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    Old 12-20-2003, 09:47 AM   #1
    stolie
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    how i have become my pain, part 1 (reply to quincy)

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by quincy
    Stolie,

    Because you have BECOME your pain and haven't been able to separate from it. YOU are your misery rather than your pain being a misery.
    And no, I'm not denying you have chronic pain. I have it too and can relate. The pain isn't the issue.

    Now, debate that for me. Tell me how it came to that?

    quincy
    Quincy, I like you a lot. You are feisty and very smart, two qualities I have had a hard time finding in a therapist. I'm sick of being fed self-affirming lines. I think in fact I made the comments about debating because I wanted to irritate someone into challenging me. That's what I need, to be challenged.

    There is no quick answer to the question you asked, which is a better and more insightful question than any one a therapist has ever asked me. It is true, I have become my pain, although the pain is not always present - some days, hours, weeks it is better than others - today, for example, I feel much better after a two day flare. During the times when it recedes, I become a different person, a considerably happier but still not whole person since so much of the rest of my time is spent living as one with the discomfort and thinking about little else.

    How did my identity, my entire emotional being and the pain become fused? This is a very complex issue, and I don't know if my explanation is true, it's only my hunch. My instinct is always to "show, don't tell," but to paint a proper picture with words requires so much context and description it could take pages and pages. I will do my best - I don't expect you to read this in one chunk, or necessarily at all, but it will help to get out what I have thought internally for some time.

    First of all, a large portion of my self esteem is tied up in my body image. I went to an endocrinologist to speed up my growth spurt in high school and was given testosterone injections, but only managed to reach 5'6 and about 100 pounds.
    I was targeted for ridicule and frequently felt intimidated by several other students in junior high and high school, and could hardly believe how my fortunes had turned after having been among the most popular students as a young child. I developed a self-protective habit of smiling even when getting picked on, which tended to soften up even the biggest bullies and endeared me to some people, but I sacrificed my dignity in the process and buried a mountain of rage and hurt far below.

    In college, I decided I had had enough.

    I developed an intense obsession with bodybuilding as I threw all my suppressed rage into building myself up into someone people could respect. My simpering smile was replaced with an edge of hostility and an itch to physically challenge anyone who would try to take away my dignity. I continued to build up until I weighed about 135 pounds of solid muscle - still small but I appeared to weigh far more and benched over 200 pounds. My body was like steel plated armor I was building around myself to insure I would never feel vulnerable again, and sure enough I was treated far differently.

    At last, the respect I had craved! And I dropped out of an Ivy League school to achieve this dream of molding myself into a young adonis! Male athletes befriended me. Women paid attention to me, several commented on my resemblance to Tom Cruise. It was all worth it!

    A year and a half into the process, the pain and a growing body assymetry started creeping in. But I couldn't stop exercising, couldn't look back, because to lose my muscles would mean losing my armor, my pride and returning to the poor, little weak pathetic boy who had felt nothing but scorn from the world. I attacked my weak and sore left shoulder with all the rage I could muster. It was defying me. My rage at my failing body only led me to furiously destroy it more. I would punish it for it's defiance. (To understand the power of this body dysmorphic disorder that had seized me, at about the same time, I also took a hammer to my nose trying to flatten the bump on it. I mashed up the tip of it trying to reshape the cartilage. Needless to say, through this process I took what I now recognize was an attractive nose and grew it to the less than fine specimen it is today.)

    Such glorious self hatred - paired up with a hatred at a world I felt had driven me to such extreme vanity and desperation.

    The pain was unbelievable and I ended up feeling like I needed a body cast by age 20. I had to quit the lifting and spent weeks at a time in bed trying to sleep off the pain. It felt like I had spent years building a house of cards and now it was being blown down. The physical pain, the emotional pain so excruciating, horrifying and agonizing that I developed panic attacks, ended up in a mental hospital for two weeks. It took another 10 months of partial hospitalization to reconstruct me...
    Well, I'll write another installment later, because I can't write this all at once and it would be unreadable all at once.

