Lessons About Love Addiction from a Quit Smoking Site or Why it’s so hard to leave a bad relationship…and what you can do about it

Someone wrote on the forums this morning that her PoA was just too hard to leave. She wrote that she was unhappy, that she knew she had to leave, but that her PoA was her “entire world.” Another girl wrote that she desperately needed to take a job in another State to work and pay her bills, but she simply couldn’t do it for fear that her PoA would cheat on her and ultimately leave her. And some guy wrote that breaking up with his girlfriend was probably for the best, but he just couldn’t emotionally “let go” because she was such a huge part of his life.

This is the crux of addiction and why it’s so hard to leave, even though we may want to. This is the reason we are in the situation we are in—trapped, a slave to love, unable to move one way or another, despite the necessity of it. When we make someone our “whole life” we do so at the expense of our own well-being. We become like barnacles with no identities of our own, sealed to the rock, refusing to budge lest a horrible fate befalls us.  All addictions are like this. In our minds, maintaining the relationship  or the addiction (no matter how bad it is) has more value than our own safety, our own happiness, our own dignity and our own worth. And when that happens, leaving becomes nearly impossible.

This is how I did it: Two years and three months ago I was smoking almost two packs of cigarettes a day. I had tried quitting before but it didn’t work. Smoking was my whole life. In fact, it was the only thing I seemed to have control over because, simultaneously, I was also addicted to G, with whom I could not leave, and who called all the shots and completely controlled me. I had turned over my power to him, my identity and my soul—all for love—and so smoking cigarettes seemed to be the only thing left that was all mine. It was my security, my safety. I used to believe that it was the only thing that “grounded” me.

But the trouble with me and smoking was that my lungs didn’t feel the same way. I was coughing constantly and feeling run down. I quit going to the gym, I quit exercising and eating right and all I ever wanted to do was smoke. I even stopped visiting my family because they wouldn’t allow me to smoke, even outside the house. I began to feel dirty, sick and just plain miserable. Heck, I couldn’t even walk up a flight of stairs anymore and this, coming from a girl who used to be a cyclist and took 5 hour bike rides a day!

The fact was, I was addicted. I was committing suicide. I was slowly injecting cyanide into my veins. I was inhaling tar and arsenic and 300 other fatal chemicals. And I wasn’t doing it once a day. I was doing it THIRTY TIMES A DAY. Sometimes more. And here was the clincher—I would not put sun block on myself or my kids because I read an article somewhere stating that there were harmful chemicals in sun block. How’s that for making sense?

Faced with my own hypocrisy and the fact that I really didn’t like what I was doing to my body, I set yet another quit date. My four prior attempts to quit had failed over the past three years, so I thought I’d give this website called “quintet.com” a try. It changed my life. I quit and I stayed quit. But without going into too much more detail about my smoking habit, I want to say that the lessons I learned from this website changed my addictive NATURE and allowed me to apply a new kind of thinking not only to the task of quitting cigarettes, but to quitting the faulty belief that I could make any one thing or one person my “entire world.”

That being said, here’s a collection of some of my favorite most inspiring posts from quintet.com that changed my life. I saved them in my “library” and still refer to them to this day. Thing is, I no longer use the word “smoking” or “cigarette” when I read them. I change the words to “PoA” or “Love Addiction” or my PoA’s actual name! Those words are more relevant to me and my more recent battle. So…when you read these, I would like you to try to do the same- take out the addiction of smoking and replace it with love addiction or your PoA’s name and see how powerful the message is when applied to your current situation.

1. Your body and mind are temples. Make sure whatever you let in does not dirty or defile their sacredness. –Tracy

2. Let go of the mistaken belief that you’ve lost something or lost part of yourself. Be proud that you are finally doing the right, good, healthy, logical, sensible thing! That you are showing your loved ones and children that you feel worthy and that they should too. That everyone has a right to be/do the best that they can. You only get one life. –PalNdrom

3. This heavy sense of loss or deprivation is an unnecessary burden. Let it go and feel your shoulders rise, your scowl erase, your back straighten, your steps lighten and your spirits lift. Once you do that, you’ll KNOW you can do or deal with anything else. –PalNdrom

