish, those fish came from a breeder and studies show that fish in fact do have feelings and pain receptors, just like humans and other animals. Be wary, as some branches of certain pet store brands (such as Bosleys or Pet Valu) do not sell animals in every one of their stores, but some of their stores do sell animals and they are all owned by the same company. Also, do not be fooled by stores such as Pet Smart that have a ‘cat adoption center’, this is nice and everything, but have you seen all of the small animals and birds that they are also selling from breeders? Instead, go straight to the animal shelter itself to adopt your pet.
Adopting an animal from a shelter or rescue would be the only ethical way to keep a pet, as you are not supporting breeders and are giving a home to an animal who has been let down. Adopting has many benefits:
- The shelter staff become familiar with each animals personality, and can better recommend the perfect addition to your family.
- All animals are already spayed or neutered, up to date on their vet checks and microchipped or tattooed (in case they get lost).
- Shelter staff with keep in touch with you and are there to answer any questions or help in anyway, if needed.
- An adoption can cost as low as $10 for a small critter and range up to $200 for a dog (the above notes are included in the adoption price). Whereas purchasing from a pet store/breeder, you are paying $30 for a small critter and dogs can be well over $1000 (and you are financially responsible for having them spayed/neutered, checked over by the vet, they are not guaranteed to be healthy and you cannot seek out help from the provider if there is a problem).
- Approximately 1.5 million animals in the United States alone are euthanized each year, you are helping to save two lives by adopting; the animal you took home and the animal the shelter is able to rescue with the empty space you opened up.
- The best benefit is that you are opening up your home and your heart to an animal that was abandoned by their family, through no fault of their own.
I have fostered dozens of rabbits, guinea pigs and hamsters, and I currently have two rabbits that I adopted, one from each other the rescues I volunteered for. I cannot tell you how helpful it is to the animal shelters to have people fostering! If you cannot afford to adopt, or are not 100% sure that you can commit to 10+ years with an animal, but have so much love to give and a cozy home to open up, I highly suggest fostering. It’s important to not only foster the young, cute and social animals, those are the ones that don’t have a problem getting adopted. Consider the older animals, who maybe have health problems (when fostering, the rescue pays for the vet bills and medication) and are a plain ‘boring’ colour, as these are the animals far less likely to be adopted. There are so many shelters with a variety of animals, there are even breed specific rescues and purebreds, all it takes is a little bit of searching and asking around. Look on www.petfinder.com to seek out an animal in need, you can even filter the options to be more specific.
Next time you are thinking of adding a new member to your family, or hear of someone who wants to purchase an animal, please be an advocate for those animals locked away in shelters and let down by humans. Don’t breed or buy while shelter pets die, opt to adopt.
The meat industry works so hard and spends so much money, to the tune of around $550 million a year, to make a dead carcass wrapped in plastic seem appealing and nutritious to their customers. Americans are buying into this falsehood more than any other country in the world, with each meat eating American consuming around 200 lbs of flesh a year, which also equals around 7,000 animals in their lifetime! Coincidentally, compared to the rest of the world, the United States has more than twice the diabetes rate, twice the obesity rate and three times the cancer rate. I am not sure as to whether or not people are not able to put two and two together, are so brainwashed by advertisements, or they simply do not care about the animals, the planet or their own health.
For some reason, the least of peoples worries seems to be the environment, the planet that they live on and the only one we have. Two acres of rainforest are destroyed every minute to raise cows for consumption, or to grow their food to feed them, currently that’s about 30% of planet earth. While it takes only 300 gallons of water to produce a days worth of food for a vegan, it takes a whopping 4,000 gallons of water in order to provide a meat eater with one days worth of food. An eye opening statistic is that 36% of the calories in crops are being consumed by cattle, but when those cows are turned into a steak, humans are only getting 12% of the calories. Scientists concluded that if all of the crops that were fed to farmed animals, were instead fed to humans, it would be enough to feed 4 billion more people. Considering that there are 925 million starving humans on this planet, it seems like a pretty obvious solution, especially since 2.5 million children under the age of 5 years old die from starvation every year. It is shocking to me that people are not choosing to end world hunger, literally overnight.