    --------------------------------------------------------------
    "... No, it is impossible; it is impossible to convey the life-sensation of any given epoch of one's existence - that which makes its truth, its meaning, its subtle and penetrating essence. It is impossible. We live as we dream, alone...."

    Joseph Conrad - Heart of Darkness

    Last edited by stolie; 12-20-2003 at 11:25 AM.

     
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    Old 12-21-2003, 09:06 PM   #2
    WarBonds
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    Re: how i have become my pain, part 1 (reply to quincy)

    Stolie Stolie Stolie.......

    Man, I feel for you, I have more than a good idea how you feel....I hope you achieve your goals, I hope you make it....

    I identify with alot of what you said about yourself: craving self-respect from others, body building to get big muscles and "prove" I was tough and the bullies would leave me alone, I analyzed everything in my life, analyzed at the end of the day as to what happened, who said what, did I do this wrong, will that person like me, why was I abused/insulted/slighted, etc etc....then I ended up blaming myself for everything!!! I got so introverted and analytical to the point where I had no real normal happy social life.
    ....this was many years ago when I was 16-23 years of age ( I am now in my 40's).....I am still not perfect, but who is?
    Back then I was so self-absorbed into my problems, I lived, ate, drank, breathed my problems constantly without solving them as such. One day I "walked" away from my probs, and said to h**l with it, live life as it is, come whatever, I can't please everyone and be everyone to everyone, etc.
    I am what I am, I'll do my best and if that isn't good enough, well tough t******s!
    It was a relief off my shoulder and with this new attitude, things got better and I was on my way....I left 95 % of the depression behind and listen.....if you want people to like/love/respect you, THEN you must like/love/respect yourself FIRST!! (They will pick up on this energy). Take things as they come, life is meant to be an effort but not a struggle...(effort + negative emotion =struggle). Please don't be so focused, so absorbed with your problems. (I know they're real enough). Over-analyzation is a killer, I know. Try to relax and let live, stay loose. Get outside.

    I rambled on long enough, I may have gotten off topic alot but hopefully you can get something out of it.
    You sound very articulate and intelligent in your writings; congrats! That in itself is a big +

    I wish you the best, man, and NEVER NEVER say anything
    deprecating or insulting about yourself, ever. For example, you are not an ugly, skinny dog....you are a slender, young man ! Say positive things about yourself to yourself and to others. Be responsible for your actions, but don't be a martyr or a slave to yourself. And yes, you're still young! I hope your physical pain will go away too.....

    WarBonds
    **************************************** ******
    thought: Bravery isn't always the absense of fear, some times Bravery means having the courage to do something while scared s**tless !!

     
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    Old 12-21-2003, 09:38 PM   #3
    stolie
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    Re: how i have become my pain, part 1 (reply to quincy)

    Well, during those couple of years of abusing my body, I managed to put myself through a series of strange contortions trying to work out my discomfort, which probably at least initially was caused by a preexisting arthritic condition in my neck and an unstable left shoulder.

    In the process, I popped a rib from it's cartilage attachment, screwed around with deep breathing until I managed to put my intercostals and diaphragm muscles into spasm -- I couldn't stop thinking about my discomfort and much of my day was spent looking in mirrors and reflections at my assymetry, trying to think of new techniques or stretches I could employ to work my way out of this mess and resume lifting. I stretched and strained my facial muscles and the little muscles that attach to the cartilage in your neck (which many years later I would learn were the hyoid muscles), feeling the connection between them and the tension in my neck, flowing back and forth. Lost in a sea of obsessive thinking and compulsive stretching.

    Okay, fast forward through my 20s. I managed to get the pain under control and returned to school full time, although I was left with nagging discomfort. Basically, I took up smoking because it relaxed me, and if I couldn't concentrate on my health anymore without making myself crazy, well, doggone-it, I would go the other way and throw my health consciousness to the wind.

