Sir Godfrey Gregg

I am not a psychologist, but my daily employ takes me into the field of psychology where I am amazed at the things that go through the minds of others. 

Yes, abandonment fears can throw a monkey wrench into your relationships. They are tantamount to the most desperate and scary feelings that can arise for any of us.

Without even being aware, unresolved abandonment issues can wreak havoc with our lives driving us into a revolving door of failed starts and premature relationship break-ups.

How do abandonment feelings show up for you?

1. Are you hiding out in relationships long past the expiration date?

There are some people that are in a relationship for years and remain there because of fear. They are more concern about what others will say and lots of men suffer abuse from the hands of women because they want to show the world that they have a woman in their life. Yes, the greatest abusers are women. The woman does her job well and claims to be the victim. 

Strong feelings of abandonment can override your decision to leave a crappy relationship. Abandonment fears go to the core. It’s all about survival. The shame of a man to report abuse is risky to the point of him losing his manhood. He was born a man to be in control with a help-meet and he is not going to risk that so-called sense of control. but he can lose his manhood by simply being mama’s little boy.

In fact, feelings of anger or despair can be so strong and easily triggered, they motivate people in ways that are quite puzzling to an outside observer. Those in an abusive relationship are great actors. The woman will not leave because of the children and the man because of the security she provides for him.

Imagine a woman who no longer feels lovingly towards her husband and agonizes over leaving him. She avoids doing so because she could not bear to trigger the same pain in him.

So, out of desperation, she treats him badly. In response, it’s almost inevitable that he leaves her. This manoeuvre delivers an upside-down means of controlling her own feelings. Tricky ain’t it! They stay in the “dead” relationship for fear of feeling abandoned.

What she doesn’t realize is that it is indeed her own feelings that are being projected onto him. His actual reaction to this event may be quite different from hers. He has his own history of psychological triggers that may or may not include issues with abandonment.

(And if he doesn’t have these fears, he’ll be totally perplexed and likely wonder where she’s coming from…and you know where this is going…it’s just like throwing gas on the abandonment fire.) My advice if it is broken and cannot be fixed then abandon it or throw it away. The longer you keep trying to fix it the more confusion and problems you will have to try to fix it. This goes for both man and woman. However, if, children are involved that is another issue to be dealt with in another posting. 

2. Are you haunted by the idea that your partner may leave you?

You might recognize abandonment fears in your reaction to your partner’s “departures”. In other words, “I can’t live without him” even if he is making a block to the grocery store.

Moreover, you can feel downright restlessness if your spouse leaves to cool off after a heated argument. Unless your feelings have been heard and at least the promise of a resolution offered, you’ll probably be triggered into anger or despair. During that time it is like a time bomb waiting to explode and not even the “Fire Department can put out the fire”.

Your partner can also be physically present yet emotionally absent; he or she seems to “disappear” in front of your very eyes. This can drive you crazy especially if he or she refuses to acknowledge the emotional distance that’s sending you into a tailspin. I will urge my readers to make a checklist and have serious discussions and even counselling before you start to cohabit under the same roof. Seeking attention is not all in the relationship. I personally believe and feel that communication is the best ingredient in a relationship. That is communication with your spouse and not your parents. If that fails then counselling will be the other option. One of independence and an open mind.

These feelings are so easily triggered that you feel abandoned even if you initiate a break-up. That is, you still come away feeling as if your partner had left you! From a scriptural point “what you sow you will reap”. Count it that you start without nothing and you are building on something. Think of the two pillars of TRUTH and TRUST and make them the center of your relationship. I am speaking of both man and woman. Mark, you. I am not a psychologist but listening to others in counselling sessions and my work experience.

Unresolved abandonment issues help to explain why anger surfaces over the sudden accidental death of a loved one. Whether it is expected or not, the death of a loved one can feel sudden and shocking and give rise to feelings of being left behind. After all the children abandoned their parents and other people stepped in to help. When death comes to the family the children return because there is something they want and the helpers are often blamed for the death of their parents.

  • Where the hell were the children when they were suffering?
  • When they were hungry and filthy where were you?
  • Why are you angry now, after all those years of abandonment?

There is a death in the family and your anger will not make a difference. Yes, they do this out of shame and recklessness.

Just so, you know, unless abandonment issues are resolved (or until you learn better ways to respond) these feelings will arise in all your close relationships. Not only in your common-law relationship or marriage but in your friendships. Since you cannot see the difference and there is no capacity to divide where you are and what you have.

I am looking at an article in “Psychology Today” and I quote “the reason these feelings are so strong is that these right-brain-based implicit”, “ways of responding” were learned at a time when physical survival itself was at stake that is, in the first few years of life.

What the child learns in the early years gets ingrained in a way that is difficult to access as an adult. Yet, it is often only through our adult relationships that these feelings of abandonment are resolved.

“And without this bonding, this joining of two living beings, what is life? What is life without this exchange of soul essence but tasteless food in some dusty and empty place? And what are we then but abandoned and crumpled newspapers, yesterday’s stories blowing down some wind-swept, darkened street.” Stephen Harrod Buhner


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