Author Topic: Epilogue: Twiggy's Tale  (Read 11324 times)

sKePTiKal

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Epilogue: Twiggy's Tale
« on: November 18, 2011, 09:19:49 AM »
Quote
I didn't know where to put this, especially since I'm still laughing...

on the phone this evening with my mom (she's fully into her monologue sturm & drang rerun conversation) - while I'm still scrubbing away at the floor - and I'm ready to move the bucket/long handled brush... when CRASH - and an OH SH*%!... my brush handle got tangled up with a nice bottle of white wine in the wine rack (sniff!! I'll miss it) and now I had glass to clean up... so my mom hung up!

I'd like to credit my unconscious self for this selfless act of protecting me, at all costs. (She really liked that wine...)


So. Now I know where to put this.

The part I didn't mention in the vignette above... was that my mom was ranting, railing, all worked up about my SIL and niece, again. Apparently niece has taken to saying things like "well, I might as well kill myself". She's 13 and has the usual age-related mom issues, which of course have been totally muddled by Grandma's contradictory behavior controlling, mind-control, guilt-trip, and boundary-less interference. NMom had a ready answer, when I told her kids that age said things like that, a lot.

NMom said, well Aunt So-So's 12 yr old did exactly that; he was under too much pressure. That must've been 40 years ago. And she flatly states: nothing is ever that bad that you have to do that. ***

Cue: crash, swearing & hanging up and that jarring time/space warp sensation of having entered a universe where no (sane) man has gone before.

--------------------------------

I have been in what I believe is my "last lap" around the healing the circle (I hope)... trying new approaches to solving this issue of self-harm. It's not something that can be addressed by immersing myself in feelings nor memories alone, nor open to change by fiat and head-on confrontation. So I've learned that I can indirectly, in a side-ways fashion, gain collaboration with the part of me which copes with difficult things - and through force of habit, anything which represents my lack of awareness of my own needs and meeting them - with self-harm. I haven't been able to explain how this works - not even to myself. The feral cat metaphor/analogy, I think, is still the closest.

So a light bulb went off in my head, a little while ago - social science! OK... wasn't sure where this came from or why... or what I hoped to find there. And granted, the author I read might've been too professorial - he sure does like talking about his studies and the results of them! And when the first book "Adaptive Unconscious" only teased; hinted at a piece of information without just coming right out & stating it... I read another book by him. Still, I felt like this wasn't going to yield anything useful.

After all, my experience was kinda unique - what would social science & social psychology, which deals with "group" patterns and dynamics have to do with that???? The ONLY place I'd found other people who knew what I was talking about, was here. River and her Self in Exile... Gaining Strength... Certain Hope... m'dears Hopsy, and tt and FW and...................

So all that stuff was floating around, settling, and being digested in my thoughts when my mom called this week. And the crash of the wine bottle was meant to get MY attention - my unconscious self was waving her hand in the air, hoping the teacher would call on her! She knew the answer!!! And yet, it still took days for this to simplify itself into something that a.) is coherent and b.) is so simple I can't shoot holes in it.

What is Hannibal Lector CREEPY about all this... is how my mom is replaying exactly the same script on poor niece, that she played on me. Niece is in a damned if you, damned if don't, double-bind feedback loop between her mom and grandma, because G'ma has decided Mom is devil spawn and the only thing standing between Niece and total ruination is G'ma. At the same time, G'ma has engineered this particular line in the sand - by "assuming" a parental role - traipsing right across that boundary and denying mom's authority... then accusing her of being irresponsible.  Just like she did with my dad, my aunt, my neighbor Ruth - and myself in the middle. Gonna just tack this post-it up on the board and come back to it in a minute.

So, the social science post-it... a few of the studies referred to were analyzing teenagers responses to "intervention" style attempts to keep kids from getting into trouble. Basic findings are, that any time you throw "at risk" kids into situations with other "bad kids"... they begin to identify with that group, attribute those characteristics to themselves.... to BELONG. Even the "Scared Straight" program backfires with a lot of kids - their kid-logic goes something like this: Jeez... if they went to all this effort to scare the SH&* out me... I really MUST be a bad kid.

OH - HELLO... past memory of smoking & hanging out in cars with older kids during that summer of '69 (I was 12 and had mom's permission - go figure). When the "price" for hanging out with them - being allowed to tag along - required smoking and trying to look older than I was, so I wouldn't drag down their "cool" factor. This was the summer - a few months after - the horrible, horrible events happened. This was during my mom's "whisper campaign" telling me what I thought, what I felt... that she knew me better than I knew myself.

This was AFTER I did cut myself... became banned at Ruths'... after the rape, near-death experience, dissociation, the flat out disbelief on my mother's part that any of that happened to me... her assault on my ability to determine reality by telling doctor after doctor that there must be some physical, medical reason for my symptoms... the rediculous things she made up... the pregnancy/abortion... the lies... to everyone about me... and TO ME... Hell, no, I wasn't thinking well at all!! What 12 yr old could work that Twilight Zone plot out and explain it to herself in a way that resulted in the understanding that it wasn't her fault; a PARENT needs to be accountable/responsible...

Sure Mom; nothing's ever that bad....... </sarcasm>

But I wasn't trying to kill myself. I was trying to get HER out of my head and find ME again. Which of course, was the huge taboo... it was how she controlled me... and of COURSE - I was angry; outraged in every logical, rational and moral way I could be outraged that she would do such a thing to me... and then tell me it was for my own good.


***
Kids say things like "I hate you" and "I might as well kill myself"... when they aren't allowed the basic human right of owning their own feelings. That fundamental boundary... of being a separate person. They are ANGRY in the extreme because this is a life/death situation... their own survival is at stake... their identity, independence, and ability to determine their own "reality" and truth is at stake.

When there is no other way to express that anger and will to survive... then the kid often (not always) takes it out on him/herself**. And what did my mom whisper to me??? One of the things, was that I didn't have to kill myself... it wasn't that bad... she did what she did for my own good... and so that one understanding of a specific event/memory got twisted (see social science post-it) into self-harm. It was OK for her to be angry - but no one else was allowed to be; especially ME.

