can't stop, won't stop

Because it never stops, I can never stop

I am just as tired of writing about it as most of my friends and family are tired of reading about it. But it must be shared…repeatedly…as often as it happens.

Yesterday, a man was arrested in my one-time hometown of Frostburg, Maryland for assaulting a police officer. Here is the text pulled from the online article:

CUMBERLAND — A Frostburg man who was arrested by Cumberland Police during a disturbance Sunday in the Virginia Avenue area allegedly kicked two officers as he was being placed in a holding cell at the police department.

David Leo Cassady, 42, was charged with two counts of second-degree assault, disorderly conduct, failure to obey a lawful order and resisting arrest.

Officers who responded to the complaint tried to calm Cassady and warned him not to continue yelling and pointing at people on the street. He allegedly continued to yell and began to threaten the officer before being arrested.

Cassady was released by a district court commissioner on $500 unsecured bond.

Although the man arrested is not the boy in my story, he is part of the reason I do what I do today with my blog. He is part of the reason why law enforcement needs to change its attitude when it comes to prosecuting domestic abusers. He is part of the reason I have no faith in our justice system.

The man arrested is the person who strangled me, kicked me, threatened my life and my family’s life and held a gun to my head (among other things) when I was 18. He was also 18 at the time.

He is a perfect example of why rehabilitation DOES NOT work for pathological and mentally disordered people.

He is a psychopath. He is a danger to everyone he comes into contact.

I am not the only female he has assaulted over the past 22 years. However, I am the first woman he beat.

At 18, I was too afraid to tell my father about what this boy did to me. I was terrified that my father would end up killing him and spending the rest of his life behind bars. I opted not to tell my father or my mother.

Instead, I went to the police. But the police in my then hometown of Cumberland, Maryland proved useless late one night in the summer of 1990 when I arrived at the station looking for help.

My boyfriend (the now grown man described in the article above) had stolen my car keys and chased me along several residential streets, kicking me from behind. I could not out run him. I tried. After what seemed like about an hour of being chased and kicked continuously and begging and pleading with him to stop, I finally started screaming loud enough for the neighbors to hear.

This seemed to work. My boyfriend got scared, tossed my keys in my direction and took off on foot back in the direction of his parent’s home.

After many minutes of searching and digging, I was able to finally find my keys in the darkness among the twigs, leaves and garbage piled in the gutter. I anxiously walked back to my car not knowing if, at any moment, my boyfriend was going to jump out from behind a house, a shrub or a parked car.

Once safely inside my car, I locked the door and thought about my options. Telling my parents was out of the questions. I feared what they would do to him in retaliation. I also feared what my boyfriend would do in retaliation to their retaliation!

I was raised to believe the police and/or someone in authority would help me when I was in danger. So, I drove straight to the police station.

I walked into reception disheveled and frightened. Although I would describe my then 18-year-old self as healthy, pretty, smart and well-liked, I didn’t feel the least bit confident walking into the police station. For one thing, I had never been to one, and for another, I had never spoken to a police officer in my life.

I approached the reception window. The officer behind the glass looked up from his paperwork and asked, “What do you want?”

His words echoed a few times in my head.

What DO I want? What DO I want?…I guess I wanted help.

I said, “I want help. I want you to arrest my boyfriend.”

The officer chuckled and laughed at me. I became instantly confused.

Why is he laughing at me? This is serious. Does he not believe me?

So, I repeated, “Will you please arrest my boyfriend? He tried to kill me.”

From behind the glass, the officer asked, “How did he try to kill you?”

I remember opening my mouth, but words were hard to find. I started crying hysterically. I couldn’t form a complete sentence to save my life! I vaguely remember mumbling and wiping the tears and snot from my melting face.

The officer interrupted me and said, “If you can’t control yourself, I can’t help you. How old are you?”

I screamed, “I am 18, and my boyfriend just tried to kill me!”

The officer, who was still seated behind the glass, said, “If you expect me to help you, you need to be more respectful, young lady.”

I stood in the reception area with the intense fluorescent lighting beating down on my face and tired eyes. I was so confused.

Can’t he see that I have been running in the dark along the streets for hours trying to get away from my boyfriend. Can’t he see that I have dirt and mud all over my knees and the palms of my hands from repeatedly falling after being kicked from behind? Respect? I respect him. What is he talking about? What is happening?

