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"But We Took You To Stately Homes!" - Survivors of Dysfunctional Families

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It's March 2013, and the Stately Home is still open to visitors.

Forerunning threads:
December 2007
March 2008
August 2008
February 2009
May 2009
January 2010
April 2010
August 2010
March 2011
November 2011
January 2012
November 2012
January 2013

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."

Helpful Websites

Alice Miller

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
Pete Walker

Some books:

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)

chocoholic89 Thu 04-Apr-13 01:01:37

Hi not posted for wile jus had lot on stresssss still goin strong with the nc with parents even if they do see me in street and say hello? Like nothing ever happend Grrrrr I jus walk on by :-(

FairyFi Thu 04-Apr-13 10:58:27

hello Grapes welcome here, if you've been lurking for any time you might have found solace in seeing how other's are treated this way, especially upon the advent of impending baby arrival, as narc Mother gets to feeling pushed out, unwanted not centre of attention

The intensity of it all sounds very stressful? especially at a time of needing calm and no stress hormones! If you have the last couple of months to go, this is usually the time of nesting and withdrawing a bit more completely!

My NarcM (and her high emotional demands) completely took centre stage around my first pregnancy and birth. all the things I remember about that time had her and her 'upsets' or bleats about 'rejection', or 'what to buy', etc. but she far worse than just terrible support, she actively defiled everything. just disgusting.

I would highly recommend gathering all the support you can around you to ensure you have peace and quiet and lovely nurturing times just you baby/pregnancy, and your DP/H. A good mum understands how important that space and this time is for a new mum, and can still proffer gifts, but without demands attached. That would have been the preferred route for me, to avoid the car crash that ensued around my first pregancy/birth.

Do keep posting, and sending you happy calm thoughts for you and your baby xxx

FairyFi Thu 04-Apr-13 10:59:21

keep walking Choc chin up wink I hope you are coping ok amidst all the stresses. xxx

tangerinefeathers Thu 04-Apr-13 11:21:06

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

tangerinefeathers Thu 04-Apr-13 11:22:09

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

pumpkinsweetie Thu 04-Apr-13 11:41:24

Dh has gone to mils & fil as requested by her only to get there and have his dad breathing down his neck about me not allowing them to see dc!

He has gone round there because they wanted him to collect the Easter eggs that mil has bought dc.
I could this morning that he was reluctant to go, you could sense the fear in him.
He said he was unsure about going, blaming the weather, but i know that's not what its about.

I told him he is a grown man and if he doesn't feel up to seeing them, he does not have to go. I said he isn't answerable to anyone as he is a grown man capable of saying no and making his own decisions.
He went saying he has to see them at some point as they have the eggs im not one bit bothered about fucking eggs

He has now text me saying he isn't going to walk out as he is there for his mum not dad.
The thing is she would have lead fil up to it, probably sobbing about how she doesn't see gc anymore.
Lets not forget mil is the one who caused nc with children, although fil played a major part too.

I feel sad that he feels he needs to put up with this. I'm just hoping he doesn't come home begging for me to allow contact and harp on about mil being sad. I know he loves his parents, but i cannot allow them near my dc as they are toxic, manipulative and fil is just abusive.

Really not going to be a good evening, as dh will feel in piggy in the middle with me & them as he loves us all yet i will not allow contact with dc and he thinks it will make his life easier if i give in. It wont though as so many times i have given them chance after chance only to end up back at square one with my dc hurt in the process.

pumpkinsweetie Thu 04-Apr-13 11:50:24

Also started getting mil phoning my landline at gone 10pm, of course i am not at liberty to answer as we have caller ID. Why would she phone my home, like i would talk to her!

The thing is i emailed her a while back explaining that contact with gc could one day go ahead if she does as i asked ie, slowly introducing her back into children's lifes by photos, phone calls and letters and if i think she has changed based on those then a meeting would be arranged. But she just emailed me back saying that she hasn't done anything wrong etc. Fast forward 6m she hasn't tried anything ive asked but constantly harasses dh about seeing dc.