My mom's exact words when she found out I was smoking were: "Well, it could be worse".

--------------------------------
**
What a predicament, huh? In my case, it caused a sort of functional split between my conscious "self" and my unconscious self. Schizo is one way of describing it... because I simply was NOT able to have any impact on persuading my unconscious self to sign on to changes that would benefit me, in any way shape or form. Rewards backfired... bribes backfired... rules backfired... data tracking... it ALL failed. I was literally going in two directions at once. In so many respects, my unconscious self was just like a feral cat... and clearly, it was also "voiceless". Voiceless in the respect that I couldn't "hear" it; couldn't hear myself screaming in agony or anger or frustration or need. Those emotions were the part of me that I had to hide; even from myself... because body-language can so easily convey an emotion... and my emotions - when not completely dictated & approved by Nmom - initiated the rage-campaigns and her guilt-trips and... well, you know all the hijinks, right? Flat out, it wasn't safe... to be me.

When I can get back into my Kindle and get the references again, I'll post the names of the various techniques suggested for "fixing" this condition. Essentially, a person "rewrites" their inner narrative. You know, pencil & paper really worked for me. The eye-hand coordination kicked in with the mind-body connection... and after many pages, I found my own peculiar "stream of consciousness" again. At that point, I was able to do the same here.... typing. I knew something was churning up lately; I've been having a lot of trouble typing... something was interfering (more than normal) with both the letters and the words that "fell out" of my fingers. I suspect that it's this exercise - repeated ad nauseum - that's slowly been decreasing the separation between my conscious self and unconscious self. So that we can - most of the time now - speak with one voice, we're going in the same direction... the goals are the same.

The other thing that happens with this constant re-write of one's personal story or narrative... is that with each successive rewrite one gains just a bit more distance from the old, toxically poisonous memories of the emotionally abusive experience. It becomes less emotionally stimulating - old hat, a dry dusty fact just like the fact than once I wore 10-button landlubber bell bottoms that dragged on the ground. There is a lot less "reliving"; "re-experiencing"... because, I guess, the unconscious self is finally given the space to process those emotions about those experiences... in safety, acknowledgement, self-validation, and empathetic understanding. It becomes possible to let that collection of experiences fade away... into the past... not forgotten, but no longer a relevant feature of the present state of being "me".

Essentially - loving the feral cat unconscious self patiently - until it loses or gives up it's misguided (though understandable under those circumstances!) "need" to express itself - to be - through self-harm.
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sKePTiKal

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Re: Epilogue: Twiggy's Tale
« Reply #1 on: November 18, 2011, 09:57:22 AM »
OK - the writing exercise is called the Pennebaker Writing Exercise. Here's a link to an explanation of this & related "therapies" on Wikipedia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Writing_therapy
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sKePTiKal

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Re: Epilogue: Twiggy's Tale
« Reply #2 on: December 06, 2011, 09:02:49 AM »
Much as I feel that Freudian theories "fit' me... well, pavlov, too... there is this strong Jungian influence, especially in the paths I'm treading in the healing process. The dreams I mentioned a few months ago are back; in full force. I've been sleeping longer hours - and the last hour or so is quite deep - so that upon waking, it takes me a good long time to return from the light-years away distance I've been travelling & dreaming - living my "other" life. I believe, this is some of what I experienced as a child also - my deepest, most restful, most dreamy sleep was right before waking. So, I'd be incoherent for quite a while (tt - you'll maybe find this a parallel) and it was clear, that my mom thought I was weird, being bad on purpose, or there was something seriously wrong with me that I didn't just jump out of bed 100% conscious and ready to go. Back then, it didn't help that I'd been up most of the night - with anxiety, racing thoughts, fear-spirals, nightmares, hypervigilance. And of course: my mom simply didn't see or understand this as anything except misbehaving. For a woman who believed, without a shred of doubt that she was always right - she could be so, plain, garden-variety, ignorant.

My latest dream was about my Dad. And it carried the emotional message that he was also responsible for the danger I suddenly found myself in, so long ago. It also... oddly... carried the message that as cruel and N and nasty as his behavior could be at times... that behavior wasn't what we call or define as: abusive. His employees - that I've come to know - have been telling me the same things, here and there.

A long time ago, before therapy, I realized that there was one significant way that my Dad and I were very much alike. He also reacted strongly to the treatment he received at the hands of his mom. This woman frightened me as a child; I hated being anywhere near her. Being sent to her house, for overnights, I always wondered why I was being punished and for what. I wonder, if he ever realized the connection between his wacko mom... and the woman he married?

Now that I am at a distance from the memories and reliving them, of my mom... and thanks to Sally's links... it seems pretty clear that my initial, amateur diagnosis of my mom was pretty damn close: BPD. At the time, I was checking off the list of symptoms that were clearly ringing "bells" for me, back then... my T pushed me away from analyzing my mom, in the interest of working on "me". Now, I'm kinda wondering if perhaps, my grandma - my Dad's mom - didn't fit that criteria, also. She was a bit infamous, for "torturing" and being mean (or outliving) - all 7 of her husbands.

I wonder... if the reason my mom yelled "abuse" at the top of her lungs, over & over... trying to brainwash my bro & I, about how evil my dad was; in conjunction with her self-soothing rationalization of why she stayed married to him, 14 years - "for you kids"; I wonder if perhaps this isn't the dead-giveaway about her psyche and mental health. When you're hypervigilant and stay awake "until Daddy gets home" (so you feel safe enough to sleep)... you also hear how Mom started all the fights and how awful her verbal abuse was. And... when my Dad was finally driven away - because he really was out of patience trying to figure out what she wanted... how to satisfy her... and to save his own ego -- that was when she was at her worst and craziest and scariest.

I haven't seen projection come up much, in explanations of BPD. But I can understand that if she feels that she herself is nothing, no one... she would be insanely jealous (and critical) of people who do have a sense of self... and emotions... and free will... and the ability to set boundaries; say NO. And she would have a primal fear of that emptiness within... and would unconsciously, completely un-self-aware... try to convince herself; and others... that they are the same way. And wholeheartedly believe that people with a more solid self.... are evil. Making fun of her. Out to get her. Responsible for everything bad (she creates &) experiences.

