How Shall We Escape?

Phineas 808

Well-Known Member
Needing to dig in, to focus, refocus, to find that original motivation. It's easy to lose when old behaviors make their voice heard as the answer to all your problems, all your inner pain and emotional turmoil.

Part of why I started this journal was to cast in stone, as it were, earlier or original motivations, knowing that these may sometimes change over time, knowing the 'fog of war' and how we lose that earlier fire.

'Phineas'- as a name, doesn't put up with Zimri so flagrantly walking by Moses and the penitent congregation with Cozbi, his new found f*** buddy. There's a zeal that arises in him, an angst, a fire, and fire purifies and purges. (self-judgement!)

This is Joseph fleeing from Potiphar's wife, even as she grabbed his clothes (his righteousness), and literally begged him to f*** her! He ran away, and didn't even look back (unlike Lot's wife, looking back toward Sodom). (don't look back, there's nothing there! flee from her grasp!)

Last night I had only two options: 1) Either turn toward the wife, and have sex with her; or 2) Get up, go to the office and pray this thing through, obtain that deep emotional need with God. (porn is not an option!)

I chose to plug in my earbuds, open my Bible app, and listen to the Psalms as I went back to sleep.

I am a man who does not look at porn, or masturbate.

I am a man in control of himself.
 
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Encouraging words here brother. It gives power to say out loud that we are men who don’t use porn! That’s been my experience at least. I appreciate that you have an attitude of being victorious even when tempted...it’s easy for me to be anxious when I’m tempted but expecting to win this fight is life giving. Thanks for sharing.
 

Phineas 808

Well-Known Member
Encouraging words here brother. It gives power to say out loud that we are men who don’t use porn! That’s been my experience at least.

Thanks, berry! It is a drawing a line in the sand, a separating of higher brain (prefrontal cortex) from the lower instinctual brain, which wants to engage in it's former behaviors.

I appreciate that you have an attitude of being victorious even when tempted...it’s easy for me to be anxious when I’m tempted but expecting to win this fight is life giving.

It is a precarious situation to be sure, and there's no intended over dependency on self or the flesh. At the same time (and almost paradoxically), there is a taking back of power from these outer or internal stimuli that coax one toward former behaviors.

It's also the Art of War, by Sun Tzu, which speaks of having that mindset of victory, even before the battle is engaged. This too is, of course, the 'good fight of faith'- that as even as we engage the battle, we stand on the ground of victory.
 

Phineas 808

Well-Known Member
For me right now it makes sense to count days...

My process is such that, if a lapse occurs how I frame it is so important- and it may seem like starting over, like rolling back down a hill to the bottom, but it's really not like that.

The way I see it, I must abstain from P, PMO, and MO regardless- this is not an option! So, to count days is only to mark what should be happening anyway.

I seem to do better, or stay more focused on recovery when I am counting days.

But again, my current 90 day abstinence challenge is a temporary counting. Once I hit it, same as before, I'll be trained to live life without these former unwanted habits.

The goal?

To quit unwanted habits, to quit a behavioral addiction, one that could undo my marriage, ruin my morals or character (if not too late), behaviors which make me a person willing to selfishly do whatever, hurt whomever (including myself) just to gratify his own lusts.

So, I would be abstaining anyway! The 90 day-challenge is a way of breaking up the behavioral patterns that have become habituated, to un-habituate them. To break any kind of physical (lower brain) or emotional dependency on them.

Clearly the emotional dependency was not broken for me, even after 139 days were accomplished. But, it did break up the habit patterns, showed myself that I can abstain, even from P, PMO, and MO during those 4 months.

I type this now to tell myself that the system I have in place does work, lapses be damned! Through patience, persistence, and perseverance I will change and end these unwanted behaviors. Consistently dismissing urges is the only way to end this. The streaks are indeed training wheels, and are the actual ending of this addiction.

After my goals are met, I will simply live life without these behaviors, as a new man. And parallel to the habit-change, I will continue to seek deeper emotional and spiritual healing.
 
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guitar1968

Active Member
Good luck Phineas. I think we'll all always have that draw in the back of our heads no matter how far we get. Once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic. But I'm hoping it gets easier as time marches on. I'm enjoying following your story and your struggles. It is very helpful.
 

