mckarlie

I have happiness in my heart and a thorn in my soul

Guilt

I was abused sexually/emotionally as a young child by my Mother’s first husband. As a teen I was abused physically/emotionally by my Mother’s second husband. For years I would find, whenever referencing any of the abuse, that I would always be sure to mention my part in it. For instance, I would say ‘yes my Stepfather physically abused me, but I was an incredibly difficult teenager’ or ‘he would beat me, but then I was such a nightmare when I was younger’, there was always the default reaction of mentioning how terrible I was. For most of my life I genuinely believed that I was an active contributor to my abuse, that essentially I deserved it. I have spent so many hours of my life reeling in guilt, guilt over shitty things I have done to people, guilt over shitty things people have done to me just bathing in it and letting it swallow me up. When I was younger I would go to bed and lay there in the dark for hours thinking about details of things I have done to people, like running out on ex boyfriends or being a dick to a friend or whatever, any mistakes I have made have been played out in my mind over and over and I have let it cause so much anxiety it’s incredible.

A few years ago I did therapy and actually made some progress, the therapist was talking to me about my children and asked me if there is anything my children could do that would warrant me hurting them physically as a response and I said no of course not, and through this I realized that I was a child when my abuse occurred, and badly behaved or not there is no way, as a child, I could have actually warranted my own abuse. I know it may sound simple to most but for me it was a revelation, I started to let go of so much guilt and anxiety and began seeing things perhaps a little closer to reality.

The fact of it is that all of us do shitty things sometimes, whether you’re bipolar or not, whether you’re depressed or schizophrenic or any number of things, every human being has done shitty things to another human being. It’s just life, we all screw up and make mistakes. What I tell my children about mistakes is that everybody makes them, it’s ok to makes mistakes so long as you learn from them and do your best not to repeat the same mistakes. I tell them this often, so why can’t I take my own advice eh? Why do some of us hold ourselves to this impossible standard of human behaviour where we feel like we’re letting the entire world down if we step out of line? The fact is, the entire world really doesn’t care about our trivial screw ups and we need to cut ourselves some slack.

So, I guess I just need to remind myself that it’s ok to make mistakes, I just need to make sure I learn from my errors wherever possible and try not to repeat poor behaviour. Beyond that I need to relax and focus on healing, when all your energy goes into feeling shitty about yourself you really can’t heal any of the past trauma that’s happened, but now, I can begin.

Peace xo

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When does supporting become enabling?

It’s amazing what you can learn about yourself from observing those closest to us. Recently, as my two girls have merged into ‘tween’ territory (i have great disdain for the word “tween” but it is what it is) and i have found myself navigating their moods much like a minefield. I empathize with their plight i truly do, they have these immense moods where they simply can’t control themselves, they are sad for no particular reason or aloof and distant just because, difficult and bitchy – a lot of which i am myself at times, and i consider these traits those of my ‘bipolar self’. Either way, i get what they’re going through and try to be as supportive as i can be, but then there comes a time where sweetness isn’t what’s called for, sometimes you have to get a little tough and call them on their bullshit. Not often, but sometimes. All this makes me question the relationships that people have with their mentally ill loved ones.

I’m not claiming that all mentally ill people are bitchy and aloof and distant, i can only speak for myself and my observations of loved ones but there are definitely some parallels between a lot of mental illnesses and the effects of puberty on the young brain.

My chappy and i have been dealing with my illness together for over 13 years, i have always wondered if i would have the strength to stay with me if i were him and i probably wouldn’t but he has stayed with me through my lowest of lows and haziest of craziest days. He isn’t an emotional person by any stretch but he does his best to support me, but it has occurred to me that support can very easily slither into enabling a person not to try or be better or be brilliant. Sometimes we need our loved ones to kick us in the arse when we’re unable to see our own silliness, which then poses the question: when do you decide to stop supporting and start well, ‘motivating’?

