PREVIOUS: Abandonment pain, NOW (#2)
STYLES of reacting to old abandonment
On the other hand ACoAs can be hyper-attuned to the slightest slight 😦 , even when it’s completely unintentional or accidental. Everything that hurts them is taken as a personal affront, meant to humiliate & punish. This is the victim position of the WIC, who believes everything is about itself – the narcissism of not even imagining that others are concerned mainly with themselves, not us!
Fear of Abandonment rules our life:
• For all ACoAs, our default position is that we will always be abandoned, sooner or later – it’s just a matter of time
• We look for (A) everywhere, real or imagined. There’s an element of paranoia, which is always based on genuine childhood danger & trauma (Post: ACoAs – Projecting)
As a result:
• we may deliberately make ourselves un-available OR un-likable, so we won’t become attached & then have to re-experience being disappointed
• OR we desperately cling to people (even if it doesn’t show) & we watch them like hawks for any hint of disapproval, anger, lack of attention… which might signal imminent abandonment
EXP: As CiCi was walking downtown she noticed Joey across the street, who didn’t even acknowledge her much less smile or stop to talk. The ‘sensitive soul’ became enraged, & feeling invisible, she obsessed about the slight for a few days & eventually fired off a nasty note, breaking up the friendship! (Sensitive souls can be very harsh when hurt!)
It turned out that Joey was so preoccupied in his own head he never saw CiCi, but she didn’t bother checking it out first – just assumed that it was deliberate & disrespectful. Looking at her scathing email, Joey knew this was not the first time she had over-reacted. He decided it wasn’t worth arguing about it or justifying himself, again. If she couldn’t communicate more reasonably – then so be it.
Healthy: a responsible reaction from her would have been: “I saw you on the street today & you didn’t say hi. What’s up?”
ACoA IRONY: We’re desperately afraid of being abandoned & yet tend to only focus on things in our environment that are potentially abandoning, while ignoring all the positive strokes being provided by:
— people giving us complements, anywhere
— kudos & rewards at work
— friends, mates, children… who love us
• Whenever we feel devastated, self-hating, hysterical, paralyzed but can’t figure out what’s bothering us, we need to remember that: “ALL roads lead to …. abandonment”. No matter how real-life, practical or serious the current event (rational), we can definitely say the situation is pushing a very big abandonment button from the past.
Then we can look for what has recently happened to trigger our self-defeating reaction. This can lead us to the source of the pain & gives us the opportunity to do some loving repair work with the WIC.
• It’s always helpful to remind ourselves that ‘If it’s hysterical, it’s historical’, because the intensity of our feelings is usually not in proportion* to the present situation which was somehow similar to repeated childhood abuse or neglect. We can react with tears or rage. Either way it’s a window into what happened to us as kids – so it’s very useful info.
• The pain we feel at the moment can be from a real event (a job loss, a breakup, being in a fire) – any one of which of is stressful. BUT ACoAs react much more intensely than others – who may be hurt, upset, have some sleepless nights… while the ACoA will be depressed for a long time, beat themselves up cruelly, become suicidal…
* ACoAs have a hard time accepting that extreme feelings are ‘out-of-proportion’, because in that moment they’re so real, we can’t see the bigger picture. We don’t want to hear we’re over-reacting!
IMP: That makes us so angry because we think we’re being told that our feelings aren’t real or legitimate. NOT SO. It is NOT a negation of our emotions.
NEXT: How ACoAs Abandon Others – #1