Gotta go. Don't know where this is going yet.
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sKePTiKal

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Re: Epilogue: Twiggy's Tale
« Reply #3 on: December 09, 2011, 08:42:44 AM »
Eventually, if I babble ENOUGH, the words finally fall out of my mouth... it helps if I'm paying attention and actually HEAR them.

My post-it notes this month need to say:

WHAT DO I NEED RIGHT NOW? and
WHEN IS IT MY TURN TO BE TAKEN CARE OF??

That's it; that's all I need to be thinking about and trying to answer here. Everything else is just blathering, babbling, opinion, and polishing turds... or refining/reframing/rewriting my story, if you prefer. Yep... this is self-centered, self-absorbed and N, in our shorthand of talking about how people "are". And that is what I've been saying all along: people need egos or the mack-truck of life (and other people) is going turn one into roadkill.

Add to that, the fact I was never allowed and taught not to expect those questions to be heard - much less taken seriously or needs met... yeah. So that's why I feel like I'm a big baby right now. A big ole baby that wants it's mommy (a NICE mommy, if I'm allowed to choose). But we don't get to choose, do we? No guarantees in life, really.

So, what to do? Obviously, I'm still not "built" to live my life in flaming, taking, me-me-me N-fashion. Heck, I didn't even want to clutter up the main board with trying to get to these two existential questions... people are dealing with real issues and mine don't seem all that important or urgent in the scheme of things. I'm just polishing turds... or like my T said, on our last visit: I'm looking for the "universal mother"... sigh.... archetypes don't manifest in a consistent fashion in reality; they're really not much more solid than a lot of my theories.

One theory I've had about this "need to be taken care of", is that if one genuinely takes care of someone else; cares for someone else... one will receive equal to what's been given. In practice, in reality... I've found that it's a lot more like the statistics of whether toast falls butter side up/down more often... it matters what height the toast is dropped from. You take your chances... and lots of other (known/unknown) variables can affect the results.

The other thing, is that I seem to have a very definite definition of what I mean - in emotional terms - about "being taken care of". A feeling that doesn't translate into the words, thoughts that describe it... I can't make a list of what this phrase consists of. But I'm fairly certain that the only thing standing in the way of feeling that feeling - is something about me. Perception maybe. Distraction from normal life stuff that takes up attention, time, energy. Habitual ways of understanding things, perhaps.

The other thing I'm cognizant of, is that when we ask - in prayer, or of the universe in general, for things we need or want... we have to release the outcome of the "asking". The answer can be and often is in a different form than we anticipated and we don't get to choose ahead of time off some life-menu of answer entrees. One has to be careful what one wishes for.

A while back, I was hit over the head with a direct communique from my unconscious self - a dream in which I told my T I was ready to "finish" now. I thought I knew what that was going to consist of - what finishing required and what was required of me. And I was wrong again. Silly left brain conscious-self! "Finishing" is simply getting to these two post-it note questions and then every day, trying to answer those questions. Figure out what I mean by "being taken care of" through what I do now, later today, tomorrow...

Every day, the answers will be different. That's fine with me; keeps things interesting. Some days I'll forget to try to answer the questions; some days I'll be more or less successful. That's just fine. At least it matters, right? To me. It doesn't have to matter to anyone else.

Art work is the same way - each piece is one of a kind. Even prints can differ quite a bit from the proof stage, to the 100th pull. Spontaneous serendipity, accident, paying attention and changing direction or intent... is all part of the creative force.

A whole bunch of tiny, little, successive, but individual "present moments"... linked together by two questions and the search for answers. A search that isn't possible with "navel gazing" or talking things out or even dialogue; rather one that happens doing lots of different kinds of other things and paying attention when the answers show up.
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sKePTiKal

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Re: Epilogue: Twiggy's Tale
« Reply #4 on: December 19, 2011, 09:29:24 AM »
Again, I don't know where to put this... but it's something that's come up again:

There are things that I believe about myself: that I can/can't do certain things well... it's only based on how I felt on the receiving end of cruel criticism, being the butt of jokes, and humiliation... i.e., not having anyone else believe in me and allowing me to try... and find my own style, voice, or expression through trying and practice. At one point in my tai chi classes, I realized it was still possible for me to regain the strength and stamina (and body shape) of my younger self, if I continued working at it. To be really good at this, even... maybe even teach. Who wouldn't be motivated by seeing this?? And I ran away from that as fast as I could - it was so far out of the safe zone of what was "allowed" me - and so far in the danger zone because to get there, I had to perform the solo forms with people watching, grading, judging me... and don't ya know? When I attempted the first step to get there, I went totally blank early on and didn't even finish the form so that I wouldn't throw the other student performing with me, off. I knew the order of the postures, as well as the teachers. It wasn't even the focus of my attention anymore; I was more concerned about the individual refinements and the areas I always had trouble with, because of a weak ankle. But that was what I messed up. In a ranking exam.

What really freaked me out in that moment, was a mental image that appeared in my mind's eye: of some little impish demon jumping up & down and laughing at me telling me: "SEE, I told you you wouldn't be able to do it". Hard to believe, that all these years later, that the kind of emotional abuse we experienced as kids can still have such a direct impact on us in our presents, isn't it? Limiting us, and ruining the things we enjoy even. Because that's what I think this visual/audial imaginary mental moment was: a concretized amalgam of all the awful things that had been said to me... the feelings I had because of it... that I wasn't supposed to feel, because anger and self-survival was part of my feelings, too.

I use a lot of military and war metaphors and analogies, or did. I was locked in a battle within myself... what I wanted to do (even if I didn't do it well, or "right") and that hypercritical, humiliating, degrading collection of monikers, teasing, and descriptions of me that came directly from my mom and indirectly (less so now) from my brother. It comes up now, because my bro is at again in his pass-aggress way, I guess. And I just want to stand back from it all and look at this in the "big picture"... in context... and try to see whether there is any enemy at all... why on earth I'm letting it limit me now...