4. Build your Beautiful Recovery one minute, hour or day at a time!!!- lighthousekeep

5. Sometimes the most difficult concept to grasp in this process of quitting [a PoA] is that success depends largely on what you don’t do. Western culture always emphasizes “action” in overcoming obstacles, but quitting [a PoA] is one arena where just “holding on” is the key to victory. It is a struggle made easier by knowing when to retreat: from temptation, from aggravating environments, from other people. It is a place where silence is often the wisest choice — especially when you’re feeling most indignant or self-righteous. It is a journey made easier by contemplation and introspection. The heroes of this war may not have muscular physiques, superior intellects, cunning or even courage. Some of the best warriors on this battlefield possess one simple gift: patience. So, wait. The craving will pass. Wait. Your ability to concentrate will return. Wait. Your physical symptoms will subside. Wait. Your blue mood will lift. Wait. There is the sweet air of freedom just down the road. To get there, just wait. –PawporriNH

6. I keep seeing folks asking WHEN will thus and such symptom of quitting be over. WHEN will I feel better? WHEN will I stop craving [the PoA]? WHEN will I stop relapsing and get healthy for good? When, when, when…..OK, OK…. I’ll let you in on the big secret…. (Gawd! I hope I don’t get drummed out of the Lodge for telling!) Get over here! You don’t expect me to say this out LOUD do you? Gimme your ear…. this has to be whispered… and don’t you DARE tell another soul!! Tuesday!!!!!!!!! It will ALL happen on Tuesday! There! Feel better? What? You wanna know WHICH Tuesday? (Sheesh do I have to tell you EVERYTHING???) It will happen the Tuesday AFTER you stop feeling sorry for yourself about [dumping the poA]! The minute that you really and truly believe that you have given yourself a GIFT by stopping [the obsessive thoughts about him or her], AND that you deserve that gift, your quitlife gets better. NO, the cravings don’t go away, but you suddenly can see them as a temporary thing, kind of like gas, that will pass… sometimes with a bit of a stink just to remind you that it really is a process of elimination of the toxic thoughts of an addict. You may experience a twinge of a craving for decades.. so what? It is a FEELING… you don’t have to ACT on it! (You don’t act on every feeling that you’d like to strangle that so-and-so who cut you off in traffic do you?) MUCH of how we experience our individual quit is a matter of our ATTITUDE! How are you approaching your new day? Yes, it is YOUR day! Are you looking at it in a hopeful, positive light? Or are you grumbling and bemoaning the fact that it is another day of fighting the punishment of quitting? If your day is one of a negative attitude, a day of grumbling and grousing about what is happening as if you are a victim of your life, you can stop the negativity and begin your day over.. go ahead… do it. You can as easily choose to see the light as the dark. You can choose to see the small discomforts as growing pains or death throes. You can whine and moan about your martyrdom, or celebrate your freedom. – LadyBelle

