Saturday, March 29, 2014


Trust, that's a tricky one isn't it. Babies are born with absolute trust that their needs will be met. So at what age do we learn not to trust? No doubt it varies depending on life experiences, but at some point along the way we all learn the hard lesson that trust can be misplaced.

People betray our trust in them, it's a simple fact of life that it will happen to us all at least once. Sometimes it's an extremely painful lesson, sometimes nothing more than injured pride. So what do we do - trust nobody so that we do not get hurt again? That's an option, it used to be my only option for many years. However I eventually learned that not trusting anybody means not letting anybody close to you - sure you don't get hurt but you also don't get to feel strong emotions and that means you miss out on joy.

So the choice is a life without pain, but also a kind of vanilla life in a world packed full of flavours. No pain, but no intensity of emotion, no close friendships, no rollercoaster ride that comes with letting people close to you. Of course some people prefer the more sedate ferris wheel to the roller coaster and that is perfectly fine. Everyone is different.

But for me, I found that letting people - some people, ok a very few people - close to me has enriched my life in ways I didn't expect. (I should clarify here that letting people close, to me at any rate, means trusting them.) Mainly because I had no experience in letting people close so had no way of knowing what to expect. Most of the time I feel like the world has become drenched with colours instead of being sepia toned. I like it, I feel alive and it's a good feeling.

Of course when I am in that hole that I still sometimes fall into, the colours are darker and more dangerous, but then when I get myself out, I am in the bright shining light and it's far more preferable to me than my previous life of merely existing and observing the rest of the world.

So have I found the people I have let close to me to be trustworthy, am I going to say to you all go on, trust in your instincts, it'll be great! Well no, this is life, not a sitcom. I have made a few mistakes, I have trusted people I should not have trusted. Most recently it was a woman I mistakenly believed was a friend. I found out that she was not, she was in fact simply using my friendship in a deceitful and underhand way. That burned, but it only burned my pride. I felt a bit silly afterwards, and angry for a while. But I had no real emotional connection so it was pretty easy to chalk it up to experience and walk away with a lesson learned.

For me, giving trust is difficult, I found that the lessons learned by trust betrayed are ones learned deeply. I spent  - as I said - most of my life keeping everyone in my life at arms length. When I finally learned to break down the wall I had built around myself, and let people in, it was really very scary. It still is, sometimes.

When I was a child my trust was betrayed in a very fundamental way, and that caused deep emotional scarring. Hence the massive wall I build around myself. Breaking down that wall was hard. It was like I had to break down myself, and then rebuild myself. And facing the world without my internal protection was very frightening. I didn't look any different, but I felt so exposed. It took a very long period of adjustment, but I think I am almost there.

Still, I backslide sometimes, I have kneejerk reactions, I fall into depressions and I over-react. I know I do, but knowing and stopping oneself is of course not the same thing. I try, I learn, I hope I am making progress. I am a little like a child I think sometimes. Because I didn't let anyone close, for most of my life I didn't have major emotional crisis', at least none that I really recognised. That is because not only did I not let other people close to me, I also didn't let myself close to me. I didn't know my own emotions because I pushed them away as soon as I felt them. But I found out the hard way that emotions are still there even if you don't recognise them, and eventually continual denial leads to a breakdown. So now, I have not only opened my emotions and my trust to other people, I have also come to recognise my own emotions.

So I've been on a pretty steep learning curve the past few years. I have become a person completely different to who I used to be. I am I think a better version of me than I was, and I will I am sure be better again in the future. I think part of the meaning of life is to strive each day to be a better version of you than you were yesterday. It's not always going to happen like that of course and when that happens, when you want to throw yourself on the ground and have a huge tantrum followed by a pity party, remember we are all human and be the first to forgive yourself :)

Wednesday, March 26, 2014


So, you know I have bouts of insomnia. At one stage I was getting so little sleep that I was beginning to imagine myself as the bride of Insomnia - Queen Insomnia. My wedding dress was deep dark bloodshot red, with huge black flowers of the night on the skirt. I wore a black veil and had the most insanely gorgeous blood red stilettos. I was going to live with King Insomnia and assist in his job of poking people awake and keeping them awake, for which purpose I was given a sparkling deep red poker. I was seriously sleep deprived.

At that time I tried meditation to slow the frantic circling of words and thoughts that kept my mind active in the wee small hours of the night. Only I never thought to try it in the wee small hours of the night. I tried it when I went to bed so I could actually go to sleep (some nights I was still awake at 4am at which point it seemed a waste of time to even try to sleep). This worked - and I admit I was surprised - like a charm. I would go to bed, focus intently on my navel and start deep and rhythmic breathing (but not too deep so as not to hyperventilate - a most unpleasant feeling). This I found actually did calm me, and slowed the circling words, and loosened the tense muscles and even stopped the panic attacks which plagued me at that time also. And I was always asleep in less than five minutes. But I would usually wake at 3am and be unable to go back to sleep. And I never once thought to try the meditation at those times.