So yeah - all that crap came my direction and I dared not respond in kind because of the level of punishment for being a "smart-ass", "too big for my britches", not knowing my place... that left me probably more helpless and defensiveless than when I was struggling to shift the gun the gun in the rapist's hand. I wasn't allowed to dream my dreams, believe in myself and pursue what I really wanted - because it wasn't what Mother wanted me to do... or she projected out her fears: women won't be taken seriously as engineers, girls aren't good at math, there are no women scientists (Marie Curie, notwithstanding... her denial used the premise that Mde Curie was "special" and I wasn't). And there was a flip side to that 45 recording - a B side - too: that message was that all men would only take me seriously barefoot & pregnant (or in the process of being that way)... but that I was supposed to free myself from that (while stripping me of the means to do so???)  Classic mixed message.

But the real question under this: is WHY did I let myself be so helpless in the face of those "imperative" messages that were so obviously F'd up? Well, OK - there is the issue that I wasn't allowed to self-determine myself - at least not without humongous battles; not allowed boundaries... not allowed to determine "reality" the way I wanted to -- that part of myself I had to keep hidden and safe from detection or bear the awful "judgement" of my mother... because only she knew the "right" way to view these things (hence my intense dislike for political correctness)... and to belong, to be acceptable and a part of that insane FOO-circus...   [edit in: SELF? WHY would you want to belong to something so sick, perverse, dysfunctional and mean???]

oh yeah.
Because the backup message was that - by myself, I couldn't do anything "right". And of course, this is the subtext in my bro's comments about me, as well.

And when this role in the dynamic made me angry -- of course the fingers pointed my direction with the labels: over-sensitive, meltdown, fussing over nothing, get over it...

This is the old sewer smell I've been noticing in my feelings, ever since I've been encouraging my bro talk to me on business topics. This came back full force, when it was clear he was in his "other" personality -- practically an "alter" -- in the questions he posed in our last call. This is also the "early warning system" klaxon that I haven't been able to turn off since that phone call... what I called the "sucking vacumn" of enticement back into the sic FOO games I mentioned in someone's thread... and I haven't been able to let it go. I've been letting it cast it's gloom all over my mood as I go about finishing up my holiday gifts... and wow - it's nice to be able to see that bro (and mom too) are going out of their way to keep the family tradition of ruining Christmas alive... because it's a real stretch to find something to beat up Amber with, these days.

I will not pick up the phone... I will not pick up the phone... I will not pick up the phone... I will not pick up the phone. Leave a message at the beep.
« Last Edit: December 19, 2011, 09:38:50 AM by PhoenixRising »
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sKePTiKal

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Re: Epilogue: Twiggy's Tale
« Reply #5 on: December 26, 2011, 08:22:15 AM »
Maybe this'll wind up in the "Things Mama never taught me" thread.

Hubs & I spent Christmas by ourselves. Started out lovely and the potential for fun lurked... I reached out to and heard back from all the kids. Gave the dog his box of paper to shred and toys. But: things progressed quicly to silence and separation as we made a huge brunch together. Hubs took a long time while some goofy Christmas movie played... and I kinda bounced around, looking for something "fun" to do by myself, until it was time to start preparing dinner.

I had visions of a cozy, snuggly, day with hubs. Was really looking forward to it. Was willing to do my part to suggest this and be open and play... and yet the opportunity simply evaporated. We just didn't interact with each other... sigh.

This morning, I saw a news blurb that reported that money was spent to study and "prove" that children of emotional disturbed moms are twice as likely to be obese. Well, DUH! I'm not sure why someone thinks it's so important to re-study what people already know - is plain old common sense - instead of working on solutions to overcome these things. Finding what works for people, to let go... the hurts and disappointments; real deep grief... and move on. Yeah, we're all different... and speak different emotional languages... and that puzzle needs to be de-coded first, before proposing solutions. Kinda like learning a computer programming language, before being able to see where the glitches are and how to improve the application. But there's no need for a study, to determine when something simply "doesn't work", is broken, or gets stuck -- that is apparent to almost everyone.

Lately, there's been a lot of really good posts here on the board. It's so much easier, sometimes, to "see" things - realize what I'm doing to myself - when I see someone else doing the same, or close to the same thing or struggling to find their way through the same kind of thing. This wouldn't happen if we weren't able to open ourselves wide. To put all the yuck out there... and hope someone else can come along with ideas, suggestions, what works for them. Things to try. I've also learned how to use my 3-D experiences, to the same end... as a learning experience. To see what I haven't been seeing before. To try to figure out this weird thing of being me... and fix her.

One of the things I know I need to do now... is figure out how to ask for what I need. Not just the simple: Honey, can you take that tray out of the oven? But the other one, the BIG ONE... Hey, honey... I need to spend some time feeling close to someone, cared for, loved... do you have time for me? Because I need to feel like I belong, I'm not alone, and I know you need this too... How the hell does one ask this without reducing it to a transaction - I'll trade you a kiss for hugs?? without it turning into an all-out orgy instead? Where is the cruise-control button? Where we could just comfortably putter along together, cuddly... instead of flooring it and redlining the engine? I get overwhelmed pretty easily; scared off. I want out of the car. Who's making the rules about which speed we're going? Who's driving?

Where is that place, where we both speak the same romantic, loving emotional programming language and practice answering the other's needs? We used to know where it was... but since "boundaries" came into my collection of concepts... it seems we don't. Sometimes I feel I'm not "right"... I need to fix something about me... and I know hubs misunderstands me sometimes or gives up because he's afraid he's already done something "wrong" and doesn't want to make any worse. SIGH. Maybe I'm just missing the obvious again... and this is all something incredibly, stupidly, simple. Why do we spend so much time negotiating the parent-child trap in trying to care about and take care of each other??? Why are relationships so friggin' difficult for children of PDs or Ns????

What little pieces of human interaction were we not taught -- that everyone else seems to know and take for granted, like some secret club??
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sKePTiKal

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Re: Epilogue: Twiggy's Tale
« Reply #6 on: January 04, 2012, 07:00:34 AM »
Connection. What is this, really?

