Deeper Perception Made Practical

Another view of Dark Souls, Sarah Strudwick’s Guest Post


Blog-Buddies, sometimes a comment sent to this blog is so superb and detailed, it really deserves to become a post of its own. Originally Sarah’s words (and the first comment) below were submitted  in response to my post from today about “Why I don’t believe in Dark Souls.”

Maybe you’ll agree with Sarah. Maybe you’ll want to buy her new book, to learn more about the thoughtful and detailed approach that she brings to this topic. Here is some of her perspective about narcissists, being an empath, and more, with a bit of formatting and headings added.

Rose, as you know I have has a fit bit of flack about the book, some of it negative and much of it positive.

When I was reading this post it wasn’t until I got the the very last bit at the bottom that I could think of a real way of answering. 

You wrote, “When I was at my worst, killing people etc., it would have been easy for an outside observer to call me a ‘Dark Soul.’ But I wasn’t. I was the very same soul who works so hard now to teach and heal and help.”

I was that in that place too, and having shared so many lifetimes with the same Dark Soul that I mention in the book that had killed him past lives and probably done a whole lot worse to other people.

I suppose now, in hindsight, Dark Souls perhaps wasn’t the best choice of words for the title of the book. And I have had more than enough flack from people who aren’t able to grasp the concept that “some” types of people’s sole intention is to intentionally go out to victimise and exploit others.

Empaths involved with Dark Souls

The focus however on the book was the “extreme” end of the the abusive type personality that empaths like myself tended to get involved with.

To educate the reader and give them some tools to heal themselves, not the other way round.  Those types that may be similar to those pedo types that I was so used to being around as a child.

The types of readers who are likely to be wanting to leave these relationships are like:

  • The woman who emailed me today to say she has finally escaped after finding her ex has been giving her GBH a date rape drug and then making out “it was all her imagination and she was making it all up”.
  • The type of person who has no conscience wo could feel the need to lie about having cancer.
  • Or the type of person who threatens to kill you and would if they could get away with it.
  •  The type of person who may drive another person so crazy with their lying behaviour and projecting and gaslighting as to render their victim so powerless they commit suicide as a result.

So, no, I wasn’t referring to your run of the mill bossy boss who makes you work overtime too much.  Perhaps I was a bit too black and white.

I have been validated by the book having had emails all over the world from women who have been in the same situation and wanted to make sense of some of the madness, whatever the title of the book.

Perhaps the only people who liked the title were those who actually had a relationship with these types of people.

Before I wrote “Dark Souls”

When I dreamt up the title, I still had many cords of attachment. And I felt like a projection of the person I was in relationship with, very dark.  In fact I wrote in the book without putting all the emphasis on them.

I had been lying to myself all along,  I had no self esteem, my finances were in a shambles, and I was unhappy in a relationship with a man who was lying to himself and everyone around him.

Yet, in a weird way, most of the things I was to find out about him were a “reflection” of the things he was mirroring back to me. In other words,  all that I needed to deal with was within me.

By that I meant having to look at myself and see what was in me that I needed to deal with, i.e lack of boundaries, lack of self-love, and so on.

Having learnt how to set boundaries, heal myself, channel, read auras, and all kinds of other weird and wonderful “stuff” since my encounter with the man and multiple other (what I call) “Dark Souls” in the book.

If you were to ask me, “Do I consider myself to be a Dark Soul or an ‘Enlightened being’ as a result of my journey?”

My answer would be somewhere in the middle.

Would I in hindsight have dreamt up a better analogy for such people with such extreme behaviour whom I refer to in the book such as “psychopathic narcissists”? Then my answer is probably not.

Finding the gift

These people are sent into our lives as a gift.

When it comes to freeing up ourselves from the toxic stuff we decide to carry around with us, which in my case, as I called it in my book, which was being an untrained empath at the time, or “energetic Gunk Bucket” — that meant I had felt I was probably the darkest of all souls at one point because I didn’t even want to be here anymore.

Does it empower us to look within ourselves? Absolutely.

Does it mean that, for example, as a result of doing it we continue to accept abusive behaviour? (As I had done for most of my childhood and adult life.)  No.

Because, in fact, Mr Dark Soul (or whatever shade of grey he is in between) ended up actually being a real shiny diamond for me and most other people who meet them. Because he reminded me who I was, rather than who I wasn’t.

