Jul 052016
 

peekabooChildren learn, over years, that objects don’t stop existing just because they have left the field of vision. Peek-a-boo is fun(ny), or terrifying -and stops being fun(ny), or terrifying – for precisely this reason. And this is why blindfolds are hot to some, and overwhelming to others.

Those of us who’ve suffered one or another childhood trauma often struggle with a more subtle challenge than the simple version informing peek-a-boo. “Out of sight, out of mind” describes this, in a way, but without capturing the pernicious elements of impaired object permanence in adults.

Fear of abandonment is, or can be, a symptom of impaired object permanence. It is for me.

A big part of what I get from distant buddies is balm for my wounded sense of object permanence. It’s an imperfect balm, to be sure, because a) my distant buddies are human, and thus imperfect, and b) they are human, and thus have their own desires, their own needs, their own motivations, and these inevitably conflict, even if only in minor ways, with my desires and needs.

blindfold2The way my impaired object permanence afflicts me is twofold: first, in the obvious way, that I do suffer a bit from “out of sight, out of mind.” If we are corresponding constantly, if you’re constantly keeping my cock hard, I’m good. But if your interactions with me flag, if they’re intermittent, or worse, unpredictable, inevitably, you will start to fade in my mind. I say “worse, unpredictable” because I’ve learned that a highly effective way to counter this impairment is with promises kept. Tell me I’ll hear from you next Friday, and disappear until then? I’m actually pretty ok with that. Disappear without warning? Or don’t deliver on Friday? I’ll be devastated, because I’ll imagine you’ve abandoned me. And I’ll either put you out of my mind, or obsess about how to get you back. Which makes it sound more intentional than it is. You either will simply be out of my mind, or I’ll become obsessed.

blindfoldWhich illustrates the second way this impairment afflicts me: because I’m a narcissist (?), I imagine that everyone is like me, and thus, if someone disappears unexpectedly, or simply is intermittently present and absent, I imagine that person is intentionally doing to me what I fear. Not rationally, no, but on a more primal, bodily, omnipotent level. On some level, I actually imagine my fears have the ability to control, magically, your motivations (since, evidently, they don’t control your actions).

I’m perfectly capable of imagining all the actual reasons for your disappearance, or unpredictability, but my ability to imagine them does little or nothing to counter my age-old fear, no, certainty, that abandonment lies at the heart of my experience. And nothing you can say or do will convince me otherwise. Other than, perhaps, proving me wrong.

wicked wednesday

  4 Responses to “Object permanence”

  1. “Tell me I’ll hear from you next Friday, and disappear until then? I’m actually pretty ok with that. Disappear without warning? Or don’t deliver on Friday? I’ll be devastated, because I’ll imagine you’ve abandoned me. And I’ll either put you out of my mind, or obsess about how to get you back. Which makes it sound more intentional than it is. You either will simply be out of my mind, or I’ll become obsessed.”

    This really reminded me of how I once was – insecure and wanting everyone to like me and thinking it’s my fault when someone ‘left’ me, whether online or in real life. The more confident I got, the less I feel like this. If people don’t like me, it’s their problem, not mine.

    There are more things in this post I have to think about…

    Rebel xox

    • I’m pretty sure you’re describing a slightly different phenomenon/sensitivity than the one I mean to be describing. I’m not sure I can pinpoint precisely how that is, except to say that where what you’re describing is a function of what someone thinks of you, mine is a function of my experience, of what someone does, of whether I get something I want.

  2. This is really interesting. The part that really resonated with me was the same paragraph RebelsNotes noted. It speaks to a certain kind of comfort or reassurance for me.

  3. I feel the same. Or used to feel the same. And now… not so much.
    I have come to accept that someone can disappear for their own reasons and not be moved by it to imagine they’ve abandoned me.
    What I’m trying to say is that I do understand what you’re saying in your last paragraph. I can be aware, know there are good reasons for you not being in contact. But still, if you’re not in contact, my gut feeling is that you’ve abandoned me. Even when you have been very clear you haven’t.
    I believe this is linked to the extremely low self-esteem I used to have. Obviously, I’m so uninteresting that anyone in their right mind won’t want anything to do with me. So the minute they go away, they start to see the light, start to see just how trivial I really am and decide to leave me.

    That’s what I used to believe, to feel, to live before.

    Now, I’m lucky that I was able to change my outlook more towards that of Marie Rebelle. I am more confident in myself. And if someone likes me, then great. If they don’t, too bad for them. I don’t need anyone in my life to take care of me. I can take care of myself. I may *want* someone to be there with me so I can share experiences. But if they don’t want to be there, I’d rather they weren’t.
    Which means that even with the man I love deeply, when he wasn’t able to see my point of view, understand this wasn’t a game but something I simply couldn’t do, I had to consider going our separate ways. Don’t be fooled. It was a scary thought. But I also knew that being with someone I can’t be myself with fully isn’t satisfying, and I don’t have to accept it.

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