Chronic Loneliness in the Extended Aloneness

by AllByMyself

There is a difference between "aloneness" and "loneliness". Being alone is being without the presence of another person. Sometimes we seek aloneness to rebalance ourselves. I need alone time to think and balance myself.

Loneliness is not having emotional needs met. Loneliness can occur even when others surround you.

For me, after retirement (loss of coworkers), I divorced (loss of home, his family..) I moved to a new state (loss of familiar surroundings, weather, lifestyle,...).

I haven't lived near my siblings for over 30 years - but we kept in touch regularly and I would visit annually. That hasn't changed. It's still long distance.

In the 10 years since retirement, I've attempted many activities to gain social connection. You name it, I've tried it. A few times I've made friends that seemed to be more than superficial social acquaintances - but they move away.

In one case I realized I was the woman's crisis counselor and the relationship was not reciprocal. In another recent case, the woman found a man to date and I became history. I guess we were not really "friends", just social partners.

I have no children. Since retirement and 8 years living in my new state I've lost the dogs and cats I had (more loss), and I am back to square one in terms of "0" friends. 0 people in my life to have an emotionally intimate, reciprocal relationship.

As for men, forget it. I thought by leaving my dead marriage of 23 years, I would have a chance to find the love I always wanted. That dream was pounded out of existence with comments of my age being "an obstacle", and being told maybe I should consider a woman partner - there are many available women. Really? I am very open minded. If someone wants a same-sex partner, great! But, I don't and I find it a major case of ignorance to think someone could switch gender preference based on statistical availability.

But, those are just samples of my experience - not to mention the tons of scammers waiting for older women on the online dating sites.

I have volunteered and found that the joy of giving eventually diminishes when there is no "battery recharge" for myself. I have personal interests - but am losing the interests in the extended isolation.

The silence of loneliness, the lack of spontaneity, the longing for someone to share joys and sadness with, the lack of touch, the lack of frequent positive contact with someone familiar who I share a reciprocal, caring relationship with, has taken it's toll.

The flitting around, feeling forced to socialize have been draining and I find myself in almost total withdrawal as a result. It is painful being lonely, but it is painful playing the social game - alone - at this age.

I took a vacation a couple of years ago and while viewing an exhibit in a museum I wanted to share my awe. I made a comment to a women near me (similar age), and she looked at me and backed away as if I was going to mug her. I know that's only one story - but there are others.

So, now that I have no animals and all the time to travel, I find myself resisting plans to do so - alone.

Technically we take in the beauty of art or sunsets, or the laughter by ourselves ... but sharing the experience enhances it. At least for me.

I've seen therapists, life coach ... all I hear is "you have to get out there". Well, I have (8 years) and I am tired and beaten. The longer the chronic loneliness lasts, the stronger the depression symptoms seem.

Oh, I'll brush myself off and give it another shot, see what happens. But based on personal experiences, statistics, and social psychologist studies - I am not optimistic. As a matter of fact, I believe I've been too idealistic and now am swallowing a huge dose of reality. Retired, single, no children, no close family, no friends from childhood = loneliness.

Life is a grade "C". Surviving not thriving. Sustainability.

I am thankful I am financially in a good place and health is OK (though I know stress is taking it's toll).

An analogy I recently envisioned was eating from a food tube. It sustains life, but is not as enjoyable as seeing, smelling, tasting, and feeling the textures of real food.

Comments for Chronic Loneliness in the Extended Aloneness

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by: Anonymous

You probably have tried this, but I have two friends now that found "a friend" in their age group - the late sixties. I don't think they have marriage on their minds because they too have "been there, done that" and not interested. But they have travel companions and someone to enjoy stuff with rather than be alone. Just a thought.

Also we have dogs. Can't imagine my life without one.

by: Loyce!

I have a dog that I do not walk on the street because I wish to feel safe and I have parrots/finches in an aviary and a few friends who can't keep up with my energy.

I golf/golf and golf and I open myself up to new endeavors and people and try to keep myself in the best of physical shape and I also try to be grateful for my opportunities.

I am a positive/vibrant magnet.

To All By Myself
by: Susan from Richmond, VA

To All by Myself,

You need to know that I see the definition of you, and what you should do with the rest of your life:


You are such a talented Writer! Though your letter was touching, and sad, it was compelling! Written so well, I could feel every emotion and thought you put 'on paper'.