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  1. 1

    While I agree with all you say here, Rose, I get the impression that you might not have yet opened Sarah’s book.

    “Dark Souls” is a title. But the content of her amazing book is about the very real problems that people face when dealing face to face with psychopaths and narcissists.

    My own personal experience is that they just do not respond to the wonderful techniques you describe.

    That’s the problem. “Dark Souls” is a great title. But the cover is not the book, any more than “Gone With the Wind” is about the weather.

    One needs to read the book to appreciate Sarah’s understanding of the only ways that work with narcissists and psychopaths. Their minds work in a totally different way.

    John Bligh Nutting

    National Australian Register – Psychotherapists and Counsellors Federation Australia (PACFA)#20969;
    State Register – Clinical Counsellor – Queensland Counsellors Association (QCA)#230-80156;

  2. 2

    John, thanks for adding your voice of experience to this thread.

    I did start Sarah’s book, actually. Her raw, survivor’s voice shines right through.

    You may well be correct that the techniques I use and teach do not work for narcissists and people with profound psychological difficulties. They aren’t my clients, and I gladly leave them to professionals like you.

    Thanks for being willing to help them, and thanks to Sarah, too. I help clients who seek out sessions, who want to change and have better lives. For me to cut a cord of attachment between such a client and a narcissist or worse does NOT require any permission or participation from that cordee.

    There is room for practitioners at different wavelengths who are appropriate to help people who are seeking different types of help. I’m very glad that you and Sarah Strudwick are out there, for sure.

  3. 3
    primrose says:

    Sarah, I had a similar experience, and although I wouldn’t use the phrase “dark soul” to describe the man I was involved with, I have come to see that experience as a profound catalyst in my life.

    I attribute the intensity, toxicity and feeling of familiarity to my childhood, not to previous lifetimes. But really I guess that doesn’t matter. I’ve come to more or less the same revelations you have, even if I describe them differently.

    I looked in a narcissistic mirror in that relationship. I felt absorbed into another human being and the darkness was unbearable. But healing from that, walking away from it and learning from my escape, was wonderful.

    Hideous at the time, of course, but now I am so happy I did that work. And I doubt I could have learnt what I did any other way.

    Well, maybe there are many ways, but I chose that way. And now I’m glad I did.

  4. 4
    primrose says:

    John, I haven’t read Sarah’s book, so I can’t comment on her research, but I can’t say I agree with you that narcissists think in a totally different way from so called regular people.

    I never had NPD, but I had many narcissistic traits, as do the rest of my family.

    Ok, perhaps that has an impact on my thinking! But having no empathy and objecting people etc aren’t traits that are separate from the experience of lots of people.

    Psychopathy, I have no experience of, but narcissistic behaviour I don’t find to be outside of the norms of human behaviour. I’m not saying that’s a good thing, obviously!

  5. 5
    primrose says:

    I meant “objectifying people.” New phone keeps changing my words. Changed “realisations” to “revelations.”

  6. 6
    Carol Mories says:

    Rose, I totally agree with what you say here. I am ordering Sarah’s book right after I write this.

    Being an unskilled empath who was married to a narcissist for over 20 years I speak from experience.

    Having you cut that cord of attachment was the most healing thing I had done for my self in my life. It allows me to now look back at the ralationship and learn the lessons that are there for me.

    Sometimes an extreme example is the best learning tool (as the Course in Miracles says), and my ex has proven to be just that for me.

    Just out of curiosity, though, I would like to know how the narcissist and socialpath learn, because I know their brains really are wired totally differently. Does anyone know of any narcissist or socialpath who has “learned” and changed while still in the body?

  7. 7

    CAROL, so glad you are enjoying the benefits of cutting that cord of attachment. 🙂

    Regarding your question, I am not a big expert on working with narcissists and sociopaths. I have done some sessions with people who might fit those labels. I treated them as clients — as people. I helped them as people, gifts and STUFF.

    Sure, anyone can learn and change while still here at Earth School.

    Personally, I don’t find it helpful to dwell on labeling other people in one’s life. It’s more helpful to continue to move out STUFF that limits one’s own life.

    Many books and systems rail against “bad people,” whether they are called “narcissists” or “energy vampires,” etc. As long as it brings comfort to delve into this branch of literature, go for it!

