Recognizing and Breaking Negative Relationship Patterns

Recognizing and Breaking Negative Relationship Patterns

Question from a reader:

If we meet our partners as a way to see ourselves through them and learn, how is it that you break up with someone because you don’t feel like being with them anymore?

Of course there are still things I haven’t learned so I am going to meet another person that is still going to teach me what the other person couldn’t. Should I keep trying to learn things from the first person? Why do they seem to always appear again? Does that mean something?

All relationships reflect back to us parts of ourselves. Sometimes ugly parts. Sometimes beautiful parts. Sometimes it brings out aspects of yourself you never knew existed. They’re all opportunities to know ourselves a little more, reflected through another.

Some relationships – karmic ones – are meant to give you very specific experiences that you’ve been working to heal through across lifetimes with that same soul. Others are just reflecting back to you patterns that were created in this lifetime.

You’ll always know a karmic relationship, because it’s not something you’re going to be able to shake easily. The allure will be irresistible. The chemistry palpable. It’ll be really, really good, or really, really bad. There’s no in between, you’re going to have strong emotions in one direction or the other – maybe even both.

Karmic Patterns

With karmic relationships, we often attract partners who feed our imbalances. For example, a person with a history of codependent care-taking will be drawn to partners who “need” them in some way. For men, it’s typically partners who require financial support or otherwise look to them as someone who can provide. For women, it’s often wounded men. The allure of the relationship is that, at least initially, it feels good to give. It validates a need within both partners – for the caretaker, the need to feel needed. For the one being taken care of, the filling of the void.

Eventually, the caretakers often give more than they receive in the relationship and end up feeling drained and resentful of their less capable partners. This pattern plays out over and over until one or both parties recognizes that their habits are not the result of love, but rather, a lack of self-love and seeking validation from an outside source.

Sometimes you break up because you learn all the lessons that relationship has to offer you – you recognize your karmic patterns and step into your true power. Sometimes you break up because one of you outgrows the lesson and one of you doesn’t, and needs to keep repeating it. Another person will come along to fill that role while you move on to something new and your partner remains trapped in a karmic feedback loop with the universe serving them the same shit sandwich they ate the day before, repeating the same mistakes over and over with a new person who holds the same fundamental energetic framework as the last person, but with a pretty new face and storyline.

Breaking The Repetition 

Becoming aware of your patterns is one thing – actively working to maintain that awareness in any given situation, understand what it’s showing you about yourself, and healing that is wholly another.

The biggest mistake I often see people make is thinking that simply because they became aware of the pattern that they won’t repeat it, or that they can somehow work through that pattern while maintaining a relationship with another person who is reflective of it.

The reality of the situation is that either both of you choose to grow, or you go your separate ways. There’s no in between, and the longer you cling to the attachment, the more suffering it creates. Eventually the universe bulldozes obstacles out of your life, one way or another.

Never stick around in a stagnant relationship. You’re going to know, in your heart, when it’s time to go. The tricky part is that sometimes “leaving” is a part of our pattern and we do it because we fear intimacy or commitment, or some other aspect of the relationship. Other times, clinging to it is part of our pattern. In either case, it’s going to keep happening again and again until you confront it and choose something different. Same story, different character.

The Universe is likes to give us little tests to see if we’re really committed to ourselves, our healing, and are ready to move forward. Will you slip back into old patterns? Or will you choose something different?

A Year Without Sex

A Year Without Sex

You don’t realize how much energy we, as human beings, put into sex – thinking about having it, thinking about how to get it, the actual pursuit of it, and then the glorious seven minutes of actually experiencing it – until you’re not chasing it anymore.

I stopped chasing it one year ago this week.

*Cue Record Scratch* Wait – But Why?

I didn’t consciously tell myself, “I’m not going to have sex for a year.” It was more so that after my divorce and subsequent reintroduction to human mating rituals after seven years of being in a long term relationship, I was confronted with the stark reality of what it was like to be back in the dating pool.

I was initially excited about the prospect of being able to date again, but when older, wiser, and with a much healthier perspective on myself and where I was in life. Then I realized that while I had grown tremendously, both emotionally and spiritually since the last time I dated, the vast majority of single people on planet earth were, unfortunately, mostly the same unconscious neanderthals they were when I was 26.

