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 Post subject: Just My Apostimony
PostPosted: Thu Oct 07, 2010 10:26 am 
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Inspired by Froggie's Apostimony, I'd like to write mine.

When did it all begin? In retrospect, I'd have to say the first tiny seedlings were planted during my mission, to Fukuoka, Japan.

No, maybe it started even before that. It started when I realized how unhappy my own mother was, and that this was probably my fate, too.

My name is Keri McEntire Anderson, and I am the oldest of seven children. My parents moved to Logan, Utah, early on in their marriage, and Logan is where I spent most of my childhood. I hesitate to write about the unhappiness of my mother. She would undoubtedly internalize it as a failure on her part, rather than the product of a church whose structure largely exists at the expense of the women.

My parents always struggled financially. They paid their 10% tithing faithfully, and with anything remaining, they attempted to feed, clothe, and educate a family of nine. We quickly learned to stay away from Mom after she had been grocery shopping. Her attempt to feed our family with $100 a week usually failing, she would come home frustrated and brooding and angry. Mother stayed home, as was her righteous duty, while Dad worked long hours trying to make the needed income, and also as an escape from the chaos and overwhelm that was our home. On Sunday, Dad would get up early to leave for bishopric meetings, while mom was left alone to get all seven kids ready and fed, and on time to our 9:00am sacrament meeting. Finally having made it to the car, mom would scream at the top of her lungs, "I hate Sundays!", and off we would go to church to learn about eternal family happiness. At night I would sometimes pray and ask God if I were really supposed to be a guy. I didn't understand why I had all these desires for a career, why I liked science and math so much, if I was never going to be able to pursue them.

Mom was constantly depressed, except when she was angry. That is the mother I remember. This is so sad to me now, because my mom really has a great sense of humor and talents and skills she sacrificed to raise us. Now, a mother myself, my heart just breaks for her as I realize that for twenty-five years straight she was in constant child care, with very little support, and with rarely a moment or dollar to spend for herself. I look back at some of our family pictures - she was so tired. So worn out. It wasn't fair to her.

Fast forward to early adulthood years. I had to get out of Logan. The only real option? BYU.

I loved school. I loved learning, I loved the environment, the challenge, the intellectual stimulation. Being analytically minded, I finally committed to a major in Mathematics. Deciding upon a major was particularly challenging for me, because whether I could consciously identify it or not, the thought in the back of mind was always this: "What does it matter? I'm supposed to be a stay-at-home mom anyway, right?" I couldn't quite stomach the thought of majoring in home ec, and I rationalized that children would need help with their math homework, right? So math it was.

I turned 21. I had just sabotaged a relationship with my boyfriend because I did not want to get married. I wanted to prolong the inevitable, the dark cloud of eternal motherhood that was to be my future. What better way to prolong it that to go on a mission? This way, even God couldn't claim I was shirking my religious duty.

After the initial shock of being called to Japan, excitement began to fill me. A whole new world and country! I had won the mission jackpot! No state-side mission for me.

Yet, it would be during the mission that things would start to conflict. The first time through the temple I almost started to hyperventilate, especially when we started chanting and making all of these funny hand gestures. But I talked myself off the ledge and moved passed it. Then doctrine would bump up against reality here and there. "Why does God make the test so hard?", I would ask my mission president. "Why does he set a whole people up in culture and tradition that makes it practically impossible to accept Christ? If families are so important, why do so many of the Japanese converts have to sacrifice their families to join? How are we supposed to teach the Book of Mormon to the Japanese, whose skin is a little darker, when the prophets claim dark skin is a curse from God?"

"Some questions will not be answered in this lifetime, and you need to shelve them for later," came the reply. "For now, don't waist your time trying to figure them out. Just do your duty."

I did my duty. I returned home with honor, and back to BYU. But there were no more distractions. No more diversions. Marriage was the only thing left. My window of self-based life was closing, and it was time to face what God really wanted from me.

I continued to flounder in a few here and there relationships, and often wondered if I were even capable of falling in love or someone falling in love with me - I was so disillusioned with the dating process. It didn't help that my younger sister was now engaged, and standing in her line as a bridesmaid, relative after relative gave me their condolences and told me they knew several women that were "older" before the got married (I was 23). I wanted to throw up.

But then, in a math class, I met Jeff. Jeff was so different. He was so smart, so whole, so together, yet so humble. He loved to think, express ideas about religion, God, exitentialism. He wasn't scared of my math abilities; I guess he didn't need to be, as his trumped mine hands down. For the first time, the idea of marriage started to seem, well, palatable.