I know for myself, that at times my mental illness means that i simply can’t function very well. I do the basic bare minimum and just get by. Some days it takes all my strength to just exist, it may sound lame but it’s true. Sometimes the sadness and grief and emptiness compounds so desperately that i feel i might not make it.
Then other times, i’m down but not out but i lack any semblance of motivation. I could quite easily stay on the sofa for a month at these times, if i wasn’t a mum and partner, if i lived by myself i sometimes wonder what state i’d be in at times. So basically, i think we need to learn what is what with our loved one. We need to figure out when they are just so low that they need nothing but our love and support, and when they are just down and need us to help pull them out with some form of motivation.When we need to hold them and tell them it’s ok to be sad, it’s ok to cry, it’s ok to be whatever you need to be and when we need to say ‘hey, get your butt off the couch’. It may sound almost impossible but it’s amazing what can be accomplished with communication and observation, i most certainly don’t always get it right myself but i’m trying my best and that’s all any of us can do.

peace xo

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The many masks of mental illness

Sometimes i feel like a vapid fraud. I think all of us adjust the way we act or speak depending on the company we are with at the time, but it doesn’t usually adjust one’s actual sense of self. For instance, around one’s parents you’re probably less inclined to discuss your sex life and how you got so drunk friday night you may have peed yourself a little. You may have friends that you tend to use more colloquialisms with, more relaxed syntax and what not, you probably have friends that you swear more around and so on.

See for me, the issue is that my sense of self is as fluid as the company i keep, and i have determined that it’s predominantly because of my mental illness and the trauma i experienced in my formative years. I wont bang on about what happened to me because many of you already know, but in a nutshell – i was sexually abused by my mother’s first husband from ages 7-9 then physically emotionally and mentally abused by her second husband from ages 11-26, true, i was 26 the last time he got drunk and had a go. Added to the abuse i have abandonment issues with my mother, we are trying to resolve all of this now but it’s a long and drawn out process. I am bipolar and have ptsd, boy am i fun at parties!

I feel like my masks run deeper than most and that it’s dysfunctional. I feel like almost an entirely different person depending on who i’m spending time with, it’s bizarre and exhausting. I’m trying so hard to look like i have it all together, there’s no one that sees all of the real me, not even those closest to me. I hide my pain, I hide the ways I deal with my pain, i try to look like i have it all together but i’m really just treading water, no matter which version of me i’m being at any given time, i’m always treading water. My sense of self is skewed, i know things about myself that are definite, i have opinions and views and inclinations but no true character, no definite being. Maybe that’s what your 30’s are for? Figuring out who you are?

xo

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Why do men and women fight?

This question, why men and women fight, has plagued me for some time. Relationships can be tough, we all know this, and yet there’s no definitive answers when it comes to why so many of us find it hard to maintain relationships and why fights happen. There are obviously many options and answers when it comes to this question, but recently during an argument with my man i sat there and analyzed what was happening, what he was doing and why, what i was doing and why and i came to somewhat of a realization: priorities!

Different priorities are often the root cause. If you think about the last few arguments you had with your partner, you can probably trace at least some of the cause to a difference in priorities. Basically, if something is important to me but not deemed as important by him, it causes issues. If he wants to do something and finds it important but i don’t feel the same way, it causes issues. I genuinely believe most problems in relationships boil down to some version of this, different priorities.

I have been married for nearly 13 years now, at the start of the marriage i was still a kid really, packed full of bipolar wonder (many many years before i was diagnosed and understood my patterns of behaviour at all) and ready to take on the world, i got married on my 21st birthday. It was whirlwind to say the least, we had known each other for a while but barely, and then within six months we were ready to walk down the isle. We were married in melbourne and moved to england about six months after the wedding. I was, to say the least, incredibly selfish at the start of the relationship. I was so infatuated with butterflies and this big passionate love and when he disappointed me in any way i turned it into a big drama. The amount of silly fights that ended in me throwing my arms up in the air and declaring ‘i just can’t do this anymore’ was ridiculous. Basically, i had grown up with my mother having a string of dysfunctional relationships so my model of how men and women worked together was skewed. Everything i knew about relationships was either from my mother or movies, probably more so movies, and we all know that movie love is so very very different from how things actually work in life.