They don't listen to anything anyone says.

FairyFi Thu 04-Apr-13 12:20:59

yes tangerine even to the being shouted at afterwards re: not being phoned, her worrying, how dare I, she got scarey violent father on the case too (all this in the corridor outside the IT unit within 48 hrs of birthing! fucking tossers, call the police there's a mad(wo)man about)

FairyFi Thu 04-Apr-13 12:22:56

sad pumpkin I do hope things are ok between you and DH, they are SOOO destructive. NarcM drove such a wedge between my sibling's family members, they are all apart now sad.

Chiggers Thu 04-Apr-13 16:01:31

Hi folks. Just wondering if I can join?

I know my experience isn't nearly as horrid as some of the others I have read about, but I was wondering if any of you good people can help shed some light on my situation.

Here goes:

I rarely go round to see my mum and dad because they have been to our house once over the last 2 years. DS and DD had their birthdays recently and DM and DF didn't even ring to wish them a happy birthday. DM and DF don't ring to find out how the DC are, yet if I don't tell them when the DC are ill, they go ballistic.

We're expected to go round there or phone DP's yet, they don't make any effort to return the calls or visits. I'm not joking when I say this but my MIL was very ill with pancreatic cancer, which my parents knew about. Not once did they ring or ask about how she was. When my beloved MIL died, a part of me died as well. That part was the lovely idea that I had actually found a mother-figure who acted like a decent, loving mum.

My own parents didn't know she had died until a few days before the funeral, yet they had the f***ing cheek go mad because they weren't told. TBH, I didn't want to tell them until after the funeral, but I decided to be the bigger person and invite them. DH was incredulous about their lack of concern and I really don't blame him. in fact, I wish I hadn't told them until after we got DMIL's ashes back from the crem.

I've tried speaking to my parents about their lack of effort and TBH, if I didn't contact them, they wouldn't know what was happening with us or the DC. Any of us could peg it and my parents wouldn't know until a notice was put in the local rag.

Sorry about the essay folks, but I'm angry, frustrated, perplexed and sad about my family's lack of concern and interest. So much so that I think I'll leave it and not ring them if they can't make the effort.

The stupid thing is that I used to defend my family when DMIL kept saying they were hopeless. I look back and see that she was right.

What would you good lot do?

FairyFi Thu 04-Apr-13 16:17:37

..... support you Chiggers

Support you in your ceasing efforts on their behalf (as no doubt your MIL would have done, bless her) support you to ignore their bleatings and bemoaning their lot, support you through the loss of your MIL and through her illness. I am really sorry for the loss of a very special [mother figure] lady in your life. Hopefully she has gone knowing that she has made the difference to you seeing what they are [not] giving you.

Many of us have NC, and I felt it was the only way to go with everything crazy going on around me.

Welcome here, sounds like you are getting a very rough deal with hugely Narc Mother. Her response to you will give you everything you need to know.

take care xx

Chiggers Thu 04-Apr-13 17:04:29

Thanks Fairy smile. Your post brought a tear to my eye. The problem is that my younger DB was throwing the usual "Mum and dad went without to make sure we were fed" etc, etc. DB was throwing that about as if he was making mum and dad out to be martyrs, but I don't see the 'going without' as something a selfless parent does IYSWIM, I see going without to ensure the DC's needs are met as a fundamental duty of a parent, not an exception to the rule IYSWIM. As for throwing that in the air, he may as well tell me that mum and dad changed our nappies and that also makes them a martyrs.

Will be back later, got to pop out and grab a few groceries.

Chiggers Thu 04-Apr-13 21:50:24

Back again. My beloved MIL showed me what a decent mum would do. Yes we irritated each other, but we got together and had a good laugh about it grin. I sat down with my MIL and told her that I would miss her when she had gone, to which she replied "I'll be keeping a close eye on you, you little madame" grin. I think she was referring to my mischievous nature grin.

