Not much has changed between me and Hope. We are polite, sometimes almost close to lovingly so. We might occasionally laugh about something together; I live for those moments. I feel like they give me a peek into the good times. I usually choke back a few tears when we laugh together or she wants to tell me something. We both have some very clear boundaries that we have quietly constructed. I give hers extra wide berth, while she likes to nudge mine just to see how far she can go.
I’m doing more cooking than I have in a long time. I cook on the weekends so there are options until about Thursday. I really cook for Hope. I might get a spoonful or bowl full when I’m cooking, but I generally will have smoothies, cereal, yogurt, bread, etc all week. I am only this week realizing how obsessive I’ve become about this weekend cooking ritual. Clearly some emotional stuff happening there. I also just know that I unconsciously increased the amounts I’m cooking It’s wild.
I wish things were different. I wish Hope truly believed and understood that we are forever. I wish after all these years she could enjoy some peace in permanence. I believe that there were many authentically joyful times, but I also believe her when she says it was fleeting or an act to meet what she thought were my expectations. I wish things were different in so many ways.
In 125 days, everything changes. It may make things horribly worse or it could be the beginning of another beginning for Hope. Only time will tell. I daily caution myself not to think that far out. I know it will zoom here sooner than I’m willing to acknowledge.
I’m keeping the faith that something will change, something will change.
Time flies, doesn’t it? Seems like posted more recently, but alas, almost two weeks!
Things are kinda stable right now. I guess.
It’s hard to definitively say that they are because I so traumatized by the events of the last couple of months. It’s hard to buy into the fact that there hasn’t been an eruption in a couple of weeks.
I’ve been trying to resume normal activities, but it’s hard, My anxiety is high. My depression is dark. I’m exhausted, always exhausted. I break out in hives every day because I’m so stressed.
A few posts ago a follower inboxed me to suggest looking into a particular mental health issue. At the time, I just couldn’t because I was so overwhelmed. Ha! I’m still overwhelmed, but it kept swirling in the back of my mind. At the beginning of last week, another mental health provider suggested the same potential diagnosis, and so like the nerd I am, I got to reading.
I devoured websites, podcasts, Instagram, and TikTok accounts. I joined an online FB group for parents. I felt like this information was so helpful in trying to understand what was happening with my daughter. I consulted with Hope’s provider, who said, yeah, she meets the criteria, but he wasn’t ready to diagnose.
Oh, ok. I mean, I get it but help me out here dude.
In any case, I know that Hope would reject the diagnosis anyway, so….yeah.
As for me, I’m proceeding with approaches that are consistent with what I’ve read. It’s hard, but I needed some kind of framework to move forward. I’m not *looking* to pathologize my daughter; I’m just really trying to give myself some scaffolding to help me meet her current needs. And after a couple of months of feeling completely lost, information about a possible diagnosis feels like a gotdamn GPS appeared out of thin air.
Hope has been going through a lot. She’s really emotional. She occasionally does things to try to provoke me (So far I’ve successfully kept my cool), but mostly she’s just moving the way she usually does. Of course, all that had me concerned before the summer started. I’m sadly not new to this; I’m true to this.
My family has so many questions:
Why are you sitting down with her to make monthly goals? (Because I do not have a deathwish.)
Should she really go visit her biological family? (I’ve made the primary contact fully aware of the current situation; we’re on the same page and Hope needs all the love and support she can get right now.)
Why doesn’t she have a job? (Because she doesn’t.)
Why isn’t she in school? (Because she isn’t.)
It’s honestly my least favorite part about this whole thing. I told my peeps right at the outset, there were going to be decisions that you won’t agree with, decisions that seem tough or harsh, and I don’t want to hear your thoughts on them because you ain’t living 24-7 in this here house. It’s just like biting into a cake that appears to be drizzled with chocolate, but upon tasting you realize it’s really motor oil. Ugh. Just say you love us and send love and chocolate without all the questions.
But, here we are. I’m just trying to be as gracious as possible because without them I would crumble. So, I take the good with the questioning and make it work.
I don’t know what will happen next. I still am reeling from the trauma of it all. My heart hurts because I have new knowledge of what Hope’s thought processes underpin her behavior: It’s fear. It’s always been fear. It might always be fear. I’m consumed with fear as well. I’m just hopeful that at some point I can steer us towards a path that offers us more support.