Phineas 808

Well-Known Member
Thank you, guitar! I'm grateful for you following my journey, and hope to continue inspiring- and for better or worse (hopefully not as a cautionary tale!), lol...

I do wish to comment on a couple things you said:

...I think we'll all always have that draw in the back of our heads no matter how far we get.

This draw will get weaker and weaker, and be perhaps a mere blip on the radar- it may even disappear all together, given enough time of not responding to it...

Once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic.

I think as human beings, we can unnecessarily limit ourselves by certain beliefs and culturally accepted norms. This is one of them.

I think that this comes from the "disease model" of addiction, and doesn't represent the true situation, and actually disempowers us. If I no longer drink alcohol (as an example), haven't touched a drop in 30 years, why call myself an alcoholic? Then, when the chips are down, guess what I'm going to turn to?

No. I believe you and I can change, and in quitting this (or any) addiction, we are then no longer addicts.

Be well.
 

guitar1968

Active Member
I like your thinking and I hope you are correct. I guess it has been my life for so long, I can see it fading but I don't know if I will ever fully recover. I'm only 34 days in. Maybe I'll be feeling more positive as the days roll by. The pull to porn has diminished greatly already, so I certainly believe it will continue on that path as long as I stay away from it.
 

Phineas 808

Well-Known Member
The only way out is through.

This is so true for me, although my 'through' may be different from most- heck, my 'through' may now be different from what has worked for me in the past.

From November 6, 2020 to March 25, 2021, I showed that I could abstain for 139 days. This hasn't been my only lengthy streak, either, as I record in my journal's initial post.

But early on in December of 2020, and periodically on and off since then, there's been an ambivalence toward p-use, and my former behaviors. This, however, is to be expected while we're in the process of changing our habit and/or addictions.

This time on Reboot Nation, and even the times of struggle (and lapses) since hitting my goal in early March, has been good: I'm discovering that, while I've been learning what it takes to abstain, I've been failing to actually change the why of my addiction.

Thus, when the problems and stresses of life come, particularly as they affect my heart, I may start reaching for old self-comforting behaviors. And so the slip back into old patterns begins, slowly and almost unnoticeably. Or, if things get really challenging, as occurred for me during my daughter's graduation, it's easier to fast-track my way back into p-subs, and edging.

An easy answer one often hears, and it makes a lot of sense to the speaker, is to have an overly restrictive approach.

But true growth would be in training yourself to not rely on artificial-sex (via a screen), or the self-medication of MO, and doing so not by overly restricting, but inspite of having unfettered access.

Again, this doesn't mean setting yourself up for failure.

Thus I am for now limiting my time on each social media platform (except Twitter) to 3 minutes at a time.

Had urges this morning, understandably. But my way through had to go deeper than simply not responding... so engaged it spiritually. This was through a form of prayer (tongues), and after a short while my urges passed. More importantly, my mindset (which was so ready to excuse bad-behavior) had shifted.

So while the science of habit change can still address behavioral patterns, my why has to be addressed, in general, but especially when I'm highly charged emotionally.

Thus I am going to focus on meeting emotional and spiritual needs via that particular prayer method as a primary tactic.

This may not sound like much, but as the Mandalorian says, This is the way.
 
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guitar1968

Active Member
Whatever the right way is for you, is the right way. As long as it gets you through. I don't pray, but I do believe in a higher power and that we are all connected by a certain energy. So spiritual I would say, just not sure that a specific religion is for me. With that being said, meditation and prayer, tapping into something that can help get us through is very helpful. I'm trying to be more present and aware. Trying to be calmer and more thoughtful about what I'm doing. As I get an urge, I stop for a moment and calm myself. It is helping tremendously. I've got such a long path ahead, I don't want to make it sound like I have all the answers. I'm just saying what is working at this moment for me.

Your support and your journal have been a great help. I'm thankful to all who post here with honesty and sincerity to help themselves while helping others.
 

Phineas 808

Well-Known Member
Thank you, guitar! I can definitely agree with what you said about our interconnectedness, though our metaphysics may (or may not) vary. I believe we've all have been shown a degree of light, and this degree may vary between one and another, but no one person has all the answers. I for one don't even attend church, and haven't for years- not against, just not doing that for now...