Now that she's gone, I have to contend with parents who don't make any effort, expect us to do all the running to their house and then give us a bollocking if we didn't ring and tell them about the kids.

Dad isn't so bad, but mum is a PITA for that. An example would be, when DS was in nursery 4yrs ago he came down with Scarlet Fever. I took him to the GP, got AB's and was told not to take him out for at least 5 days, but we could let him into the back yard after 3 days.

I knew mum would have wanted to know, and although I didn't have the credit on my mobile to ring her (Had 27p and needed 33p to make a call, but would have been cut off as soon as the other person answered), but had enough for 2 texts. I text DSIL and dad as I knew they'd be seeing mum today, DSIL got the text and told mum about it.

Next thing I know, mum phones me and gives me a bollocking, for not calling her, even though I had text SIL, to tell mum that I couldn't ring mum, because I didn't have enough credit. So, I tell mum that I'm not staying on the phone to get a load of verbal abuse in my ear and cancelled the call.

This just one thing in a series of events where I've done what I can, yet I can't do wrong for doing right.

DB rang me about mum having raised CA125 levels. He's making out that she already has cancer, yet he doesn't seem to realise that cirrhosis, ovarian cysts and some other conditions can be responsible for those raised levels. Mum is a heavy drinker, so I wouldn't be surprised if her drinking over the years has caused those elevated levels. Mum's 2 oldest DC were sent to live with their dad, as ordered by the family court, and although she had plenty of opportunities to get in contact with them, she didn't bother. At my maternal gran's funeral, my step/half DB's gave mum their address and phone numbers and were jsut short of begging her to get in touch, but again, she never bothered to contact them. Instead she just drank. If that was me and my DC were sent to live with DH, I'd be fighting tooth and nail for access, at the least. Believe me, I had

It makes me angry to hear mum professing to love my our DC, yet she makes absolutely no effort. Best stop talking about her or I'll want to go round to her house (5mins walk from ours) and give her a few home truths. Meh, the worst that'll happen is she'll throw me out of the house and never speak to me again, in which case I'll be enjoying the peace and quiet grin.

pumpkinsweetie Thu 04-Apr-13 22:05:04

Dh got back from pil at 3 this afternoon. He was in an ok mood, was quite surprised. Although it turned out fils rant was about me not allowing them contact with the children. I don't know quite what he said dh will not disclose exact information about what was said. I'm assuming he said he hates me, bla bla, oh well i hate him so that makes us both grin

Mil bought my dc all an egg, but i did find it odd my eldest (from previous rel) got a different egg ti the others. I cant say whether she meant to give her different to cause trouble or simply didn't think. Due to previous history its hard not to speculate.

Mil also bought me an egg, as well as dh. Not sure whether she is being nice or its a guilt trip.

As the evening has gone on i have had dh ask me to relent and allow her contact, "she's getting old", "she wont do it again" mantra.

Told him at present i don't feel ready to allow it

Chiggers Fri 05-Apr-13 14:04:28

You know Pumpkin, sometimes it's better to stay on the sidelines to see how they actually act as per their normal. Sometimes I don't think we see their behaviour because it's fundamentally too close to us, so we are 'blind' to it until we take a step back and see their behaviour as others see it IYSWIM. I hope I'm making sense.

Misspixietrix Sun 07-Apr-13 10:09:52

Hi all. I'm new to this thread but I'm currently in the middle of cutting out my Toxic Mother. I'll try to keep it short but I've been reading through a lot of the threads for the last few days and some almost rings identical to her. I wouldn't even know where to start to be honest with you and I'm still trying to get things clear in my head. She always causes Drama and I always end up being guilt tripped into allowing her back in my life. Anyway it started up again last month when my dd got rushed to hospital and she refused to take ds for me, she wasn't busy or had a prior appointment she literally just didnt want to confused ended up fetching BIL out of work to have ds...then culminated in her putting on a public show in the middle of a town centre this week at me for the most trivial of things, I felt treated like an extremely naughty child. All this was done in front of my DC's. She stormed off in a huff upsetting the DC's as she didn't even be bothered to say goodbye to them. Then I got a text the next morning as if nothing had ever happened hmm I left an EA relationship the other year (thanks for your support MN'ers throught that by the way it was invaluable) and as my best Friend rightly pointed out. she has no right to demean me in that manner anymore than the Ex always did. I replied to the text and told her she can't expect to behave in such a manner and then carry on as if nothing happened. That what she said hurt me and that I need some space from her. I had a barrage of texts yesterday ranging from "ok im sorry" to "what am i meant to have done wrong" erm? if you don't know what you did wrong what exactly were you apologising for?. She's fallen out with everyone and only has a handful of tolerating friends left. I've ignored all the texts and not giving her the attention she wanted. Am I overeacting or have I done the right thing?

