Developing self, Object relations, and Self-esteem – Synopsis – October 2004

I was enjoying most of the work. I’m thinking I actually love to work almost as much as I like to play.

Primarily, in this instance, we studied one individual from February of 2003 forward. My reports were a month to month summary of everything the agency has written on any given client. It was about twenty pages of a summary from hundreds of pages read. I’m pretty format and detail orientated, so it progressed smoothly enough.

The big “aha” moment came in realizing how important a change occurred in one double set of months last spring. I believe the change was the result of a peer’s Father dying and our client being unsure of his own parents’ life/death. This is particularly difficult because his parents are in their seventies and his Mother is sick, and his Father is tired

At home, we are going to try some reading. I have a new book on self and others and object relationships that I want to understand and it was suggested by Dr. M., but I’m not sure if I am this smart.

We’ve gotten to that slightly chilly weather where all I really want to be doing is sitting under the covers on the new couch reading. Hehehe – while of course, hearing opera. I’ve been enjoying hearing the music which heightens my thoughts of accomplishment. It’s like a certain tension where our minds play back and forth from words understood to upbeat tempo moving us along in space.

The gist of the nightmare was that we were going to have a meal at our Grandmother’s. And, someone decided for old time sake to open my Grandfather’s flat-stone casket.

The terms are the object, the self, self-object, and the ego. We’re on Part II of the book where it talks of developing object relations. That part is divided in two. The first part is separation and individuation and the second part is psychological mechanisms. This is the first theory book we’ve read on object relations. Our broadest idea of object relations going into the book is that people’s psyche is terribly influenced by their first relationships and that one of the first objects of attention is usually the Mother.

To be quite up-front, I had a terrible, terrible relationship with my Mother from the start and that never improved. She was cold, angry, and rejecting. In addition, during the first four years, I had a primary relationship with my sexually abusive Grandfather. There were also relationships to my two Grandmothers, and with a primarily missing, but harsh Father. To continue over-simplifying, one of the Grandmothers (the one in the dream who is still alive) was stricter and more controlling, and the other Grandmother was loving and more apt to spoil us.

I had read earlier in the afternoon while listening to opera. That turned out to be way over- stimulating. I had to stop because I’d been too high. We’re talking drugs here. No, I hadn’t taken drugs, but the feelings were as if I had. We felt very out of control. That seems something that our Kelsie had led us through, Hmm, about now we were babbling. We are feeling kind of worn out all of a sudden. We are thinking we might try lying down again

We figure that no matter what, we are going to write in our journal this morning. Not because we have to, but because we want to so badly. We sometimes get to feeling what we are thinking about is not so important, but in the process we’re losing a sense of ourselves that has been very important to us. I couldn’t tell you most of what happened this week, or any given week because we don’t remember. This feels like a terrible loss of us. So for better or worse, we are going to try writing almost every day again.

One of the things we’ve focused on this week has been Dr. M. He was gone the week before, so we’re trying to find our sense of him. It’s the inner kind of sense that allows you to believe that everything is in place as it ought to be.

In the process, we’ve decided that we’re pretty much in love with our therapist. Not as much physically although we find him very attractive in a younger male manner, more like from the heart from which would allow us to close our eyes and still feel how he fills the room with presence and understanding. *Sigh* I suppose there are practical reasons for this? Thank God its common practice to fall for one’s therapist. *Appreciating smile! *

We’re still having a “loving our psychiatrist” issue. We are crossing mental boundaries. Someone shoot me! My heart is going to break. I thought we were through with our pining years. We’ve gone the majority of five plus years’ relationship with Dr. M. without passing through this stage. We’ve got a terrible, terrible case of love-struck. Definitely it is an October/May romance and one that’s destined to be one-sided. Yes, we’re pretty sure he’s taken and has no use for an older-unattractive-overweight woman. Well, actually the list of our negatives goes on and on.

See? That’s the shame! It’s not one of those things that can ever be consummated. He’s always been a perfectly safe gentleman, but maybe though that’s the horror/delight. Hmm, settle down girls. It’s just that our mind continues playing games, regardless. For the lay person this is what is meant as we’re slipping into psychosis – totally abridged from reality. Someone please douse me in a cold stream of water. Make that a Margarita. ARGH!