Yes, agree again about prayer and meditation, which meditation helps one to be mindful, which is cutting edge when it comes to recovery from addictions. It also helps with PTSD, OCD, and other anxiety disorders. Blood flow increases to the prefrontal cortex when we meditate, and that helps us to make better decisions and not give in to lower-brain addictive behaviors.

Your approach sounds very beneficial, and you're helping yourself overcome this thing- and you're helping others in the process! I have different ways to approach my own addiction, and sometimes this works, sometimes a different approach is called for- and if anyone benefits from my successes and failures, I'm grateful. Not one method is a 'one-size-fits-all', though some approaches are less helpful, but I don't see that as a concern for you right now.

Thank you for your help, just by coming by my journal and showing support. Be well.

P.S., This post originally was a 'hot mess', so I've been editing it throughout the day, and am finally satisfied with it, if you'd like to reread it- as I kind of struggled with how to say what was on my mind.
 

Phineas 808

Well-Known Member

Focus Checklist


Below is a checklist based on observations made from the past 6+ months (11/6/20 - 6/19/21) since rejoining Reboot Nation, which include these streaks: 139, 19, 35, 2, 14, X+

What worked for me, and what didn't work? This will help me to separate the wheat from the chaff concerning my efforts. I'll be able to sketch out what a successful recovery effort should look like- for me. While I deleted that list of what worked and what didn't, what came out of it is this focus checklist.

Going Forward:


This will be an assessment of what my recovery efforts need to look like going forward, in order to be successful:

Keep and maintain an earnest and diligent approach toward recovery (99% is a bitch, 100% is a breeze!).

Continue helping others (don't be so self-focused, narcissistic).

Execute immediate changes toward thought-life (self-judgement) and social media (spirit and zeal of Phineas!).

Discern between urges versus needs (urges vary in intensity and frequency, but if related to unmet needs, they'll be emotional, and persistent).

Dismiss urges mindfully (neither resisting nor responding, the sine qua non of habit change).

Redirect needs toward God, wife, or others (prayer in the Spirit, get up and go to office!).

Mostly, don't think about it!

Demystify potential obsessions (in the spirit of ERP, or extinction therapy).

Restrict rationally, mindfully, without legalism (all social media platforms: in and out, unless purposeful).

Recognizing p-subs and edging as high-risk behavior (how to deescalate?).

Goal-keeping as motivated and energized by past accomplishments (use successes of self-control as further empowerment).

Provide transparent analysis (consider the intended audience > yourself!).

Keep in mind the wider perspective of recovery, especially in lieu of a lapse (within the past X-days, I've only lapsed Y-times).

Not defining yourself as the addiction (that is only part of my story, I have so much more to contribute).

Be compassionate, tolerant, and forgiving of yourself, especially in lapses (don't underestimate shame-based thinking, cancel with grace).

When wife goes out of town, nip any thought or behavior in the bud, before it becomes obsessive (turn to the Lord and drink).

Extra-focus:


Find and maintain that fire and zeal (do we tolerate thoughts, do we execute self-judgment?)

Take very serious the emotional and spiritual aspects of recovery (is a downward emotional trend a precursor toward acting out?).

Challenge yourself to not rely on fantasy or p-memory to offset performance anxiety.

Is it just selfish lust? Or is there a deeper emotional need?

Know that lust can lead to risky behaviors (edging, p-subs), or even toward P/MO (stay in the Spirit in public, attributing all beauty to God).

Keep emotions in check if a woman connects (don't give away your power, be the man in control of himself).

You can cancel and veto any promise made to revisit or complete a P/MO session (don't take advantage of day 0).

Dismiss feelings of nostalgia as mere thought, or urges from the lower brain (remember AVRT).

Value and protect hard won freedom and purity, at all costs!

Employ extra-vigilance toward high-risk behavior (p-subs and edging).

Cultivate a hatred for the sin (contradicting your values and morals, robbing you of fruitfulness and destiny!)

Decrease a need for entertainment in the spirit of Stoicism.

Dismiss lapse-anticipation as mere thought/urge.

Use ASMR mindfully, only as needed for its intended purpose (are you using social media for emotional needs- mindlessly?).

Resent the hell that P/MO puts you through (consider the negatives of indulgence)!