For now I’m counting breaths and just trying to push forward.
Things are mimicking something akin to normal. The time I had away last week was good for me and Hope.
Hope attempted to push some boundaries, and I decided to just give no reaction. One boundary really, really pissed me off, but I just kept those emotions to myself.
It’s been a quiet week.
But I’m still so incredibly anxious. My partner got to see the full scope of my anxiety in the last week. It’s good he’s a calming presence because I can only imagine he was a bit like, whoa!
For her part, Hope was just…something like normal?
I got home to a totally different person.
So, yeah. It’s fine. We’re fine. It’s fine.
Narrator: It isn’t fine, tho.
I’m kind of having a mini-meltdown every day because I’m so traumatized by the last few months that I am unable to cope with this sudden change.
It’s like, if you were to see life in a mirror. It’s all the same, right? Wrong, everything is there and totally backwards.
That’s what I feel like I’m experiencing right now.
I swear I felt like there was a possibility that she might disappear while I was gone, and I’d never see or hear from her again. It was that fraught in our home.
I’m trying to enjoy the calm, but the energy is way off.
I’m trying to enjoy the calm, but I’m waiting for another shoe to drop on what feels like conjoined octopi. #somanyfeet #somanyshoes #somanydropping
My nerves are bad y’all. My muscles feel like rubber bands. My shoulders could double as earlobes. And those neck muscles that run behind the ear down the neck? They just ache.
But I’m working on keeping it all together. My gut tells me I can’t afford to have my own emotional meltdown at the moment.
Beyond my own reactions to this chapter, I worry incessantly about Hope I have no idea how she’s experiencing all this, how it feels for her. It’s disorienting to me, so I imagine it must be really hard for her to navigate all her feelings and behaviors.
I’m hopeful that this period of peace is long and settles into an authentic peace.
Hopeful. It’s also feels naively ridiculous because I *know* there is a shoe dropping somewhere in a forest right now. I might not hear it or see it, but I know that ripple will hit our doorstep at some point.
I really hope things get better, that she has the opportunity to make different choices, and to learn to give herself some love and help. I hope she chooses to find support in health ways, with healthy people.
I’m just so worried.
In other news, the one steady freddy in the house is Yappy. He was pretty freaked out by a few significant episodes over these last few weeks, but he’s the most resilient of all of us. He just serves up unconditional love all the time. He is more bonded with me, but he always makes time to see about Hope, napping in her room and getting super excided when she comes home or out of the bathroom (yeah, the bathroom. He’s got terrible separation anxiety.) He’s been a common focus the whole time, so Hope and I do have that.
I wish I could say things are improving at Casa d’ABM, but alas things continue to decline.
In our most recent episode, I had to lay down a consequence that I wish wasn’t necessary. I knew it would be devastating. I knew it would feel like rejection for my daughter. I knew it would likely damage our relationship, hopefully only temporarily.
I consulted with medical and mental health professionals beforehand.
Of all the things Hope and I have been through, this is without question the most difficult, the most hurtful, the most damaging, and just the most heartbreaking.
I feel helpless.
I feel rejected.
I hurt so bad that it physically hurts.
I can’t fix anything.
And so I just have to keep going.
I know that Hope feels all this too, probably more and probably even more intensely, if that’s possible.
These next few months will be so hard. I don’t know what to expect. I have no template, no guideposts.
I have a great support team at the ready. I have resources that could be used to ease things, but it would be like papering over the challenges. We have the support of our family and friends.
And yet, I know that both of us feel very alone.
There are a lot of things I wish I had done differently over the last few months, but I don’t know if it would change our outcomes. I saw this collision coming, and it always seemed unavoidable. I did my best. I’m trying to play the long game.
I love Hope. I want her to be safe. I wish she could be happy; she’s told me before that she’s had moments of happiness, but generally it’s never been a persistent state. I want her to have the life she deserves, which is more than I could ever dream of. She deserves the universe.
I’ve learned these last few months that she doesn’t believe she deserves that. I’ve learned that her belief in our permanence as a family was always questionable. I’ve learned that she sees herself as broken beyond repair. I’ve learned that despite everything, she doesn’t believe she is worthy.