    It’s part of healing to go through anger and blaming, but people can also become stuck in any of those stages en route to acceptance. I am glad to help free people up energetically to help them along that route.

  8. 8
    Carol Mories says:

    Rose, you make a very good point here and I thank you.

    I can see where my label was a subtle way of placing blame and judgement instead of just opening all the way to the experience and allowing full process and healing to take place – and moving on.

    How he was with me is only relevant to me in so far as it motivated and assisted me in my growth here on Earth School. The rest is none of my business.

    I practiced that sort of non-judgment when I was a nurse easily enough – giving the same quality and caring professional assistance to known wife beaters, for instance, but forgot that when it seemed to directly impact my own life. My wanting to know “why” is a way to hang on to something instead of moving on.

    Thank you, Rose, for your candid and healing communications.

  9. 9
    Gwyneth says:

    There’s a part of the conversation in this thread that I haven’t read yet, so I’d like to contribute my views and experience.

    Between simply labeling people, being angry and blaming them, and saying that anyone can learn and change, I feel that there’s value in understanding the behaviors of narcissists, sociopaths, and psychopaths, which Sarah has described as “Dark Souls.”

    In my case, I grew up with a brother who is a psychopath and alcoholic. What a relief it was to have the cord of attachment cut to him! Of course, this helped me tremendously. Knowing the cord items is so helpful in understanding the behavior.

    My poor mother was overwhelmed by trying to deal with him and she coped by going into denial.

    Part of her denial was to blame me for my brother’s behavior when I brought it up. So my instincts got quite screwed up. Being highly sensitive and an unskilled empath, I was picking up all kinds of stuff and knew that he could be quite dangerous, which sadly, he was in the end.

    But as an adult, I had this oddly desensitized way of accepting behavior that would have had most folks running for the hills. I both knew that my brother was quite screwed up and had my mother’s denial insisting that he wasn’t.

    Because my instincts were so screwed up, it was helpful to me in my healing process to learn about alcoholism and much later about psychopaths — basically to keep me out of the denial that my mother insisted on till she died. And to help me see what it was in myself that was going on to draw me into certain situations.

    There’s an important addition to make to saying that anyone can learn and change at Earth School. Many people aren’t interested in learning and changing.

    As a person who long ago committed to always continuing to learn and grow, it’s been a big lesson for me to truly “get” this fact. I went through a phase of trying to get people to change. Now I just don’t bother if they don’t show interest.

    I came to see that this was a vulnerability of mine, a blind spot of idealistically seeing a person, hoping they’ll want to grow and change.

    So in my case, it’s been helpful to learn that it’s fairly rare for psychopaths, sociopaths and narcissists to change, mainly as an antidote to the idealism that tripped me up.

    If circumstances require us to have to deal with people who are sociopaths, narcissists or psychopaths, I think it’s much smarter to be realistic about what we’re dealing with than to focus on whether or not they are likely to change. I’m not saying that it’s wise to dwell on blaming or to come up with what is termed in Non-Violent Communications as ‘enemy images.’

    Understanding the behavior is simply information and has helped me to make wiser decisions and to avoid potentially awful situations.

    Becoming a skilled empath and focussing on taking care of myself has allowed me to see more objectively my brother’s situation and behavior. Understanding his “wiring” helped me greatly in dealing with him as we had to sort out my mother’s estate. If I hadn’t had the information about how best to deal with him, I’m certain he would have basically walked off with my mother’s entire estate.

    There was a time long ago when I would try to talk with him in a way that assumed he actually cared about things that he didn’t care about at all. For most people, and dare I say especially for empaths, it’s quite shocking to truly take in the reality that some people are simply devoid of empathy and really don’t care at all about the people they are dealing with.

    In the various blog threads that have sprung up around terminology – New Age, Dark Souls, etc. – I often find myself reading the conversations and seeing a way of relating to the particular term that hasn’t been mentioned.

    We can get into problems when we identify too strongly with any term or label or if we use it to avoid taking action or responsibility. But I think that the terms that have been mentioned in this thread and in Sarah’s book can be quite useful in educating people who have no understanding of the behavior they’re up against, which is so counter to healthy human behavior. And, of course, it’s important to keep removing one’s stuff.