    After graduating college in 1998, I continued smoking a pack to a pack-and a half a day. I took antidepressants off and on, was basically a nervous wreck, lost all my musculature and developed a reputation as a genuinely nice, gentle guy who was a bit "off" but generally endearing. "Everyone loves Stolie," was the refrain at work. I loved my coworkers but hated my job (reporter) even though everyone told me I was good at it. I was a lost soul, smiling on the outside but often afraid and crying on the inside. I was sore and tired all the time, but I managed to push the physical pain to the periphery.
    -------------------------------------------

    In the year 2001, everything finally began to unravel. After being rejected by a girl who once had pursued me but then tired of me, I developed the old obsession with muscles and weights. I would show her she didn't know the real Stolie, the hard partying, hard drinking, hardbodied 18 and 19-year-old I once was. I popped aspirin with my protein drinks, ignoring the burn in my shoulder as I did headstand-handstand presses, clap pushups and other high stress exercises. Over the ensuing six months, I developed a daily ache over my left shoulder blade. It got to the point where I would groan audibly every day.

    I saw a physical therapist who did a sort of "touch therapy" on me, telling me that my energy fields were completely disrupted and my muscles jumpy, tight and overreactive all through my torso and upper back. One week into her working on me, Jan. 16, 2002, I got into a car accident in which I was thrown across the car and broke off the rearview mirror with my head before striking the passenger side window and collapsing onto the seat. I was not visibly injured, but my already fragile neck had been thrown back into spasm.

    The pain spread everywhere, and every day at work was pure agony - popping advil and aspirin, feeling like my shoulders, my wrists, my jaw were on fire. The back of my neck felt like it was in a vice. Around this time, I was diagnosed with a rotator cuff tear, cartilage tear and multidirectional instability in my left shoulder, for which I opted to have surgery. To top it off, I no longer had a car and had to walk and take the bus everywhere - I lived in a suburb, so the routes were spread out and often required many transfers and long waits. The pain was so awfully unbearable, and I was so alone, riding the bus, walking everwhere, in a haze of pain, watching others and envying the way they sat in (what looked like) unknowing comfort. A feeling of total alienation slipped in. I drifted away from my coworkers, some of whom commented that I was beginning to walk like a hunchback.

    My surgery was on June 4, 2002. The recovery was pure hell. I sustained a slight retear of the cuff while, and the physical therapists working on my shoulder surmised that the muscle atrophy over my left shoulder blade and upper back must be coming from a pinched nerve in my neck. The doctor who operated on me concurred. I was trying to rehab a bad shoulder but my neck problem was getting in the way. My right shoulder began aching as badly as the left. I wasn't eating. I was alone and tired and scared and I wanted out of D.C.

    -------------------------------------------
    I moved home with my parents on July 6, 2002, leaving my life and friends behind for a new beginning and much needed rest. I started posting on Healthboards for the first time maybe a week after I got home. It is interesting to read my first post again as I tried to come to grips with what was happening to me....

    Okay, this one was really, really long and rambling.... But I needed to get it out. I think I will still type more at another time as I try to process what has happened. There are so many angles to this.

    Last edited by stolie; 12-21-2003 at 10:35 PM.

     
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    Old 12-21-2003, 09:47 PM   #4
    stolie
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    Re: how i have become my pain, part 1 (reply to quincy)

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by WarBonds
    Stolie Stolie Stolie.......

    Man, I feel for you, I have more than a good idea how you feel....I hope you achieve your goals, I hope you make it....

