Fear of Abandonment Continues to Hold Me Back

Young woman looking outThe pervasive challenge of overcoming fears of abandonment is similar to always having to walk uphill under leaden skies carrying an umbrella heavy as stone. The head-shaking irony of the thing is I haven’t been able to bring myself to a qualified therapist for two reasons. The first is that I am afraid they will leave practice with me as a client and I will have exhausted myself at great emotional risk for nothing.

The second is, I cannot shake the image of Darrell Hammond as Sean Connery saying, “I’ll take ‘The Rapists’ for $200, Alex” on a Saturday Night Live parody of Jeopardy I saw years ago. Go ahead and laugh … I do.

Aside from the money given to a stranger to listen, there is an emotional rape of sorts that leaves a raw wound that stays open even out of the office. At least if I never face the traumatic causes of my fears of abandonment, I can keep all my wounds covered in their hardened scabs.

Trouble is, reader, I never heal. I just hang on battling the storm of the unshakable effects of my multiple childhood abandonments. Relationships with potentially close friends, with boyfriends, with co-workers are all handicapped due to my emotional handicap.

I swim in a storm of isolation. I am buffeted by thoughts of worthlessness and doubt. I see the end before the relationships can even begin, and I plan my escape before I even decide to open the door to trust. I enter my loving partnerships with the following perspective: “This is a wonderful person! I love being around them. I will enjoy them and love them as hard as I can until they figure out I am a loser and drop me.” Up until lately, though, I have always dropped them first … duck and cover.

What inspired the courage for me to write today? I have been left behind three times in a row within the last six months. I fear my outward armor of good cheer may have blatant cracks of neediness and instability there for all to see. In moments of recent denial, I have blamed my age or thickening waistline—the latter having prompted me to hit the treadmill for five miles a day and feast on cabbage soup; the former driving me to the Skin Klinic for a thrice annual injection of Botox, right … between … the eyes.

The fact of the matter is, I run even as I know that I can’t hide forever. The truth is indeed right there for me to see. I am tired, but still scared to face my demons. I am a Virgo and therefore diabolically analytical. I have tried to rationalize and process my way out from under my leaden sky, out from under my umbrella heavy as stone.

I have had some success. But not enough. The evidence is there in my inability to handle high levels of responsibility, my inability to deepen personal relationships, my inability to love myself.

There is the rub.

Where is the therapist qualified to handle the myriad of traumas I have stood against?

Where is the trust needed to even begin to seek that individual?

Right under this scab … right … here! Ouch!

© Copyright 2014 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved.

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

  • 24 comments
  • Leave a Comment
  • lanie

    lanie

    May 25th, 2014 at 2:18 PM

    What bravery to share! Sometimes “rationalizing and processing” are the very problem…overthinking the past in attempt to solve a problem that no longer exists in the present is quite common with trauma. Regulation of the central nervous system isparamount and quite possible with less traditional therapies like expressive arts, somatic experiencing, EMDR, etc.

  • Jonna

    Jonna

    May 26th, 2014 at 4:46 AM

    It is scary to think of someone that you love leaving you but it is even scarier to think of living your entire life alone and without someone whom you have even given the chance to love you back. Think about it.

  • Scarlett

    Scarlett

    May 26th, 2014 at 8:29 AM

    Finding the courage to change can be the hardest step. I think that you have done this by so succintly putting out her the fears that you are facing and the fear that you ultimately have to work through them and overcome them. Think about how many people you could be helping right now by taking this step and sharing that fear with all of us here on this site. I don’t know that that’s anything that most of us could handle doing and yet you have laid yourself bare for the rest of us to read about and comment on. That’s bravery if I have ever seen it!