We’d been reading about stuff like projecting, integrating, differentiating, introjection, splitting and such. We’re gathering tiny pieces of the puzzle and trying to make a whole. The book is saying that in psychotic disorders, we aren’t as able to take-in or separate elements that include our thoughts, perceptions, emotions, and stuff. It gets pretty technical and involves our first “object relations.” Usually this happens with the Mother.

In good relationships, first the Mother is integrated as part of self, and then differentiated as we are able to separate ourselves from her as an “object.” Through integration the infant learns to hold-on to the good Mother even if she’s not there directly. We had a very hostile/negligent Mother relationship. Our “good and bad” were pretty severe and in most cases opposite of what ought to have happened. We can’t begin to think through what having a sexual relationship with Grandfather during infancy did to affect our mechanisms. We’ve got many more questions than answers.

Hmm, that might be something to “think-on

This is me and whatever that means when you live inside somebody who is a multiple. We picked up a pack of cigarettes and have had a few. I’ve gone about forty days without. Today we have off from work. It means I could do about anything I wanted. I know what should get done as well as the next guy, but I doubt I’ll do that. Sort of just want to write for a bit. Feeling like I don’t care ‘bout much else.

We had a Dr. M. appointment this morning. Thing is Casey was out and there were some that were younger than her. Annemarie was about too, though it was almost all Casey who did the talking.

One of the first things she decided was that a big spider was going to come and stomp out our Mother and her house. Then Casey got involved with some bad pictures and her hands had gotten bloody because of what she’d done to the Mother with scissors. She hid the hands from Dr. M. between the seat cushions and she said the Mother had cut them off. Dr. M. told her his couch grows back hands, and then Casey figured that the fairies that live in Dr. M’s chair could help her wash the blood off.

No problems here, right? Apparently, an email had gotten through from the real Mother last night. We’ve since then closed-down that account or any other family links that we know of. We don’t mean to have our younger parts feeling terrorized. And, we’re pretty sure she doesn’t need to know we wished her crushed by a very large spider, or worse.

For the record, we’re not violent people. Through all our images, we are yet not able to pull-out Kleenex’s demonstratively from Dr. M.s box to throw on the ground to express anger.

Now, we’ve got to remind ourselves of our tendencies to hurt ourselves rather than others. I guess we are kind of violent. We are kind of feeling down maybe more now than before in trying to do really dumb stuff like smoke.

He did things that should have caused us great pain. But, we just looked down, did not cry or get angry. We had felt broken.

I don’t know why exactly, but I don’t think we’re going into work this morning. Just don’t feel up to it. I’d like to say that I was going to stay home and be productive, but I don’t know if we’ll do that either. Just have a real sense of uneasiness. It’s like feeling doomed. Think we’ll go lay down a little longer, maybe we’ll feel better?

We’re thinking that an email to Dr. M. might be in order. Just need some time to think. We are having difficulty putting together our thoughts. Maybe if we just try to write.

Our friend’s point is that we need to get in the shower and take our medicine. Our point is we don’t want to do anything. We rarely win these battles. But, there are a good number of complaints put-out by us in the meantime. I can tell we’re being umm, “resistant,” but that doesn’t seem to change things. The more we cry and yell, “Leave us alone,” the harder he seems to push that we “behave normally.” He uses tons of tactics that we’ve never figured out. Maybe the big trick is in turning us from just depressed to downright crabby. He seems to know all the tricks. Bottom line is we’ve showered and taken our medicine. Hmm, better put on a patch too.

We can’t get a hold of whether the hand is a friend or enemy. This was all because Dr. M. handed us our keys, and then there’s more because we know we sat next to him. It is just that we are not dealing with all this.

We went back to the computer and waited a few moments. We received the email we’d been hoping for from Dr. M. He suggested that we stay in the present and we will talk in a couple of days. Hmm. It sounds familiar, but we are not sure why we are fighting these simple thoughts like the one’s suggested earlier to take a shower and medicine.