These revelations are just devastating on so many levels. I thought I knew how she was really doing. I thought I had created space for her healing somewhat. I thought if nothing, she knew I was her forever ride or die, even if I had to allow her to feel the full impact of consequences for her behavior. I also naively thought we had sidestepped so many challenges other families had experienced.
And yet, here we are, in a place having the experience that I tried my best to prevent.
Trauma is a whole bitch.
I believe Hope and I will get through this. I know the relationship will probably look so different in the future—though right now, my priority is to maintain any connection she will agree to. I believe she will go on to have a good life after this chapter. But right now, we are in the chapter that has all of the conflict, all of the sadness, all of the brokenness, all of the devastation.
Our home is currently not an oasis for either of us.
This weekend I’m away on business. I was excused from the trip, given all that is going on at home. I chose to go in order to give both of us a bit of space and time to just breathe without being on top of one another. We’re just doing “proof of life” communications at the moment.
Please continue to keep us, especially my beautiful girl, in your positive thoughts and prayers if you’re into that kind of thing. We need every shred of positive energy we can gather.
I’m still a whole wreck. I feel like I’m walking on eggshells, exhausted, and scared.
Hope is moving like I’m nuts, and she’s a-ok.
Narrator: No one in the house is really ok, not even close.
I’m the eldest child. I’m a fixer. You give me a problem, and I will come up with a range of solutions. I’m even creative with it.
I have nothing. No solutions, much less a range of them.
I have to wait this out.
I have a front row, center seat in this major Broadway drama. And it is a serious drama. I’m on the edge of my seat because it’s a psychological thriller, and I’m scared to death.
I must wait Hope out until she’s ready to deal with her stuff. That could be a long time, especially since she’s discovered her new superpower of saying “No,” adult style.
And I do believe it’s theatre. I believe that we desperately need the help of a team of professionals. I also believe it will be a while before we get there. We are nowhere near rock bottom yet. That said, I’m seriously a wreck. I’m worried. I’m anxious. I’m depressed—like sad and exhausted depressed.
So, for now, I will focus on propping myself up. I have a number of crochet projects underway; I’m working on building up a bit of inventory for my little floundering Etsy store (Doggy/Kitty sweaters and such). I have a business trip soon and my beau will be joining me. I’m looking at travel packages for what I plan to be an epic trip to Egypt next year.
I have no idea how many acts this drama has, but I’ll just keep sitting here, waiting for the cue for audience participation.
Break=a-leg, Hope. Break-a-leg.
(Thank you all so much for your support re: my last post. Much appreciated.)
This last week has been incredibly difficult. Without revealing too much, Hope and I had a substantial blowout, and her reaction to it set off a series of events that just have created what feels like a drama cycle that will never end.
Basically life is a shit show.
I have so many emotions. I ended up having 2 therapy sessions just so I could process my own shit after last weekend. Yesterday I realized that a lot of what I have been feeling can be best described as grief.
Grief is hella messy and can be an amalgamation of so many other feelings.
I am sad. I’m furious. I have regret. I have love. I care. I feel fragile. I am confused. I’m just a mess.
And despite her protests, so is Hope.
Although I’ve just tried to put on a brave face this week, the truth is I really am a mess.
One of the only things I can do is to let go, and my natural instinct is to coddle her, draw her close, hug her, care for her, and smooth the path for her; I’ve come to the chapter in parenting when I have to stop some of that. I have to let go of the wheel and let her drive.
At the moment it appears that she might purposely drive it into a ditch just to prove that she can, but she has to drive herself.
It’s hard. It hurts.
I’m here to catch her if she falls, but having to actually allow her to fall is so hard. So much of this life has been helping her progress towards adulthood and making it as smooth a process as possible. I feel like I failed.
I know I didn’t, but it really feels like I did.
You know those new NASA pictures, I want that for Hope.
Hope, I think, is just glad that she didn’t age out of foster care. It’s almost like this is a delayed reaction to coming of age. Also, it’s like she never allowed herself to dream or think about what she might want to do in this life.
Trauma is a bitch. Trauma did this.
I don’t know what the future holds for Hope and me. Things are serious enough that I’m considering ending our online story because it’s just too hard to write about. I have about 5 different versions of this post and none of them, not even this one, adequately captures my feelings and experiences of the last week.
I’m headed off to go see a friend for a bit because I need to get out of the house. Send Hope lots of good energy and positive vibes. We need them, but she needs them more.