  • constance

    constance

    May 27th, 2014 at 12:45 AM

    I see myself in your story, and it is good to know I am not alone. That being said, I am turning to God & Jesus in the most pure of forms I can be right now. I went to Barnes & Noble & have read the first chapter of T.D. Jakes’ “woman thou art loosed!”….holy cow. I cried…i read, highlighted, answered questions at the end of the chapter and cried & read more. That first chapter did more than the year i spent in therapy or the various medications to treat anxiety & clinical depression.
    I am ready for what the rest reveals, it is going to be a journey but my happiness, sanity, my family…are all worth fighting for. I am worth fighting for, just like you and every person is because above all else, we are God’s children. He gave his one &only son to save us though we sin. As a parent, the loss of a child is heartbreaking, but God willingly gave his son. How great is that amount of love for all of us!? To me, if God knows i am worth loving and saving, then surely i am. Surely you are. Forgive yourself, forgive the child that hurts inside of you. Pray. Forget the past because it is the past and its stealing yourhere & now. Its stealing your future. If you forgive, forget, pray, stop seeking relationships for awhile because you are using them to fill a void & you are taking “love” from the other person, being selfish & clingy. God intends love to be given. God intends us to forgive justas he forgives us daily. And, every day is a new day to gain your strength. Become your best. Trust in God & Jesus, they got your back.
    Much of what i discussed here was from that first chapter & the Bible (recommend a new living translation). It’s going to be ok. I will pray for all of us. Best wishes!

  • chelsea

    chelsea

    May 27th, 2014 at 3:59 AM

    On some levels I think that most of us have a fear of the people we love leaving us. What makes us different though from the people who are paralyzed by this fear though is that most of us know that this is irrational, that one simple disagreement will not mean that this person is going to leave you forever, or that they will hate you because you may not see eye to eye bout a specific issue. Those with abandonment issues may have this compulsion to say or do what they think others will want and not necessarily what they want because they are so terrified that they will be alone again if they don’t consent and bend to the will of someone else. That is not a healthy attitude to have.

  • cam

    cam

    May 28th, 2014 at 5:28 AM

    There is a book called emotional black mail where friends family members use there words to get what they want by inflickting phycilogical damage everything became so much clearer to me once I read the book it shows real life storys and how people will do the things they do and why and what they want out of that situation I would highly recommend reading it

  • Kate

    Kate

    May 27th, 2014 at 2:27 PM

    I am totally reflected in your words are you sure your not talking about me! Thanking for expressing the thoughts I have not had the courage to say x

  • Debbie Rogers

    Debbie Rogers

    May 27th, 2014 at 2:54 PM

    Hi Nova

    I hear the pain and fear in your writing. You sound as if you are experiencing ongoing trauma and perhaps already know where it began. As a counsellor I would like to reassure you that a good therapist would work with you to understand how your “myriad of traumas” has affected you from your perspective. I hope you do consider counselling – if you can build trust in your counsellor it would be a start. Take care.

  • Jennifer

    Jennifer

    May 28th, 2014 at 1:41 PM

    You are not alone. I am a Virgo as well and always trying to analyze why things happen. Thank you for sharing your story and view. It gives me hope in more ways than you can know. I think the first step is always admitting that there is a problem and I took that first step today.

  • Kim P

    Kim P

    May 29th, 2014 at 2:19 PM

    I too hate the thought I have to pay someone to be my “friend.” I’ve been abandoned by everyone in my life from the time I was 4. Not to scare you, but I’ve also lost 2 therapists – one retired and another moved. Every relationship (all 7) I’ve been in has ended badly – 5 of the 7 cheated. This latest one is so bad I’m considering inpatient treatment – I can’t stop crying. I can’t even face going to work. It’s been 4 weeks. I never thought of myself as “weak,” I’ve survived things that would shock you. I think this is just an accumulation of my life catching up to me. I hope I can recover, but right now I’m impressed how much you can cry and still live.

  • Kim D

    Kim D

    June 3rd, 2014 at 3:34 PM

    I’m reading your words and I feel as if I’ve written them. I know therapy would help, but finding one to trust is what stops me. It’s a vicious circle which leaves one exhausted. I felt like giving you a hug and making you feel better, in a way you have helped me feel less alone. I hope by my commenting it helps you feel less alone also. I hope you can find a confidant or therapist. Best wishes and thank you for sharing.

  • Albert J.

    Albert J.

    June 13th, 2014 at 9:38 AM

    Hello everyone,
    I can relate to most of what everyone has written. I struggle with what I know to be self esteem issues, and what I think may be abandonment issues. I honestly don’t know. I had an ex leave me without any explanation. I remained single for almost 7 years and, while they were seven GREAT years, I am now in a relationship with the person I want to spend the rest of my life with. This is my 2nd long term relationship since the aforementioned ex. I have sabotaged this relationship at least twice because of deeply rooted trust issues. I rarely make friends because I feel they will abandon me, or were never genuine to begin with, but usually it is me who takes off first. I have never seen a therapist, in fact this is the closest I have come to utter all these things aloud in one setting.