I remember something from the days we saw Dr. Woollcott our other psychiatrist of long standing. He had figured out one of the problems and we transferred it into a self-directive. It went, “When in doubt, trust Dr. W.” It is probably the same here now, except we should trust Dr. M.

Where does this strong, “I don’t want to!” voice comes from. Shoot. Nothing seems easy. C’mon trust Dr. M, trust Dr. M. Maybe we could challenge the smarter parts? Think we’ll try the reading? Certainly, we’ve napped enough! Ahh, nice peaceful, “Midsummer Night” nature sounds. Relax. Relax. He said, “We’ll make sense of it,” meaning him and us. We just have got to be patient, right? Relax. Relax.

We’ve been reading about transitional objects. I’ve got so many that it’s hard to separate them. This computer seems to be one, the couch and blanket and the book too. But, while we were reading, we thought most of our stuffed dog.

Going to have to face work though, maybe we have to think of a nice office and a nice computer. Shoot, this is hard because bottom line is that I really DON’T want to go in.

Today’s the day we see Dr. M. Yes, and we will have Chinese. *Sigh* these are the good things of life. I’m pretty sure. Maybe today, we’ll get a chance to settle some thoughts and feelings we were so overwhelmed with on Tuesday. Maybe it will be something new, you never know

The rest of the evening we watched the debates. I don’t know. They were saying on PBS television that Bush was at his best ever, but we thought, “Eh! wasn’t impressed.” For the record, we are one of those middle people who haven’t decided who they would want to vote for. I found myself leaning much more toward Kerry, but I’ll go over again the transcript in the Washington Post. They do a nice job presenting video and written transcript and offer to fact- check both candidates.

We’re getting together with my oldest son and one of our best friends from work (and her young daughter) and traveling west to see our youngest son do his cheerleading for his University’s football team. YAY JACOB!

The thing is that I have to leave my computer. Not so easy. Simple stuff really. Take a shower, get dressed, brush hair, AND pick up! YEEKS! This is the hard stuff. But, I’m supposed to keep all this in perspective.

We need to go out to the balcony and throw the smoking evidence that had happened on Monday.

Its JACOB DAY!!!

We got to the football game and we were seated within fifteen minutes from the start of the game which was perfect! Jacob had gotten us seats in the disabled section so it was pretty cool.

The wind chill was reading below 32 degrees – Brr. Thirty to forty-mile breeze. Eh! We’re sturdy Chicago people!

To start the game, we got to listen and watch all the fascinating things happening. There is all that green, umm Astra-turf (looked pretty), colorful people, flags, bands, school mascots and the players and cheerleaders! Jacob is one of the lead male cheerleaders! Everything is brilliant with clarity, the air is fresh, the sounds and moods vibrating, the smells were tantalizing of food being heated a short distance away, and loud cheering students were in back of us shouting enthusiastically (parents were on the other side) Hehehe. We learned a new term, the fans screamed, “You suck, you suck!”

Watching our Jacob was tremendously satisfying. There were military people standing at attention, and then sooner or later a few short speeches were made welcoming the members of the homecoming students and their families. There were four people inducted to their Hall of Fame, oh yeah and the marching band, cheerleaders, flag girls and dance squads had all outlined the field to form a path for the home team to enter. That was before the other stuff. There was soooo much to watch and see. And, they had one of those big screen things and an announcer who spoke clearly all the important plays. I had thought at first there were 32,000 people, but maybe that number was lower like 29,000.

Jacob and the other cheerleaders did a marvelous job! They performed lots of backward flips and routines to get girls up to four-levels high. I think my favorite memory more than even the fancy tricks were the ones of Jacob doing the cheering while looking up into the stadium stands holding his megaphone.

Jacob stands at the end of the line and was the first one to do each of their tasks such as running out to the field with flags or huskies, or starting the push-ups that the squad does for every point gained by the football players. The thing is that I had him perfectly silhouetted in my view. What I was seeing was a strong handsome male who looks “All-American” standing in front of thousands of people motivating them to cheer louder and louder. And, this person was my wonderful son! He looked alive and happy and in control of his ambitions. Just could bring a Mom to tears. AND it was all real!

