Imagine Hope Counseling Group has been discussing abandonment issues this week. If you haven’t gotten a chance to read the earlier posts in this series, we encourage you to read more about what abandonment can look like in part 1 and part 2. So far, we have gone over the first stages of abandonment: Shattering, Withdrawal, and Internalizing. Today we will discuss the final two stages: Rage and Lifting.
In this part of the grieving process of abandonment, all of the feelings of insecurity and despair turn into intense anger against the person who abandoned them and is where a person starts to fight back. These feelings, which have been internalized to this point, become externalized in the form of rage. This is a turning point in the abandonment process, where you start refusing to accept all of the blame for the failure of the relationship. This stage may look like agitated depression, irritability and you might have fantasies of retaliation and feel revengeful. Sometimes people tend to lash out in spurts of anger towards the person who abandoned them or displace this anger towards friends and family. This is an important step in the process since it allows feelings of inadequacy to shift towards empowerment, but it's also important to recognize the possible destructiveness of this phase. This phase, if processed inappropriately, can actually cause people to distance from you, starting the whole process over again and creating the very feelings of abandonment that a person is struggling with. It's also important not to get stuck in this phase because it will cause further isolation and keep you from fully healing.
After the anger/rage has been processed, which allows your pain to become externalized, the pain slowly begins to lift. In this stage, you begin to let go and feelings of strength and encouragement replace the grief. During this phase, a person is more likely to begin seeing the experience as one that has taught them a life lesson or has given them wisdom about their issues and pain. They might even feel gratitude for having gone through the experience because they see it has helped them become a more emotionally healthy person. This phase is when people feel the readiness to open their heart and love again. They have courageously embraced the process of recovery and begin to feel more strength and hope. It's important to go through the stages to get to this point, because it ensures that old feelings aren't brought into new relationships as "baggage". It's also important during this stage to take your feelings with you so you don't become emotionally disconnected, which doesn't allow others to get close to you in future relationships.
Remember that these stages are different than the normal grieving process, as we have discussed. They are unique to abandonment issues. As Susan Anderson states, "You SWIRL through the stages over and over within an hour, day, a month, sometimes a period of years-- cycles within cycles-- until you emerge out the end of the funnel-shaped cloud, a changed person, better able to find love than before".
Thank you for joining us this week!
Sourced from: The Journey from Abandonment to Healing by Susan Anderson
Joleen Watson, MS, LMFT, NCC, is a therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. She enjoys doing marriage counseling, relationship counseling, couples counseling, and individual counseling. Imagine Hope also specializes in family, child and adolescent counseling and serves Indianapolis area including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Noblesville, Zionsville, Westfield, and Fishers.