I started crying more. I put my hands over my face and backed up and sat in one of the plastic chairs along the wall.

From behind the glass, the officer spoke again, “If you can’t control yourself, I can’t help you.”

Control MYSELF!? What the fuck was this asshole saying to me?

My tears and frustration turned to anger. I had been patient long enough.

I spoke, “I need you to take down my name and the name of my boyfriend.”

The officer spoke, “I don’t need to do anything.”

In that moment, I felt defeated. I needed the police, but the police clearly did not want to help me.

Rather than prolonging this pointless conversation, I turned and left. I hopped into my car and drove home.

If the police couldn’t protect me from him, I needed to protect myself from him. During the entire drive home, I plotted and planned ways to get my boyfriend to break up with me. Even at 18, I knew it had to be his idea. I was too afraid to break up with him myself. I feared the ramifications of my rejection of him.

Within a few weeks of the police-station incident, I cut my hair really short. I stopped wearing make-up and started wearing clothes that didn’t fit me. I resembled a homely 12-year-old boy more than the attractive 18-year-old girl I had been so proud of becoming. I made myself ugly and it worked. He broke up with me soon after I started my freshman year in college that fall at Frostburg State University.

One would think I felt free and relieved. One would think I would feel like a brave and courageous survivor.

One would be very, very wrong.

I felt more like a failure for not speaking up. I told no one of the details of that night or any of the other nights protecting myself from him. The guilt of remaining silent engulfed me. And with each story passed along to me over the years about another girlfriend or friend or brother or officer assaulted by my ex-boyfriend, the guilt became more and more intense.

I swore I would never be involved with another man who beat me or threatened me. For almost 20 years after breaking up with this abuser, I chose good boyfriends. Caring boyfriends. That is until I invited the sociopath into my life at age 38.

But once free from that relationship, I knew I could not be silent about it. I knew I would not be able to live with additional guilt.

So, I speak. I write. And I can’t stop. Kind of like that Beastie Boys’ song:

‘Cause You Can’t, You Won’t And You Don’t Stop
‘Cause You Can’t, You Won’t And You Don’t Stop
‘Cause You Can’t, You Won’t And You Don’t Stop
MCA Come And Rock The Sure Shot

I Want To Say a Little Something That’s Long Overdue
The Disrespect To Women Has Got To Be Through
To All The Mothers And Sisters And The Wives And Friends
I Want To Offer My Love And Respect To The End
(chorus and lyrics from Sure Shot)


Pistorius, Jealousy, and Self-Fulfilling Prophecies of the Narcissistic Sociopath

jealousy and pistoriusNarcissistic Sociopath’s single-handedly destroy their lives through paranoia and jealousy. As more and more news is being leaked to the press, it seems Oscar Pistorius is no better than the common douche bags across the globe (like the boy in my story) who abuse and lash out at their partners. An olympic athlete jealous of his girlfriend’s relationship with a rugby player? Sure. Believe it. Having close friends outside the “romance” is just the thing that sets off these cowards. But it’s going to be a tough nugget for many supporters to swallow, since Pistorius happens to have a couple of medals to flash in front of our eyes in hopes of blinding us to his true nature.

Narcissistic sociopaths can’t leave well enough alone and believe the people in their lives when they tell them they are “just friends” with someone. Why? Because a narcissistic sociopath can’t trust himself. How is he expected to trust anyone else?

Sociopaths are the Kings and Queens of self-fulfilling prophecies: their biggest fears become reality quickly. Sociopaths suspect the worst and repeatedly accuse their intimate partners and spouses of acting in despicable ways.

“You whore! I know you’re sleeping with X, Y, and Z when I’m not around. Why else would you be friends with such losers who have nothing to offer you?”

Over time and worn down by the increasing delusions of the sociopath, these partners finally just give up and relent. It’s too tiresome, otherwise, to continue our attempts at defending ourselves and our intentions. We allow the sociopath to think what he wants to think. Unfortunately, as soon as we think we have disengaged, the real fight for our lives and spirits begins.

I think many of us who have experienced similar can imagine the nightmare that was Reeva Steenkamp’s last moments. The rage, the anger, the begging, and the pleading. Even if Oscar Pestorius is never diagnosed with having a pathological personality disorder, he behaved as if his dark side was met with little to no resistance by the “idol” so many had cheered to victory in the past. Such a shame.

