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"But We Took You To Stately Homes!" - Survivors of Dysfunctional Families(1000 Posts)
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It's March 2013, and the Stately Home is still open to visitors.
Please check later posts in this thread for links & quotes. The main thing is: "they did do it to you" - and you can recover.
Welcome to the Stately Homes Thread.
This is a long running thread which was originally started up by 'pages' see original thread here (December 2007)
So this thread originates from that thread and has become a safe haven for Adult children of abusive families.
One thing you will never hear on this thread is that your abuse or experience was not that bad. You will never have your feelings minimised the way they were when you were a child, or now that you are an adult. To coin the phrase of a much respected past poster Ally90;
'Nobody can judge how sad your childhood made you, even if you wrote a novel on it, only you know that. I can well imagine any of us saying some of the seemingly trivial things our parents/siblings did to us to many of our real life acquaintances and them not understanding why we were upset/angry/hurt etc. And that is why this thread is here. It's a safe place to vent our true feelings, validate our childhood/lifetime experiences of being hurt/angry etc by our parents? behaviour and to get support for dealing with family in the here and now.'
Most new posters generally start off their posts by saying; but it wasn't that bad for me or my experience wasn't as awful as x,y or z's.
Some on here have been emotionally abused and/or physically abused. Some are not sure what category (there doesn't have to be any) they fall into.
NONE of that matters. What matters is how 'YOU' felt growing up, how 'YOU' feel now and a chance to talk about how and why those childhood experiences and/ or current parental contact, has left you feeling damaged falling apart from the inside out and stumbling around trying to find your sense of self-worth.
You might also find the following links and information useful, if you have come this far and are still not sure whether you belong here or not.
'Toxic Parents' by Susan Forward.
I started with this book and found it really useful.
Here are some excerpts:
"Once you get going, most toxic parents will counterattack. After all, if they had the capacity to listen, to hear, to be reasonable, to respect you feelings, and to promote your independence, they wouldn't be toxic parents. They will probably perceive your words as treacherous personal assaults. They will tend to fall back on the same tactics and defenses that they have always used, only more so.
Remember, the important thing is not their reaction but your response. If you can stand fast in the face of your parents' fury, accusations, threats and guilt-peddling, you will experience your finest hour.
Here are some typical parental reactions to confrontation:
"It never happened". Parents who have used denial to avoid their own feelings of inadequacy or anxiety will undoubtedly use it during confrontation to promote their version of reality. They'll insist that your allegations never happened, or that you're exaggerating. They won't remember, or they will accuse you of lying.
YOUR RESPONSE: Just because you don't remember, doesn't mean it didn't happen".
"It was your fault." Toxic parents are almost never willing to accept responsibility for their destructive behavior. Instead, they will blame you. They will say that you were bad, or that you were difficult. They will claim that they did the best that they could but that you always created problems for them. They will say that you drove them crazy. They will offer as proof the fact that everybody in the family knew what a problem you were. They will offer up a laundry list of your alleged offenses against them.
YOUR RESPONSE: "You can keep trying to make this my fault, but I'm not going to accept the responsibility for what you did to me when I was a child".
"I said I was sorry what more do you want?" Some parents may acknowledge a few of the things that you say but be unwilling to do anything about it.
YOUR RESPONSE: "I appreciate your apology, but that is just a beginning. If you're truly sorry, you'll work through this with me to make a better relationship."
"We did the best we could." Some parents will remind you of how tough they had it while you were growing up and how hard they struggled. They will say such things as "You'll never understand what I was going through," or "I did the best I could". This particular style of response will often stir up a lot of sympathy and compassion for your parents. This is understandable, but it makes it difficult for you to remain focused on what you need to say in your confrontation. The temptation is for you once again to put their needs ahead of your own. It is important that you be able to acknowledge their difficulties without invalidating your own.
YOUR RESPONSE: "I understand that you had a hard time, and I'm sure that you didn't hurt me on purpose, but I need you to understand that the way you dealt with your problems really did hurt me"
"Look what we did for you." Many parents will attempt to counter your assertions by recalling the wonderful times you had as a child and the loving moments you and they shared. By focusing on the good things, they can avoid looking at the darker side of their behavior. Parents will typically remind you of gifts they gave you, places they took you, sacrifices they made for you, and thoughtful things they did. They will say things like, "this is the thanks we get," or "nothing was ever enough for you."
