Controlling People and the Fight Over Gay Marriage
I'm currently reading "Controlling People" by Patricia Evans, an interpersonal communications specialist who deals with verbal abuse and control in various types of relationships.  The book deals with the underlying forces at work in seemingly well-meaning people who make those around them feel oppressed, uncomfortable or attacked.  The bulk of it deals with interpersonal relationships, but she expands her ideas to explore how they apply to groups, and how different groups attempt to define or control each other.  Given the recent Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage, I wanted to share some reflections on my part.

A bit of background on Evans' ideas: abuse and control stem from a refusal to recognize another person as separate from oneself.  She uses an example of a husband who, when out to dinner with his wife, flew into a rage and yelled at her when she ordered linguine.  This is, clearly, irrational.  But his perception of reality was that this woman ought to know what he was thinking- in this case, that he wanted to order a pizza for them to split.  He hadn't said anything, but rather assumed that she agreed with him.  Evans describes controlling people as needing to feel that the people closest to them- whether that be their spouse, their best friend, employees, or childhood imaginary friend- share all of their thoughts, feelings, opinions and preferences.  This one-mindedness is a basis for their security, and allows them to anchor their sense of personal safety in the agreement of the other.  They define that person, and decide what that person's inner reality is like.  As long as that other person is just there to validate their experience of the world, everything is okay.  Acts of independence, on the other hand, are disruptive to that sense of security, because they don't reinforce that person's expectations of the nature of their external world (or even their internal world, as the controller sees the other as an extension of themselves).  So, even something as innocuous as ordering linguine can prompt fear and rage in the one attempting to control.

(That's my best shot at a one-paragraph summary of a complex and insightful book.  I recommend reading it yourself.)

It's easy to see how this applies to the ruling on gay marriage. weighed in on how the ruling affected various groups of people, going over how it affected various homosexual marriages of different status in different states, then proceeded with a long list of people it did not affect ("If you are currently in a heterosexual marriage" "If you are a member of a church that performs marriage ceremonies but does not believe in gay marriage" "If you are an individual who believes gay marriage or homosexuality in general is wrong for non-religious reasons, and wish to continue expressing those beliefs" etc.), and then concluded with this:

If You Are a Heterosexual Who Suffers Anger or Anxiety at the Thought of Gay Couples Getting Married as an Abstract Concept, and Believes the Only Cure Is to Legally Prevent Gay Marriage:

This decision will cause you some degree of anger or anxiety. Otherwise, this decision does not affect you in any way

I think that really cuts to the heart of the matter.  Why is it that half the country gets so worked up over something that really does not materially affect them?  Why do we feel the need to dictate what they can and cannot do?  It seems so strange to take a step back and look at it like that, and it doesn't really make sense.

I think Evans describes the dynamic at play here perfectly, though.  We in the church (or elsewhere) grew up knowing that homosexuality was wrong, that it was a sin, and that marriage was meant to be between a man and a woman only.  The very idea that there were gay people getting married, then, was a threat to that worldview, and if that was okay, then it was destabilizing to our very being.  We defined ourselves by what we knew about how people should and should not behave, and when others began to behave or demand the right to behave differently, we had to fight back or risk losing a part of ourselves.  It's not an excuse for the extreme anger and vitriol that has flowed from right to left on this issue.  But maybe it's the beginning of a satisfying answer to the question that so often gets asked: "Why do you care so much about what other people do with their lives?"

I'm not writing this to change anyone's mind; rather, it's a reflection that allows me to sort out my own thoughts on these matters.  I'm also not willing to make a call on whether homosexuality is right or wrong; rather, I'm saying that it's for each person to decide for themselves.  Much like a parent cannot make a teenager share their beliefs by forcing them to go to church, the government cannot be used to change people's declared or experienced sexuality by outlawing gay marriage.  These decisions are between a person and God, and trying to interfere with that only causes bitterness, resentment and division.  Like many Biblical truths, allowing for free will is not something to believe 'just because'; in a practical sense, it's what gives us the best chance at a fulfilling, healing, and loving existence.