  • Drea

    Drea

    June 23rd, 2014 at 8:07 PM

    Reading this helps it feel normal to feel abandoned. Therapy can really help…even if you are paying them to be ur friend. They offer insight that most friends cant give.

    My problem is I can’t trust anyone. At least a good therapist is someone u can trust.

    How to people cope? I feel like I have a long road ahead of me and I’m scared.

  • Nkuly

    Nkuly

    July 13th, 2014 at 7:41 AM

    Thank You very much for your comments they are so helpfull to me however, I am still wondering what mite be going on with my own life I think am having trust and abandonement issues because immedietly someone shows signs of being untrustworthy I quit the relationship without much effort because I am avoiding wasting my time in getting hurt as it happened in the past. please help.

  • Hermilia H.

    Hermilia H.

    July 30th, 2014 at 11:31 AM

    I ran into this website looking for answers for my sister who is manic depressive, and in reading Nova’s contribution I can relate in many ways. I was left in my native country with my grandparents and my little at the age of 5 and did not see or hear from my parents until I was 9 and it did not help hearing from my cousins that I had been abandoned by my parents and would never see them again! I have struggled with anger, and low self esteem and even though now I understand what happeneded and tell myself that I forgive my parents and their reason for doing what they did there is still days that I am very angry and sad and do not want to talk to any one.

  • Rachel

    Rachel

    July 31st, 2014 at 2:27 PM

    I could have written this. I have never Met my father and my mum gave me to my grandparents when I was 5, I’ve struggled all my life with anger depression fear low self esteem and suicidal thoughts. I’m 24 will this pain ever end?

  • Hermilia H.

    Hermilia H.

    July 30th, 2014 at 11:34 AM

    I have read so many self help books in my life time and fortunately I have a very caring husband who has helped me through a lot of my issues. But if you don’t have anyone it would be helpful to find a therapist and a group that has same issues to help you deal with your issues.

  • Amanda

    Amanda

    September 26th, 2014 at 9:15 PM

    I know, logically, that I am a wonderful person and a good catch… not to be cocky but you can know if you have a good career, decent character, good intelligence and general looks… but there’s a voice in the back of my head, a heckler who knows all of my faults and uses them against me.

    The voice says I’m getting old and fat and have never been truly beautiful. It tells me I’m getting more stupid by the day and am unreliable, selfish, and mean. Most of all, when I find someone who I like, it asks ‘who are you that you could ever deserve this person? When they really know you, they’re going to book. Is it really worth all the pain and anguish of trying when you KNOW what the end result will be?’

    I’m 29 and I’ve only gone out with one guy just to see what it would be like. I picked him because I DID NOT LIKE HIM and there was no chance I’d get attatched. I think he wanted to marry me. It made me feel shitty and he annoyed the heck out of me too. But everytime I find an available guy that I like, I RUN. Sometimes literally run. It’s not logical and I pride myself on being logical about almost everything else. I do want to find someone… but the panic hits hard. I care what this guys thinks about me, so I can’t let him know who I am, can’t let him close enough to see me and know what I know. If that happened, then being alone wouldn’t be my choice anymore.

    How messed up am I?

  • Clare

    Clare

    October 19th, 2014 at 1:42 AM

    I’m exactly the same Amanda. There are times when I’m confident about who I am, but more often there are times when I can’t stop thinking negatively about myself (“I’m selfish, mean, worthless, ugly, a pain for everyone”)

    Also, this negativity problem also seems to increase whenever I like a guy. I always become fearful of opening up or talking with guys I’m interested in because I’m afraid I’ll say/do something wrong and they’ll come to dislike me. Sometimes I even feel sorry for the guy that I like because “I” like him – and I think of how disgusted he’d probably be if he found out I was interested in him.

    Also, choosing to be alone vs. having someone choose for you (via dumping, abandoning, etc.)is a great way of putting the abandonment issue into perspective. Having been unable to escape belittlement and having been abandoned in the past, it’s no wonder people with such experiences want some control. Isolation becomes the only way to feel emotionally safe.

