Since my last post “Don’t you know that you’re toxic?”, I thought more and more about how I (and when I say I, I mean we as people) process things happening in and around our lives.
How did we get here?
In my 20’s, I worked in the UK in offices with a lot of other folks. My work was very computer based, and I enjoyed figuring out the quickest and easiest way to get things done. I learned the old school ways, but I was eager to find a new process that helped speed up my work. I learned a lot of short cuts and eventually had a quick workflow. People were impressed.
Some colleagues would process everything manually just as their bosses had shown them, but I spent the time figuring how to get a quicker answer from a larger sample of data by refining my skills.
I realized it was the process that I was really interested in.
How could I do this more efficiently? How could I make sure I am getting the most out of this workflow? Is this even my responsibility? Can I change how I am doing this, to get better faster and get more accurate results?
Is this the best way to do this?
This is how I still live my life, except rarely is it in front of a database anymore, now it’s more about how I reflect and develop myself. I still feel it is not the result that I care so much about, it’s about how you get to that result.
Let’s take the blog post I published about my ex partner.
I published that blog to process my thoughts and feelings. I felt things, realized I’d bottled it up too long and it was time to let it out. I felt that as I had written a few blogs recently which helped me process my feelings and thoughts on both happy and sad subjects and I was happy with the development within myself after posting, I would do it again. I wanted to express how I processed our relationship, break up and post break up mess. Easy.
So, what was really interesting to me was how other people processed my blog so differently.
Extremes at both ends!
There were also the ones who didn’t respond; didn’t say anything, why is that? Because they didn’t care or have any thoughts about what I wrote? Because they didn’t want to have a conversation with me that they thought might become awkward? Because they already saw negative comments and didn’t want to give an opinion for or against?
I received private messages from folks who understood the purpose of the blog and how I still cared for my ex and mean her no harm. I had other people who (may or may not have read the blog completely) felt I was cruel and mean to publish such a thing and decided to publicly shame me.
Ironically, these messages and comments (good or bad) are just people’s reaction after processing their thoughts and feelings as I had done while writing it.
In fact, while I write (even now) I refine how I write… It’s a process within a process… Am I writing this document the best way I can? Is it complete? Should I clarify points further or delete parts that are useless information? Am I writing how I really feel or am I glossing over parts?
Funnily enough, I am surprised that none of the comments on the negative side affected me. I felt totally fine about someone called me a name or told me I was not a good person for posting something.
I realize I have learnt to process those negative responses in a way that doesn’t actually affect me personally. That was an outcome which I did not expect, but I was really pleased about.
In therapy we did talk about how people have treated me at times. My doc helped me realize while it’s not OK, I should remember anyone’s opinion of me, is just that: it’s their opinion.
I really enjoyed the fact that I didn’t feel any issue about them taking issue to my writing. Having a different point of view is totally fine. In fact I encourage folks to contact me to give me feedback, although I do prefer constructive criticism over personal attacks. But either way, I’m fine with it.
I stopped drinking alcohol almost 6 years ago… What a process that was, but I got there.
I hit my rock bottom in early 2015 (not surprisingly during a drunk fight with the above mentioned ex) and to get out of a psychiatric hospital in a foreign country, I promised the doctor I would not drink again. Just so you know, I have never felt better after making that decision, but the processing of my feelings, anxiety and depression were far from over.
Even to this day I am learning new ways to cope, to evaluate and to process in my heart, mind and soul what is happening around me and, more importantly, within me.
Ask any of my old band members, they’ll remember in mid 2017 when I was a couple of years sober, I was struggling on tour socially. At the time I couldn’t handle tour life. You see, I used to drink to medicate myself to be the life of the party. Now, as I had to face the issue of social anxiety head on or stay in bed, I realized I had to open up to my band members and ask them for support and understanding while I process what was happening within me.
I was learning to process my insecurities. I learned that speaking up isn’t such a bad thing. Being vulnerable isn’t such a bad thing…
After all, I’m only human…
It took me many months to come to terms with another band whose band members weren’t actually friends. I thought all bands members in all bands were friends. After all they share the cool vibes on stage… It’s how I have experienced it all my life. But this was a working band. Eventually the only way I could go on was by thinking, “this is a job, and you don’t always have to get along with your colleagues as friends.” I figured out a process that worked for me! I had to act on stage, and off stage, well, I did my own thing. It was tough at first, but I got there… After all, it is a process.
By the way, those band members weren’t particularly mean, they just had their way and I had to learn it. No harm, no foul.
For 7 years, with the help of my therapist in Germany, I learned more and more ways to cope, to process and to learn. I’m forever grateful for that process we went through together. The workflow… The goals… The listening… The talking… It was an amazing experience…
Now that I don’t have a doc, I’m finding new ways to cope with my issues (a new process to replace the old process…). That would be this blog… Just writing about my problems helps me process them and learn that really, I am doing well, I am handling things pretty well and my future isn’t as gloomy as I once thought.
I have surrounded myself with some amazing friends and I have a great family too. Just like talking to my band members, opening up and talking about my problems and fears has really given my life a positive turn.
