Saturday, August 15, 2009

Only Shooting Stars Break the Mold

I must take issue with the term 'a mere child,' for it has been my invariable experience that the company of a mere child is infinitely preferable to that of a mere adult.
Fran Lebowitz

What can you say about six year olds? Their basic personalities have formed, they have made it through toddler hood and have already learned to conform to society's norms, they have begun to learn to read, write, and understand a lot of basic concepts about this complex world we live in. They are not miniture adults but they are fully formed human beings.

Not so very long ago, I had several opportunities to work with children of this age. One, a job through the university, was tutoring first graders in reading. The school was in the Pilsen neighborhood, comprised primarily of Mexican Americans. The neighborhood is colorful, with murals painted everywhere and old style below the sidewalk houses. The school on the inside was not much different than most public grade schools but was very well maintained. I was assigned to work with two or three boys who had some difficulty reading, and at times assisted other students. The teacher, a young woman full of enthusiasm, was very passionate about her work; she knew if children did not have a basic grasp on reading early on, they might never catch up.

Talk about life affirming! I experienced pure joy each time I first entered the classroom. Whoever spotted me first would shout my name and about half the class or so would come running up to me and hug me. I was embraced in a circle of waist high love. There is nothing, no about of money, that could replace that feeling.

My two main students were Issac and Carlos. Issac was much like a little adult, with his myriad facial expressions of sarcasm, at times an aloofness, yet other times the class clown. A complex personality. I could see him, as I could some of the other boys, becoming involved in the gangs as a teenager. But in first grade the boy was determined to read. He may have had a learning disability; the teacher had requested he be tested. He had trouble with the alphabet and distinguishing the vowel sounds in spite of the fact that the class had to repeat the alphabet out loud at least once a day. At times he would get frustrated and angry with himself ;sometimes we just played a little bit, to calm him. Using the picture word cards helped him a lot but we had to vary different ways of learning or he would get bored.

As for Carlos, he simply did not want to try and he didn't care. He was a chubby, sad boy who wanted to play or draw. He was so withdrawn, I had to be extremely gentle and patient with him. It took some time but he did begin to respond and to make an effort. He clearly was starving for some type of attention. I could see him as a teenager – the kid who stays home, is antisocial, and plays video games.

They all knew I would leave at the end of the school year, but Carlos - after warming up to me so very slowly - he couldn't accept it. He hid in the coat closet. I found him in there huddled on the floor crying. He just said he didn't want me to go. He finally opened himself up to se me and and there I was abandoning him. Of course it was not my choice, the job was over, but his poor little heart could not understand. I tried to tell him there are other people in the world who are kind, who would pay attention to him, but he didn't believe me. There was nothing I could do or say to make it right.

The summer between semesters during graduate school, I got a job with an organization that works with special needs children. I was to work at a day camp in an affluent town, and I was assigned one child to work with for the entire time. Ben.

Ben would always say to me “you are the best aide I ever had” and I had to correct him, “I am not your aide, I'm your companion”. Ben was in a wheelchair and had been and would the rest of his life. He had spina bifida. The goal for the special needs kids was to integrate them into “normal” day camp as much as possible. With Ben this took numerous forms: pushing his little wheelchair, helping him change clothes, helping him in socialize with other kids, explaining why he was different, and what about him was the same.

Ben was first and foremost a thinker. Actually I think first a foremost he was a kid who loved sports and playing, and had he been able he would have been playing kick ball and baseball and running around the playground with the other kids. It was perhaps the fact that he was paralyzed from the waist down that caused him to become more of a thinker, and a dreamer, than one would expect at that age.

His parents wanted him to have as normal a life as possible, and they attempted to treat him as if he were a normal kid. To a certain extent his made sense. But a day came when the boy looked at me and asked “why am I different”?

But I get ahead of myself. When I first saw Ben I had a chance to observe him in “class” (Tuesdays and Thursdays were Arts and Crafts, and the other three days regular camp (where there was games, all kinds of activities, swimming etc). I don't know why I should have been surprised at how delicate he looked; he had a thin face and body, and big eyes, dark blondish hair. He looked like a little waif – like a Tiny Tim. Perhaps that is why he seemed familiar to me. His voice was thin, too, with a bit of a squeak to it at times.

