- A baby being abandoned at a firehouse just hours after birth.
- A mother or father suddenly deciding they want a do-over and leaving without even a goodbye.
- An infant being left on the side of the road or in a dumpster.
While these horrid situations have happened, abandonment can wear many different faces and look different for many people. Abandonment can be physical and emotional (or both).
Abandonment can also look like this:
- Ghosting someone or making a minimal effort to be in someone’s life.
- Being unwilling to provide care and support.
- A parent who succumbs to a lifestyle of addiction rather than being present for their child.
- A child/teenager whose parents’ divorce and one of the parents becomes inactive in the child’s life.
- A spouse who decides to chase other dreams and leave their family and marriage behind.
- A sibling who was treated poorly, told they were not good, and not loved like the other child.
- Absence of physical affection as a child.
- The realization that others did not want to get to know you or told you that you were not good enough in their eyes.
Signs of fear of abandonment can vary, but might include:
- Difficulty achieving emotional intimacy
- Attaching too quickly
- Being a people pleaser
- Constantly seeking out people’s flaws
- Reluctance to invest in relationships
- Desire for control
- Settling for bad relationships
- Difficulty trusting
- Proneness to self-sabotage
- Feeling unworthy of love
Fear of abandonment means one might fear having close relationships or getting too close to someone, with the intense fear of being hurt or giving too much of their heart. Abandonment can mean feeling unworthy of love and wallowing in insecurity in relationships for years to come. Abandonment issues can make it easy to settle for bad relationships and live in an emotionally detached state.
People who struggle with fear of abandonment might live with these intrusive and joy-stealing thoughts:
- Everyone must love me.
- Things need to go my way.
- I will always be a victim.
- I must always think of the worst thing that can happen to protect myself.
4 Tips for Overcoming a Fear of Abandonment
1. Acknowledge the hurt. The first step toward healing in any area of life is to acknowledge the hurt. We must first recognize the pain and hurt that fills the crevices of our hearts and how it has affected us before we can take a step forward.
It is all too easy to try and bury the bad memories. We want to forget how our loved ones have hurt us, the family members who refuse to put effort into relationships, the parent that left, or the best friend that just stopped being our friend without an explanation. We want to forget the parent that chose a life of drugs or alcohol over a relationship with us or the spouse that suddenly decided they wanted to chase other things and leave their family behind.
“I discovered that joy is not the negation of pain, but rather acknowledging the presence of pain and feeling happiness in spite of it.” – Lupita Nyong’o
Finding the “silver lining” or the “rainbow after the storm” does not happen overnight. Healing takes time. It is a process; a journey; a daily decision. But the first step in moving forward in your healing journey is to acknowledge any pain that you have tried to. Those feelings often resurface in other areas of your life, whether you realize it or not.
2. Inventory your relationships.While it is not an easy journey, you are worth wholeheartedly investing in your relationships and allowing yourself to be vulnerable with the people that you love and that love you most. You want to open your heart rather than try to fight off and bury your feelings.
Take time to inventory your relationships. Are you choosing people who choose you? Are you choosing people who prioritize healthy relationships? Are you choosing people with whom you can openly communicate and be vulnerable?
Remind yourself that there are people who want to choose you. Remind yourself that you are worth choosing. Remind yourself to choose faith over fear. Remind yourself that God created you in His image. He has huge plans for your life, relationships, story, and He can use your past hurts for good.
3. Work on breaking negative thought patterns.
If you are struggling with emotional detachment, telling yourself that you do not deserve a good relationship or that you are not worth it, it is time to replace that negative emotional script with a new narrative.
Sometimes those who struggle with the aftermath of abandonment feel a strong compulsion to have control. They want control over their relationships and thoughts because they cannot bear feeling that kind of pain again.
You might struggle with the need for perfection – in relationships and everyday situations. You may feel like you must live with a façade that you have everything together and everything is dandy! It is important to realize that every relationship and every person faces challenges, obstacles, and struggles.
Even those who appear to have perfect relationships deal with seasons of hurt, distance, and uncertainty. Even those who post perfect family pictures and happy-go-lucky captions on social media struggle. You are not alone!
Write these affirmations down and repeat them daily:
- It is not my fault that I was abandoned.
- I deserve a healthy relationship.
- I have no control over the actions of others.
- I can love God and love others with my whole heart.
- I am fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14).
4. Schedule a counseling session.You can choose healing today by scheduling your first counseling session. A counselor can aid you in your journey of realizing that abandonment does not define your worth. It might be part of your story, but it does not have to dictate your future.
A counselor can help you work through any negative thought patterns, help you learn to establish healthy boundaries in relationships, learn about emotional detachment and how it might be affecting you, and help you realize that your worth is found in Jesus Christ – who will never abandon you.
Your future is bright – choose healing and relational wholeness today!
Encouraging Scriptures on Abandonment
Even if my father and mother abandoned me, the Lord would take me in. – Psalm 27:10
Can a woman forget her baby who nurses at her breast? Can she withhold compassion from the child she has borne? Even if mothers were to forget, I could never forget you! Look, I have inscribed your name on my palms; your walls are constantly before me. – Isaiah 49:15-16
We are experiencing trouble on every side, but are not crushed; we are perplexed, but not driven to despair; we are persecuted, but not abandoned; we are knocked down, but not destroyed, always carrying around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our body. – 2 Corinthians 4:8-10
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding. Acknowledge him in all your ways, and he will make your paths straight. – Proverbs 3:5-6
I repeat, be strong and brave! Don’t be afraid and don’t panic, for I, the Lord your God, am with you in all you do. – Joshua 1:9
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