YOUR RESPONSE: "I appreciate those things very much, but they didn't make up for ...."
"How can you do this to me?" Some parents act like martyrs. They'll collapse into tears, wring their hands, and express shock and disbelief at your "cruelty". They will act as if your confrontation has victimized them. They will accuse you of hurting them, or disappointing them. They will complain that they don't need this, they have enough problems. They will tell you that they are not strong enough or healthy enough to take this, that the heartache will kill them. Some of their sadness will, of course, be genuine. It is sad for parents to face their own shortcomings, to realize that they have caused their children significant pain. But their sadness can also be manipulative and controlling. It is their way of using guilt to try to make you back down from the confrontation.
YOUR RESPONSE: "I'm sorry you're upset. I'm sorry you're hurt. But I'm not willing to give up on this. I've been hurting for a long time, too."
Personality Disorders definition
More helpful links:
Daughters of narcissistic mothers
Out of the FOG
You carry the cure in your own heart
Help for adult children of child abuse
Will I ever be good enough?
If you had controlling parents
When you and your mother can't be friends
Children of the self-absorbed
Recovery of your inner child
"I'm sure the other posters will be along shortly to add anything they feel I have left out. I personally don't claim to be sorted but I will say my head has become a helluva lot straighter since I started posting here. You will receive a lot of wisdom but above all else the insights and advice given will 'always' be delivered with warmth and support."
Happy Posting (smithfield posting as therealsmithfield)
Bea we're in a similar situation. My mum and dad both live 5 mins away. I actually moved to be near them!!! I must be mad! I havn't spoken to my dad for a month now. Still barely speakibg to mum. I rely on them for help with childcare alot and they mess me about. I wish i could afford childcare so i didn't have to ask them. My dad is now quite ill and i've been blamed for that. My brother too is the golden child and i have been written out of their will. My advice is to go and ask your doctor for councilling. I have taken this step to try abd seperate out my feelings and dependency issues surrounding my parents. I think we have to find a way to break free and not seek there approval anymore. Or thats my issues anyway.
'I am so glad this thread is here but does anyone else feel like they are neglecting getting on with their lives whilst devoting time and head space to dealing with this?'
Oh dear god - YES! I've just got back from a long weekend with sister, parents (for only one evening as couldn't cope with any more) and brother that I willingly went on and paid for
like an idiot and got nothing but hurtful comments, lack of interest in me and DP's lives, the usual awfulness.
I feel like I spend so much time thinking about them all and what they said, or didn't say, or did, or didn't do and re-living past incidences where they said hurtful things but I wasn't allowed any time or space to process it there and then so I'm carrying it around with me every day. I am so angry at them and also angry at them for taking up so much bloody space in my head.
How nice it would be to spend a weekend with family and to come away feeling that you'd had a nice time! Or even just feeling nothing much at all! Instead, I feel like I'm exhausted from it all and am desperate to talk it over with my therapist tonight
saps so much energy and time from our own direction in life Pianos but then it is worth allowing ourselves the time to move on properly, because this is huge! and takes a lot of work to get clarity and feel good about ourselves through it.
Yes I have pangs of guilt still but then something happens to strengthen my resolve. Eg H & I have been separated since last May. His birthday on Friday. Card arrives here (he doesn't live here) in post. I recognised the handwriting so opened it. Capital letters throughout on a crazy slant - TO JOHNATHAN (sp!) HAPPY BIRTHDAY FROM
ALAN AND MYSELF XXX
1. Who is myself?
2. Why can't you spell his name or my DD's name?
3. WE ARE SEPARATED!!! I TOLD YOU LAST MAY!!
The details of my life are unimportant obviously!!
All of that Midwife, and why? do they still send one???!!!
Have posted under mental health issues as well. This is pretty complicated and I meant to post before regarding ongoing issues, I didn't and now it seems to have hit a crisis point. It is regarding my brother. I will summarise otherwise this will become epic.
He has had this pattern of behaviour since his late teens.
Stage 1. He will get a new job/move to a new city/a course of study. Everything will be rosy. He is successful, clever, sociable, talented and so on. Life is great for him. This can last for a few months sometimes years. He is a lovely person to be around. Sensible, kind, loyal etc.