I introduced myself to him and could see he was a bit shy and uncertain how to behave around me. I told him “you know, I had an operation on my spine, and though I don't know what it's like to me in a wheelchair I was in body cast, and I know what it's like to have a crooked spine”. Honestly I didn't know if this would be a good thing to say but he warmed up a little. Then I said I had thought that we should tell the other kids about him right up front so he wouldn't have to answer a lot of questions over and over. questions. He liked this idea, and when I asked did he want me to do the talking,he said yes. So with the consent the teacher I explained to the kids that he was not injured, that he had been born like this, and that he could not walk, but he was OK, and there to have fun like everyone else. There were a few questions and he jumped in and answered them himself. The next day we did the same thing at the other camp. Though subsequently throughout the summer there were some questions from kids in other sections, it was not too difficult for him. It later turned out there were a few children from his school who knew him and helped served as a buffer from stares and questions. The main question from other kids: "is he hurt?"

My birthday is in early July, and I had told Ben that, since it was a weekday. By then he was already telling me I was the “best aide”, and on my birthday he brought homemade chocolate chip cookies. He had had his father make them.

There were a lot of times we were alone. For one thing he had diapers that needed to be changed, once a day at least, twice if he went swimming. He was not able to tell if he was wet , so we had a general schedule. I had to lift him from the chair – not an easy task for someone with a bad back (not to mention pushing that low chair, though he did at times wheel himself) but he was not that heavy and helped with his arms. He was always trying to talk me into skipping the diaper change; I know it emphasized his difference, and we tried to go into the disability bathroom when kids weren't looking. The child was clearly embarrassed. During the task we always talked and later, when rehearsing for the big end of summer show, sang, and he held my eyes to keep me looking at his face as much as possible. Anything out of the ordinary we made into a joke. We laughed a lot – and it became a special time.

Ben hated arts and crafts. His mother had signed him up for it. Me, I love all those little projects with clay and paint and Popsicle sticks, and I had a blast. I tried as much as possible to make it enjoyable for him, but he would get frustrated and often wanted me to do things for him. Once again, accommodations had to be made; we had a table that was lower than normal tables, so he could reach.

There was a time when my back was in bad shape, and I used my aunt's old cane to get around. I had a small taste of what living with a serous disability would be like. This was before I had gotten my driver's license (I had lost it during my drinking days) and just getting to the bus stop, much less getting up the steps onto the bus, was difficult. And I felt like everyone was staring at me. In a wheelchair, you have to take the long way around if the curb is high, when others are cutting across the grass you have to take the paved path, and when others are climbing and running in the playground you have to sit and watch.

Once, I had another worker help me get him on my lap, on a swing. We were not able to go very high but at least he got to swing a little. Another time, a young girl, a camp counselor who was strong and energetic, helped me get him up and down the slide, on the see-saw, and some other playground equipment. Oh, he had so much fun! We kept him moving and laughing the whole time.

That was an extremely hot and humid summer, and three days of the week I spent doing physical activity with no air conditioning. I think I was exhausted most of that summer. And I would not have traded that experience for anything.

Ben liked to play imaginary baseball. He was big Cubs fan and he knew the game well. While the others were off running around after lunch, sometimes he would lie on the grass and recite an imaginary game for me, with himself as one of the star players. He also loved to dance. On rainy days the kids would be in a big room in the grade school that was the camps's home base, and play games and put on music and dance. Whoever was still moving when the music stopped was out of the game. Ben would pop wheelies and spin himself around and around in his chair, steering the wheels in opposite directions. He would have this blissful grin on his face, and the other kids just loved watching him. Sometimes I would “dance' with him and push him around. His favorite songs were “I like to Move it” from the movie “Madagascar” and “Hey Now You're a Rock Star” from “Shrek”.

Besides lunch, the other part of arts & crafts that Ben liked was theater. The teacher would bring out a huge box of wigs, hats, scarves, and all sorts of clothing and accessories, and the little girls loved dressing him up. When it came to acting out a scene, he was shy at first but let himself be talked into doing a little acting, though he preferred the roles with only a few lines. The same held true for the big show that included the whole camp at the end of the summer. Lip syncing with arm movements were the standard act; the boys from our section did an old '50's song. Ben refused to do it at first, but eventually was talked into it and learned the words. I was so proud to wheel him on stage for that show! His parents were not able to come; his father had said he would be there but he didn't make it. He did come to the show for arts & craft class, however. The story they acted out was about a circus, and Ben was an elephant. He had no lines but he came out and dance with all the other animals. I made him elephant ears for that show, but never did get a copy of the pictures.