Last weekend Hope turned the magical age of 21. We were supposed to go to NYC to celebrate, but sadly, she got really sick, and we had to cancel. I hope we can go later this summer.
The good news: she didn’t have COVID.
The bad news: we don’t exactly know what she has. I suspect it was a case of the flu.
I can say that it was super gross. And when Hope gets sick, she really gets sick and she really gets dramatic.
I wish I could say that I turn into this mushy mom figure when she is sick, but I do not. Don’t get me wrong, I do what I can—try to get her to eat, to shower, to rest, manage symptoms, etc. But that sit at the bedside, Flo Nightingale stuff…no.
I’ll even admit that I struggle with leaning into the mushy mom troupe. I’m not that chick. I go into non-emotional mode because it’s a problem to be managed and/or fixed.
My ability to compartmentalize emotion is a handy skill in my line of work where a DEI professional being hyper emotional is just not going to work.
That skill for momming is problematic because Hope thinks I don’t care.
Additionally, Hope’s penchant for dramatizing her ailments has me usually thinking she’s crying wolf. There were times when we were regulars at the Patient First (after several expensive trips to the ER where NOTHING WAS WRONG! Some of Hope’s emotional challenges manifest psychosomatically, which really complicates things).
I absolutely do care, and I’ve improved in doing mushy stuff over the years. Sadly I think I’ve lost some of that ground though.
I think I’ve backslid recently because the last 2.5 years have been exhausting in dealing with some of Hope’s shenanigans. Without telling all of our business there was a whole host of bad 19-20-something decisions that resulted in some unfortunate entanglements, health issues, law enforcement engagement, and more.
It’s a wonder I have anyblack hair left on my head. I don’t have much, and I figure in the next year to 18 months I will be completely grey at this rate.
During the height of our COVID drama I had to put my emotions on the shelf to just get through it. I just put those mushy feelings away and went about navigating us out of the dark forest.
Now, I’m realizing some of those emotions are kind of stuck on the shelf.
My sisters and I left home at 18 and never returned to live at home—this being 20+ living at home is foreign to me. Sister K also has a 20-something living at home, and frankly, she’s as baffled as I am, just with a lot more emotion.
I find myself frustrated that Hope is chronologically 21 and emotionally 14, 15 at most. Bridging all that goes between those numbers is…a lot. It’s like she wants to go clubbing and she wants me to fix her baby food all at the same time. It’s dizzying, and I worry often that I just can’t do it. I do not have any effing idea how to parent through this. It’s like an uncontrollable roller coaster.
I know that I have unrealistic expectations; I’ve been spending the last few weeks of therapy really trying to get my brain on the same page as my parenting realities. When Hope actually was 14 and 15, I felt like I could really manage things better. At 21 she has access to sooooooo much more than I think she’s ready for, and the stakes seem so much higher and riskier. More than anything I want to protect her.
I also want to protect me.
I really feel somewhat powerless, and I don’t like the feeling. It’s not that I want to control her every move. On the contrary, I want her to be autonomous, to be free, but the trouble that she can get into feels so much more dangerous and life altering at this point. I hate rules, but I had to institute some this year because of poor decision making. Poor decisions at 14 and at 21…both are unpleasant, and both can have long consequences. But the reality is that I made it through the age 14, emotionally 7 period of poor decisions. Living through age 21, but emotionally 14 poor decisions feel a lot different.
To be truthful, Hope is a “good” kid, but she has triggers that just make her spiral and reliably do dumb shit.
And I’m older now. I don’t feel quite so resilient. I’m tired and a bit worn down. Worrying feels different. It’s exhausting.
My therapist gave me some homework and good friends have suggested I need some respite. Both are right. I’m working hard and will be trying to make some plans to get away.
I know Hope is also struggling and it is painful to know that I am not currently able to meet her where she is.
I’m trying, but it’s really hard. I am trying and I’ll keep trying tho.
When I entered adulthood, my mom gave me a hat pin. I’m sure I put it somewhere super safe, which is code for do not ask me where said hat pin is!
Her mother, my grandmother, wore hat pins. As the story goes, back in the day–we’re talking 1930s/40s–hat pins were all the rage. Not only were they fashionable, but they were small weapons women could use to defend themselves against untoward behavior from men. You put them between your fingers and it’s rather hard to get away from you, but that pin can do a little damage.
