Day 220

Level 2 Chi Kung.

For the last month, I have been trying to get some fairly fundamental questions answered about the proposed EQC work to my house in Christchurch. Not only has my frustration at not being able to get answers to some fairly basic questions triggered my inner control-freak, but emotional factors are making it hard to approach the necessary decisions in a rational way. I have an emotional connection to the house (it belonged to my grandparents and later to my favourite uncle, and was my childhood refuge) which closes off some options which could, otherwise, potentially simplify my life. So, thinking about the house at all makes me feel anxious about tenants living in it and doing damage… and thinking about earthquake repairs leads me to think about the damned earthquake and how Christchurch is going to be a soulless, centreless, array of shopping malls and bloody sports stadia, with everything that gave it a bit of personality cleared away in the rubble… and then I think about that bloody Canadian Bishop and how I wish I was in range to throw rotten fruit. And of course, other than for sentimental reasons, the OTHER reason I keep the house is for us to use as a bolthole in case of World War 3… and this is all so aversive that my cunning brain has developed this neat way of just sliding off the subject so that… suddenly I’m no longer thinking about all that unpleasant stuff, because I’m happily engrossed in … well anything else basically. Which probably has a useful role in maintaining happiness and mental health, but tends to mean that weeks go past but no decisions are made.

So, when I say that, after several sleepless nights and some helpful conversations with kind friends (Marg Matheson, Ann Eade and Lynn Timpany, take a bow!) I finally got to the point where I just needed one more piece of information to feel comfortable making a decision, you’ll understand that that’s a big deal. The piece of information I wanted was a costed scope – in other words I wanted to know the amount that EQC would pay if I decided to manage the repairs myself. This is my legal right, and EQC had formally notified me in December that a full pay out was one of my three options. So I asked for the figure, and was told that ‘as the repairs had already started’, this was no longer an option. To which I replied that I didn’t know how the repairs could possibly have started as I had been told that they couldn’t start until I had agreed to, and paid in advance for(!) $10K of preliminary electrical work.

EQC: Oh I didn’t mean the repairs, I meant the ‘repair process’ – you know, all the paperwork.
J: But you wrote to me in December saying that the option of a full payout was still open and that there was no rush and I had until April 2015 to make up my mind.
EQC: Then we spoke on the 12th of January and you told me you wanted to go ahead.
J: We have never spoken. I live in the UK.
EQC: Oh.

Over the years I have identified two main ways in which I make really really bad decisions. The first is the ‘I can’t bear to think about this’ method described in para 1. The second is the ‘I know my rights and I will insist on getting them (even if it is no longer what I actually want)’ approach. The trick is not to oscillate wildly between the two, without ever pausing on ‘rational’ long enough to take a breath!

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