Revelations

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Castle in the Clouds. The Beach House.

Embracing Mindfulness.

If we actually sit and think, really sit with our thoughts, and actions, do we condone our own behavior.

No Excuses.

I have the above italicized words written on a note, but I didn’t write down who said them? Maybe Pema Chodron? I do remember me typing in the words around it though. Embracing Mindfulness and No Excuses. I tried googling the other words, but came up with nothing substantive. I was going through all my notes on my phone, deleting everything that was outdated, looking for a recipe I had jotted down there when I ran across the quote.

Ironically, the recipe I was looking for was buried in another note with this quote from Cheryl Strayed’s ‘Wild… ‘

It seemed to me the way it must feel to people who cut themselves on purpose. Not pretty, not clean. Not good, but void of regret. I was trying to heal. Trying to get the bad out of my system so I could be good again. To cure me of myself.

I had to sit down. I don’t remember typing in that quote (where has my memory gone, potentially menopause is eating it little by little… ) but I can see why I did. My sister is a cutter from adolescence. She never had any regret for the cutting, but there was shame there that she was trying to release. I likewise never had any regret associated with my self harm. NONE. People tried to convince me that I did, but I didn’t. I did what I did at the time because I thought I needed it to survive, not die, SURVIVE. Although the big kerfuffle with Blue Eyes and the therapists revolved around how it made Blue Eyes feel, more scared than anything, I think, I was much more concerned with how it made me feel: ALIVE. Blue Eyes had stolen me from me. Betrayal does that. We can belittle the whole thing… people cheat, people divorce, blah, blah, blah, but I have never taken betrayal lightly. And this betrayal is about my best friend pulling my reality right out from under me and me spiraling into a place I had never been. A place where I didn’t know who or what to trust. Where I actually felt bad about MYSELF. This was about thirty years of lies. My husband was not who I thought he was.

Thank you Cheryl Strayed for getting me and my need to rid me of the poison that had been administered to me without my knowledge.

Back to mindfulness. I’m at the beach house alone. Blue Eyes came over with me this past Saturday, and actually, we drove separate cars as he had to be back home Monday morning for some intense mediation. I opted out. I like to come to the beach house with no real plans of when I must go back to the city. It helps me feel free.

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As a matter of fact, this is where I sat, reading a book, while Blue Eyes was stuck inside a stuffy old government building on a beautiful sunny and warm Monday. I’m starting to put myself first. It’s not selfish…. remember (that’s rhetorical, I’m talking to myself here, and not in a crazy old lady kind of way, but in an insightful way, okay?).

The weather was gorgeous here on the Oregon Coast for the first few days. Pictures will be forthcoming in a separate post because it was that beautiful and I totally want to share. This blog has become my venue of choice for journaling and also writing out the thoughts that go with my photos. I post pics on Instagram and Facebook, but this is where my feelings are truly shared. I have always thought of this spot as my personal journal.

Besides my art, I am starting to believe there is a novel or two swirling around in my head and I know this beach house is where the thoughts will spill out. I’ll save those feelings for another day.

Instead I am going to recount a conversation between me and Blue Eyes this past Sunday afternoon. We were sitting on our deliciously comfortable leather sofa in the beach house great room. I have been a little out of it lately on some days with a sinus infection and hot flashes and so I was just vegging, looking out at the sea. It is like the west side of our house is a big movie screen playing the pacific ocean all day. It doesn’t always even feel real. I keep looking for Truman and his boat. I picked up my phone and noticed a blogger friend had accepted my request to follow her on social media. I started perusing her photos and wondering if she had the same feelings I had had when looking back. Post dday, I went back through all the photos in and around the acting out periods. Pain shopping is what some would call it. I called it my new reality. Those days are past me now, but looking at the beautiful shots of the betrayed wife and her sex addict husband, looking at their smiling faces, I showed the picture to Blue Eyes and said, “this is a shot of them well before dday, look at that happy couple.” Truth be told, they look just as happy in the photos after dday because that is what we do, we pretend for the camera. I understand that, but I also understand how painful it is to look back once we know the truth.

