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Inner Critic

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 InkHulk (original poster member #80400) posted at 2:18 PM on Wednesday, March 8th, 2023

Thanks everyone, this is helpful to me. Sounds like this inner critic experience isn’t a predictor of wayward behavior, but is none the less an important part of her inner experience both in understanding her why’s and how we relate going forward. And I agree that uncovering something like this seems like a good start in the journey.

Anyone have any other things they learned about their partner’s inner experience that shocked them? Like I said, this inner critic is not something I’ve ever known could happen. I’m interested in this "inner PR team". Maybe I need to take some psychology classes. But for the time being, if anyone wants to share hidden inner workings of their partner that surprised them, especially things that you believe related to infidelity, I’d be very interested. Not sure if this is too big of a can of worms to open, but then again what’s the harm?

People are more important than the relationships they are in.

posts: 2037   ·   registered: Jun. 28th, 2022
id 8781252
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 InkHulk (original poster member #80400) posted at 2:31 PM on Wednesday, March 8th, 2023

Remember what we always say on SI, the affair wasn't about the BS (You are an innocent bystander), it is about the WS, start to end. In fact, and this may sound ass-backward at first, but your non-lack-of-love can be really, really hard for someone who hates themselves to accept. It breaks the paradigm of their life. You are supposed to "see who they really are" and leave. That didn't happen.

My wife’s FOO is not the complete horror story that you describe, DaddyDom, but neither is it a litter of cute puppies. She has said things like "I shouldn’t have trauma", like her upbringing wasn’t THAT bad. Even though there is incest and likely childhood sexual abuse and intense emotional repression masquerading as family culture. So she probably feels guilty for being traumatized and that she can’t tell her parents that because it would be like blaming them or they would see her as weak, or that just isn’t what that family talks about.

People are more important than the relationships they are in.

posts: 2037   ·   registered: Jun. 28th, 2022
id 8781253
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BluerThanBlue ( member #74855) posted at 3:56 PM on Wednesday, March 8th, 2023

This is very hope giving. Are there any elements that you give particular credit to in your ability to manage? Is there medication targeted for this? Any books?

When I was diagnosed with postpartum depression, I was prescribed Zoloft, which was a huge help for the first 2 years after I gave birth and really helped with "quieting the mean girl." My IC and support group was also immensely valuable because I didn't feel like I was alone. Over a year ago, after the PPD was pretty much resolved, I was diagnosed with ADHD, which (based on my history) was likely present since childhood. Basically, my perceived as "character flaws"-- for which I was brutally criticized by parents, teachers, yes, my ex-- were probably symptoms of my ADHD. After I received treatment, a lot of things that I had struggled my life to improve (time management, procrastination, organization, etc) suddenly became so much more manageable.

But I don't want to give all the credit to doctors and pharmaceuticals because there was actually a very strong spiritual component to my mental health journey. I was raised Catholic and my practice was sporadic over the years, but I really rededicated myself to the faith after my kids were born. Meditating on the Mysteries of the Holy Rosary really quieted my mind during moments of intense crisis. One of the epiphanies I had during prayer was that I didn't necessarily want Christ to remove my burdens; I just needed His help to carry them. I've come to accept that suffering is simply part of the human condition and that wanting it to simply go away-- and seeking ways to escape it-- was just making it worse.

I still struggle, but at least I can talk back to the mean girl in my head and say, "There was only one person in all of history who was perfect and none of us are Him... so back off and let me do what I need to get done."

[This message edited by BluerThanBlue at 3:58 PM, Wednesday, March 8th]

BW, 40s

Divorced WH in 2015; now happily remarried

I edit my comments a lot for spelling, grammar, typos, etc.

posts: 1968   ·   registered: Jul. 13th, 2020
id 8781266
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TheEnd ( member #72213) posted at 4:51 PM on Wednesday, March 8th, 2023

My WH revealed his inner critic after 30 some odd years of marriage! He always presented as this confident, affable guy with a wicked sense of humor.