Sayonara, 2012
Well that was fun.

The things I did in 2012, I'm pretty sure I did in greater quantities than any other period in my life: studied, drove, cried, caffeinated, thought.  I took halting steps toward revitalizing my educational experience.  I blew up and patched up a messy relationship over and over again.  I moved to Oregon, lived alone for the first time, missed Christmas for the first time, lived my own life for the first time.  I did things I never would have dreamed of doing, things I didn't expect to happen.  I put off saying goodbye to my Grandfather for months and months, then frantically drove all night to see him hours before he passed.  I watched two of my brothers get engaged, and sold back our own engagement ring to have it melted down.  I had to keep track of the woman I love changing her name.  I spent five weeks sure that I failed the most important test of my life, then found out I had a score that was above-average and sufficient for my areas of interest.  I spiraled into a deeper financial hole than I ever had before, and I'm getting more credit cards to manage it all.  I slowly realized that I might actually know what I'm doing as a doctor.  I spent a lot of time looking at myself, at the parts of me that I hate the most and wish didn't exist, and still struggle just to acknowledge that they're even there.  I made friends, lost friends, and spent a lot time on a psychologist's couch, though a lot of that was at Jeff's house.  I watched as Matt Cain was perfect and the Giants won it all, and listened as the Yankees' season crumpled with Jeter's ankle and a cold October sweep.  I struggled with the balance between compassion for patients and drawing the line, trying to weigh the effects of my need to be liked and the arrogance of my profession and decide where to be in each moment.  I had an uneasy New Year's Day, a frustrating Valentine's, a depressing birthday, a disappointing Easter, a disjointed Fourth of July, a crappy Thanksgiving and, finally, a glowing, beautiful, sweet, perfect Christmas and a hopeful New Year's Eve.  I drove to San Francisco and Palm Springs, to Portland and Tacoma, to Klamath Falls and Coos Bay.  I got good at packing and unpacking, at loading U-Hauls and storage units, at calling insurance companies and managing car repairs, at finding deep tendon reflexes and exploring differential diagnoses, at being an open book and at pretending everything is okay.  I caught a lot of Pokemon, broke a lot of Iron Swords, and built a lot of Mage Towers.  I bought bedding for the first time, dressed up for work every day, made a feeble attempt to iron my clothes for about a week.  I started a watch collection, started gelling my hair again (this time like a grown-up), gave up my judgments on facials and massages.  I accumulated a stack of books to read and have very little intention of actually reading them.

Most of all, in 2012, I grew more and more into myself, and into a knowledge of who that is.  The picture is still fuzzy and incomplete, but I am finding myself, and though the process is painful and uncertain, I am thankful for the adventure.  I know some things that are likely to happen in 2013, but I am far more certain that there will be many surprises as well.  I am excited to be totally unprepared for them.

Somewhere In Between
"Cause I'm waiting for tonight
Then I'm waiting for tomorrow
This cannot be happening
What is real, and just a dream?"
-Lifehouse, "Somewhere In Between"

Just in a very strange place right now.  Suddenly on a tighter budget because of financial aid shenanigans.  Moved out of my place in Pomona, don't yet have a place in Oregon, can't afford something temporary down here.  Finished my last test of second year today, but don't know if I passed yet (though not terribly worried).  Don't have a date to take boards yet, or even know when I'm going to start studying.  Watching my classmates start rotations, but so many mountains to climb before I get there myself.  Most of all, missing Amanda and the puppies like crazy.  Just kind of feel like I'm sitting here waiting for something to happen.

Mostly, I just feel uncertain, unsettled, like I'm just longing for the security of a set schedule or financial breathing room or solid plans or even my own place to live.  Like not having all of those things is immutably some huge stressor and I'm stuck being uncomfortable until I change.