To this day I am shocked he married me - I told him up front I didn't want to have children. To his credit, he never pressured me into having them. But 18 years of primary and MIA had produced a wellspring of guilt, and I pressured myself. If I had to have kids, I was going to have them fast, and get it over with. So I did - 4 kids in 5 1/2 years. This is when the undoing of my testimony really began to escalate.

I could spend paragraphs describing how miserable I was - Jeff was in the process of completing several degrees, we were poor, I was isolated, and knee-deep in poop and spit-up. And oh, the dreams. The dreams. I dreamt of being free, of never marrying. I dreamt of being back in college again. Jeff was and is as wonderful as they come, but it took a while for us to communicate, and for me to express how unhappy I was. While he was living his dream life - graduate school, research, constant intellectual stimulation - my only gratification came from the occassional compliment of how cute the kids were, or how clean my apartment was, or how great my Relief Society lesson was, or the latest candy bar. I began to put on weight. I dove into more religion - read the Ensign faithfully, listened to conference talks that I had recorded until they were practically memorized, I studied the RS and SS lessons before I went to church, even if I was not teaching, and of course, scripture study. I still put on weight. I volunteered for more church callings. Put on more weight. The day Jeff graduated was a bitter-sweet day for me. I was tremendously proud of him, as he had done amazing things in his education. But I was also deeply, painfully, envious.

But alas, I'm doing it. I'm starting to write several paragraphs of my unhappy years. in the middle of this misery Jeff noticed that the one thing I showed any passion about was yoga. He signed me up for yoga training - hence the yoga avatar. Maybe I should be grateful for those unhappy years. If I hadn't been that miserable, I would never have been driven to find answers like I was. I was determined to figure out just what this plan of happiness was really all about, because I certainly was NOT happy. And was it true? If I did end up faithful and doing my duty, was my reward really going to be meeting the other 39 women I was going to share Jeff with for all eternity? Was I going to be raising children....eternally?

I began to question everything. I hated conference talks on member missionary work, because they stressed me out of my mind. I could not make myself paint on a smile and tell my non-member friends how happy and blessed I felt because of the church. It tormented me that my non-member girlfriends seemed to have so much ownership and control and choice in the lives, while I felt chained to a script. Finally, after one October conference where I spent most of it making snide remarks after many of the speakers, I realized I was in a very bad place. I was questioning everything, Satan must have a hold on me, and my testimony was as fragile as it had ever been. I committed right then and there to completely start over - to rebuild my testimony - from scratch.

Most of you know what came next. Oh, the mountainload of evidence against the church. How had the church been so successful at hiding this from me? How had I been so blind as to not see things that were right in front of me all along?

But I'm getting ahead of myself. I was determined to only read church sanctioned books. I didn't want to read anything "anti". I knew I wanted to start with polygamy, because if that really was what God had in store for me, I had better start to come to terms with it. I suspected that there may be a few troubling accounts here and there, as church members were trying to live a celestial law under telestial conditions. I knew it wouldn't all be pretty. What I wasn't expecting, however, was that NONE OF IT WAS PRETTY! Fanny Alger? The twins whose names I forget but Joseph married and then squandered their inheritance? Joseph marrying women who were ALREADY MARRIED and to LIVING HUSBANDS? What was happening?

I showed some of this to Jeff. Unbeknownst to me, Jeff was having his own testimony crisis as well, but for academic reasons. He threw himself into study of everything he had shelved, and one day in a fit of notable agitation, he just blurted out, "It's not true. Mormonism is not true!". I was stunned. I wasn't ready to go that far. I told him I needed some time to do some more of my own study. It only took a week. And one additional day to dismantle my testimony of Christianity altogether.

You would think that I would have been completely relieved, to find out the church was a fraud. The problem is, that the church was the very foundation of my whole life, major life decisions, and community. It also meant that there probably wasn't an afterlife, after all. The first year out of the church was a mixture of depression, anger, disillusionment, and the constant sensation of the "twilight zone" music playing in the background. I can only imagine how my whole brain must have been under reconstruction, with neurons literally dismantling old connections and building new ones. I felt the eyes of relatives, neighbors, and friends looking at me with distrust and pity. I felt my character being slandered throughout the ward, rumors spreading. We were completely upfront with our bishop and his counselors about why we left, hoping to dispel at least rumors of infidelity.

