The fear of abandonment can affect someone’s life in many different ways. There is the internal experience and the external experience. And this doesn’t mean that abandonment actually has to occur, in order for one to feel abandoned.
As a result of the power and the imagination that the mind has, an experience can just as easily be created through the ego minds interpretation. This may be far from the truth and simply a reaction.
Abandonment is another experience that is very much like rejection – it can create incredible emotional pain and suffering. On the surface can be: anger, frustration, rejection, loss, betrayal and many other emotions.
However at the bottom of these emotions is abandonment. There may also be a feeling of not being good enough that has been associated to this experience.
And how strong this pain can be will vary from person to person and what is going on in one’s life. At one side of the spectrum could be a minor feeling that comes and is soon gone. And at the other it could be extremely strong and lead to depression.
Now for people who fear abandonment relationships are going to be problematic. Jealousy, neediness and fear are likely to be experienced on a consistent basis. This could be any type of relationship and is not limited to intimate relationships. Friends, colleagues and family can all trigger this fear.
Due to intimate relationships offering the chance for a high degree of closeness to occur; it is often these types of relationships that trigger the feeling of abandonment.
Although one may be jealous or needy, it may be that one is very controlling: with both of these being ways to deal with the fear of being abandoned.
There is also the other option of avoiding relationships altogether as a way to avoid feeling abandoned. But as the saying goes ‘what we resist persists’. And this means that by avoiding relating and connecting to others at a deeper level, it simply produces the same feeling regardless.
What it does do is allow the feeling of abandonment to be controlled and managed in its intensity.
The Ego Mind
And as the ego mind works in polarities and sees everything in black and white; it will see two options. Here one will either be abandonment or they will never be left alone.
To never be left alone may seem like the only other option and one that will put an end to the feeling of being abandoned forever. However, in reality the second option is dysfunctional and one that will likely lead to the same experiences all over again.
For the individual that has a fear of abandonment, there will often be certain patterns to their relationships. This will depend on many different factors; from how masculine or feminine one is and to how in touch one is with this fear.
Some examples are:
· It could mean that ones intimate relationships get to a certain stage and then seem to just self destruct.
· That one attracts people who they don’t feel completely attracted too; then if they do leave, it won’t cause as much pain.
· Being the person that the other wants them to be; compromising and acting in a way one hopes will ensure that the other person won’t leave.
· One stays in a relationship that is dysfunctional and doesn’t fulfil them; out of the fear of being alone.
· Even though one is in a relationship that is loving and supportive, the feeling of being abandoned never goes away.
· Not wanting the other person to leave their side, in case they leave.
While the fear of abandonment can manifest in many different ways, it is very much an internal experience. The people that seem to create it within oneself are nothing more than triggers to what already exists within.
But due to the feeling often being overwhelming and how consistently this feeling can appear, it can seem that one is powerless. And that one has no control over whether this feeling is there or not.
If this has been a feeling that has been around for so long, it will then appear as normal. It could be described as part of life and something that has to be accepted.
Here one can only feel hopeless, frustrated, and angry. And as a slave to what life may or may not bring. People who don’t have this fear can be seen as lucky or different in some way.
One way that the ego mind functions is through associations and these associations are often subjective. And the way that something is interpreted will be a consequence of the associations that have been formed.
The associations that are formed are what the ego mind has classed as safe. And these are what are familiar; these do not have to be functional or empowering. Whatever has been experienced enough has the potential to be classed as familiar.
How Does This Relate?
So what this means is that the situations that appear to make one feel abandoned only have the power to do this as a result of the ego minds associations.
There will be times when this fear is irrational; in the example of a loving relationship for example. And when ones partner leaves due to having grown out of the relationship and no longer feels that they are compatible; which has nothing to do with them abandoning the other.
This will also mean that one will project this fear onto others and certain situations. And seeing things that are not there and interpreting behaviour to mean what it does not. One may then end up creating a self fulfilling prophecy and sabotaging anything that goes against their fear of abandonment.
On one side this experience is painful and only creates pain and yet to the ego mind it is familiar. And so consciously it has no use, but unconsciously it has a benefit.
The ego mind has associated abandonment as what is safe, this may sound ridiculous. However, in order to understand why such a dysfunctional association could be created we have to look at childhood development.
Being abandoned as a baby and later as a child is something that can create real pain and suffering. And this is where these associations are generally formed.
No caregiver is perfect and there will likely be moments where abandonment occurs. This is not necessarily a problem if the caregiver is empathic. Here the caregiver will be able to regulate the baby’s sensations. And when the baby grows up and becomes a child, the same regulatory process will be utilised.
If the caregiver is generally unempathic, it will mean that the baby’s sensations will often be ignored. And as the baby grows into a child the same approach will likely be used. Due to the caregiver being unempathic abuse is a likely consequence and this means that there will be more chance of trauma being experienced.
The above descriptions are just general examples, as it could have been just one situation that wasn’t regulated by a caregiver. And as a result of the stress or trauma being ignored, one is then affected for life or until it is dealt with.
In the first example of the empathic caregiver the sensations of the baby and later emotions and feelings of the child will generally be regulated by the caregiver. This will mean there will be very little build up.
Where as in the second example of the unemapthic caregiver, what is experienced by the baby and then by the child will generally have been left and not regulated. At the most extreme, the baby will have to just sit in this pain with there being nothing it can do and this will then be pushed out of conscious awareness.
Frozen In Time
The pain will not simple go away; it will stay frozen in the body. And until it has been let go, situations will continue to trigger this pain either through what is happening or by ones interpretation of what is happening. As it is so old and has become pushed so far out of one’s awareness it can seem to be coming out of nowhere.
And the quality of this early care will largely define how severe ones fear of abandonment is. The present situation that triggers the fear is assisted through one regressing to the memories of the past.
So while associations of familiarity will have been formed around these early experiences, it may also mean that one doubts their worthiness. And this will mean that one will have to let go of these associations.
The associations that the ego mind has and the patterns that these create can be changed. And the first step is to see the story that is being played out over and over again.
What assistance one needs will depend on how powerful the feeling is. For some, simply becoming aware of the pattern may be enough and for others therapy may be needed. The approach doesn’t matter, what matters is that one reaches out.
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Oliver J R Cooper
Oliver JR Cooper
Author of 26 books, Transformational Writer, Teacher & Consultant.
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That which is contained within these articles is based on my own empirical understanding and is true for me at the time they were written. However, as I continue to grow, what I perceive as the truth will inevitably change and as a result of this - parts of these articles may not reflect my current outlook.