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A key word that you will see:

Fragmentation: a mental process where a person becomes intensely emotionally focused on one aspect of themselves, such as “I am angry” or “no one loves me,” to the point where all thoughts, feelings and behavior demonstrate this emotional state, in which, the person does not or is unable to take into account the reality of their environment, others or themselves and their resources. This is a term that my therapist and I use and is on the continuum of dissociation.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Family Drama, Anger, Pain & Fragmentation!!

The short story and not the three day version...bottom line is Arleen and Judy are not speaking with me anymore. Arleen is my aunt who is emotionally my mother and Judy is her partner/wife.  For the longer version, read the three day version.  :-)

Important terms for this week's entries (we all do these to various degrees): 

Fragmentation ~ a mental process where a person becomes intensely emotionally focused on one aspect of themselves, such as “I am angry” or “no one loves me,” to the point where all thoughts, feelings and behavior demonstrate this emotional state, in which, the person does not or is unable to take into account the reality of their environment, others or themselves and their resources. This is a term that my therapist and I use and is on the continuum of dissociation.

Mirroring ~ "copying" another persons affect or thoughts.  Basically, demonstrating agreement with another, so that they feel like you think and feel the same thing.  In infants and children, this is extremely important.  When this phase does not take place, a person will try to do this with adult relationships.

Alignment ~ attempts at having another person think and feel the same way.  This is a part of infantile fantasy and mirroring.  Infantile fantasy is that everyone and everything align or agrees with how you think and feel.

Sigh...again not a boring time, yet. Last week, was EXTREMELY stressful. Lots of fragmenting on everyone's part.  I was exhausted from driving in the rain everyday, 6 1/2 hours of therapy because of what was happenning. I slept all weekend!!! I even slept through the night...Yipee!!!

Judy, my aunt's partner, called and updated me about my Grandmother's condition.  Short update.  Grandma was moved to a skilled nursing facility (SNFs) without notifying family. Judy and Arleen (my aunt) both have experience as respitory therapists going into SNFs and 40% of my clients resided in SNFs.  (I had already spoken with my Grandmother, staff and my contacts to find out how the good the facility was where she was temporarily residing.)

When Judy called, I told her that I was not feeling well.  She indicated that she would be short.  I listened to her about her concerns regarding her family, step-parents, Arleen's medical care, and frustration that the Director of Nursing (DON) did not call her back. Well, I gave her some suggestion, acknowledged her frustration and explain what might have happenned.  She proceeded to complain about all Filipinos are all the same: lazy, incompetent, don't understand English, never do what they are told, etc.

The DON was Filipino. I tried to tell Judy that while I have had those experiences and worked with mostly Filipino care providers and nurses that my experiences have been mixed.  (I was also feeling defensive and protective and becoming angry.  We have had many, many conversations regarding this issue.)

Judy continued on and then began to complaing that Filipinos take all the jobs away from Americans because the U.S recruits them and that it is Hilary Clinton's fault (note: Judy is fragmenting quite badly as shown in the bold all, and never...black and white thinking). When she brought Hilary into the conversation I told her that "I really can't listen to this right now." 

Judy's demeanor and tone immediately changed and she sharply stated, "Well, what do you want to talk about."  I responded, "I don't know".  I just know that I can't listen to what you are saying."  Well, we abruptly ended the conversation.  (I didn't fulfill her infantile fantasy by mirroring her and aligning with her point of view about Filipinos).

The next afternoon, I received a curt email from Arleen regarding my Grandmother's status and the end stated, "By the way, you won't be receiving any phone calls from us until you apologize to Judy. She listens to you when you need to VENT Coleen (which Judy needed to do last night) and you were rude and disrespectful to her.

I still love you with all my heart and that will never change."

Well, I immediately fragmented and called Arleen and left a message on her cellular telephone after no one answering her home telephone stating, "You don't really love me because if you did then you would at least call an get my side of the story."  I then, left a message on Gary's (my therapist) answering machine telling him what happened.  He interrupted that message and told me not to do anything. He said, "damn it."  I knew that I was fragmenting...Arleen, Judy and I.  In line with what we have been talking about in therapy and how hard he has been pushing me, he indicated how I am responsible for some of my actions.  First, he was very supportive.  Then, he had to go as his next client was there.  I was quite angry, hurt, feeling bad and immedately began crying.

Adrian came home to me sobbing which I did for a couple of hours. I felt like I really screwed things up even more and that I had lost contact with Arleen and Judy forever.  Later, I left two messages for Gary. In the first one, I lashed out at him for leaving me in the situation of crying and feeling bad (thinking I was bad..."bad" is not a feeling, but a self-judgement) during our last conversation.  Then, later I left a second one apologizing and telling him that I would see him tomorrow.

I also left a second message for Arleen stating, "I don't feel like you love me. I'm hurt by your cutting me off.  It feels like the last six months has been a sham.  For more than ten years, we didn't have contact because you listened to my mother without even checking with me despite my numerous telephone calls.  Cutting me off now feels the same without you checking with me again."  (I knew that I was fragmenting, but I was in a place where I figured out since I screwed up everything anyway that it doesn't matter what I do now.)

OBSERVATIONS:  I've made many observations about these events that I added into the narrative. This was after about 11 hours that I was able to do this...hooray, progress.  Needless to say, everyone was fragmenting and reacting to each other which just made things worse. I felt like I was being punished and unfairly judged without being able to defend myself.  My feelings were extremely hurt and I was really angry and thinking I was bad.  Fragmenting can go two ways either all good or all bad. Arleen and Judy were in the all good; therefore, reinforcing my all bad thinking.

...tomorrow, more fragmenting, crying and hurt feelings and my non-fragmented response.


Debbie said...

Ouch! This sounds like a tough time and I really feel for your struggle.

On the other hand, I think you did the right thing to stop Judy's rant. It's one thing to listen to people venting. It's another thing to listen to people venting racial slurs. Your aunt telling you should listen to Judy's vent b/c sometimes you vent is like someone telling you that you ought to listen to someone tell racist jokes because they've listened to you tell (non-racist, I assume) jokes. I think it's appropriate to draw a line.

Maybe you could apologize to her along the lines of, "I'm sorry if I hurt your feelings. I greatly value our relationship and want you to be able to call and vent to me, but I can't listen to comments about people's race. On any other topic, I'm more than happy to listen. I hope we can find a way to make that work."

Or not. What do I know. I'm just sending some hugs your way. Hope you feel better!

Clueless said...

Hi Debbie,

Thank you for your empathy. I did apologize which is discussed in the post on Friday (?). I like your suggestions...however, I think, that I've really made things worse and irrepairable for now.


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