Thursday, 22 March 2007

That's what This is - a Transitional Object !

Blogging that is - as Transitional Object - well, it works for me.

Occasionally other bloggers wonder "why" or "what" about their blogging. Sometimes such thoughts evolve into a Meme - 'why do you blog' or 'which blogs do you like reading and why'. The Seahorse inspired today's post's train of thought, which is entirely mine and may not have any resonance with your blogging, or life, experience. Also the comments conversation with Charles Dawson on my post 'Show me the way to go home', that has since been percolating and encouraging of a creative whinge. (New Blogger has apppeared to have lost the ability to provide me with the required information for a direct link. bad blogger.)

It was thinking through my comment on the Seahorse's post 'What's it all about': I said "...the blog can be one's transitional object, to hold onto, to be held by, in the process of life..."

That was in the early hours of this morning, waiting for the screaming tinnitus induced by the BSO's performance of Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 4, to subside to levels (plural - lots of different tinnitus noises in and around my head) that would allow sleep. Instead of sitting here bemoaning that particular medical impairment, or the crap television at that hour, I blogged and googled and ebayed. Which saw me through the transition from being out in the world, socialising, enjoying a cultural experience as part of a group, albeit as a wheelchair user, (one of three there last evening, not bad out of an audience of about 600). Saw me through the transition from that to being home alone, battered by tinnitus, chilly because I cannot afford anymore heating oil and, dammit, therefore in need of a hug. Laptop as comfort blanket.

When my Bump was a toddler, each morning when I got her out of bed (that warm safe space), she would find some small object and hold it in her hand - all morning, sometimes all day. It could be a wooden block, a small figurine, a piece of lego, anything provided it was hers, was something she used a lot, or was familiar with, and it was small enough to stay within her grasp. Interestingly it was always a solid object, not soft and squidgy. Most of the time it was out of sight, enfolded in her small hand, occasionally it got in the way such as when I needed to wash her hands, in which case she just swopped which hand it was in, but never let it go.

I knew enough then to realise it was important to her needs, as she went from one place (sleep/bed/unconsciousness) to the other (walking, stairs, noises, food she did NOT want to eat). It could not be taken from her, but she would relinquish it, to her pocket, or somewhere next to her, when she was ready.

When she was in senior school and I had time to begin being me again, I did a three year training course in Psychodynamic Counselling. When we trainees progressed through the canon to Winnicott*, I discovered what her important dearly held object was - a Transitional Object - to ease the anxiety and answer the need for support when moving from one state of being to another. In my childhood I, like many others, had a teddy bear (till my MOTHER TOOK IT AWAY !!!).

I now know that throughout life we/I find and use transitional objects continually, but as they are culturally acceptable they are not thought of as comfort blankets, or they are objects so often used by everyone, that no one notices them for what they are. I'm thinking 'pop' music, as an essential accompaniment to puberty and attendant angst; therefore, in the order of the technological evolution; the transistor radio carried around to the annoyance of the older generation, the Walkman, the IPod. Also, how 'comfort blanket' can you get than the present need for continual texting, for reassurance that the texting One is part of the gang, in demand, in contact with the rest of the herd/group of friends. After all, we are not babies anymore are we.

Charles M Schulz creater of Snoopy retired after 50 years of wonderful cartoons.
When I use the laptop to google and ebay, there is an element of connecting and it addresses the sense of isolation - I am often too brain tired and be-fogged to be able to blog, email or talk to friends on the phone, which is on those days when I am too physically tired/in pain to go out, fulfill commitments, shop, go for a 'walk', visit or have friends visit, but when I still need some input, some stimulation and, thanks to the laptop, I can recline and go online and do not feel quite so isolated, as many other crips testify.
Today I have had to cancel two out-in-the-world things. One, because I have not yet recovered sufficient brain clarity from last evening's exertions, to cope with being in or interacting normally at lunch in the village hall with the movement and noise of twenty or so other villagers. Two, because I am too physically tired to sit up and responsibly drive the car to the lovely cranial osteopath. I am cross about the first and disppointed by the second cancellation.

