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#61547 - 08/17/04 02:54 PM the "self hate" phenomenon
PAS Offline
Member

Registered: 06/12/02
Posts: 577
Loc: Canada
Hey gang.. I picked this post that I put on another thread out and put it on here.

I have read a lot about the whole "self hate" that comes along with abuse survival, and I too well know a lot about that feeling, so I thought I'd start a thread on this this topic.

I hope this can help someone.

P

********

quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Originally posted by EGL:
I still believe that a lot of what your boyfriend may be going through is struggling to like himself, let alone someone else. I know it seems like the ultimate oxymoron, that a victim hates themself more than their abuser, but I've lived it and I know many others have as well.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Eddie - I have discussed this phenomenon at length with my fiance - a SA survivor and me being a psychologivcal and verbal abuse survivor. I have mulled it over many times and didnt get it until far along in my recovery, and my fiance came to the same discovery a few years back too.

Our current theory (of course, totally unproven by psychologists/researchers) is that the self hate is indeed another "protective" mechanism that we set up in order to endure, psychologically, the abuse we are expeirenceing in a time in our lives when we are truly helpless. In my case, I had to believe that I truly was a shitty kid, that I really WAS the source of all my dad's problems, for me to acknowledge anything different and stand up for myself and say HEY DAD STOP TREATING ME LIKE CRAP would have risked me being thrown out OR abused WORSE and then where would I be? A six year old street kid? Would the abuse have escalated to physical abuse? Would my dad have indeed succeeded in taking his own life and left us destitute? I see the self hate that I learned as nothing more than yet another protective mechanism that allowed me to literally SURVIVE.

And that self hate gets etched in there so deep that it takes a long time to go "hey wait a minute!!! I"m the phucking VICTIM here and what that guy did to me was NOT OK!!!!!! That my dad would freak out and throw things at a little kid and scream at her and scare her half to death and try to kill himself and abandon her and her family at such a young age is NOT OK BEHAVIOUR BY ANY MEANS for a father and husband!!" ooh.. and then at some point.. in recovery the EXTERNAL rage starts.. once that acknowledgement is made the rage comes... its blinding and powerful and frightening and terrifying and every fiber in your body says DONT DO THIS DONT FEEL THIS ITS NOT SAFE!! But I think that this shift is THE MAJOR turning point in going from victim to survivor.

A lot of abuse recovery is addressing the fact that we (and I include myself because of my own psychological and verbal abuse history) learned to adapt to a very unsafe, unhealthy and scary place by using a variety of mechanisms (spacing out, depersonalization, split personalities, isolation, self-hate and shame, anger, fighting, alcohol and drug abuse, sex addiction) to literally SURVIVE a terrifying and dangerous situation.

And unfortunately, these are the life and relationship skills that we learn and bring to a world that is likely NOT as scary, not as painful and not as insane as the one we left. We as abuse survivors are ill-adapted and ill equipped to deal with a world where we need to form bonds, partnerships, to trust, to have faith and to have real joy in order to have successful lives, careers and relationships. Where the hell would we have learned those skills?? But I tell ya if we had to fend off attackers, keep people at bay, and find ways to keep oneself emotionally isolated to be successful, man we'd be the kings and queens of the world by now!!!! Perhaps if we life was one big Jackie Chan movie, eh??

So therapy teaches us that a) what happened to us was NOT OK AND NOT OUR FAULT and b) we need to go and learn a new way of looking at the world through cognitive therapy (to learn the world is not as scary as we might think) and our place in it (we have more control than we think over our lives) and we then have to learn a new way of acting (behavioural therapy) in order to have more successful outcomes in this not-so-scary-and-abusive place.

Hope this helps.

P


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#61548 - 08/17/04 03:26 PM Re: the "self hate" phenomenon
reality2k4 Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 07/06/04
Posts: 6838
Loc: Stuck between water, air, and ...
PAS

thanks for bringing this one up, yes it is the same condition we all face as abused kids, whether or not sex is involved.