Stage 2. Something happens. Not sure what. Things start to unravel. He makes mistakes at work e,g is persistantly late, goes from being an exemplary employee to being disciplined. Becomes anxious, depressed, stressed. Displays paranoid behaviour and OCD tendancies. Is hard to be around as constantly wants to over old ground regarding our dysfunctional family. Very negative and it is very draining.
Stage 3. Impulsive behaviour begins. Spending money he doesn't have. He usually gets into huge amounts of debt at this point. Compulsive eating as well. I think he displays signs of mania. Heavy involvement in a political or social cause. Can become hugely irresponsible and selfish, doesn't seem to care about other people's feelings. At this point he can become unpleasant to be around and quite demanding emotionally. Says things he regrets at a later stage. Can be very combative and offends people.
Stage 4. Has a mini breakdown. Becomes inconsolable, may require medical help.
I have seen it coming for a while now. Every other time I have been the 'supportive' sibling, the shoulder to cry on. This time I have been trying to disengage myself simply because I don't have the emotional resources to deal with it. I have my own children now and I can't have him taking up headspace and my emotional energy. I have done it for years. I have worried about him, offered practical and emotional help and so on, but this time round I feel differently. Almost angry that he wants to drag me into his dysfunction and despair.
I was in the process of trying to emotionally disengage as the same pattern is happening except this time he has a wife and children. I feel he should take responsibility but he is letting his wife down continually with his haphazard behaviour. She cannot deal with it having empathy issues herself - potentially ASD.
This morning he was sobbing on the phone to me. I've never heard or seen him so distressed and bereft. She has told him to leave. I told him to pack a bag and come and stay with my family for Easter.
He has insisted my mother come over as well - I have posted about her before on this thread, not expecting a cross reference or anything! Am dreading her involvement as well due to her passive aggressive and impatient attitude towards him.
Have I done the right thing? I am dreading having them both here but I can't NOT help him at this point. Any advice??
You are very torn; on one hand you feel you can't not help him but on the other you don't want to give him any more of your own headspace. I think you need to give him a wide berth as of now.
I would not have either he or your mother over to stay tbh. Tell him it is no longer possible for them to visit. What you are doing by having him and your mother in your home is continuing to enable and that is an easy trap to fall into. Its not helping anyone least of all your own self (and you have your own family unit now and they need to come first, they also need you more that your brother does) and enabling just gives you a false sense of control.
You cannot help anyone who does not want to be helped and besides which he does not want your help. What you have tried to date has basically not worked and it will be no different this time around either.
Do you think he is manic depressive?. He certainly needs help with his mental health issues but you cannot get sucked in again. He has to want to help his own self, you cannot make them seek help if they do not want it. He is being selfish here by using you as his crutch.
Thank you Attila for your response. I have gone ahead and had him come down to see me. Mainly because I was so horrified with how distressed he was and was genuinely worried he might harm himself if left on his own.
Thing is, he is seeking help. This time round for the first time ever he has gone to the doctors and been given ADS, he also has counselling and was referred to see a psychiatrist who dismissed him straightaway and said he doesn't have bipolar/manic depression.
Bloody sure he has as our father is definitely diagnosed with it and is also a classic narc. Brother's behaviour in terms of mood swings seem typical of bipolar but has been told repeatedly he doesnt have it.
Anyway - it seems his marriage has broken down now and is a casualty of his behaviour. I don't really know what to do but offer him tea and a place to stay for a few days.
I am sorry to hear of his and your struggles to cope with him Nickname.
I think he sounds to be putting enormous efforts into being all the things he can (good job, having his social life and being successful, and kindnesses, which he genuinely is), but it sounds like the pressure of being all these things whilst covering up the huge damaging experiences he has encountered growing up in the dysfunctional unit, are just too enormous.
He sounds desperately distraught and doesn't know how to cope, hence the complete meltdowns when his energies drop. He is talking and talking and talking about the same stuff because he's completely stuck and doesn't know how to go about making things right, but, its true he has to find his own way out of this. He's trying to be 'normal' ... do 'normal' things, live a life that he really doesn't understand because of his pain underneath.
he really would benefit from being able to research and read about this stuff for himself. Realising the crap that I went through and the effect its had on me (which is different for everyone), has really made me a lot stronger and more self-reliant. Bad parenting has denied him some fundamental strengths within himself, the recognition and love and reassurance he needed.
