2nd rough draft, any input greatly appreciated

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2nd rough draft, any input greatly appreciated

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Sep 02, 2013 9:05 pm

I stare down at my feet watching what once was an intact glass bottle, now mere shards, as ocean waves slowly begin lapping up the pieces. I try to pick up the broken fragments and force them back into a whole again but they crack further and are no longer able to be handled.

The relationship I’ve had with my mother the majority of my life is this broken glass bottle- seemingly damaged beyond repair with edges sharp and volatile. For a long time I thought any semblance of a mother-daughter relationship was long lost to the sea. At times I played the daughter, but more often than not I was the mother figure; the former during vacations taken to compensate for the times she was absent, and the latter disabling the brakes in her car so she wouldn’t drive under the influence. Vacillating between these roles tore my childhood psyche in two as I had no choice but to mature and become independent yet I yearned for the stability and reassurance from even the most basic maternal acts like having someone look over my homework or tuck me in at night.

The first time my mother checked into rehab I was in middle school. I anticipated her coming home shiny and new and our relationship finally mirroring all the other mothers and daughters I was jealous of at that age. A DUI in front of my school at ten in the morning a mere month later helped me quickly realize that addiction was not going away over night and my life wouldn’t be the ideal scenario I had imagined. I wanted that idolized parent to look up to who would guide me down the right path with a strong shoulder to lean on when problems arose. Without a father in the picture, no siblings to lean on, and a substance-abusing, manic depressive mother feebly leading the household, at a young age I learned I would have to be my own version of this. My solution at the time was to throw myself into endless extracurriculars and hide my head in a book at home, all the while building up a wall around myself creating a facade of a life that wasn’t breaking apart on the inside.

Searching for the solution to my troubled relationship with my mother I found many incorrect answers, but in such I discovered my own calling. While drowning myself in academics and extracurriculars did not offer a resolution to my inner turmoil caused by my mother, it did enlighten me as to the impact I want to make in this life. Working with the Americorps program, mentoring foreign language learners, advising first year college students, and participating in various non-profit organizations all showed me the importance of life outside the classroom. Maintaining good grades remains paramount, however, involving myself in these real life pursuits engrossed my heart and instilled a new sense of drive in my being. Seeing the despair on the faces of foreign language students as they learn that in only two years they must master the English language and pass the FCAT or be held back a grade, witnessing a single mother who works full time to at her minimum wage job to raise three children struggling to feed her family find relief in being given a meal that I hand packaged, or listening to at-risk students open up to me regarding problems in their home life that paralleled my own made me feel a call to change. These situations and similar others instilled in me a sense of social justice perpetuated by my own search for a stable home environment that has put me on the path I am today, aspiring towards becoming an attorney to bring about this change from an even deeper level.

Amidst the immersion in rewarding civically engaging experiences the ever looming relationship reached rock bottom during the interim of my mother’s second and third trips to rehab. Ninety pain pills in one month coupled with alcoholism served as a recipe for disaster. The final ligaments which barely held our relationship together gave way on a day like any other, flipped upside down by a brief phone call. “Your mother has been involved in a drunk driving accident and has hit another car.” In that moment the wall I had built up around myself came shattering to the ground. Questions raced through my mind- was she or the couple she hit hurt? Would she go to jail? How did the situation escalate to this point? I came to the conclusion that waiting for her to change wasn’t the solution; rather what I had control over and the power to alter, my response to her actions, was.

Constantly reverting back to the pattern of rationalizing her actions and covering up her tracks only strengthened the power this addiction had over our relationship. In order to move past this struggle I needed to reconstruct my role to break this cycle by letting go of the glass shards and allowing the sea to sweep them away. Working full-time throughout college, maintaining high academic standards, and passionately pursuing a thesis I spent countless hours researching but regrettably postponed in order to stand financially independent was no easy feat. Ending my role as her supervisor and caretaker proved even more difficult as her words about suicide resonated in my head each day. Remaining resilient by standing my ground and moving on towards my goals despite these epic difficulties was integral to the solution as my mother realized on her own that something had to change. She signed in to another rehab facility which allowed for the fundamental weathering to take effect on the broken fragments of our relationship.

The third last ditch rehab effort proved invaluable. Psychotherapists made a diagnosis that would change my life forever, my mother was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. This random variable thrown into the mix was never the solution I expected but the answer I had been waiting for. Seven-hundred dollar bi-weekly grocery shopping bills, three in the morning phone calls of uncontrollable sobbing juxtaposed with excitable ramblings the following morning, misplacement of bank deposits, and a longtime inability to kick the addiction coupled with the explanation provided by this solution strengthened my ability to continue down the newfound path I had begun to pave for myself. As her life transformed, I hesitatingly welcomed rebuilding our relationship from the ground up.

