A therapist I once worked with said it best:
Abandonment is the gap between what you need and what you get.
Abandonment arouses the primal fear of infancy and childhood, that of being left alone to fend for ourselves.
This kind of wound is cumulative: every loss, betrayal, disappointment, rejection (perceived or real), break-up or death can trigger the primal Abandonment Wound. Rather than dissipate, feelings incubate.
Everybody has an Abandonment Wound. The issue is not whether or not it exists within us, it’s how well we’re coping with it.
In 2014, I delivered a lecture at the Canadian Association of Clinical Hypnotherapists Conference called, “Healing The Abandonment Wound: A Five Step Process”. This is a special Numinous Podcast three-part mini-series that expands on that lecture with additional readings, resources and thoughts about how this work has evolved in the three years I’ve spent focussing the client work in my hypnotherapy practice in this area.
Resources cited in this episode include:
The Roots of Addiction in Free Market Society, by Bruce K. Alexander
(not mentioned in this episode but equally entertaining work describing Rat Park is the video, “Everything We Know About Addiction Is Wrong”)
In The Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters With Addiction, by Dr. Gabor Maté
The Journey From Abandonment To Healing, by Susan Anderson
You can explore this work with me further at: www.carmenspagnola.com/abandonment-therapy/
A bit more about the nature of the Abandonment Wound…
I know the word can sound a bit extreme, but abandonment can be so many things.
- a feeling without initial sensitizing event (as in the case of Spiritual Abandonment)
- traumatic birth
- a parent leaving their child, a child sent to boarding school, or a teenager leaving home
- a baby unattended, a child not picked up from school or other instances of neglect
- aloneness not by choice
- break-up, divorce or loving someone who doesn’t love you back
- feeling deserted by a friend
- death of a loved one (including pets)
- a child’s restlessness due to the emotional unavailability of a parent
- feeling displaced by the birth of a sibling
- teenage heartbreak
- social rejection or outcast status (gayness, bullying, awkwardness, etc)
- public shaming by an authority figure
- prolonged illness or becoming stricken by disease while others go on with their lives
- workplace disempowerment, stress, discontent and job loss
- financial instability, living in poverty or through bankruptcy
- redundancy or retirement
- living as a cultural minority
- relocation or displacement from homeland
- isolation from family, culture or spiritual community
- spiritual bereftness
The continuum of the Abandonment Wound is between withdrawal and pursuit. There’s a constant tension between the desire to connect and the desire to flee.
Sound familiar? I suggest you listen to this episode then. It could change your life.
I’ve also written other articles on attachment/abandonment:
Portrait Of A Marriage: Yes, It’s Mine
I Love You/Fuck Off: When Love Feels Dangerous
Good Enough Is Good Enough, For Now
Secure Attachment: What It Looks Like In Practice