As I have noted in the past, a narcissistic sociopath can take the most innocent of behaviors (like being friends with someone) and twist it into something dark, dirty, and shameful. Being a good person and having good and loving friends and family is the narcissistic sociopath’s biggest enemy and source of rage and disgust. As soon as the green-eyed monster of jealousy rears its ugly head, kick these fools to the curb. Who cares if he/she happens to be a well-respected athlete or business owner? They’re pieces of trash capable of murdering you. If you think that’s harsh, lucky you. You’ve never looked evil in the eye.

Pistorius murder charge: Was Reeva Steenkamp shot over “close friendship” with Oscar’s rugby hunk pal?

First annual “Silent No More” walk/run to fight domestic violence

Silent No More CollageThis past weekend, Saturday, October 20, I participated in my first walk to fight domestic violence: Silent No More.

I have been participating in charity walks, runs, and bike-a-thons since I was in 4th grade. Growing up in Westernport, MD, I remember the principal and teachers at Westernport Elementary School holding the annual spring assembly encouraging each student to ride in the St. Jude’s bike-a-thon to help raise money for the sick kids who couldn’t ride. Those were the days when I had to go door-to-door to get people to sponsor me as little as a dime for every mile I rode. I was 8 the first year I rode, and I wanted to ride at least 50 miles so I could get a trophy. (And I did! My first trophy!) By the third year I participated, I wanted to ride the 50 miles and get the most sponsors to raise the most money to help those kids. I raised a lot but not the most. I still got a trophy, but the trophy meant less to me than the first and second trophies I had won. As an 11-year-old, I learned that I could make a difference just by doing a little something one day out of the year and that I could have fun doing it.

Since then, I have done many, many charity walks. The walks have all been to fight some type of disease like breast cancer or juvenile diabetes or prostate cancer or heart disease or AIDS. These events bring out hundreds of participants and raise thousands of dollars every year. I am always thrilled to be a part of these events and know that even a few dollars add up and can truly make a difference in someone’s life and the lives of many. If I didn’t believe this, I wouldn’t dedicate my time and money.

I learned about The Silent No More 10K run/2M walk through Facebook and desperately wanted to be a part of it. The event was held in Morgantown, WV, the home of West Virginia University and the Mountaineers, which is almost 4 hours from my home near D.C. My mom and son went with me. I fully expected my son to sit next to my mom at the table I setup to display my book and business cards. But about 10 minutes before the horn sounded, he told me he’d like to walk with me.

He ran ahead of me for the first mile, while I lagged behind and walked and talked with a couple of walkers I just met. On the return trip, things were different. He ran out of steam, and I had to say goodbye to my new friends and walk slower back to the finish with my son who I also carried on my back several hundred feet. We finished together, and I won a book (“Sister of Silence” by Daleen Berry, a memoir of her abuse and escape) for being the first woman walker over 40 to finish. (Over 40. Still sinking in.)

Overall, the day was bitter-sweet. The turnout of participants seemed low to me (less than 50), and the media showed up late AFTER the race began. Also, there were some runners who participated just for the opportunity to say they ran and competed, not because they were there to support the cause. I know this because the turn-around point for the run portion of the event was not attended by an event coordinator, and many of the top runners did not see the cones and ended up running more than a 10K. About half a mile more! The finishing times for the top runners and finishers were well above their personal best. (Apparently, this isn’t good for a runner’s resume.) The winning runner was so disappointed by the failure of the event planners that he left before awards were distributed! This was very sad to me.

But the day had its perks, too. I met my Facebook friend and fellow blogger Ray for the first time. I also met author Daleen Berry and the race coordinator Kevin. I sold the first soft copy of my book (most sales have been through Kindle and Nook), and I met many people dedicated to the cause to fight domestic violence/intimate partner abuse. I learned about Samantha’s Sanctuary located in Morgantown and that the money collected on race day will go to buying Kindles preloaded with resources and books to help empower victims of abuse. (Maybe they’ll load my little book on the Kindles they distribute. Who knows!?)

