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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.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Tell Me Who I Am

I'm not sure if I've written about this or not, so please forgive me if I have.  I am in the process of gathering references for a doctoral program in Clinical Psychology (Psy.D). I've decided to apply in one to three years.  Because has been so long (20+ years since I graduated, I am losing contact with my professors and work references due to just simple loss of contact especially since I haven't been working, retirement or passing away.  The programs understand my situation and are accepting my reference letters early and will hold them until I am ready to apply.

One thing that has come out of this is incredible turmoil related to Borderline Personality Disorder in that they have difficulty with self-identity, so they are constantly looking for approval from anyone especially those in positions of authority.  My experience during this process is reading criticism and abandonment or self-worth and abilities into response or lack there of. 

I have been assuming that those who don't respond do not believe that I can succeed in grad school or don't like me.  With this mind set, I have been having much emotional turmoil.  Some people that I ask that have given me lots of compliments for my work have declined to assist me even after they said they would be happy to help me in any way.  One person, did not give an explanation even though I've left voice mail messages and sent emails.  Others have not responded.  These have all brought up my thinking that I'm not worth it or they were lying before when they said that they liked my work.  There are actually some explanations for some.

My former supervisor, has known me most of my career as she has hired me for three different jobs totaling more than ten years of supervision.  Before and after, I left, under less than desirable circumstances, she started to snipe at me, was cold, short with me and wouldn't respond to me at work including emails for work related information. Even so, I hoped that after three to four years that she could get it together enough to realize my potential as she had often encouraged me to go to grad school...no response what so ever.

I realized that I based my self-worth by responses or lack of them.  I've done that my whole life as I didn't get this as a infant/child, so I'm still seeking it.  What should have happened is mirroring, which I've previously discussed.  Mirroring give child a sense of self and self identity.  Because of how I grew up, I didn't get a solid sense of it and because of that I developed an identity that I am "bad," and worthless.  Which I am usually able to manage, but these issues were quite strong in finding references.

However, a few happy and unexpected things have happened.  One psychologist that I worked closely with and one family will each write a letter.  Two of my most significant professors are more than happy to write letters, even though one stated that he doesn't usually do this for students from this far back.  What I nice feeling.  And...they both remembered me....wow!!

Previously, I hadn't been able to write this post as the feelings of disappointment and self-hatred were so very strong, but I am now able to write about it.  Thanks for reading my long story.


Haven said...

I often have the same issues with faltering identity and having it rely on the feedback of others.

I need to look more into Mirroring. I'm not sure I've heard of it before. Thanks.

KelloKiki said...

Hang in there, think of it this way, alot of people woukld have given up after negative responses or lack of response at all. But you are pushing on and overcoming. That is what makes you a stronger person. Keep your conviction and I'm sure everything will work out for you. :)

Wanda's Wings said...

It sounds exciting and has to make you feel good. Wishing you the best. I know you can do it.

Clueless said...

HavenNyx, Welcome to my blog and thank you for leaving a comment. I will have to check yours out. Mirroring is a psychological term, so you should be able to find information out there. If not, just email me and I'll send you some information. Or, maybe I'll do a post. Thanks for the idea.


Thank you too for visiting and leaving a comment. I've check out your blog, but need to go back when I have time to really read it. Oh, do I ever want my Psy.D. I don't think anything can deter me except for not being accepted. My support system is quite helpful.


Thanks for following me and leaving comments so consistently. I really appreciate it. I think that I'm back on my feet to finally read and leave comments on blogs. Thank you for your vote of confidence. I really appreciate it. Be good to yourself!!

Dr. Deb said...

Don't let their non response throw you. The graduate programs make allowances for those who apply "later in life". I think an "older" student is a GREAT student bc of life experience and wisdom.

I've had past students ask me to write a letter and most times I remember who they are. On occasion, I can't recall. So I email back and tell them to forgive my memory loss and ask for more details, etc. That usually jogs my memory. I think many profs are embarrassed to say "I don't remember you" so they don't write/call back.

One of my wise colleagues told me he takes photos of his classes. He then glues the class roster to the photo. This way, he has an aid for his failing memory. I am going to do this next semester.

Keep plugging along. You can do it, and when you feel insecure, use positive self-talk. You;d be a great psychologist!

Shen said...

It's interesting to me that this trait is labeled as a Borderline trait. In CoDA, I've seen this over and over and over, people who can only get their self-worth through others. It's one of the most common codependent traits and is listed in the patterns in several different ways:

I look to others to provide my sense of safety
I value others’ approval of my thinking, feelings, and behavior over my own.
I constantly seek recognition that I think I deserve.
- from the low self-esteem patterns

I compromise my own values and integrity to avoid rejection or anger.
I give up my truth to gain the approval of others.
- from the compliance patterns

So, it isn't only people with Borderline issues who struggle with this. It's certainly a problem of mine - I fall apart if I don't hear from my therapist in email on a daily basis. even after three years I feel as if I've done something wrong, she's angry at me, I'm not lovable, etc. if I don't hear from her. It doesn't happen often - but her email has not worked on a few occasions and i just assume it must be me, even though one would think that after three years I would just accept that she is going to be there for me unconditionally as promised.

I know you work hard and your intentions are good... it's a matter of you knowing it and that's much harder. Congrats on your decision to move forward with your degree. It will be challenging in many ways but I'm certain the growth will be worth it.

Mar y Sol y Luna said...

I really like your blog. You seem very accomplished in working with your strengths/weaknesses, and I wish you the best for your next steps. Thank you for sharing.

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