7. I used to believe that quitting [a PoA] was the hardest thing that I have ever tried to do. I used to believe that I was a hopeless addict that would die this way. I have tried to quit [the PoA] so many times that I have lost count and every single failed attempt only added validity to what I already knew…. that change was impossible. It wasn’t until I learned about  addiction, that I realized something. It wasn’t necassarily quitting [a PoA] that was so hard to do. It was quitting believing in [a PoA] that was hard to do. See, I used to believe in the PoA. I used to believe that he/she kept me calm. The truth though, is that he was a stimulant. Everytime I got my hit, it raised my hearbeat by about 20 beats more a minute. It constricted my arteries and not only that, but the [drama and passion] from [the PoA] was basically poisoning me. Creating an even greater strain on my heart. How could I be calm, when I was putting this kind of strain on my body everyday? I used to believe that [the PoA] relieved my stress. Little did I know that addiction creates a lot of stress. The whole business of taking a hit off a PoA is relieving an anxiety that the previous hit created. After each visit or call I was in more pain than before. There was no relief of stress!  I was left with a heightened anxiety, an antsy feeling that I didn’t like. My mind and body were being fooled into thinking that something was wrong, like I was in danger when in reality there was nothing wrong. My subconscious figured something out though. A PoA would relieve that anxiety. Not knowing that it was being tricked and also looking out for my best interest. It would say “Go see him and you’ll feel better.” So I would go, relieve that anxiety and start the whole vicious cycle over again. The only stress I was relieving, was the stress that the previous visit or interaction created. Not only that, but whenever I was under stress. It caused a physiological reaction. So now was I not only under stress, I had a compounded problem of being in drug withdrawal. So I would obsess or chase after him to “feel better” and think “Oh, having sex  and cuddling with the PoA relieved some of my stress.” The reality is though, it did nothing but relieve drug withdrawal. A compounded anxiety, that should have never been there in the first place. Nothing changed after being with the PoA. What ever caused my initial stress was still there. The only difference was that I had temporarily pacified the monkey on my back. I used to believe that the PoA made me happy. Sadly, he/she caused most of my depression. Sure, I can say that [love] releases dopamine, BUT that is only part of the story. Being the amazing machine that it is. My brain needed to regulate how much dopamine was being released. It couldn’t regulate [the sensation of love] as it was beyond my control. So it had no other choice, but to turn down it’s own sensitivity to releasing dopamine. My own natural neurotransmitters were being hijacked, forcing me to rely a lot more on the high of my addiction just to “feel good” or more accurately, feel normal. The truth was, I was happy DESPITE the Poa and not because of him/her. I used to believe that [the PoA] offered me a world of socializing . This makes me laugh now, because how can [chasing after someone who didn’t love me back] be social? Was it social when I had to put my life on hold to chase after the PoA? Was it social when I had to hide some of my behavior, because I was embarrassed about my actions? The only time that having a relationship with the PoA was even remotely social was when [I was with others who were also having serious relationship problems] and that was because misery loves company. Whenever I quit [the PoA] and saw other unhealthy people in relationship, I used to believe that they got to have a boyfriend and I didn’t. The truth is, They too, like me, HAVE to be in a relationship to “feel normal”. They HAVE to be with someone to keep the anxieties of being alone at bay. They HAVE to be someone to keep the compounded problem of drug withdrawal from happening 20, 30,40 time plus a day. They do not GET to have a relationship. Thankfully I no longer HAVE to do that. I no longer believe in unhealthy relationships or the PoA. I used to. I used to believe that he/she did something for me. I know better now. They only DO TO ME.

8. Probably a quitter’s biggest obstacle is fear and a lot of times that fear has a double edge sword. The fear of failure and the fear of success. We don’t want to fail, because we want to finally rid ourselves of this addiction, BUT at the same time, if we succeed, that means that we will never “get” to see or be with [the PoA] again. Don’t be afraid to give up the PoA. Don’t fear relapse. You can never relapse if you maintain NC and going back again is aways YOUR choice, not some demon addiction. Don’t be afraid to succeed either. Being successful doesn’t mean that you’ll never GET to love again. It means that you’ll never HAVE to love this certain person in order to feel alive. I read a quote in a book a while back that really stuck with me. It said ” Fear is only misguided faith.” Quit putting faith in the PoA and you might be surprised how much easier quitting him or her can be. Quitting the PoA is a temporary adjustment, but it just that….TEMPORARY. FREEDOM IS FOREVER!!! Be patient with yourself. This really is the greatest gift that you are giving yourself. Sometimes it just takes a little time to unwrap it. –Eric7704

9. One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people. He said, “My son, the battle is between 2 “wolves” inside us all. One is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy,sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego. The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.” The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: “Which wolf wins?” The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.” –Pegrob

10. Yesterday I saw a woman sitting on a bench… smoking. I was struck by the look of intensity on her face. She was lost in thought. Thinking hard…solving… resolving… strategizing… planning… concluding… analyzing…All of this WHILE she smoked. And I suspect that when she finished she most likely gave the cigarette credit for everything she figured out during that intense thinking session. In her mind it was the cigarette gave her the insight, the cleverness, the analytical power to resolve whatever issues were at hand… it helped her plan all the things she still had to do… focus… strategize on how to handle and prioritize chores and problems, and deadlines. She failed to realize that the cigarettes were only along for the ride… that she simply smoked WHILE SHE RESOLVED the issues on her own. And THAT is why quitting can be so excrutiatingly hard. Because we give credit to cigarettes for all kinds of stuff that they cannot, and do not do. And by thinking that giving up smoking also means giving up these imagined `benefits`. So work to correct your thinking on this issue and start giving yourself the credit. You will quickly find quitting a lot easier, a lot more desirable, a lot more reasonable. Smoking doesn`t give you a single thing of value… it never did… and it never will. So don`t let it fool you any longer.—Gummer