    I identify with alot of what you said about yourself: craving self-respect from others, body building to get big muscles and "prove" I was tough and the bullies would leave me alone, I analyzed everything in my life, analyzed at the end of the day as to what happened, who said what, did I do this wrong, will that person like me, why was I abused/insulted/slighted, etc etc....then I ended up blaming myself for everything!!! I got so introverted and analytical to the point where I had no real normal happy social life.
    ....this was many years ago when I was 16-23 years of age ( I am now in my 40's).....I am still not perfect, but who is?
    Back then I was so self-absorbed into my problems, I lived, ate, drank, breathed my problems constantly without solving them as such. One day I "walked" away from my probs, and said to h**l with it, live life as it is, come whatever, I can't please everyone and be everyone to everyone, etc.
    I am what I am, I'll do my best and if that isn't good enough, well tough t******s!
    It was a relief off my shoulder and with this new attitude, things got better and I was on my way....I left 95 % of the depression behind and listen.....if you want people to like/love/respect you, THEN you must like/love/respect yourself FIRST!! (They will pick up on this energy). Take things as they come, life is meant to be an effort but not a struggle...(effort + negative emotion =struggle). Please don't be so focused, so absorbed with your problems. (I know they're real enough). Over-analyzation is a killer, I know. Try to relax and let live, stay loose. Get outside.

    I rambled on long enough, I may have gotten off topic alot but hopefully you can get something out of it.
    You sound very articulate and intelligent in your writings; congrats! That in itself is a big +

    I wish you the best, man, and NEVER NEVER say anything
    deprecating or insulting about yourself, ever. For example, you are not an ugly, skinny dog....you are a slender, young man ! Say positive things about yourself to yourself and to others. Be responsible for your actions, but don't be a martyr or a slave to yourself. And yes, you're still young! I hope your physical pain will go away too.....

    WarBonds
    **************************************** ******
    thought: Bravery isn't always the absense of fear, some times Bravery means having the courage to do something while scared s**tless !!
    War Bonds,

    Thank you so much for your kind words. I actually was in the process of writing that really long second part when you posted this. I think writing all this out is a way of getting it out of my head so maybe I can leave some of the anger behind. I have so much anger, and so much of it is intricately connected to the very real physical pain, both caused by it and the cause of it.

    Hopefully after I finish processing all of this, I will be able to stop analyzing and say to myself that it's time to move on. You are so, so, so kind and your words, like those of so many others on here, remind me that there really are so many good people in the world. That to me is a greater source of faith and hope than just about anything else I can think of.

    Last edited by stolie; 12-21-2003 at 09:47 PM.

     
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    Old 12-21-2003, 11:34 PM   #5
    quincy
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    Re: how i have become my pain, part 1 (reply to quincy)

    Hi stolie,

    I didn't realise one question would encourage such introspection.
    Isn't it interesting how we can take our internal pain and contort it into paying such a high price -- physical destruction. I've never tried to make physical changes to my body (hitting nose with hammer), but I've chosen in the past to hit my body causing severe bruising because I felt so much internal suffering. Who better deserves punishment than I. It did put a bit of a scare into my therapist then I told him.....I hid it for many years. Anger was my main demon which caused so much self hatred because of the humiliation I felt at the rejection from the very people who brought me into this world. Funny when one resents to live and no one suspects it. Amazing how we can fool so many -- I felt like a total fraud. People saw me one way, I another. It was too much of a burden to carry, for one day they would find out. Maybe it was guilt I carried because I wasn't giving myself the credit I deserved at some of the success I had. I still have a way to go, but I know it's in my control to just go ahead and do. I know I'm worth the effort, and my desperation of feeling I can't do things is now a thing of the past. What I can do, I will do. What I can't, so what.

    Keep writing your story. It's really hard to read what you've done to yourself for the sake of being accepted. A broken body is difficult to repair without any lasting effects on our psyche. Physical pain truly creates a barrier for us. Living within our limits and realising that we cannot do what we once could is a large pill to swallow. It seems you have a ways to go with your healing, but you're on the right track I'd say. I don't know if it's appropriate at this time, but your writing skills are awesome!! Use your gift to make others aware of what price vanity can be. The times are so focussed on the body beautiful.....wait....your experiences will be invaluable.

    I agree with War Bonds.....there is a calmness in the quiet wisdom of ourselves....others can sense it when we are confident. I'm learning it daily and taking myself not so seriously is a good thing.