    PS. Thanks for sharing all that you have. It’s comforting to know I’m not the only one with these seemingly messed up trains of thought :)

  • Adarsh

    Adarsh

    November 30th, 2014 at 3:59 PM

    Honestly, i don’t seek professional advice or therapy cause it would only aggravate my self perception about a disorder. I believe these are usual lows, but recurring and that’s what worries me most. Despondence is overwhelming and yes, the sense of isolation. There is little motivation left in me. I can’t be picking up myself every one month only to be caught in the same rut. I would like to start over but i don’t know how to. I always believed once i moved from my parents that i would end up being satisfied

    I’ve maybe averted these feelings for a long time by pretending that i didn’t need anyone and by choosing a lifestyle that mainly involved staying conceited and drinking 4 times a week.

    For the last half year i have been scared that i’ll end up alone and yes it bothers me, it makes me lose all happiness, I can’t plan my life like this. I feel no connection with life anymore and i don’t want to go back to drinking to circumvent.
    All that after being liked by people. It’s like i have feigned a persona that isn’t mine, i’m not content, i don’t enjoy solitude anymore, i don’t know who i am, i’m dwelling an identity crisis, my love for music is gone. There are so many blocked thoughts that i can’t channel.

    Reading this gave me some peace for a while, i feel like you and i are both alone, but what is even more sad is that you and i knowing that we are alone, can’t help our situations.I’ll be glad if someone wrote.

  • zakia

    zakia

    April 29th, 2015 at 12:42 AM

    Wow..reading all of these stories and comments really had me in tears. I’ve been dealing with abandonment issues since I was 13yrs. Old. My mother and father separated. My mom took me with her in the divorce across town. Shortly after my dad distanced himself and stopped being a father to me. I’ve felt abandoned and ignored by my father. in my adulthood I confronted my feelings and my father about it. Again he ignored the issue and never addressed it. I feel as though every relationship I’ve been in worth something I’ve either sabatoged or they left me for someone else which further rooted my issue of abandonment. I think I need to see a therapist. Not sure where to start or who to call.

  • The GoodTherapy.org Team

    The GoodTherapy.org Team

    April 29th, 2015 at 8:41 AM

    If you would like to consult with mental health professional, please feel free to return to our homepage, https://www.goodtherapy.org/, and enter your zip code into the search field to find therapists in your area. If you’re looking for a counselor that practices a specific type of therapy, or who deals with specific concerns, you can make an advanced search by clicking here: https://www.goodtherapy.org/advanced-search.html

    Once you enter your information, you’ll be directed to a list of therapists and counselors who meet your criteria. From this list you can click to view our members’ full profiles and contact the therapists themselves for more information. You are also welcome to call us for assistance finding a therapist. We are in the office Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Pacific Time; our phone number is 888-563-2112 ext. 1.

  • Ann

    Ann

    May 26th, 2015 at 10:39 AM

    I can relate to the pain that I read here. My abandonment issues are connected to being raised in a family that denied any negative or unexceptable feeling that I expressed. If I experienced anything unsafe, I had to suck it up. Once I left home, I was I in better shape. The worst part comes from not achieving “object constancy” which should be developed around the age of two. Whenever someone I loved went out of town, I would mourn as if they had died. I encourage those who experience this to read up on it and work with a therapist who is educated on treatment. I am 58 and have just started healing this part of myself four years ago. It cannot happen in a vacuum!

  • Gisselle

    Gisselle

    June 16th, 2015 at 5:04 AM

    Thank you for sharing everyone. Although the fear of abandonment is not something that I would wish on anyone, I am glad to see that I am not the only one dealing with it. In a way, it gives me a little comfort to know that these are actual issues and not just something I’ve made up in my head to justify my behavior.

    As an adult, it’s hard to accept the fact that something that happened in your childhood has affected your adulthood is such a tremendous way. I have been abandoned by my dad, my mom, my grandfather, and I ended up marrying someone who continuously left me physically and emotionally, further affirming that everyone who claims to love me at some point will hurt me and leave me. After my divorce I met a wonderful man. A man who showed me that he would be there with me through everything, but my insecurities, my anger and my fears, caused me to sabotage our relationship. And here I find myself alone again. I did start therapy and that has helped with my healing process. I know it will be a long, dark road to travel, but I need to work out all my issues so I have to push myself if I want a chance at being healthy and happy. I know I deserve it. We all deserve it.

Leave a Comment

By commenting you acknowledge acceptance of GoodTherapy.org's Terms and Conditions of Use.

* Indicates required field.

GoodTherapy uses cookies to personalize content and ads to provide better services for our users and to analyze our traffic. By continuing to use this site you consent to our cookies.