I remember when mine was reported, I didn't tell how bad it was at the time, I was only 11, but I was starting to think like an adult, I didn,t tell about it because I didn't want my father to know what he did, he was already on fire with anger, I thought, what if he catches this monster? He will kill him and go to jail! If the police catch him, will I have to go to court and testify, then I wouldn't say what really went on for fear, of a. the beast taking revenge on me and b. my father killing him when he got out.

Abuse leads to a mass of anger, confusion, and fear, fear of the world, and everything in it, it leads to feeling like a pressure cooker waiting to explode, you then I think start the process of dealing with it, because it is like fighting a many headed beast, you go from a kid, to not a kid, you see friends, and wonder why you're not like them.

I felt dirty all the time, I was probably the cleanest kid around, but I always felt dirty, then there is a feeling that maybe people know, you look at everyone with that question on your mind, I lost any sense of danger, and yet I was always terrified inside, no sleep, nightmares, the list is endless.

I remember that my mind seemed to split, with one part dealing with the hurt, and the other dealing with everyday life, in school this got me into trouble as I would be seen to be daydreaming, when what really was happening, was my mind asking for more resources from the part which was dealing with life, or maybe it was the constant tiredness.

Has anyone else felt like the above who can explain it better than me?

I live in a lost world, I have a lightning quick mind, I can do deep research on things, I think this is a "gift" of the abuse, it certainly hasn't done me any favours yet, except that I have very honed senses, brought on by terror, and the need to know what is going on all around me 24/7.

That leads to more tiredness coupled to still another lack of sleep, can really make you feel so low, no wonder there is so much really going on in the mind of the abused kid, and I haven,t even started to explain the effects.

I wish you all as friends of survivors to pat yourselves on the back, for being able to understand even a little of what goes on and being there for a survivor, you are the best....

ste

_________________________
Whoever stole the Sun, put it back and we'll drop all the charges!

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#61549 - 08/17/04 05:51 PM Re: the "self hate" phenomenon
crisispoint Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 09/24/03
Posts: 2154
Loc: Massachusetts
I have a lot to like myself about. I'm intelligent, funny, articulate, a great teacher, and humble \:D .

But I always feel self-loathing, because now I fully hear their voices.

I was programmed to do what my childhood abuser commanded. I was willing to trade my SELF, even as a kid I knew something was wrong about it, for the attention and affection I should've gotten by right.

And then to be shared at least (I hope only) once for sick thrills, and I hear the other man's voice calling me a fat little pig and that I enjoyed it, that I was good for nothing except sex.

Yeah, I hate myself. I'm learning to overcome it, but I do hate myself, and why, when I know it isn't true, none of it?

Because as a child, I was told I was good for only one thing. And I felt strangely proud at first, I was being treated like a grownup, until I saw what they were doing, and I became afraid.

It's hard, to overcome this.

Scot

_________________________
There are reasons I'm taking medication. They're called "other people." - Me, displaying my anti-social tendancies

fromacuriousmind.blogspot.com
malehurtandsurvive.blogspot.com

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#61550 - 08/17/04 06:05 PM Re: the "self hate" phenomenon
kolisha54 Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/02/03
Posts: 475
Loc: Brooklyn, NY
Hey Scott - I agree with you: you have quite a lot to be proud of! You are always a source of comfort to those in need on this site AND you are a gifted & insightful writer too.

I hope that you will, one day, be able to purge yourself of all the crappy feelings.