Messages about ourselves... what we're told about us as children, we hold as "facts"... until someone shows us without a doubt that it's not really true.


This month's post-its.
-------------------------------------------

So I woke up early, from a post-apocalyptic survivor dream. Making a list of collective "resources" on my green steno pad [the "great organizer" at work - LOL!]... insisting that people and family groups have their own private space... boundaries ... even in a make-shift shelter [individuality within a crowd?].

And when my brain started to whirr into it's normal mode: a nugget of insight - it was essential to my mom's survival to make me just as miserable as she was; if not me - then someone; anyone else - nothing of what I suffered in relationship with her was about me... nothing personal... it was all about her and her struggle to breathe, by pushing someone else underwater.

That would explain my reluctance to be open and close with other people in 3-D... scared about trusting, now wouldn't it? What comes after explanation? Letting go or digesting it and letting nature do it's compost thing? And then what? I mean, if it had been anyone else doing this, except my mother... I never would've bought into it. Why on earth did I make an exception for her, besides the fact that I was still a kid and essentially powerless... plus she'd trashed my credibility with her cover-up stories...

The whole "tickling the amygdala" topic came up in the context of what I consider to be a false premise, in conversation with my hair-wizard. If not completely false... it's not a complete statement of what I know to be "reality". He stated as a flat fact, that people process new sensory input... thoughts... information... automatically negatively; as a threat first - unless one then engaged the cortex and higher functioning analysis in the brain. That it was a GIVEN, the way humans are built... we don't have any choice about this... and without silly exercises to train ourselves differently, will continue to first evaluate all data for threat-level before seeing it any differently. I have indeed read this in the literature - both serious and "popular" - of neuroscience.

BUT - in that particular moment - I wrinkled my nose; I squirmed in the chair; cocked my head sideways... the inner Twiggy was waving her hand in the air again... she wanted to know if it was possible to do both at once - to assign both positive and negative (threat) value at the same time. He said Nope. And I said... when you're driving down the road enjoying the scenery it's still possible to dodge the potholes and react in time, if someone stops short in front of you. It IS possible for the brain to do both simultaneously and to not be controlled by either false security or paranoid anxiety.

I didn't tell him, that it's possible for my brain, at least. Not that it always works perfectly, mind you... just that I have experienced this enough, to know how to "get there", when I need to. And maybe I need to "get there" a lot more of the time, than I do...

I think that ability to connect to the positive - while still being cognizant of "threat" and able to plan for avoiding or minimizing or neutralizing it... is what is known in the art world and tai chi... as "flow"... the "zone".

It's a different kind of perception. I wonder if... it's the same thing as "attunement" in relationships?
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sKePTiKal

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Re: Epilogue: Twiggy's Tale
« Reply #7 on: January 05, 2012, 08:45:07 AM »
Nice thing about post-its... one can quickly "toss" them, replace them...

Instead of "connection"... "belonging"
Instead of "messages"... "self-determination"

I think these might be two points on a continuum... and we're forever somewhere in between, with a few, clear focused moments (as needed) at each end. It's the "as needed" I didn't realize was something that people go through their whole lives. That we don't determine who we are... establish our identity just once and that's it, till the end of time... it's not a phase we go through, like puberty or menopause... then it's over. (Is menopause ever over???)

I didn't know I could spend time on self-determination and still belong... and that in belonging, I actually ran into, discovered, tripped over and "got to know"... who I am. I thought I had to go away, find a cave, far from everyone... no sound, no interference, no "others"... to know me, apart from "me in context" or "me in a role". [Only part of that was believing that the self I'd find was so ugly, it wasn't fit for human consumption... the other part was process; I thought that was the only process that would insure that "I" would be uninfluenced by anyone else.]

It's the yin/yang symbol again... that point where there is one black molecule left... before it becomes the white part; the black dot surrounded by and held within the white. No gray; at all. There is no "there"... because it's constantly in flux or motion... same thing with belonging/self-determination... and where the boundaries are just lines in the sand; not walls or fences... where we are becoming at the same time we're letting go...

Self-determination. Determining my Self... yes... I'm seeing a lot of that going on right now. It feels like confusion, because of all the choices (I think)... but it's more like a sieve, with specific sized holes... and I'm shaking those choices and only certain ones fall through or remain...

tink! pingggggg.... rattle... clatter... blllttttthhhhhhsplat.
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sKePTiKal

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Re: Epilogue: Twiggy's Tale
« Reply #8 on: January 07, 2012, 09:23:07 AM »
Oh!!!! Ohh!!! I think I've found the "key"... the last f'ng piece of the puzzle!!!!

But I don't know for sure yet... the research, pondering, seeing how I "fit" into the concept and how the concepts "fit" my roadblock... I have all that work to do with this, first, I guess.

The "what the hell effect"... or if you'd rather: "counter regulatory effect"... so totally applies to me. And, I've discovered that there is discussion of this adult "symptom"... in folks with lingering primary attachment issues. (and how interesting IS it, that I'm back to Allan Schore and his work, again???)

And since it's become damn clear to me in the course of all my previous work... the link between the two, for me... and even how it affects my relationship with hubs... and why I'm still having trouble transitioning from a "no schedule... no structure... nothing external imposed on me total freedom experience (which I so totally needed - my cocoon - and the letting the dust settle phase) and feeling "guilty" about that phase, for no rational reason...

the "odd" thing is that I know that part of me "knows" all about this connection and the resulting cause/effect that I haven't been able to alter. It's odd that I have this non-rational understanding of it... and feel compelled - survival-oriented mechanism - to make it conscious... rational...first... before "trying it all out"... being able to trust, accept and commit to "fixing" it. But odd or not... that's what I feel I have to do.

The "what the hell" rationalization - bar the door Katie, I'm eating that whole bag of chips because it's supposed to make me "feel" better - excuse or idea that's tied to whether I care for myself or indulge in what I know is self-harming... all of that is tied to the "I don't matter" problem in my FOO. I figured out that I do matter to my SELF... and that was a good first step... but I've been standing on that step, looking around, totally head up my butt confused about what comes NEXT. Well, OK - I do have a list. And that list keeps getting longer, the longer I stand around going "duh.... what do I need?"