Blue Eyes looked out to the sea for a while then he turned around with tears in his eyes and said, “I cheated on you.”

I didn’t say anything. I just looked at him. It was like he was finally realizing what he had done, in the master scheme of things, what most people think they will never do, betray their best friend. He wasn’t thinking like a broken down little boy, or rationalizing like an addict, or talking it out while protecting his emotions like a barely recovering addict… he was sitting squarely in the thoughts of what he had done, in a human and vulnerable way, and saying it out loud.

I was dumbfounded, speechless even. He whispered “I can’t believe I cheated on you,” and eventually I said, “yeah, you did, and I can’t believe it either.” What a strange experience this was. I didn’t shed a tear. I didn’t make a big deal of it. I let him sit in his own thoughts.

We have this really awesome Sonos sound system at the beach house with speakers on the deck and spread throughout the house. Really great speakers. We can parse out a certain room and play music just in one space, or play different music in different spaces. I love it. Anyway, I am sitting here listening to the Jim Croce Pandora Station and The Eagle’s Desperado is playing… everything means something different now.

Your prison is walking through this world all alone

It may be rainin’, but there’s a rainbow above you
You better let somebody love you, before it’s too late

I’m not implying everyone needs a mate. Absolutely not. I’m saying Blue Eyes was walking through life surrounded by people who love him, but living a very lonely and destructive existence inside his head. He may not have been literally running away, but inside, he was trying to escape his past, his present, and his future.

I now realize that because his deepest self was unavailable to me, I was also alone.

He cheated on me. It’s awful, it’s heartbreaking, it’s life changing, but it’s not the end of my world. This is what year four looks like.

 

17 thoughts on “Revelations

  1. I can completely relate those feelings when looking at old pictures before discovering my husband’s addiction. My husband and I have been married almost 5 years. I found out 7 months ago and learned that it had been going on the whole marriage. I honestly hope I don’t sound insensitive, but I can’t imagine what it must be like to be married longer and to have grown a life with someone to find out decades in. I struggle enough with my husband’s lack of remorse, understanding, and empathy to the point I’m practically done. Why did you stay? How did you find the strength and courage to stay? What did you have to change and become in order to stay? Was there anything you had to let go of to keep going? Did you let parts of yourself go? Was it all really worth it? I know each situation has its own unique circumstances and spouse has their own reasons to continue on, but I usually read about the pain, devastation, and the fact that is was a struggle. I can’t handle even one relapse let alone shoulder on after enduring several. I guess I’m looking for some way to keep holding on, but I’m terrified of what that could mean and what that would require of me. I’m terrified of what staying could be for my young daughter and the damage all this will definitely do to her own wellbeing and mental and emotional health. Sex addiction takes years to recover from and even then there is no guarantee. I know there are no guarantees in life or marriage, but now I’m also acutely aware of the very real risks. How were some spouses able to find healing for themselves when dealing with relapses? I really want to understand, but at the same time I don’t understand why I should keep giving when so much has been taken and more could potentially be taken with nothing given in return. How do spouses find the strength to keep pouring from an empty cup? How were some spouses able to care for and protect their children? I feel like there is even less out there on the damage it does to children and even less support than there is for spouses. To me, the fact that spouses and children have less support than the addicts is one of the worst parts of all this. Not everyone has friends and family to rely on for support. Even then, we can only ask so much of our friends and family because this is a hard and difficult situation. Most people don’t understand so they don’t always know how to be helpful and sometimes may even be judgemental of the spouse who is the victim and not the perpetrator. Others may just feel too uncomfortable and avoid you or at least talking about anything that isn’t about themselves or superficial. If I stay does that mean I have to willingly commit myself to a life of betrayal and isolation with little to no support, compassion, or empathy for a man that may or may not change, or give back in way, or learn to empathize and take responsibility for the trauma done to me and my daughter? All this makes me so angry! No one should have to go through this! Lots of other marriages don’t! Why did I have to be one of the women who married a sex addict? Why did I have to end up with this nightmare of a marriage? Why do any of us wives have to suffer? I don’t care if this sounds winey, but it’s not fair! It’s not right! It’s not ok to treat people like this and to do so over and over again! We are not less than!! I thought I married a grown healthy man!! I don’t want to have to raise him! I don’t want to neglect raising my child because my husband is so much work! Who will be there for me when I’m exhausted from all the hurt while taking care of everyone else and being neglected myself?! I can’t believe this is my life!! How the hell is this my life! I was trying! I was doing everything I could and always changing myself because I thought and was told the problem was me! Hard work is supposed to pay off! How is this my pay off! Even if it pays off in the end after years of suffering, will the pay off be worth it? Will I find that I lost more than I gained? What has my daughter lost already and how much more of her wellbeing am I willing to gamble? I have no right to gamble her wellbeing on a man who takes and most likely can never give back what he took! How can I be the mom she needs and deserves if I continue and let him keep taking! I’m a person, not a robot! I have limitations like everyone else. She can’t afford for me to crumble and become some empty shell of a person. She can’t lose both parents to this addiction and eventually herself. I’m just so angry and confused. Where is the light at the end of this tunnel? Is there light together or in going our separate ways? Is there any light at all? I want my daughter to grow up learning from me that this is wrong and that she does not deserve or have to put up with someone who doesn’t deserve her and can never be what she needs. How can I show her that if nothing changes? I’m not expecting answers to all these questions. I just needed to vent all my fears and do so someplace safe. I’m open to anything anyone has to offer. It can be so hard to find guidance when dealing with all this. I hate this so much! I just really (insert curse word) hate it! If I could go back, I wouldn’t marry him. Maybe that answers my biggest question for what I feel is right for me and my daughter. Maybe my biggest struggle isn’t with knowing what is right for me, maybe it’s accepting it for what it is and letting go.