Hugs

_________________________
If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am only for myself, what am I? If not now... when? --Hillel

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#61551 - 08/17/04 09:01 PM Re: the "self hate" phenomenon
EGL Offline
Moderator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 06/19/04
Posts: 7821
PAS, - You're right on in your post about so many things. To expand on my original thought, I've spent most of my life learning how worthless I was to those who were supposed to love me. When you spend you life in that, you absorb it as the way the world is. I talked to my therapist quite a bit about it today in my session and he recognizes that this is going to be one of the major hurdles for me to get over - for me to like myself and to see that I have worth. Right now, I view myself as a carbon-based consumer of oxygen. That's about it. The lifetime of achievements really don't mean squat to me - I view them as simply abilities, but don't give me any worth.

So, if I don't like myself because I can't see that I have any worth, how in the world can I like anyone else? Everyone is better than me, I've heard it either verbally or non-verbally all my life.

Anyway, from my rambling here you can see the mindset of a SA survivor. I know it's flawed, but I also know that right now it seems insurmountable. It's going to take a lot of work to turn this thinking around. I need to start with just looking myself in the eye in the mirror - something that's practically impossible for me because of immense feelings of shame, guilt, disgust, etc., etc.

_________________________
Eddie

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#61552 - 08/17/04 10:24 PM Re: the "self hate" phenomenon
kolisha54 Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/02/03
Posts: 475
Loc: Brooklyn, NY
Hey Eddie -

Hope you don't mind if I ask you another question:

So - what IS the force that propels you to seek out the accomplishments that you tend to downplay so much?

I have mentioned somewhere in one of my past posts, I have noticed that many of the men here would be considered driven OVER-achievers by those with whom they come into contact. That so much could be accomplished DESPITE all the underlying feelings of self-devaluation - it's truly amazing.

Finally, if you had a friend or partner who was very supportive & enthusiastic about your accomplishments - would you disbelieve her/him? Would you resent the "cheerleading?"

Thanks!!!!

_________________________
If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am only for myself, what am I? If not now... when? --Hillel

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#61553 - 08/18/04 12:32 AM Re: the "self hate" phenomenon
EGL Offline
Moderator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 06/19/04
Posts: 7821
Quote:
Originally posted by kolisha54:
So - what IS the force that propels you to seek out the accomplishments that you tend to downplay so much?

I have mentioned somewhere in one of my past posts, I have noticed that many of the men here would be considered driven OVER-achievers by those with whom they come into contact. That so much could be accomplished DESPITE all the underlying feelings of self-devaluation - it's truly amazing.

Finally, if you had a friend or partner who was very supportive & enthusiastic about your accomplishments - would you disbelieve her/him? Would you resent the "cheerleading?"
Kolisha,

So much of my overachievement goes back to the painful yearning of my childhood to be acceptable to my father. His only acknowledgment of anything I did as a child was to beat me when I did something wrong. Hence, the constant need to aspire to greater and greater things to prove my worth to him. Examples:
  • When I was 14, I was in band and took a piece of sheet music and completed a complete arrangement of it for all the band sections, complete with conductor's score. My instructor was so amazed that we played it at out Spring Concert. My parents didn't come. Another validation that my efforts and abilities were worthless.
  • When I was in second grade, my teacher wrote on my report card "Eddie displays an unusual talent in art and should be encouraged in it as much as possible." My father never acknowledged, let alone encouraged, anything. As I got older, I won numerous awards in art exhibitations. Why did I keep trying? Looking for validation that I have worth.
  • We didn't go to church when I was a child. I became a Christian the age of 23, due to my own initiative. My father's response: "You joined the wrong church (denomination)." Funny,I thought he would be glad I wasn't going to spend eternity n Hell. Guess I was wrong on that count as well.



There's other examples, but this gives you an idea. I learned to hate myself because my father made it obvious I was of no value to him.

My wife does support my abilities, but I'm suspect of anyone's compliments. Generally, when anyone compliments me I immediately turn it around in my mind in a negative way: "They wouldn't think that if they REALLY knew me." My therapist is constantly telling me how amazed he is at my ability to not only survive but thrive intellectually and artistically, despite the abuse. And, right on que, I turn that around in my mind and suspect what he's saying.