Turns out he was convinced from childhood that he was a loser. He spent most of his adult life trying to not get "found out." It explains so much about him.

Probably related but as to other internal findings - how much he'd filter my words or actions and somehow get them to mean "I don't like you. I regret being married to you. I know you're a loser." Again, this explains so much. Dumb interactions where I might mention the success of a friend would turn into him thinking "she regrets being with me," which would then present to me as either a wall going up or insane neediness.

That base insecurity, believe it or not, led to significant entitlement behavior. He needed people to provide constant ego kibbles to keep him from feeling less than. I mean some crazy shit he expected from people and when they didn't deliver (because his expectations were delusional), the rejection (to him) turned to anger. God, he hated (silently) so many people. Including me.

posts: 606   ·   registered: Dec. 3rd, 2019
id 8781277
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WontBeFooledAgai ( member #72671) posted at 5:37 PM on Wednesday, March 8th, 2023

I do notice that you used "fWW" in the first sentence of your opening post. She is STILL Wayward, not Former. Calling her a former Wayward, that is Rugswe.... nevermind. Not trying to call you out or anything. My concern is that you will be focusing on healing HER and trying to heal your marriage, that your needs will be going by the wayside here.

I have suspected that it was your WW's insecurities that drove her to OM. His own inadequacies probably made her feel better about her own perceived shortcomings.

Not trying to discount your WW's awful upbringing. It is really good that she arrived at this understanding. BUT it does not quite explain, nevermind excuse, how she could betray both you and your family. I mean, many of us have an intense inner critic many people have had awful childhoods, but not all of them cheat. Your WW didn't just have a ONS with OM that led to an affair, nor was this a relationship at work that "went to far". Instead, she actually "dated" him awhile first, which required planning, forethought, and whatnot to put herself in romantic situations with OM even before they got physical. And now in regards to making herself safe (she is NOWHERE NEAR safe yet hence still wayward) what is she doing in that regard. I mean, if she felt this inadequate, and angry at you for reflecting her inadequacies back at her BEFORE the affair, then how does she feel now.

[This message edited by WontBeFooledAgai at 5:58 PM, Wednesday, March 8th]

posts: 888   ·   registered: Jan. 26th, 2020
id 8781283
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 InkHulk (original poster member #80400) posted at 5:57 PM on Wednesday, March 8th, 2023

I do notice that you used "fWW" in the first sentence of your opening post. She is STILL Wayward, not Former. Calling her a former Wayward, that is Rugswe.... nevermind. My concern is that you will be focusing on healing HER that your needs will be going by the wayside here.

Should I do half a shot on this one? laugh

I haven’t yet come across the certification committee on when I get to call her formerly wayward or when I get to officially say I’m in reconciliation, but I’m sure I’ll be kept honest. I’m confident enough that she is not continuing to be unfaithful to put her in the "former" category, pretty sure that is all that matters.

BUT it does not explain, nevermind excuse, how she could betray both you and your family. I mean, many of us have an intense inner critic many people have had awful childhoods, but not all of them cheat. And now in regards to making herself safe (she is NOWHERE NEAR safe yet hence still wayward) what is she doing in that regard.

I opened this thread with the caveat that I wasn’t excusing anything. And I’ve stated that I agree with the take that this trait of hers is surprising to me but does not seem to be a predictor of wayward behavior.
Overall, I don’t find this feedback helpful, to continually ask "what is she doing to make herself safe", because I opened this with the statement that she is instrospecting, looking into her FOO issues, taking seriously that she may have complex PTSD, and is sharing things with me like she’s attributed her inner critical voice to me at times. If you told me a month ago that she would have done these things by now, I’d be thrilled. So I invite you to be happy with me that she’s starting down the path.
As for my own personal healing, I genuinely do appreciate your concern. I’m 8 months out, I feel like there is improvement. I don’t plan on insisting that I get to take up all the healing bandwidth in the relationship, handing her an anchor when she is already drowning. I’m not going to be abused or gaslit, I have boundaries where none previously existed in our relationship. But yes, I will offer to encourage her in this recovery, it feels like my spirit can handle some of that right now.