Expand on greater meaning and purposes beyond the addicted lifestyle (deepen and focus on your why's [why's = rewards]).

Using mindfulness to discover that space between urges and response (as in urge-surfing), and that space between lapse and abstinence:

Even if you should have a moment, an hour, an evening, or several days of excess, the next morning is yours for you to recapture the equanimity and self-respect of your mindful self- Stanton Peele.

Living in the present moment, accepting that this world- and my part in it- is valuable (this offsets escapism as a primary motive).

Consider the negatives of indulgence:

Regret

Guilt, shame (toxic), condemnation, that stays for up to 5 days.

Lost time

Lost fruitfulness

Tiredness and irritability the next day.

Resensitized neural pathways (re-habituation, continuation and prolonging of the addiction).

Neurological side effects: massive dopamine dump, frying the reward circuitry of the brain (escalation of addiction, loss of joy in life), DeltaFos B (p-memory, lasting 42-56 days), Hypofrontality (brain-fog, lasting 56 days).

Having more secrets to keep from the wife.

Loss of intimacy with wife and family.

Sexual side effects: performance anxiety, and potential for PIED.

Wasting of creative energies, and increased demotivation.

Depression.

Loss of dreams, calling and destiny.

No fun time for self, when wife goes out of town (too busy with obsession, regret and fear of discovery, despite the pleasures of indulgence).

Appreciate the rewards of abstinence:

(contra the temporary rewards and yet high price of addiction)

Clear conscience (no regrets)

Clean feeling, inside and out.

No longer being an addict

Spiritual power and fruitfulness (anointed preaching/teaching, miracles, healing, deliverance for others)

Fulfilling my dreams and destiny

Holiness, sanctification and separation (Joseph/fruitfulness)

Intimacy with God and family

Deeper intimacy with wife (better sex, deeper emotions)

Social confidence (needed for business and ministry)

Increased creativity

Rediscovering my hobbies (art: drawing, painting; guitar playing, poetry)

Attractive to the opposite sex

Relating properly with the opposite sex (public, ministry and business)

Finding my true self.
 
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guitar1968

Active Member
Wow, quiet and assessment. A lot to take in there. I don't think I've put anywhere near that kind of thought into it. I was particularly interested in what you said about "failing to adequately address the WHY behind the addiction." I have never really done this. I had a great childhood. Great parents. Of course we had our issues like any family but nothing bad that sticks with you for life. I was growing up in a neighborhood of boys and we all looked at dirty magazines. It was cool, it was what we all did, what we all thought we were supposed to do and I just stuck with it way more than I should have. I think at some point, maybe when the internet starting being the biggest pusher, I really got hooked. I think it changes your brain and it keeps you coming back for more. Why doesn't it happen to everyone? Good question. Honestly, I just assumed all my friends were still doing the same thing. I don't know if they are or aren't but I've had enough and it has done its damage.

I also think about having started so young, that I have never really had a true and honest sex life. I watched porn, hardcore porn, before I was ever with a girl. The stage was set, my mind thought it knew what sex was and what it should be. I never really had sex without those images in my head. This is what I think about the most. How do I really and truly erase more than 40 years of porn and misguided thoughts about what sex is?

Those are the questions that plague me. So far, I'm holding up pretty well not going back to porn. I've run into some images the last 40+ days, but nothing sent me back to my private browser with a box of tissues handy.
 

Phineas 808

Well-Known Member
Indeed, guitar! This post is a major effort on my part to regain traction, or to further my recovery going forward. I don't wish to cyclically repeat past efforts, but want to make true and lasting change.

This post is primarily for me (though the added benefit that it may help others), and I don't wish to imply that everyone addicted to PMO is somehow deeply flawed. For many, it's simply a matter of habit change, that's it. For me, that's also true, but with the added need of addressing issues of brokenness and trauma endured in my early life...

Luckily for all of us, we can change and break this habit without having to do a deep soul-dive, but certainly if healing is required, stopping the addiction can occur separately, and must be itself true (or on the way to true) for any deeper healing to occur.
 

Orbiter

Well-Known Member
That was a fantastic post. I particular like & resonate with the emphasis on identifying the difference between an URGE and a NEED.