After the game we went out to eat. We asked, “How’s your money holding up? How are your grades? Do you have a girlfriend!??” And, then we quizzed his best buddy with a round of about the same. Alex is also a cheerleader. He’s long since been part of our family! Then we let Macadam take-over the lead.

The three boys are marvelous conversationalists. Macadam and number two missing son Tanner are down at the Chicago Board of Trade and Jacob the psychology major and his friend the accounting major talked about joining the first two brothers at the Board as soon as they graduate in about two years.

Macadam is a very strong sports fan in the Ray Romano style. He says there are twenty teams and it is very apparent that he knows the players on each team, because during the time Miss Wonderful was napping on my bed he showed me some of the twenty-some fantasy games he was involved with. Gosh! He could make this a second job!

He seems to have taken on my multiplicity and plays the owner, general manager, and coach and has multiplying invested himself and “staff” in a group that includes publishing their own “newspaper.” What he is doing is challenging the other players of one of his favorite fantasy leagues to responding to his opinions and predictions. He reads the regular sports news and associates it to “the play.” His group includes his own recruiters and reporters and associated press members.

I was inoculated with pure Grand-mothering again. Shoot, didn’t know I had it still in me. The deal seems to have been between Macadam, Abby, and the kitties; we had to spread attention to all. While Abby was up, she was primary in our attention though she was able to busy herself somewhat. This time she wanted to show Grandma some things she was doing on the computer. She moves as smooth as a ribbon in the wind!

It is just us. Not so sure what to say this morning. We are feeling a little down over the last couple of days. I should have figured it, because we were up so high. It is hard to sustain those kinds of feelings, maybe too, because our friend stopped over last night.

It was one of those in and then out kind of nights where he didn’t have time to eat over or really talk past surface level. I thought we’d be able to let it go, but the situation is caught up in one of those female poor psyche things where he’s not remembering it’s our anniversary coming up next week. It’ll be a friendship that has lasted eleven years, but one that feels it’s being taken for granted. His solution was to say that he doesn’t pay attention to those kinds of things [anniversaries] which translates to at least this female as he doesn’t have to pay attention to us either.

Dr. M. wrote yesterday to say that he’s switched over to the new office. That is going to take a little time adjusting to. On Monday, he walked us down to it (first floor) to show us how to get there. We have to go past offices and a second door and then there are all these cubicle offices. He was just able to show us the door. Then a lady came out of the office next to his and Dr. M. explained to us that she was his assistant. We had regressed in age though and weren’t able to talk well.

Then when we got in the hall near the elevators with Dr. M, we were able to exclaim, “You have your own assistant??!” He smiled real funny, held out his fingers and said, “Actually, I have three assistants.” He said in defense that the job has a lot of paperwork. We were pretty proud of him.

But, then we said that it was too bad he was losing his corner office, because what we’d noted with his door being in-between others which seemed wrong. But, THEN we said somehow that he did have a corner office and that we hadn’t seen that his office goes way back from the depth of the two others on either side of him.

Oh man-o-man! We figure he sure must be pretty good! Somehow now, we just have to sort of handle it. We should be ok in the long run, just in the short run, we will be tense. This is the fifth office change we’ve gone through with him. He is always moving up!

Yesterday the most remarkable thing was that we had to do some substituting for a missing DSP. We’re not sure if she is going to ever return. We’re sort of hoping not. She’s the one who is always behind in her paperwork. One way or another, we had some fun doing her group. We followed her schedule and did an exercise in self-esteem, physical fitness, and workshop skills. In the process, we gave them four different tests.

Five of the group is new to us since September and we wanted to find out where they stood on things. It was a good session. I’m hoping we get some time to write-up our first impressions before we are given another assignment with them.

Today, there are eleven individuals in the group. The first hour we got to know each other a little better. On the surface they each work on their own jigsaw puzzle. While they are doing that, I take copious notes. Just love doing that. Being observational is one of my favorite duties. During the hour of course, there are a jillion and two things going on in the room. People were coming-in one and two at a time and then needed to adjust themselves.