People are more important than the relationships they are in.

posts: 2037   ·   registered: Jun. 28th, 2022
id 8781285
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WontBeFooledAgai ( member #72671) posted at 5:59 PM on Wednesday, March 8th, 2023

I understand InkHulk, I am sorry if my post was not what you need, I will be happy for you in regards to this breakthrough....

[This message edited by WontBeFooledAgai at 6:00 PM, Wednesday, March 8th]

posts: 888   ·   registered: Jan. 26th, 2020
id 8781286
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Tanner ( Guide #72235) posted at 6:58 PM on Wednesday, March 8th, 2023

My W grew up in a very dysfunctional home. Her mother was a perfectionist and my W never felt good enough. That critic in her head is her mother. My W is an over achiever in everything she does. She doesn’t just lose 125 lbs, she becomes a trainer, nutrition coach and bikini competitor. She goes overboard on everything, including multiple A’s.
Her mother committed suicide in January 2021, my W planned a really nice funeral for her. She was in panic mode the whole time, are the flowers pretty? Did I do enough? Did I chose the right casket, colors, etc. I told her "it’s time to bury the critic with your mom". Thankfully my W has done work in the area of critical self talk, she is working on her people pleaser problem too.

I haven’t yet come across the certification committee on when I get to call her formerly wayward

When I decided to stop treating my W like a cheater I dropped the wayward. She is my W. If I’m referring back to her in the A, then I use WW describing her in that time period.
Speaking as a member, you know her better than any of us, there is no right or wrong here.

Dday Sept 7 2019 doing well in R BH M 32 years

posts: 3452   ·   registered: Dec. 5th, 2019   ·   location: Texas DFW
id 8781293
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 InkHulk (original poster member #80400) posted at 6:59 PM on Wednesday, March 8th, 2023

One of the epiphanies I had during prayer was that I didn't necessarily want Christ to remove my burdens; I just needed His help to carry them. I've come to accept that suffering is simply part of the human condition and that wanting it to simply go away-- and seeking ways to escape it-- was just making it worse.

Sounds a lot like "His power is made perfect in our weakness" lived out in real life.

I’ve made it known that I’m a Christian, and I’ve talked about elements of my faith that front and center in this crisis. I respect that there are other beliefs represented here and want to respect community guidelines here. Plus I swear a lot, so there is that. But honestly there is so much imagery in the Judaeo-Christian faiths of infidelity as the primary analogy of the human condition in relation to God. A lot more than just Hosea. Knowing those stories has informed my response to this, and my personal experience of how awful this is feeds back into even better understanding those stories.

People are more important than the relationships they are in.

posts: 2037   ·   registered: Jun. 28th, 2022
id 8781294
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 InkHulk (original poster member #80400) posted at 7:17 PM on Wednesday, March 8th, 2023

Probably related but as to other internal findings - how much he'd filter my words or actions and somehow get them to mean "I don't like you. I regret being married to you. I know you're a loser." Again, this explains so much. Dumb interactions where I might mention the success of a friend would turn into him thinking "she regrets being with me," which would then present to me as either a wall going up or insane neediness.

My wife will have entire conversations in her head with "me", like she’s playing both sides of a chess board. And if she was just kind of planning for a future conversation that wouldn’t be so bad, but the future real conversation would never happen. And she would literally be mad at me for how her caricature of me in her mind spoke to her. It sounds so crazy, but it’s true. And it’s safe to assume that the voice she was hearing as mine was not kind.

That base insecurity, believe it or not, led to significant entitlement behavior. He needed people to provide constant ego kibbles to keep him from feeling less than. I mean some crazy shit he expected from people and when they didn't deliver (because his expectations were delusional), the rejection (to him) turned to anger. God, he hated (silently) so many people. Including me.

