Sunday, 13 April 2014

All the world's a stage

The five stages of grief usually experienced with a major loss are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.


They don't have to happen in that order either and often stages will be repeated if they are not dealt with properly.

When I go through a big life change that I have no control over, these are the steps that I traverse.

People go on about acceptance as if it is something that you just decide on but that is not the case. Healthy human beings are supposed to feel feelings and not repress them.

I don't mean suppressed because suppression is consciously stopping yourself from feeling something. Repression is a form of denial where you don't even accept the thought or feeling exists.

Not dealing with emotions is what leaves people in a state of subconscious turmoil and dissatisfaction.

Acceptance is the end goal but it can sneak in earlier on as a form of closure at each stage.

My recent big loss has seen my journey to acceptance occur with severe peaks of each feeling that subside and leave me feeling the longed for closure.

I experienced denial first. I didn't even take the situation seriously because I didn't even entertain the idea it was happening. That lasted about 3 days.

Once I did entertain the idea, depression hit. I'm great at dealing with depression though since that is what my tool belt was built for. That didn't last too long - maybe a week.

Bargaining wasn't really a big part of me coping this time. I knew there was no point to it. I don't believe in asking someone else to fix something and I was aware of how little I would achieve so I tried a couple of times and then wrote that off. Total time was about four hours. Nothing takes less than half a working day.

Then came anger. Anger is something I've stopped suppressing now. For years, I let others be angry with me and I was always sorry. Then I would feel anger and not express it because I thought that made me a psycho bitch. I don't think that anymore. People are allowed to be angry. Emotions are fine as long as you aren't stuck on one for a long time. Even constant non-stop happiness without a peppering of other feelings is considered unhealthy. We are feeling creatures so we must feel.


In this case, I felt angry and not at myself. I expressed this in a burst of communication that lasted less than five minutes and then I felt better. Who knows how the receiver felt but to be honest, I don't much care.

And I don't much care because I have finally got my closure. I was treated horrendously. I took it as maturely as I could and showed compassion and understanding. But to achieve closure and move forward, I need to feel all those stages. Even anger. The one stage I still struggle to accept the good in but conceptually do comprehend.

Now, it is that time. Time to go on with life as I was contently doing two months ago before his all happened.

Now, I can and I am proud of myself for that.


Friday, 11 April 2014

Forgiveness

I grew up in a home that had some religious people and others who weren't. I am not religious but have no gripe with anyone who is. At least not based on their religion.

One concept that I noticed always popping up was forgiveness for others and for yourself. Not in a god granting forgiveness way but more in an accept what has happened and let go of the pain you carry way. Like putting down a weight you've been carrying while walking backwards on shale in 4" stiletto heels.

Last night, I wrote two blog posts: One wallowing in the self pity of heart break; and the other forgiving myself and forgiving someone who had hurt me.



Even now, I speak in the past tense because it feels like it is behind me. There will be moments of sadness but nothing so terrible that I cry.

I re-read them both and posted the one I thought represented me most sincerely. It was the latter.

It felt better to express that emotion than the sinking sadness alternate.

Today, I walked in to the workplace and felt free. For the first time in two months, I did not feel stressed, guilty, annoyed, sad or afraid. Especially, not afraid.



I've been feeling a strange mix of fear and sadness but today felt like it had a long time ago when I just felt happy and content.

I achieved so much at work, caught up with colleagues and friends, ticked off most of my to do list, connected with new people and felt a genuine sense of belonging that I'd misplaced.

Damana is back. All hail the Warrior Goddess reborn from the ashes.



Thursday, 10 April 2014

Happiness is a Kong Foo Sing

With every challenge that life presents, I find that silver lining.

Sometimes, I think it might be delusion but then the mirage of contentment materialises and I'm lying on a beach with a cocktail in hand, while I wait for the cute waiter to bring me my tempura prawns with wasabi mayo. Bliss.

I recently experienced a loss of a good friend. He is not dead. Just no longer a friend. It felt quite awful and still hurts but I feel lucky that we spent time as good friends.