    I’ve read much of Sarah’s book just in the past couple of days and found it helpful in terms of encountering someone who lived through an experience that was just a little like what I lived through. There’s always a bit of comfort in that.

    But having healed and grown so much, it was actually quite profound for me to read about psychopaths, to be able to approach the information objectively, to let it sink in, and to come away with the knowledge that I have successfully dealt with an incredibly difficult situation.

    There’s been something about this thread and the book that has helped me to reach a different perspective about a certain chapter of my life. Rather than dwelling on an idealistic view of my brother or an enemy image view of him, seeing clearly and objectively his behaviors, both through the cord cutting and a psychological definition approach helped me move out of an old consciousness.

    I’m safely away from my brother and have forgiven him for the past. I recently found a bit of self-pity welling up about the whole experience, but these opportunities to read about ‘dark souls’ has completely shifted my perspective. I came through the experience intact, without harboring hatred, blame, etc. I think that’s pretty cool and I’m grateful.

    Another great learning experience from our little blog! 🙂

  10. 10
    Carol Mories says:


    I relate to everything you say here and agree with you. It was helpful in the first stages of my healing to read about Narcissistic Personality Disorder. It confirmed my experiences when I thought I was crazy and I was being “gaslighted” by the guy.

    But it was my desire to understand how I got into that relationship and stayed in it that, then, motivated me to grow beyond victimhood and into full healing.

    By taking the spotlight off of him and all of his character flaws and shining it back on me, I was motivated to find Rose and, through several healing sessions with her, even get to the point of feeling deep gratitude for my ex and his willingness to play the role that he did in my life here on earth.

    I had to leave the label to simply open myself up to the full awareness of my own need for that extreme experience to motivate my own growth.

    It never, anywhere along that path, helped me to be afraid of him. I was afraid and it got me only a lot of pain, confusion, and a feeling of powerlessness and hopelessness. It was only when I gave up the fear and the victim mentality and took back my own power that I was able to continue the healing and growth.

    The knowledge was helpful to me, the fear associated with the label was not. Like you, that knowledge helped me conduct myself through the divorce and come out with something where, if I had not had that knowledge, I would have lost everything. I WAS losing everything until I read the books and changed my tactics.

  11. 11

    Wow, CAROL:

    Your heartfelt share is useful for any of you Blog-Buddies who are hurting and figuring out how to move past old experiences with somebody who treated you badly. If I might, I’d like to emphasize the point you made and take it a bit further.

    When facilitating healing for clients, I sometimes encounter situations where a person like Gladys NAMES a problem (which is important) but then she gets sidetracked into dwelling on that problem beyond the point of usefulness.

    Gladys can literally spend decades NAMING, ANALYZING, ELABORATING, CONJECTURING all about the problem. Meanwhile, she feels she is growing. In a way she is. Because Gladys gains detailed knowledge about that problem. (Also, perhaps, a meaningful hobby….)

    From my perspective, this emphasis on describing a problem often happens with discussions of narcissists, energy vampires, Dark Souls, etc.

    I long to say, “Enough already. How about deciding to get yourself some healing?”

    And, with all respect, becoming really good at describing narcissists, energy vampires, Dark Souls, etc. does not bring about full healing. For that, it’s important to cut cords of attachment, do Energy Release Regression Therapy, or use any techniques that are effective for you from Energy Spirituality, Energy Medicine, or Energy Psychology.

    Carol, I’m very glad that you, for one, decided to emphasize reclaiming your own life. Not just a process of becoming an expert at naming old wounds.

    Certainly the grieving process can require that a person spend some time NAMING and UNDERSTANDING a problematic person — as in GWYNETH’s wonderful Comment 9.

    Yet, in my opinion, the sweet parts of growing won’t happen until an individual seeks to heal beyond this phase.

  12. 12
    Gwyneth says:

    Yes, spending loads of time in analysis isn’t helpful. It’s helpful to become aware, use the information, and get the help that will result in healing.

    I’ll add to Rose’s “Enough already” my frustration with those who may not analyze forever, but who live in the land of “Ain’t it awful, ain’t it awful, poor me, listen to me moan about how awful it is!”

    To them I want to say directly, “Enough already! Knock it off and quit being a victim already!” So many people seem to bond in that way and I have no patience for it.