Not only is meat consumption clearly destroying the environment, but the process in which animals are slaughtered is scarring. Each breed of animal that is sent to slaughter goes through a similar trauma and slaughtering process. Right now, I will focus on the process for pigs and their transport to slaughter, it is just as terrible as the slaughter itself. At only 6 months old (while they have a natural lifespan of up to 10 years), the pigs are given no food, water or protection from the elements as they are transported for hundreds of miles from the farm to the slaughterhouse. About 1 million pigs per year die in transport alone, some die of heat exhaustion, others fall and are suffocated by other pigs, some die of heart attacks and others were just not healthy enough to make the journey. One factory farm worker admits that often pigs are frozen to the sides of the trucks and they scrape them off with a knife, taking off huge chunks of their flesh, and this is done with the pig is alive. A transport driver mentioned that it is common for the pigs to be so tightly crammed in the trucks, that some of their intestines have been known to pop out of their rectum. A Smithfield Foods spokesperson responded, “I hate to admit it, but it happens all the time”, when addressed about their transport truck full of 180 pigs that crashed. Many pigs were killed, while others were left injured and slowly dying. Animal rescue teams quickly arrived and attempted to humanely euthanize the suffering sows, but were told not to, as the slaughterhouse wouldn’t be able to sell their flesh if they euthanized. So those animals were left to suffer a long time, as their half dead bodies were transported again and they were finally killed, packaged up and sold to be eaten by Americans. The ones that make it to the slaughterhouse alive are in for a terrible ending, workers kill 1,100 pigs every single hour, making it extremely challenging to kill each one quickly and humanely. One slaughterhouse worker admits that many of the animals are still alive as they reach the scalding tanks, intended to remove the hair so it doesn’t get into the meat and to soften their skin to make butchering easier. The process that pigs go through, from the moment they are born, until their final death is absolutely horrifying. There’s no other way to explain it. Not to mention, I didn’t even go over the way they are treated and the cages they are kept in while living at the factory farm, that is a whole other atrocity.
Back in 2002, South Korea had a large outbreak of Foot In Mouth disease, which they found to stem from the pigs in factory farms. Of course, it was at no fault of the animals, as they were forced to live in such filthy and congested quarters. Devastatingly, massive holes were dug and 1.4 million pigs and piglets were dumped in alive and buried. Yes, you read that right, 1.4 million animals were buried alive, instead of humanely euthanized, in order to save the government time and money. If that doesn’t tell you how completely heartless the meat industry is, then I don’t know what does.
To make things more interesting, let’s think about what impact consuming animal flesh has on your flesh. Meat is extremely high in saturated fat, which is a main cause of heart disease, strokes, obesity and diabetes. The World Health Organization has labeled processed meat as a carcinogen; something that definitely causes cancer, it has also labeled red meats as a possible carcinogen; something that probably causes cancer. About 70% of antibiotics created are made for meat, so while you are consuming meat, you are constantly consuming low doses of antibiotics. This is one of the reasons that people are on so many different medications today, they were unknowingly giving themselves antibiotic resistance. Therefore, when someone actually requires antibiotics, they may not see the benefits from it and often they just experience the ill side effects. Studies show that vegan men live on average 9 years longer than meat eating men, and vegan women live around 6 years longer than meat eaten women. Not only that, vegans tend to be about 30 lbs leaner and 5 units lighter (in terms of BMI), than that of their meat eating counterparts.
There is a ridiculously long list of effects that eating meat has on the environment, the animals and people, I could go on and on! I highly suggest doing more research and watching Cowspiracy, Forks Over Knives and What The Health for even more information and facts. So next time you go to the grocery store and pick up that package of meat, think about those pigs being scraped off the sides of the trucks, think about the children starving to death, consider the way in which it is killing the planet and consider your own health. I am thinking that when your time comes to leave this world, you may be wishing you had an extra 5-10 years.
While in San Diego, staying at a resort that is right next to SeaWorld, I have been asked if we would be taking Norah to see the animals. I thought it might be good to explain why we will never be taking our daughter to the Zoo or Aquarium, as our reasons may be something that others didn’t realize was a reality. It can be difficult to notice the difference between Zoos and Animal Sanctuaries, but there’s a reason why I support one and not the other. I used to have no idea what the difference was and I never really questioned why there were penguins from Africa living in an Aquarium in Vancouver. Similar to eating the ‘standard diet’, going to Zoos was just something that you did as a child and never thought twice about. Thankfully, my eyes were opened and I have been so passionate about helping out in the rescue community ever since.
