emotional object permanence

Last year Luke and I threw an AWESOME party before the midnight showing of The Hobbit; I made a whole Hobbit Tea feast, with carefully made meat pies, roasted chicken, and tons of cookies. plus guests brought food. And the guests – we had so many!

This year we had decided not to throw another party. But Sunday, Luke said he kinda wished we could – the midnight showing is this thursday. After a few hours of deliberation, we decided to throw together a simple shindig. We started cleaning and I sent out invitations via facebook.

No sooner did I send out the invites, than I began to panic. What if no one comes, because they hate us? What if they come and our house is still messy, so they hate us? What if one of the mice or bugs we just can’t quite get rid of decide to show their heads, and everyone hates us? what if someone asks where i go to church, finds out i’m not a christian anymore, and hates us?

What if someone hates us?

What is someone hates me?

It’s a thought I can never quite get out of my head. I always tend to think it’s likely that people will hate me.

But, I’m inviting people I like and who like me. So why so terrified?

I think it’s because I lack emotional object permanence.

Object permanence is when a child is able to realize that even though the ball has rolled out of sight, the ball still exists. This stage is generally thought to begin development around 9 months and be complete around 2 years.
This works on an emotional level also. When a child has developed emotional object permanence, she is able to realize that although her mother is out of sight, they can still have a connection. The love is still there.

For whatever reason, I struggle with this. And until I read Changes That Heal, I had no idea my struggles weren’t completely normal.

I have trouble remembering Luke loves me the instant he becomes a little cranky, or when our relationship goes through natural ebbs and flows. If he’s 2 minutes late coming home from work, I worry he’s died. If we argue, I’m afraid he’ll leave me – apparently emotionally healthy people don’t have this panic in every argument.

Emotionally healthy people don’t expect to be despised at the slightest thing that goes wrong; they are able to trust.

I have trouble trusting that all is well, and that I am loved, and that all will probably remain well and I will be loved.

All i know to do about this problem is to constantly remind myself that Luke will not leave me, that an argument doesn’t mean the end of the world, that my friends do not hate me, and that odds are, all will remain well.

Do you struggle with object permanence?

2 thoughts on “emotional object permanence

  1. Sheldon

    It’s an anxiety issue, a lot of self-doubt, judging yourself by how other see you.

    I had a lot of that, partly depression related anxiety, and typical autistic confusion/walking on eggshells, never able to figure out what the “right thing” was to do in a situation, and dealing with people’s reactions when I didn’t conform to their ideal of normal.

    As you know, growing up in fundamentalism doesn’t help that either. 🙂 The entire original sin concept (especially if you were Calvinist), really wrecks what little self esteem you may have had otherwise.

  2. QuicksilverQueen.com

    I’ve had this problem REALLY BAD in the past (full-on panic attacks if he didn’t text me ONE MINUTE after he was supposed to be at work). It’s mostly gone now, but I still have trouble believing Scottie loves me when he’s angry at me!


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