Ben loved getting out of his wheelchair and crawling around using his arms, playing with the other kids on the floor. Oftentimes his pants would come down from dragging himself along, and his diapers would show. I once heard a kid say “it looks like he''s wearing Pull Ups" and I gave that child a glare. Ben thankfully didn't hear, or he would have been mortified. After that I would discreetly yank his pants up whenever I saw them coming “down”.

He also liked to get physically close to me when he was out of his chair; he would often crawl over and snuggle next to me. There was the time he had gotten sick after eating a snack – perhaps a combination of heat and excitement - and I took him to our empty classroom where he wanted to just lie next to me and talk in the dusky quiet. That was the day he asked me if I had ever seen a shooting star. He wanted me to describe all the times I recalled seeing one, and what it was like. He had never seen one -- in fact, he said he was not allowed outside at night so he had rarely even the night sky.

Several weeks before the end of camp, he asked me why he was different. Of course I was unable to give him an answer. He said “it's not fair that I can't walk”. I said “you're right, it's not". I discussed differences between him and other kids, which were mostly physical, and then went on to talk about the ability to think and experience feelings, and how in those ways he was very much the same as everyone else. To his questions born of necessity, I applied what wisdom I'd gained so far. He appeared to find some solace, if not answers.

On our last day together we were both very aware that we might never see each other again. We spent a lot of time talking, and at the end of the day moved away from the others to talk, before parents dame to pick up the kids. We had done so much together: swimming in the lake, the pool, traversing hallways and pathways, sitting in the grass, dancing, singing, acting, talking....we had spent a small lifetime together.

Then there were Cheeto's. The puffed variety -- Ben loved them. On the days his mom put them in his lunch bag, he would take them out slowly and look at me slyly saying, “I have Cheeeeetos” dragging out the word. Then he would proceed to to eat each one, slowly and carefully, not allowing anything to distract him from his pleasure. It got to be a running joke with all the kids. “Ben's got Cheeto's”! they would shout and giggle. He confided to me he didn't want his mom to know how much he liked them, for fear she might not give them to him as much. That last day at lunch I pulled out several small bags of Cheeto's for him, thinking he could save some for later... but he ate every last one of them and his face was a happy orange hue.

I had two more gifts for him that day. One was a beaded bracelet I had made in craft class – I had made two, one for me and one for Ben. He said “so we won't forget each other?” I said it can be, but I know I will never forget you. During that last week, not only was he repeatedly saying he would never forget me, asking would I always remember him, and he finally acknowledged that I was not his aide, but his companion. The last gift I had for him was some simple print outs from the Internet, from a child's web site about astronomy. It explained some basics about the stars and space. This was the gift that made him glow, and he held those papers close to his heart. Then I told him about Stephen Hawking, the physicist/astronomer in a wheelchair, who cannot even speak but is considered one of the smartest scientists in the world.

His father took a photo of me & Ben that last day, and emailed it to me. I saw him once more, a month or so later, when the agency was looking for a substitute “aide” and I happened to be available. How wonderful, to see the look on his face when he got off the bus and saw me there, and the slight shyness, and then the joy as we talked and played. When his dad picked him up we talked about my visiting Ben over the holidays.

I emailed his father when it was close to winter holiday time, and he replied with approximate times that would be convenient, but after replying again I never did hear back from him. You just can't insinuate yourself in the lives other people's kids, unless they welcome you.
I think about Ben often – he would be ten now – and wonder how he is, and if he has not forgotten me. I know, like the little elephant, I will never forget. I learned a lot during my time in graduate school, but I believe he was my best teacher.

Hey now you're an All Star get your game on, go play

Hey now you're a Rock Star get the show on, get paid

(And all that glitters is gold)

Only shooting stars break the mold

(And all that glitters is gold)

Only shooting stars break the mold

– Smash Mouth

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Counseling 101 (More experiential learning)

"One hundred years from now, it will not matter what my bank account was, how big my house was, or what kind of car I drove. But the world may be a little better, because I was important in the life of a child."