The big link between this rationalization and attachment theory... is basic human needs: food, emotional nurturing, protection/safety, and "regulation"... i.e., self-choice & control of behavior. I was constantly denied my real needs, from my mom... and constantly pushed to a "substitute"... a pacifier... that couldn't possibly satisfy the real need and that solidified into my "chasing" of those substitutes as my real need sat there - still unfulfilled and growing. And it was totally taboo to have the needs, when I was the one in the role of taking care of mom's needs instead.

OK. That much I know before research. NOW... I'm off to work & read & discuss & ponder... experiment!!   :)
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sKePTiKal

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Re: Epilogue: Twiggy's Tale
« Reply #9 on: January 07, 2012, 10:23:31 AM »
Post-It to SELF:

It's not just eating the wrong thing that triggers the "what-the-hell" effect in dieters. Eating more than other people can create the same feelings of shame, and lead to eating even more (or binging later in private). Any setback can create the same downward spiral. In one not-so-nice study, Polivy and Herman rigged a scale to make dieters think they had gained five pounds. The dieters felt depressed, guilty, and disappointed with themselves—but instead of resolving to lose the weight, they promptly turned to food to fix those feelings.

Dieters aren't the only ones susceptible to the "what-the-hell" effect. The cycle can happen with any willpower challenge. It's been observed in smokers trying to quit, alcoholics trying to stay sober, shoppers trying to stick to a budget, and even child molesters trying to control their sexual impulses.

Crucially, it's not the first giving in that guarantees the bigger relapse. It's the feelings of shame, guilt, loss of control, and loss of hope that follow the relapse. Once you're stuck in the cycle, it can seem like there is no way out except to keep going. This leads to even bigger willpower failures and more misery as you then berate yourself (again) for giving in (again). But the thing you're turning to for comfort can't stop the cycle, because it only generates more feelings of shame.

What's the solution? As I've written about many times on this blog, self-compassion is far more effective and motivating than self-criticism and shame.

From Psychology Today; Kelly McGonigal





HMMM. What about shame because of loss of self-control? Like anger unleashed as rage?
Connect the dots, Amber...

Next day edit:

it is possible to connect the dots incorrectly. All emotions I expressed were subject to shaming of one sort or another - often disguised as teasing, poking fun, etc. The level & consistency of the invalidation campaign that was sent my way... and not just in that SHTF year... is what I need to focus on. I was much more acceptable - tho' never good enough - when parenting my mom & bro... more dots. No win situations; double binds... impact on self-efficacy... what I believe myself capable of doing vs hopelessness & learned helplessness...

reading....
breathing....
« Last Edit: January 08, 2012, 08:53:15 AM by PhoenixRising »
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sKePTiKal

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Re: Epilogue: Twiggy's Tale
« Reply #10 on: January 08, 2012, 08:56:33 AM »
HUH... wait a minute...

doesn't:

Quote
But the thing you're turning to for comfort can't stop the cycle, because it only generates more feelings of shame.

Doesn't this accurately describe my relationship with mom & bro???


Good thing I've got a lot of wall space and lots of tape, in case the post-its get moved around alot and aren't sticky anymore.
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sKePTiKal

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Re: Epilogue: Twiggy's Tale
« Reply #11 on: January 09, 2012, 07:21:32 AM »
Cleaning up the "post-its" to keep my focus and concentration... with some significance added:

Invalidation:
creates this dumb belief that I don't matter... that effort is meaningless (hopelessness; helplessness; futility)... so why try in the first place? This is also handing "other people" the power to make that judgement, when I can always (can't be taken away either) make the decision that I matter to myself.

What the Hell Effect:
already f'd that up... in for a penny in for a pound... might as well keep on doing this... and see if anyone notices; stops me; cares enough to try to persuade me otherwise. Already "shameful"... and the funny thing about shame is that a lot of it feels about the same as a little; it's all miserably bad. Sets up self-perpetuating cycle... the "chip on the shoulder" effect

Ego Depletion:
New concept for me. Sounds a lot like having one's boundaries kicked in, trampled, run over & left for dead... with a twist. That twist is that one isn't able to sustain mattering to oneself (see what the hell effect) - because of (and I don't know if this is for real or not... but in my case there are supporting connections)... because of a lack of glucose to fuel the brain. How to tell if this is the case? One way, that I'm reading about, is that the intensity of experienced emotions increases...

... and that's something that makes me say "huh". In other words, emotional distortion... loss of perspective, I guess, in extreme cases. Over-reacting?? to a normal, little run of the mill difficulty... and feeling as though it's the "last straw that breaks the camel's back"?? All because of low blood sugar...

so skipping breakfast - or lunch - is not a good thing. Eating 5 times a day - smaller meals supplemented with healthy snacks - might work better for me, that feasting on carbs for energy. Physical "well-being" translating into emotional self-regulation... and balance. Same with sleep deprivation. Been reading that if one sleeps poorly, all kinds of normal processes get out of balance and the body uses energy when one is supposed to be recharging - waking up this hungry hormone grehlin (sounds like a gargoyle, doesn't it?) It's one of a pair of hormones that tell the brain when one is hungry or full... this pair works together to self-regulate appetite... and how they function can easily be thrown out of wack, if one eats late right before going to bed... skips meals... or otherwise interrupts or exaggerates the body's preferred glucose range.

The other kinds of things that have been found to cause ego depletion is - believe it or not - making too many decisions. Or being faced with lots of choices. My guess is that we can throw "multitasking" into that basket, too. And having too many kinds of things to "do"... too many different kinds of things - and that number probably always changes from person to person and level of well-being, too. And I wonder, purely speculatively... if that could also be extended to the type of "exhaustion" that I experience because of "too much clutter"??