With the help of a therapist I started erecting a bridge towards the uncharted territory of a healthy relationship with my mother. Having to learn a new role as a daughter and giving over the reins of the parent is a constant effort every day. I know that our relationship will never be what I envisioned as a young child, but what we have is ours and the journey to get here has shaped me into someone I am proud to be.

Traveling through Japan on my own, taking care of both an Alzheimer’s and a cancer patient in their last days, and working with impoverished freshly transplanted immigrants helping them establish roots here in America all have been insurmountably rewarding experiences in my life, however, none of these can compare to the strength it has taken me to shoulder my past. While I haven’t let this arduousness hold me back from working towards what I want out of life, it has kept me from experiencing it fully. Having dealt with the emotional and mental instability that has long followed me, I can now give my whole self, mentally and emotionally, towards the pursuit of my most rewarding life experience yet, law school. No longer will I carry with me the worrisome vex of my past, having replaced it instead with the valuable lessons of flexibility, understanding, and open-mindedness. It is by keeping hold of what I have learned but moving forward with these repurposed lessons that will aid me in my studies.

It has taken many years but I have realized that my true strength did not lie in covering up for my mother and upholding a facade that our family was “normal,” but rather openly acknowledging the cards I had been dealt and accepting it. This life-long journey has taught me that when faced with adversity, the solution is not often the one that is expected. Had I not changed my response to the situation, I would not have been able to alter my course from an emotionally isolated captive of the situation to the liberated free spirit with a broadened perspective I am now. Overcoming a past riddled with adversity has shown me the importance of stepping outside of the black and white to creatively seek a solution in the gray area when one isn’t apparent. In doing so the perspective I have gained allows me to accept the past, continue on a forward trajectory towards my goals, and keep my mind open to new possibilities every day. I no longer am trying to put the glass pieces back into the original bottle they once were, but rather creating a mosaic with the sea glass, finding places perfect in their own right for the pieces as I go.

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Ramius
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Joined: Mon Jul 02, 2012 12:39 am

Re: 2nd rough draft, any input greatly appreciated

Postby Ramius » Mon Sep 02, 2013 9:27 pm

First of all, this statement is entirely too long. I appreciate how deep of an impact your mother's problems have had on you, but detailing them to this degree just belabors that fact. By focusing too much on how difficult the relationship was on you, this transitions from being an insight into you as a person to something far less desirable: a therapeutic couch session. I fully believe you didn't intend it that way, but that is how it reads. You do an excellent job of detailing the significance of your mother's malady on your life, and while you do find ways to tie it back into your character, it still has too strong a sense of, "my mom really screwed me up, but I won't let that stop me!" As a reader, I went from feeling for you and caring about you to thinking you're focusing on the struggles way too much. This should be a statement of perseverance, not immense struggle. You should absolutely detail how difficult your mother's illness was on you throughout your life in this topic, but that could be contained to a paragraph or two. The rest should ultimately be about your own learning and growth. Mainly what I learned about in this statement is that your mom had serious issues. Don't you want it to be about how you experienced this traumatic upbringing, yet persevered to be a positive and beneficial human being in our society? From this statement, I didn't entirely get that.

Please don't take my comments as evidence of my lack of caring about what you endured. I just think you can portray yourself to admissions committees in a much more positive, emotionally unaffected light.

Good luck!

Anonymous User
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Re: 2nd rough draft, any input greatly appreciated

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Sep 02, 2013 9:44 pm

matthewsean85 wrote:First of all, this statement is entirely too long. I appreciate how deep of an impact your mother's problems have had on you, but detailing them to this degree just belabors that fact. By focusing too much on how difficult the relationship was on you, this transitions from being an insight into you as a person to something far less desirable: a therapeutic couch session.


I totally agree and this is not what I'm going for at all, it's just difficult to know when I've gone too far with the background information as it is a large part of my life. In your opinion, which aspects of the relationship do you think add value and necessary detail to the PS?

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Ramius
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Joined: Mon Jul 02, 2012 12:39 am

Re: 2nd rough draft, any input greatly appreciated

Postby Ramius » Mon Sep 02, 2013 9:59 pm

I think your best bet is to dedicate one or two paragraphs to this extremely formative experience of your mother's disorder, using it to transition to who you are as an adult. You can very effectively demonstrate how your bipolar mother with her various abusive tendencies led you to want to care for others and want to advocate for those who cannot and should not advocate for themselves. The real key is to focus entirely on YOU. Obviously this experience would naturally lend itself to talking about others, but if you want to sell yourself effectively, you need to keep in mind that the reader wants to know about you, not your mother. I don't want to hear about how your mom's life went wrong. I want to hear about how you became a positive member of society despite what happened with your mom. I want to learn how you got from being raised by a bipolar mother to doing great things. But if you don't show how you have accomplished great things, it'll only leave that former point: you were raised by a bipolar mother. That's not a strong image to portray.




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