My wife has so much repressed anger and resentments. I think part of it is she believes that it is uncharitable to not immediately forgive someone, even if they don’t ask for forgiveness, but especially if they do. So I’d hurt her, I’d say sorry, she’s tell me she forgave me (because she felt she morally had to), but she gave herself no permission to express her pain. She has basically rug swept every wrong done against her her whole life (that’s for you WBFA wink ). So she’d be telling me with her words that she forgave me but clearly holding seething resentment and distrust. Based off that, I think she expected me to spend a day or two hurt from her A and then quickly get over it. But I am no rug sweeper, no not this one, and I think she is seeing that she has to follow a similar process for her hurts.

People are more important than the relationships they are in.

posts: 2037   ·   registered: Jun. 28th, 2022
id 8781297
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emergent8 ( Guide #58189) posted at 7:17 PM on Wednesday, March 8th, 2023

I haven’t yet come across the certification committee on when I get to call her formerly wayward or when I get to officially say I’m in reconciliation, but I’m sure I’ll be kept honest.

Agree with Tanner on this. You get to decide how you frame things in your own mind. Take what you need and leave the rest. It gets easier the more comfortable you get in the path you've chosen to take. There are some people who deeply believe that once a wayward, always a wayward and that all waywards (former or present) should forever wear that mark like a Scarlett letter. For me, it doesn't feel right to call my H a WH or even a fWH at this point.

Me: BS. Him: WS.
D-Day: Feb 2017 (8 m PA with married COW).
Happily reconciled.

posts: 2129   ·   registered: Apr. 7th, 2017
id 8781298
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 InkHulk (original poster member #80400) posted at 7:26 PM on Wednesday, March 8th, 2023

I have suspected that it was your WW's insecurities that drove her to OM. His own inadequacies probably made her feel better about her own perceived shortcomings.

I do believe this is very much on target. She has told me that in our life together that she feels like a mess, that she doesn’t match up with what she perceives as the well put together and accomplished people who tend to surround us. POSOM and his world are far more chaotic and in that world she looked like a rockstar, to him and to herself. That part of things worries me, she might forever feel inadequate in life with me and there is always another gutter to crawl into.

People are more important than the relationships they are in.

posts: 2037   ·   registered: Jun. 28th, 2022
id 8781300
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emergent8 ( Guide #58189) posted at 7:31 PM on Wednesday, March 8th, 2023

My wife will have entire conversations in her head with "me", like she’s playing both sides of a chess board. And if she was just kind of planning for a future conversation that wouldn’t be so bad, but the future real conversation would never happen. And she would literally be mad at me for how her caricature of me in her mind spoke to her. It sounds so crazy, but it’s true. And it’s safe to assume that the voice she was hearing as mine was not kind.

To go a step farther than your most recent revelation about her inner critic, I wonder if this is contributing to some of her defensiveness. I know that this was certainly the case for my husband. He was already so hard on himself that when I would call him out, it would feel like an indictment of his entire being. Obviously that doesn't mean, let it go and never call the wayward out, but recognizing patterns can be a helpful in trying to avoid that familiar (and oh-so-harmful) cycle.

Me: BS. Him: WS.
D-Day: Feb 2017 (8 m PA with married COW).
Happily reconciled.

posts: 2129   ·   registered: Apr. 7th, 2017
id 8781301
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BluerThanBlue ( member #74855) posted at 7:35 PM on Wednesday, March 8th, 2023

Plus I swear a lot, so there is that.

LOL! I had a sweet Southern lady once tell me, "I didn't know Catholics were allowed to cuss..."

And I said, "We're not... I was just raised working class in Queens and it still shows."

BW, 40s

Divorced WH in 2015; now happily remarried

I edit my comments a lot for spelling, grammar, typos, etc.

posts: 1968   ·   registered: Jul. 13th, 2020
id 8781303
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 InkHulk (original poster member #80400) posted at 7:37 PM on Wednesday, March 8th, 2023

He was already so hard on himself that when I would call him out, it would feel like an indictment of his entire being. Obviously that doesn't mean, let it go and never call the wayward out, but recognizing patterns can be a helpful in trying to avoid that familiar (and oh-so-harmful) cycle.

