Hello, reader. How are you? I was asking Ming which of my needs he helps meet. That was a cool conversation. He told me some ideas that surprised me. One surprise was my need for someone safe to project onto.
Ming is the person who taught me that so much of social interaction is projection. That means we have our inner life, with its moods, needs, history, traumas. And we walk around with beliefs about the world, especially about how people are.
Then we do confirmation bias in a big way. We look out into the world and focus in on what in the world verifies what we already know to be true. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy and an echo chamber.
This can be a creepy way that people reinforce errors, like conspiracy theorists. When you believe something and search through the world to find more reasons to believe it, you can get stuck on some weird stuff.
It can be good and strengthening, to find a message board of people who think sort of like you, where you can learn from one another and make a better world. But hopefully you choose the right message board. Very different tone and project, of the Icarus Project board I found at a vulnerable time, to learn about radical mental health and how I’m a valid person. Versus some illuminati-fighting fear and weapons board that other persons find and latch onto to form violence.
Praise Mother God I could feel the difference between “we can make a better world through respect and love in community” vs violence. It’s chilling how “we are valid and can make a better world” is the main idea of both, but with totally different results.
We are trying out new ideas on each other all the time. If we’re alive, we’re in motion. We learn, grow, change, shift, expand.
I love realizing something new and feeling my values rumble and transform. Just recently I realized something about consent that really matters to me and affects how I do social in community. I felt ashamed of the mistakes I’ve made. But realizing my mistakes is a way to move forward and do better. I can make new choices now.
safe to project onto
“What do I project on you?” I asked Ming.
“You project what my values are. That my values are like yours,” Ming said.
“Yeah, but they are pretty much like yours,” I said. “For the most part.”
“You’re projecting correctly. But you’re still projecting,” Ming said.
“Ok,” I said. “I think I project on you a lot that you’re a good person.”
“Yeah, you do,” Ming said
“But you are a good person,” I said.
“I am a good person,” Ming said.
I thought of how important it is to me that Ming has values much like mine and that Ming is a good person. How accurate am I? Do I misread Ming’s values for my benefit, in order to feel safer? Is Ming as good a person as I think he is?
When I lie in bed with Ming and cuddle him, I often hold him and kiss his head and tell him how good he is. It’s true–I really need him to be good. In those moments, he’s safe to project onto. Do I make him out to be more good than he is, to get off on that?
Who knows how good Ming is. How would that even be measured? Probably maximum good. But in that moment, accuracy is not my goal. Love and tenderness are surging in my body, and his goodness feels central. I need him to be very good, so I project that, and I’m safe doing that.
Other people who I might love a lot are not safe to project onto. They pretend to be what I need them to be, and use me while I’m mistaken. They take advantage of my projecting for their benefit.
When I need certain things, I look out into the world for them. Then I tend to find them, whether they’re there or not.
Very sadly, I’m reminded of the baby monkey who’s been separated from its mama. The scientist gives it a shape made of chicken wire covered in fur, and the baby monkey makes that shape into its mama. Cuddling with the shape is all the baby monkey can do. It’s a desperate move, but the baby monkey needs to be nurtured. It creates the object of nurturing.
Or someone is alone in the world who has burned their bridges and can’t maintain a loving relationship uses porn to pretend they’re not alone. Or they use substances like alcohol. The comfort is necessary. So we pretend bad things are good.
Well, thank you to Ming for being safe to project onto. Yes, I have a lot of needs. I’m famous for that. And Ming is famous for being a great partner person.
Ming is also famous for activism, narcolepsy, having thousands of friends, getting naked really quick in personal growth courses, helping shut down a city 20 years ago, and being the only Chinese-American pagan Jewish person who does Quakerism and Hinduism you might know. Thank you for all of that, dear beautiful pumpkincat.
Does Ming rise to the occasion, becoming more good to meet my need? Does Ming form to be the person I project him to be? Over the years, maybe he becomes more the Ming I wish for. Maybe I was wrong about him at the beginning, and I become more accurate as he changes on the paths we share.
Breakup can feel like such a sweet release, such a relief. I’ve often felt a jolt of freedom, parting ways with someone after struggle. In relationship I do a fuckton of work. So setting down the project frees up immearsurable energy.
Also I can enjoy no longer having that person’s expectations put on me. The lover is no longer projecting onto me who they think I am. Some visions are more burdensome than others.
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