So the other night, when I realised that waking at 2.30am and not going back to sleep for the rest of the night was becoming a most unhappy pattern, I had a light bulb moment and decided to try meditation. What a trippy time I had then! When I wake at 2.30am I've had a few hours sleep so I'm not so exhausted. Meditation, I found, does not conclude with sleep in five minutes, I'm still awake. So what happened was rather different. I think that I have not exactly mastered this particular activity, or maybe it's an art.

I breathed out, slowly, focusing on my navel, and I felt my body start to relax. I breathed in, and my mind leapt into action, multiple thoughts fighting for dominance and my body tensed up again as I tried to push all the thoughts away. I breathed out, slowly, focusing again on my navel and my body started to relax. I breathed in and my mind again started spinning. I became a little frustrated - I know, only two breaths in and out, not enough time and all that but it was 2.35am and I really wanted to go back to sleep.

So I decided to try the classic Ommmmm sound but inside my head because out loud at 2.30am would have sounded really silly and pretty loud. So I did this on the out breath, but on the in breath my mind jumped into action again. So I tried the Ommmmm sound in my head again breathing in, but my mind insisted it should be Mmmmmmoo because I'm breathing in not out and it should be backwards. It made sense at the time and anyway I couldn't change how my mind insisted it should be.

So I was Ommmmmming out and Mmmmmooing in and it started to work. My body relaxed and I felt at peace. I even began to feel like I was at one with the universe and as soon as I thought that my brain started imagining me dissolving into particles and I jolted back into myself. And had to start again. And it started to work at which precise point my bladder reminded me it was definitely not at one with the universe. So a quick nocturnal journey and back to bed and back to the beginning. And it started to work, and I started to feel that dissolving sensation again and my mind presented me with a picture of a body shattering into a starburst and I was jolted awake and had to start again.

This time, just to mix things up a bit, at that point between breathing out and breathing in, my mind felt it was ok to frantically think of as many things as possible before it was silenced by the in breath. I found this very disturbing because it was like the words and thoughts in my head slowed their spinning and then sped up really really fast, and then slowed again. That was when I gave up. It was now 4am. I pulled a pillow over my head, rolled onto my side and decided I wasn't going to sleep so I may as well plan the current chapter in the book. I scared myself silly, because my heroine has her first encounter with the werewolf and I imagined the scene a little too well. I fell asleep with visions of yellow eyes in my head and that was my attempt at meditation. I woke feeling like I had been run over by a truck.

Tonight, I'm going to try something different, something I have done before but had forgotten about until now. When I was a child I also had periods of insomnia - actually I had many more sleepless nights than restful ones and that is why I always woke so slowly and so grumpily in the morning. Anyway, at some point I was told about/read about/came up with on my own/can't remember now an effective relaxation technique. It worked then so I'm sure it will work now.

It's kind of a style of meditation, in that the idea is to quiet the mind. But not by emptying the mind; by instead giving it something to focus on. So you start with your toes, and you relax them as much as you possibly can. You focus on your toes and you make sure each one is comfortable and relaxed. Then move onto the feet, ankles, calf muscles, knees - well you get the idea. If you lose focus you assume the entire body has tensed up again and you start from the toes once more. By the time you get to the neck the whole body feels like a dead weight and probably you won't get to the neck before you sleep.

If nothing else, it will slow the words and the thoughts, and give my overactive brain and imagination a rest. I am writing again, and that always help to centre me and it empties my mind of some of these words which is a relief. Not so much at 4am of course when I almost conjure the creature into existence, but still, it feels good to be writing again. When I write, I feel like I am doing what I was meant to do and there is nothing quite like that feeling.

So, to bed, perchance to sleep - with apologies to Shakespeare.

Sunday, March 23, 2014


Perspective, life is really all about perspective. I got thinking about that yesterday when I went to do the grocery shopping without gamer son, and with my new contact lenses in. Can't see the connection? Well, with my new contacts, I see the world the same way every other person with normal vision does.

That means that everything to me is enlarged, and it created some unexpected problems. I found that when I select the things that I buy every week, I go by their size. Not by the size on the side of the packaging, but by the visual size. And because everything is now enlarged to me, I found myself second guessing. Everything just looked too big, and I spent a few minutes wondering if for some reason the items I usually purchase were repackaged into bigger sizes. I will add that my quandary was caused by items that come in multiple sizes...

I did realise before very long what was happening, but I still had no idea which of these suddenly bigger items were the ones I usually buy. It was an unexpected problem because while these items looked suddenly larger, so did everything else, so they should have been easy to figure out in relation to everything else. But that was not the case. My brain has clearly been conditioned to the sizes I am used to seeing and it just could not make the distinction between old size and new size.