    One thing that helped me make my way through this particular healing (along with the cord-cutting and the amazing Energy Release Regression Therapy work we did), was realizing at a soul level that I basically needed to strengthen my ability to stand up for myself.

    Of course, as a human, that was important, too! I understood that the learning or balancing I needed to do at a very deep level was taking back that kind of power.

    Somehow it helped me hugely to get that taking back my power involved, as Carol mentioned, not being afraid, but marshaling my resources to refuse to let him bully me. Oh, and I might as well mention that a very helpful resource along those lines was getting Rose’s help in selecting a lawyer to do just that.

    My response time and approach in the face of dysfunctional behavior is much faster now. I spend very little time on analysis and have little patience for people who choose to have those kind of discussions ad nauseum. “Why do you think he did that?? blah, blah, blah…”

    Long ago I used to spend time there, but thankfully I’ve grown enough to spend a whole lot more time on taking care of myself and taking whatever action that involves.

    I’m grateful for this thread, too, in that it’s cool to meet other people who’ve gone through such an intense “learning” experience and who get that that’s what it was about. I don’t dwell on it, but it is a little perspective shift I’m happy to make, to really being grateful for the turbo-charged progress it allowed me to make.

    I was dealing with this guy with no support from my family and most of my friends said things like, “Gee, I’m sure glad I’m not going through that!” Not exactly helpful, so it’s just nice to connect with others who’ve had a similarly intense experience.

  13. 13
    Primrose says:

    I think naming a wound is a very valid stage in the healing process, language is a useful thing! I like a balance between analysis and action. One without the other isn’t enough to change my behaviour.

  14. 14
    sarah says:

    Hi everyone, sorry if I haven’t been caught up with the thread as I have been busy with work. I am happy that the book has helped people. I do also suggest for any unskilled empath that the book helps you understand why you got there i.e in the relationship and how to get out of it but to be happy you need to have some more tools to continue to keep yourself in a place of being a better skilled empath which is why I also recommended Rose book on my resources page. The other thing I have notices it that healing sometimes takes longer for empaths if the have grown up with dysfunctional parents for the following reasons:

    First of all many of us are so ignorant about these types of personalities in the first place, But once we become educated when we start to realise what we have been dealing with and step out of denial, faced with hard evidence and facts we may also start to realise that their our own family of origin has the very same traits that the person we have been dating or conned by and a cognitive dissonance starts to develop partly due to denial. We don’t want to believe it. So we make up for it by pretending its not true.

    Also on an unconscious level we have a little flashing neon sign that these predators can see and we cannot that says “come and get me”. And as a result usually based on our childhood stuff as well want to blame ourselves and say its all our own fault that it happened which makes even more excuses for the abusers behaviour. The other thing is we want to make things right by trying to fix them up instead of fixing up our own issues that would be for example why would we have such low self and so on. Its a bit like the slot machine syndrome that George Simon talks about whereby we invest so much in the one armed bandit we are hoping for a payout someday.

    However the healing process can be long and difficult and very painful for some especially when we leave those old beliefs behind.

    Not only do we realise that everything about the relationship was a lie or a façade we may also start to realise that everything else we held dear was a lie too. This has a knock on effect on our healing process.

    1. we are grieving the loss of the liar, narcissistic, sociopathic person (fill in the gap) whom never even existed in the first place.
    2. we are coming to terms with the fact that our own family of origin were a façade too.
    3. we are grieving over the loss of their own identity because they feel that their own childhood was a lie too.

    The other thing is put all the energy we have focussed on the disordered personality such as the NPD, or the sociopath or psychopath and put it into themselves so that they can heal. They start to understand the reasons why they got into the relationship in the first place by searching for answers and eventually they find some kind of healing.

  15. 15
    Primrose says:

    Hi Sarah, I can’t imagine anyone getting involved with an abuser who hadn’t experienced abuse as a child. That’s only my own take on it of course, but I can’t see how a well balanced person would get anything from being with a very dangerous person. From my own point of view, I think I got involved with a dangerous person so that I’d fully understand how dangerous my childhood was. The healing process wasn’t lengthened by realising that, it happened because of that. If I hadn’t understood how dangerous my childhood had been I’d still need to heal that. I’d most likely be looking for another difficult person to engage with. I’m probably spltting hairs here, and I doubt you’d disagree with me, it’s just that I am very sure in my case that my “unfortunate” relationship was pretty much the best way I could discover the truth of my childhood. I guess I could have done it through becoming a drug addict or joining a cult, but I did it through finding a man who embodied all the negative (and positive) things about my parents. That didn’t lengthen my healing process, it sped it up. It brought me to my knees so fast I had no choice but to heal, and it opened up the reality of how it was for me as a child so I didn’t need to unravel anything in therpay. I was unravelled by the experience.

