Abandonment Issues- What are they?

Have you heard someone say they suffer from abandonment issues? Most people think about adoption or being left on a door step as a child, but abandonment issues can be caused by many more life experiences. Author Susan Anderson says, "Everyday there are people who feel as if life itself has left them on a doorstep or thrown them away. Abandonment is about loss of love itself, that crucial loss of connectedness. It often involves breakup, betrayal, aloneness. People struggling with abandonment issues include those going through the ending of a relationship as well as searching adoptees, recently widowed, and those suffering the woundedness of earlier disconnections."

I explain abandonment to my clients as a 3-pronged fear that has proven itself true in their lives. The first is the fear of loss- any loss. This could be your dog dying, parents divorcing, chronic moving, or your favorite teacher leaving half way through the year on maternity leave. Reoccurring loss in younger ages will strengthen a person's fear that it has and will happen again.

The second prong is the fear of rejection. This can be from family, friends, boyfriends/ girlfriends, or any place you are searching for belonging. If and when these things happen, it can cause deep wounds that make you sensitive to any type of rejection and take it personally.

The third prong is the fear of physical and/ or emotional abandonment. The physical abandonment can be divorce, death, adoption, and literal abandoning. The emotional abandonment has to do with emotional needs not being met and a lack of attachment.

When these fears are validated a person may exhibit abandonment issues. Here are several traits I have seen my clients show when "under the influence of abandonment":

  • Fears and has a hard time being alone
  • Loneliness can be a very difficult and uneasy feeling
  • Have trouble trusting others
  • Might ask 20 questions in order to uncover a suspicion
  • Have moved in an out of relationships without much time in between or has a deep longing to always be in a relationship
  • Jumps to conclusions and worst case scenarios and believes them as truth
  • Has a sense of urgency to deal with something "right now" even if the timing is horrible
  • Fears and avoids rejection
  • Has trouble being left out
  • Any kind of loss is hard for them
  • They tend to be jealous- not just of their loved one being with someone else, but also of their time.

There are many more examples we could cover! Just keep in mind that healing is possible from these issues. It takes a lot of hard work, but you can be free from its power over your life!

Keep reading the rest of the week as we discuss Susan Anderson's Stages of Abandonment.

Written by Teri Claassen MSW, LCSW

Teri Claassen MSW, LCSW is a licensed therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. Teri enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, couples and relationship counseling. Teri also does family counseling, child counseling, and adolescent counseling.  Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area, including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Fishers, Noblesville, Zionsville, and Westfield.