What is abandonment and do you have feelings of being abandoned?
I like this definition on emotional abandonment, there is of course physical abandonment as well.
Emotional abandonment is a subjective emotional state in which people feel undesired, left behind, insecure, or discarded. People experiencing emotional abandonment may feel at a loss, cut off from a crucial source of sustenance that has been withdrawn, either suddenly, or through a process of erosion
For many children of alcoholics they experience a parent or parents that are absent emotionally from their life, sometimes physically too.
I remember feeling emotionally deprived from both my parents. My Dad was the drinker and absent a lot of my life. When he was there, he wasn’t emotionally present. He would keep his emotions inside and struggle to connect with me. It made me feel something was wrong with me.
He had high expectations and nothing I did felt good enough for him, so I felt really bad about who I was. My mum was the sober parent but really busy, I felt that she didn’t really connect with me on an emotional level. I don’t think it was her fault, I can say that now but I blamed her a lot for many years.
The connection I needed emotionally just wasn’t there, as an adult I clung to my intimate relationships and friendships, because when I did receive the care and love I craved I didn’t want to lose it. Does that resonate with you?
Those misusing alcohol can also feel abandoned by family, they feel like a bad person and ashamed of their behaviour. It’s understandable why partners choose to leave their drinker. The chaos they have to deal with is often to much to bear.
Everyone’s situation is different, some drinkers cause more chaos than others. Sometimes there is no chaos, but there are frustrations, anger and challenges from the drinker and their actions.
How abandonment works
We all need physical and emotional needs to be met. When they aren’t we can experience feelings of being abandoned. It shouldn’t be underestimated, it can become a traumatic event. Whether you’ve experienced a parent/caregiver passing away of had feelings of being unsafe, this also can cause trauma. Living in an alcoholic home for me was very hard, there were many threatening situations e.g. abuse.
It’s not uncommon to feel a certain amount of fear when we feel abandoned, but it depends how much and how long it goes on for. This will then continue into adult life and impact on your relationships.
Impact of abandonment
If you’re someone that has feelings of being abandoned emotionally and/or physically, the results of that will show up in your life as a child and an adult. This causes a huge amount of shame in a lot of people. What does that look like and how do you behave because of it?
- Keep people at arms length, worrying if they get close, they’ll leave you
- Struggle to trust people, for fear of being abandoned
- Feelings of loneliness because you don’t allow yourself to connect with people
- Experiencing low self-esteem, not feeling good enough because if you were, they wouldn’t have left you
- Needy and people pleasing behaviour for fear of being abandoned
Here is a brilliant quote from the famous Claudia Black on feelings of being abandoned
Abandonment experiences and boundary violations are in no way indictments of a child’s innate goodness and value. Instead, they reveal the flawed thinking, false beliefs, and impaired behaviours of those who hurt them.
Still, the wounds are struck deep in their young hearts and minds, and the very real pain can still be felt today. The causes of emotional injury need to be understood and accepted so they can heal. Until that occurs, the pain will stay with them, becoming a driving force in their adult lives.
Awareness of your feelings of being abandoned
You may have full awareness of your own feelings of abandonment, you may not. Hopefully this post has given you food for thought, it certainly isn’t a comprehensive guide but will get your mind thinking.
When you take steps to have a better awareness of your fears, then you can start to work on them. It’s irresponsible to say I can provide ways to overcome it in a blog, it’s life that these feelings of being abandoned will happen (not always intentionally by the person or yourself). Be mindful of any triggers, have support available to help you or do this with someone present.
What I would like to do is share some tips and thoughts to consider.
- Notice the thoughts and feelings of abandonment, that fear of being emotionally deprived or physically abandoned and what that creates in your body. What happens when you start a new relationship, do you immediately feel fear in your body? Thoughts come to mind?
- Say “I’m scared of being left/emotionally deprived/abandoned by those I care about” (adjust to fit what feels right for you)
- Sit with those thoughts, feelings, awareness and sensations. Write down or record on an audio what’s going on both emotionally and physically.
The above is a good start to really get clear on your own feelings of being abandoned, processing that with love and care will help you to have a base point to work from.
If you’d like to have further support, my Change Your Mind Facebook group would love to have you. We’re a group of families of alcoholics that have all experienced similar issues. Click here to request to join.
Alternatively, you can get in touch with me if you have any questions you’d like help with. I’m more than happy to help you without charge. Click here to send me a message.