Find a Community College, or any form of higher education, and take a writing class...not that you need it, but it would place you in the company of other writers.

Maybe from there, you can stumble into some vocation, or non paid 'job' where you write. For a newsletter, for your neighborhood, for a travel group, for your church, for any non profit.

PLEASE use your talent..for others and for yourself. Or write a juicy piece of fiction, or some sort of 'self awareness/help' book. Something. Go do it!!

Resonating with Your Post
by: Charlotte

Hi AllByMyself – Thank you for your eloquent post. I have been pondering it for more than a week. When I first read it, my immediate thought was that there is at least one other person in the world who understands loneliness vs. aloneness in a very deep way.

Although my circumstances are different, I feel much the same as you have expressed. I am still in a dead marriage (almost 35 years) which is extremely lonely. I have no children and no siblings. He is now 77 and I am 65 – 12 years difference.

Both parents are deceased and I am not very close to the very few extended family members who are left. I retired in 2003 after a 34-year career.

I had high hopes for whatever came next – I really did (it makes me very sad to look back on the person I was then with great hopes for a new life – little did I know). But slowly, most of my hopes have been dashed.

My mother was still alive at the time of my retirement. Her health started to deteriorate soon thereafter and she was unable to do most of the things I had hoped we would be able to do together.

My husband had already been retired several years when I retired. Although our marriage hadn’t been the greatest, I had hopes that we would be able to do things together and enjoy each other. He had already settled in and staked our home as his territory and I started feeling pushed aside. He has no interests other than TV.

He tells me that he will go anywhere I want to go but an inflatable doll would be as much company as he is. He is not someone who is willing or able to talk about anything other than the most superficial things. He doesn’t think there is a problem. So the loneliness and disillusionment started setting in. I started considering divorce but didn’t feel financially or emotionally ready.

So I decided to start looking for a job. My job always gave me a sense of accomplishment and I missed having a work family. I was an excellent employee and I thought finding a job would be a piece of cake. That turned out to be the biggest disillusionment of all and my self- esteem plummeted. It still eats at me at times still.

At one time, I had records on the exact number of jobs I applied for but they are long gone. Let’s just say it was an embarrassing and demoralizing number greater than 100.

I finally found a part-time job (29.5 hours/week) and I have been here almost 8 years. It has been a lifesaver and I have no plans to leave as long as they will have me or I become physically unable to work any longer. It concerns me that at some point this job will end and what I will do then. I realize there are a lot of things you can do on the internet now but I NEED to be out of the house. But still a possibility someday maybe.

My mother passed in 2008 the year after I started my part-time job and I still grieve for her. Only those who are only children can understand how much you lose when your parents are gone. There is no one left who shares my history, no one to recall long-ago memories with or talk about old times. I am not nearly as adventurous as you but I did explore a lot of options in the period before finding employment and still continue to do so.

I volunteered at the hospital but all the rules and regulations seemed too much like the workplace that I had left. I had selected another place which provides healthcare to low income people. When I called to inquire about it they told me they didn’t need any volunteers. That was like a slap in the face. Who ever heard of that? I felt like I wasn’t even wanted as a volunteer.

I have a therapist who I have been seeing for around 8 years and she is the only person in the world with whom I can share my most intimate self. The few close friends that I have all have families with children and grandchildren. It gets very hard to fit in when you don’t have either.

I am somewhat of an oddity since I am introverted and don’t really enjoy small talk and superficial relationships and I am not much of a "group" person. Like you, I long for something more – relationships which are not superficial but are intimate and reciprocal and someone to share the good and bad of life with.

I am still in the marriage and have accepted him as he is - not expecting the things I want from him because I know he doesn’t have it to give. I am now in a position financially that I could leave him but after all the disappointment with other areas of my life, I have somewhat concluded that due to my age it would just be more disappointment such as you have expressed.

As horrible as it is to say and even think, I figure he doesn’t have a lot of time left at age 77. Not that I want him to be sick or hurt. But death is inevitable for all of us. I always loved having some time and the house to myself when he was still working. I do long for that alone time and hope that I may have it someday. But you never know what tomorrow will bring. We do have a shared history together and there are some positives that make it more bearable at times.