I wanted a real man. A conscious man. One that wasn’t afraid of depth, but more importantly, one that wasn’t afraid of me, my scars, my mess, or my insatiable desire to know and express myself as authentically as possible.

I realized I had no inclination to engage in sex without the kind of deep emotional intimacy that I knew was possible, and deep emotional intimacy is not something readily available on the market.

New York City is a lot of things, but a place where people take the time to connect with one another, it is not. It isn’t just that, though – I’m a high-functioning intellectual individual. Intellectually stimulating conversation is easy to come by here. Everybody thinks they’re a sapiosexual. But I also have an extremely high emotional intelligence, and that is not something many people on the planet have, much less a steely place like New York City. The type of emotional and spiritual depth I require to feel satisfied is a rarity to find anywhere.

I stopped having sex because I became disillusioned with the inevitable disappointment of being starved for the kind of connection I needed by men who were too afraid to be vulnerable.

I decided that the Universe would find a way to bring me into the path of the right person, and I didn’t have to deal with an onslaught of frivolous Bumble and Tinder chats to find them. I wanted to be truly seen. I wanted to be felt. I wanted the deepest parts of myself to be known – but how can I show that to someone if I don’t even know it, myself?

I stopped going to bars. I stopped spending hours on dating apps. I stopped settling for surface level bullshit. I stopped seeking something from outside myself to fill a void within me. I quit. And instead, I took all of the energy I would have normally spent in the pursuit of sex and some “other” to validate my self-worth and existence, and put it to use in the pursuit of finding myself, my own inner-worth, and understanding how that changed the dynamic of the types of people I attracted into my life. Through that process, I became crystal clear about what I wanted out of an intimate relationship, what I valued, and most importantly – who I was and what I was worth.

The result was that I consciously chose to never be with another man who didn’t truly see me. Who couldn’t meet me on my level. Who couldn’t show up with intimacy and vulnerability that set my soul on fire – the same kind that I am capable of offering.

I would rather live the rest of my life alone than let one more person touch my body without touching my soul.

Your body is your temple. You don’t let just anyone inside. I finally grew spiritually mature enough to fully revere it with the respect it deserves.

The thought of having a one-night stand, or even sleeping with someone that I’ve only been on a couple of dates with used to be an afterthought, but it is utterly repulsive to me now. I’ve realized that sex feels like meaningless, barely-enjoyable, animalistic copulation without the spiritual component of genuine love and spiritual connection.

Most people on this planet completely miss the full breadth and depth of what sex can be. They connect on a purely physical level. The quality of sex is measured by the number of orgasms had, how many positions you tried, and how many orifices were penetrated.

Sex is not merely an avenue for physical pleasure and procreation, but rather, a doorway to the divine. A way to commune with our highest selves and the greater creative force of the universe, and I do not mean that metaphorically. Sex is a legitimate spiritual practice.

Followers of various sects of Eastern religions have practiced sex as a meditation for thousands of years. Sexual energy is considered to be the essence of our life force and maintaining a prolonged state of heightened sexual arousal can induce a state of heightened psychic awareness, bliss, and oneness with the Universe. Sex literally becomes a shared spiritual experience.

In yogic traditions, the energy that is responsible for this is called kundalini, or shakti. Kundalini awakenings can happen spontaneously or during meditation and result in all of the things I mentioned earlier. Ask me how I know!

I’ve experienced kundalini awakenings during meditation a handful of times. It feels like the universe is making love to you from the inside out.

Imagine connecting with your partner physically, emotionally, mentally, energetically, spiritually, and psychically in a state of total surrender while simultaneously experiencing the psychedelic highs of an LSD trip, merging so deeply that they intuitively know your every emotion and desire without you ever speaking a word, and your goal is not to orgasm, but rather, prolong that state as long as is humanly possible.

I think about what it would be like to experience that and – well, once you’ve had unicorn sex, everything else is just… vanilla.

Collective Feminine Rage

Collective Feminine Rage

I had a fantastic conversation with one of my best friends a few weeks ago about the current political climate around sexual assault.

A larger collective theme that has been going on since this time last year when #MeToo first broke the silence is the core wounding of women and the feminine. Globally, for centuries, women have been violently raped, murdered, suppressed, controlled, burned as witches and enslaved as sex servants. We’ve never been truly safe. I’ve written about this on multiple occasions which you can find here and here.

