When someone you love, and you thought loved you, walks out of your life, it leaves you feeling worthless, unimportant, unworthy of their love, time, or consideration. It is easy to generalize the deserter’s behavior and carry the blame yourself, generalizing the behavior onto everyone else who comes into your life. The irony, of course, is that you then go on to attract the sort of people who will, indeed, abandon you.
Here’s the thing. There are some specific thinking errors that are plaguing you, and will do so until you recognize and correct them. And yes, you can!
So first, let’s look at who the victim was and who the perpetrator was in this first desertion, which happened early in your life. Perhaps your mother or your father left the family with very little notice and no excuses given. Perhaps you stood at a door or a window, watching that parent leave, not understanding that he or she would never return. Perhaps the leaving took place while you were asleep, and you woke up to an empty house that never felt right again. However it happened, the chances are pretty good that you, the victim, took the blame on yourself. Your thinking was full of “What did I do? Wasn’t I good enough? I promise, if she’ll just come back I’ll always be good! Didn’t I make him happy? Weren’t my grades good enough for her? Is it because I’m not pretty/handsome, not thin, not tall, not brilliant?”
There was no one there to straighten out your erroneous thinking, because everyone else in the household was also caught in the trap of shock and hurt. You probably internalized all your fears and feelings, never burdening anyone else with your questions. As you grew up, you found it harder and harder to let people in to your life, not trusting anyone not to hurt you again.
And sure enough, the first guy or girl you dated, the one you thought understood you and would love you forever, walked out on you. And so the cycle continues. What happens over time is that you become more and more convinced that you have nothing to offer anyone, and so you hold on so tightly that people do eventually leave you.
What is the first thinking error? It is that you were to blame. You are believing that somehow you, as a child, had the power to force your parent to leave the family. You have convinced yourself that your parent had no other choice, that because of you and you alone that person had no option but to leave. You weren’t worth staying for.
What you don’t see, or perhaps can’t see, is that the adult who deserted you was the one to blame. That person could have chosen to stay, but was too selfish, distraught. perhaps depressed, to make the best decision. And once it was made, there was no going back. No one, not you nor anyone else, was holding a gun to that parent’s head forcing him or her to walk out the door. No child has the power to control the parents’ choices. It was not your doing. The one who left is the perpetrator, not you. You were the innocent victim of a selfish, dysfunctional adult.
That’s enough to think about for now. To be continued next week.