11. For the past 8 days since this quit, i’ve asked myself what makes THIS ATTEMPT different from the last? What makes me think that this time i will succeed? Afterall, I had quit back in Jan. ’06 for 4 months and went back to puffing away by May. What would make me destroy a perfectly good quit? Well, thank God I keep journals because the answer is obvious: 1.) i didn’t put any work into it 2.) i didn’t give it any attention 3.) i did not suffer. i was just as sick and tired of smoking then as i am now, but when i quit then i was so wrapped up in a million other things (namely dealing with the drama of an unhealthy relationship). i took my quit for granted. Never did my research. Didn’t inspire myself to change the core reasons for why i smoked. I simply got rid of the smokes and kept holding on to my smoker’s mentality. The “smoker” in me was still there. Latent. Ready to pop up when a stress occurred or a social excuse to smoke reared its ugly head. And it did. It was only a matter of time. Something as simple as a cocktail party for fundraiser of artists and writers. Oh YES! Artist and writers SMOKE. I do too! Puff…Ick. Anyway, the difference today is that i have suffered through this quit. And suffering is GOOD because you tend to value that which you have suffered to achieve and how far you’ve come after the suffering. And i have struggled for many hours in the day to re-program my brain to change the fabric of my being. To once and for all REFUSE to accept cigarettes in my life. I REFUSE to think like a smoker anymore. I REFUSE to think that smoking is an option. It is not. My brain thinks differently now. And lastly, i have not taken for granted one day of this quit or the good people at the Q who have been the biggest and most valuable resource for helping me to face up to my addiction and help me to beat it. I have not yet stopped learning how to quit better and longer. And i value every post as another light to higher understanding. I have also felt the pain of those here that didn’t make it. And i have used their stories as a warning AND as step ladder in my own recovery. I am thankful and humbled by this experience. And gracious to be given a second chance… Why does a quit fail? Because with any addiction if you get rid of the effect without getting rid of the underlying cause, you’re only solving the problem temporarily. DOn’t just get rid of the cigarettes. Learn what made you smoke them in the first place and get rid of that. Solve the deeper issue. Are you holding on because you’re lonely? Scared? Afraid of change? Figure it out. Quitting takes your whole body and soul, and the conviction to believe that you cannot live another day as you were, but as you must…If anyone has other ideas on why quits fail, please post! I’m not finished learning yet 🙂 –Tracy

12. i am a nicotine addict. i started choosing not to feed that addiction any more on november 19th, 2001. since then, i’ve seen many people start making that same choice, and then, a day, or a week, or a month or two or three months later, relapse and start choosing to feed their addiction again. and it makes me wonder: why am i still quit when people that quit before me, or around the same time as i did, or after me, started choosing to feed their addiction again? i think it’s because i’ve finally recognized that i’m an addict. after smoking for over thirty years and quitting so many times i can’t even begin to count them, it finally registered: i am a nicotine addict. and as such, i am subject to the immutable laws of addiction, the first of which is: “administration of a substance to a person addicted to that substance, no matter how long it’s been since that person stopped using that substance, will result in re-establishment of that person’s dependence on that substance”. this is why alcoholics who want to remain sober can never take that first drink. in a recent study, it was determined that 95% of ex-smokers who smoke just one cigarette experience total relapse to their previous level of consumption (and, in many cases, to a higher level of consumption than before they quit). my brother bob was an alcoholic (i say “was” because he died – of colon cancer – on december 4th, 1997). bob recognized that he was addicted to alcohol and that he was subject to the laws of addiction, and so, for the last ten years of his life, he chose, every day, not to feed that addiction. when someone would offer him a drink, he’d say, “i can’t; i’m a drunk”. bob was also a nicotine addict. we started smoking around the same time, and he finally quit for the last time about seven years before he died. once again, it was his daily recognition of his addiction, his daily realization that he was subject to the laws of addiction, and his daily choice not to feed that addiction that kept him nicotine-free for the rest of his life. the last time i remember seeing bob angry at me was some time during his last months; i had just come back in from smoking a cigarette and he was lying there in the hospital bed he’d never get out of. he said, “get off those god damn cigarettes before you end up here!” i told him i would. and i finally have. by following his example. this morning, as soon as i got out of bed, i looked at my reflection in the mirror and said, “i am a nicotine addict. i cannot afford to feed that addiction. not even one time. so, today, i choose not to smoke”. i’ve said these words to my reflection every morning for the last 203 mornings. and as soon as i had started the first pot of coffee brewing, i came to this desk, opened my quit journal, and wrote: “6/9/02 Day 203 I am a nicotine addict. I cannot afford to feed that addiction. Not even one time. – so – Today, I choose LIFE! Today, I choose HEALTH! Today, I choose STRENGTH! Today, I choose SELF-CONTROL! Today, I choose FREEDOM! Today, I choose NOT to smoke! just like i have every morning for the last 203 mornings. – kevindontsmoke