So, I don't need to be stringing yarn from these concepts back to childhood experiences and my experience of poor parenting, at this point. Maybe later a little connecting will be necessary. After all the connecting I've already done, I'm still here with the same old dysfunctional habits and still looking for that blast of "AHA" - that thing I still don't know or that mama didn't teach me - to be able to START moving on... and START to make changes.

This author actually explains what's been wrong with my approach and planning techniques... where I set myself up to fail (or give up without really starting). He shows why "the to-do list" only feeds into the dysfunction... and explains that where I've always gone wrong in the past... is on:

Next Action
instead of saying what it is I need to do next... I'll put that item down on my list, as the result I need to get to next - sans instructions/reminders of HOW I'm going to do it. WHEN. Specifically - in detail. That's the mistake I make.

As in: drink cup of tea... that's the result
If I instead remind myself: boil water at 10 am... 2:30 pm... make tea....

Then I don't need to make any decisions - choices - and I don't use that brain glucose energy in the process of changing my habit or taking care of myself. After a few days or a week or two... I don't need the note anymore, either and I TRUST myself to remember; it's automatic... and I don't have the connection between making that change and ego depletion/exhaustion either.

This is at least one piece of usefulness that I think makes sense to me, since some of my attempts to "change" myself have created the most intense discomfort for me... I overwhelm myself and easily give up and return to the "bad habit comfort zone". Yet I absolutely positively do well in a changing situation - travel, coping with unusual circumstances, those "have to" situations where everyone is making it up as they go along. Change is positively stimulating for me; not a negative. Yet there's a lot more outside of my control in the latter scenario... whereas everything in the former should be (but definitely isn't yet) completely under my control.

That concept of "fixing feelings" by taking in something from outside myself - is highly questionable. I know it came from a delusional person... and I don't consciously believe it's "true" or valid. And YET... that is exactly what I'm doing or attempting to do. Nimwit.
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sKePTiKal

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Re: Epilogue: Twiggy's Tale
« Reply #12 on: January 11, 2012, 07:16:13 AM »
OK... I think I almost understand the concepts from this book on "Willpower".

From the moment I am conscious of my body in the morning, till I leave it for dreamland at night... I'm making choices - this or that, what do I feel like, what do I need in this present moment, what do I want to do today (how come I don't decide what I want to feel like each day? hmmm; digression)...

All of those choices and decisions - even picking/choosing my words here - use ENERGY... this heretofore unknowable mysterious "willpower" and discipline that I've always been told I don't have. (That's crap; this will explain why...) ENERGY relies on GLUCOSE... that sugary glop in our bodies that is out of balance in diabetics... that runners need to push through to the end of the marathon... the stuff, that when you stop being physically active... turns to fat. Using lots of energy - even in mental processes - depletes our energy stores... what the author calls EGO DEPLETION. In this case, ego simply means one's core strength of concentrated "selfness"; i.e, "will" - the ability to choose, decide... SELF-REGULATE my self... you know, "control" myself.

I've observed this in myself and how I react to hubs' love for indefatigable shopping excursions. Even a grocery store run can stretch out to 3-4 hours with him; he thrives on the choices, options, noise, people, and just loves to satisfy some little immediate "want" with a treat... I usually take a list of things we're out of, at home - but that's it. We stand in front of food and try to decide what we're going to eat that evening. By the time we get home, unload the bags and let the dog out - I still haven't eaten that day. It could be 2-3 pm.... and I'm so drained that all I want is my newspaper (which is a signal to him to leave me alone) and some instant junk food... which I mindlessly eat... while I mindlessly read... until I get to the editorials. By then, I can at least "care" about things again. I eat... until my blood sugar balances a bit again... and I can feel like my normal "self" -- not a total zombie. And of course, I've stuffed my stomach... and am in absolutely no frame of mind (or will) to get up and make dinner a couple of hours later.

I no longer have meltdowns in Walmart, like I used to from sensory overload. But, I haven't really appreciated that hubs' main source of entertainment - shopping (yes, he considers this "doing things" with me) - is wearing me out, using up the limited amount of energy I have each day... to make the changes I want. It's the style of his shopping, that does it - I've called it hunting/gathering in the past - and that's just about as good as it gets. Like a bee, he'll want to buzz through the aisles... OH, what's this?... How do you pronounce "quinoa"?... I haven't seen this in years (so he buys 5)... which is why it takes so long to get through the grocery store.

My shopping style, is that I USED to preplan meals... and my list included all the staples/main ingredients I was low on and all the special items I needed, organized by dish... then I "go get" and "get out". I let him convince me that I was being "grumpy" and a "stick in the mud" for not being able to have fun shopping, like he does. The list meant that I didn't have to use so much energy trying to remember everything I needed... I had fewer decisions to make in the gathering process... I could even estimate about how much my bill would be (very roughly) when I checked out. This was a skill I developed when I lived 50 miles from the grocery store. If I didn't have juniper berries when I got home - I sure wasn't getting any at the local convenience store!

And I lead, what I call "reconnaissance missions". That's where I'll just walk through a store looking at things. I may not even want anything, or have a purchase in mind - I just want to see what they've got. Sometimes, I'll find a gem... most of the time, I walk out of the store without buying a thing... I actually get more energy from that kind of shopping, than hubs' kind. I get excited about possibilities, designing, making a new space - a new atmosphere - somewhere at home. Or new wardrobe (altho' it's rare these days I find anything in the stores that I like; much less looks decent on me)...  Sales clerks hate me, until they get to know what I'm doing - because if they leave me alone long enough or just wave bye-bye and wait - I'll definitely show up later with a complete list of the items that I'm sure I want.

Believe it or not - this isn't a digression from the Willpower topic. Because, if I start thinking about all the pieces of the puzzle of physical/mental energy, ego depletion, and "what the hell" effect... from the starting point of self-regulation... turn the picture sideways... then all of a sudden a bunch of things start to go pop! fizz! Bingo... in my head.