I wonder if perhaps sometimes the reason many of us relapse is because we mistake a need for an urge, dismiss it and wonder why it bugs us and wears us down all the way to relapse.

Food for thought and certainly something I need to consider myself. Excellent insights as always Phineas.
 

Phineas 808

Well-Known Member
I wonder if perhaps sometimes the reason many of us relapse is because we mistake a need for an urge, dismiss it and wonder why it bugs us and wears us down all the way to relapse.

Thank you, Orbiter!

Definitely! This has been true of me where dismissing an urge once or twice was not enough... Though it should be noted that dismissing an urge consistently, no matter the driver behind it, will have the same eventual effect of changing the habit.

But the importance in identifying this difference is in understanding ourselves, and to recognize an emotional-tie that makes the urge more urgent, more persistent, which can give us extra vigilance. It can also help us to identify deeper areas where healing needs to take place.
 

Joel

Active Member
Great stuff, Phin. It ties is with a thought I'm having for myself today. The physical urge is the chimp in us (you know I'm a big fan of the chimp/ human analogy). It requires us to get away from the device, maybe take a walk or something like that. In our quieter moments we can look at what the urge/ fetish / emotional attachment is/ was and process it. Eg letting go of that favourite film we want to revisit; surely happiness is in letting it go. We've been there, we know what's going to happen.
 

JerryTX

Member

What is a Successful Recovery Effort?


Below are observations from the past 6 months (11/6/20 to 5/23/21), which include these streaks: 139, 19, 35, 2, X+

What worked for me, and what hasn't worked during this time? This will help me to separate the wheat from the chaff concerning my efforts. This will help me to sketch what a successful recovery effort should look like for me.

What worked for me?


Rejoined Reboot Nation (anonymous support).

Began in earnest with diligence.

Supported others in their journals.

Deleted Pinterest (2x).

Changed iPhone usage times to early morning, and before bed. Other than periodic checking, I'd read a book for restroom breaks.

Changed algorithms on IG.

Most urges were simply dismissed.

Turned to prayer and worship for strong or persistent urges (which indicate a deeper need).

Turned to wife for sex to offset stronger urges.

Mostly didn't think about it during the day (set it and forget it, or- porn is not an option).

Demystified cues, without fighting them or feeding them (like it, save it, briefly and mindfully visit a profile to offset potential obsessing).

Limited my time on IG to 15 minutes a day (currently = 3-5 minutes for each social media platform, at each visit).

Stopped the continuous drip-feed of p-subs, and addressed edging as a habit.

If anxious about hitting a goal, encouraged myself that if I made it this far (X-amount of days), I can make it to X-goal.

Honest analysis in my journal of where I'm currently at.

Identified streaks as a macroscopic space between unhealthy habit patterns and the potential for change (similar to the microcosmic space between cue and response).

What didn't work for me?


Didn't find or maintain the essence of the name "Phineas" (fire, zeal, self-judgment).

Failed to adequately address the emotional and spiritual drivers of the addiction.

Continued a reliance on fantasy or porn-memories to sustain an erection during sex (periodic performance anxiety, but lessening this reliance).

Failed to adequately address the why behind the addiction.

Intended to revisit a 2 hour p-video I had promised myself to watch all the way through (to date: I've not watched it all the way through).

Nostalgia toward general addictive behaviors not sufficiently dealt with (how to deal with them?).

Nostalgia toward that specific p-video (an emotional tie, or perception of intimacy?).

Lost a determination to "...jealously guard my freedom and purity".

Not taking episodes of p-subs or edging serious enough, though more periodic than habitual (?).

Had anxiety toward reaching next mini-goal (but addressed as noted above).

Being overly analytical (though redirected toward the purpose of my journal).

Failed to relearn a hatred for my former behaviors.

An unhealthy need for entertainment on social media (though addressed via time limitations, content viewed).

Anticipated a lapse, thus giving it life, rather than dismissing it as mere thought or urge.

Toward end of 120 day goal, began an unhealthy reliance on ASMR (sensual or otherwise) for emotional needs.

Resented that I couldn't just reach for P/MO to self-medicate (?).

Going Forward:


This will be an assessment of what my recovery efforts need to look like going forward, in order to be successful:

Keep and maintain an earnest and diligent approach toward recovery.