13. thomas jefferson said, “the price of freedom is eternal vigilance”; this is my way of practicing eternal vigilance. i highly recommend that you find a way to do the same that works for you. because addiction is eternal; once you’ve allowed yourself to become addicted to something, you will always be an addict, and the only choice is whether or not you’re going to continue to feed that addiction. last night i had two separate dreams in which i smoked; this is about the fourth time this has happened since i quit. a few days ago, i found myself reaching for a cigarette; i can’t even tell you how many times this has happened since i quit. but it doesn’t really matter. for me, these are the subconscious urges left over from thirty-plus years of habitually feeding my addiction, and i don’t expect i’ll ever be totally free of them. this is why eternal vigilance is so important. it doesn’t matter how many times temptation presents itself to you; all that matters is how you choose to respond to it. i’d recommend that you choose life. -kevindontsmoke on 5/23/2003 (his 203 day of quitting).

14. Characteristics of an “Addict”
characteristic traits of an addict:
seeks immediate gratification…
Or to be more pro on defining addict, see below:

To gain insight, consider carefully this commonly accepted list of personality traits found in the addicted person. These are characteristics that occur in normal people, but in the addict are exaggerated and uncontrolled. These things render addicts incapable of being at peace.

Low Frustration and Tolerance seems to be the most consistent trait. This is the inability to endure, for any length of time, any uncomfortable circumstances or feeling. The addict is impatient.

Anxiety that state which seems to exist in all people, exists in an exaggerated way in addicted persons. They are subject to nameless dreads and fears. This anxiety drives addicts to “fight or flight”. Sometimes this is called free-floating anxiety.

Grandiosity is worn as a protective armour to hide feelings of low self-esteem. In reality, although addicts nourish an inflated image of themselves, their deep conviction is one of self-worthlessness.

Perfectionism sets impossible goals with inevitable failures and resultant guilt. The addict is an idealist. This idealism may be one of the reasons for success after recovery. They can be exceptionally fine workers once the illness has been arrested and after the perfectionism has been reduced to reasonable proportions.

Justification: Addicts are masters at this. Justification is the science of arranging to do what we want to do, then making it appear reasonable.

Isolation and deep insecurity deprive the addict of the real generosity needed to make close and enduring friendships. They become loners.

Sensitivity exaggerates all the unpleasant interpersonal relationships experienced by the addicted person. This inevitably produces extreme resentment.

Impulsiveness “I want what I want when I want it.” This is probably related to a low frustration tolerance. In some ways the addict takes pride in this impulsiveness, as though it were a valuable asset.

The addict can’t seem to enjoy a job or task and long before completion is already moving on to something else (a little ADD anyone?)

Defiance is a common response to society as a whole, whether the addict is under the influence or not. This is associated with a feeling that one does not fit, exactly, into society.

Dependence on other persons exists in an exaggerated form in most addicts.

