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.
So, what might it feel like to be going through the midst of abandonment issues?
The best information we have learned that describes the process of abandonment issues is Susan Anderson's Five Stages of Abandonment. She uses the acronym S.W.I.R.L to stand for each of the 5 Stages: Shattering, Withdrawal, Internalizing, Rage and Lifting. You can read more about all of these in her book The Journey from Abandonment to Healing.
In this first stage, you realize your relationship with a loved one is coming to an end. All the dreams and wishes you had for the relationship are torn apart, or, Shattered. Despair, heartbreak, and hopelessness sets in. You feel anxiety, depression and for some, maybe even suicidal. You feel so connected to the love you lost that you believe as though you'll die without them in your life. It feels as though you can't breathe as deeply without them, experience life the same without them, and your world will never be the same again. During this stage you experience such deep pain and sorrow. You walk around in a cloud, as if life is a blur. Please note that when relationships end, we're all going to go through a grieving process. With abandonment, it feels as though someone's life-line has been disconnected.
If you identified with any of the characteristics so far, and this first stage today, I invite you to come back to read about the other stages of Abandonment. You can heal from this— there is Hope!
Written by: Tamara McCord, MA, LMHC, LCAC
*Tamara enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, & couples counseling at Imagine Hope. We also specialize in family counseling, child & adolescent counseling. Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area, including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Noblesville, Zionsville, Westfield & Fishers.