I Struggle with the Object Permanence of Myself

“I saw this and thought of you.”

This combination of words presented in this form never fails to fill me with terror.

There are two reasons for this. The first is triggered by my anxiety. I frequently see things that remind me of the humans inhabiting my little world, but I don’t tell them that or purchase the things that I see to give to said thought of person because my anxiety tells me, quite insistently, that these people do not want that. They do not want to know that I think of them. They’d rather I not think of them at all, thank you.

To have someone tell me “I saw this and thought of you” reminds me that my brain does not work in that same, unencumbered way. I immediately feel guilty because I have thought of them and never mentioned it. Or, I haven’t thought of them recently. I’m sorry! I’ve been thinking of others. But I swear I’ve thought of you before! Really! I do think of you! I just don’t say anything!

And that’s my hang-up, not theirs. I try to be better, but there’s only so much I can do while living wildly unmedicated.

Which brings me to the second reason I find myself paralyzed with fear when someone said, “I saw this and thought of you.”

Why are you thinking of me?

I am baffled by the concept of my own object permanence. The idea that I exist to other people when I’m not in their direct line of sight. Or sometimes, even then. Once when I was a junior in high school, I was accused of skipping study hall. The teacher didn’t call roll, only looked at her seating chart. That day she decided that my seat was empty despite the fact that I was indeed very much so there and though I was smaller in high school than I am now, I was rocking pre-breast reduction H-cups. I was hard to miss, and yet. Luckily, another much more popular student vouched for me, even though I’m pretty sure he only did so as a way to insult another guy in the classroom (thanks anyway, Jeff), but I still had to go down to the office and prove my existence.

Being overlooked became so common place that invisibility has become my superpower. I don’t expect to be seen. It’s always startling when I am.

So, imagine my surprise when someone thinks of me when I’m not even there.

Talk about stupefied.

My first impulse is always to ask them why. I don’t because that would be rude, but I want to.

Since I’m frequently unseen, it stands to reason that I would also be out of sight, out of mind. I just figure that I cease to exist once I’m out of the eye line. Obviously I know that I continue to exist. I’m not that kind of off-kilter (anymore). But there’s a sort of block in my thinking that allows me to accept that other people know that I continue to exist when I’m not in their presence. It doesn’t occur to me that I’d ever occur to anyone else.

I just cannot picture someone whom I haven’t seen in a few years, walking down an aisle in a store or browsing online and seeing something and thinking, “Hey! This reminds me of Christin!” And yet it has in fact happened. More than once even.

As someone as self-absorbed as I am, and as someone as so into my own head as I am, so much so that I sometimes have difficulty seeing beyond myself (probably another reason I don’t think of other people the way I’m supposed to), I am more than real to me, yet I still fancy myself some kind of ghost. I am the phantom that you only catch a fleeting glimpse of before I disappear, and you decide I was only a trick of the light and forget about me forever. Or at least until the next time you catch sight of me. I think of myself as the reality of a baby’s peek-a-boo game. Like a baby, I don’t understand that I don’t disappear when you can’t see me. I still exist outside of myself.

But the peek-a-boo pros know how the game works. I’m a person that they know, someone that they don’t always see, but who occupies a space in their world even if it’s not physical.

And sometimes they reach out to remind me that I’m still real.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s