My Therapy Stories (#3) – Abandonment

What is the impact of abandonment issues on our mental health? Here is my therapy story, and the kind of inner child healing I experienced with self-care.

Growing up, I faced a lot of abandonment issues.

The earliest memory is when I was 5 years old, and a Brazilian girl in my apartments announced that today was her last day. She was moving away. And it turned out, she was mad at me about something.

I had no clue why, but she went ahead and made fun of me infront of our friends. It was embarrassing but I wanted to rectify this. She was very dear to me. So I tried apologizing to her. But she pushed me away and left.

I never knew what became of her. I’ve forgotten her name and her face. But that was my first taste of rejection and stayed hidden in my subconscious for decades to follow.

As I grew older, there was a recurring incident of being kicked out of my group of friends. It was always a group of 4 or more girls, and somewhere down the line, I would be asked to go sit with someone else, or that I wasn’t wanted in their conversation.

In short, I always ended up alone. And this abandonment affected my self-worth over a period of time.

As a consequence, my introvert nature revealed itself in a deeper capacity. I started hanging out with one friend at a time. Groups made me uncomfortable and unwanted. When I didn’t have that ‘one’ friend, I would resort to being alone and doing my own thing.

It wasn’t until I came to college, that I made a lasting group of friends. Infact, when everyone showed up at my wedding, it was truly a healing touch for my wounded inner child.

Wedding, Friends, Happy, Abandonment, Celebrate, Therapy
My gang of friends!

How I Coped With My Abandonment Issues

Because of several childhood incidents, which I also talked about in the first two parts of My Therapy Stories, I became a people-pleaser. I had low self-esteem.

So, I constantly seeked people that validated me, for the things I did for them.

I tried to retain friendships by being extra nice as a person. It was as though I was always over-compensating for the friendship I lost at the age of 5.

I would make it a point to always go talk to the new kid, or the quiet kid. Because I knew how it felt to be left out.

I would spend hours making handmade gifts on birthdays, going out of my way to help my friends in whatever way I could. Emotionally, morally, financially. But I rarely ever experienced the same affection back for me.

My love for DIY was often extended in making handmade b’day cards.

I felt confused and unloved.

There were moments when all the heartbreak and abandonment had me second-guess my self-worth. But once I evolved from this behaviour, I was able to resolve a vital question on my journey towards Self-Love – do I love ‘too much’?

Inner Child Becomes Outer Rebel

People-pleasing combined with an introvert personality also led me to always be the good kid. Even when I didn’t like something, I never spoke up. Later, I became aware of this, and started rebelling and being defensive.

I would refuse to do as I was told. This lasted for a while, only until I started making sense of the importance of creating healthy relationship boundaries.

Through therapy, I learned that two people in a dialogue can both be right, and yet disagree. Someone’s opinion doesn’t invalidate mine. And I can be the mature one to hold space for both of us.

Ofcourse, I still sometimes struggle to do what someone else wants me to, because I feel scared that I am conforming again. The sense of righteousness within sometimes shows itself and gets in the way of having a happy conversation.

This is also why I am often called assertive and inquisitive. I have extensive discussions, and I want my mind to be able to do something without feeling invalid for how I feel.

But the lesson is clear to me. You have to believe in yourself first, you have to be your biggest supporter, not just the biggest critic. Everyone else’s approval comes after that, never before.

Concluding Thoughts

Abandonment is a common fear that can lead to insecurity, lack of self-worth and a big impact on the kind of relationships we enter. So many times, we hold on to less-than-healthy people because we are scared that we will be alone once again, if they leave us.

Dealing with my fears helped me close the loop on such relations, and step into healthier, fulfilling dynamics.

So, I encourage you to reflect on your own childhood memories, and identify the patterns that created who you are today. Is the fear of being abandoned a part of your story too?

Read More : My Therapy Stories – Inner Child Wounds

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My Therapy Stories (Part 3) : How I Overcame Abandonment Issues

2 thoughts on “My Therapy Stories (#3) – Abandonment”

  1. Hi V!
    I hate to disagree with you. Psychoanalysis certainly helps but it is a patchwork solution after initial breakthroughs. People do it their entire lives, working through different distressing and traumatic experiences and finally feel underdelivered. After identifying the root cause{abandonment in this case) that’s causing a certain uncomfortable feeling, instead of trying to rework inorder to not feel abandoned again, how about understanding the silliness of “feeling abandoned”? Children develop maladaptations when their needs aren’t met, because they are just feeling beings given their lack of self-awareness, discernment, and underdeveloped brain. As and when those internalised feelings rear their heads, get to the root feeling but instead of acting in a way so as to not experience that feeling again, smash the dependency by noticing the silliness of abandonment. Willing to conform, seeking approval and belongingness are human primates'(well, most of them) default programming which will cause more harm than good when there is need/dependency on it. Understanding it viscerally will make us throw the whole concept of abandonment in the bin, because it’s vacuous. It only has meaning when there’s a need to not feel abandoned.

    1. Hi Manoj, what a wonderful and informative comment. Yes, this is the crux of reparenting – to provide our inner child the exposure it needs. Like you said, when you become aware of the maladaptions of your childhood patterns, you can easily shed them. Not sure what part we’re disagreeing on but I enjoyed reading your comment. Thanks! 🙂

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