FairyFi Sun 07-Apr-13 12:51:11

thats horrible Misspixietrix and I guess if she's not prepared to talk about whats gone on or feel any remorse for treating you like a child in the middle of town! It does seem a bit pointless to continue doesn't it?

Especially if you are noticing similar behaviours in the posts here, to hers. I am sorry that you been having to suffer toxicity from your mother. Have a read of the links above to the traits of the narc mother amongst other very helpful info. Keep reading and posting it will all help with your clarity.

lucindapie Wed 10-Apr-13 08:48:50

Hello marking place on my thread. It's good to be here!

Oopla Wed 10-Apr-13 10:16:08

Hi folks, hope you're finding some peaceful moments during the holidays x

Hello to new posters, keep posting, it really helps work things through x

I'm about 2 months NC with my horrid mum and it feels great smile I'm pretty amazed we haven't bumped into each other as she lives and works quite close by. My only waver had been my 3 y/o ds mentioning that he wishes she'd come and visit us again soon. I feel a bit like a bad guy but the benefits to my self esteem and general mental health have to be put first. I'm a much better mummy without the spectre of her hanging over me.

Anyway, better go separate some warring siblings! Have fun stately homers, speak soon xx

Can I just ask. I've told my Mum that I'm not coming to the jolly this weekend to celebrate Dad turning 70 but she seems to have forgotten and wants me to come along and play happy families. I do not want to be rude, or feel like I have to drag up the past, or feel the need to justify myself or lie about why I won't be there. So what do I say by e-mail (reply to hers) to remind her I'm not coming.

Just to re-cap my Dad is a Narc, disowned me a year ago after threatening me and now my whole family just want to brush it under the carpet because, well you know, it's Dad it's just who he is?!?! It was a difficult relationship anyway, as I'm the scapegoat, he rules the roost with intimidation, mood swings and anger outbursts. He smacked my son at 18 months and always speaks badly of him and my parenting. I have no wish to go or pretend that everything is fine. Life is so much easier now I no longer see him.

Misspixietrix Wed 10-Apr-13 16:43:04

oopla I have similar problems with my DC's they adore her, and unfortunately bumped into her in the local Tesco yesterday, cue awkwardness as DC's ran up to Grandma and I was barely acknowledged, just confirms I'm right to do what I'm doing. stupid me thought she'd be grown up enough to apologise but none was forthcoming. I've had a few texts from her which were meant for her friends slagging me off so i've promptly blocked her number.
DontstepontheMomeRaths I'd say send an e-mail reiterating what you have already told her. Sounds like she's trying to pressure you into it tbh ~

SingleMama Wed 10-Apr-13 19:42:16

Hi Everyone
Just wanted to say hi. My first time on Mumsnet and with this particular forum I feel like I've just uncovered a gold mine! ;-)
Nice to be here!

FairyFi Wed 10-Apr-13 22:58:43

Welcome new ladies - sad that it feels right to be here, but at the same time, it is a lifesaver!