He taught me so much about life and myself. He taught me about gentleness and patience. He reminded me of how much I love words and people who wield them. He showed me that perfect souls exist but are cast imperfect by situation. He taught me to be a better engineer and to never stop fighting for what is right over what is easiest.

Most of all, he taught me how to forgive someone for not choosing you. True compassion and friendship means allowing someone to walk away from you because that is what is best for them, no matter how much you bleed as a result.

If one day someone feels towards me the way I do for him and allows me to do what I must do and be who I must be then I will make them my friend for life.

That is friendship. When I choose you over me.

I am a good person. I just never saw myself that way until now. Until he taught me.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Fahrenheit 451


Book 11 of 2014 and the 3rd book I have read in ten days, is Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451.

The name comes from the temperature at which books will burn. It is about a future world where firefighters are no longer needed to put out fires since buildings are built to be fireproof. They are instead responsible for seeking out and burning books in a world similar to the middle ages where information is destroyed in order to prevent dissention.

I did spend a lot of time after this reading about the periods through history when books were burned. It is both disturbing and depressing to think of how much we regressed in those times. Where would humanity be now if those incidents never happened?

There were a lot of original ideas in this book but to be honest, it is not the kind of writing I enjoy. It feels like a lengthened short story and on further investigation, I found that it basically was.

Yes, this is my third book in three days. When I can't stop my brain from overthinking EVERYTHING, I read. It lets me escape my own thoughts and enter in to a world in which I don't exist. I share the concerns of the protagonist and forget my petty worries. I wonder if other people go to books to escape stress.

It might be time to move away from dystopian science fiction for a while. Not sure what awaits me now. Maybe I need a Kindle shuffle feature. Or I can just throw my to-read book pile in the air and read the next one I catch.

Should I read this? Honestly, don't bother. There is much better science fiction out there. This is a classic because it helped shape the genre. Read its spawn and leave this on that list of stuff to read when they've burned all the other good books.
What did I learn? The autoignition point of paper.

Selfishness is a side effect

I sat down with my boss today and received an insight that changed the entire way I see a situation and how I will approach it from now on.

Instead of thinking I was the cause of a situation, I can now accept that what I'm experiencing has nothing to do with me.

Without giving any detail, all I can say is that it was a "well duh!" moment.

Often I look to myself to understand why something adverse is happening to me. Other times, I'm just completely selfish and think the world revolves around me :)

Talking to people is a good way to understand a situation when I've come up with no reasons of my own. Must remember that.

Monday, 7 April 2014

Omniscience and then Null

I once knew everything you thought or I was able to ask for it.
You handed it up on a plate and I plated mine up on hand.
You bled for me. I did not drop a single platelet.
You wanted to understand and I wanted to explain it all to you.

Then it stopped and not because of anything I could control.
You took away that access like it had never been there.
You boarded up the windows and put that part of you back in a box on the shelf.
You didn't want to understand but I still wanted to explain.

And I see you five days of seven.
And I look down like I have done something wrong but I haven't.
And I wonder what you think and imagine only the worst possible things.
You don't care to understand and the apathy shows clearly.

I once knew everything you thought but now I don't.
You no longer know I exist and maybe I don't.
You wouldn't piss on me if I was on fire and I am.
I want to understand but I never will.

Acceptance Criteria



In software engineering we have a way of working that we refer to as "agile." It means that we behave in a way that makes it easier for us to adapt to change.

I often joke that I work as an agent of change so that I can make others change and not myself :)

There is an idea we work around that says that before we start any task, we must define upfront how we will know that a task is completed.

We call this the Acceptance Criteria.

Today, I applied this concept to a life situation and it helped me accept that what I thought was a case of friendship was really no more than a case of me being played.

As readers of this blog well know, I can be easily be convinced that 'gullible' has been removed from the Oxford English Dictionary. This often underwrites my tendency to believe people when they tell me something and that they are not lying to me. As a logician, I see the flaw in this statement immediately but apparently not in reality.