They were to accept a task, but in the process there is talking and issues to be gone over. There is also a balancing of power. For the last couple of days, I found out, they’d switched the seating order on us. Shoot! Where were we? Eh, little thing. There are ten females in the group and one male. I know poor odds all around!

There are differences too in that I know most the older clients, but there are the new clients to adjust to and they need to adjust to us. They’ve all been hanging together for the last two months and have pretty much got the pecking order down. And “oh my!” They do peck at each other. We’ve already had to institute the “Be nice” rule.

One of the girls in particular is a little bit of a dare devil hot shot, although on the outside, she pretends to be very female in a helpless manner. I think she purports to control the room and in general does that by leading others astray with her. We’ve decided to go straight forward with her. After she acted out this morning, we told her that over the last couple of days we’ve noted a little mean streak in her. Then we told her we’d be paying attention to that and calling her on it.

She seems to have understood because she’s challenging me now as an authority. I think this is great news, because it’s best that she deals with me directly than sabotaging the group as a whole.

We have another one who is one of the brightest of the group. I worry about her in that she seems to be down without sense of hope. I think she realizes that she is the smartest one too, by far. So the goal today with her will be to encourage her intelligence instead of trying to have her demean herself to fit-in with the group. She is and should be a leader.

I also have the Thinking Group today. There will be some time to plot and plan there. I’m actually looking forward to it, while before I couldn’t see past the point that it hurts our back to be standing as much as we do. But, with forty clients, there are too many to just sit in one place. Need to roam and keep up with all the distractions. I think today, we’ll finish an exercise I started last time on testing self-esteem.

I think I am doing a lot more “controlling” in the smaller group than I would have wished for. We have been enjoying the amount of ability testing we are completing. I am a pretty fun teacher … Most likely more than any other of the staff, but we have our expectations. I don’t like goofing around during work time. I do like to have fun with the work, but all as a group with everyone on the same page.

Well, the big news is that we might be babysitting! We’ve waited a little over three and a half years for this day and now that it is here, I don’t know what to make of it. Macadam called and said that he and his wife wanted to take a Sunday class that was going to take three hours a day for the next 26 weeks.

They will find out in a little while whether it is the right program for them, but in the meantime they’ve decided to try me out. The maternal Grandmother is already sitting during the weekdays, and they didn’t think the paternal Step-Grandmother could commit to the time. Yep, yep that leaves me paternal mother! I’ve NEVER been asked to babysit.

Now, for some thoughts more fun I have to figure out all these new exciting thoughts. I have a degree in psychology and my focus was in human development. I use these skills every day in my work, but now we’re talking about a relationship with a three-and-a-half-year-old that I happen to love very much.

Later … We need to get past the shower and kitty litter. Maybe do that darn litter next. Hmm, maybe just litter and garbage the next effort. We’ve already cleared out stray dishes and gotten them soaking in the sink. It’s really bad. We only used stray cups and silverware. Most of these are from when Macadam and Abby were here last week. Somehow these tasks seem to evade us. Shoot, it would be like wiping out our memory of them being here. Oh. Is this another sorry excuse? Yah – I know. Sorry. Ok, clocks wearing down. We need to get the garbage bag, empty litter, and sweep/mop, gather garbage, and set-up new bags. Yeeks times-up.

I stuck pretty close to her side, or she mine throughout the day. I became her captivated audience and everything she did was fascinating! Mind you not always pleasurable. Hmm, umm Grandma’s got to put her foot down? Not sure how to approach this. Like I’m probably not supposed to let her jump and do somersaults over the couch? – ah V’s signed on, we’ll ask him!

I was proud that when it came time to go, Abby didn’t want to leave. But, then after the extra nuggets and fries were packed she was good to go. Ah, transitional object!