    Your pain is real! But it isn't who you are. You are you, Stolie, who lives with pain and is learning how to live within its limitations. You're creating a new you, because we all grow and change.

    Have you ever read Dr. Phil's book Self-Matters? There's also a workbook that you can get with it. Check it out. He deals a lot with self-image and body-image. It may make sense to you. He also talks defining moments, influencial people, etc who have affected our life decisions. Why not check it out.....

    I now know why you believe that CBT isn't for you.....I agree, not at this time, and certainly not for what you need to unload before getting on with things. I had therapy, CBT, biofeedback..etc. Therapy was the main reason I am who I am today!

    signing off,
    quincy
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    Old 12-23-2003, 02:27 PM   #6
    stolie
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    Re: how i have become my pain, part 1 (reply to quincy)

    Hi Quincy, sorry it took me so long to reply.

    Living within limits is indeed a hard pill to swallow, but I suppose it's something we all must learn in some form. I'm sorry to hear that you too felt so much fury and self-loathing that you physically harmed yourself, but you sound like you've grown into a very strong, wise and capable person.

    I have been really been learning how to live as the new me since I've moved home. I quit smoking, which had been my safety net throughout my 20s. I always felt I could project a sort of "cool" with a cigarette in my hand, with or without muscles. But after losing my independence to poor health two years ago, I really decided it was time to start taking care of myself - and the last vestiges of my hard-edged, "dangerous" or "bad boy" self image crumbled completely.

    I've rededicated myself to healthy living. I drink less (hell, I barely go to bars or clubs at all anymore), took up rock climbing and am going back to school with the plan of working toward an outdoors oriented career, like geology, where I don't have to sit at a desk all day, which is hell for people with bad backs and necks. My whole identity has been turned sort of upside down, but I'm learning a lot of positive habits and stopping a lot of negative ones in the process.

    Still, I have a long way to go, you're right. This path to a new me is only just begun, and I've stumbled plenty.

    Speaking of Dr. Phil, I really, really like him. He's tough, he's charismatic, he's smart and he's direct. No sugar coating from him. He's the kind of guy you want to listen to and don't want to disappoint. I haven't picked up his book yet, but I probably will over this semester break.

    Thank you again for prodding me into deeper reflection and have a happy, peaceful, safe and fun holiday.

     
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    Old 12-23-2003, 10:37 PM   #7
    backtomyoldself
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    Re: how i have become my pain, part 1 (reply to quincy)

    Wow. I have to say that you are one strong guy, Stolie. I did not know your whole story until now. You have been through a lot. Well, I guess what I am about to say may have been mentioned in one of the posts here but I am going to say it anyways. It is unfortunate that you have developed the notion that you are your body. I think in the society we live in, that is how it is. It happens to all of us. I will not deny the fact that it does affect me when someone judges me based on my appearance because that is not 'me', at least not all of me. I have sensed some childhood trauma in your previous post (another topic) but I was not sure until now. You have withheld so much pain and sorrow since you were young. It is time to let it out. It will help to let out. Just like you said in your post here, it helps to reflect and expressing your inner thoughts. Continue to do that but most importantly, learn to accept yourself. Let that little kid cry and express his anger, then let him go. You are now a new man. It is time to face the new you. Sometimes it takes a sudden change to make us realize what we have done, good or bad. You are not your body. Then and now. You can still do a lot of things even with the state you are in. Get motivated. Make this a real new start. You will make this happen because you want to help yourself be who you are and not what others want you to be. Stop comparing yourself to others, it will just ruin you. It is time to pay attention to yourself. Believe me, you need to look within yourself and start listening to yourself. Be good. I really think that you are very angry towards many people....do not take it on you. Did you tell your therapist about the issues you discussed here? You really need to look into psychoanalysis if you have the time and the money. It may help you.

