23 January 2021

First post in the new year! *confettis*

I don’t have anything in particular I want to report today. I just found myself with an hour on my hands and thought: hey, why not blog! So here I am.

While I’m here, let me write about what’s on my mind.

The past few months have been an exercise in endurance and dissociation. The good news is: I’m getting much better at it. The bad news: the end is not yet in sight.

I’m talking about setting up my company and preparing the move to Vietnam, which I’m still hoping will happen in March. Before I decided to set up a company to get an investor visa to stay in Vietnam, I was warned that it would be a long, arduous, and frustrating process.

And I’d say that it has been, but not necessarily because of the process itself. The process is pretty simple. The problem, I think, is the support—or lack thereof—I’m getting to navigate it.

The solicitor I hired to get the job done is getting the job done. So on one level they’re doing their job. But they could be doing so much more. When you hire an expert, your expectation is that they will walk you through the process, tell you what you need to know when you need to know it.

As you can probably guess by now, this has not been my experience.

Every step of the way has felt like a “guess the right question” game. Because if you ask the right questions, you will get the answers that you need. (Though of late, my questions are beginning to go unanswered.)

The problem, of course, is when you’re faced with a new process, you don’t necessarily know what you don’t know and need to know. Which has left me in a bit of a quandary.

Even the simple question of how I’m taking payment from my client is unclear. The legal company finance set-up in Vietnam being cumbersome doesn’t help. But the bigger problem is not getting briefed about the whole picture when I needed it.

So now I find myself in a situation where I’m not exactly sure how I’m going to be able to finance my living expenses. I thought I got it all figured out back in September 2020 and had forgotten all about it, until I received a crucial piece of information from my partner (not my solicitor) a few days ago.

And that’s thrown everything up in the air. A matter I thought I’d settled long ago again becomes an open case. Something I need to figure out. And when you’re navigating several processes at once, having an extra thing to figure out is not good news.

That’s the exercise in endurance part. Since September now, my mind has been asked to process ever more information, come up with ever more questions, make ever more decisions on matters in which I have no experience or legal knowledge of. With inadequate support from the people I’ve hired to guide me through the process (thanks guys).

With each hiccup, my mind has gone in overdrive, trying to grasp a situation with a dozen moving pieces. And there have been many.

So, company or not, I’m definitely coming out of this process with a much more enduring mind/brain/thinking capacity—whatever you wish to call it.

The second exercise has been in dissociation. And I’d say it’s the more important exercise from which I will benefit for the rest of my life.

(Ironically, I have my solicitor to thank for this. And I have a sneaky suspicion that in the very long run, this will be their legacy to me, and I will truly thank them for it. In the immediate run though, they’re just a basketful of frustrations. And grateful isn’t how I’d describe my predominant feeling towards them.)

To get back to my point, these past months have given me ample opportunity to practice dissociating my emotions from the many headaches I’ve faced. With each revelation of an obstacle, each near-miss, I’ve learnt how to not get drawn into it emotionally.

To a point where my feeling train now goes like this: first, surprise (What!?) Then panic (Shit, shit, shit. How do I solve this!?) Then slight annoyance/frustration (Damn you person X). Amusement (It really does get worse!) And then just: Ah well. Shit happened, now gotta fix it.

The thing is: that feeling train comes and goes quickly. The succession of feelings is quite intense when it’s there. But once it passes (and this is usually in minutes, though for worse offences this could be hours), it passes. Gone, nada. I don’t simmer in frustration or anger at my solicitor or whatever has broken in the process.

And that’s made my life much more pleasant than it could have been.

Yes, the anxiety of going through the myriad of processes not knowing when something might break is still there. And I guess the next step for me in the path to becoming a Dissociation Master is to learn how to let go of that anxiety as well. But there is no frustration, no anger.

Just meh.

And I love it. I love that I’m able to not be constantly frustrated with my solicitor, that I’m able to laugh about it to myself. That this process isn’t doing my head in (as it probably would have had it happened a year ago).

I’m not sure why I’ve gotten better at emotionally handling things. Maybe it’s the meditation… it probably is to a non-negligible extent. But I think the endurance is also feeding into it. My mind has been tested so much to the point where it’s grown numb. And I think that numbness is spilling into my emotions as well.

There goes my wacky theory.

The mind will always find something to worry about. But paradoxically because I’ve had so many things to worry about in the past months, my mind seems to have become numb to them, and what would have been intense worries is now a much more manageable low-level anxiety.

Also, because shit keeps hitting the fan, I’ve developed perspective. What seems pressing/world-ending in the moment often isn’t. And the next day it just becomes another problem to solve. So I allow myself a brief ride on the feeling train, and the next morning it just recedes into the background. And I find other things to occupy myself with.

I’m thinking: while all this is going on, I might start building my company website. It’ll be a fun thing to do and divert my attention away from the mess of the company set-up.

Or I can just continue writing my book. That’s a different endeavour altogether. I started writing it the other day. This in itself was a milestone. But I haven’t gone back to it since.

Taking more subtitles work would also help. That would certainly turn my attention away from company stuff to subtitling. It’s quite an immersive experience and having to manage the time between my full-time job and subtitling will give me plenty to think about.

Anyhow, this has turned into quite a long post and I can feel myself starting to ramble. Let me recap:

  • Higher endurance
  • Better dissociation
  • Low-level anxiety
  • Finding diversions

How has the new year been for you guys? I hope you’ve had fewer headaches than I have.

But who am I kidding? We all have our own headaches, and plenty of them.

As my boss would say, life is about trading bad problems in for better problems. And I’d certainly say the problems I’m having now aren’t bad at all.

Love,

Val

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