Abandonment trauma is a condition of hyper-sensitivity about things like deserving and keeping love, feeling safe, having a stable sense of a worthy self.
The trauma is usually created by early experiences of affective deprivation, painful separations, and inconsistent parental care taking.
If you had an early experience that created in you an abandonment wound, you probably feel intrusive anxiety and pervasive insecurity.
Maybe you have the desire to please and win people over. Maybe you get to love the wrong people, giving too much of yourself too fast and too readily, cutting them somehow always a better deal than you cut yourself.
The truth is that until you don’t lovingly allow your trauma to come to awareness, your learnt self-defeating patterns will most likely be leading you from one abandonment story into another – with the undying hope that the next reenactment of the painful childhood scenario will actually change the end of the story. And win the unattainable love.
Here is a non-exhaustive list of the behaviors and feelings that you might want to watch out for.
Thus you can explore yourself and find out whether the unexpected reason behind some of your deepest hurts and sorrows is not actually an underlying abandonment trauma.
1. Anxiously anticipate abandonment:
you are secretly afraid that others will be easily disenchanted with you so you try to prove your worth by being helpful, special, indispensable, available. You read into people’s words and gestures either to find confirmations of their love OR to scan for signs predicting their disregard for you.
2. Insecurity when with people:
sometimes in social environments you feel clumsy, shy and awkward. This makes you shut down while you feel ostracized by the daring extraverts having a good time. This awkwardness is caused by the fear to expose yourself and be ridiculed, shamed, or disliked. And this fear in turn creates a feeling of not belonging, of being uninteresting and excluded.
3. Secretly sabotage yourself:
sometimes you do and say things that provoke others to actually attack you, abandon you, and reject you. This is like a game in which you prove to yourself that actually there is a reason why you fear that others will, in the end, turn away from you.
4. Repeatedly find yourself in hurtful situations:
it is not hard for you to recall countless situations when you were treated badly, patronized, lied to, betrayed and hurt – psychologically and emotionally.
5. Don’t remember huge parts of your childhood:
whole years are somehow erased from your memory. Sometimes this happens as a protective measure against traumatic experiences that can irreparably damage the self if acknowledged and remembered.
6. Feeling detached:
sometimes you feel as though the world is out of reach and you are out of its reach too, impenetrable to its mundane joys and impregnated against its terrible brutalities.
7. Self-destructive behavior:
undigested trauma can cause people to engage in dangerous behaviors like fights, reckless driving, sex sprees, binge drinking, pigging out – these episodes are usually triggered by anxiety which the person tries to medicate with excessive and dangerous pleasures so that their attention is taken away from the anxiety.
8. Relationships make or break you:
your romantic relationships can destroy your emotional balance or exalt you to a level of blissfulness where no other thing counts or matters. This creates a certain propensity to feel shattered by problems in the relationship and suffer greatly at the event of minor and mild difficulties or even short separations.
9. Extremely sensitive to criticism:
Somehow even constructive remarks make a person with an abandonment trauma feel rejected and blamed, shamed, and excluded. These kind of trauma makes disappointment extremely painful as it robs the individual of their sense of worthy self – always projected into the eyes of others as validation is entirely perceived from the outside.
10. Feeling unloved and underappreciated:
abandonment trauma creates a phenomena called affective gluttony – an insatiable need for affection, acceptance, reassurance, contact, certainty. That is why the slightest change in the behavior or mood of a loved object makes a person with abandonment trauma feel unloved, threatened, forgotten, belittled, humiliated and excluded.
11. Feeling repelled by available partners:
sometimes you feel disgusted by the tenderness of people who admire and court you genuinely, creating an atmosphere of security and unambiguousness. You may perceive their desire as engulfing neediness, and feel that their transparent stability lacks the magic and passion that only uncertainty can generate. That is why you are less likely to form relationships with available partners – they just turn you off.
12. Infatuated with what is unattainable:
have you wondered why the people that give you that stomach-wrenching “loving” feeling are always somehow unavailable – taken, living in another country, not interested in you. This is because abandonment had depreciated the sense of a worthy self, so in order to restore its value, people chase after unattainable partners – to prove that after all they are deserving of love even from the ones whose love is close to impossible to win.
13. Rushing into relationships too fast:
with you relationships seem to escalate from “Hello, my name is…” to “Hell, I am in love” at a rapid pace. You sometimes rush into intimacy not because you are ready, but because you don’t want to miss out on getting to the point of being close as fast as possible.
14. Low uncertainty tolerance and high need for control:
you often need to make sure everything is fine, to check on others to make sure they are okay, and to feel anxious about what might go wrong. When some wanted result is unsure, you might feel panic and fright and try to guess the eventual outcome so you can relax into knowing what to do next.