Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Searching for Myself

Via Pharyngula (not that he directed it at me on purpose), a meme: what is the first thing that comes up if you search for yourself on Google Images?

If I search for Tam, this is the first thing:

for the normal version of my full name:

My name in quotes yields a picture of a woman who is not me, but linking it would give away my full name :-)

Anger in Relationships

Before Ed, I hadn't been in a relationship with anyone for...8 years? Something like that. Having a boyfriend again is lovely, but also strange in some ways. One of the problems I keep having is dealing with anger - both my own and his.

On my side, it's like this. I'm an irritable person, and I tend to snap at lovers. I've gotten way better about this over the years (and this was something I could work on with Mosch as well), such that I really no longer say things like, "Can't you eat like a human being?!?" but I'm still a bit over the top. Ed tends to take my irritation very seriously, which hurts him and is not the best response to it.

But when it comes to actual anger, I have a really hard time expressing it. Instead, I let it build up until I either go passive aggressive, or come out with the anger is an overly harsh way. (I was talking to Sally the other day and realized I have never, ever gotten outwardly mad at her. I really don't think I have. And, you know, I've known her for 15 years, so it's not like she's never pissed me off in all that time.)

When I do act angry, I usually end up feeling later that I was in the wrong. I can't really tolerate being wrong or unfair. So I usually either just try to get over what is bugging me, or else I express it and then feel wretched later.

On the other side of the coin, Ed is also irritable, and gets irritable with or angry at me more often than any boyfriend I've had. His anger is really clean - he's not scary and he doesn't say intentionally hurtful things. I sometimes think of it as a "clean, protective anger." It is usually about a demand for fairness or to be taken seriously. (Belittlement is intolerable to him.)

But it crushes me. I think partly because I grew up as the only child of a single parent, when my partner is angry at me, it feels like the end of all relationship. (Think about it. In my family of origin there was exactly one relationship.) It feels like he hates me. I don't usually get angry or defensive back - I just crumble inside, and want to do anything to appease him.

It's bad. I wish I wouldn't respond this way. I am still able to respond somewhat rationally to whatever he's saying - weigh his arguments, decide (generally) that he's right, apologize, and whatever is required. Sometimes I will make a case for myself when I think there's one to be made. He listens too. We often handle it well in the moment. But afterwards, or maybe later when he jokes about something unrelated, I'll cry. It builds up.

I want to learn more healthy ways of dealing with this on both sides. I'm less concerned about my own anger, because Ed can handle it, and I do eventually get my points across somehow. But I'm afraid my response to his, if I don't get over becoming a basketcase whenever he gets mad, may destroy things.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Schooling

I took this semester off from school, which was painful but necessary in light of having surgery. (I already work full time. School or surgery seems doable, but not both.)

I have four classes left before I can graduate, as follows:
  • Software Engineering Practices (my Senior Experience course)
  • Principles of Programming Languages
  • Linear Algebra
  • Abstract Algebra or (more likely) Probability & Statistics
Next semester, I'll take Software Engineering Practices (hereafter known as "sweprac") and Linear Algebra. I'm really looking forward to it, and I have a decent schedule (Tuesdays & Thursdays, 5-9pm).

This means I should graduate in December of 2008. I've been in school for a long time, and I do want to keep taking math courses basically forever, but graduating would be great.

The Boyfriend

Ed and I started dating in late May. It's been about five months now, and we are still together, with no signs of that changing any time soon.

He makes me really happy. He's in love with me (which is mutual, as should be obvious), and he's wonderfully emotionally supportive, a drama whore like me, and just great. I can't believe how great he is in these emotional ways. Also, the sex is the best I've had.

He's still working on his master's thesis. It's hard for him to stay productive with hardly any external constraints, but that's sort of the nature of theses. I have no doubt he'll get it done.

Lately, we spend about two evenings and one weekend day together each week. We also play an online game together (EVE Online), which gives us a light way to spend time together (online, of course, not in person) without it being too intense. (We have a habit of getting intense over IMs, and it doesn't always turn out well.)

His birthday is Monday, but we're celebrating it Friday. He'll be 24.

The Surgery

On August 29th, I had ACDF surgery - anterior cervical discectomy and fusion. In this surgery, which is to handle a badly herniated disc, they go in through the front (anterior) of your neck (cervical), remove one of the discs that acts as a shock absorber for your vertebrae (discectomy), replace it with a piece of bone (like a shim), screw the vertebrae together using a titanium plate and screws, and then hope your vertebrae will grow together with the bone shim (fusion).

The pain I've been dealing with on and off since 2003, and which was really terrible starting in January of this year, is 95% gone. I'm no longer taking any pain meds - not the gabapentin that I'd been taking since March, not even tylenol.

The tiny bits of pain I do have seem unrelated to anything that I do, and that itself is a huge relief. For years I was careful about how I moved my neck, how I held it, how I slept, etc., knowing I could easily trigger a flare-up. Right now I'm being careful because I'm still healing from the surgery, but nothing I've done seems to make anything hurt more.

It's too early to know for sure whether the fusion itself is succeeding, but the success rate among healthy young people (at least based on the control group of one study) is about 98%, so the odds are in my favor.

The surgery itself was pretty easy. I was miserable in the hospital afterwards (a ton of anxiety), but I never had much pain afterwards.

I am really glad I did that.

Updates Planned

I haven't posted here in for-freakin'-ever.

Partly it's because I've just been busy. Partly it's because one of my regular readers isn't speaking to me, and that's painful to think about. And partly...hell, I don't know. The most interesting parts of my life are things I can't write about here.

But I plan to write a series of small updates on various facets of my life, and I expect I'll keep this blog more updated after that point.

I wonder how long it will be before anyone even finds this post?