     
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    Old 12-24-2003, 06:43 PM   #8
    stolie
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    Re: how i have become my pain, part 1 (reply to quincy)

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by backtomyoldself
    I really think that you are very angry towards many people....do not take it on you. Did you tell your therapist about the issues you discussed here? You really need to look into psychoanalysis if you have the time and the money. It may help you.
    Yes, I think anger is probably my single greatest issue right now. I direct most of it toward myself, some of it toward my parents (I guess it's true what they say about lashing out against those closest to us,) and just carry it around silently the rest of the time. The only times the anger goes away are when I am typing here on the bulletin board, when I am captivated by a particularly interesting class at school, or when I am engaged in a strenuous physical activity like rock climbing.

    When I am in pain, my frustration level goes through the roof. When it reaches a certain level, my discomfort now automatically brings on a feeling of extreme irritability and anxiety. The anger feels undirected - I'm just mad, not at anyone in particular - just mad at the universe, or in particular at God, although I'm not even sure if I believe in him/her/it.

    If I could make this anger go away, I think life would get a lot better. I'm not sure how to let it go as I'm not sure it's connected to a thought anymore. Well, if there is a thought when the feeling builds, it's mostly a string of expletives, or something like, "God, you are a $!$#@. I $#@$ hate you."

    (I'm sorry if this offended you or anyone else, but it honestly is what I feel at these times, like if there is a creator or some divine presence responsible for ordering the universe, I hate him, her or it to the core of my being. I know this is tremendously unhealthy or to some blasphemous but the thought crops up over and over.)

    I've only had one therapist in the past two years and, yes, I told him a good deal of what I wrote here but not all of it, partially because of time constraints and partially because at the time I was seeing him finding a job and some outside activities was of the highest priority. As to psychoanalysis, after you suggested it I found a site on the Web that offers a free course in how to perform it on yourself. I signed up and should be receiving lessons via e-mail. That should be a good start as right now money is tight and I am going back into physical therapy shortly.

    Thank you so much for replying, Backtomyoldself. You have been so kind and thoughtful, and you have made observations about me that I hadn't realized myself. I hope I can return the favor when you are in need and looking for support.

     
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    Old 12-24-2003, 11:49 PM   #9
    backtomyoldself
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    Re: how i have become my pain, part 1 (reply to quincy)

    If I could make this anger go away, I think life would get a lot better. I'm not sure how to let it go as I'm not sure it's connected to a thought anymore.

    You are right. Anger will eat you up alive. It's a waste of energy and you will eventually lost everything you have/are because of it. It is also normal to blame others when we are mad. As a matter of fact, we have something in common (again): blaming parents and God. Yes, I did that (and who knows if I will get the urge again). But I guess you know by now that it will lead you nowhere when you direct your anger towards others. You have to channel that anger properly (i.e. sports, classes, journals, etc.) but you also have to realize the limits you have. Learn to express yourself, be angry when you're angry. Let other people know what you feel. Do not try to mask whatever you feel. You can tell that I am mainly concerned about you anger right now. As I read your posts, I would like to reach out to you and give you a hug right now because I can feel how painful and frustrating your experiences are. You have to believe that life is not all about pain and frustration. It can be beautiful. Back to your anger, if you have this since you were a child, I believe CBT will be of not much help to you. The longer you have distorted thoughts, the more difficult it is to correct them. That is only my opinion. Psychoanalysis is rarely used as a form of psychotherapy, but I honestly think that some childhood problems left unresolved can be fixed if done properly. It deals with the root of the problem, how it started, what causes it, releasing the pent up emotions, and in the end, hopefully, be able to understand yourself more clearly. If ever you want to try a licensed psychoanalyst, visit the American Psychoanalytic Association to make sure that they have the appropriate training and certification.

    Happy Holidays, Stolie. ((((hugs)))))

    Isa

     
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    Old 12-25-2003, 09:00 PM   #10
    stolie
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    Re: how i have become my pain, part 1 (reply to quincy)

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by backtomyoldself
    Happy Holidays, Stolie. ((((hugs)))))
    Isa
    Thank you, Isa. I really needed that. Happy Holidays to you as well. ((((hugs))))

    Dave

     
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