I have struggled with abandonment issues for a large part of my life.
They started when I was young. Come to think of it, they probably started the day I was born.
I was adopted when I was a child. My Mum and Dad came to pick me up from the hospital when I was two weeks old. I always knew I was adopted and openly accepted it when I was a child.
It wasn’t until my Mum and I started having problems (surprise, surprise around the same time puberty kicked in and I discovered boys!) that my abandonment issues went up a notch. My Mum and I were always butting heads and I felt like I wasn’t good enough. Her favorite word at the time was ‘disappointed’.
I started to wonder what the hell was wrong with me if two mothers didn’t love me? I started to believe I was unlovable (a toxic limiting belief that stayed with me for many years).
Shaking off my abandonment issues took a lot of hard work, commitment and time. It didn’t happen overnight.
It’s important to point out that I am NOT a professional therapist or counsellor. The below opinions are based on my own personal experience. If you have abandonment issues stemming from parents divorcing at a young age or a parent dying when you were young, I highly recommend seeking help from a professional.
With that said, here are my personal thoughts on working through feelings of abandonment as an adult.
Accept that you have abandonment issues
Awareness is a key part of growth. You can’t heal or work on what you are not aware of.
Admitting you have a problem with abandonment and figuring out why is a key component of working through your issues.
The why factor is extremely important. Figuring our your why can be confronting but it’s worth the effort.
Don’t be in denial
Pretending you don’t have abandonment issues won’t help, in fact it will only makes things worse. Being in denial tends to foster self-destructive impulses and actions.
Pretending you are fine or blaming someone else, will simply keep you stuck in unhealthy patterns.
Recognize the signs
Think you don’t have any abandonment issues?
Feelings of abandonment can manifest in many different ways.
Jealousy, insecurity, neediness, clinginess can all be signs of a fear of abandonment.
Choosing people who are unavailable is another example. If you have been abandoned (by a cheating partner or even a parent that walked out on the family) there can be a tendency to get involved in relationships where the other person can’t commit. The thought pattern goes something like this – if there is no real relationship then someone can’t technically leave you.
Another sign to watch out for is if you are always the one bailing on relationships without a good reason. Often people who are insecure and scared of being left by someone, get the jump on them and leave them first. Often this stems from them secretly not feeling good enough or even worse questioning why the person would be in a relationship with someone like them in the first place?
If you suffer from any of these, take a closer look at why you feel the way you do.
Deal with issues when they occur
Awareness is all well and good but what are you supposed to do when our abandonment issues raise their ugly head.
It is important to deal with loss. Don’t pretend it didn’t hurt when it did.
Last year I wrote about one of my best friends ending our friendship. It hurt like hell and bought up some old abandonment issues that I had to deal with.
When I was younger if a partner broke up with me I would be devastated. I would blame myself for everything, stop eating properly, drink too much and be miserable for months on end. I would wallow and over-analysis every part of the relationship.
This time around with a higher sense of self-esteem I took a different approach.
I processed what had happened to the best of my ability, I mourned the loss of the friendship and I moved on.
It did not blame myself. I didn’t allow myself to wallow. I didn’t make myself miserable.
I let go.
Dealing with my abandonment issues head on has put an end to my old self-destructive behavior.
See through the eyes of an adult
A lot of our abandonment issues can go back to our childhood which makes it very important to see the present and the past through the eyes of an adult.
As an adult I know that my mother did love me. We have a close loving relationship now just in case you were wondering! I understand now that she was dealing with her own problems. As children we don’t see our parents as two people in a relationship (we just see them as Mum and Dad). Often we see them as Mum and Dad who fight a lot and don’t understand what’s going on.
As an adult I can make sense of what happened. I have also met my birth mother which helped with my self-discovery process (and is a whole separate post of its own).
Accept that people come and go
Life is a series of hellos and goodbyes. This can be hard to come to terms with but it is part of life.
How you cope with change will go a long way to healing your abandonment issues.
The longer you hold on to people who aren’t holding onto you – the longer it will take you to move on.
Don’t hand your life over on a silver platter
Sometimes our abandonment issues have little to do with our childhood.
They are solely based around our adult relationships. When we hand our lives over on a silver platter to someone else we give up parts of ourselves. We take on their interests often forsaking our own, we spend more time with their friends and neglect our own. We try to be the sort of person we think our partner wants instead of who we truly are.
If our partner leaves us, we feel empty and lost because we have literally been giving away little pieces of yourself.
Keep your own identity and stay true to who you are.
Work on your self-esteem
What truly helped me overcome my fear of abandonment was working on my self-esteem.
Once you truly appreciate your own worth, you feel empowered. No more doormat behavior. No more passive aggressive actions. You feel more at peace with yourself.
Having high self-esteem doesn’t mean that people won’t come and go in your life. What is does mean it that someone leaving you won’t be soul-destroying.
One thing I have realized over the years is that someone leaving me often wasn’t really about them.
To be honest, I knew deep in my heart that some of those relationships were doomed. Some weren’t even what I wanted. Yet I was devastated when the person left me.
What I know now is that is wasn’t about them or even my feelings for them – it was about my own lack of self-love.
Once you work through your abandonment issues and learn to love yourself for who you truly are – you will find yourself in a much more loving, content place.
If you enjoyed this post please share it with your friends. I hope it will help them.