You know him best, by the sounds of it, but I get the sense he wants to blow the whole thing apart over easter, as he is insisting that your mother be there? I think he deserves that right with his mother, but in your home is not the place, your family have a right to enjoy peace, this will be scarey for the DCs!
Maybe there is another place he could stay, so he could visit, or you visit him and stil have those face to faces with your mother?
You don't need to be involved, but if you want to be its important that you are involved on a level that is good for you and your family.
Exposure to the experiences on here provides validation, and may be the kind of thing he needs to help him feel validated. I think to be fair to him he needs to know that your help is only what you can offer, not necessarily what he needs, only he knows that, but that you can help him find it, whatever it is, if you want to?
He needs to know your boundaries and respect them, it will be helpful for him, if difficult. He needs a lot of support, and much more than you can give him. You cannot resolve this for him and have made it clear that you want to stop trying. Its an awful situation, but he can't make it everyone else's situation. He can make it hers if some of this lies at her door, which I strongly suspect most does. My ramblings! I hope there might be something here to help?
ooops nickname x-posted!
It does sound like he's trying to do it differently! Has your father ever done this?
If your father is this way, then his son won't have had anything from either parent.
Thank goodness he is now getting some really support and facing this. Its an extremely difficult journey, but I'd say he's been traumatised and deeply affected by the lack of any nurturing /love/indulgence in his life.
Thank you FairyFi for your post. I think you are spot on. He really does try hard when he is in a good place but it is the crushing inevitability of it all that drains away my energy.
Also, it is somewhat one-sided. He has gone home now but we have spent the last few days together talking and talking, him being distressed and then feeling a bit more positive.
I wonder if I am being massively selfish and should suck it up to be there for him.
please don't view 'selfish' as a negative, recognition, and protection of your own needs (selfish) is a good thing asyou have to be mum and partner, and that takes most of your energy, and you want to give to that. Being selfish for yourself, does actually give yourself more to give IYGWIM?!
he needs to tackle them and come to his own understandings, because they won't give him what he needs, but at least he will have seen that. I hope that hthe counsellor he sees wil be one who understands abuse properly and won't try to get him to 'understand' them, as he already sounds as if it is destroying his life.
It sounds to me like you really have been there for him, but it might be best to tell him your thoughts around it, so that you can offer him help and want to support but he will need to do this himself. He has to find ways, and he can ask you to help him in that, but Easter is a time he would probably have to face being alone, and he needs to face being alone with it, and you could call him at cetain times just to say hi and stay in touch but that you cannot give over all your family time again?
He could come and stay, but join in, put his other stuff aside. I know when peoople need help it can't be during 'allotted' times, but this problem is a long ongoing one, and isn't the same as an emergency cropping up... this is ongoing and he needs to really start getting to grips with this pain. Its horrible and distressing for him, but so is going on the way he is.
He's been unable to properly mature by the sounds of it, and is still very lost. Try asking him to stick to a bi-weekly evening visit or something? So he feels supported and has 'time' to moan and off-load, but you have your life, and he his? Up to you how you help or don't help, but your offers are helping change the bandages really, its him that has to face the sores underneath of course.
take care xx
Haven't posted here for a long time, that's a good thing. Dh has finally taken a stand now with his family and doesn't seem to be sucking up to their every whim, its lovely and peaceful here most of the time now and me and dh haven't argued in a long while
Me backing off and leaving him to it, rather than insulting his parents behaviour seems to have made him realise we are a family, not them. I think before i must have been fuelling the situation by harping on about how his mother/father shouldn't do this or that. A dignified silence when the pil play up is what's best, wished id realised this a long while ago!!!-would have saved a lot of rows.
Anyway fast forward to Easter and on Thurs mil harassed dh over the phone re, a little Easter egg hunt she organises every year for dc:Knowing full well me & dc are non-contact
Dh did get a bit depressed for a few days but due to me not saying anything about the matter has now perked up. I suppose he doesn't feel so 'in the middle' anymore as there is nothing to argue over.