Cross about the first, because I need to make myself visible in the community as me, not as that woman in the wheelchair. The Parish Plan (on which eternal committee I sat 'till I could sit no longer), identified a need for villagers to meet socially informally, rather than for specific clubs or events, to mix and get to know one another. Corny it may sound, but it has worked well over the last year. I have lived in this village for sixteen years, longer than at least half of my neighbours, the incomers who have only ever known me disabled or, because I have not engaged in the village activities that they have, think I am the new-comer. So I have found that going to the bi-monthly sharing lunch, has been worthwhile, not least so that those villagers who do not already know me from the days when I was a fit, thin, healthy, working single mum, exercising large Airedale, cutting the grass/hedge/dog, ... can discover by seeing me and talking to me that I am not the lives-alone-female-alien-on-wheels, but an intelligent capable personable lady who is interesting to engage with and DOES NOT NEED LOOKING AFTER - YES I MADE THAT quiche/salad/pudding ! Basically, it is an opportunity to educate the populace. And it builds up my defences/allies against the bullies and gossips, of which there are always some in any community, ready to take advantage of what they perceive as the dis-advantaged.

Cross about the second, because it is inevitable (rather than my personal fault) that a single 50- something disabled female in a wheelchair, has very few opportunities to be caressed by a handsome dark haired - strike that out- treated by a (handsome dark haired) cranial osteopath. He, it, the treatment, helps the dizziness, the pain, the stiffness, and he is good company, and he reassures me about my skull scar and numbness while he works at keeping the soft tissues mobile during the healing. After fifteen years of on and off treatment, he is an old friend.

Blogging about the disappointment of not be able to do these two things, helps, and with it I make the transition from being tired and fed up about not being able to be out in the world doing the things I want to do, to moving to this place of exercising my value, re-visiting my past psychodynamic training, continuing my connection to blogging friends, compared to which, many outer life connections frankly, don't come close.

(* D W Winnicott Playing and Reality available at Amazon books, but can I, today, manage to copy a direct link, dammit, no.)

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Blogger spotted elephant said...

Sally, I loved this post. Transitional objects-do you think cell phones serve the same purpose for adults (not just teens)-needing to be in touch, to be in demand, and so forth. Of course, maybe with an adult it wouldn't be truly a transitional object?

Many sympathies on the teddy bear. I had a stuffed dog, and when he got too ratty, my parents thought they were being clever, and gave me a new dog-identical to the ratty one. They expected me to give up ol' ratty, but I just held a dog in each arm. ;)

Thursday, 22 March 2007 at 18:45:00 GMT  
Blogger Sally's Life said...

Good Evening Spotted Elle.

Cell phones/mobiles, I'm sure for many people are comfort/security blankets, whether it is for voice contact or texting. Much phoning and texting appears to be mere hand-holding or inane chatter, childish, like much of the content that I expect appears in millions of blogs. Not ours!

My mobile is used rarely, but is supportive of managing and getting on with life. In that, it is a tool rather than a transitional object.

I think that throughout the Peanuts cartoons, the continuance of the comfort/security blanket, shows the need and use of it in a positive light. Its necessity is acknowledged by the other characters with understanding, but the character needing it is never sidelined because of it, and it accompanies his maturation process, his growing up.

As often happens, a comment, now yours, inspires another train of thought. And, only after posting am I able to think the post onto the next level.

What I am trying to tease out of my thinking, is that blogging has moved people onto another level of communicating, with ourselves, just as much as with others. So the use of blogging as a transitional object is, I think, an evolution that fits modern humanity's evolving consciousness.
An interface that was not there, not available, before now.

We in society who have access to this tool, not only have access to information in the www, but also contact with people, real lives as they are lived, all over the globe (with inevitable language barriers).

In using a blog, I think we become more aware of inner processes when they can be put outside of our heads, to be looked at, examined, valued, by ourselves and others. The blog becomes the mirror, more available to us than suitable outer-life people to mirror ourselves back to us.

The blog does not have the label 'therapy' but it is. It is also contact with people, in some ways similar to a letter from a friend, or a bunch of flowers at the door, or even a hug, can be.

The blog is more than the personal journal that is often used as a tool in therapy, because a blog is also read by others, who we usually never meet. There is always the possibility that we will and that encourages trust, from the months, years, of chats with other bloggers, that just is
not available in outer life. Is not appropriate in many outer life connections.

For me that is why sometimes it is hard to write and sometimes, often, a joy. Even when I cannot write, I can visit others, and know they know me.

Until this comment of mine is written, until it is outside of my head and on the screen in front of me, I will not know whether I feel it is worthwhile, or pretentious nonsense. But either way, I do experience, for this moment, the security of being in the crip blogging community, of letting it exist out there.

A lovely mind picture of a little 'Spotted Elephant'with a stuffed dog under each arm ...