It is amazing what one year can do, however, and after that point life started to get much better, and has continued to do so. We have since moved to a new place, where no-one knew us as active members. We feel we have a much more realistic and reality-based view of life, and of raising children, without religion. My children are now all school-aged, and I am in the process of re-creating my life, finding my own passions, and even building a career. I am so thankful that my children will grow up free to create their own lives. They will make mistakes, but at least they will be their own mistakes, rather than something imposed on them. I continue to work on undoing years of guilt-training, and judgement-making. I continue with yoga, and have started going back to school, taking classes through the U of U. Life still has it's good days and bad days, but I own them now. I'm free of the script.


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 Post subject: Re: Just My Apostimony
PostPosted: Thu Oct 07, 2010 12:18 pm 
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justme wrote:
I showed some of this to Jeff. Unbeknownst to me, Jeff was having his own testimony crisis as well, but for academic reasons. He threw himself into study of everything he had shelved, and one day in a fit of notable agitation, he just blurted out, "It's not true. Mormonism is not true!". I was stunned. I wasn't ready to go that far. I told him I needed some time to do some more of my own study. It only took a week. And one additional day to dismantle my testimony of Christianity altogether.


It's always amazing to me when I read this kind of thing. It could be that I'm just looking for it, because it's the way it went with me too, but it seems like that happens a lot. You finally let yourself see that mormonism isn't true and in short order everything else goes, too. For me it was about a week from "no mormonism" to "no christianity" to "no god at all."

Thanks for your story. I really enjoyed reading it. It resonated for me on so many levels.

_________________
The apple cannot be stuck back on the Tree of Knowledge; once we begin to see, we are doomed and challenged to seek the strength to see more, not less. ~ Arthur Miller


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 Post subject: Re: Just My Apostimony
PostPosted: Thu Oct 07, 2010 12:29 pm 
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Dear Keri,

I heart you and am so glad to know you. We are such kindred spirits and so much of our lives have been parallel.

Quote:
Finally having made it to the car, mom would scream at the top of her lungs, "I hate Sundays!", and off we would go to church to learn about eternal family happiness.


I think my mom was a bit happier than yours. She was raised in a home where her dad was an alcoholic and they were absolutely destitute and I can remember her telling me about several summers where they lived in the garage of a friend because they had no home. And they used boxes and blankets to make room separations for privacy. Compared to that my mom never had to worry because dad was constant, made money and was clearly committed to the family. My mother lived in a constant state of gratitude. But she had no life outside of her children and I once suggested that her constant overinvolvement in our lives was her way to vicariously live her life through her children. She didn't appreciate that much, but that is how I see many women in the church who are career mothers.

Thank you for sharing. I am heartwarmed to read your story. I am reminded of the recent article about the religious surveys where the following observation was made:

Quote:
Alan Cooperman, the forum’s associate director for research, is quoted as saying that agnostics and atheists have simply given such matters more study and thought: “These are people who thought a lot about religion. They’re not indifferent. They care about it.”


These stories continue to play out the fact that we were not slacker religious people. We devoted so much to the cause.

Big green hugs,

Froggie

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"Mormon culture is a combination of well-intentioned naïveté, the Stepford Wives, and the Holy Inquisition." ~Dr.Todd Ormsbee
http://froggey.wordpress.com


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 Post subject: Re: Just My Apostimony
PostPosted: Thu Oct 07, 2010 6:18 pm 
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Wow Keri; amazing story!! I always become so happy when families can come out of the morg together. <3 I am so happy for you all. =)

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"There is a temptation ... to want to tell everything, whether it is ... faith promoting or not. Some things that are true are not very useful."

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 Post subject: Re: Just My Apostimony
PostPosted: Sun Oct 10, 2010 9:30 am 
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Keri, that story, while painful to live through, was awesome to read. Thank you for writing it. There are times I wish I lived in Utah and it's usually when I come across people I'd love to be friends with in real life. This is one of them.

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Sometimes I make my kids wear sombreros and scuba fins around the house. Not because there is any reason. I just want to teach them obedience.--Darth J


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 Post subject: Re: Just My Apostimony
PostPosted: Tue Nov 23, 2010 10:04 am 
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Wow. Lots of stuff in here that was painful to read. Like this:

Quote:
They paid their 10% tithing faithfully, and with anything remaining, they attempted to feed, clothe, and educate a family of nine. We quickly learned to stay away from Mom after she had been grocery shopping. Her attempt to feed our family with $100 a week usually failing, she would come home frustrated and brooding and angry. Mother stayed home, as was her righteous duty, while Dad worked long hours trying to make the needed income, and also as an escape from the chaos and overwhelm that was our home.