    I’d go so far to say that that experience was the most profound conduit for change I’ve ever had in my life. In 12 step there’s a saying “The gift of desperation” and I really know what that means. I wouldn’t exactly recommend that kind of relationship to anyone as a gift of a healing experience 🙂 But having gone through it myself I know it’s equal to cancer or substance addiction as a teaching tool, and like you, I’m happy I went through it.

  16. 16
    sarah says:

    Hi Primrose, Its interesting that you said that because to some degree I also believed that too however I spoke to a few women and men who said they had lovely childhoods and now childhood abuse whatsoever but then having said that maybe they are in denial. My own personal view is probably similar to yours in that if we as victims dont sort out our stuff the universe comes along to up the volume, its a bit like pandoras box with a lid on and a little voice underneath saying “hello hello, I am hear to remind you to deal with your stuff”. In my own case I hadn’t been dealing with it for years. Of course when we do as you put it “unravel” everything thats when true healing occurs.

    I think your sentence “It brought me to my knees so fast I had no choice but to heal”

    sums the whole experiene for most of us in a couple of words.

    From my own personal view I grew up thinking my chldhood was “OK” “normal” and “pretty good” and yet when all this finally came out I was told by one professionally that i had one of the most emotionally abusive childhoods a child could have which was then validated by meeting up with my brother after 15 years who had been enstranged from the from the family who had been told the same thing.

  17. 17
    Jennifer says:

    Agree on so many things….physically, verbally and emotionally abusive childhood..married a “nice guy”…even felt relieved i had dodged the bullet of being attracted to someone like my dad…because I didn’t think any of my relationships had really been like that…had an affair with a “narcisisst” that I had dated and been left by before my marriage…but I “knew” we had some sort of connection..people used to say we were perfect for each other…so he came back into my life…and probably in search of supply and as an always “willing” participant…I had an emotional and physical affair on the “nice guy”…I felt so horrible about what was going on I left the marriage because I couldnt stop but I couldnt do that to someone….I left for my own reasons…but not to be with that aforementioned guy…oddly I never got together with him…and then after the divorce..which Iblamed and guilted myself for ruining his life…I proceeded to date two very emotionally abusve men…the last one probably a true NARC…he brought me to my knees…and shattered me…and I read thrity books in a month trying to figure out what was going on…and when I did I walked away without a word…that was July 15th of this year…and Ive been healing ever since…all energy healings past lives etc…its been amazing…have an appt with Rose shortly to cut some cords…oh, did I happen to mention I had never dealt with the abuse from my childhood…I had prety much buried it…and thought…well I was a bad kid…it’s no mistake I ended up with the guys I dated…the last being so close to my father it almost scared the bejesus out of me when I started coming out of denial…the one thing I always said,” well at least he’s not hitting me” I never knew about emotional and verbal abuse…I never knew…and oddly I had been verbally abusive in many of my relationships…but I just thought thats how I was…I was a nice person..but when I got mad I would shatter the chandelier with an intricate web of explitives and put downs…its been an amazing journey..I have had no idea this would take me this far into my healing but it has…its mind blowing…oddly after two months the ex has been apologizing via email…shame because he lied so much I can’t really believe anything he says…yet even that puts me further into another nook of recovery…as I feel the compulsion every now and again to email him back and say ” well we were both in a bad place”….and then I realise not one of his apologies in our year dating and almost getting married..he bullied me into marrying him…said I didnt care if I didn’t…then he blew up at me the morning of the wedding and I had been reading boundary books by then and knew I did not have to take that…especially on the morning of the wedding…it was all about power and control…Ive been in victim lifetimes for a this was a message and lesson I had to learn this lifetime…and I attracted the perfect one to mirror to me how far disconnected I was form self and to show me this lesson…so that I could learn it once and for all…well, that among so many others…and I just think…there are still more to come…wow…writing this has quelled my desire to engage in him…hilarious!

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