-Forest Witcraft

I finished college at the age of forty. After years of participating in life in various ways, that included running a group home for women as the unpaid director, I was able to document and use my experiences, as well as old college credits, a few classes, and some independent study, to graduate from “University Without Walls” - a school within a school that allowed returning adults a unique educational option. Because I was working with women in recovery from substance abuse, and because I was such a woman myself, this subject was the focus of my studies. I was working on a paper I had been researching for some time; a kind of thesis on women who are addicts/alcoholics and identity. I was brought before a board of advisors who were to make a judgment whether or not I could graduate. I handed out this last paper, but to this day I don't know if anyone read it, since I got the call soon after that they had voted to allow me to graduate with no further requirements.

There been several times in my life when I had a feeling of being infused with a sense of higher purpose, with the absolute certainty that there is a power greater than myself and that I have something to do, or a reason to be. Getting that call was one such moment. I remember standing in my kitchen with my arms raised up high, and I felt an energy flow into me – never before had I felt such pure hope commingled with pure joy. Because I had finally finished college so that I could do something to “help people”. I knew I needed a degree to get a decent social service job. I didn't know specifically what I wanted to do; although I hadn't given it much thought, in the back of my head was a sense that I would be good with kids – in particular, with adolescents.

Three interviews later, I was hired as an outpatient substance abuse counselor for teenagers in a diverse north side neighborhood. The interview could not possibly have gone better. I was full of eagerness as the woman explained to me the job -- working with kids who were involved with the courts and police, who had family issues, substance abuse and school problems, and about being an advocate for youth. She asked me at the end why did I want to work with kids. I said no one has asked me that, and I have been thinking about it and, I don't know why, I just feel like it's something I would be good at. When I left she said don't worry about not knowing why, she said: “I think it's a calling”.

Before I was given my first client, I spent hours reading everything I could find on adolescents and counseling them; how to run groups, on theories about relapse, and harm reduction, and family issues, and working form their strengths. A lot of this I had learned and experienced but only from the woman's perspective. I suppose it was fortunate that my first client was a girl, a 16 year old Mexican girl who was having trouble with her strict parents. I had my first experience of many, in those little counseling rooms, of being a channel, of saying things I did not know I could say, understanding things I didn't know I understood, and doing things I did not know I could do. I was where I was meant to be. I had to learn to continually push myself past what I was comfortable with, to reach out to others. In the first few years most of my clients were Latino, and it was the beginning of an education about various cultures within the generic “Hispanic” demographic. Then there was the gang education; something which in spite of some reading (and a training) on the issue, no amount of academics could have prepared me for. Most of my clients, for the first two years at least, were boys, and most of them were either in a gang or on the periphery of activity. They were my teachers.

My first such client was Juan. He had been in inpatient treatment for his marijuana use and was now adjusting to a return to the outside world. He was on intensive probation which is extremely strict; there are three Probation Officers who keep close tabs on their charges. Juan was a quiet boy, and shy, with me at least. Clearly he didn't know what to make of me - a middle aged white lady with a cheesy sense of humor. He liked the fact that I understood recovery language and for the most part he'd enjoyed his experience in treatment. After some time however our sessions became awkward – he was not about to share other aspects of his life with me, and he insisted he was not in a gang. I believed him. I always believed them when they lied to me. Even when I learned to suspect or spot the lies I still believed them.

That was my role, to be trusting and trustworthy and non judgmental and to believe in them, even when they didn't believe in themselves. What I discovered in a short time was that this is what kids need above all else. It doesn't matter how much they push the adults in their lives away, they want the adults to continue to be there and to believe in them. They want to be good, even if they think they are bad and there's no chance of changing. They want the respect of adults. However this respect is only valuable if the adults can be respected – meaning if they are open minded. This does not mean to ignore wrong actions but to accept the kid as a whole, and to affirm that there are always choices.

Poor Juan, I was so naive at that point, and I learned more from him they he did from me. For instance, once I arranged for him to meet me at an AA meeting but he didn't show up. When I asked him about it he admitted he didn't go because the neighborhood was dangerous for him. I apologized for not understanding this -- which really disarmed him. Still, I was so disillusioned when he told me, truthfully, that one once he was off probation he did plan to smoke “weed” again. And when he did smoke again (I heard from another client), I felt I had failed. I had yet to learn to lower my expectations and to understand that small changes can mean big progress.