It really is insane, isn't it? The church tells people to have twice as many children as most people, and to support them on one income instead of two. Oh! And donate a minimum of ten percent of that single income to the church, of course! And we know that you'll want to help build the kingdom by giving up most of your free time to unpaid labor in your ward . . .

Quote:
While he was living his dream life - graduate school, research, constant intellectual stimulation - my only gratification came from the occassional compliment of how cute the kids were, or how clean my apartment was, or how great my Relief Society lesson was, or the latest candy bar.


Ouch.

The church really is inflexible, isn't it? You're gay? Tough it out and accept that you will never have physical or emotional intimacy with another human being. You're a woman who likes science more than children? Hopefully God will humble your enough to choose His will over yours.

They have two strict tracks for life: one for men, and one for women. If you want something that's not on your track, you're selfish at best, and maybe even evil.

I'm glad you got out, Keri.

_________________
"If my life is mine,
what shouldn’t I do?"

--"Help, I'm Alive", Metric


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 Post subject: Re: Just My Apostimony
PostPosted: Tue Nov 23, 2010 11:28 am 
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THanks for sharing your story.
Maybe there could be a sticky place for apostimonies.
My views of mormonism began to crumble while on a mission too. I have a friend co-worker who left on a mission but it appears that she likes it so much she got an extension. She's very social though and rabid about converting people, which likely makes it work for her.

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Said in a hushed whisper: My temple name was (pause for effect) Joan.


Last edited by Joan on Wed Jan 12, 2011 5:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Just My Apostimony
PostPosted: Fri Dec 03, 2010 5:50 pm 
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Keri, thanks for sharing your story. It's so sad that your mother worked so hard with the family, and that she was so stressed as a result of the pressure of doing that, getting you all ready for church without your father to help, and having a limited income from which to feed you all and pay the bills...I'm sorry for what the church does to most women, ruining their expectations of a great career if they are inclined to want to work (meaning that many will have been brainwashed into feeling that motherhood alone is a career for them). I'm happy that you met such a great husband, and that he realised something that could make you happy. I'm pleased that you are now making the most of your life and independence now that the children are of school age.


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 Post subject: Re: Just My Apostimony
PostPosted: Sat Dec 11, 2010 4:23 am 
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doubtingmo wrote:
Keri, thanks for sharing your story. It's so sad that your mother worked so hard with the family, and that she was so stressed as a result of the pressure of doing that, getting you all ready for church without your father to help, and having a limited income from which to feed you all and pay the bills...I'm sorry for what the church does to most women, ruining their expectations of a great career if they are inclined to want to work (meaning that many will have been brainwashed into feeling that motherhood alone is a career for them). I'm happy that you met such a great husband, and that he realised something that could make you happy. I'm pleased that you are now making the most of your life and independence now that the children are of school age.


Completely agree. tscc causes untold harm and misery to millions.

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 Post subject: Re: Just My Apostimony
PostPosted: Sun Dec 12, 2010 9:37 am 
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belaja wrote:
For me it was about a week from "no mormonism" to "no christianity" to "no god at all."


It took me longer than that - I'd guess from the time I slammed the door shut on moism, I still believed that there was a god. I was in some sort of "freak out" phase, predetermined I'd lose all hope if I "allowed myself" to become either an agnostic or atheist.

I still think there is a remote possibility some sort of "higher power" exists so that's the single tiny thread that keeps me from dropping down to (or should I say, rising up to) the atheist level.

It's so ironic that once I've "taken ownership" of my own thoughts, and now that I'm "totally honest with myself," things seem to be so much clearer, more optimistic, and I have no fear of death, and I am so much more focused on living a great life NOW. Before, as a believer, there was always a . . . well, why go over that again.

Unlike the seemingly never ending warnings from the corporation of the president, I also think it's somewhat humorous that "non believing" folks like me aren't sucked into a spiral of sin that escalates with inescapable drug use, porn addiction, inabilities to control sexal encounters with total strangers of all sexes in all places at all times, theft, killing, and all manner of debauchery simply because I "discover" the belief system requiring strict adherence to "god's law" will ruin me now and forever - and funny too is all the dramatic hoopla that usually accompanies the stern, woeful messages designed to instill fear, compliance, blah, blah, blah.