I think a lot of women are beginning to feel the collective rage of hundreds of generations worth of suppressed trauma and fear bubbling up from beneath the surface, and that’s been building since this time last year.

Naturally, women are taught to suppress their anger because we are supposed to be pleasing, not assertive. It’s not helpful that many men have yet to accept responsibility for that core wounding.

What we, as women, have to recognize as this anger arises is that the men who have wounded us are also wounded. We are bathing in our trauma together. The only way the masculine will ever heal is to feel truly loved by the feminine. And the only way the feminine can collectively do that is to forgive.

In order to forgive, however, the pain must be acknowledged. And that is all every woman on this planet has been waiting for, asking for, and is now demanding. That’s right, and it’s fair. But we have our own healing to do as well.

We also have to accept our own role in perpetuating toxic masculinity through the way we raise the boys we birth. Here’s a link to a great article by Bethany Webster on how the mother wound is the missing link in understanding misogyny, and it’s worth the read.

The Success Trap

The Success Trap

Twice over the last two weeks, the topic of job satisfaction has come up with friends. In both instances, said friends were feeling unhappy with their jobs. Unchallenged, as it were; unsuccessful, as though they should be doing more.

In both cases, I reminded them that having a job like that frees up a lot of time and energy for things that are, ultimately, more important – like healing, self-improvement, and service.

I realized a while ago that material success is an ego trap. A shiny distraction from what really matters.

I fell into that trap early in my life. I felt like I needed to make something of myself, career-wise, in order to matter. To be seen as successful by others. To prove to myself that I’d made something of myself (by placing that designation in the hands of what other people thought of me and my life choices). I set out to become successful at everything I did. And boy, did I do things.

I sat as Vice President of the Board for a nonprofit and helped scale it from a small organization taking in $75k a year in donations to half a million.

I started three businesses – one doing branding, graphic and web design; another one doing all of that, as well as messaging, SEO, UX/UI design, lead generation, content creation, scaling operations, pitching and funding, revenue models, and whatever the fuck else a client wanted to throw at me. I grew that second business 400% from year one to year two. (The third was simply adding readings to this little blog here.)

I gave keynote presentations on digital storytelling. Workshops on social media. Sat as a panelist on digital marketing. I gave seminars on digital fundraising for nonprofits. I did photo shoots with professional athletes and wrote and directed PSA commercials.

I ran a fashion tech startup and launched a national brand ambassador program. I coached young entrepreneurs on how to communicate their vision and make their business goals a reality.

I was…am…a very accomplished human by earth standards. I came. I saw. I did (really cool) shit. And at the age of 33, I realized that none of it mattered.

When I moved here, I knew I didn’t care what kind of job I had. I have a journalism degree from the top school in the country and had spent four years running my own consulting business and I was fully prepared to wait tables because I just didn’t care anymore about anything except finding myself and being of service to others.

I didn’t want to help people make more money or plan their next exit strategy. I wanted to help people feel comfortable in their own skin. I wasn’t going to make the world a better place by [insert stupid tech company mission here], because you can’t change something from the outside in. The way for me to make the greatest impact was by helping people heal from the inside out – and there’s no dollar signs attached to that because it’s invaluable.

A Bystander’s Guide to Suicide

A Bystander’s Guide to Suicide

For whatever reason, the Universe has seen fit to make me a magnet for for the highly traumatized and downtrodden. Astrology tells me it’s my 29th degree moon in Cancer. Other intuitives tell me it’s because I’m a healer. Broken people are attracted to my energy like moths to a flame – drug addicts, sex addicts, narcissists, schizophrenics, borderlines, depressives, stage five clingers, and anyone who just needs a fucking hug (and I don’t even like hugs. Don’t touch me unless you’ve known me for at least six months).

While many of these scenarios have played out on multiple occasions, the one that seems to recur most frequently is me having a one-on-one with someone contemplating ending it all. A couple of weekends ago, I once again found myself in the suicide boat, attempting to convince an acquaintance from college not to jump overboard. By now, I’ve got a pretty good handle on the situation, I think.

I have experienced depression, but not to the depth that those who have considered or attempted suicide have. Being an empath, however, I do understand, with cold clarity, the kind of soul sucking hopelessness that often accompanies it. I understand, from personal experience, how we become trapped in our own thoughts, unable to see the way out. I understand how, in the right moment, when those two elements occur at the same time, taking your own life seems like the best and only solution.