The acceptance criteria today involved checking what it means for someone to actually care for me. A friend for instance. A person who cares about how they make me feel and care that I am not made sad by their actions. A person who takes the time to understand where I am coming from. A person who gives me the benefit of the doubt. A person who would not act against me, no matter the situation.

Application of said criteria resulted in a fail.

I am a good friend. I am learning that I can not expect that from everyone.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Don't Overthink It Protocol



There is a Nietzsche quote that always pops in to my mind when I'm in the depths of introspection.

"And when you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you."

This is the point where I instigate the Don't Overthink It Protocol (AKA: DEFCON 3), which consists of the following...

  • Accept what you can not control;
  • Distract yourself with activities;
  • Read a LOT;
  • Plan things to look forward to; and
  • Forgive the person who put you here.
Saying this out loud always helps me. It isn't a silver bullet but it is an easing of the melancholy.

Why I Run



The last six months have seen me start jogging again. It does involve a lot of walking but I run more now than I ever did before. Even on those cold mornings and dark wet evenings, I run.

I run because it makes my heart beat fast. Then I need to breathe. All I can think about is breathing. The rest of the world disappears and so do the thoughts in my head.

I run to stop thinking.

Stop thinking of the words written, those long ago peripheral glances and the silence. The deafening, wounding unending silence that feeds my pensive sadness.

There is an odd point when running where I feel myself coming up to the final few metres and my body is begging to stop but my brain doesn't want to. My brain doesn't want to because then it will start thinking again and that never ends well. Too much introspection is never a good thing.

So I keep on running.

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?


Book ten of 2014 for me, is Phillip K. Dick's dystopian tale Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? This of course is the book that the movie Bladerunner is based on.

Yes, I'm on a roll at the moment and that is probably due to the fact that this is another book I have read in the past. That was over a decade ago so I did have to read it carefully. There were a lot of new things I discovered that made this a magical and slightly depressing journey.

The androids that are being retired are of the class Nexus 6. This all brings together Google's naming of its tablet device as the Nexus 7. Of course, it runs the Android operating system. Yes, I'm slow on the uptake :)

There is far too much awesome in this book to list it all but the analysis of depression, life purpose and selective empathy are informing and disarming. As an existentialist, I now see more in this book than I would have when I read it previously. The questions of what is considered life and what happens when human beings detach from what makes us human is brilliantly thought inspiring.

Phillip K. Dick and everything he ever wrote was an obsession of mine in the mid-noughties. To revisit books I remember loving and finding them wonderful again is both a relief and a motivation to re-explore my favourite authors. Since life is short, I should pick books that I have not already read.

This though, I do not regret re-reading at all.

Should I read this? Yes. Another yes, you must be getting tired of me recommending books but this is an excellent read. PKD is an original author with challenging ideas set in unfamiliar places. Maybe that is why he could explore those topics. Aldous Huxley is another author in the same vein. Maybe it is just my dystopian view of the world that makes this so good but try it.
What did I learn? We all dream of electric sheep.

Pride and Prejudice



My 9th book of 2014 is one of my old favourites, Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice.

I have read this book more times than can remember. My estimate would be about two dozen full reads and a few more skims through.

It is a book I pick to remind myself of a world where women were disempowered and found ways to be themselves and buck gently against the system.

People think it is all about love but it isn't. Love is not the point. It is about two people finding respect for each other. Without it, love means nothing. Mr and Mrs Bennet are an example of not having that respect. Lizzy's father talks about marrying a woman he does not respect and living with himself for the rest of his life knowing that. He hopes his daughters don't get the same deal when they marry.

A friend asked me yesterday why I have read this book over and over again. I thought for a while and supposed it was a cool love story or strong women or the restrained drama... but, no. I read this over and over because of the words. It is so well written. The banter is brilliant and quick. The book itself is more than just the story and how it is told but is also the words used and how they are placed. Having read everything Austen wrote, I can say this is consistent but none as good as this classic.

Should I read this? Over and over again. Whether you are male or female, this book is one you should read. At least one Jane Austen book should be on your list of classics read.
What did I learn? I still love this book 23 years after first reading it.