It was an odd time, and that was how I started thinking about perspective. Not really something I recommend doing while also selecting grocery items and keeping a mental running total so as not to go over budget. However my mind so often goes off on a mental path by itself that I just let it go, and my musings became the script inside my head while the more practical part of me was adding up totals and being astonished and horrified by the price of oranges.

Perspective can mean many things. I started thinking about the perspective by which we see the world through our eyes. This is affected by many things, vision being the most obvious. But also I think what we see is influenced by many factors. When you start learning about how the brain interprets the signals it receives from the eye it can cause a bit of an overload. Well for me it did anyway. I immediately started thinking about the fact that the  brain is merely translating what the optic nerve sends it, and compensating for things like the blind spot that all people have (didn't know that? We do, it's the spot on the retina where the optical nerve connects the retina to the brain. At this spot there are no light detecting cells and thus a blind spot. When both eyes look at the same thing often one will pick up what the other misses, and the brain compensates by 'whiting out' that blind spot. The brain is an amazing organ, and the way it compensates for various things - such as the world shrinking and the way with strong corrective lenses the edges of vision are pulled up but in a few days flatten again as the brain corrects this - is simply amazing.) From there I started thinking what if? Like what if what the brain thinks we see is not what is really there but is only an interpretation of what it thinks the eye has sent it, and that has been tampered with - and my brain started to implode.

There are many scary but mathematical explanations (maths is scary) about how we see and it sent my imagination into overdrive until it was more like overload. Even the way we 'see' colours sent my imagination off into the cosmos. Colour is light of different wavelengths and frequencies and I listened to a super intelligent person called Brian Cox, who is a particle physicist, explain how colour appears as it does to us and it basically reformed my understanding of the entire universe.

But I digress. Even if two people are standing together they will not see the exact same thing. Well they will, but they will each focus on something different and phase out different things. Certain details get overlooked, others become more of a focus. As an example of what I am trying to say here, say there are two people looking at a plant. One loves flowers and the other is fascinated by bugs. So, one person will see the flower on the plant and maybe miss altogether that there is a caterpillar on one of the leaves. The other will focus on the caterpillar and maybe not notice much about the flower. When asked later he or she may only remember that it was red.

Our eyes are not perfect, and our brains do not give the same attention to all of the detail (not including here people who are trained to notice everything about a scene). When we look at something we often see only a part of it and the brain simply skims over the rest. This, in a very roundabout way, brings me back to perspective. What we see depends on many factors - eyesight, interest, personality, experiences to mention only a few. So nobody sees a scene in exactly the same way.

For me, I have spent enough months not wearing contact lenses that the shrunken world visible through my glasses became normal to me. Now I must adjust to this enlarged world, which is in fact what most people see. But to me, my previous view was normal. As a child, my blurred vision was normal. We all think that how we see things, our perspective, is normal. We think that everyone else sees things the same way. A colour-blind person thinks a washed out world is normal and can't imagine it any other way. A person who is not colour blind cannot imagine what that other person sees - unless shown a photo.

Perspective, each of us has a different view on the world, in every way. And we should all of us understand that every single person on this earth is a unique individual, with a one of a kind view of the world both externally and internally. We are different, every single one of us; like snowflakes there is not a single person exactly the same as another. We should celebrate our own unique perspective of the world and we should celebrate everyone else's. We are all unique and that is the wonder of this world, it should never be a problem.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

I know, I know, it's been AGES since the last post

It really has been ages, I know and I'm sorry. So much for my promise to write more frequently here. A lot of things have happened, some to do with my plans, others unconnected and unexpected.

Top of the list of unconnected and unexpected things, Gamer Son developed a pain in his right side, and yep you guessed it, appendicitis. Such a common thing, and such a relatively simple operation these days. Laparoscopic surgery - two small incisions and the offending appendix is removed through the navel. This actually gives me the shudders to think of something being hauled out through the navel but that's my own belly button phobia thingy.

But you know, when it's your own child suffering the pain of appendicitis, having two doses of morphine and the associated nausea from it, suffering the post operative pain plus the pain from all that gas they pump into the stomach cavity trying to find its way out - well it doesn't seem so simple or common. Driving home at 3am after he has finally had the operation and is sleeping off the sedative, it doesn't seem so easy.

We are all a little (or a lot) desensitised to things like this. And I suppose we have to be, nobody can feel total empathy with the entire world, and things like tonsillectomies and appendectomies are minor procedures. But they are not minor to the people going through them, and the people who love them. That's something I think we all forget and maybe we should try to remember. So the next time I hear of someone having had or about to have minor surgery I will be far more sympathetic. Because it's only minor to the people not directly involved.

