Transitional Objects for adults.


Made it.

The break is finally over and I see Sienna tomorrow. I feel relief. I haven’t cut off or detached from her this time. At least not as much as in the past.

There have been moments of numbed out detachment and moments of not wanting to go back, moments of doubt etc. But on the whole I’ve managed to hold onto a sense of her and the relationship we have. And I’ve been able to maintain the knowledge that she’s out there in the world somewhere. She isn’t dead, she hasn’t abandoned me and she thinks about me too.

That’s huge progress bytheway! I don’t think I ever expected to get to this stage, it was too foreign a concept, and I didn’t have the first clue how to internalise her or the relationship.

I’m not sure there is any way to do it other than just time and experience of her going away and coming back. I’ve had to experience it over and over to somehow find confidence in my ability to cope without her and also that we both survive separation.

Not only that… I think the work in between is imperative for separation anxiety. The ruptures have been horrendous but the fact that she’s stayed each time has given me confidence in our commitment to one another.

Not all is rosy though. Even just writing that last sentence gave me fear chills that what if tomorrow I see her and she terminates me or has really bad news for me?

Sometimes when there’s space, I feel threatened. I feel that if she gets space from me, she’ll realise she doesn’t like me or want to work with me.

The last time I saw Sienna, she allowed me to bring home a big pillow that I use to cuddle in therapy a lot. She’d asked what I wanted as a transitional object a few weeks before and I couldn’t think of anything much that I really equated with Sienna.

I would have preferred to ask for a piece of clothing – a cardigan maybe, something that smelled like her. But it felt way too personal and sort of creepy to ask. So, I asked if I could take the pillow home.

I strongly regard that pillow as “ my pillow”. In fact that’s what I jokingly call it when I go to therapy. And even Sienna refers to it as my pillow! Apparently I’m the only one who uses it anyway.

I was glad to bring the pillow home with me. Sienna laughed on my way out that that was certainly the biggest transitional object she’d even given out.

I’ve never gotten comfort from transitional objects. I just don’t get it. I mean, I get the theory behind it and why it should work. But it just doesn’t for me.

And I hate that it doesn’t.

I’ve had the pillow out of my cupboard twice in 21 days. And I hugged it and felt….. nothing.

It’s a pillow.

So what?

I wish I’d got comfort from it. But I just didn’t.

I mean is it meant to reassure me she’s coming back? I think that’s part of the transitional object thing, but really, it’s a cheap fucking pillow, fairly sure she wouldn’t be coming back for that if her primary objective was to abandon me. So, the pillow doesn’t help reassure me.

It doesn’t smell like her and it isn’t hers specifically or something that has strong meaning for her or me, so where’s the comfort supposed to come from?

I don’t get it. Why don’t transitional objects work with me?

What has been more successful is me giving her something of mine to keep. I once gave her a tiny silver owl charm before a holiday. I really like owls. And she put it in her purse and said she’d keep it there because she takes her purse everywhere and she can be reminded of me when she sees it.

I was taken aback. Flattered and touched that she’d want to be reminded of me. I couldn’t imagine why and it’s always felt like people wanted to get away from me, not be reminded of me. So this was a new experience.

I shrugged it off though and reasoned that she was just saying that. That she probably left it at home.

I forgot about it. But months and months later, Sienna mentioned that she still had the owl charm in her purse. I was amazed! She said it goes everywhere with her. She even showed me that it was still in there.

That small act gave me more object constancy than any transitional object she could have given me. It was a powerful act, to keep something of me. To choose to carry me wherever she goes. That she wanted to be reminded of me…. That was new for me. And so touching.

It still continues to give me a sense of permanency in her life, a sense of attachment and trust and a belief that maybe she doesn’t want rid of me. Maybe I’m not just this huge burden in her life, something she needs to get away from. I am still so amazed by that.

Sometimes my child parts still asks if she has the owl still? We already know the answer, but somehow it’s a comforting routine for them to ask and be told the owl is still in her purse.

But still….. I wish I could have something of hers that would give me comfort in her absence but nothing works. Maybe I just don’t need it.

I don’t need it, actually. But I do want it. And I want it to help in times when I’m missing her.

I don’t know if there’s an answer to that. I wish I understood why transitional objects have never worked for me, considering I have such huge attachment problems.