Object Constancy, Part II
"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails...."1
Both experience and scientific tests have shown that babies who don't have object constancy—that is, who don't receive sufficient love, care, and holding—can die. Children who don't have object constancy and don't feel loved and accepted can become very aggressive or withdrawn. Teenagers may end up depressed, suicidal, on drugs, or in jail.
Adults without object constancy can become victims of any of a number of addictive substances or practices all of which are a vain attempt to fill the empty hole in their heart and deaden the pain of their hollow lives. Or they can become very ill-physically, emotionally and/or spiritually—and die before their time.
Some feel inadequate and powerless so use control as a poor substitute for empowerment. Others withdraw emotionally and, even though married and living with their spouse, they live together alone, apart.
Others unconsciously seek to replace parental love in romantic relationships and marriage. But no spouse can ever meet their mate's unmet childhood need for mother or father-love. Others substitute sex for love and leave a trail of victims in their attempt to fill their empty void and to avoid facing the painful root cause of their emptiness and loneliness.
So, if we don't have sufficient object constancy, how can we find the love we need and so be genuinely empowered for life?
First, realize that the answer is not found in fame, fortune, popularity, sex, exciting "bells and whistles" romance, achievement or approval, but through recovery. The harsh reality is that only loved people find true love, and in the words of another, "We find it within or we find it not!"
Second, recovery begins when we admit the truth, to ourselves and to a trusted friend or two, that we don't feel loved or we didn't feel loved as children, and that we have spent too much effort looking for love in all the wrong places.
Third, we need to realize that we build up a considerable amount of anger, shame, hurt and grief over the loss of the love we never received. So we need to get in touch with all these buried emotions and get rid of them by expressing them creatively and mourning our loss. If necessary, we may need the help of a trusted counselor. If we don't mourn our loss, we will inevitably take out our unresolved negative emotions on the ones we are closest to.
Fourth, when overwhelming feelings of loneliness and emptiness continually plague us, we need to realize that their roots most often lie in love deprivation from childhood. If so, it is important not to deaden or anesthetize our pain through endless activity, over-busyness, performance, sex, or any food or substance abuse, etc. What is needed is healthy re-parenting and getting our needs met in healthy ways—and not expecting anybody else to fill the empty void in our life.2
To be continued ...
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, if there is any unresolved area in my life, please reveal this to me. Help me to resolve it so I will experience a deep level of object constancy, so that my love cup will be filled to overflowing with Your love and impact in some way every life I touch. Thank You for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus's name, amen."
1. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (NIV).
2. Adapted from "The Power of Love" by Dick Innes, http://tinyurl.com/283t54