_________________________
Eddie

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#61554 - 08/18/04 10:40 AM Re: the "self hate" phenomenon
FastForward Offline
Member

Registered: 08/10/04
Posts: 188
Loc: US
Eddie - I understand about being suspicious of complements. In addition to what you said, I also worry that even if I did ok this time, I will mess up next time around. Hence, I cannot enjoy achievements!

_________________________
FastForward

L&P - always.

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#61555 - 08/18/04 10:41 AM Re: the "self hate" phenomenon
PAS Offline
Member

Registered: 06/12/02
Posts: 577
Loc: Canada
[QUOTE]Originally posted by EGL:
[QB] [QUOTE][qb]

>>>>So much of my overachievement goes back to the painful yearning of my childhood to be acceptable to my father. His only acknowledgment of anything I did as a child was to beat me when I did something wrong. Hence, the constant need to aspire to greater and greater things to prove my worth to him.

This sounds familiar - except I didnt get beat. I got laughed at, picked on and insulted instead - and that was when I GOT attention. Most of the time I was just ignored.. mind you it all depended on his mood and/or how much alcohol he'd consumed lately.

>>>I became a Christian the age of 23, due to my own initiative. My father's response: "You joined the wrong church (denomination)." Funny,I thought he would be glad I wasn't going to spend eternity n Hell. Guess I was wrong on that count as well.

That also sounds familiar. When I got 99% on a test instead of saying "Wow! That's great" he said "why didnt you get 100%"

I've spent the better part of my adult life realizing that my dad is just someone who is completely and inherently unpleaseable and his standards are completley outrageous.. and I better set some new standards for myself and I will NEVER get the approval that I sought from him, EVER - and I better find it from somewhere else.

Remember that this has NOTHING to do with you and EVERYTHING to do with HIS self-hate.. there's NOTHING ANYONE can do to please people like this.

I also have a hard time with compliments.. I dont think I've got much value either.. but once in awhile.. try to let one or two sink in.. its all about "mental training" now I think??!!?

P


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#61556 - 08/18/04 10:53 AM Re: the "self hate" phenomenon
kolisha54 Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/02/03
Posts: 475
Loc: Brooklyn, NY
PAS, Eddie, Everyone:

Would just like to give you all a BIG, OUTRAGEOUS, OVER-THE-TOP *COMPLIMENT*!!!!!

You are all incredibly perceptive, insightful, & articulate!!!!

I would NEVER understand all of the kooky dynamics of survivorship without the benefit of your comments.

Hugs & applause!!!!

_________________________
If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am only for myself, what am I? If not now... when? --Hillel

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#61557 - 08/18/04 12:40 PM Re: the "self hate" phenomenon
CFO Dave Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 08/14/04
Posts: 104
Loc: Millis MA
This site is great. It's nice to know I'm not alone and that really helps.

My relationship with my father was one of being beaten if I did something bad. My mothers famous line "wait until your father gets home" didn't add to me liking him at all because I would spend the day in fear of him coming home.

My mother was ultra critical. The only right way to do something was her way.

I always thought that I was an over achiever to try to get his attention. Now I'm thinking it may be a combination. First to get his attention and recognition that I had some value other than as a whiping boy and second to meet her expectations.

I've always tried not to do to my kids what my father did to me. I never hit them and I spend a lot of time with them going to ball games, beach, sleding, skating, rollerblading etc, etc.

I never realized my mothers effect on me until I started seeing my T. Now I see that I've been ultra critical of my kids. God, I thought I was doing such a good job ending the abuse but now I see I have a lot of work to do.

As to accepting complements. HA! never!. When people give me a complement on a project or something I've done, I immediately tell them the part that went wrong or what I missed. I know that missed part isn't critical or visable to them so I feel the need to point it out just to prove I didn't deserve the complement. This fun little trait is something that drives my wife crazy because I don't accept complements from her either.

Thanks for talking about this.