Right on. I think she is so hard on herself, her inner critic is so relentless and harsh, that she is in a state of constant fatigue and barely holding it together. So when I come along and need to have a normal conversation or disagreement, she is already one foot off the ledge and it looks like I’m just there to push her off. Totally unfair to me, but awful for her too.

People are more important than the relationships they are in.

posts: 2037   ·   registered: Jun. 28th, 2022
id 8781306
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RealityBlows ( member #41108) posted at 1:30 AM on Friday, March 10th, 2023

My ExWW owed her affair to deep insecurities that involved a lot of negative self-speak that revolved around body image and intellect.

I tried to compensate with ample compliments and loving sentiments, but after 20 plus years of marriage, becomes a less impactful, yada-yada, obligatory white noise.

Along comes a spider, a much younger chap, working his seductive charms, with novel compliments and flirtations that are much more impactful than my same-o, yada-yada. Now, he was no Cyrano de Bergerac or Marquis de Sade. His charms were actually rather dull, BUT…add in the exotic novelty of the source, and the illicit, forbidden fruit nature of it all, playing on her underlying lifelong insecurities that have been compounded by new aging, fleeting youth late-midlife insecurities and, BAM, a potent cascade of endorphins ensues that, they say, lights up a PET/CAT scan like a Christmas Tree, similarly to a subject on meth.

Can you imagine what it’s like to go through life chronically feeling like shit, not really liking yourself much, avoiding mirrors, scales and cameras then, someone blows your mind and your negative self image with an unsolicited risqué compliment.

Then, on D-day, after her AP dumps her like yesterday’s trash to save himself, her spouse marriage, family and reputation destroyed, embarrassed, humiliated, disgusted with herself, the affair fog has completely burned off in the light of reality and, she’s right back to hating herself except, much more so now, than she ever has before.

Now, this WS who has absolutely self destructed, now debilitated, now self loathing, now toxically insecure, humiliated, is expected to do the heavy lifting of reconciliation. My ExWW’s mind was constantly trying to prop itself back up through manic-like compensatory positive self speak, rationalizing, minimizing, compensatory defiance followed by toxic shame, self loathing, self victimization, self pity, self flagellation. She was a mess, labile, volatile, just emotionally all over the damned place.

Edited to finish cuz I lost internet:

And I have to take care of her. I’m soothing her and putting my needs on the back burner. “She’s one foot off the ledge” and I have to be careful not to push her over with my questions, depression and other natural betrayed spouse trauma symptomology.

It sucks

[This message edited by RealityBlows at 7:25 AM, Friday, March 10th]

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id 8781441
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This0is0Fine ( member #72277) posted at 4:22 AM on Friday, March 10th, 2023

It's a nice insight, now figure out how it connects to giving herself permission to lie to you.

Love is not a measure of capacity for pain you are willing to endure for your partner.

posts: 2649   ·   registered: Dec. 11th, 2019
id 8781458
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 InkHulk (original poster member #80400) posted at 1:42 PM on Friday, March 10th, 2023

LOL! I had a sweet Southern lady once tell me, "I didn't know Catholics were allowed to cuss..."

And I said, "We're not... I was just raised working class in Queens and it still shows."

Did she tell you to substitute in a "bless your heart" for similar effect? laugh

Sometimes throwing in colorful language is the only way I can figure out how to have what is coming out to come close to matching what is inside, with this fucking shit show being the prime example. My conscience doesn’t bother me a bit, so I worry about more important things.

People are more important than the relationships they are in.

posts: 2037   ·   registered: Jun. 28th, 2022
id 8781486
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 InkHulk (original poster member #80400) posted at 2:22 PM on Friday, March 10th, 2023

RB, you’ve been freaking me out my last couple posts. shocked I appreciate it.

