Is it true that when you don’t see your family, you tend to forget about them?

Emotional Permanence

Being in a close relationship can often cause anxiety. Both the dread of abandonment and the fear of engulfment are common manifestations. A part of us fears that if we fall in love, we will be left behind. On the other hand, we worry that if someone approaches too closely, we would be overwhelmed or unable to escape.

This article focuses on the excessive fear of abandonment, which manifests as a pervasive sense of insecurity, intrusive thoughts, emptiness, an unsteady sense of self, clinginess, neediness, significant mood swings, and recurring interpersonal problems. On the other hand, one may also learn to cope by fully cutting off and developing emotional permanence.

Neuroscientists have discovered that our worldview is encoded by how our parents react to our attachment-seeking actions, particularly in the first two years of life. We can establish a sense of security and trust as newborns if we experience healthy attachment relationships with an attentive, available, and nurturing caregiver. We would internalize the idea that the world is a nice place and that when we are in greater need, someone will come and help us if our parents were able to respond to our cries for food and comfort the majority of the time.

In times of stress, we would also learn how to cool down, which helps us become resilient as adults. Contrarily, if the message we received as infants was that the world is dangerous and that people cannot be trusted, it would have an impact on our capacity to handle ambiguity, disappointment, and the ups and downs of relationships.

Most people can handle some relational ambiguity and won’t be completely obsessed by fear of being rejected. When we quarrel with our loved ones, we are able to move past the terrible experience later; even when they are not physically present, we have an underlying confidence that they are thinking about us. All of these entail a concept known as object constancy—the capacity to keep an emotional connection with someone despite distance and disagreements.

Object constancy derives from the idea of object permanence, a cognitive ability we develop between the ages of 2 and 3. It is the knowledge that things can still exist even if we are unable to see, touch, or otherwise sense them. Babies enjoy peekaboo because they believe that when your face is hidden, it vanishes. A developmental milestone is establishing object constancy, according to the idea’s creator, psychologist Piaget.

We can think of object constancy, a psychodynamic term, as the emotional equivalent of object permanence. We evolve into the knowledge that our caregiver is both a loving presence and a separate person who might move away in order to develop this talent. We don’t necessarily need to be with our parents all the time because we have a “internalized image” of their love and concern. As a result, we continue to feel loved and supported even when they are momentarily hidden.

In adulthood, object constancy enables us to have faith that our relationships with persons who are important to us are complete even when they are not present physically, are not returning our calls or texts, or are even irritated with us. Absence does not imply abandonment or disappearance when an object is constant; it just denotes a momentary separation.

We all experience at least a few minor bumps when we learn to detach from our parents and become our own person because no parent could be available and tuned in all the time. A person’s emotional development may have been delayed at a young age and they may have never had the chance to acquire object constancy if they suffered more severe early or even preverbal attachment trauma, highly inconsistent or emotionally unavailable caretakers, or a chaotic childhood.

The core of borderline personality traits is the absence of object constancy. Any form of separation, even one that is brief and pleasant, causes those who are insecurely attached to relive the pain of being abandoned, discarded, or treated with contempt. Their anxiety may cause them to engage in coping mechanisms including denial, clutching, avoidance, and dismissal of others, as well as act out in relationships or develop a pattern of destroying relationships in order to prevent possible rejection.

One prefers to relate to people as “pieces” rather than “wholes” when object constancy is absent. They fight to maintain the mental concept that both themselves and ourselves have good and terrible elements, much like a toddler tries to understand the mother as a full person who sometimes rewards and sometimes frustrates. Relationships may seem unstable, flimsy, and highly reliant on mood swings to them; there seems to be no consistency in how they perceive their spouse; it fluctuates from moment to moment and is either excellent or bad.

It becomes challenging to invoke the sensation of the loved one’s presence when they are not physically present when one lacks the capacity to regard persons as entire and constant. Being left alone can cause an individual to react in a way that is unfiltered, unrefined, and occasionally even childlike. Shame and self-blame quickly follow when abandonment fear is awakened, further agitating the nervous person’s emotions. It might appear that these intense reactions were “immature,” or “unreasonable,” because their causes weren’t always conscious. In actuality, the great terror, wrath, and despair would all make sense if we considered that they were acting as a result of repressed or dissociated trauma and thought about what it was like to be for a 2-year-old to be left alone or be with an unpredictable caregiver.

From the abyss, healing

Possessing the capacity to store paradoxes in our minds is crucial to the development of object constancy. We must learn to live with the reality that no relationship or person is completely wonderful or entirely evil, just as the one who feeds us might also be the one who fails us.

We wouldn’t need to use the archaic defense of “splitting,” or black-or-white thinking, if we could hold both the flaws and the virtues in ourselves and others. Despite the fact that our partner has completely let us down, we do not need to diminish them. We may also be kind to ourselves; just because we aren’t flawless all the time doesn’t make us flawed or unlovable.

Our companion could have flaws yet still be adequate.

They could love us and still be upset with us.

Although they may occasionally need to put us at a distance, the core of our relationship is still strong.

Fear of being abandoned. Fear is overwhelming because it triggers the intense trauma. We still hold from our early years, when we were thrust into this world as defenseless beings wholly reliant on people around us. But we have to admit that our anxieties don’t really reflect the world as it is right now. Even if there is never complete safety and assurance in life, we are now adults with more options.

Adults can no longer be “abandoned”; rather, a relationship’s dissolution is the result of two people’s differing values, desires, and life goals. We could no longer be “rejected” because the worth of our life is independent of other people’s perceptions. We may now set boundaries, say no, and walk away instead of being absorbed or stuck.

We learn to stay closed inside of our bodies even in fear without dissociating as a resilient adult. We also learn to stay in true relationships with others even in the midst of uncertainty, without running away into avoidance and defenses. We can cradle the 2-month-old inside of us who was terrified of being dropped.

Instead of becoming bogged down in the hunt for the “missing piece,” we learn to see ourselves as a complete, integrated entity.

We now have the chance to start a new life after the agony of being abandoned and alone.

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