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    • Welcome, Christine. So wow. I’m glad you have this space to talk things out because we do actually listen here, and I know how desperately lonely all of this is and feels. Speaking to your first comment, I don’t think you are insensitive at all, and I have often wondered what I would have done if I had found out the full truth at just five years in. We did have two small boys at five years married, and we had actually been together for nearly 10 years at that point. I have loved my husband for a very long time, but circumstances being what they were, I cannot actually imagine making a different choice, even back then. I have always believed in the good in my husband. The only problem is that I don’t think my husband was ready to give up his secret until recently. He did everything in his power not to be found out, and in fact talk his way out of dicey past situations. I’m not sure he could have been sober back then. I think it took a lot of time of feeling really horrible about himself and then eventually really wanting to be done with the lies and betrayal before he orchestrated the event that would ultimately out him for good. I am familiar with addiction and although in the first 18-24 months the betrayal trauma definitely messed with my self esteem, I am now pretty much back to my normal, confident natural personality. In other words, I can separate his bad acts from who and what I am. I can love him despite his faults.

      At first I stayed because I was too frightened and traumatized to do anything else. A big part of me wanted to run away from it all and not deal with his truth and many days I felt like I couldn’t take looking at him anymore, but then I would think about what my life would be like without him, and I decided I wanted him in my life. This took months and months and months, unfortunately. We have a lot of fun together and we have shared so much in the past 33 years including children, homes, our business, etc… In order to stay I had to become stronger. I had to give up on what I thought my life was or should be and live squarely in what it was. I had to give up on what other people thought or what I thought other people thought, if that makes sense. All of that was predicated on the fact that my husband was doing his best to stay in recovery. I always knew (and still know) that there is the chance for relapse, however, I truly do believe that my husband doesn’t want that life anymore and he is doing everything in his power to change the way he looks at life and has changed the way he copes with his anger, frustration, fear, boredom and shame. He has been sober for more than 3 1/2 years now and he is very very proud of that fact. I did not have to let any parts of me go, per se, but I had to hone my self care skills and learn to take care of myself better. It was difficult for me at first to balance my natural empathy and compassion instincts with my desire to abandon the horrible and stressful situation. I was fighting with myself half the time as to what it was I really wanted. I had to conquer the trauma before I could make any real decisions about my future.

