How to Cope with Abandonment Issues
When I was 10 years old, my mother left and did not say goodbye or explain where she was going, how long she would be gone and did not kiss me goodbye. It was not as traumatic as it could have been as both of my parents fought viciously and both left a lot after these fights but they always came back and they had always told us where they were going for the most part. But as days rolled on into months, I started to use dissociation to help me deal with the pain of losing my mother and because of that early trauma, I have a very difficult time trusting others, especially those in romantic relationships.
Sadly, due to this early trauma, I have sabotaged many relationships by making sure that I was the first person to leave even if there weren’t clear signs that the other person may be leaving me first. I was hyper vigilante, very jealous and insecure in those early relationships to the point that I did some pretty crazy things to avoid being hurt by someone leaving me.
Now, I have been married for 24 years but it hasn’t been easy. Both of us came into the marriage with a ton of baggage and neither of us has been able to completely resolve all of it but there are some key ways to help you maintain your sanity and your relationship.
- First, you must go to therapy and you must pick a therapist you feel safe with and who you can trust and this can take awhile but if you immediately feel a disconnect, do not continue with that person. Finding a therapist is no different than finding someone to partner with, you must feel a sense of trust. I would predict that you will need to go back to therapy often throughout your relationship and/or marriage. This isn’t something that just goes away, life challenges you constantly and if you sincerely want the relationship to work you must put in the effort to make it work.
- Second, whoever you choose to be a partner must be agreeable to go to therapy with you. This needs to be asked early on in a relationship with anyone. If they even sound the least bit turned off about going to therapy, that is the RED FLAG to end the relationship immediately. I honestly feel that this is the one and only question you even need to ask someone in order to weed out the folks who will not be willing to give their all.
- Third, be prepared to be disappointed often and accept that some of that is due to your own issues with abandonment. No one is ever going to know what you are feeling or what sets you off. You have to be honest about that when it happens.
- Fourth, expect to have periods of severe paranoia that your partner is having an affair and is cheating on you. This is a tricky one because people who have abandonment issues also have a keen sense of what other people are doing yet our issues get caught up in our reality. I have gone with binoculars and watched my husband at work, I look at his phone incessantly, I read his emails and look through his car. Still haven’t found anything yet, I am very hyper-vigilant about making sure he is not screwing over on me. Some people would think that perhaps this marriage is a failure due to this severe paranoia that I have but those people have probably not been abandoned by their mother at an early age. It’s very hard for us to believe that people will actually stay with us, so we continually doubt their love for us. It never goes away.
- Fifth, when the above happens, you must not shame yourself and blame yourself. You have to tell your partner what you are going through and be honest and let them know. They may not like that you are accusing them of something as heinous as having an affair but this is where therapy comes into play. The two of you need to go and deal with this.
- Sixth, try to use holistic ways to help you relax and trust in the Universe. Meditation helps you learn to live in the moment and is one of the best tools to keep you grounded when you doubt the one you love. Yoga does this as well. One of the hardest aspects of being abandoned is the need to be a step ahead in order to not be hurt again. Meditation helps you learn that the moment you are in is precious and needs to be respected. Trying to predict the future will only cause you anxiety and stress.
- Lastly, please seek help if you are feeling very depressed and/or suicidal. If you do most of these steps, it will most likely help alleviate depression especially getting therapy but there are definitely days that I have felt like dealing with this is just too hard. Please know you are not alone. Feeling like this is normal and expected due to early trauma.
Blessed Be.ARTICLE BY NANCY DALE-JONES