Abandonment is indeed traumatic, especially for a child. And it leaves a scar that will last a lifetime.
However, the fear of abandonment is something that needs to be handled well. Or else, it can sabotage your relationships and leave you weak and demoralized forever.
Fear of abandonment is included as one of the primal fears – the fears that are tasked with the function of keeping us alive. This means the fear of abandonment is useful if it remains within limits.
And, you cannot get rid of them either. It is essential for your survival and acts as the driving force in your relationships. When it stays in control and remains the way it should, it can reinforce your relationships. If not, it can meddle and create roadblocks that lead to breakups.
When the fear of abandonment exceeds its healthy limits and gets out of hand, it turns into a mental health issue. This article explores the topic of childhood abandonment issues and the ways to handle them so that you can lead a normal life. You will also find here the signs of abandonment and how to deal with abandonment issues.
What is meant by the abandonment issue?
This is a mental health issue stemming from the fear of abandonment. Fear of loneliness can rise to the level of anxiety or even phobia. If not handled adeptly, this tends to blow up and get out of control, creating hurdles in your relationships. In severe cases, this has the potential to sabotage your happiness and peace of mind.
Abandonment trauma often has its root in your childhood. You may have suffered trauma from the loss of a loved one. Or else you may have experienced a real case of abandonment by someone close to you. Maybe it was the divorce of your parents or the death of a close family member. This can also result when you were not given enough attention in your early years by your primary caregiver.
Unresolved issues arising out of the feeling of being abandoned in your childhood will continue to play tricks in your mind, triggering the fears of being abandoned again by the people in your present life.
How does childhood abandonment affect adulthood?
The fear of abandonment, when it is not addressed and fixed, can take over control of your life and affect all aspects of it, especially your ability to connect with others.
As a child, you may have experienced an incident of losing a loved one. Maybe you were forcefully taken away from them or they had to leave you for their own reasons. Sometimes you may have felt abandoned by the death of a dear one. Or else you were actually abandoned by your caregiver.
Irrespective of the scenario, you had instilled in your mind the feeling of being abandoned. If you did not receive reassurance of being taken care of, this feeling of abandonment will continue to fester in your mind until it becomes a real issue with serious implications.
All the little damages, frustrations, doubts, detachments, and anxieties you experienced since then will accumulate to reach gigantic proportions.
Some of the consequences of childhood abandonment for adults are:
- Shallow or superficial relationships. You may not feel any real love or affection towards your partner. You are in a relationship for the sake of being in one.
- Inability to continue the relationship and resultant breakup. Your reluctance to love and be loved can create trouble in the relationship. Your fear of intimacy can lead to either of the partners leaving the other.
- A string of relationships. When one fails, you look for another. All of them are short-lived because of your reluctance to allow anyone to get too close to you. The saga continues.
- Self-sabotaging your relationships. Because of your fears, insecurities, and anxieties, you end up doing all the wrong things in the relationship even if your intentions are good.
- Refusal to leave relationships for fear of being abandoned and lonely. When you suffer from abandonment issues, your fear of being alone is more than the discomforts of being in an incompatible relationship.
- Demand repeated reassurance. Your insecurity forces you to demand guarantees, assurances, and promises from your partner. You may do this even if it sounds silly and foolish. You may ask your partner to say “I love you” multiple times a day. Or “I will always be there for you”.
Signs of abandonment issues
Here are the common signs you can look out for to identify abandonment issues in adults.
- Excessively eager to please and being overly generous
- Jealous of your proximity to others
- Inability to trust others
- Assuming meanings in your intentions
- Insecure feelings about you and the relationship with you
- Inability to feel or get intimate
- Want to be controlled or wants to control you
- Refusing to leave bad relationships
- Demanding to be treated like a child
What causes childhood abandonment issues?
Just because you experienced feeling abandoned as a child doesn’t mean you were actually abandoned. It can be caused by any of the following.
Death of a loved one. Especially, if the death is sudden and the child is unprepared for the event. If the child’s emotional trauma is not addressed well, it can continue to fester in its mind even after they become adults.
Physical or emotional abuse. When a person of power abuses the power and misbehaves with the child, it is natural that they feel as if they are abandoned. This has the potential to become a serious mental health issue.
Divorce. When the parents split up, the child is forced to separate from one of the parents.
A parent leaves the family for another one. This is a real case of abandonment. However, the remaining parent can help the child get over the feeling.
Financial crunch. Your unmet desires can lead to a feeling of scarcity. This feeling of lack can lead to similar emotions of insecurity and vulnerability as abandonment. This is also a cause for abandonment issues.
How do you love someone with childhood abandonment issues?
It is challenging to love or help someone with abandonment issues as they constantly push you away. The reason for this can be fear of intimacy. Or they feel challenged or vulnerable when you try to get close to them.
If you want to help someone with an abandonment issue, you may employ these techniques to make it work.
- Don’t rise to the temptation even when you are provoked. Stay calm and composed.
- Act normal and continue to love them despite their behavior. Those with abandonment issues usually try to test their theory on you that they will be abandoned or rejected by everyone.
- Take it easy and don’t force them to respond. You may make suggestions and leave it at that. They will take their own time to come around.
- Don’t make false promises or dishonest answers even if it is to avoid hurting them further. Be honest when dealing with them.
- When the conversation gets too emotional, take a break after letting them know that you will be back. And, make sure that you keep your word.
- Validate their feelings. This means acknowledging their emotions without being judgmental.
- Don’t take the bait. They may try to trap you into doing or saying harmful things to prove themselves right. Whenever they say something, take it at its face value.
To overcome emotional abandonment issues, the first step is to acknowledge and accept that you suffer from this. In a few cases, self-healing is possible. A loving and understanding partner can contribute a lot to the healing process.
Spiritual healing for abandonment issues is possible only with the cooperation of the afflicted person. Being a mental health issue, improving your spiritual health can make you feel better, if not cure the illness.