      My children were grown when my husband’s secret life was found out and he was diagnosed. They were affected. The thing that affected them most, just like for me, was the lies my husband told. The lies are like poison. One son was older and farther away and he was most concerned with me and my trauma. He was able to metabolize everything and seems to have accepted his father for who and what he is. This son ironically had done his first college year core work on the history of alcoholics anonymous and had read much on the subject so he was better versed on addiction and recovery. He took it in stride. Our younger son, however, has some anxiety and minor depression (exhibited before discovery and which runs in both mine and my husband’s families) and he had to watch me in my trauma, and he took it very hard. He feels the lies and betrayal personally. He saw a therapist and he is still working daily on his lingering anger. I guess in the end with the children it is an age and personality equation coupled with the addict’s actual behavior towards them. I would imagine a younger child would react more to the emotions of the parents and it is so difficult to manage emotions during discovery and recovery of sex addiction, regardless. He will always be her father and to a certain extent, when the truth is on the table, most of us have to eventually deal with family trauma in one way or another. I was horrified that all the time my husband spent away from me and the kids, and for which we always thought he was working, was partly spent feeding an addiction by lying obsessively and choosing sex with others over us. The thing is though, it happened and I cannot change it. So I have a choice, stay or go. After spending a lot of time healing, and watching him struggle through recovery, I have chosen to stay and that is working for me and becoming easier and easier by the day.

      During the last three years I have communicated with lots of wives of sex addicts. Some husbands do relapse… some claimed to be recovering and sober for years and the truth was, they weren’t as successful as they had pretended to be. More lies. Stopping the lying and that part of them that rationalizes that they need it to survive and that you will never find out, well that part of them is very very strong. In the case of my husband, breaking through those barriers has been incredibly difficult… an addict cannot just stop at the snap of his fingers. He has not acted out sexually with self or others, but he has collapsed from the weight of it all on some days. His emotions are much more raw. I see anger where I never saw anger before. He’s still working on childhood wounds meaning he has to reach back into his childhood to pull the pain out into the light and that is so traumatizing for him. Many men are not trained to confront feelings and emotions square on… it is uncomfortable, and painful and not “manly.”

      There is no shame for you in saying you cannot travel this road with him anymore. Only you can decide whether the potential of a recovered man is worth the struggle and the toll it will take on you and your daughter. Yes, you will have to be the stronger parent under the circumstances. Parenting is difficult no matter what, and so is partnering. Don’t beat yourself up if you need space. Maybe a separation until he has done some of the work necessary to be a competent husband and father. But in the meantime, he cannot take back what he has done so you will need to make your choices based on what is, not what you thought was. It is not fair. It just is. You will need some time for yourself to just sit in your emotions, so I hope you have somewhere your daughter can go so that you have this time to heal yourself. Others cannot help you heal, they aren’t going to understand what you are going through, but they can help you with your daughter under the circumstances.

      I wish you much strength and love on this incredibly difficult journey. Please keep commenting whenever you feel like venting, or talking, or whatever. You can also email me. xx

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  2. This post has touched me…deeply. I have had more than a few periods of doubt and indecision over the last couple of months. I’m sure that will continue now and then. This post renews that little something in me that says I will be okay…that we will be okay. Thank you.

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    • You will be okay, Leigh. Better than okay. Our husbands will continue to be addicts. They will struggle (whether we see it or not) because they are addicts and it will have nothing to do with us. I have always known that if just thinking about me and my pain was enough to keep BE sober, he would have done it long ago. Addiction is more powerful than that. We have been collateral damage, but now we know. Now we know the truth and we have power with that truth and power over our own lives and our happiness. We will continue to walk beside them for as long as we choose, but their recovery will always be about them, and our healing will always be about us. We know that now. I hope Will is continuing to do well in his recovery. BE struggles with staying grounded, but he does have lots of resources. I try to stay present with him, but sometimes I just can’t. He has other healthy outlets now and he knows I am not going to run out the door at every little rough spot. Honestly though, some days his burden is more than I want to carry and I know that’s okay too. Warm hugs to you. xx