I am and have been deeply connected to people who have and still do battle with depression and suicidal thoughts. Some of them have lost that battle. Some of them have managed to hang on, if even by pure accident. And for the ones who have, I’m glad you’re still here, and I love you. Even if we don’t speak often, or at all anymore, due to circumstances beyond my control.

I did a mental inventory a couple of months ago of all the people in my life over the years who had been clinically depressed and/or suicidal. Thirteen. Four of them were people I was romantically involved with to some degree.

There was Tim, a guy I knew from high school and briefly dated in college. We stayed good friends afterward. He dropped out of school temporarily after being diagnosed with depression.

There was my first love, who would never admit it and I was too young to recognize it, but it was most likely a contributing factor to the train wreck of a four year fucked up off-and-on non-relationship we had, which, coupled with psychological abuse, completely obliterated my self-esteem, led to my first depressive episode and brought me to the edge of an eating disorder, but those are much longer stories for another day.

There was Sean, who I also dated briefly in college and through a bizarre twist of fate, ended up being roommates with my first boyfriend from high school. He killed himself a couple of years later. I went to his funeral. It was hard, not just because of him, but because of all of the different friends we had in common. Collective grieving is an interesting experience. (Funny side story- I actually met a girl after I moved here that knew him. All these years later and he still mysteriously somehow knows everyone I know, even halfway across the country.)

One of my close friends from back in St. Louis tried to kill herself five times. I practically had to kick down her front door to get her to engage with human contact again after the last one.

There was a kid from back home about seven years younger than me. He tried to overdose on prescription pills when he was in high school. We talked about it after the fact.

There was a guy I knew from a Facebook group I used to manage, who I was texting during his first two attempts.

This isn’t all of them, but you get the picture. The list is long. Too long.

When Sean died, I saw how devastated his family was at his funeral. That angered me. At the time, I thought it was a selfish act. Years have gone by and I’ve been more thoroughly exposed to the internal struggles of people close to me who suffer from depression, and I now have a better perspective. I don’t begrudge anyone for feeling so much pain that they simply want relief from it. It’s not my place to judge you. Your choices are your own. You have sovereignty over your own body, your own life, and I can understand how ending your life may feel like the only way you can gain any semblance of control.

For those considering jumping overboard…

I don’t believe that depression and anxiety are something that just happens for no reason, and I also don’t believe that it’s a life sentence. I don’t believe that people have to be medicated for the rest of their days to simply cope with it, and I don’t believe that “it’s just the way it is.”

There’s no shame in how you feel, but there is hope. I believe in hope. I believe that there IS hope. Even when you can’t see it. And it’s my hope that you’ll be able to find it, in your darkest moments and the depths of your suffering. We were not made for that.

It is my hope that when you can’t find hope for yourself, when you can’t see the light, that you’ll reach out to someone who can show it to you. Someone who can lead you out of your darkness. Always remember that it’s temporary. No matter how frequently it comes or how long it lasts, it’s still only temporary. And with hope and help, it can become fewer and further in between, and the moments of joy, more frequent.

I don’t like the word “cured.” I do like the word “healed.” To be cured from something suggests that it had power over you and you needed an external antidote to save you. To be healed suggests, to me, that you’ve had the power all along. And I do believe that depression stems from unhealed trauma. Sometimes that trauma is so great and so multi-faceted that it’s overwhelming to even think about healing. Where the fuck do you even begin?

Depression, along with many other mental illnesses, are less a disease of body, and more a dis-ease of the soul.

It takes time to heal. It takes courage to push through and commit to continuing to heal. And it takes even more courage to reach out and ask for help. Sometimes we don’t know how. Sometimes we test the waters with vague statements, just to get a sense of how it will be received, and when it doesn’t feel safe, we withdraw. Sometimes the people we want to approach for help aren’t equipped to do so – even some professionals.

One of the most difficult things for anyone suffering from this, in my experience, is how alone you feel, especially when the people around you can’t relate, and aren’t able to help you. You feel like a burden when you find someone you CAN lean on, because leaning on them makes you feel safe, but a single person can’t bear the weight for both of you. That’s why having a support network is so important. A group of people who are able to provide a safety net for you is so much stronger than a single individual, to give you connection during the times when you feel the most disconnected.