I live in a very conservative part of the country. I am much more open minded and liberal than most folks in my area. I have sought different forms of worship as a way to meet other like-minded people while being spiritually nourished. But it is very lonely and isolating being around folks who do not believe as you do and having beliefs crammed down your throat. So that’s out of the picture unless I move to another part of the country which is unlikely.

Shortly after retiring, I started going to a small gym and that lasted for 7 years until they closed. I was in great shape physically. I loved it and was able to meet some wonderful people most of whom were in my age range. I have tried several other places but nothing so far comes close with that gym. They are all too big and seem to have many of the "muscle men" types (no offense intended).

Plus social trends have changed and most people are either on their cell phone or listening to music and don’t seem to want to interact with others. I am still looking for a replacement gym that I enjoyed half as much as the other one.

On a more positive note, many of the things I enjoy doing are solitary activities. I love to read and I have gained so much knowledge and learned about things I never knew existed during the time since I retired from full-time work. Ditto for the internet.

Although no substitute for real, human connection, I think is good to be able to at least connect with other people online. I do long for a relationship with some depth. My therapist tells me I am jaded and I agree. I have learned a lot about myself and one thing I know for sure is that I am not willing to play games and diminish myself by trying to be something that I’m not in order to fit in.

If I were single, the scenario of meeting someone by chance in the grocery store, library or some other similar type place appeals to me more than putting myself out there trying to meet someone. I am happy with myself and although I would like to have someone to share my life with, I am OK if that never happens. I will be fine.

I am very grateful for my job, my health, my financial situation, my intelligence and my curiosity about almost everything. Even though I know I am not alone with trying to find a job at an older age and feeling invisible as an older female, it still is sad and frustrating that so much of our society thinks we are dispensable when we have so much valuable life experience and skills to offer.

I do have several volunteer opportunities in mind for later when I finally retire. I have a list of books I want to read that will certainly outlive me.

I experience anxiety and depression from time to time, but who wouldn’t in my situation. I am OK with who I am and although many of my hopes have been dashed, I remain open to possibility with a very large dose of reality based on my life experiences so far.

I hope you are able to find what you are looking for. Best regards.

I can relate
by: Your Name/Location

I've read all the comments to your post. There is not a whole lot I can add.

I too am widowed and my family lives long distance. I have seen my two daughters three times in 29 years. Two grand children I have never seen in person. They are all grown now.

I have no desire to move back where I came from nor could I afford it. I have one very good friend I met at church but she is a very busy lady. She has been my angel. Others at church and bingos are just aquaintences.

I apparently do not send out good vibes to people including children and not sure what I can change. One hindrance is being mostly deaf and not hearing in crowded rooms, restaurants and such. Even with a amplifier. Makes things that much more difficult.

One thing I do know is that I am loved by God and Jesus. He is with me always. I attend church regularly and am convinced this is what has kept me from deep depression.

I am on a fixed income and live in a very small town. I was thinking today. What is the most I can hope for and pray for now at 71!?

My health leaves a lot to be desired as I have been a diabetic for several years now.

I try to keep busy with my yard, computer, bingos, etc. and not have a pity party. It gets harder every year. I know I am not alone especially after reading your post and the replies. Seek Jesus and don't give up. We know what you are talking about and prayers can be answered at any time. God be with you.

by: Wendy,

,..and that's not WOW in a good way, either.

I had no words when I first approved this post, and I'm not sure I have anything worthy to comment right now.

This post makes me so sad.

That life would be equated to a feeding tube compared to real food -- is unimaginable. Just horribly yucky.

AND YET -- so many of you resonated with this post!

OH MY -- Is Life Really That LONELY?

Are you depressed? Please Please go talk to your doctor. There is help out there.

If you aren't depressed, just sadly lonely, please consider trying the Retirement Community by clicking on the two smiling faces in the right column.

Virtual online friends aren't like having lunch with someone, but they certainly CAN brighten your day. You just MIGHT become interested in life again.


Sending many prayers.... Wendy

Sorry for your pain
by: Elaine Alabama

Reading your post of being so lonely makes me want to reach out to you and say hello and that you are not alone. It is a shame that so many people are living well but alone and sad.

I do not know you but if you believe in God you know that you are never alone because he is always with you. If you are a believer and have not found a church keep looking and visiting until you find one that you feel that you belong.