Movies teach women that we can act however we want to act and if he really loves us he will fight for us through all of our batshit crazy nonsense. He will stand outside our window with a boombox playing peter gabriel love songs, or he will chase us down at the airport as we’re just about to get on the flight to paris, he will confess his love in front of a mall full of shoppers over the public announcement thingie. You get where i’m going with this, it gives us this sense that love should be manic and passionate and impulsive and a constant battle. If you’re not feeling something big at all times, then something is desperately wrong and it’s not true love. That’s all well and good for movies but it doesn’t help us much in real life.

After a few years of marriage we hit trouble, my behaiour was all over the place because of my silly expectations and ideals and he started to withdraw and play video games more and more. We stopped actually talking to each other, neglected each other and nearly stopped working as a couple all together. Then, something occurred to me. One day i caught myself making an unrealistic demand of him, and thought to myself ‘if he said this to me, how would i feel?’ – this became my new map, a new and better way to navigate my relationship, and it was something as simple as ‘do unto other as you would have them do unto you’ ha, i knew all those years of sunday school would someday have a use to me.

So armed with my new weapon, let’s call it logic, i started to consider my actions towards him more. I tried to put myself in his place, i started to care more about his feelings and the effect i had on his feelings. I had spent so much time concerned with MY happiness and MY love and MY feelings that i didn’t know how to put someone else before myself. But i learned, slowly and with many mistakes, how to monitor his feelings and try to be a loving positive thing in his life instead of a constant stream of stress.

This is not to say i’m the perfect wife, or that i have it all figured out at all. I don’t. But i’m bipolar, and there aren’t many bipolar people who get to have long term marriages, so i must be doing something right somewhere, right?

So i would encourage anyone out there who is having relationship issues or finds themselves arguing a lot with their spouse to have a think about what’s underneath the yelling and screaming and throwing and nonsense, what the REAL reason for the disagreement is. It’s usually something as simple as the other person feeling bad because you don’t care about something that is important to them or feeling like they’re not being heard or respected. It’s easier than you think to show love and respect in a relationship, and as cliche as it may be, communication truly is key. It’s easy to stop trying, to go from arguing to nothing at all because you just can’t be bothered having one more fight, but talking is so important. If we spend a little less time consumed with getting OUR point across or having OUR feelings heard and focus on the other person’s feelings and needs then we will probably have happier love lives. If two people in a relationship are both looking out for the other person’s needs then you have two people looking after each other, which is ultimately the whole point.

Peace xo

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How do you deal with conflict?

I analyze mine and others behaviours quite a lot. One of the hardest things for me is drawling a line between what is a ‘normal’ reaction to conflict or negativity, and what is a bipolar reaction. Sometimes I feel like an alien, watching the human population and trying to assimilate their actions and feelings and trying to look like just another person going about their business and not the bucket of crazy that I am.

There are a few bloggers I have had sporadic contact with via comments, some via email, and I usually find people to be interesting and supportive and lovely. Recently, a person who comments a lot on my posts and has always been very friendly seemed to take exception to something I’d written. It was a post about how I find that as you get older and have kids and settle down that your ‘dreams’ from when you were younger seem to fall by the wayside. I don’t believe I was whining at all I was simply musing about how I used to have all of these goals and now I simply tread water. She left a comment cutting me down, basically saying that I should be happy with being a mother and a wife and why isn’t it enough, some people don’t even have that and effectively I got the idea that she wanted me to be thankful for what I have and stop my bitching. It was unexpected, I’ve always found blogging to be a fairly safe place to share my feelings and thoughts but suddenly, this person who had always been quite lovely to me seemed to be attacking me for expressing myself. After her initial comments she then made another bitchy comment and when I confronted her about it she simply didn’t respond. I suggested that her issue she had was more about her than me and if it wasn’t she could unfollow me easily. No response.

Now, this kind of thing pisses me off and has me wondering. Did i just happen to fall into her bad day or are people reading what I write and assuming that I’m having a big complain about my existence? If I’ve given that impression I’m slightly mortified. Blogging has helped me figure out so many things about myself because I don’t hide here, it’s the one place on this earth where I can be completely me, crazy, silly, odd, opinionated etc – I can talk about being abused when I was growing up and how I love being a Mother but would like to achieve other things in life as well. I have found a lot of people through blogging who have had similar experiences to myself and have never felt so understood, and when you have a mental illness, feeling understood is half the battle won.