My wish is that the event will become an annual event and that next year will bring more support. No, we’re not fighting breast cancer or heart disease. We’re fighting something that is just as debilitating and life-threatening. Is support so low for this cause because domestic violence is a disease with a human face unlike cancer which is a disease caused by something inhuman? Or is it because too many people still blame the victims of domestic violence and have given up on trying to help? Regardless, it’s a cause that desperately needs more support and funding. Hopefully, my son will continue participating with me, and maybe one day he’ll even be one of the top finishers on race day. One thing is certain, he is learning that events like this aren’t about winning or raising the most money. Events like this are about supporting those who don’t have the resources to save and support themselves, because just knowing someone or many someones care is enough to save a person. Peace!

The Times is calling!

The Washington Times CommunitiesBringing awareness to issues historically overlooked or misunderstood is an ongoing, roadblock-filled journey. As a blogger and author, I understand the limitations of outreach and realize not everyone is going to “get it” upon first read or even multiple reads. Heck, some of us didn’t “get it” even after being literally punched in the face with the facts! The only thing I can do and will do is continue to write, share, research and share some more.

Last week I was notified that I have been selected as a new column writer/content contributor for The Washington Times online Communities. I feel it’s a definite step toward reaching an even greater audience and spreading awareness of domestic violence/intimate partner abuse and how personality disorders (and sociopaths) are at the root of much of the abuse inflicted upon the victims. I also intend to share even more healing approaches I have used and others have shared in our blogs, comments, and stories. This column will be an opportunity to share OUR stories and OUR blogs and put an even greater dent into an otherwise ignored, destructive and emotionally debilitating personal and social issue.

If you are unfamiliar with The Washington Times Communities, check it out! My profile has not been added, yet, but I will let everyone know as soon as it is. I will be provided with a snazzy and official-looking badge to add to my blog, which should help increase my credibility and the credibility of all the blogs I reference and sources I quote and share.

My column will be included in the Health & Science category with the title Living Inside Out Loud and the tagline “Connecting to our emotional, physical, and mental health one story at a time.”

The following is the proposed description I sent to my editor today for review (it’s surreal to think I have a real editor to work with, someone who will help me to improve my writing and research abilities so even more people might “get it!”):

“Ms. Carrasquillo is passionate about sharing her experiences and learning from others. Through her writing, Ms. Carrasquillo attempts to make the connection between our health (mind and body) and our everyday lives and choices. She infuses yoga, meditation, and mindfulness into her work and hopes her stories and articles spark reader interest and curiosity to study and research beyond what her column can provide. She believes learning begins from within and that knowledge should be shared out loud.”

Thanks to all of my blog followers, book reviewers, and comment providers for making this possible. I am sure these were all factors that the editors considered as they deliberated and made their final decision to invite me to write for them.


#1 Bikram Yoga Breathing Exercise: Pranayama Standing Deep Breathing*

You stand. You breathe. Sounds simple, and it is. All that’s required is focus. Watch the video to get an idea of what’s expected (No, I am not in this video):

Touted Benefits

  • Good for lungs and respiratory system.
  • Helps lungs reach their maximum expansion capacity.
  • Is very good for asthma, shortness of breath and nervousness.
  • Increases circulation to the body.

Actual Experience for Paula

I have never had any shortness of breath, asthma, lung or respiratory issues in my life. (However, years ago while racing up the last and steepest 1.5 miles of the Bright Angel Trail at the Grand Canyon National Park, I slipped down a switchback and hyperventillated. Thank goodness my friend James wasn’t too macho to stop and help me, forfeiting his chance at WINNING!)

I do have issues with my circulation and always have. My legs often get VERY tired from sitting, and I need to massage them nightly before I go to bed. I also have tiny spider veins most likely related to poor circulation.

Since practicing Bikram yoga and this deep breathing exercise (which can be done before doing ANY activity), I have not had the tired-leg feelings as before. I also looked into treating my spider veins since I feel like I have more control over my circulatory system, and the chance of more occuring is slim. (To find out if you have issues with your circulation, read this eHow article.)

Regardless, this is one exercise you should try now. Just try it and then go for a walk or hike or race around the house with your child. See how you feel. Make it a habit, even if you never try a full Bikram yoga series. Namaste!

*Source: Bikram’s Begginning Yoga Class by Bikram Choudhury

Why Bikram yoga? Because it heals!

I’m often asked two questions from friends who discover that I practice Bikram yoga:
1. How did you get started with Bikram yoga?
2. What keeps you going back to Bikram yoga?