Good morning. It is just us. We’re putsying around here. We seem a little foggy. Hmm, maybe coffee would help? Hold on. Better. We ran into a couple of kitties on the trip. They seem to be just hanging around at odd places. We are still moving a little slow. We’re finding that PBS news is more distracting than not. I hate to say it, but we don’t find much interest in Texas politics.

As far as yesterday goes, I think we had an ok day. We weren’t happy with the Dr. M.

session. We were doing more reporting than talking (except for last five minutes) and that always drives certain parts bonkers. And, then at work, we stayed too long and got some stuff done, but made other parts cranky.

Oh yeah, one more thing. I’m going to schedule tomorrow off. We forgot to tell that to Sr. Tess. Better do that today. It will be the eleventh anniversary of having a personal relationship with our friend. He says he’s going to take-off most the day and we get to take a scenic ride up north in his new car. We’ve done this before. Usually it means a nice picnic lunch somewhere pretty. YAY for that too!

I’m not sure how much we’ve talked of the client’s self-esteem project. The self-esteem test was given over two separate weekly meetings of the Thinking Group. 41 individuals participated, but only 29 self-generated reports were credible. I think this is a very good return considering the difficulty of the test and its scoring. The individuals had to listen to twenty questions both weeks- one hour each. It meant a lot of concentration.

Discussion:

The self-esteem of the individuals served the Center was surveyed. It was hoped that the results of studying this survey could assist the Administrator and her staff to better developmentally train the individuals. Self-esteem is being loosely defined as the level that the individual is aware and can appreciate self and the corresponding feelings of self-worth.

Self-esteem allows the individual to sense who he is and his connectedness to others in a healthy manner. As the individual matures there is a shift from concrete physical attributes such as “my hair is black, I am tall” to attributes that are more abstract and harder to control through mind or ego such as, “I am strong, I can solve problems.” Competencies and skills are learned which allows us to feel unique and inspired.

Self-concept determines behavior and relation to life. Concepts of self-esteem, self-image, and ego-development are useful to being conscientious. Concepts develop as individuals compare their self with peers. In a state of identity crisis, the individual loses a sense of their being independent and competent versus only playing or acting out a social role. The state of feeling separate can lead to feelings of alienation. The alienated state can include feelings of powerlessness, meaninglessness, normlessness, cultural estrangement, social isolation, and self-estrangement.

Personality problems are due to unhealthy development and are characterized by anxiety, withdrawal, or being fearful and aggressive. These states can be either internalized or externalized and lead to growing or shrinking levels of self-esteem. This becomes very dysfunctional particularly in cases of self-abuse or abuse by another in a relationship.

Self-awareness and empathy are very important aspects of emotional development. They allow self-interpretation of both self and others. Empathy follows awareness. Empathy is necessary to develop social relationships.

Often it seems that people with mental retardation have barriers and limitations within their communities. They are tested more often against “normal” behavioral standards. This sometimes has a stunting affect. As often the case, boundaries with caretakers are blurred when individuals lose their fullest potential to self-direct their lives.

One of the first identities learned is sex-role identity. This is followed by social, ethnic, or religious identity. The center supports young adults building the knowledge that they are whole, but may be in need of support. There needs are for people to read, drive, pay bills, and cook and perhaps assist with financial concerns. But, thinking about who they are – that’s up to them!

It is important that the individual comprehend his self-worth and not become crippled by a poor concept of self as a person less able. This is especially true in the larger community where the judgment of low skills and ability of people with mental retardation may pressure becoming more disabled.

This stereotype can be overcome and healthy expectations formed by developing personal goals, discovering relationships with other people who are emotionally warm and caring, and being attuned to people becoming fully oneself.

The development of healthy self-esteem is challenging. In order to function, the individual must gather a coherent sense of self with boundaries. They also need to love and be loved. The individual ought to ask the question, “Who am I?”

This happens about the time the individual enrolls at the Center and is asked as a young adult, “Which roles will you accept that will best support your sense of being an adult?”

Testing one’s expectations of self and other must take place. Formation questions individuals ask of their self-include beliefs, attitudes, and ideals. At the center, the individual is fed by making a valid commitment to self-worth, and the center making a societal commitment to supporting the development of individuals.

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