I’m not claiming to be perfect by any measure, I have a temper and sometimes I’m completely unreasonable. But I would never go on someone’s blog and attack them for expressing their thoughts and feelings. Even if I was having a terrible depressive episode and was feeling horribly sorry for myself, I would never shit on someone elses picnic. Now is this me denying her the right to be annoyed at what I wrote or am I right in thinking she was bang out of order having a go at me? See now, this is where things get confusing for me. I ponder and ponder, trying to figure out what’s reasonable and what’s not.

I’m not under the delusion that everyone can get along and world peace is just around the corner, but I believe that we should treat other humans with a basic level of respect and kindness and we should NEVER take out our own shit on other people especially if they are simply trying to figure their life out and have a happy existence.

My temper is worse when I’m manic, I’m probably at my absolute worst while driving. I’m a terrible person in the car when I’m manic, I get quite aggressive and people cutting me off or pulling out in front of me then going slow make me want to tear my hair out. I’ve heard from quite a few people with bipolar that they also turn into crazy beasties while driving, so it’s nice to know it’s not just me but it’s terrible. But when it comes to my person to person interactions I tend to try to avoid conflict. I believe that things should be addressed, and if you have a problem with someone or something they’ve done you should talk to them directly about it, get t out and clear it up. I hate passive aggression so much that I stopped using facebook, as I believe it’s a breeding ground for passive aggression, haha. Seriously, I couldn’t cope with all the bullshit associated with facebook so I packed it in. People having snipes at each other through status updates but never mentioning names, people being horrible to each other, it was just really unpleasant and I couldn’t be bothered with it anymore.

My way of doing things quite often gets me labelled cray cray. If someone is being passive aggressive towards me I will simply ask them straight out if there is an issue, and 9 times out of 10 the person will deny there being any issue, even though they’ve been making snide back handed comments that CLEARLY relate to me or a situation I’m involved in, I’ve learned that in your 30’s and for those in their 40’s, most people will smile to your face and then expose their true feelings about you when your back is turned, But talk openly about an issue and you’re considered inflammatory or weird. And it’s not like I’m looking for a fight, it’s quite the opposite. I believe if you address things and find out if there’s an issue by simply discussing it, then it negates the need for brooding. So many of us get upset with people and let it fester, we get more and more angry over an issue instead of just talking to the person about it.

Anyway, I’m curious to know how others deal with conflict and what your thoughts are on being open about things or just letting things go. Quite often, just letting things go is impossible for a person with a mental illness, so what else should we do? Hmm.

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25 songs in 25 days

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Day 2 – a song that reminds me of my most recent ex. Ha. Yikes. It was a ridiculously long break up really, it was all kind of tragic. Such is what happens when you walk away before love dies.

 

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Do you feel like life owes you?

My upbringing was a bit of a clusterfuck. Not the worst of stories but not the best. Half of the time I was with my Mother, she had me when she was 20, my father ran off, apparently he was a drug addled sociopath. The other half of the time I was with my Grandparents, religious, consistent, steady folk who would do almost anything for me and loved me immensely. My Mother treated me more as a best friend, a handy accessory to keep her from being lonely. I was a glorified puppy, taught to do tricks in front of her friends, spell big words and cook my own breakfast at 7. Her first husband molested me when I was very young, her second husband beat on me and called me every name under the sun, she then abandoned me effectively, so I have my lion’s share of issues.

I know that the reason I have a mental illness is partly because I inherited it from my Mother and partly because when a child grows up without feeling safe, their brain doesn’t form as it should. When a child has to watch every word and every action with dire consequence, synapses don’t form as they should.

In my twenties I formed the opinion that I deserved what happened to me when I was younger, I made excuses for my abusers such as ‘i was a difficult teenager’ and ‘i was out of control’. In my late twenties I saw a therapist who really got me, and we made some great progress before I stopped seeing him randomly (as I tend to do with a lot of things). He got me to see that no matter how badly behaved a child may be, they NEVER deserve abuse, and the abuse was probably the reason I acted out in the first place. This lead me to a place of anger, I had had this anger throughout all of my twenties, but it had been directed at the general populous, but now, now it was directed specifically at my Mother. Why not her husband? Well, he’s an alcoholic, he has a rampant disease, and while his actions shouldn’t be excused, the duty of care was squarely on my Mother’s plate.

