Friday Counseling Issues: Abandonment–Worthlessness

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.

12 thoughts on “Friday Counseling Issues: Abandonment–Worthlessness

  1. It’s a sad cycle of generational bondage. I am so glad God has strengthened me to begin the process of breaking that cycle in my life and in my family! I still daily deal with pain from my upbringing but God is healing me more and abundantly each day! Thank you for writing on such a vitally important topic. Blessings, Crystal


    1. Crystal, you have hit the nail right on the head. It is a decision to break the cycle, an act of the will and great dependence on the power of the Holy Spirit that brings healing and true change. Thanks for your comment.


  2. Geri

    Very pervasive issue. So many are enmeshed in this with (and without) their knowing it. I was in the “emotionally abandoned” category (my husband however, was in the one you just described) and had been trained to accept that I was emotionally/physically? abandoned because my mom was mentally ill. Ok. And I do and have accepted it without complaint all my life. I love my mom. But there is this incredible angst? that hangs over me. I know Gods love should be enough and I go to God over and over and over and do receive comfort. But it all comes back with every new expectation? as Anna had described. Maybe it’s just the cross that I bear (very willingly if there is no deliverance, a thorn?).


    1. Geri, the angst that you’re describing sounds mery much to me like it could be a sense if guilt or responsibility for your mother’s problems. Please keep reading these Friday posts. I pray there will continue to be some help and healing for you.


  3. Anne

    This is interesting to me. “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.” Many times one excuses the introvert/shy tendencies as just that, but those can be compounded with the abandonment issues on top of them, I’m now thinking after reading this–and it’s harder than ever to be “real” with people. Even if there is never someone patient enough to find and care about the “real you”, or one never fully overcomes this…the Lord, thankfully, is always there (Psalm 139).

    Geri, I was thinking “emotionally abandoned” along with this physical abandonment description, too. It has similar effects–especially the “what’s wrong with me?” You also said, “Maybe it’s just the cross that I bear (very willingly if there is no deliverance, a thorn?).” Seems to be my conclusion lately…and trying not to worry about yesterday…being content today…and hoping in HIM for tomorrow. Sounds easy, but…

    Certainly interested in future posts for help to deal with our “messy, confused hearts”. Again, thank you for your wisdom and for sharing it in your ministry.


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