After retiring my husband and I moved away from our home and I have spent many hours alone but have found friends in church and enjoy volunteering when I want to not have to.

Many mornings I think what am I going to do today and have felt sorry for myself. Then I have to remind myself how blessed I am that I have a nice place to live and freedom to do as I choose.

My point is that we all have moments of feeling down, it is okay, just remember to pull yourself up and look for the joy in the day.

Good luck and I hope and pray that you will make real friends soon.

by: James

Yes, loneliness after a retirement is often a big challenge. It has been my biggest challenge, having moved away from the area I lived in after retirement to a quiet residential town. Mainly for financial reasons. Apart from my wife I have no close friends or acquaintances nearby to talk to. Of course, I pass the the time of day with the locals sometimes.

Fortunately, I have a car and we can drive back to our old area from time to time, but it doesn't beat the past daily social, working life. I do various things of course; like gardening, exercise, reading shopping etc; but it's not the same.

Spot on
by: Susan, California

Boy, you hit the nails on their heads with that post!

There was so much I could relate to. I, too enjoy, no, must have, alone time. Even though my husband is in the house, I'm lonely, and for all the things you listed...sharing life.

I've had the advice, get out there; it hasn't had the results I had hoped for. I have felt guilty about lack of enthusiasm for the volunteer work I've done. Other people seem to get a charge out of it, why not me?

You hit it. I had hoped to find connection, and it wasn't there. Like you I'll keep pluggin away, but with diminished expectations.

Thanks for the insight.

by: Loyce!

I agree with this outlook as the world I live in is ridden with clubs because people choose grouping over individuality and thus there is a minimum of originality since so many are so obedient to the rules/regulations of these various groups/service clubs.

I started up my own groups but had to disband same when the negatives dominated.

I play golf but the women's groups are not enjoyable so I end up usu playing with a few men who are open but really want to play with men.

I no longer volunteer because of all the necessary "training" and sameness/routine and lack of pleasure/fun with other boring peeps.

I erected a book exchange in front of my home and neighbors take/replace but there are no people exchanges and I have not talked to or exchanged with my next door neighbor for over a year as neighbors are enveloped tightly into their worlds.

My family==grandson/son/sister/brother--are into their one-dimensional worlds and I wish not to be involved with selfish peeps. The Senior Group here goes to Reno for "recreation" and/or knits so I am not interested.

People seem to be into superficial relationships like Facebook and replace technology for people exchanges so alienation/loneliness seems prevalent.

People are ignorant about local opportunities, choosing to leave our wonderful staycation to run off to vacation, returning tired/worn out and cash strapped. I dig for gratitude for my good health/vitality and safe/defined neighborhood and continue to kiss many frogs in my unrelenting attempts to dimensionalize/color my world and provide stimulation and vitality for myself.

The struggle continues.

Alone and Solitude Gifts
by: Fern

I have experienced a lot of what you have with the lack of family and negative experiences with those I thought were friends. Fortunately I have a lot of hobbies and interests with a love of learning. I do volunteer work, but not to 'get' something from it.

I'd love if you would email me and we could have lots of discussions about our experiences but I don't tolerate a lot of negativity. I can't decide how much depression is playing a part in your experience?

Have you asked yourself what you most need in life right now and do you have the skills to go get it?

Sometimes we decide to have a 'life of one, for one'. It is a good place to reside and maybe a case of re-telling the story. Are you open to that?

Chronic Loneliness in the Extended Aloneness
by: Paula

I am so sorry to hear how lonely you are. Sometimes it just seems so unfair in a world full of people that one can suffer from such loneliness. I understand how you feel although I am blessed to have family that I live with.

My loneliness comes from depression and other self defeating thoughts. I am working on these and this site has and is a great source of inspiration to me. Also my faith. I don't know if you are a person of faith but through my illness I am beginning to walk a spiritual path once again.

I don't know the answers I just keep walking in faith and also keep reading the posts and blogs here. You might consider joining the pen pal group and find someone you can email.

I have already found two wonderful ladies that I am getting to know even though they both live in different parts of the country. It's not the same as being in physical contact with someone but it's a start and you never know when you might read something someone wrote that will inspire you.

I wish you all the happiness and joy you deserve.

this is so sad to me
by: Rose Raintree Arlington Wa.