And the key IS to connect. Connect with someone who loves you and let them do that. Let them love you. Let yourself receive it. Let it lead you out of your darker moments. Let it help you hold on, just until tomorrow, because tomorrow can make all the difference.

For those of you holding the life preserver…

If I’ve learned anything from these situations, it’s that you cannot make yourself solely responsible for another person’s well being. And it isn’t fair to you for them to make you solely responsible, either.

Your name is not Jesus. You’re not a savior. They cannot and should not carry the weight of this alone, but neither should you. No matter how much you love them, their healing is, ultimately, their responsibility. You’re job is first, to simply hold space.

What does it mean to hold space?

It means to offer a safe, nonjudgmental environment. Validate emotions. Listen. Be receptive. Be supportive (being supportive does not equate to fixing things). Let them know that they don’t have to be alone, if they choose it.

Secondly, your job is to help them find more support, preferably from a professional, and perhaps other friends and family.

Most importantly: maintain boundaries. Know where your responsibility ends and theirs begins. This is a collaboration.

For those of you who find yourself being “the” person, if YOU need support (and believe me, sometimes you do), or guidance about what to do, I’m happy to lend an ear and some advice.

Everyone… take care of yourselves.

Grief, Interrupted

Grief, Interrupted

I‘ve mentioned a few times over the course of the last six months that all of the stress I went through did quite the number on my body and my health. The first sign of what was to come manifested itself in January of 2016 as a light, annoying cough that wouldn’t go away. About a month later, it was compounded by the respiratory flu. By March, I had coughed so hard and so frequently that I bruised a rib. It finally subsided in April.

In November of the same year, I caught a cold (in addition to the stomach flu), which then settled into yet another cough that didn’t dissipate until June of the following year.

Both times, I went to the doctor. They pumped me full of anti-biotics and steroids, and nothing changed. Eventually they diagnosed me with “asthma” because they needed to call it something in order to give me an inhaler, which also did nothing.

This year, as of April, said cough has returned. I’ve been kind to myself over the past six months. I’m under very little stress now, I’ve recovered from my adrenal fatigue, and I’m actively purging stagnant emotional energies.

Traditional energy healing ties coughing to the throat chakra, but I’ve felt this is more of a lung/heart-chakra issue, and yet no matter how many things I’ve purged from my heart center, it persists.

I finally decided to try acupuncture. I met an acupuncturist who lives in my neighborhood when I first moved here, so I pulled up her website to book an appointment, and at that moment, a coworker walked into my office and enquired about my cough. When I explained the circumstances, he immediately said, “Acupuncture. Everybody says it works.” There was my sign.

I had my appointment this past week, and while explaining to her the situational stress I was involved in over the course of the last three years as this cough has arisen, she mentioned to me that in Chinese medicine, the emotion tied to the lungs is grief. If you’ll recall my last post, I processed a past-life soul fragment that was heavy with grief. So heavy that I had to skip work the next day!

As I’ve reflected on my consultation and how grief and loss ties in as a trigger for the coughing, I had a realization.

I’ve talked a bit about my dad in previous posts and most of you know that we’re no longer on speaking terms, and I’ve talked a bit about the circumstances leading up to that, but I haven’t done so in great detail.

2016 was the year that everything fell apart. It had to, of course, because it was leading me somewhere, but it wasn’t pleasant. It was not easy. There was a moment in 2016 when I thought, “I would feel so much better if I could just die.” I experienced a prolific level of grief and loss that year in a very short period of time. I lost my closest friend. Two weeks later, my cat Jordan – my shadow, my fur baby – passed away. And then a month and a half after that, my grandmother passed away. The first loss brought me to my knees. The second had me on the ground. The third was like being beaten bloody with a baseball bat while I was down. With each new gut wrenching loss, I thought, “How much more can I take?”

And then came my grandmother’s funeral.

I have to be honest…my family could probably carry an entire season of Jerry Springer. After my parents divorced, my dad married my mom’s first cousin. Suffice to say, this caused some friction in the family, which came to a head at the funeral.