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  3. Geezus, Kat, for a second I thought he cheated again!!! Phew. Sorry, not trying to make light of this… It is such a huge step. When he first (is it first?) understands the depths of the impact of his actions. The pain he caused. It is so powerful. Four years! Your husband has done a tremendous work, lots of therapy and commitment, and yet it has taken him four years (I’m not saying this in a belittling way, but it is a crazy reality check on how freaking long the healing process is for sex addicts!) to get there. For many of us walking years behind you, our husbands are those early “barely recovering” addicts who talk while protecting their emotions. That’s what my husband does every day and it drives me nuts. I admire your patience and strength in waiting it out, or rather “healing it out”. It is a breakthrough moment. PS: I am totally in love with the beach house (but you already know that).

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    • It’s a long, frustrating, thankless, painful journey on many days. No, ha, no cheating since July 2013. He’s doing good. I guess it is a testament to where I am at that I didn’t cry or punch him though. It was weird. But, I kinda knew he was unwilling to absorb my pain. I guess he’s finally there, but he is for sure not healed. We’re on a road trip to Yosemite right now, but I have another “aha” moment entry to post soon. There are so many factors that go into the recovery process, but staying sober for anyone other than themselves will never work. Empathy is good, but they have to really want sobriety in order to achieve it. It’s a lot easier for me to deal with his erratic behavior now since I am no longer in limbo. He knows as long as he keeps moving forward, I’m here. He continues to do a lot of work including therapy, 12 step, and mindful meditation. I do believe he wants to be a good guy. xx

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  4. I find this very helpful. I am in my second year and am always wondering what is going to come next. Having hope is difficult. Sometimes I can keep it for only moments before the doubt and fear force their way in again.
    Its such a sad thing to realize that while you made yourself available and vulnerable, it turns out, you were alone in this act and you never really knew who you thought you knew better than anyone.

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    • Amanda, I had these same exact feelings daily, for a very long time. Realizing I didn’t really know my best friend and life partner of 30 years, well, it made me feel so unsafe. It made me feel like I was a blind idiot pretending at life. It made me feel empty. At times, I even felt like somehow it was my fault. I eventually realized that those 30 years were real. I was truly living, but my husband was sick. Trauma is a sneaky animal. Just when we think we have mastered it, it creeps back in. The only way to heal, is to build back our own self confidence. To realize there was no way we could have known. To be kind to ourselves and to truly believe that no matter what anyone else does, we’re okay. Yes, betrayal is so painful for such a very long time, but we can’t live in that pain forever. When we’re free of the bulk of it, when it is not debilitating anymore, life becomes so much more enjoyable again. xx

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  5. I love this post. I think I love your blog so much cause you are real and classy. I really think it’s a good sign that your husband can feel remorse. The pain of betrayal cuts so deep it’s awful. I couldn’t completely start to heal until we were divorced. But my ex really couldn’t feel the depth of the pain he caused, he was just “waiting for me to heal and get over it so we could all move on.” <—Yes he said that.
    Someone posted a picture of him kissing another woman on facebook…same pose he had in our wedding pictures. So sad to think I was married to an 'actor.' I'm not hurt by the picture I actually feel sorry for the woman cause I know how amazing I thought he was. How amazing I felt in his arms, how sincere, sweet, romantic, and gentle I believed he was. Betrayal is awful…I don't feel that pain like I used to…I can still feel it if I dig really deep, go back, and talk about it…but not like it was.
    No trace of him and I on my social media, I've deleted them or locked em' down if I feel they are ones my kids would want to have of their dad, but not of us together. I just can't.

