Is there any hope when dealing with abandonment issues? Will I ever wake up and not have this overwhelming fear of being abandoned? How do I ever get past the anger and fear that I experience when my abandonment issues are triggered?
Those are all really good questions. I wish I had concrete answers.
I just know that for me, an important starting point is awareness. Instead of being in denial, I am aware of what happens to me physically when these issues come up. There is something that happens within my body, specifically when the fear of abandonment is triggered. I become withdrawn and I feel physically heavy and low…small.
I am invisible.
I usually cannot control my tears when this happens. The need to cry starts at the back of my heart, filters up through my chest, to my throat, and then to my eyes. The more I try to stop the tears from flowing, the more I literally get “choked up.” This is why its not uncommon to see me in tears on the bus or on the street somewhere, depending on what has happened to trigger my issues. In order to keep from sobbing, I usually stare off into space and try to focus on something neutral. I usually place my fingers to my eyelashes to stop the tears from falling down my cheeks and smearing my mascara.
The next thing I have become aware of is my behavior. Because of the scene I just described, I am usually judgmental with myself. I call myself names:
Self compassion does not exist. I think of myself as an emotional wreck during these times, and my assumption is that no one else in their right mind would want to deal with me. I don’t even want to deal with me. So I isolate from EVERYONE. Including God. I go underground. Incognito. During these times, you won’t see me at church, you won’t get a text, call or e-mail from me, I won’t be on Facebook, Twitter, nothing. I don’t even talk to my mama, which is pretty difficult! The funny thing is that this isolation usually makes me feel worse. There are more tears, more crying that upgrades to sobbing…because I am alone.
I am invisible.
You may ask, what in the world does this have to do with recovering from abandonment issues?
It’s all about awareness. Awareness of the emotions and the behaviors are an important component of recovery. It is how this blog topic was “born.” I recognized my abandonment issues had been triggered and in an effort to not repeat the isolating behaviors of the past, I decided to write about it. In the past, by the time I started isolating, it was too late. Not being aware of what leads you to the negative behavior means that you are suddenly reacting to the feelings without even knowing what happened. I hadn’t acknowledged my pain, or allowed myself to feel it. I didn’t have a chance to replace the bad with good…replace the pathetic, loser with
BEAUTIFUL. CHILD OF GOD.
I believe this society encourages us toward a quick fix for everything, including our hearts. When our hearts are broken, it is better for us to be in denial about it, than to admit or express pain. It shows a weakness. And no one wants to appear weak. It’s why we have so many addicts in this world. Too many people in pain, and no one feeling comfortable enough to express it…but I digress. I will save that for another blog post.
First, we must understand the trigger, or the thing that activates the fear of abandonment. Second, we must identify the emotion that comes up from the experience, and take time to feel the emotion (writing your feelings down helps in this situation). This allows us to then modify the negative or unhealthy behavior, replace the unhealthy behavior with healthy behavior, or re-frame the thinking that lead us to the behavior.
Once you have done all that, just rest. Ask yourself what you need in that moment. Give yourself a pat on the back, or buy yourself dinner, or a flower. Read a good book, write more in your journal, blog, or have an espresso. Do something nice for yourself. You deserve it.
Facing your so-called “weaknesses” takes STRENGTH.