I too am 71 and have lived alone for most of my adult life, been hurt and abused by one husband, and deserted by another leaving me to raise my last son alone as I did my first 3.

I worked my way through nursing school where I found connection and a career I loved and when age was becoming a factor forcing me to retire much earlier than I had hoped, I could have given up and at times wanted too. My faith kept me going as I knew if I was still here there was reason and I needed to find it.

What I have found is I too spend most of my time alone with the exception of one day a week I keep my granddaughter and that will come to an end in September when she goes to school every day, and then we will have visits. The rare visits my son does usually to help me with a project I started and can't complete without his help.

I have a small dog and I think it is a real mistake that you do not replace your lost animals with a companion of either a dog or a cat. My dog is my constant companion and with her we walk in my neighborhood every day and it forced me to get out and see all I have to be thankful for.

I had actually prayed for many years that I would not grow old alone, but now I am so content and happy that it is not an issue any longer. I had to do some real soul searching and may I respectfully say if you keep your eyes on what you feel you have lost and what you don't have you will continue to be depressed and miserable.

Start with one thing you are thankful for and begin to focus on being grateful and stop running around looking outside of yourself to find peace and joy. I did this and that is not where it is found, it is found in coming to a place of contentment and gratitude with who you are and where you are. I began with gardening which I had never done and each year I have gained more joy and my yard is now one of the prettiest in the neighborhood and it took many hours and long hard work but the result has given me daily pleasure.

Also I reach out to others like here in this and on FB and on a retirement site and have made some friends all around the world who I will never see but their lives add to my own. I walk every day, exercise is critical to keeping you mentally and physically healthy.

Don't wait for someone or something to make you happy, get happy with yourself and find the passion within you and start doing it and you will find along the way you will find a joy you never thought possible. I say this because I have been where you are and found that the one person that change our outlook and happiness is ourselves, and when we do that nothing and no circumstance can take it away.

You are here for a reason and it isn't to vegetate until you die, seek the joy within you and consider getting another pet. My chichi is my constant companion and they give us so much joy I cannot imagine not having a pet. I have lost many and will as long as I am able pray chichi is with me but if I should lose her would replace here with another.

We have each day to decide how we are going to spend it and choosing to find the joy with ourselves and don't let being alone keep you from doing the things that bring out that joy stop you. Get up and live as long as you can and do it with gratitude, and beginning with gratitude is the first step to finding real lasting joy.

Thank you
by: Nancy

Thanks for sharing your story and being honest about your feelings. Since retirement, I felt like I had to fake it to others that I loved retirement. I like it, but I don't love it. Keep coming back here and you will hear similar stories. I pray you will find that special someone.

I met my husband when I was 41 and he was 43, married at 46 and 48. Still married. Found through a personal ad, back when there was still that stigma of personal ads. I pray things will get better for you and you find the key to things you like to do and people you like to be with. I, myself, prefer to be alone or with my husband. It is too big of a strain to be with people, so I get where you are coming from with that. I don't have kids either, and my relationship with my siblings is similar to yours.

Dying on the Vine
by: Joe W.

I don't think that your a 'real adventurist' even though you have placed yourself in that exact position.

I would move back to your old town "where everyone knows your name" and they are all all glad that you came back. Loneliness is often self-inflicted and extended aloneness is great if your trying to write an important book or an extra long poem;or even needing a pile of extra time for your own self-discovery.

Joe W.

by: Linda C./Annapolis, MD

Your post is so well-written - I understand you and can identify with some of the things you've been through, that I went through in my past and some of the present.

I have always been fine with 'aloneness' and have chosen it often; however, since my marriage,moving out from the heart of downtown, and then retirement I was 'missing something'. I have a wonderful husband but he still works and is often 'unavailable' -- he always has to be focused on something other than me..which is admirable in that he is very responsible and skilled fixing or making or maintaining something for our home or yards, etc.

However...I am often lonely for a 'playmate' -- I want to just have FUN sometimes, be silly! Share an interest together.

I tell him often that he is more my 'parent' than 'partner'!! LOL == He also plays tennis in two different groups and the Summer season is busier with this. I am grateful indeed for him and for the few female friends I have - but the friends are younger and in different stages of their lives and although we are 'emotional sounding boards' and 'advisors' for one another....these gal friends can rarely get their calendars set to share more time with me.