Part 1 of this - is "how I am". Part 2 - is a sketchy plan (so far) for putting that knowledge to work to make the changes I want to make. And this time, I feel a whole lot more hopeful about implementing it and reaching those goals. I know exactly what went wrong with previous applications of popular techniques - because they were wrong for me. CBT has a reputation problem; an image problem, I think. It creates this exaggerated expectation that if you say, keep track of every smoke you have... you'll magically smoke less. What isn't explained well... what isn't made clear in those instructions... is the "self-regulation" part, nor the physical component. THAT'S where my self-sabotage comes from... from low-blood sugar... when I'll say What the Hell... and over-do... because of my "habit" learned in childhood... of not eating; it's a need and mom can't be bothered... it's not important/I'm not important... so I have no self-regulation resources to meet temptation... to set limits... to even know when I'm full, at dinner.

Self-regulation is a complete mystery to someone who's been "regulated" by an overbearing, dominating, always right yet contradictory, mentally ill or even simply PD parent. You've been told how to act, what to say, how to feel... for so long... by someone outside of yourself... you don't even know that you have wants and needs; you'll deny having any wants and pretend needs don't exist. And then, in my case - when I was too young, about 13 - my mom went completely "hands-off" neglectful. I made my own curfews... parented her & my bro... I had to make up all my own rules for myself... figure it all out - what's "socially acceptable" mean??... by myself.

So outwardly - I've been pegged as having no self-control or discipline in my behavior. What I find fascinating is the equal amount of self-control and discipline I have, inwardly - of suppressing my Self, my emotions, my sense of identity, likes/dislikes - for the FOO Party Line. I can definitely "endure". To be a "good little soldier" playing my part in that soap opera... meant denying my Self. I had to do all the work on self-discovery, definition, creation... before any of the CBT changes could even be useful (and not backfire) on me. In a way, this is the advanced class on boundaries, too.

You know, timing is everything... and there really are prerequisites... a certain "order" to this work; skipping chapters or trying to jump to the end... doesn't really gain one anything. OH... and doing this work, is even more evidence for my store of "willpower", "self-regulation", and "self-control"... because as painful as it is... I haven't walked away (ok, maybe procrastinated...) from the specific tasks. Before I get babbling too far... I'm going to need to define Part 2 - design that implementation plan... and spit out the bit that I've learned:

Yes, I've always had a high degree of self-control -- but I was applying it to the wrong things and there wasn't enough energy left to address or stamina to sustain any of the things I wanted to change.

Shut up now, Amber... go read some more, think, digest...
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sKePTiKal

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Re: Epilogue: Twiggy's Tale
« Reply #13 on: January 17, 2012, 08:36:32 AM »
All these years... I have been trying to find the words to SAY... what I know about myself... and why I go through all kinds of gyrations, put myself through hell, trying to make simple lifestyle changes... what the difference is between ME and thousands of other people... and I've probably spewed out a million words here, over the years... more in my journals... and lo & behold:

Kay said it.

Quote
I should ask for more things: childless time to exercise, etc.  But I worry hubby will think me selfish. Maybe my inner child is still always worried she's selfish.  NM told me that every five minutes for most of my childhood. I know that was projection, but my IC doesn't.

I bolded those two statements, because I heard this too... and sometimes there was the variation of being told I had no self-control, no discipline, no willpower... somewhere here, I wrote someone that I'd realized part of my "problem" was that I was TOO controlled; regulated; editing... and while talking to hubs the other day, he said that being over-controlled still resulted in the same end result as having no self-control... and Kay's statement about her own situation explains exactly why.

There has to be time to digest this now. Observe. Let it settle. And deal with my own lingering Twiggy-fear.
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Re: Epilogue: Twiggy's Tale
« Reply #14 on: January 31, 2012, 08:48:08 AM »
Yay. My new book was downloaded to my Kindle. "Coming Apart: the State of White America, 1960-2010".

Since I "came apart" during those years and am looking for clues on putting myself back together, it made sense to investigate someone's view of the "era-times-whatever" I lived through/in. I'm expecting the stage-set, the cultural subtexts, the challenges to the established cultural values... i.e., the CONTEXT of that era to have a little something to do with my personal story. It's not as if Twigs lived in a bubble, completely separated from things like Vietnam, Star Trek, NOW, and civil rights... despite my mom's ostrich attempts to isolate us/me. In some ways, the counterculture absolutely saved me... gave me the best possible place to "hide" despite all the pitfalls associated with it - and there were some pretty nasty ones.

And the basic subject of the book, is CULTURAL inequality (as opposed to just income equality). This is something I'm currently experiencing - and not overly comfortable with. Having been a "worker bee" all my life... and jaggedy-rough around my edges... I feel like I don't really fit in or belong... in the culture that exists on the other side. It's not that anyone is nasty to me; excluding me... more that I keep hesitating and pulling back... not sure I even want to know what it's all about. Me judging them, in other words... not always intentionally... but I can't help noticing things. I mean, the psychiatrist's office at the entrance to our community always has a full parking lot. As I've gotten to know a few people... I've seen/felt/intuited some great sadness in some people... along with the garden-variety life crap that comes up for people, at different times in their lives. And I've noticed that I actually feel different when I'm around "normal people" -- the local worker bees, that is. Way more relaxed... comfortable... trusting... and open. There are fewer minefields... fewer "politically correct" rules about conversation, being, etc... fewer layers of insulation between people.

So, I'm trying to choose a path... find my place... here. Not in any rush to do so either. And I think Twigs would like it, if I spend a little time considering whether it's possible to have a foot in both cultures... or if that's kinda been one of the "problems" I've been juggling, trying to resolve for myself... all along.

The hubs issue is receding to a dull roar. We've always been able to talk - and we're talking. Trying to figure out who "us" is now... along with how much "us" time vs individual time doing different things... is good for us. I shouldn't have worried - he's always had my back - and while this is gonna be bumpy, at the end of the day neither of us is going anywhere. I did find, that a lot of the difficulty is my own susceptibility to be pulled, lured, into whatever is hubs' momentary attention-fixation... in other words, boundaries. He doesn't do this on purpose... it's part of him and his way of meeting his own needs... and I'm trying to teach him, that only I can fix this... he only needs to be aware of it -- and it's not his fault.

Gonna go read this book and digest it... over & out!
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