Therapist Jerry Wise says: For many who have suffered abandonment, often they have put their hope in marriage as the antidote for this problem. They look for relationships to heal the hurt of abandonment.
Abandonment is the experience of suffering a deep rejection, a broken connection with what was to be an important loving relationship. We’re left feeling alone and rejected. We look to relationships to heal our disconnection.
Internalizing the pain of abandonment, we look for a fix in our marriage, causing many problems.
Abandonment often starts with the family of origin and gets repeated over and over in our lives. Abandonment is about past relationship brokenness and present fears and motivations for relationships. Abandonment gets internalized and becomes a debilitating self-abandonment. As people get older, they end up abandoning themselves. We internalize that rejection.
How do we heal abandonment issues? By healing our past rejections and our issues in our family of origin and by facing our fear of abandonment. We stop focusing on, idealizing and blaming the abandoner. We confront, identify and reduce our self-abandonment. We realize that the fear of abandonment is a symptom of the need for more self-care and more self-esteem.
A stronger sense of self is the antidote to fear of abandonment. Healthy separateness and self-love is the best cure for abandonment issues.
Fear of abandonment is an emotional reactivity to a loss or a fear of being left.
How to heal: (1) Identify and resolve and heal early abandonment which occurred during childhood. Look at our family of origin issues. Look at how we were abandoned as kids and how it gets reenacted and re-experienced in adulthood. Don’t run from this pain. Identify it. Feel it. And heal it.
(2) Increase self-esteem and self-differentiation. The lower our self-esteem, the greater our fear of abandonment and the greater our abandonment reactivity. The lower the self-differentiation sense of self, the greater the abandonment problems we experience.
One reason we fear abandonment is that we fear we’re not worthy of being in a relationship and we’re going to fear being abandoned. If you knew me like I knew me, you’d abandon me too.
(3) Stop giving our power to others. Those of us suffering from abandonment are not aware of how often we give our power to others. When I fear abandonment, I put all of my sense of self and well-being in the hands of another and that will recreate abandonment. We give our power away to others and then someone abuses it and we feel abandoned again.
Three secrets to dealing with fear of abandonment:
(1) Stop abandoning yourself. Stop cutting off from yourself. We abandon ourselves by not standing up for ourselves, by declaring and not declaring ourselves to others, by giving our power away, not identifying and expressing our needs, being overly critical and mean with yourself, we shame ourselves if we make a mistake, we leave addictions untreated, we keep toxic friends and family members, we don’t take care of our inner child, we allow abuse by others whether bosses or boyfriends or pastors, not parenting ourselves… Running away from ourselves when we need to stand by ourselves.
(2) Stop equating fusion and enmeshment with love. If we have too much enmeshment, we’re going to fear any change. Enmeshment means I’m totally into you or you’re totally into me. We must agree on everything. We must share everything. It’s an inappropriate closeness and intensity, an over-involvement with another. There are no clear interpersonal boundaries. Our sense of wholeness comes from another person, family or group.
(3) Stop cutting off from others and abandoning others as a way of dealing with conflicts and challenges. Co-dependents tend to shift back and forth between enmeshment and cut-off. We need to resist both ends. Just because someone disagrees with you doesn’t mean we need to cut-off from them. When someone fails you, hurts you, speaks ill of you, don’t cut off. Set boundaries. Care for yourself.
Therapist Mark E. Smith says: When somebody comes under the sway of abandonment issues, they become irrational and reactive. You have one person in a marriage driven by irrational jealousies and another person who’s defensive. It can become ugly.
Let me give you some examples. A husband with abandonment issues doesn’t get sex when his neediness requires it, so he pouts and is sulky for days on end.
A girlfriend who has a texting meltdown when a guy goes out with his buddies.
Falling under the influence of an abandonment issue can happen like that! Out comes the crazy dance. It’s like they’ve become instantly drunk. They’ve become impaired, reactive, out of control, stubborn, and impossible to speak to rationally. I coach spouses of people with abandonment issues to not go toe to toe because it’s like arguing with someone who’s drunk. Get some space and wait until they come to themselves and they’re not acting crazy.
If your spouse abandoned you severely, then you were abandoned as a child. You may not remember it. You’re going to pick a spouse who abandons you. The worst possible way to be abandoned is by adultery.
You will be attracted to somebody who has the disguised worst issues of your parents.