I think in his heart he knows his parents are off a toxic influence & are not good people but i do think he finds seasonal times of year quite sad as he knows there isn't going to be any more family gatherings between me them and dc and his mother although toxic does get very upset she cannot see them. Tbh i nearly got sucked in again through guilt, you know how it is.
Although they have so many bad points, i will sometimes sit there and think about the dc missing out on family occasions & not having that set of gps, but then i come down to earth realising that it wont work as so many times i have forgave only for them to mess it up.
So god knows the guilt dh must feel, i think i understand now how children of narcs feel so hard pressed to please their parents and due to wanting to be loved unconditionally, will seek what unfortunately they can never have
That's great to hear Pumpkin.
My Dads belated birthday celebration is approaching and I'm waiting for the guilt tripping to begin...
Hi, I have been off the thread for a while as life took over and my dysfunctional family took a back seat, but wanted to ask your opinions...
Short version of back story...Mother is narc, very difficult childhood, the whole guilt/criticism/brother is golden boy/I'm a disappointment thing. I wrote over new year that she had been ill, turned out it was gallstones, I was messed about by brother and sil etc etc.
So, life has been really difficult lately, with lots of personal problems involving violent ex turning up, and I have to be really 'kind' to myself and not have any added pressures as I will have a meltdown if I take anything else on (police have been involved, and it's been a really scary time).
My aunt died last week. I used to be close to her but haven't seen her for years and years as my M fell out with her and they haven't spoken for at least 10 years despite living really close to each other (walking distance). I had a text from M saying that numbers were needed for funeral. Now, both my older DC have revision days during the holidays for GCSE and A levels and one of those days falls on the day of the funeral. So it means I have no one to look after DD2, and no way am I taking her to a cremation, there has been enough sadness and trauma lately in her life. On top of that it is an 80 mile round trip, my car is playing up and tbh I just don't want to see my brother, or his wife for the way they treated me when M was ill. And actually I don't think I am up to the stress of dealing with M right now. there is also another aunt going who is a total cow, and always makes snide remarks about my weight when I see her.
I sent M a text saying I couldn't go for the reason above. I then received a text from her intended for my brother, saying 'apparently' my DC have to go into school/college for revision - it is clear that M and brother have been discussing me, and no doubt slagging me off for not going. They won't believe that DC have these revision days as it's the easter holidays.
I have sent one back stating that yes...they DO have these days and that they can't afford to miss them, but I know I will now be the worst daughter in the world (again) for not going to the funeral. I can say goodbye to my aunt from here. But I really can't face dealing with toxic people. Am I wrong not to go?
I find it all so hypocritical too, seeing as they didn't even speak to each other for years.
No it's not wrong at all. Take that guilt off your shoulders now x
I'll reply better once the kids are in bed.
I've read your post again. You've said it all really. She is a hypocrite.
It's perfectly ok not to go. Try not to think or care what they say. Easier said than done though.
Patches sorry that life has been difficult for you recently.
I agree with dontstep you have nothing to feel guilty about, you have a genuine reason to not go to the funeral, and as you say you can say goodbye to your Aunt in your own way.
pumpkin I too haven't been on here for a while.
I think the sit back and let their behaviour speak for itself approach is a really good one, and is one I try to follow with MIL/DH, as pointing out MIL's bad behaviour only made DH feel more guilty and defensive. We are a much better family 'team' now, if that makes sense?
All had been quiet here as regards to my mother, bar one text asking if I wanted a piece of furniture back as she wanted rid of it. I managed to get a friend to collect it for me so maintaining NC.
I have had a long text this morning though, saying she wants to meet up with me on neutral ground to 'talk', either with or without DH & DC, as she feels it's wrong for us not to communicate at all.
I don't want to go, I have nothing to say to her and can't see any point to meeting up. I feel guilty though, which is making me feel bad.
I know she has only contacted me because one of my friend's exP phoned her last night trying to cause trouble (he is a vindictive abusive man, who has succeeded in separating my friend from me as a source of support).
I am also struggling as he has been saying horrible things about my friend to anyone who'll listen, and apparently has reported me to SS and the police (not sure what for tbh!) Also he knows about me being NC with my mother, so did it purely to cause trouble.
I have been very worried about my friend as he is emotionally, physically and sexually abusive to her, they have been together for a long while, and she was getting on so well having kicked him out a few weeks ago, but she has let him come back and now because he knows she has told me what he's done (he read her messages) she is keeping me away too.