So throughout my twenties I was angry, and this made me act irrationally, with little thought of consequence. I felt like I’d been dealt a shit hand and everyone could go and fuck off. I was only concerned with kindness when it concerned my inner circle, which was ever changing (as so happens with us bipolar folk) but I was fiercely caring of those I chose to be my inner circle and felt great loss when either they moved on or I ran away, I often ran away from people in anticipation of my perceived rejection forthcoming.

Since my revelation that it wasn’t my fault I’ve started caring much more about people in general, but I still feel like I got a raw deal. I see families, hanging out together and looking after each other and my soul feels empty, I feel so cheated. I see people with loads of money and fancy things who seem together and beautiful and I feel envious, sure I have my own little family and boy are my kids amazing, my man is a good man and i’m not hideous looking or anything like that, but i see these beautiful fancy people and feel entitled to their life. On the odd occasion I buy a powerball ticket, part of me secretly believes I deserve to win more than some people because of the shitty life I had as a child, ha! I’m serious, this is what goes on inside my head.

I think some of us with PTSD, bipolar, trauma, whatever it may be, I think we can often get concerned with what we don’t have instead of focusing on what we DO. I have enough money to pay my bills and feed my family and even go on the occasional holiday, which is more than a lot of people can say. I have a steady relatively drama free relationship with a man i love, i have two amazing children who love me dearly and are amazing people, yet i still often get caught up in what i don’t have, what i deserve etc

Even if you don’t have the things I have, you have the things YOU have. Each person is different, but just the fact that we made it through these things is a beautiful thing, there are so many people out there who don’t make it through. There are kids who don’t get food every day, there are kids out there being beaten bloody right now and no one cares about them, there are so many shitty things happening in the world at any given moment that we have to take pause and put things into perspective, yes what i went through was bad but by no means do i have the monopoly on pain, by no means is my pain more important than anyone else’s and when I start feeling sorry for myself and feeling entitled, I need to remember those things.

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How much does our happiness depend on those around us?

Yesterday I read a blog urging us to take ownership of our own happiness, not to try to meet the needs of others but meet our own needs and get happy with ourselves. This made me think about how much my happiness depends on how the relationships in my life are going, what state they are in, and how this is dysfunctional.

I have put a lot of stock in trying to make others happy, the more happy i feel i’m making others the more happy i feel myself, while not actually being happy WITH myself. I know a lot of people with bipolar or depression are more sensitive to the relationships in their lives so I wonder how many other people are doing this, trying to ‘feel’ happy by meeting other peoples needs as opposed to being introspective and dealing with ourselves and our own true happiness.

Ultimately, making ourselves happy and being happy with ourselves is a difficult thing to do. For a lot of us, we have had trauma in the past and have a lot of issues to work through, we have low self esteem because of events that have happened so being happy with ourselves seems an abstract concept, something that will happen one day when i’m old. I always figured i was doing the right thing because they tell you that making others happy is a good thing, but when you do it in place of taking care of yourself, it’s more of a coping mechanism than truly giving.

I have had many many friendships in my life and have a gazillion facebook friends but only a small handful of real friends, i feel quite lonely a lot of the time.When things are going well with my friends and they seem happy with me and we are talking often and interacting, i feel better about myself. When we aren’t interacting as much and i perceive there to be a possible issue or potential problem, i let it fester and it affects my whole outlook on life. If i were truly happy with myself then my mood would be more stable independent of what state my relationships were in, i would of course care if there were a problem with a friend but it wouldn’t affect me as much as it does now.

Realizing that i do this is only the first step, I’ve only recently dug up repressed memories of sexual abuse that occurred 25 years ago, and still have a planet of issues to deal with around my mother’s second husband and the way he physically mentally and emotionally abused me along with the abandonment issues i have with my mother herself. I feel like i’m a teeny tiny person standing at the foot of a great big mountain with no climbing equipment, but i have will, and to be completely cliche, where there’s a will there’s a way.