Dave

_________________________
"We deceive ourselves when we fancy that only weakness needs support. Strength needs it far more."
-Madame Swetchine

"The soul that is within me no man can degrade."
-Frederick Douglas

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#61558 - 08/18/04 01:15 PM Re: the "self hate" phenomenon
PAS Offline
Member

Registered: 06/12/02
Posts: 577
Loc: Canada
I think at this point for me (after 16 years of on and off therapy and hard work) is a lot about "how can I let this go" as much as I can... EMDR did a WORLD of good in helping me stay grounded (more often than I used to at least) when triggered.. which was my other issue -freaking out and losing composure when stressed/triggered.

Of course meeting my fiance and him going through his SA issues and him playing them out on/with me has dug a lot of stuff up for me in the past 3 years, but I think I had a lot of healing under my belt before he came along. And his issues triggering me forced me to continue to look at my own recovery in ways I dont think I would have looked at unless I was with him.

With respect to my own past, I cant change it. It wasn't pretty, but I dont want it to continue to poison my future. My dad was ridiculous and insane and an abuse survivor in his own right. He still has not done "the work" and still "doesnt get it" and doesnt have a clue about appropriate boundaries, behaviour, etc. He's still as messed up as he ever was except he's not drinking (he's essentially a "dry drunk").

I can't keep going through this world using his view and his vision as my "benchmark" for how I should be and for what my "world" should be. It wasn't working. It made me sick (clinically depressed 3x) and I blew apart more relationships and friendships than I care to admit using his insane and ridiculous standards that I had internalized from his "teachings" in my childhood. I now continue to work on finding my own, more humane and more reasonable and realistic standards (for others and for myself) and put them into practice in my own life.

I am slowly coming to realize that my dad is NOT like the rest of the world... (in general, there are some exceptions of course) what he taught me about the world and the people in it is completly wrong, and I REFUSE to believe that the majority of the world is abusive and repressive and angry like him.. and I refuse to live NOW under that repressive and high-pressure abuse environment (as long as I'm not in a PTSD spaz-out I'm reasonably ok).

I still want to believe in the inherent goodness in the MAJORITY of humanity, despite the horrific displays of abuse that I and my fiance have witnessed. I just am at the point where I cant stand the anxiety that I feel inside me on a daily basis for one more minute... I just cant take it. It makes me sick. There HAS to be some merit as far as improving my mental health in believing that life and this world is not as scary as my past has made it out to be.

Now.. if I only FULLY believed it.. but alas sometimes the longest road is from the mind to the heart.. and I'm somewhere around the brain-stem at this point on this particular issue. The letting go of the anger is getting much better, now the belief in my own emotional safety and security is my PRIME battle!

P


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#61559 - 08/18/04 01:25 PM Re: the "self hate" phenomenon
PAS Offline
Member

Registered: 06/12/02
Posts: 577
Loc: Canada
[QUOTE]Originally posted by CFO Dave:
[QB] My mother was ultra critical. The only right way to do something was her way.

I feel for you.. my fiance's mother was like that too. He never told her about his molestation (not a family member) and he's kept this secret for almost 20 years - she still does not know.

>>>God, I thought I was doing such a good job ending the abuse but now I see I have a lot of work to do.

Its not too late. Talk to them about it. Let them know that you still battle being overly critical with them because it was how you were raised, and you want better for them from now on. Tell them that you love them despite your criticisms of them and you are working on being less critical..... it may do a world of good for them. I wish to GOD my dad had done that when I still could recieve the info in my formative years, when my brain could still soak it up.

Keep fighting the good fight everyone.

You're all awesome.

P


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#61560 - 08/18/04 03:34 PM Re: the "self hate" phenomenon
EGL Offline
Moderator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 06/19/04
Posts: 7821
PAS - Reading your 11:15am post above gave me goosebumps, it's uncanny how your situation and thinking mirrors mine on this issue. I was reading your thread and thinking "This is like I'm writing this." Like your father, my father just doesn't get it, and I believe he was abused himself. He still does drink though, and I can tell you're much further along in your recovery because your thinking is making sense, whereas I know mine still doesn't from a logical perspective.