I don't think I can do anymore to help her, I need to take care of me and my family, but I feel awful that she's back in that situation and I can't help I also feel cross because she must have given him my mother's number, knowing what he was going to do. He rang DH too yesterday to tell him to keep me away as I was upsetting her
Just when i thought things were going well, dh has been badgered into going to mils to pick up Easter eggs for dc tomorrow, great!!! As per im expecting the usual mood that follows after a visit, wonderful, just wonderful.
At Christmas she used the presents as a hold over dh, now the Easter eggs.
If she was that bothered about the dc having them, why not order them to our address online fgs or failing that drop them to the door.
I had a mc in February, and due to that me and dh have to decided to add to our family. Tomorrow is the day when im most fertile and if he comes home from there in a toxic cloud there's no chance in conceiving this month.
I'm probably blowing things out of proportion, but im fed up with that family always ruining everything for us.
Thanks for the assurances that I'm not being bad by not going.
What really galls me is that she is obviously discussing me with brother - the same brother who removed me from facebook after I couldn't leave my 8 year old dd to drive all the way to the hospital and stay overnight (which isn't allowed anyway?) when he lives 5 minutes away from it. The same brother who refused to give me updates on mother's condition despite being sat at her bedside in the hospital. The same brother who's wife spoke to me like s**t, and barked orders at me about picking Mother up NOW, when it is at least an hour's drive for me to get there, AND my mother telling me at the same time not to bother picking her up, she'd rather wait for golden boy!
I'm going to tell her when the opportunity arises to please not discuss anything with my brother concerning me or my family, and that if she continues to do so I will share none of our news with her either as she can't be trusted to show any loyalty at all towards me. She usually sends DC money for Easter, not a lot but enough for them to buy an egg each. She's never missed an easter. But this year nada, zilch, squat. But you can bet brother's kids got some.
Makes me sick.
And WHY oh WHY do I still, at the age of 44, get worked up by her, and him? I should be able to stick my fingers up at the lot of them and say 'f**k the lot of you'.
Goodtobetter - I had a read of your journey, well done on making the break away from your tm, v brave, i will be following your progress!
I just think it is so sad that our parents couldn't see fit to put their children first, in the right way i mean, not the award winning best child way so many narcs do - I feel a bit cheated by my mum.
Marissa - you sound in a similar situation to me with the childcare help, I HATE having to ask for help from her. She always chalks it up to either use against me or to prove what a wonderful martyr gm she is!
Yep I did have some counseling a few years ago which was a big help at the time. But I feel the time is right for some more now, becoming a mother myself has really shocked me seeing the ways my mum has hurt me so much over the years x
Hi ladies I have been lingering here but wanted to know if I can ask a bit of advice.
For the last few months I have been humouring my mother, I am pregnant and it will be her first grandchild. My mother and I never had a good relationship, her and my father always fought in front of us and our home was a constant stop for domestic violence by local police. She would kick my dad out or she leave and forget to tell my father I was still at the house (day later he come back to a 4-6 year old me left alone). At the age of 16 I was out the door, moved abroad to the UK a few years later for uni and only the last few years kept in touch when my mother was going for cancer and stomach problems treatment. I looked after her for a while back "home" and since then she has been overdosing on pain/anxiety medicine since her all clear (10 years for the cancer and 4 years for the stomach problems).
Where it leaves us is a constant on again, off again relationship where I speak with her but she flips moments later making me feel guilty we do not have a relationship. I hate to say it but I have no love for her, she always has the family on egg shells as she needs to be the centre of attention and she is constantly doped up on medications she abuses.
I am having a baby in 2 months and my whole pregnancy has been 10-20 texts a day from her, the occasional blow up conversation that I am not letting her in my baby's (pregnancy) life and just when I think its been resolved as I go quite for a few days and let her calm down it just springs up again. She keeps buying baby things but constantly saying "what do you need" instead of getting gifts. I keep saying we dont need anything but then packages arrive and a massive amount of phone calls and texts come as well.
They plan on coming over when the baby is born but as these blow ups happen again and again part of me just cant take the stress anymore. I am finding it so hard to just disappear from the situation as I want them to be grandparents but my mothers actions make me so uncomfortable.
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