Continue helping others (don't be so self-focused, narcissistic).

Be willing to execute self-judgment and/or make changes instantaenously (spirit and zeal of Phineas!).

Discern between urges versus needs (urges may come in waves, but needs will be deeper, emotional, and persistent).

Dismiss the urges mindfully (neither resisting nor responding).

Redirect needs toward God, wife, or others (prayer in the Spirit, get up and go to office!).

Mostly, don't think about it!

Demystify potential obsessions (in the spirit of ERP, or extinction therapy).

Restrict rationally, mindfully, without legalism (all social media platforms: in and out, unless purposeful).

Recognizing p-subs and edging as high-risk behavior.

Goal-keeping as motivated and energized by past accomplishments.

Provide transparent analysis (consider the intended audience > yourself!).

Keep in mind the wider perspective of recovery, especially in lieu of a lapse (within the past X-amount of days, I've only lapsed X-times).

Extra-focus:


Find and maintain that fire and zeal (do we tolerate thoughts, do we execute self-judgment?)

Take very serious the emotional and spiritual aspects of recovery.

Challenge yourself to not rely on fantasy or p-memory to offset performance anxiety.

Is it just selfish lust? Or is there a deeper emotional need?

You can cancel and veto any promise made to revisit or complete a P/MO session.

Dismiss feelings of nostalgia as mere thought, or urges of the lower brain (remember AVRT).

Value hard won freedom and purity, at all costs!

Employ extra-vigilance toward high-risk behavior (p-subs and edging).

Cultivate a hatred for the sin (robbing you of past and potential fruitfulness and destiny!)

Decrease a need for entertainment in the spirit of Stoicism.

Dismiss lapse-anticipation as mere thought/urge.

Use ASMR mindfully, only as needed for its intended purpose.

Resent all the hell that P/MO intended and wishes to put you through!
Wow! What an excellent post...as usual. Thanks for sharing and your honesty! I'm sure like others here your posts are very informative and refreshing.
 

Phineas 808

Well-Known Member
Great stuff, Phin. It ties is with a thought I'm having for myself today. The physical urge is the chimp in us (you know I'm a big fan of the chimp/ human analogy). It requires us to get away from the device, maybe take a walk or something like that. In our quieter moments we can look at what the urge/ fetish / emotional attachment is/ was and process it. Eg letting go of that favourite film we want to revisit; surely happiness is in letting it go. We've been there, we know what's going to happen.

Yes, great analogy, the chimp-brain! :LOL: It makes so much sense, too, the lower 'limbic system' screaming for it's dopamine hits, using urges (often urgent), rationalizations, etc...

Finding that sacred space between urge and response is so important, and a major factor in my own approach. If that means taking a walk, getting out of the house just to change our current mindest, until the urges pass, that's it!

I like what you said, "...we know what's going to happen"- and that's true even if we haven't seen it all the way through. [trigger alert] there's only so many orifices, and only so many things that can be done, etc... And the bottom line? It's never quite as satisfying as we imagined it was going to be... sometimes it may outright disgust us!

The happiness of having let it go, having said 'No'.
 

Phineas 808

Well-Known Member
Wow! What an excellent post...as usual. Thanks for sharing and your honesty! I'm sure like others here your posts are very informative and refreshing.

Thanks, JerryTX!

While I try to address my own funk, I am definitely grateful and blessed if others can benefit from my approach, with its successes and struggles.
 

Phineas 808

Well-Known Member
Above, under the heading of What is a Successful Recovery Effort, I wrote something that I feel was a very important post for me. And even now, with my current challenges, it is helping me as I can employ it where the 'rubber meets the road', in the crux of the moment.

Last night was such a test, but made right choices although it wasn't easy.

This assessment of my journey up to this point (about 6 months in) for this time around in Reboot Nation, helps me to get a 'birds-eye-view' of my progress and/or regress, on what works, what hasn't worked, and what I need to do going forward.

I'm excited about that post, and linked it on my page 1. It's also a "living document" which I can modify, tweek and refine as needed.

For any wondering AVRT stands for Addictive Voice Recognition Technique, which is simply recognizing that chimp-chatter, that Joel speaks about, and choosing instead to make a rational choice toward abstinence.
 
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