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 Post subject: Who am I now?
PostPosted: Fri Oct 15, 2010 2:49 pm 
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Two years ago I was in a high-paying profession I had worked hard to achieve (many years of higher education, internships, even a psychological evaluation that said I was introverted and might not be suited for my line of work, but I'd do well. It said nothing about BPD). After 19 years I blew it all up. Nothing illegal but I ruined my reputation, lost my wife and two adult daughters, and my professional credentials, and found myself living alone in an apartment 500 miles away from where I was. I lost everything in the divorce. I'm not whining, mind you. I am responsible for my own actions. But here's my dilemma.

I had built up a role, a structure around me that gave me my identity. That is all gone. Now, who am I? I have always chosen to be part of highly structured organizations/institutions in, I now realize, an attempt to have some boundaries and find self-definition. That's all gone. I work three part-time jobs, none of which gives me much structure and certainly no identity (let alone anything like the income I used to enjoy). I walk down the street and judge everyone I see. I wonder why? I had the thought earlier today that I might be doing this because I have no identity of my own. I decide who others are so that I can know who I am relative to them. I feel "mushy," and amorphous inside. Some days (like the last several) I feel that the entire undifferentiated world is washing over me. I can't make distinctions between myself and the rest of life. I feel like a blob that rolls along without a clear shape, or a ghost that lives between worlds, without form. I feel like I have to measure every word because I'm not sure if it's coming from my BPD or if it's normal. I don't have a base-line to go with. I'm very familiar with CBT and use it daily to maintain a sense of balance, and am successful to varying degrees. I'm two years out from my personal failure, and although there's still much pain, there's been much healing. Still, I don't know who I am? What do I look like? How and where do I fit? Or will I never? I'm not even sure what I'm asking of you in this post. I want relief, to feel a semblance of safety, to feel like a person who has a place in the world. My old role gave that to me. Is it OK to use a role that way? I feel like wandering the earth. I don't know . . .


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 Post subject: Re: Who am I now?
PostPosted: Sat Oct 16, 2010 10:28 am 
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Here's a question for you ... did you LIKE your former line of work?

If you're now 500 miles away from where things blew up and your reputation was ruined, perhaps you could start over in a slightly different way - if you liked the profession, that is.

If you were, for example, a sales person, rather than attempting to go back into the exact same profession, perhaps consider something tangential -- a motivational speaker or teaching marketing or offering seminars to help other sales people do better (closings, pitches, building rapport, etc.)

It's hard to give up 19 years worth of identity and I don't think you have to give it up entirely. I think you can salvage some of the pieces that meant the most or spoke the loudest to you during that time and begin the rebuilding process of defining who you are now. You probably feel like a blob because you don't have a career or professional identity. That's so much more important than I think many people realize. Three part-time jobs does not an identity make.

When I was laid off from the best job I ever had, I was devastated and felt very blob-like myself. I actually went in a completely different direction - I went from an office job to cleaning houses (yes, scrubbing toilets). It gave me the freedom to make my own hours, time to meditate (there's something zen about mopping a floor, I promise), cash for work, a job in which there were tangible results (the floor was dirty, now it's clean, *I* did that and I did a fantastic job at cleaning it.) I only worked 20-25 hrs a week cleaning houses and for the rest of the customary work week, I worked out and went back to school. (I think in 18 mos, I completed 26 credit hours.) It gave me the structure I needed, the focus I craved, I crafted my own purpose, I set my own agendas & goals, I worked purposefully toward them and then ultimately, I went back to office work in a slightly different capacity than before.

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 Post subject: Re: Who am I now?
PostPosted: Wed Oct 27, 2010 9:17 am 
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Thank you! That's very good counsel. Because I am no longer able to work directly in my former profession I have no choice but to become more flexible (yikes!). I still struggle with the mood swings, having gained a great deal of my identity from my former role. I am rebuilding not only my career path, but in some ways, I'm rebuilding myself. I am struggling to find out who I am without that role, that I still have value. In the long run, this may be the best thing that could have happened to me. I can't hide behind my profession, pretending to be someone I knew I wasn't, seeking my sense of self from others rather than finding it within.

I truly appreciate your sharing your own story (the cleaning). I try to find pleasure in the small things--the smell of honeysuckle in the air, the wonderful beach ten minutes from my apartment, the sweet company of a woman I have met. There's much to be thankful for. Now, if only I could get rid of this damned BPD! I'm tired of the mood swings. The five steps are very very helpful. I go over them most mornings and carry a copy in my pocket all day. It may sound obsessive, but just doing a brief scan helps me.

Thanks again,

Rex


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