"Letting Go" is a popular topic in recovery from many things-- childhood issues, addictions, codependency, and unhealthy relationships, just to name a few. Today we will finish with this week's blog series on what it means to "let go":
Some of us are better at letting go than others. We all struggle with this concept at some point during our lives. The sensation of holding on gives us this false sense of control, security, and drains us of our energy. Sometimes, we hold on anyway because we do not know how to let go. I hope this week gives you some hints as to how to make that happen.
Day after day we hear people talk about the difficulty they have with letting things go. Sometimes it's related to codependency and the trouble they have with not controlling others. Sometimes it's when a person has trouble with an addict in their life. Others just have trouble letting go of old wounds and resentments. So we thought we would help our readers see what "letting go" actually means, and clear up any misconceptions about it.
This week, we are discussing abandonment issues, and the struggle that individuals with abandonment issues go through. Part 1 and part 2 describe abandonment issues, and part 3 begins to describe the stages that abandonment issues can take.
I want to reiterate what Tamara said, this is different than the normal stages of grief and loss. Everyone experiences these stages.
The abandonment we are discussing goes far beyond that. It pushes something in us that causes us to react to things differently than "normal" grief and loss would.
I am going to discuss 2 more stages today:
This stage is much like withdrawal symptoms when someone stops using drugs or alcohol, or any addiction for that matter. It is the aching, longing, the craving to have that person back. They yearn for the person to come back. The needs they were filling are more readily noticed and the void feels huge! The same as an addict, you feel the loss of appetite, not being able to sleep, staying awake trying to figure out how to get them back. You feel the true loss and separation in this stage.
This is the most critical of the stages for 2 reasons:
1. You are very vulnerable. You are walking around with an open, gaping wound! You are susceptible to being hurt even worse because of your wound. If you latch on to someone at this stage, you could easily be taken advantage of and hurt even more deeply.
2. You beat yourself up during this stage, making you even more vulnerable. You bargain with yourself. "What if I would of? I should have, could have...". Because you are doubting yourself, your self-esteem is taking a beating. This makes you a target for someone to treat you bad and to get into a bad relationship- which could start the cycle over again.
It is important during the stages of withdrawl and internalizing that you understand what is going on. Get support from family and friends who will help you and support you. This is a great time to seek counseling as well.
Tomorrow Joleen will discuss our last 2 stages. Thank you for reading.
Adapted from "The Journey from Abandonment to Healing" by Susan Anderson http://www.abandonment.net/
*Natalie Chandler, MA, LMHC is a therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. Natalie enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, and couples counseling. We also specialize in family counseling, child, and adolescent counseling. Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Fishers, Noblesville, Westfield, and Zionsville
With both, you experience a loss. However with grief, the more time that elapses, the intensity of the loss decreases. With abandonment, the difference is that the loss feels personal. The intensity of the loss does not decrease because it feels personal.
Many times, our clients feel confusion when the term “abandonment issues” comes up in therapy. After all, don’t we most commonly think of the literal term, “abandonment”, as being physically abandoned (like an infant who is left on a door step for someone to find) ?
So, what exactly are abandonment issues?
Freedom #5: To take risks in one's own behalf instead of choosing to be only "secure" and not rocking the boat. We have all probably been in a situation where we've had something bothering us, but have been too afraid to bring it up or make a change because of how this confrontation might effect things.
Freedom #4: To Ask for What One Wants Instead of Always Waiting For Permission Many people struggle with telling people what they really want or need. They are afraid they will appear "needy" or not strong. Usually when someone grows up in a family where their needs were secondary or they were punished (emotionally or physically) for having needs, they grow up thinking they shouldn't (there's that word again!) have any needs.
Freedom #2: To Say What One Feels and Thinks Instead of What One Should Feel and Think There's that "Should" word again. Whenever you use the word "Should", you're placing judgement on something/yourself. "I Should feel this way" I Should think this way".....basically you're trying to talk yourself into CHANGING your feelings.
By now, you are aware of what "enmeshment" is and how to know if you are in an enmeshed relationship (see earlier blog posts this week). What are the dangers of being in an enmeshed relationship?
Loss of self. When you are in an enmeshed relationship, you lose your identity. You ultimately lose the parts of your "self" that made the other person fall in love with you to begin with!
If you’ve been reading this week, you may have realized that you have been or are currently in an enmeshed relationship. The following are some ways to avoid being a person who is always enmeshed with someone else.
Be ok with you. One big reason why people become enmeshed is that they don’t feel okay with who they are.
After reading the signs of being an enmeshed relationship, have you recognized that you may be in one? Have you realized that you may have merged your identity with your partner's? If so, here are some tips to end the enmeshment.
Be Self Aware. Remember who you are! What were the good qualities you had before you became enmeshed? What are your interests? What are your values?