The dude gets handsy, and you simply reach up, pull that pin, and poke them a few good times.
No more handsy.
So, my grandma told my mom, and my mom told me.
Now anyone who knows my mom also knows that she will try to stab with keys poked between fingers or whatever she might get her hands on. She’s a fan of the hat pin, even though I’m not sure I can ever recall her really wearing one. She doesn’t wear hats…but I digress.
She gave me a hat pin to potentially use as a weapon. I am the third generation of this hat pin saga, which I thought was pretty cool.
So, at some point, I told Hope about the hat pin. She thought it was absurd, really. And, she’s probably not wrong, nearly 100 years later, one might ask how effective might a hat pin really be at warding off an attacker.
During an outing to a jewelry show years ago, a vendor had lovely long hat pins and I decided to gift myself a new one and also get Hope her first pin. I made a big deal about it because it’s really a family tradition at this point. For Hope’s part, she was like, “Um, that’s cool; they are pretty.”
Fast forward a few years to this past weekend. Hope was showing me her outfit on Saturday as she was about to head out to her first Pride event with friends. She had on a black Pride tunic that was open in the front but closed with sexy safety pin closures–you could see her bra. She wore short biker shorts with black fishnets and boots. I had to remind myself that this ensemble was practically a church outfit compared to what would be visible out at the parade.
As she started getting her things together to head out; I asked all the usual mom questions about who are you going with, and what time can I expect her. I told her to be careful.
Hope: “Yeah, I’ve got my pepper spray and my pin.”
Hope: “Yeah, my hat pin.”
And there it was on her tunic: her hat pin. I didn’t even notice it because I was distracted because her bra was visible. But she had it on.
Y’all my daughter is one of the messiest, most disorganized people I know, but the hat pin I bought her years ago, what right here on her shirt, ready to be pulled out and used for getting stabby.
My voice hitched a little when I said goodbye.
A fourth-generation was stepping out with a hat pin ready to face the world.
It was so symbolic of our bond. A couple of days later, I still get misty about her wearing her pin. It was just such a surprise, a pleasant, loving surprise. It seems so silly, but that moment means so much to me.
It’s moments like these when I am reminded how fortunate I am that I get to parent Hope and that she accepts me as a mom. What I didn’t really allow myself to dream about was whether she would want to carry on some of our family traditions; to find that she embraces them…it was just a beautiful moment.
I’m traveling again this week. I went from no work travel for more than two years to two back-to-back trips.
Tonight is night 3 of 5, with the 5th night on a red-eye back to the East Coast.
I’ve been looking forward to this trip because I could see some great friends and my favorite conference, visit a dispensary or two, and enjoy some really good wine.
A couple of days before departing, I started to piece together my old travel habits. I started making a grocery list, doing laundry, making packing lists. I started getting really anxious about making sure that Hope had food in the house, that I should make a casserole and a couple of dishes for her, did she remember how I prep Yappy’s food in the morning and was she going to use his buttons and make sure he got enough engagement throughout the day? (Yes, my fixation over Barkley reached new heights during the pandemic. His separation anxiety is unbearable and I am his emotional support human. But I digress.)
I was telling Google to put some things on the shopping list, when I suddenly asked Hope what she wanted me to make for her before I left.
“Oh…mom you don’t have to do that. “
“I know, but I mean, I gotta leave you something to eat. I’ll be gone nearly a whole week!”
“Yeah…..no. Please, don’t bother.”
I swear some small tiny place in my heart broke. Just a little tear, like a paper cut….IN MY HEART.
“Why are you looking at me like that?”
“Because if I don’t make you something I’ll be a bad mom.” I have no idea where that deep down dark fear came from, had no idea any feelings like good mom/bad mom truly lurked in there like that..triggered because I was told I didn’t need to prepare food for her to eat while I’m gone.
Hope rolled her eyes. “Are you serious right now?”
::whispers:: “Yeah. I feel like if I don’t leave something I’m a bad mom.”
Now keep in mind, I typically cook on Saturday and Sunday for most of the week. If either main dish is not visible from the very front of the fridge, it does not exist for Hope. It’s always been like that. Sometimes I legit “refresh” the view just to let her know that there are more options available to her.