Part of me, though, wonders if I can choose to experience this differently.  Amanda always wonders why I'm so content in the slow lane- says it's very unusual for an Aries.  I'm supposed to be gung-ho, charge ahead, shoot-first-ask-questions-later, thriving on improvisation.  Maybe I'd be happier if I treated my status right now as less of a troubling lack of grounding and more of an adventure that can go anywhere I want.  Eh, screw the maybe part- I know I'd be happier.  Guess it's just a matter of deeply and truly embracing my inner wild child and taking advantage of what just might be some truly beautiful things about this time in my life.

In the meantime, even if she's far away, I'm so thankful for Amanda's love and support as I'm dealing with all this.  There's a lot of goodness going both directions right now, and I'm so happy about that.  She's been very good lately about giving me grace and room to grow, and I'm doing my best to take advantage of that.  I'm a very lucky man.  =)      

I've never been good with change.  I'm always one to cling to the familiar, even if I'm not happy with it, because change is hard to accept and hard to accomplish, and the transition always seems to be painful.

Long Philosophical UpdateCollapse )

That's the struggle.  No one will be there looking over my shoulder, and I'll be doing it all on my own.  That's the scariest part: I'm lazy, and I know my tendency to fall back on bad habits.  But it's the new attitude: staying with something new through the temptation to backslide, trusting that there's something beautiful on the other side.

In Which Kevin Once Again Demonstrates He Is Sheltered and Innocent
Kevin: When the heck did they start keeping Sudafed behind the counter at the pharmacy?
Amanda: When they started using it to make meth.
Kevin: Huh.  I didn't know they could make meth out of...  
Amanda: *smirk*
Kevin: ...*sigh* of course I didn't.
Amanda: You're cute.

It Must Be a Blue Moon... Mmm, Blue Moon...
'Bout time I posted something this year.  Highlights:

I have a meeting on Friday to figure out what I'm going to do about the whole 'Failing Respiratory' thing. Best case scenario is that they recommend me for remediation, and I get this all sorted out over the summer.  Here's hoping...

Repro is going much, much better.  The material is more interesting, and the instructors are much kinder and gentler.  Lots to know about sex and babies and other fun things.  I'm growing more and more thankful that I will never be pregnant.  On the other hand, Amanda and other girls around her age in the class are getting that baby-making hankering.

Speaking of Amanda, we've really made some effective changes in the new year.  We're getting better at staying stable for each other, and getting help for our respective issues.  Things have been happy, stable, productive, warm, sweet, supportive, and fun.  Continued prayers are appreciated.

The administration has opened some new avenues that I might be able to do my rotations not only in the Northwest, but actually in Medford with Amanda.  Exciting possibilities, now I just need them to call me back.  *mutter mutter*

We're getting worried about creepers in the neighborhood.  Our hot water heater (located in the backyard) keeps getting dialed back to the lowest setting, which is obnoxious.  This has happened at least five or six times in the last couple months, and it's getting more frequent.  Today they actually hit the earthquake safety valve on our gas line, and we lost gas to the whole house.  Now we have to get our furnace's pilot light relit, which is a pain in the ass.  Anybody got any prowler-busting tips?

Friday will be fun: I get to practice pelvic, breast, rectal and hernial exams on live patients.  According to our professor, the main point of this session is so that on rotations, when an attending asks us if we've done this before, we can say "Yes".  So there's that.

Getting into Yoga.  Been doing standard flow yoga at school, which is wonderfully butt-kicking (and ab-kicking and quad-kicking and...).  I've also been doing Kundalini at a studio in Claremont, which is more about mindfulness, breathing, body awareness, etc.  They're two very different experiences, but I'm really enjoying both.

Spring Training... so close, yet so far.

I'll leave you with this.  It's pretty.

You wear white, and I'll wear out the words "I love you" and "you're beautiful"

Moving On
Rock On
No matter what happens in life, life keeps happening.  It's one of the few things you can really depend on, I suppose.