Thanks for the post. Not often I read one that has that effect on me.

_________________________
Eddie

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#61561 - 08/20/04 03:15 AM Re: the "self hate" phenomenon
SAR Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/07/03
Posts: 3310
Loc: USA
ste
Quote:
I remember that my mind seemed to split, with one part dealing with the hurt, and the other dealing with everyday life, in school this got me into trouble as I would be seen to be daydreaming, when what really was happening, was my mind asking for more resources from the part which was dealing with life, or maybe it was the constant tiredness.

Has anyone else felt like the above who can explain it better than me?
I think you explained it very well. I know just what you mean.

I never did homework, not just in high school when no one does their homework, but never, not even when I was very young. In a way it was because I never really "went home"... going home was almost like going to work. I had to concentrate, use up so much energy, just being in the house. Mostly I sat around being hypervigilant and hoping no one would notice me... I didn't realize until I lived in my own home what it was really like to go home.

The first time I went to a friend's house after school, I locked myself in the bathroom and cried. It was all very strange to me there... the house was so clean, and the mom was so nice, and my friend was allowed to do all this stuff (like get a snack without asking, and operate the VCR) that would have gotten me into huge trouble. When it came time for dinner, I panicked. How could I sit at that nice table with them? What if I ruined everything? I was so afraid of being "found out"... that I would mess up somewhere and they would know that I was different, that I was stupid, that I wouldn't be allowed back.

My friend really did have a great mom, she came in and got me and somehow knew exactly what I was afraid of. Many times I've wondered how she knew.


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#61562 - 08/20/04 10:08 AM Re: the "self hate" phenomenon
EGL Offline
Moderator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 06/19/04
Posts: 7821
Quote:
Originally posted by SAR:
The first time I went to a friend's house after school, I locked myself in the bathroom and cried. It was all very strange to me there... the house was so clean, and the mom was so nice, and my friend was allowed to do all this stuff (like get a snack without asking, and operate the VCR) that would have gotten me into huge trouble. When it came time for dinner, I panicked. How could I sit at that nice table with them? What if I ruined everything? I was so afraid of being "found out"... that I would mess up somewhere and they would know that I was different, that I was stupid, that I wouldn't be allowed back.

My friend really did have a great mom, she came in and got me and somehow knew exactly what I was afraid of. Many times I've wondered how she knew.
SAR - I had a "surrogate" family as well. They had a son my age and lived up the street. Like you, I remember going to their house and remembering how odd it all felt, realizing that other people didn't live like me, that other families actually talked during dinner, that I didn't have to be minimized all the time. I found myself fantasizing that I was their child also, that they loved me like they did their own son. I still see them occasionally, and they always come up to me and hug me and talk to me, even now at 43 years old. They don't know how vital a part they played in my childhood, helping me to cope.

_________________________
Eddie

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#61563 - 08/20/04 10:09 AM Re: the "self hate" phenomenon
EGL Offline
Moderator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 06/19/04
Posts: 7821
(double post)

_________________________
Eddie

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#61564 - 08/20/04 10:11 AM Re: the "self hate" phenomenon
EGL Offline
Moderator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 06/19/04
Posts: 7821
(double post)

_________________________
Eddie

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#61565 - 08/20/04 10:24 AM Re: the "self hate" phenomenon
PAS Offline
Member

Registered: 06/12/02
Posts: 577
Loc: Canada
Quote:
Originally posted by SAR:
Mostly I sat around being hypervigilant and hoping no one would notice me... I didn't realize until I lived in my own home what it was really like to go home.
This sounds familiar!!!!

Still trying to break the "hypervigilant" mode...

P


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