Honestly, I never dreamed I could have enjoyed agnosticism this much. I give it two mega-thumbs up!!! And for anyone who's genuinely afraid of going where I am now, don't try to make the leap or run to find your answers - take your time, enjoy a casual journey and remember there's nothing wrong with stopping to look in ALL directions as you move towards your (perhaps very dynamic) destination. Getting there may be frustrating, and yes even scary at times, and your path going back isn't going to fade away if you ever wanna return. Though, I can't imagine in my wildest dreams ever having the need or desire to venture anywhere near that location ever again. And for that, I'm really, truly grateful.

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It's good to talk about these things and to sort out the messed up mindfuck we were in.
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 Post subject: Re: Just My Apostimony
PostPosted: Sun Dec 12, 2010 12:32 pm 
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Floater wrote:

Unlike the seemingly never ending warnings from the corporation of the president, I also think it's somewhat humorous that "non believing" folks like me aren't sucked into a spiral of sin that escalates with inescapable drug use, porn addiction, inabilities to control sexal encounters with total strangers of all sexes in all places at all times, theft, killing, and all manner of debauchery simply because I "discover" the belief system requiring strict adherence to "god's law" will ruin me now and forever - and funny too is all the dramatic hoopla that usually accompanies the stern, woeful messages designed to instill fear, compliance, blah, blah, blah.



This past summer I met a 20yr old young lady who fit into the category you mentioned except for the theft and killing part. She considered herself an intellectual :rolleyes: and was a rabid tbm. (frothing at the mouth rabid) She is a friend of my friends daughter and my friend passed away so I have quite a bit of contact with her daughter. I had discussed my beliefs with her, as did my friends daughter, and spent looong conversations with her. I put her onto a few good websites like mormonthink.com and she ended up leaving church (which really surprised me.)

Her biggest challenge appeared to be making the social change, which I related to b/c that was my biggest challenge as well. Shortly after she found sex (and really liked it,) so much that I had to tell her that I didn't want to hear every detail. She got angry. She went to the bar looking for sex, but apparently at the last minute, right in bed, she got cold feet and then decided to go ahead with it. Then got her tbm mom to take her to ER to do a rape kit test on her. She was all stressed about it, a drama queen to the core. I reminded her that if she filed charges she would be asked all kinds of questions, like why go to a strangers bed and then suddenly decide no sex just before they do it, then go ahead with doing it. She never got up to leave and the guys not a mind reader. Even so that's just plain ignorant. I told her that it's her type of character which makes it hard for others who actually are rape victims. None of her friends can recognize her personality anymore. This all because she wasn't taught anything other than mormon ideas, therefor she didn't know how to use self control, common sense or intellect; which made her even more angry because she considered herself the intellectual.

I think there are certain types who have no real ability to understand or apply choice/action and outcome or self control. For these types I would say to them stay in mormonism where the tight leash will keep them from hurting themselves or other innocent people. Somewhere along the line the people who predict these outcomes know full well that an institution that doesn't teach a person how to use self control, common sense and intellect are a big problem waiting to happen. For some people the pendulum swings from their main coping skill of fearful obedience especially when they haven't been taught any other coping skills. They flounder trying to figure it all out on their own. Sad really. People who don't have common sense should definitely stay in mormonism where the lack of common sense is perpetuated by the belief system in place.

_________________
Said in a hushed whisper: My temple name was (pause for effect) Joan.


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 Post subject: Re: Just My Apostimony
PostPosted: Sun Aug 05, 2012 1:29 pm 

Joined: Fri Aug 03, 2012 6:38 pm
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I really liked reading your experience, and like the rest here, I share their sorrow that it happened to you, but I can definitely identify with what you have gone through. My wife has never been a member of the church and has been very patient with me as I have dealt with all of the things that are shady as hell in the church's past. I am currently experiencing what you were talking about when you first decided to leave by feeling completely discombobulated. I havn't attended church in about five years, but really just now decided to address the concerns that led me to stop going originally (it was just easier to ignore them). Thanks for sharing. It helps us that are going through the same thing currently.


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 Post subject: Re: Just My Apostimony
PostPosted: Mon Aug 06, 2012 12:58 pm 
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Your story very closely follows what I call the "truth track" out of Mormonism. Welcome.


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 Post subject: Re: Just My Apostimony
PostPosted: Wed Aug 22, 2012 12:48 am 
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justme wrote:
in the middle of this misery Jeff noticed that the one thing I showed any passion about was yoga. He signed me up for yoga training - hence the yoga avatar


I'm no yoga expert or anything, but I've found a whole lot more truth in yoga than I ever did in the church.

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He never said it would be worth it; He only said it would be easy.


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