15. A speaker started off his seminar by holding up a $100.00 bill. In the room of 200, he asked, “Who would like this $100 bill?” Hands started going up. He said, “I am going to give this $100 to one of you but first, let me do this. He proceeded to crumple up the $100 dollar bill. He then asked, “Who still wants it?” Still the hands were up in the air. Well, he replied, “What if I do this?” And he dropped it on the ground and started to grind it into the floor with his shoe. He picked it up, now crumpled and dirty. “Now, who still wants it?” Still the hands went into the air. My friends, we have all learned a very valuable lesson. No matter what I did to the money, you still wanted it because it did not decrease in value. It was still worth $100. Many times in our lives, we are dropped, crumpled, and ground into the dirt by the decisions we make and the circumstances that come our way. We feel as though we are worthless. But no matter what has happened or what will happen, you will never lose your value. Dirty or clean, crumpled or finely creased, you are still priceless. (For love addicts, ask yourselves who is crumpling you up or spending you on cheap stuff or investing you and taking good care of you?)- Eric

16. You know how addiction is often referred to as a “monkey on your back”? Well, I think there is actually a lot of wisdom in that expression….You see, the worst part about quitting is that dreadful feeling of deprivation… that sense of not being able to have what YOU want… But that’s where you make the mistake…. in believeing that by quitting you are denying yourself something YOU really want. It is not so. The truth is… that need to smoke does not come from YOU. It is not a voluntary, conscious desire that YOU come up with all on your own. Nope, it is a separate thing you are carrying around. A condition that flares up independently . A malady caused by smoking. A parasite. It is a monkey on your back. A monkey that feeds on nicotine. And every time this monkey gets hungry it starts tugging gently at your hair, and when you don’t respond it starts pulling harder, and biting at your ears, and poking it’s fingers in your eyes until you pay it undivided attention. It will settle for no less. It becomes such a menace you simply cannot concentrate on anything until he is satisfied first. But once sated he curls up comfortably against your shoulder again, and rubs his soft fur against your cheek, filling you with comfort, and relaxation, and happiness…. and then you are both content for a while…. until he gets hungry again…. and turns on you. This is what you have been living with all these years. And you have carried this burdensome ape around for so long you no longer know what is YOUR desire and what is HIS. You have come to believe that his needs are your’s. You have come to identify yourself with him, to love him in spite of the constant abuse. You have blurred the line where you end and where he begins. You have, in fact, allowed him to take control and become a major part of you. And that is why quitting is so hellish. Because by denying the monkey’s demands you feel like you are denying your own needs. No more. It is time to separate them… to look at your need to smoke as something separate from you… something alien… unwelcome… a burden… a parasite feeding off you. Externalize that need to smoke. Set it aside from YOU. Recognize it as a scourge thrust UPON you by smoking. It has NOTHING TO DO WITH YOU. Every time you feel those withdrawals remember that it is not YOU bringing this on… what you are feeling is that bloody monkey tearing at you… having a fit because you will no longer play by it’s rules. It is pulling out all the stops and tearing around your head, smacking you this way and that in a desperate attempt to get fed. But just like a real monkey, if you do not feed it, it will eventually go away. So next time you feel desperate to smoke, remember… it’s not YOU that wants the nicotine, it’s the monkey. Don’t feed it. Free yourself.—Gummer

17. There’s a great story about a group of prisoners who only know life in a deep dark cave as they have been there all their lives. “Not only are their limbs immobilized by chains; their heads are chained in one direction as well so that their gaze is fixed on a wall.” They’re not very happy but they BELIEVE that this is their reality and it’s the only way to live and they don’t do much about it. One day, one of them is set free and wanders out of the cave toward this almost blinding light and sees that there are mountains and rivers and oceans and green grass and animals and a WHOLE WORLD OUT THERE for LIVING and adventure. So he decides, somewhat against his will, to go back and tell the others “there’s a better life!!!!” And he tries to explain it but no one takes him seriously. They just sit, blankly, in the darkness and stare at the wall in front of them. They tease him, they berate him, they laugh at him. They tell him to leave them alone. He doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Most of the prisoners REFUSE to be freed because they don’t believe him and, more importantly, they are too afraid of any other reality than the one they presently know. Of course some believe him. And go out of the cave to see for themselves…but not all. So…why am I relating this story???? Because life as a smoker is like being chained as a prisoner in a cave and thinking that this is your only life. Not until we change our ability to BELIEVE that there can be a different life, will there be. For MANY, quitting is a leap of faith. It’s a risk. But one worth taking. And like many of the great people here who have proven: it’s as simple as standing up, questioning your existence and moving toward the Exit sign.–Tracy

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