A noun is a described as a person, place, or thing.
So here’s a question: are you a person, or a thing?
Really, it’s a trick question. We are both. Our body is a thing, and the consciousness that inhabits it, is our person. Whether you want to define that as your consciousness, mind, spirit, soul…up to you…
I think about that, that duality. Am I an object, or a person? Am I a brain, or do I have a brain?
Instead of just trying to answer that question (which I accept the answer is both), I ask an even better question of myself – am I a person or an object to the people I’m surrounding myself with?
I understand these roles are on a continuum, in every relationship.
My kids make me crazy, and if I dig into that, a lot of it has to do with being treated as an object by them…alllllll the time. “Mom do this, get me this, can I have this, Mom, Mom, Mom, Mom!” Normal kid shit, but what’s challenging with that, is that I am an object to them most of the time. BUT! When they treat me as a person, that’s where the magic happens. When they look at me, kiss me gently, smile with twinkly eyes, and ask insightful questions that could only come from an innocent heart…. That’s where my being overflows with love and joy. Those person moments make the object role tolerable.
I imagine as my children grow, the continuum of object vs person will shift more towards person. As their brains and bodies mature, their needs for me will change concurrently.
Think about relationships you’ve had that were dissatisfying. Were you treated as an object or as a person?
Did the person want things from you, need things from you, were you providing a service for them? OR did they really want to connect?
If I look back at all the hurt feelings I’ve had, or mistreatment I’ve perceived, it’s because someone only wanted me in their life as an object – and I wanted to be a person. Realizing that fact makes it a whole lot easier to see that whatever was going on was not really about me.
For once, you can believe that saying “it’s not you, it’s me!”
Because if someone is only interfacing with me as an object, they’ve guarded themselves from really connecting and even knowing my person. And when it comes down to it, the reason they likely treated me as an object is because to know me, to really connect with me as a person, has risks. Connecting with people can shine a light on their bullshit. Additionally, it invites in things like vulnerability…which is very scary for many and most.
Being an object is often necessary. The nature of the relationship matters. Sometimes you are just a means to an end. For instance, in your work setting – maybe you value person to person connection, but your boss sees you as an object, a cog in the system. That will be hard for people that crave, and are motivated by, person to person connection. I don’t know if you can feel fulfilled at your job, if this mismatch exists. I know when I moved from a job where leadership saw me as an object, to a job where I was seen as a person, it gave me far greater meaning, and it influenced me to work harder and be a larger part of the organization. I would have done anything to help my co-workers and the leadership, because I cared about them, and they SAW ME. They cared about me. And that’s what tribe is all about.
But when it comes to personal relationships, you would hope for the person to person connection to be most prevalent. Thinking back on those relationships…. Do your friends and lovers want to meet you at that place between the objects, that person to person space? The place where stardust and galaxies reside, where our spirits can dance together, and our hearts can meld as one…. Do they want to meet you in a place where you can look into one another’s eyes and truly recognize each other?
These are the relationships where you can just be. You don’t question the relationship, and if you never spoke a word in ten years, the love and connection would still be there. These people KNOW you, don’t question your intentions, and LOVE you no matter what bad decisions you make, no matter how great the distance, no matter how long it has been.
Lots of people don’t want to be tangled in the stars with you. Lots of people don’t want to be recognized by you. Lots of people don’t want their heart to be exposed.
Having children is the ultimate vulnerability. It is like having a vital organ walking around outside of your body unprotected. It’s a scary fucking feeling – realizing something can matter so much and is completely independent of you. And matters of the heart are no different. These vessels (our bodies/objects), cannot protect our person. Much like we cannot protect our children.
It makes sense, then, to protect our person by designating others as objects.
Problem solved? Kind of…
The conundrum is, if you’re like me, you open yourself up for the person to person experience all of the time, which invites in hurt if you don’t understand what role you’re playing for the other person. And if you’re the person that cannot open up to the person to person place, then you miss out on a lot of human connection. Both have pros and cons. I guess it just depends on what you desire for your life.
It is not easy. I think as we get older, and spend more time in our brains, experience heartbreaks, watch family members age and fall ill, watch people die “before their time,” see children innocently walk around as if there is no darkness in the world… These things shape us, they change our person, they make up the unique fabric of our spirit. Each one of these scenarios can inspire us to one of two choices: close off to others to protect our person, or open up and invite in the potential for more harm.
Personally, I need that connection. That person to person connection is magical. I want to spill my guts and talk about life all the time. I want conversations that go beyond the weather and how your day is. That’s likely why I choose to write.
It is all a continuum. There will always be times that I am an object to my husband, and there will be times when I am a person. But for me to have true fulfillment in my relationships the continuum needs to favor person to person interactions. Discussing life, love, the meaning of it all can be a challenge; however, if you’re focused on the right parts, it’s more often exhilarating, motivating, invigorating, and inspiring. Those are the conversations I want to be having – and not just in my marriage. Those are the conversations I want to have with all the people who are in my tribe. I want to know their why, their raison d’etre, their ikigai, their intention for this life…
The cons don’t scare me. I would rather live a life of heartache, rejection, disappointment, than one devoid of connection, love, joy, and intimacy. They are all interconnected. One breeds the other, and so on. The disappointment of one relationship, can be easily chased by the love and joy of another. For example, the heartache I feel for my father, is more easily understood and accepted if I can focus on the love and joy I experience in my other relationships. The heartaches can be reminders to cherish the others, to love them, to honor them, and to cultivate them – life truly is short. No days, no seconds, no breaths guaranteed.
This person to person space is sacred. It’s magic. It’s heaven on earth, it’s where love and joy reside. It’s where connection and meaning exist. It’s infinite. Some relationships will find me out in the infinite space of stars and galaxies alone – a big place to be alone…although we are never truly alone. And some will find me floating in the bliss of togetherness and recognition of another. Those moments of someone recognizing me at my heart and soul…they are too few…and I’d venture to guess, they are for you too.
I think being aware of the distinction, and roles we play in others lives (object versus person), is the key to recognizing and mitigating expectations in those relationships. Some people are just not capable, and you can still have meaningful relationships with them, as long as you understand that.
I will always walk into the cosmos. I will always venture out into that space. If you don’t meet me there, I will wait until you’re ready. I will float on to the next connection, the next port, the next spiritual trip with the next ready soul. I choose to live in the magic.
As an object, I am limited. I can only give you a grain of sand when my role is object. But the space within my person is infinite. All the grains of sand in the universe cannot touch what I can give you from my person. Love. Love is infinite. Beyond measure. Beyond time. Beyond our earthly embodiment. There’s enough love for everyone. And I choose to NOT be selfish or scared to share that.
A quote that watered the seed of interest on this idea: “Most of us, deep down, want our inner lives – our ideas about ourselves, our sense of where we want life to lead, what we fear, what we desire – to be of consequence.” (Read more here.)
I would like my inner life to be of consequence to more people. I endeavor to do that with you.