Another early client was Lester, a mild mannered boy whose mother had found suicide notes he'd written; we had many discussions about life and family and why he should stick around. “You have to stick around to find out why you should stick around”, was one of the things I told him. Naturally it was not that simple, but we did manage to work through a few things.

Everything intensified for me when Andre and then his little brother Sammy came into my life. At thirteen, Sam was on probation for arson; he'd set fire to a garbage can “to see how it would burn” and it unfortunately caught the nearby garage on fire. I saw him through a drug overdose, an arrest for stealing a gun, various court appearances, the suicide attempts of his brother, mother (numerous ones, in her case),and eventually his own suicide attempt. I helped him look at his issues with marijuana, school and education, the fierce independence that kept him out of gang life, his ongoing fascination with psychic abilities, dreams, and life on other planets -- he wanted to be an astronomer – and his overwhelming questions about the existence of God. In time he also was able to talk about some family issues and his experiences in foster care. When he was almost 17, and I saw him for the next to the last time, he said to me “you changed me”. He said he would still getting into trouble with the law, or something worse would have happened, if I hadn't been there. And I knew that if I did nothing else in my life I had at least had a positive and profound effect on one person.

Other clients had equally difficult situations; Angel was shot in the back for trying to get out of his gang. The bullet went through his body and out his stomach, miraculously missing his spine by a small measure. He had to leave the neighborhood to stay safe. Tom was shot in the leg with a sawed off shotgun – a rival gang situation – and almost bled to death. Virtually every kid I knew had witnessed violence and known someone who had died a violent death. There are so many untold stories.

Though I was rapidly becoming familiar with this underworld I had been ignorant of, I did relate to a kind of shadow life because of my addictions. I knew what it was like to not feel like a part of mainstream society, no matter how much you try to go through the motions. Teenagers don't have as many resources as adults to attempt to fit in, and combined with the need to experience some independence, they rebel. This was something I instinctively understood. I also understood what it was like to suddenly lose someone close to you due to violent circumstance, having lost my brother.

I learned about the fear of simply walking down the street, if you were not in your own, familiar territory. Fear of being with the wrong people at the wrong time was something I already knew; two of my female clients had been raped by members of the same gang, when they were supposedly just hanging out. Having been a victim of rape more than once, I was able to understand their feelings.

Our branch of the youth agency was smack in the middle of a territory dispute that is, as far as I know, going on to this day. Police were involved in various incidents on the streets nearby, and occasionally paid visits to our office to question us or the youth. Yet rival gang members could be in the same group and cooperate with each other. There was a girl who first came into the office when she was 11 years old, and would quietly play with Lego by herself. Gradually another girl joined her, and they would play Uno on my office floor. She eventually asked me to be her counselor, and for the next 6 or 7 years she was a daily visitor at the office, trying to avoid the streets and her alcoholic stepfather, continuing to go there after I left. She was everyone's client. At the age of 18 I helped her move into her dorm room at college.

There was a boy who was a 'good kid', (not a gang member or drug user) who had stabbed another kid with a sharp pencil. It took a group of his friends and months of work before a breakthrough occurred and we could understand why.

There was another boy who had hit an old lady on the street; he was later accepted to a college prep school. Then there the boy who was expelled from a college prep school, who was brilliant in math but could not stop smoking weed. I watched his mother get sober, I watched him graduate from a military school, but he was arrested again as adult due to drinking and driving.

There were the two older boys who had been in jail, separately, from the ages of 16 to 18. I stuck by one through an adult arrest and a short prison sentence, and he has successfully completed his parole. The other had been in adult prison for conspiracy to commit murder. He was painfully honest about everything he had done, he was able to see all his past choices clearly, and we worked with his symptoms of PTSD – he always had to sit with his back against the wall. When I first met this young man he was like the violent criminals you see in movies; his eyes were hard and cold and frightening. A few years ago, along with some other ex-clients, he helped me move. One of the last time I saw him, he was carrying a pan of homemade brownies. He had graduated high school and was going to cooking school. All I did was listen.

Another older client was the most likable boy you could imagine. He was friendly good-humored, and helpful. Unfortunately he could never open up, and always kept certain things to himself. Today he is in prison for attempted murder.

