What Is Fear Of Abandonment?
Simon Hearn, PhD is a registered psychologist who has written several articles about psychological disorders including his article on Denisboyd.com entitled Fear of Abandonment. Hearn describes fear of abandonment as a psychological disorder where the individual suffering from this illness cannot control the fear that he or she feels when faced with the idea of having to cope with life and its difficulties alone.
Anyone can be diagnosed with fear of abandonment; it is not age or gender specific. Men and women have been equally diagnosed with fear of abandonment, and it is very prevalent in children as well, especially children who have parents who are physically present, but emotionally unavailable. The foundation for fear of abandonment can be set in childhood, but will not manifest until the individual is on his or her own in the world, no longer supported in any way by adults or parents.
Sometimes the causes of your abandonment issues are painfully obvious. But even if you weren't literally abandoned, fear of abandonment is said to be the first fear of all infants.
And then there is life itself:
"Life is full of orphaning experiences, and some
people have more than their share of them. Many
orphans live in what appear to be intact families,
but the children are not cherished, nurtured, or
guided and do not feel emotionally or physically
safe." Carol S. Pearson, Awakening the Heroes Within
Even with the best caregivers--you can have abandonment issues.
Did your parents or caregivers have any problems? Usually, they were doing their best while their unmet needs, pressing problems, and unresolved emotions created tension and lack of presence.
You as a child absorbed their stressful feelings. You were like a "deer in the headlights". You couldn't think or explain, understand or express, or ask for what you needed.
Most likely, your caregivers were not able to meet your needs and give you the security and reassurance you needed. They couldn't help it, they didn't mean it, and they didn't know it was happening.
Love and fear and unmet needs blend together and create biochemical stress patterns.
"Researchers are convinced that endorphin
biochemicals are responsible for feelings
of euphoria, exhilaration, joy, happiness
Unhappy experiences also stimulate the
production of endorphins, which bring relief
from pain and help you handle stressful
situations. Endorphins are a natural pain
killer--hundreds of times more powerful
Unfortunately, these endorphins may bond
you to stressful experiences. For example,
children who experienced violence, which
activated pain-relief endrphins, may be
addicted to violence as their only way to
activate the endorphin pain-relief "high".
Endorphins are closely connected to memory,
playing a significant role in both the formation
and retention of memory."
Chloe Wordsworth, Founder of Resonance Repatterning
We bond with stress hormones along with (or instead of) love and safety. These conflicting feelings give rise to self-doubt, guilt, insecurity.
You may unconsciously equate love with feeling insecure.
You may find yourself attracted to "unavailable" people.
Losses, disconnections and disappointments re-ignite your fear.
Insecurity and fear of being hurt, of being left, of needs going unmet, sabotage your relationships.
Have you ever felt that you are over-reactive?
When stress hormones run rampant, you are overwhelmed with grief and loss that feel like rejection and betrayal.
You live in nagging inner conflict, there is no closure, and you feel unjustly dismissed.
You turn the rage against yourself.
There "must be something wrong with you".
You blame your inadequacies.
You abandon yourself.
You look outside yourself for approval. Others, whether they be parent, partner, boss, society, or friends, are all-powerful to your emotional well-being.
In a word, you are the victim of your abandonment issues.
Unconsciously triggered stress hormones keep you locked in fear of abandonment. Unresolved wounds accumulate anxiety, low self-esteem, insecurity, painful relationships, grief, and isolation.
"Whoa there! Wait just minute," you say..."what is the point of all this?"
Well, the truth is, most of us have a hurt and abandoned inner child. Abandonment issues have their roots in the experience and reality of life.
The TRUTH IS...we DENY this part of ourselves. It isn't pretty. No one wants to sound like a victim. But since denial and suppression are not growth (and life insists on growth), symptoms appear. Symptoms like depression.
Without the personal strength, and the help we need to face our abandonment issues, they keep reappearing, forcing us to deal with them.
Have you ever thought that your abandonment issues, your depression, your life, are a call to growth, to a new reality, to a new inner strength, to a new life?
Unresolved abandonment - - the source of our insecurities, addictions, compulsions, and distress.
Unresolved abandonment - - the insidious virus invading body mind and soul - - the culprit for the anxiety we are forever trying to self-medicate with food, alcohol, shopping, people and a host of other self defeating behaviors.
Unresolved abandonment - - the roadblock to reaching our potential - - the invisible wound that drains self esteem from within - - the hidden trap that keeps us stuck in patterns of self-sabotage.
Unresolved abandonment - - the chronic insecurity that becomes the scourge of human relationship. Unresolved abandonment - - the internal barrier to fully connecting to others. Fear short-circuits our attempts to find love - - we struggle to find and keep relationships. We become abandoholics.
Unresolved abandonment - - the elusive grief so many seek therapy for and can't seem to overcome - - an undifferentiated emptiness often mis-diagnosed as depression and inappropriately medicated. Sometimes its stress and agitation are persistent enough to create chemical imbalances that do, in fact, respond to drug therapy.
Unresolved abandonment - - simplistic methods like 'positive thinking' or just going to therapy do not deter it. Programs like Co-dependency, Alanon, and Adult Child have attempted to assuage the erosion of energy and self worth caused by unresolved abandonment. But for all of their positive 'affirmations', they have not been able to address the system of drainage that lies buried within.
Likewise, Alcoholics Anonymous, Alanon, and Over-eaters Anonymous, etc. have been extremely effective in dealing with the addictive and co-addictive problems secondary to abandonment, but are unable to go beyond the symptoms and treat the underlying abandonment wound itself.
Self-help books have tended to have a placebo effect. They offer reasonable enough sounding advice, like "Find happiness from within." But these truisms are easier said than done. Many abandonees feel inadequate when they try to perform them and are not able to "Just let go" and "Move forward."
My father "left me" when I was very young....my older sister (my counselor later explained to me that she was my second mother or my "idea of a normal woman" since she was ten years older) left me a year and a half later.
The Person Who Raised Me aka my older brother left five years after her. All that was left was my Mom...then she left, too. However, my mother had "abandoned" me in many ways long before that...
I think all that has stayed with me....and has affected every relationship with a man I have ever had. I don't "cling" but more like....I have to feel firmly ensconced....or cocooned with a relationship that is too smothering. I keep ending up with "jealous men".....relationships with them are abusive....and the jealousy isn't even about me....it's more about their insecurities.
My intelligent, logical mind recognizes that......but my emotional mind screams for something else....
What can be done? I want to move on.....
Any experiences you want to share? Things you have learned? Can those abandonment issues be overcame?