No, there's not really a good transition between the text above and below this cut.Collapse )

Finally, aviekokyre and yamikonumber7 (and any other pokepeople out there): check out Make-A-Wish GTS.  Free giveaways daily, usually shiny, legendary or otherwise fancy-schmancy Pokemon.  If you want to sign up, using the link above will get me nice things.  ;)

Have a Merry Christmas, guys.

Well That Sucked
Yesterday was our respiratory final.  Amanda and I both failed, which combined with our incompletes in Cardio means that we're both likely to have to repeat the year.

Also, in the aftermath of this, I freaked the hell out and started acting like a whiny, demanding eight year-old.  Unwilling to tolerate me like this (again), Amanda told me to grow up, and departed on our vacation to Arizona without me.

Yesterday was miserable.  The last day of the semester highlighted what we have been pretty well aware of throughout it: our relationship is destructive to our schoolwork.  I can't keep myself and my emotions under control.  She won't accept anything less than my best.  We talk, we fight, we discuss, we make up, and all the while the clock keeps ticking.  Med school doesn't wait for you, and we're falling too far behind to catch up.

The world hasn't changed since yesterday, but my perspective has shifted some.  It's all there- I know what I need to do to keep myself balanced and safe.  God is with me, and he is helping me to be alive and present in this very moment, right now, and now, and now, and now.  All I need to do is get out of the way.

It's going to be okay.  One way or another, everything will be fine, and I will become the man I was created to be.  I'm experiencing the ugly side of the growing pains right now.  That's okay.  I just need all the help I can get to not run away from them.

Mandatory Meeting Liveblog
Things I learned at the Dean's Town Hall Meeting:
  • The WiFi is overloaded in our breakout rooms because they designed it for a third of the number of students that we have.  They opened this building two years ago (read: roughly the same number of students).
  • Our dean doesn't think any of us are pedophiles.  Good to know.
  • The administration is "extremely proud" of the students who accused their classmates of cheating.
  • Apparently they have given a lecture on cheating to every previous class.  They "hope to never do so again".  Right.
  • ACOs = good.  Here's hopin'.
  • Apparently DOs keep getting lumped in with fringy healthcare areas.  The idea to lock us out of MD residencies came after they decided to make it harder for offshore medical students from taking spots in the US.
  • Facts are always better than rumor and innuendo.  Well, I'll agree with you on the rumor part.
  • Our school is spearheading a project to develop residencies independent of Federal funding.  I'm actually proud of a school policy for once.  Huh.
  • Our dean is trying to buy OMM tables in the building.  He says he's trying to guilt the other colleges into helping.  I'm not sure why.
  • We can't really do Emergency/Critical Care electives as third years.  Sad face.
  • Our school and the Boards are having communication issues, which is preventing us from signing up to take an exam so we can be licensed.  Awesome.
Meh.  Mildly informative, so I guess I can forgive them for making the last hour mandatory.  Whatevs.

It Gets Worse
I always used to wonder why the second years always seemed to want to rain on our parade last year- every chance they got, they told us how much harder it would be from here on out.  I mean, it's med school, but come on, it's just kind of rising and falling like everything else, right?

Yesterday, I was working with some first years and talking to them about their upcoming OMM practical.  They were complaining about all the techniques (read: one screening exam and 20 or so techniques) that they had to know for the test.  Without flinching, I laughed and told them, yep, it gets worse (read: four screening exams and 100+ techniques).  I mean, come on, guys, you haven't even gotten to counterstrain...

Then I took a step back.  Yep, it happened.  I'm a doom-and-gloom second year.  Don't know when that happened, and I can't say I thought I'd get here, but it seems my ability to handle med school has increased along with the crap that they keep throwing at us.  Amazing... they're brutal, but effective.

Now I just need to bank on somehow blossoming into a clinically competent third year.  Not sure when that's going to happen, either, but sooner rather than later would be lovely.


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