How did you get started with Bikram yoga?

bikram yoga poses found here: upon a time, I was a runner. I ran track in high school and earned an NCAA letter running cross-country in college. (Go FSU Bobcats!) As the years progressed, my knees took a beating, and I always HATED running during the winter months. Then in 2002, I was in a car accident and tore my medial meniscus in my right knee. I underwent arthroscopic surgery in 2004, but I never fully recovered my mobility 100%. Needless to say, I stopped running and resigned myself to low-impact activities like walking, swimming, and elliptical workouts.

Unfortunately, nothing I tried ever gave me the same “high” as running. I longed for something that challenged me and provided the same physical and mental stimulation I had once taken for granted with running. I began reviewing various workout options offered at health and fitness clubs: Zumba (too much like a stage performance), Pilates (too expensive), karate (too much competition from my son), boxing (too dangerous for the longevity of my face as it appears today), spinning (too much emphasis on the lower body), swimming (too much body hair to worry about), etc.

But I NEEDED to do SOMETHING to get fit before 40 and feel good about myself again. So, I started doing what anyone would start doing in my situation: I Googled. I did a simple Google search for “exercises that heal the body,” which resulted in a list of meditation-related sites. As I read through the pages, I refined my search to “exercises that use meditation and movement to heal.” From these results, I learned about Tai Chi, Qi-Gong (pronounced chee-gong), and yoga. This lead me to Bikram yoga, which lead me to Bikram Yoga Rockville just around the corner from my house.

Why do you like it so much? What keeps you going back to Bikram yoga?

Where to begin…

  1. The runner’s high – Yes.
  2. The obvious effect on my body – There is no doubt that I have lost weight and toned up tremendously since starting my practice 6 months ago. Who would walk away from an exercise that gives them the runner’s high AND helps them lose weight without actually running?
  3. The increased energy upon leaving the hot room – After spending 90 minutes in a room heated to 105 degrees, you would think a person would be so drained and lethargic that he wouldn’t be able to think of anything other than relaxing. Bikram yoga has the complete opposite effect. I leave the room feeling more alive and energized than when I entered. I may be thirsty but not ready for a nap, that’s for sure.
  4. The dichotomy of the experience – The postures and breathing exercises build upon each other consecutively. Although I feel like my sides are breaking in half-moon pose (#2 in the image above), I am feeling euphoric 45 minutes later coming out of my first camel pose (#22 in the image above). There is a distinct yin/yang or pain/pleasure moving between the agonizing task of holding a position and the peaceful release and “letting go” of savasanas (periods of rest and stillness).
  5. The people (yogis and trainers) – There is nothing more enjoyable than to share a “workout” with good people, really good people.
  6. The healing qualities – Each posture works a different muscle group, body part, and/or organ system. From stretching my muscles to working to balance my digestive tract, together the postures heal me. How have I been healed? I’ll be writing a post for each of the 26 postures and breathing exercises over the next 60 days (that’s an average of a new post every 2 days). Each post will detail the touted benefits and the actual benefits I have experienced.

Until then!

Day 5: A (yoga) pedicure’s life

Day 5 yoga toes

Day 5 yoga toes

I made it through the first 5 days of my yoga challenge, and my pedicure still looks pretty good, huh?

Day 3 of my challenge, my sister joined me. She’s a few years older than me and had never done yoga before. Her “thing” was running. Unfortunately, she broke her ankle over Thanksgiving and has been desperate to do something to get active again. Over a text on Tuesday afternoon, I suggested she join me at Bikram Yoga Rockville. She said yes!

After she said yes, I wrote that if she liked the class, I would buy her a mat as an early birthday gift. (Her birthday isn’t until the end of June. Bribes help motivation, what can I say?) After Wednesday’s class,  she really liked it. She’s gone 3 times in the past 5 days and has a nicer yoga mat than I do!

Another highlight from the weekend: I did a double. I attended the 8 a.m. AND the 10 a.m. classes on Saturday morning. About 30 minutes into the first class, I was having doubts about attending a second class in the same day. My left thigh was sore, and the room seemed hotter than usual. (Yes, you CAN feel the difference between 100 degrees and 105 degrees.) Then my mind started wandering. I started thinking about the movie The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. What a tragic film! I could feel tears welling up inside of me as I remembered the scene when Benjamin and Daisy were both the same age (roughly 30) and they had their child and then Benjamin leaves.