They are very busy with aging parents and family get-togethers, work, etc. The few retirees in my neighborhood that I know, seem to have their own circles of friends and interests that don't include me. Chats on the lawn are about all with them.

I even threw a nice party 2 years ago to start the ball rolling...but nothing happened even though they said how much fun they had had.

ANYWAY....I would like to be YOUR FRIEND -- penpal...snail mail,email/FB pal....let me know if you would like this and hopefully, it will be a nice new friendship for both of us, even if long-distance!

by: Dean Tennessee

I was very moved by your statements regarding your loneliness. There are many folks who are just a single event away from your situation.

It sounds like you have tried many things to improve your situation but I hope my idea helps. My wife and I have found when moving to a new place attending a church became an avenue to making new friends. Not all churches are the same so sometimes you may have to shop around to find a good fit. My wife and I attended a couple of churches which weren't a good fit.

I hope things improve for you very soon. There is still so much in this life for you to enjoy.

Chronic Loneliness in the Extended Aloness
by: Janet

I read your post and I agree with your comments on being alone. I recently had the sudden passing of my husband. I am retired, it was seven years, June 2015.

I feel so lonely and and alone without my husband, best friend, and soulmate. I live away from my relatives. I have since visited with them. I have two grown sons, my husband and I did everything together. I am blessed that one son lives here the other comes in town to visit.

I just want to say that I feel forgotten as far as everyone basically are concerned, everyone has their own life. I feel at my age that my life has been spent. I feel that when I lost my husband that was it for me. I wanted us to grow old together.

I feel so unhappy, I am still in the state of grieving. I miss my husband so much, I cry a lot. This morning. I felt like I was going to fall down from the grief being so heavy. I managed to get to the sofa and laid there for awhile. I finally got up and ate a little breakfast.

Getting older is not easy. Of course, I carry on with everyday activities because I have to. My doctor referred me to a Behavorial/therapist.

There I can express and talk about my husband. I just don't know where or what I am to do now. I am living each day, one day at a time. I hope you find happiness and joy in your life.

Look Within and then Reach Out to the World
by: Retd. Prof Durgeshkumar Srivastava, C-3, Janakpuri, New Delhi-58, India

Dear friend,

I have immensely liked your post on retirement online. You write so well. Each paragraph is like a quotable quote. Why dont you write on retirement online and on other sites like facebook. I credit retirement online for creating in me the desire to write .... I wrote many stories on retirement online and then moved on to writing independent posts, mamy of which I posted on my facebook page

I soon had many friends, including my senior students and friends from retirement online. When I have a problem, my fb friends come forward to help an support me. Their presence gives me strength and I am never lonely. If you visit my facebook page, you will read many of my experiences in life, including some which you will find akin to your own life situation. My best wishes to you. DKS, 19 July, 2015

A New Beginning
by: Elna Nugent, Lenox, MA

Dear ByYourself:

I feel for the pain you are in. Making so many changes at once is mind boggling for anyone, never mind someone in your situation.

You are starting over. You could begin by adding a new puppy or dog to your household. You could also try going to a new counselor who might be able to steer you in a new direction in your new environment.

Even if you are not a church goer, you might be able to find one that offers a group that has members in it that are in your very similar situation.Your new counselor might know of one.

Also you can do yourself a makeover. It might be fun to change your hair style, buy a new outfit, and go to a spa or gym where you can work out with a personal trainer.
You probably have many skills you have acquired in your life. Look in the mirror and imagine yourself transformed. Blessings.

Chronic Loneliness
by: Linda

After reading your lovely letter I have come to the conclusion that firstly you need a puppy to take your time away from yourself. You can walk your little fur baby and you can maybe even meet lots of others who have a pet they love and have made friends just on these outings on the way.

Secondly, you should maybe move near your siblings. I would. You are not working and are able to move, right? That could work.

Thirdly, find lady friends who can be pen pals and you can share with them. They can be around your same age and you can find lots of things in common.

I did! That alone can combat the long days and nights of being lonely. Believe me, It helps take the daily depression away and in time, you will learn from others what and who you are and how, personally, what is important to you and what you can change.

There are so many lonely people in this world. It is worth trying anyway and who knows, maybe you will find that YOU are that ANGEL to another lonely person.

God Bless and take care. You are worth it!

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