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    • Thanks for the compliments, Joyful, I do try to be real. My father cheated on my mother, then asked for a divorce and married the woman (seven kids later, they are still married). My mother never looked back. My father is a bully and I’m glad my mother moved forward with strength and grace. She and my step father have been married for 47 years now and he is the most amazing man. You have a great attitude. It is not our responsibility to stay married to a remorseless liar and cheat. Most people, men in particular, want to just move on without doing any work to figure out why they cheated in the first place. The media and society in general would have us believe it was a bad marriage, or had something to do with us, but we know the truth. I wrote about this once… I think they place blame because they don’t want to face the reality that infidelity is rampant because people are THAT weak. We are all actors to a certain degree, but some of us do it merely to get by in this complicated world, and to save hurt feelings, not to cause pain and suffering. I am glad you are free from that torment. I am grateful my husband is figuring out his situation, for him. Doing the right thing and being honest with the ones we love should always be about us, not anyone else. He’s figuring that out. xx

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  6. Oh hell. It’s one of those days. Alone at work, sobbing.

    I just read a bloggers take on Chris Cornell’s life. And death. As contextualised by the bloggers own life story. And wept a little. Then this. More wetness. Just gentle tears. Both times.

    Roger said something very similar to what BE did here, this week. His incredulity that making those choices never involved any real long term nor other-than-self considerations. We both understand that was the illness. Or mind space. Or whatever. But it happened. Never to unhappen. And I thought I would learn to live with it. I haven’t really.

    Lovely, evocative post, Kat. Thank you xxx.

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    • Learning to live with it is not your lot in life. Forgiving yourself for not learning to live with it… is. I love you Paula. Some days are melancholy. The Chris Cornell suicide is a real blow. Depression kills. He seemingly had it all worked out. I have read a few really good pieces on depression since his death. Tucking it away inside and not “being with it” doesn’t work. It’s okay not to be okay, but it makes it harder to live in the really good moments, I think. I have changed immensely since discovery. I will never be the same. None of us will. I’m glad our men are becoming more enlightened. Unfortunately, it doesn’t change our reality. As I was driving home from the grocery store the other day, I saw a handsome young man walking down the side of the road. Actually not a walk, a swagger. He knew he was hot shit on the outside. I really wanted to pull over and explain the facts of life to him. Bring him down a notch. But, that is my reality, not his. He is who he is because of how society treats people, on the outside. There’s a lot of posturing and pretending and trying to be what people expect of us. Being able to weed through all that and be real, true to ourselves, it’s harder than it should be. I hope you have an amazing weekend, Paula. The sun is bright here, the sky blue, the days are warm. You are entering winter? I will never get used to that. ❤ ❤ ❤

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      • Very well said, Kat. YES! It definitely is difficult to forgive yourself for ‘not learning to live with it’ – for want of a better phrase. I was enculturated somehow to believe that true, deep love, conquers all. And if I couldn’t stay with a deeply remorseful, loving, kind man, then that was a defect wholly my own. Of course, I mindfully know better. But I seem to feel this, a very embodied reaction to ‘our’ demise. An ache that I cannot soothe. And yes. It is now mild depression. I am sure. I am prone to melancholy. I always have been. I can be cheerful as fuck, too! Well, I used to be, and now I have to work at pretending hard when required (my work persona, etc.)

        I am driving up to Auckland this afternoon to have a decadent girls’ weekend with two old school friends. Have been looking forward to it for months. But as of last night and this morning, I REALLY do not want to go. I am trying to decide whether to play a card to get out of it, or to try to fake it til I make it. One friend is genuinely delicious, the other is a little selfish and she sent me some … ‘orders?’ … yesterday which have me trying to decide if I want to expend the energy on pushing back. Jesus, what a spoiled brat I sound like, lol!

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        • Ha, not a spoiled brat (I struggle with this too). You are being KIND to yourself, remember??? I hate transitions these days. Do you think (trying to predict the future) you will enjoy it in the end? It might be worth the push to get yourself there and have some fun? If it was me, I would play the card, but that is because I can be very anti-social, thus the tendency towards agoraphobia in the aftermath of the betrayal. Some days socializing is a breeze, sometimes it feels like torture. You use the word decadent… do you feel decadent today, Paula? Decadence to me these days is sitting around my beach house eating chocolate and listening to music from the 60’s and 70’s. I keep picking up my sketch pad and then putting it back down and opting for a book. I’m trying not to feel like a spoiled brat, because, you know, that is not me! haha. I’m interested to hear what the “orders” were… ❤

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