“Jesus, Paula! Stop thinking about that movie. And please don’t think about the end of the movie, okay?”

And then Daisy at age 60 caring for toddler Benjamin… and then tiny infant Benjamin…and then his last breath. The tears were flowing but easily camouflaged by the sweat dripping down my face. It felt good, the crying. I refocused my breathing and realized a second class is just what my body and mind needed.

The second 90 minutes was better than the first, and luckily I didn’t drift into thinking about the Button movie or Pan’s Labyrinth (gotta write about THAT film soon). I finished on a high and drove home feeling like I had accomplished more than I imagined I could that day, and it wasn’t even past noon yet!

Tomorrow is my second date with the Art Erase laser. Hopefully, I’ll have a bitter-sweet image of my right forearm to share. To catch up on my tatoo removal journey, read the following posts and laugh at my expense. Namaste!

  1. Tatoo, what tatoo?
  2. Tatoo removal: The first steps

How I became a yoga snob

Armando meditating in Central Park

Armando meditating in Central Park

Yoga. I was introduced to the idea of yoga when I was a freshman in college living in the dorms. Although I checked the “non-smoking” preference when filling out my on-campus living application, I somehow landed on the only smoking floor next to the  smoking lounge of Cumberland Hall. (This ages me, I know.) A few of the cigarette-smoking (and pot-smoking) ladies on my floor talked about yoga between inhales and practiced it in their rooms. Needless to say, I was immediately turned off by what seemed to me a new-age, hippie-inspired form of meditation. Not only did it seem anti-spiritual, I knew I was too high-energy to think it would be enjoyable for me. That was 22 years ago. My attitude toward yoga has made a dramatic shift since then.

For years, I found relief from stress through running. I ran along the C&O Canal. I ran the streets of Frostburg. I ran in the mornings. I ran in the evenings. I ran on a treadmill and even tried running on an elliptical. I ran to feel my heart pounding in my chest. I ran to remind myself that I was alive. Running felt so good.

In the summer of 2002, I stupidly got behind the wheel of my car after a night of drinking white Russians. Luckily, I was alone. My car rolled several times (according to reports; I remember nothing) and landed on its top. I landed in the ICU for three days with a collapsed lung, a fractured c-5, several cuts and bruises, and a torn medial meniscus in my right knee. I spent months in a neck brace and with a physical therapists. My neck healed; my knee would never be the same. I could not longer run.

I believed it was Karma. I believed the universe was punishing me for being irresponsible and stupid. It made sense to me, so I didn’t complain about my knee or ever say, “Why me?” because I knew why. But it didn’t stop me from hurting and plummeting slowly into a quiet depression.

I kept myself busy for years after the accident: I planned my wedding, I went back to school, I volunteered, I read more, but I could never find an activity that made me feel as alive as running did. I left my husband, had an affair, tried finding that “thing” that gave me faith and courage in myself. It wasn’t around any of the corners I looked. Every where was a dead end. I became more and more complacent with the idea that life was just life. I became fatalistic to a degree. I somehow lost my fire, so to say. I was waste high in in self-doubt and very depressed but felt there was nothing I could do about it.

In the fall of 2011, I started looking into finding an orthopedic surgeon that could possibly “fix” my knee so I could run again. While surfing the internet, I stumbled upon some testimonials from yoga practitioners who claimed to have been healed physically and emotionally by yoga. Being the cynic I can sometimes be, I highly doubted what I was reading. But after reading more and more about yoga and its benefits, I decided to shed myself of my bias and prejudice and began searching for a studio in my neighborhood.

I found Bikram Yoga Rockville. My first day practicing yoga was October 15, 2011. I have not been the same since:

  • After my first 90-minute practice, I felt something happening to my knee, something good.
  • I started feeling alive again within 3 practices.
  • I could walk down steps without holding onto the railing after a week of practices.
  • I learned patience.
  • I felt the flame returning to my heart.
  • I found myself again!

And with finding myself, I hope to give of myself more. I want to give more to my husband, my son, my mother, my sisters, my family, my friends, and every person I encounter in my life. I call myself a yoga snob, because I can’t stop talking about it as if it were a part of me. But, I guess, it IS a part of me. Namaste.

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