There are some aquariums that have a few rescued animals and that is wonderful, sadly, that is not the case for a majority of the animals in captivity these days. So where exactly do zoo animals come from? Some of them are grabbed from the wild at a young age, when they are easier to catch and transport, then sold at auctions. Others were born into the zoo life, never even knowing what freedom was like, also meaning that their parents or grandparents were stolen from the wild. There is an elephant named Sissy (pictured), who was stolen in Thailand from her family when she was less than a year old. She was shipped to Six Flags in Texas as entertainment, soon after she was sold to Frank Buck Zoo, and then a huge flood hit. For nearly two days Sissy was fully submerged under water, only her trunk was visible as it clung desperately to a tree, the whole event caused her immense trauma. A few years later, she was sent to Fort Worth Zoo, in order to be bred and birth babies that would be passed around and sold from zoo to zoo. However, she was not getting along with the other elephants and refused to breed, so she was sent right back to Frank Buck Zoo. After a decade of living there, a zoo keeper was found dead in her enclosure and the Frank Buck Zoo was keen to get rid of this ‘killer’. The Houston Zoo briefly took Sissy off of their hands, before they decided she wasn’t worth their time and shipped her to the El Paso Zoo. There, she was brutally beaten with an axe, as they tried to stamp out any little bit of wild that she had left in her. After over two years of being beaten, and decades more of being shipped around, Sissy was spotted by The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee. She was rescued by them and will live out her life in a huge, happy and home-like sanctuary. In the wild, elephants live in herds and bond for life, Sissy never had that and so at the sanctuary, she constantly carried around a tire for a sense of security. A couple months after her arrival in Tennessee, an elephant named Winkie arrived and Sissy put down the tire, she had finally found a true friend.
The story about Sissy is not uncommon, this is reality for most of the animals that you see behind the bars and in the enclosures. These facilities try to make it appear as if the animals have a nice and large enclosure, but from a different perspective, you’d see this is not the case. Zoos are a business and they’re in it for the money, there is a reason no zoo would keep Sissy, she was not cooperative and labeled as a ‘threat’ (I mean she is after all, a wild animal). Whereas a sanctuary, as you can see in this story, take in the tortured and challenging animals. Sanctuaries are not in it for profit, their main goal is to apologize to these animals for the abuse humans have caused, by providing the best living atmosphere they can for them to live out the rest of their days and by treating them with gentleness and respect. A zoo will sell an animal if the animal is giving them troubles, they’ll abuse an animal to try and get them to cooperate by instilling fear. Zoos and aquariums will take animals out of the wild and from their families, purely for entertainment purposes. They will also breed animals in order to sell them, or keep them and have ‘new, fresh, cute babies’ to draw in the public. These places are so unnatural for animals, some giraffes and other species are kept indoors in a tiny enclosure all winter and never step foot outside for the whole season. The reason for this is to ‘protect’ them from unfamiliar weather, but they are causing more harm by forcing these animals to live in a box for months. Can you imagine being a giraffe and being forced to live indoors? Many people have seen the Orcas with the collapsed dorsal fin, and the reason their fin becomes this way is due to lack of movement/use and an unnatural diet of thawed dead fish. The whales are kept in such incredibly small tanks with limited movement and poor food, that their body starts to wither away. 100% of male Orcas in captivity have collapsed dorsal fins and most females do as well, while less than 1% of wild Orcas suffer with this. Not only are captive creatures physically hurting, but they are tortured with intense boredom and depression, they have brains just like we do and were created to roam freely. It is stated that the average amount of time that a person looks at a zoo elephant is 79.5 seconds, and for other species, it is as low as 8 seconds. People are paying for these creatures to spend their entire lives living in these unsuitably small quarters, only to have ‘customers’ briefly stare at them and then move on. The public gets to come and go, but the animals stay there, stuck behind those walls for their entire lives.
Animal Sanctuaries are working tirelessly to rescue and care for as many of these animals as they possibly can. It is very rare that these creatures can be released back into the wild, as they have become dependent on humans for food and many develop debilitating illnesses or injuries, due to being held captive. I urge you to do your research before visiting a sanctuary, as not all of them are true non profit rescues, there should be no ‘head honcho’ with a pocket full of cash. Find out where they get their animals from and if the animals have a home there for life. Some sanctuaries are free to visit, while most ask for a donation of $10-$20, simply to help cover vet bills, food, rent etc for the animals. They should also be excited about having people volunteer for them and having items donated to them, not just money. It may take a bit of searching to find a good sanctuary, as they don’t have much advertising in order to obtain more visitors. All of the money they receive is going to the animals, as it should be. So continue to search, ask around, as I almost guarantee that there is a rescue in your area.