The grandmother that passed away was my dad’s mother. My grandparents from my mom’s side of the family attended the funeral and so did my mother. They’d known each other for 30 years, after all. My dad and his new wife (my mom’s first cousin whom I refer to as my step-monster) also attended said funeral. This would be my maternal grandmother’s niece. As entertaining as it would be to go into great detail, for brevity’s sake, let’s just say that crazy typically attracts crazy, so you can safely assume that as batshit and manipulative as my father is, it is also evident in his choice of partners.

After the funeral, everyone was invited to a luncheon at my grandparents’ former church, at which point, my new step-monster attacked her aunt (my grandmother) right in front of me — and our ENTIRE EXTENDED FAMILY. I literally had to step between her and my grandmother.

I was furious. I was already furious at her for a plethora of other reasons, the least of which involved her texting me from my dad’s phone, pretending to be him. I was furious at her for being the soul-sucking vortex of melodrama that she is. I was furious at her for being so self-centered and narcissistic that she had to make a spectacle of herself at my dead grandmother’s funeral. We were attempting to grieve the death of someone we loved and she made it about her in the most embarrassing way possible.

The fact that I was able to swallow my anger and keep my composure instead of grabbing her by the throat and choke slamming her in front of everyone (which is what I actually wanted to do) says a lot about my ability for self-control. It’s also why I’m REALLY FUCKING GOOD at repressing my emotions. And as I later told my father in the five page dissertation I wrote to him about the consequences of his inability to accept emotional responsibility for himself and his actions, “She’s lucky I didn’t do more than push her away. The last time someone put their hands on me like that, they went home with a black eye.”

My dad’s response to said letter? Three months of silence, followed by a text message denying half of it, dismissing the other half, and a staunch refusal to acknowledge my justifiable anger. Several months later in a conversation with my mother, he would deny having ever received a letter at all.

I remember, very vividly, laying in bed shortly after all of this went down and finally allowing myself to accept that my father was mentally ill. That acceptance triggered a series of realizations about various events throughout the past where I began to see that he had lied, manipulated, and used me as a means to an end. It was a shift in perspective that brought on an entirely new epiphany: the “dad” I thought I’d had all these years was a figment of my imagination. That, in and of itself, was yet another loss. A death, in it’s own way.

My realization after my acupuncture consultation was that the gravity of a single loss is hard enough. Having four losses of such magnitude within four months of each other is downright cataclysmic. My anger toward father and his wife’s behavior interrupted my grieving process.

The weight of all of the conflicting emotion was too much to handle, and I sought out a therapist. Said therapist was not a very good therapist and ended up doing more harm by attempting to push me into simply acceptance of who my father was without giving me the opportunity to process my anger, ultimately invalidating my emotions and refusing to acknowledge that he suffers from mental illness.

I get it…as a therapist, you don’t know the full story of where someone’s coming from and of course their perspective is just one perspective. But, as a therapist, you can’t really argue that a person who has out loud two-way conversations with “demons” in public places while speaking in tongues and is completely paranoid that armageddon is right around the corner isn’t somewhat touched. When David Koresh went down in flames, taking 75 other Branch Davidians with him, I’m certain that no therapist said, “Those are just his religious beliefs and you need to accept him for who he is.” Oh, and guess what? Daddy dearest has started his own church now…

I got a six month break before my next trauma hit, which was my divorce. I lived in a state of constant anxiety for six months leading up to my move, and the minute he told his family about it, I was completely cut out. Yet another devastating sense of loss that I could barely process for simply attempting to survive. I spent most of my energy my first five months in New York freaking out about how I was going to take care of myself, financially. I’d had my own business before but rebuilding it in a new state takes time and I only had enough money to last me through the end of November. Eventually I found a full time job and was able to breathe for a moment.

All of this grief, all of the loss… I haven’t had a chance to fully process any of it. My circuits had been overloaded with too much other shit until just now.  It’s been two and a half years, now, and I suppose that stagnant energy has settled into my body. Any time I experience a smaller scale loss, the cough returns.

I had a reading a couple of days later with Christian Bradley West, a new psychic friend I made on Instagram. He’s hilarious, by the way, and you should follow him if you’re on there, and me as well! Sure as shit, grief was a topic of discussion.

I don’t know, logically, how to move through this. I’m hoping that getting some of it moving within the physical body through acupuncture will trigger some releasing. What I do know is that I’m going on my third month of hacking and I’m seriously over it.

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