I wonder just how many of us deflect our own happiness in this way, because looking at this great big mountain is scary shit, and it would be easier not to do it, but the blog i read yesterday was right, i have to get happy with myself. Once I’m happy with myself i think i’ll have a lot less issues with my friends because i wont be putting that pressure on myself and them for things to be ‘perfect’ all the time.

I’m interested in thoughts and opinions on this so please feel free to share if you have anything to say.

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Not a bad day

Everything kind of climaxed yesterday, a few friends have flaked on me lately (real life AND wordpress ones) and things were very icy with hubby, it’s when things get like this that I tend to spiral, i end up in my own den of woe and instead of clawing up the walls (i got an image from labyrinth then for some reason, when she’s falling and all the hand face things are holding her) i tend to just let myself fall, into a pit of despair.

This time i monitored myself a little more, decided that i can’t control what my friends do and if they want to be douchey then fair enough, i think i’m a good person and ultimately they’ll miss out on what i have to offer. I spoke to husband maturely and with humility and we worked things out, brought it back from the brink. I’m still kind of bummed about my friend situation but there is something about me that drives a lot of people away, maybe i’m overbearing, maybe i care too much and it’s weird, who knows, i still have my good friends and very little could shake those friendships, so i’ll just be thankful for what i do have and try not to bitch out over what i don’t or could.

I saw a dermatologist this morning as i’ve had another flare up of psoriasis (happens from stress and during winter, went nuts when i lived in england) and he’s started me on UV treatment which i feel really positive about. I’m about to have lunch with my best friend and i found her a beautiful bone china three tiered cake stand that i think she’s going to LOVE, and even better, i went to pay $30 for it and it scanned for $20! Oh how i love a bargain, it gives me a weird little thrill, i’m such a geek lol but it’s true, it’s the little things, right?

So, as much as the depression is nipping at my heels and i’m certainly not as ‘up’ as i was a couple of weeks ago, i’m trying my utmost to stay positive. I see my psych doc tonight and i’m hoping he’ll increase the dose of one of my meds which i believe will help pull me back up again, i’m already on quite a high dose so i don’t know how it will go but fingers crossed.

I hope everyone else is managing to stave off the darkness too! Peace

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Bipolar makes relationships so freakin hard

I think it’s the bipolar, i’m sure within myself i see the grey area and am fairly open minded, but bipolar can make things very black or white. My husband and I have been together for 13 years, we have been struggling a bit of late, but the last few months have been really great. I have been trying my absolute best and hardest to make things work and he has been putting in a lot of effort too, but when something comes up and i try to talk to him about it, i get a brick wall. He turns things around and tries to make me the bad guy, i’m not trying to make anyone the bad guy i’m just trying to talk, but i don’t know how much more i can take of this, we haven’t been on truly steady ground for a while now and i wonder just how far down the rabbit hole i’d fall if he wasn’t around. But I don’t know how much longer we can tread water, something’s got to give.

I think my bipolar has affected me in a way in which I am going to be a lonely person, people don’t flock around me as i share my opinions too freely, i don’t edit myself enough i just say what i think, and i can understand how this puts people off side. i have a handful of close friends but there’s only so far a friendship can go, there’s only so much of each others shit you will put up with in a friendship, so yeah, i’m feeling pretty alone.

He’s sitting out there in the lounge right now with the kids, i can’t bare to be in the same room with him at the moment because it makes me want to cry, so i’m hiding away in the bedroom writing and watching tv. Surely my kids have sussed that something is wrong, we usually all do things together, i don’t know what to do.

I’ve cancelled plans we had for today because there’s no way either of us can put a smile on our faces and make it through a social occasion, we aren’t even talking to each other i don’t feel like talking to everyone else and pretending everything is great.

I wonder if i was born with bipolar or if all the messed up shit that happened to me caused it, part of me thinks it’s the latter and i get angry at the people that did those things to me when i was young. i get angry at my mother for letting it happen ’cause now i’m a broken human who can’t make relationships work and who feels completely isolated from the world. Anyway, just my rant, it’s best to get this stuff out.

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