ABANDONMENT FEAR IS OLD
It hurts, but it passes
PREVIOUS: Abandonment pain, NOW (#2)
See ACRONYM page for abbrev.
• 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.
• The pain is so big because it’s cumulative. It reflects an old reality from when we were too young to cope with or understand the daily abuse & neglect we suffered – with no one to protect or guide us, & no comfort, outlet or hope of ending! To survive, our terror, rage & hopelessness got stuffed into a huge reservoir of the unconscious. Then some event (large or small) in the present blows the lid off & we are flooded with painful emotions – expressed by feeling out of control: panic attacks, suicidal thoughts or actions, rage attacks at others, self-mutilation, binges, fight & other self-destructiveness.
SLIGHT: The still-tender wound may just have been barely jostled by something in the present. Say you have one ‘good’ arm & one arm with a severe injury. If someone accidentally bumps into the OK one you would barely notice. But if that same slight bump lands against the injured arm, it will intensify an already sensitive state. The pain in the wounded arm is real but not in proportion to the newest event – which was not an assault.
SEVERE: Of course we can experience severe traumas in the present as well – great losses which take time to heal from – for anyone. But IF they also replicate childhood traumas – it will take ACoAs longer to recover. Do not be surprised, or blame yourself for being weak! Instead, be extra patient & extra kind to yourself. LOVE HEALS, but imperfectly.
a. OVER-sensitive ACoAs need to:
• accept that even tho the current intensity of our pain is mainly from childhood, it IS legitimate
• have our early experiences validated and explained, so we can fully understand & accept what happened AND that it was not our fault
• vent enough of those painful emotions in safe places & with the appropriate people, so we’re not continually drowning in them. This will take more time than we like, because we can only do it in small doses & only as the emotions surface (usually, but not always, when we’re psychologically ready to handle it)
• share these emotions with the right people, so we don’t have to carry it all alone (“You’re only as sick as your secrets”) !
• learn techniques for calming our anxiety, especially for those times when we’re alone – like soothing music, meditation, journal writing, exercise, self-administered bio-feedback & EFT, etc
b. UNDER-sensitives need to:
• gather accurate information about the emotional consequences of being abused as a kid, to cut thru our denial
• be willing to dig into those experiences & face the reality of our trauma, instead of white-washing them
• have permission to feel our feelings, whatever they are (break Toxic Rules). Human beings are made to feel! or we wouldn’t have a Limbic System in our brain
• learn ways to get those old emotions to the surface – visualization, writing, meditation, drawing, 2-handed Inner Child writing, rousing or sad music, etc.
• keep talking about what happened. Read about it. Get lots of healthy mirroring & feedback
• practice being realistic (to counter the denial & ignorance) as well as gentle (to counter the stoicism) with ourselves
STAY AWAY from anyone* who says:
• it was long time ago, so let it go / the past is the past, move on
• you’re wallowing in your pain / you shouldn’t feel sorry for yourself
• don’t rake up the past / what’s your problem? you seem fine to me …
✶ THEY are only telling you about themselves – an unwillingness to deal with their pain! ➼ YOU do whatever it takes to recover! You don’t need anyone’s approval. Your healing & growth is all the PROOF you’ll ever need that this process works – because YOU’re the one who is gaining self-esteem & self-empowerment!
NEXT: How ACoAs Abandon Others – #1