The Intrinsic Value of Being Seen
Posted on 28th June 2020 at 09:21
Mr Bolby, some incredibly important bloke who wrote tons on human relationship and our connections with “mum”, said the following; “children are pre-programmed to form attachments with others, to help them survive”. He also said “securely attached early relationships form a prototype for all future relationships, disruption can and will have severe consequences”
As we age, we learn words and sentences and whole paragraphs full of desires. We hide what we want and what we really feel in speeches that we labor at each other either face to face or on the phone. Yet intrinsically we all know that something happens when we are in front of someone that can’t happen down a phone.
How many of you have “broken up” with a partner via text because you couldn’t “face seeing them hear the news”. On the other hand how many of you have waved rejection letters in the air from interviews - proclaiming “why couldn’t they just tell me this to my face”. In those moments - we are reaching out for something quite profound, a skill we are born with, the skill to talk and listen with our whole bodies.
You see, Bolby- in his vast theories of attachment wasn’t just interested in the fact that a baby needs a mother to feed it, change it and talk to it. He was exploring that in order to grow as a fully functional adult - a baby needs to drink in the physical and emotional presence of its mother. That ONLY when the baby SEES its cries land in its mothers heart, does it feel fully fed.
With the advancement of modern medicine, discussed in the highly acclaimed book “the body keeps the score” - little pockets of emotional hunger can be seen being filled up on MRI scans when a baby is feeding and a mother connects with her eyes. It’s not the seeing that feeds the baby, it’s the sense of the mother loving the baby enough to see it’s needs.
There are plenty of times this doesn’t happen, in my case, birth trauma led to a mild post-natal depression and until my baby was 18 months old I could not connect. Feeding was tricky, working out what was needed was tricky.... however I’m lucky enough to have endless therapy friends and circles of women who held me and my child enough that he got what was needed sufficiently to not experience the “disturbance” that Bolby talks about.
My eldest son - 15 uses a term “blabbering” it’s a term I’ve come to learn that he uses when someone is talking at him without any connection to the yearning of being heard. He experiences this often with teachers - especially those, I imagine, who have given up the need for their passion to emerge from their lips and land tenderly in the hearts of the teenagers they are teaching.
Here we are in a world full of human relationships and more importantly our emotional connection being thrown into the disturbance blender. Zoom calls, texts, what’s app, FaceTime - our new way of connecting is to accept the impossible. It is impossible to have full emotional connection (that thing we are born to crave) without physical contact. Yet we crave something - so we dial in. We fill up a little bit, yet are drained in the process - starved of what we truly need. Humans yearn for the physical presence of others. The intrinsic value of seeing not just that we have been but HOW.
Adlerian’s have an interesting phrase - absent / presence - to be with someone who is both there and not there at the same time. I live in a house full of men, craving my female mirrors - I reach out to them via all sorts of mediums and I can see them, they are present - yet to receive this, I must also ask my body to deal with accepting their absence from me. I am beginning to adjust to a new version of normal - and that disturbance scares the hell out of me.
And what will come soon, a world with masks - where we will once again gain that blissful moment of physical presence, yet with needing to tolerate the absence of clarity through muffled masked dialect. Have you ever tried to talk through one of those things!
So what’s the solution ? I’m not sure there is one right now, we need to stay safe and social distancing may be with us for some time - so thumbs up to my zoom Business investment.....Yet taking a personal week off from work and away from online talking, has shown me something.
I’m so glad that as yet - adjusted to living in a world without full human connection, I’m glad this new normal is tiring, I welcome the tears that signal I feel lonely and hungry for more. It might be that I need to continue talking to a screen, however I will stay connected to my own feelings of what isn’t possible - because then surely.... in a strange way.... I am still connected to you and what you can offer me.
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