Apart from that, not much has changed on the surface but there has been a lot of preparation going on inside my head and also inside my computer! And I have not been here, I just run out of hours in the day when I am awake enough to be able to string two words together. The words in my head are always there, but when I am tired they kind of blur, and if I try to let them out my fingers can't seem to connect to the stream and nothing happens - or total rubbish happens that I delete with vigour the next day.

As seems to be the way with life changes, things are pretty chaotic, at least in my head. It's all coming together but a lot of the time it doesn't seem that way. But it is, and I am certain it will all gel at the right time. Even though I am leaping into change without a safety net, I am actually preparing contingency plans and trying to pull a lot of different threads together to make a strong net of a different sort. It's hard to explain, I'm changing my life, totally changing it and I'm trusting in a future I can't see clearly. But at the same time I'm planning and thinking and arranging things more carefully than I ever have before. I'm this strange mix of faith in an uncertain future and careful planning in the equally uncertain present. I am confident that it will all work out, I am sure that the Universe or God or whatever you like to call the higher being is directing my life and that I am going in exactly the direction I should be, and that I will end up in exactly the place I am meant to be.

In other life changing events, today I went to the optometrist. This is a thing I try not to do. I needed to go, I needed new glasses. My excuse for procrastinating was the expense and it was an extremely valid excuse. But the true reason is that I am terrified of the optometrist with the same primal fear that I have of the dentist. But for a different reason obviously.

I have exceptionally poor vision. When I was a child I had no idea that trees had individual leaves, or that blades of grass could be seen and not just a green blur. I didn't know you could see birds flying, mosquitos about to bite you, green ants before they bit you on the toe. I didn't know that the bark on trees has that mottled look or that people's expressions could be seen. I lived in a very blurry world and I didn't know it could be any different.

Imagine this child with her first pair of glasses. It was a completely different world and I was mesmerised by all I could see. I felt like an alien in a brand new world. The optometrist I had in those days was an unusual man. He gave me eye exercises to do, simple exercises to strengthen my eye muscles. I don't know whether this helped or not but it certainly helped with the headaches I got when I got a new pair of glasses or when I needed new glasses. My eyes changed rapidly and I needed new glasses every six months, so I saw my optometrist frequently.

No sign of anything to fear is there? Well he told me very firmly that there was every chance that I would be blind by the time I was 30. He told me more than once, since every time I saw him my eyes were significantly worse. I believed him of course and that is why to this day I cannot sleep in a completely dark room - I wake in a panic if I try. Some nights I would lie awake for hours, staring at a patch of light, terrified I would wake up blind - because he didn't tell this literal child that it would be a gradual thing so I thought it would happen overnight.

Anyway I digress, but that story is why I put off going to the optometrist. But today I went, basically shoved in the door by my mother. And what a life changing event that proved to be. My level of myopia means that my glasses are very strong. That means that even with the awesome thinned lenses, I still have thick lenses. With the correction of the myopia comes a shrinking of the world and the loss of three dimensional sight. To correct the sight in a short sighted person things become shrunk - enlarged for a long sighted person. Because everything is shrunk the brain eventually accepts it and adjusts to it.

However because of the effects of wearing glasses at my level of vision, as soon as my vision stabilised (and I did not go blind, at least not yet) I got contact lenses and that was another epiphany for me (I sat and stared at a vase of flowers, astonished by three dimensional sight). But I have not worn them much over the past few years because of difficulties of the fit. Another effect of my level of vision is the difficulty in getting contacts to fit. I wore hard lenses, it was too difficult to get soft lenses for my vision. It would always take weeks to get a proper fit so that I could see, the lenses didn't hurt, the tears could escape, etc etc etc.

So imagine my shock when today a pair of soft contact lenses were taken off the shelf - a stock pair not a specially made pair - and popped into my eyes and like a magic trick I could see better than I have been able to see in five years. I nearly cried. The world suddenly appeared to me the way it appears to everyone who can see normally. Three dimensional, full size, no blurs, no fuzziness, no halos around lights - just normal vision.

So while I am still getting horrendously expensive glasses - the expense is thanks to the special lenses I need - I am also getting monthly disposable contact lenses and I feel like a small miracle happened today. Well I did until I tried to get them out. Soft contacts have to be pinched out, not blinked out, and I have yet to master that particular knack. But I will.

So that is where I am at. There is a mess in my head, the knowledge that soon a lot of things will be happening. There is the very human desire for nothing to change, and the very Sheryl desire for nothing to change. But it will, it has to and I know that once I am past this final bit, it will be a good change. My life is about to begin again, and I will be able to see it happening!
Todays pics, althought he may not thank me, Gamer Son the day after the operation, and I think the other two are self explanatory :)