In view of my experience of my mother removing each one of my comforters/transitional objects, not just my teddy bear, I saved many things my teenage Bump discarded, against the time when she wondered where she had put them. One of the supportive things she did as a young adult, was to give me a teddy bear. I am very fond of it.

But it is not a transitional object; it stays in the private space of my bedroom, whereas my laptop, and its contents and contacts, accompanies me everywhere, through many transitions.

Thursday, 22 March 2007 at 20:49:00 GMT  
Blogger Sally's Life said...

Sometimes I forget to write the most basic things ...

Thank you Spotted Elephant for your comment, I am glad you loved the post.

The other side of the Pond will always, for me, be peopled by the friendly interesting kids from Peanuts who grew up. GWB and his colleagues in our government, and all over the world, came from a different neighbourhood.

Thursday, 22 March 2007 at 20:56:00 GMT  
Blogger BloggingMone said...

Very interesting post and I love those Peanuts pics! If there is some truth in the theory that listening to music whenever and wherever does make the iPod a transitional object, I would probably be carrying around a comfort blanket if it hadn't been invented.

Friday, 23 March 2007 at 08:36:00 GMT  
Blogger Sally's Life said...

Or perhaps not BMone, because an adult with a comfort blanket is not culturally acceptable and, besides, think of all the fluff on your suit.

The iPod is culturally acceptable, so now adults can move from the security of home, car, workplace, into the dark of new places, contacts, activities, with the reassurance their transitional object iPod provides. Culturally acceptable !

Think how much more self assured and secure we adults feel, compared to previous none iPod/laptop generations.

Glad you like the pics. Their website is fun.

Friday, 23 March 2007 at 09:55:00 GMT  
Blogger Sage said...

I did a paper on trans objects way back when, yet never made the connection before. After reading this, it's all so obvious!

Friday, 23 March 2007 at 15:07:00 GMT  
Blogger Charlesdawson said...

Ah yes teddy bears! I had a really ratty old one that was second-hand from some relative when I got him - he outlasted all my other toys. Then on my first term away at Uni my mother put him in the dustbin. Questioned at a scream, she said that he was old, tatty, dirty and she didn't think I'd want him any more. How can adults forget so quickly! I've never forgotten that bear. Maybe the cats are my substitute (I've only just thought of that - see what inner revelations your blogs provoke, Sally!)

As we all know, other animals need objects to help them through stress, like familiar blankets, toys, or articles of owner's clothing. I wonder if it is the same mechanism at work - after all, Linus's blanket must have got pretty niffy, and our sense of smell is one of the most evocative of basic responses and buried memories.

Friday, 23 March 2007 at 15:54:00 GMT  
Blogger BloggingMone said...

If everyone who is constantly carrying around an mp3-player of whatever kind, would have to change it for a comfort blanket, it would very soon be culturally acceptable!

Friday, 23 March 2007 at 17:31:00 GMT  
Blogger Sally's Life said...

Thank you; my behaviour with this transitional object had only become obvious to me after I had suggested it to someone else !

Bless, I can see how traumatic it must have been for you; first term away from home AND mother betrayed you even further - but at least by then you had matured to the SCREAM !
But your cats cannot be a substitute - a transitional object is an OBJECT that can be taken with one; I can't see independent cats coping with being tucked under the arm and carted off to the office. (Which is probably why that Bond film character [see Goldfish] with one on his knee as he planned his distardly deeds is so disturbing.)
So, let me know when you have identified your Trans Object.
Additionally, animals and humans, we all need at some time, the comforter, subject or object; cats for comfort, or blanket washed or wiffy. Evocative smells - Chanel 5 takes me straight back to luxury and comfort, but my Airedale's blanket never did.

BMone - Touche !

Friday, 23 March 2007 at 18:40:00 GMT  
Blogger The Goldfish said...

I also loved this post. Nothing profound to add, just thank you. :-)

Saturday, 24 March 2007 at 09:55:00 GMT  
Blogger Sally's Life said...

Thank you Goldfish; when less is more, the smile says it all.

Saturday, 24 March 2007 at 10:57:00 GMT  
Blogger Sally's Life said...

Postscript by Sally:

Things occur to me after the event. Charles, I hope you know me better and didn't think I was being unkind when I said "matured to the SCREAM".

For me, unable to express any Anger until well into my fourth decade, a SCREAM is a very mature act.

Aargh !

Monday, 26 March 2007 at 20:59:00 BST  

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