Today I want to touch briefly on two important features for those who have experienced abandonment: A sense of insecurity, and a tendency to withdraw or isolate.
No one does insecurity better than someone whose world has been rocked by the departure of a person who was always supposed to be there. An unexplained departure is so damaging because the person who is left alone never gets his questions answered. Most of us tend to look at ourselves negatively in this type of situation, and it isn’t long before the one who was left behind begins to believe (a) he doesn’t deserve to be loved/happy and (b)she will never find anyone who could possibly love her forever because she has so many flaws.
Remember when you were a little kid, if you were blessed to have both parents in a loving, committed relationship, how you always thought of them in tandem? Almost as if it were one word, “MomandDad” just always went together. When something happens to destroy that unit, a child has a hard time processing the reality. If one parent just takes off, the chlld is left believing it was all his fault. He will grow up to be very clingy in his relationships, holding on to people very tightly so they won’t ever leave him. Of course, most people don’t want to be held that way, and they eventually will leave the relationship either in fact or emotionally, and the person who is insecure is left to deal with even more insecurity.
Because the abandoned person feels insecure and inferior, he will have a tendency to avoid social activities. He will withdraw from relationships that seem to be demanding more of him than he is willing to give. He will walk out on a relationship before the other person can do so, hoping to avoid the pain of loss, guilt, and shame that he feels every time someone drifts away. The best way to avoid being hurt by other people is to withdraw from them, goes their thinking. And if the abandoned person leaves first, then the other person cant. abandon him.
Just a couple of comments here, and I’m done. Most of us don’t make it through life without losing someone along the way that we thought would always be there for us. Our best buddy in second grade moves across the country. A beloved grandparent dies when we are almost too young to understand death. Parents divorce, reducing the day-to-day contact we crave with one or the other parent. A sibling gets sick and dies. A dearly loved dog or cat needs to be put down. A boyfriend/girlfriend who swore undying love one week is hanging out with someone new the next week, leaving our hearts crushed and confused and swearing we will never love again. These are difficult life experiences from which we learn, and grow, and become wiser.
But when a loved, trusted parent just walks out? That’s a different kind of loss, and one that leaves the victim always wondering what he did or didn’t do to cause it. Still, it is possible to redirect one’s thinking into more positive patterns, placing the blame where it belongs: On the one who left.