Not so long ago I posted about Object Permanence, or my lack thereof. I shared how I tend to have an inability to know that something still exists if it isn’t right in front of me. I specifically can have an inability to know that people’s love for me still exists when it’s not being blatantly expressed. Loudly. Often. Immediately. And over and over again.
But I’m happy to report that I think I’m getting it. At least I got it one time recently. And, if I can be vulnerably honest, I am proud. I’m also, and even more so, psyched and excited. Because if I can begin to get this, then I can begin to get anything. And it feels so much better when I know love is there, and when I’m not needing it expressed loudly, often, immediately, and over and over again.
It was nighttime and apparently I had said or done something that upset my husband, or at least so I thought because he wanted to be left alone to read instead of spending time in conversation, or contact, with me. A sure sign that he was upset, right? It couldn’t be that he was tired or wanted quiet time or really liked what he was reading. No, his choice to choose something other than me was easy for me to interpret.
So I admit that the situation hit my “he’s mad at me” button, or what I more endearingly call my “I’ve blank-ed up” button. And usually when that happens, I don’t have the clarity to know that he still loves me. Because that’s where I go when those buttons get pushed. I immediately know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I’m no longer loved, or lovable. Or I won’t be loved if I don’t do something to fix things, quickly.
Normally when my button gets pushed – when I think he, or someone else I care about, is mad I me – I instantly start figuring out what I did wrong. I pressure the other person to tell me what they’re upset about. I feel myself fall off a cliff into swirling negative emotions – destructive emotions that blame me and lambast me. And in order to stop my free fall as quickly as possible, I need to figure out what I did wrong so that I make it right. Then I’ll be safe, or at least safer.
I know this is what some people call, “stinking thinking.” Thinking that’s not true and that doesn’t serve me. But it is generally my default response when my fear kicks in. Or at least it used to be, because that evening was different.
That evening, I remembered that he loved me. That he still loved me, even if he’d rather be left alone to read. I realized that he might just want to read, or that he might even be upset about something, even something I did, but that it didn’t matter. He could want quiet; he could be upset; he could be upset with me. None of that changed the fact that he loved me. Somehow, for the first time I can clearly call out, I knew this. I fully knew it to be true.
So I left him alone. I wished him goodnight. And I went to sleep. And in the morning he thanked me for all of that, and things were fine between us. Great even. I bet he was happy, and maybe even surprised, that I didn’t freak out and instead I kissed him goodnight and fell asleep.
Object Permanence. It felt so good to get it. It feels so good to know the permanence of so many things in my life. As much as so many things are in flux and, I guess, nothing is truly permanent, it felt wonderful to not revert to my old (negative) habits and to instead choose a different response.
You can indeed teach an old dog new tricks.
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