If you’re interested in learning more (or are a visual learner) there is a documentary on Netflix called Blackfish, that shows the reality of what life is like for these animals. Some say Blackfish and other documentaries like it are ‘one sided’, but for starters, SeaWorld refused to be involved in the film and talk about their perspective. Therefore, it can be very difficult to make a documentary showing both sides, when one side refuses to participate. Not to mention, Seaworld had major shortcomings when it came to the quality of treatment for the animals, and it is hard to speak against that when there is actual footage and proof of it happening. The good news is, the SeaWorld San Diego location has ceased their Orca Shows, although this is great news, it is only a single location. There are so many more animals out there that are being mistreated and the only way to stop it from happening is to stop going, if you keep paying them, they’ll keep doing it.
First of all, it’s important that we’re all on the same page about exactly where dairy comes from. I think everyone knows that dairy (milk, cheese, yogurt, butter etc) is the breast milk of a cow, although people don’t seem to view it as such. Just like women, cows need to be pregnant in order to produce milk and they are also pregnant for nine months, just like us. However, cows are forcibly impregnated by having a farmer shove his arm, along with a syringe full of bull semen, up her vagina. This continues every year, for about 4-5 years, until the cow can no longer produce enough milk to be worthwhile. Then, her worn out, tired and traumatized body is sent to slaughter, where she becomes ground beef. She was only able to live less than a quarter of her natural life span and that little time was painful and depressing beyond belief.
To make matters even worse, within a few hours, her newborn calf is stolen from her. “Humane” farms have been known to steal the calf within an hour of birth, to ‘prevent bonding’ and to make it ‘easier on them both.’ Those who have heard the cries of a mother cow as her new baby is being stolen from her, have said it is the most haunting and heart wrenching noise you’ll ever hear. If the calf is a boy; he is sent off to live in a small cage, often too small to even turn around, in order to have him gain weight quickly and efficiently. He is kept there for a few months until he has enough ‘meat on his bones’ to be sent to slaughter, where he becomes veal. Not even strong enough to walk at first, without their mothers milk, the calves are often pushed around in wheelbarrows like garbage. If the calf is a female, she is confined also to a tiny cage and forced to grow up in her mother’s devastating footsteps. The mother is kept in tight quarters, with other lactating cows and constantly hooked up to milking machines. The dry suctions and never ending pumping motion cause raw sores and pus filled abscesses. These abscesses burst, bleed, ooz and are mixed into the milk. The FDA allows there to be pus in the dairy products sold in stores, people are eating and drinking pus filled breast milk.
Perhaps some people have this image in their minds of a cow out in a big green pasture, being gently hand milked by a sweet and smiling farmer. Long, long ago, before factory farms, this was the case. Not to say that it was okay back then to drink the breast milk of another animal, that was meant for their own baby, or that it was good for humans. But this is the image that the dairy industry wants you to have about where their products are coming from and it’s simply not realistic! Do not be fooled by the ‘Certified Humane’ labels and brand names like ‘Fair Life’, these people are selling a product and they will give you whatever you want to hear in order to feel better about purchasing from them. The labels telling you that the animals secretions are “Humane” or “Organic” really don’t mean much. When it comes to dairy, all this means is that the mother cows are allowed time outdoors at some point, however, the amount of time, space and land (mud? grass? dirt?) they are given is not specifically noted. Also, these labels are saying that newborn calves are stolen from their mothers within the hour of birth, instead of a few hours later. Imagine if they put these details and images right onto the packaging?
If the ethics of cutting out dairy are not enough, consider the dangers it is doing to your health. Dairy has been long promoted to ‘help build strong bones and teeth’, but that could not be more untrue and in fact it does quite the opposite. Our bodies like to be slightly alkaline and dairy is acidic, so our body pulls from the it’s alkaline reserves (calcium, magnesium and potassium), that are stored in our bones and therefore leads to much weaker bones and teeth. For the sake of not writing a whole novel here, I will bullet point some of the dangers of dairy to your diet and I encourage you to do more research on the topics!
- Weakens bones and teeth
- Promoted carcinogens (cancers), including prostate and ovarian cancer
- Linked to multiple sclerosis
- It is full of saturated fat, a cause of heart disease
…and so much more! If you can find the time, please watch Vegucated, Cowspiracy, What The Health, Forks Over Knives and Earthlings for more facts about the dangers of dairy and inspiration for transitioning to a plant based lifestyle.
Even though you are only one person and purchasing a small item may not seem like a big deal, it really is when billions of people are going through the exact same thought process as you. Next time you go to the store and you’re about to purchase a product that contains dairy, try and imagine how that item was made, who it came from, the excruciating pain and the complete heartbreak that is behind it.