MomeRaths I'd say something like 'gentle reminder, re: previous email declining invite' - actually I'd say nothing! As its already been said, i'd just ignore it. I have this kind of thing from my FW of an ex, he can't let go and just keeps emailing repeating stuff I've already answered, I spent years allowing him the excuse of 'he's not well'! has faulty memory', and a whole list of other excuses crap still fighting it, but best response is non, nobody needs to keep repeating to be heard when its probably gonna be used as an opportunity to pull you into an argument. If she didn't remember receiving it, her problem, you sent it. wink Really sorry to hear your Dad's aggression to all shock

glad you're enjoying your peace Oopla smile thats very cool

good strong actions Pixie

also hope all managing to grab some peace and enjoyment of holidays xxx

CelticPixie Fri 12-Apr-13 09:47:38

I'm another one who is new to this thread and I'm still a bit unsure if I really belong here because my experience isn't anywhere near as bad as some of the things I've read in here. I recently started a thread about my mums moods and another poster suggested that I come in here as it might be of interest and it has been, but I'm till not truly sure if I should be here so I will give a bit of backstory.

My relationship with my mum now is actually very good and I'd say we get on well about 90% of the time but for my entire life I feel that we all as a family have been at the mercy of her "moods". She has always been a very moody person and if she is in one we all know about it because she manages to drag everyone else down with her. I'm not even sure if she realises she's doing it but I can remember being a kid and coming home from school and wondering what mood she'd be in that day. If she was in a good mood it was fine and she'd be laughing and joking and asking if we'd had a good day etc but if she was in a bad mood we'd be barely acknowledged, get one word answers, grunts or sometimes even the silent treatment. She'd be huffing and puffing and slamming doors as well. Her moods can change in an instant over the most ridiculous things that would go over anyone else's head. You ask her what's wrong and you just get a "nothing" response when obviously something is wrong. I'm sure you get the jist.

My mum is also one of these people who HAS to to be right at all times and all costs and if you tell her she's wrong or disagree with her she either shouts or screams or flies into an almighty sulk that can last hours on end. I suppose this would also count as a mood really, but I now realise that lot of the problems I have as an adult stem from this. Even now I find it very difficult to stand up for myself because when I was growing up I wasn't allowed to stand up for myself, if I tried to I'd be told by mum to either "shut up" or I'd be belittled and put down. The same thing would happen if I tried to air an opinion that was different to hers, so now I'm often terrified of airing an opinion in case I offend someone. Even now if I disagree with her on something I'm accused of being "argumentative". As far she's concerned I should have the same opinions and beliefs as she does.

She cannot laugh at herself and she cannot take a joke. I remember one time we all went out for the day and she fell over (she didn't hurt herself) and we all fell about laughing and that sent her into a sulky mood. My dad has been henpecked for years and is now suddenly starting to stand up to her. I witnessed an incident at Xmas where he snapped and said something along the lines of "I'm sick of you always making me do what you want to do, you always have to get your own way" and she burst isn't tears and stormed out.

Finally, and I know I'm waffling she always has to be in control of every situation. If we all go out for a family meal and go somewhere other than where she wants to go she will sulk and then sit there pushing her food about the plate, complaining that its not very hot or not cooked properly and complaining about the service and most of the time there's nothing wrong with any of it all. She's just pissed off that we dared to overule her and so she has to try to validate the fact that she is always right by trying to make out that our choice wasn't very good.

There is so much more I could include, stuff that went out when I was very young but is be here all day. I think her behaviour is manipulative and passive aggressive and I've had to have counselling to try and put my issues right. She will never ever admit that she's wrong or is in the wrong and hates apologising so there is no point in ever challenging her, she's not a narcissist I don't think but has serious control issues.

FairyFi Fri 12-Apr-13 11:12:17

can she stay in the background when its 'your' occasion, like a birthday? or hosting a dinner, etc.

She's sounding like a narc to me.

If you look at the list above, and you were to ask those questions, her answers to you would reveal all, but you already reflect them in your post.

sad that you have suffered under her rule, to the extent of being scared to challenge, me too... but the difference is, we acknowledge our ishoos, and try to do something about it.

Her behaviour is ridiculous and she has terribly high and mighty ideas about herself.

I hope your counselling is going well for you and helping a lot. xx

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