Feelings of abandonment from one’s childhood are devastating and leave a trail of trauma. These feelings arise from:
- Felt abandonment – where you felt abandoned and were abandoned but the parent didn’t abandon you consciously. The parent was simply not aware of your feelings or incapable of soothing you,
- Attachment issues – where you and your parent for various reasons didn’t attach to grow a healthy bond,
- Abuse – where you were wilfully neglected or abused.
The strategy our minds create to deal with trauma of this nature is to re-enact what happened to us. The child who was abandoned will re-create relationships where he abandons others and primarily himself. This abandonment often comes with a twist: The person suffering of this childhood trauma will act out against those he loves in such an unacceptable way that he eventually leaves them no choice but to end the relationship. The strategy behind this seemingly bizarre behaviour is fear of further loss or abandonment – the sufferer prefers being in control of the abondonment rather than being the victim thereof. This drawing of boundaries by others and end of relationships compound the sufferer’s sense of being abandoned though. Tragically this strategy is unsuccessful in healing the wounds, it only reinforces feelings of inadequacy and worthlessness whilst activating anxiety and depression. In this way the trauma is transferred to the next generation.
The cycle can be healed; we have all it takes to become whole. One can almost say the pieces are all there, inside, the healing process simply asks of one to weave it together again. This is easier said than done. Many of us find that this process of healing from childhood trauma can be postponed by distractions of career and dating but that it presents itself with urgency in our 40’s. Sometimes we are able to grasp this opportunity to heal.
In my next blog I’ll look at the steps this dance of healing normally follows and where narrative therapy fits into it all.