One of my long term clients was Ben, a violent gang-banger who admittedly liked to start fights. When he was 15 and had run away from home to sell drugs, he told me he used go around with a baseball bat and start trouble. He admitted to committing numerous vengeful acts in a matter of fact way, but when I met with his parents and heard his father, who had disciplined Ben physically all his life, tell him he didn't want him in the house anymore, I saw the 17 year old youth break down in tears. I do not know what happened to him. He taught me so much about the “thug life”, and introduced me to a lot of rap music; he would bring cds in and we would listen during our sessions.

There was a girl who was a client for a brief time, but she had been abused by her father and was afraid. I lied for her to help her run away to be with her mother in another state. It was not the first or last time I would break the rules. Ethical and moral choices were almost a daily occurrence for me; and I tried to base my decisions on what I thought was best for the client.

A lot of the kids knew each other and had dealings with each other both in and outside of the office; it was sometimes hard to keep straight who knew what about who, and which situation. There were drug deals that went down, thefts, relationship dramas, and there were all kinds of boundaries being crossed because as a youth counselor I was encouraged to take the kids out to eat, to go on field trips, give them rides, do home visits – all of these things were conducive to making those all important connections and trust building – helping them to be comfortable and to open up. There was fun and tragedy in equal measures. Yet I always felt theconfusion and stress to be worth the price, for those those times of real connection. At the time, I did what I felt was best, and later I dealt with the consequences and emotional effects.

One slow summer (the office was always busier when school started) a young couple brought their arguments to the office and I would attempt to mediate. The girl was a chronic runaway who had been sexually abused by her father and in every other way by her mother. She had alcohol and drug problems, and made spending money by selling her body. The boy, actually a young man in his 20's, was a little “slow” and kind hearted, always taking in “strays” like his mother did. His mother and I, two adults trying to look out for a lot of neighborhood juveniles, became friends. Her son was in a gang, he liked the status it gave him and it built up his ego. He tried to be tough, but over the years I knew him what I saw was a sweetness of spirit, and I sometimes wished he had been young enough to be my client.

At the end of my fifth year of counseling, I had given a month's notice before I went to graduate school, and I got a call that he had been shot. He had been at home celebrating his birthday, opened the kitchen door when someone knocked, and was shot in the chest. He died in his mother's arms. I waited outside the building and watched them take the body bag out, before being allowed upstairs to attempt to console my friend.

It was fitting that this was one of my final experiences as a counselor, officially. The memorial service was crowded with so many young people from the neighborhood – some of rival gang affiliation. It eventually came out that the bullet had been meant for someone else. The “someone else” was also a boy I had worked with.

I was exhausted and full of grief. Yet I could not completely let go. For several more years I remained involved with a small group of kids and I am still in contact with some of them. I became like an aunt to some boys (written elsewhere) -- who, to this day, have an odd combination of innocence and street smarts.

I have been lied to, cheated, manipulated, and stolen from more times than I can count. I have also been treated with respect, apologized to, thanked, and shown consideration and concern in countless small ways.

I have seen the look in a young person's eyes when he (or she) realizes I am not judging him, when he sees I am not going to tell anyone his secrets, when he sees me show up at his court appearance, or his house, or I take him to McDonald's for lunch. I have seen cold eyes warm up seen relief in a hard face as they realize it's still OK to have some innocent fun, to be a kid. I have heard their chuckles as I laugh at my own mistakes, and have heard their confessions, their hopes, their dreams.

I have seen the body language change from sitting tense and alert, to a relaxed slouch as he/she becomes more comfortable; and the intense leaning forward to listen as I give some insight I didn't know I had.

I have seen the surprise when I show I'm familiar with Tupac's lyrics, or use a street reference they would not expect an adult to know.

I have heard those magical words: “I never thought of it that way before.”

Would I do it all over again? Absolutely. Would I change some things? Absolutely.

I wanted to get these kids to tell their stories. I wanted to try to make others understand them and how important, how crucial, it is for adults to be there and to continue to be there. I wanted to be there for them in the way I wanted an adult to be there for me, when I was a kid. To experience unconditional love by giving it. And I succeeded, for a time.

You can't cheat kids. If you cheat them when they're children they'll make you pay when they're sixteen or seventeen by revolting against you or hating you or all those so-called teenage problems. I think that's finally when they're old enough to stand up to you and say, 'What a hypocrite you've been all this time. You've never given me what I really wanted, which is you'

-John Lennon