I tried to compensate with ample compliments and loving sentiments, but after 20 plus years of marriage, becomes a less impactful, yada-yada, obligatory white noise.

I’ve always loved my wife. Not going to claim I was husband of the year all the time, but I loved her and I told her, but like you describe, I don’t think it had much effect on her after a while. It’s exhausting to be partnered with someone who is perpetually needy. No amount of effort seems to lift them up and scraps come back to you.


Can you imagine what it’s like to go through life chronically feeling like shit, not really liking yourself much, avoiding mirrors, scales and cameras then, someone blows your mind and your negative self image with an unsolicited risqué compliment.

I see what you are saying. My wife has a long list of ex boyfriends, dated a lot in high school into college until we met. Me not so much, really just one notable girlfriend. So I was going to say that she knows she is desirable with all that attention. But then as I was going to write that I realized that it is just as likely that she used that exterior validation to sooth herself.

Then, on D-day, after her AP dumps her like yesterday’s trash to save himself, her spouse marriage, family and reputation destroyed, embarrassed, humiliated, disgusted with herself, the affair fog has completely burned off in the light of reality and, she’s right back to hating herself except, much more so now, than she ever has before.

Now, this WS who has absolutely self destructed, now debilitated, now self loathing, now toxically insecure, humiliated, is expected to do the heavy lifting of reconciliation. My ExWW’s mind was constantly trying to prop itself back up through manic-like compensatory positive self speak, rationalizing, minimizing, compensatory defiance followed by toxic shame, self loathing, self victimization, self pity, self flagellation. She was a mess, labile, volatile, just emotionally all over the damned place.

This is the part that freaks me out, this breaking of her spirit and wild oscillation. I’ve seen this kind of behavior in my mother and I want no part of it in my wife, at least not chronically. I understand that we just had a life event high on the Richter Scale, and there are reverberations and aftershocks. But when the dust settles I need both of us to be healthy.

And I have to take care of her. I’m soothing her and putting my needs on the back burner. "She’s one foot off the ledge" and I have to be careful not to push her over with my questions, depression and other natural betrayed spouse trauma symptomology.

It sucks

And that brings it to this. It’s funny, I can feel a tension of what to say here to not upset this group, that’s the power of group dynamics even with anonymous strangers. I want to extend grace to her. Not a blanket pardon akin to rugsweeping, but a willingness to match her step for step in her efforts. Not blindly trusting, but not intentionally pruning new growth that is happening organically. I’ve heard the phrase around here "she figured out how to break it on her own, that means she can figure out how to fix it". But taking down a building only takes a stick of dynamite and a lighter. Rebuilding is so much more difficult. A gambler can loose every penny and more, that does not imply he can get it back by himself. So in choosing to stay and try I am choosing to take on a great deal of unfairness.

The sunk cost fallacy goes both ways here. I could stay with her because of our history. I could choose to leave her because of what she did. But neither of those things looks to the future. And it seems to me that the path forward to what I hope for is a tight rope walk that balances justice for past wrongs, encouragement for both of us in the present, and a vision of hope for the future. I think the ditches I can get stranded in are rugsweeping on one side and unforgiving judgment on the other. And she still has to play her part. I want to be prepared to meet her if she will.

People are more important than the relationships they are in.

posts: 2037   ·   registered: Jun. 28th, 2022
id 8781523
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 InkHulk (original poster member #80400) posted at 2:27 PM on Friday, March 10th, 2023

It's a nice insight, now figure out how it connects to giving herself permission to lie to you.

I agree. Going back a thread or two, I think you said it really well regarding will power and people’s ability to keep to their moral values. I suspect there is an element of being constantly worn down by this inner critic and not being ready to put up a defense. But that isn’t enough, as people are saying they have a strong inner critic and that didn’t drive them to cheat. But I can still see it as a piece of the puzzle. Or maybe it’s a red herring and she needs to keep looking elsewhere. But at least she’s looking now.

People are more important than the relationships they are in.

posts: 2037   ·   registered: Jun. 28th, 2022
id 8781524
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