Most weeks, Hope and I only get to hang out a few hours early in the week or on Fridays. We actually have such different work schedules that we are like ships passing in the night.
It took me a minute to process what Hope not needing/wanting me to cook for her really felt like.
Not because of Hope, but because of me. Hope is a young adult. She orders food all the time. Buys her own little special groceries once a month at one of the local international market. She goes out with friends and always brings home leftovers.
Hope can certainly manage on her own for a week. She doesn’t need me for that anymore.
That. That part. That “anymore” part.
That’s the part that hurt.
When Hope came home from college for spring break in 2020 and ended up living back at home for 2+ years later, it seemed easy and appropriate for me to turn to slip back into Momming activities for Hope on the daily. We needed the nurturing of it during a damn pandemic raging while Satan was president (Don’t fight me, fight ya mama).
But she’s over it. I mean, I’m sure she loves having food options at home when she has blown her UberEats budget, but she is more than capable of ensuring that she will not go without food if I’m gone for a week, and I’m sure more, especially if I leave the Costco card behind.
This is great and bittersweet. It means she’s confident and capable of taking care of herself. I’m sure she will make different decisions than I might desire, but she will be fine. She’s stretching and taking some baby steps. That is so cool. I’m so proud of her.
I really am. And I’m a little sad because my little girl isn’t a little girl anymore, and while I know that getting her to this point is has taken a lot of hard work from both of us, I feel that sadness that parents feel when you just feel like the crazy joyride of parenting goes by so damn fast.
Hope has no idea (until she reads it) that I think this is her biggest successful flex on me. And without any irony or sass. She didn’t need my casserole.
And again my need to step back in this way is in recognition of her increasing skills in adulting. And that’s so awesome. I just didn’t see it coming into clarity for me in this way at all. I had no idea being told that my Momming Activities weren’t needed in this way would hurt my heart so much.
Well, I split the difference for this trip. I did pick up a few groceries for Hope and made sure that I bought a few treats too. But I did not cook anything. I just created through that and all the related activities and move on down my list.
For now, I still see the empty space on my mental calendar and know it’s because Hope doesn’tneed me for that thing I used to do anymore.
That anymore still hurts, but I know that this is a win.
I’ll cook something special for dinner this weekend in celebration.
Have I mentioned that parenting Hope through this adult transition is the most maddening?
This transitional period is hella maddening.
As I type this I am silently raging. The last two days with Hope…Woooosaaaaaaa.
Disrespectful, dramatic, clueless, hypocritical…I could go on, but suffice to say she is doing a whole ass step show on my very last nerve. And just when I head home to talk this out with her, she hits me with some more bullhitsay.
And what is even more triggering?
Knowing that she genuinely sees none of this the way I do, genuinely. Because despite my daughter’s fervent belief that she is fully aware of the world’s secrets, she just fell off the back of the Target truck.
The fact that I know that she’s clueless and emotionally dressing up in my high heels, wanting to be seen at times as…an equal? Roommate? Bestie? The fact that I know this makes her ridiculous behavior seem that much more annoying and obnoxious.
I love my daughter with my whole heart.
But I do not like her right now and would love see her successfully transfer back into an on campus experience and do this dumb shit away at school the way the Holy Homeboy intended.
How I have any black hair left is a sheer miracle after the last two years of drama.
You know, I knew middle school was trash. We had some good stretches in high school. I thought I had really averted disaster. But noooooo, the bucket of mess hit during a pandemic with us living together for the first time in nearly 2 years. I had no idea or indication we would end up with me replying to a text, “we’ll just go” with “bye. [sarcasm/eye roll/neck roll implied, you had to be there].”
I’m pretty sure that the stress around our never ending drama saga is also at the root of this arthritis flare I’m experiencing.
So yeah, I’m mad and I hurt, which honestly makes me more mad.
Why didn’t anyone tell me that this transitional period is some bullshit? Was everyone else’s kid away and they missed it [like my folks]? Did earlier drama make this seem mild? Is it just not annoying to you? I’m over here doing my best not to do some super petty shit that will make things worse but give me enormous temporary satisfaction.
Adulting and parenting are so damn hard. I mean, I knew it was hard, but why is it getting hard-er? I legit thought I’d made it through the teens; this transition should be good! Too good to be true.
How did you get through this period of extreme boundary pushing?
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