I always thought I should behave like a man… And a man shouldn’t cry, shouldn’t tell someone he loves them (other than his Mum and wife) and has a duty to be stoic and tough… I am not that kind of man… I am human… I make mistakes, I have feelings and I know now, to talk about it all, to share it, helps me process it.
Often, just pressing “publish” after writing gives me a wave of relief.
For months and months I’ve been holding in my feelings about my daughter, Mijita, who I blogged about a few weeks ago. I had many sleepless nights, crying in frustration that I let her go. I couldn’t even look at a photo of her, without crying and feeling guilty. I felt pain. I was silly, and kept a lot of that in. I had to change how I was processing the loss of her in my life.
Then I wrote about her.
I hadn’t told anyone (other than a few close friends) how important she is to me until that public display of love and devotion. And it was a like a 1000 kilos were taken off my shoulders…
Today I looked at a few photos of her, and I smiled. She is such a wonderful dog, and I miss her so, but now I’m starting to think back with happiness. We spent 4.5 years together, trained, swam, hiked and explored the world together. We grew together, she was my first. I am learning to be grateful for her in my life, not sad that she’s no longer with me.
I’ve started to process the grief I felt.
Writing about Mijita has helped me so much with the trauma of saying goodbye to her… What a process… I’m so glad I figured out a way to find love again…
I will not look at my phone ever again just before going to sleep. Why? Because if I do get any message, from anyone, it sets the mood for my sleep. If I had just learned not to read those messages earlier, I’d have slept better on many many occasions.
The process is, don’t look at your phone if you wanna sleep well tonight. I love learning…
Yes, I know it’s a pretty simple thing to know—most of us know it—but my wife could easily read a message before bed and just roll over and sleep… Me, my brain thinks and thinks and doesn’t let up. I’m going around in circles in my head, then I start thinking about other things, the past, the future… scenario after scenario… And I’m wide awake for another 2 hours… Sometimes crying… Sometimes wishing I could shut off… Damn you boy, just don’t pick up the phone!
Speaking of my wife, she has ASD. Yes, that means she has what most of us know as Aspergers.
I’m always learning new processes to help our relationship. She is a unique person, and unlike most folks I know. I have learned to be as direct as possible. To be as open as possible. To make sure I am clear with any “suggestions”. I’ve learned to listen to her too, and to clarify anything that could be a “suggestion” or a direct request. I know she processes things differently to me, so I have to take steps towards her if I want to communicate with her.
We have a workflow, a process, a relationship. It’s unique to us, and it works for us. It keeps us talking openly. It keeps us in love.
I know I have to keep an eye out for her in social situations so that she doesn’t feel too overwhelmed and she knows full well how my anxiety can kick in (sometimes at the same time!). We help support each other’s process… And gosh damn it, I love the fact that we process our processes together..
Sometimes I forget about my past. What I mean is, I forget that I lived in Germany or the UK, I have like a black spot in my memory. I may even forget some of my friends! I forget some of the wonderful experiences I have had in my 18 years there. The next minute, I’m sad and missing the hell out of Europe!! What’s up with that?? I still haven’t figured that one out… Any ideas?
Of course then I feel guilty that I even forgot such amazing people, places and experiences in my life!
I’ve had long discussions with Alex about ourselves and others, figuring out ways to process what is happening within us and around us. We suggest theories back and forwards at a rate of knots. I’ve also had long extensive discussions with close friends about “people”, and how and why they do the things they do… Or how and why I do things… ! I love it… The theoretical hypothesis… and sometimes conclusions… And sometimes more processing… Sometimes no solution…
Recently I’ve been working on my part of Alex’s visa application to live in Australia. It’s a real pain in the butt, but part of the process for me, was figuring out the workflow and best practices to systematically provide evidence of our genuine and continuous relationship. Here I am at a computer, once again, figuring out the best way to make sure nothing is left behind, the results are full and complete and that I am satisfied with the quality of my work.
I continuously question what I am doing… Is it the best way? Can I do better?
Refine the process… Strive for success… Develop Ideas… Evaluate solutions…
Don’t we all do that??
If I’m not happy with how I feel, or how I’m feeling about something, I look at the way I’ve been dealing with it. I look at ways to change the process to gain a more comfortable feeling/result. Maybe I look at it from a different point of view. Maybe I question my reasons for feeling bad in the first place. Maybe I ask someone to be a sounding board for ideas how to cope better.
Often times, the solution, or change of process that I come up with, is not an easy one to execute, sometimes it confronts my belief system, sometimes it’s really hard (like a break up) but the result is actually an easy life… Didn’t someone once quote “hard choices, easy life… easy choices, hard life” ???
I hope my ex will reach out one day, to show me she has learned how to process breakups in a new and much improved way. I mean, that would be awesome, wouldn’t it? I’d love to learn how she got to that point, what thought process she took. What feelings she had to get to the point she could contact me again.
I’d answer her call without malice, without agenda, without judgement. Only interest… Cause my first question would be:
“How did we get here?”.
That’s right, no hard feelings. Not to my ex, not to those who wrote negative comments, not to anyone…
Honestly I’ve just tried to use this blog as a way to process my thoughts and feelings, to help you and me, by sharing what’s on my mind and in my heart.
Thanks for reading and being part of the process,