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Abandonment (Wound Series, Childhood Trauma)
I spent years and years of my life being afraid of abandonment and losing anything that was too good. It wasn’t clear for me why. I thought it was how life is: when we don’t have we long for something and when we have it we are afraid of losing it.
Almost a year ago by now I was meditating. Like many times before the feelings of longing and fear of losing where coming and going while I was noting my breath. It was a day where the meditation was flowing naturally. I scratched a little under the feeling of abandonment and suddenly that night came up with full strength.
My Relationship to my Mother
I had an extremely fusional relationship with my mother. It was way out of the norm. She was herself a grown up wounded child. Her mother was a woman filled with longing and fear and her father the perfectly marching husband that was running after skirts. My mother was ultra sensitive and rebellious towards life. She left Hungary after the student revolution of 1956 and landed in the beautifully inhuman and cold Switzerland. Her and my father met at work in Switzerland.
My father is himself a grown up wounded child that lost his mother at age 6 and inherited a step-mother that he tried to please until she died at age 103. He is unable to de-center and understand how other people think or feel. He is loving but can’t give love in a natural was. His way of loving is to try to change others to what he think will bring them happiness.
The Night I Lost Everything
They met at work and their wounds found some peace in each other’s embrace. For a time. He didn’t want a child and she wanted it so badly she decided to have me despite his opinion.
I was born on the 1st of October 1972 and became her everything. She spent all her time with me and tried to burry her growing deep depression in the love of motherhood. I was her sun and she because my universe. My universe without which I didn’t want to do anything. By the age of 9 I was completely co-dependent on her and she was just out of mental hospital bottoming hard and without the proper support to renounce.
Then she decided to go. She hit me with a chair and jumped out of my room’s window at the 7th floor of our flat.
I was brought to the hospital having shut out what happened and just wondering why I was there. My father came the next morning and told me she died. We both cried for the last time over her. I saw a shrink a couple of times that was impressed by how well I was. Everyone was impressed. I wasn’t. I was empty and without emotions and didn’t feel anything for the next 5 years and then started floating in the superficiality of everyday life but without connecting really with anyone.
What Attachment Meant to Me
Slowly, in pre-adolescence, I started seeking the attachment that friendship gives. I thought that I could get friends that would like me and fill the void in my heart. I found friends and they ran away from that sticky, clingy piece of longer. Damn it hurt. Abandonment thoughts started creeping in.
Later on I had my first real love story. It was wonderful up to the moment, some weeks in, when fear appeared. Fear of losing her. Fear that the wonder I saw in her eyes was as fake as what my mom’s eyes showed. I made it a self-fulfilling prophecy and it obviously ended.
The next 20 years I spent hiding my need for others under layers of arrogance and ambition. I didn’t know anymore what love was for real and spent my time reading the signs of it ending. Self-fulfilling prophecies continued.
I have many ways which I’m acting out on my fear of abandonment and the associated sense of worthlessness. If I would bother to get diagnosed, I would most probably be categorized in the Borderline Personality Disorer. I prefer the model of the Grown Up Wounded Child which is more actionable. I have one personality fragments that take the front stage depending on the circumstances. My mother used to call me Waltika so all my fragments have a name ending with « ka ».
Let me introduce you Longingka. Longingka has many annoying behaviors so I could most probably break him up into further sub-parts but all is related to the sense of worthlessness so I don’t bother. He is called Longingka because it’s the part of me that is Longing for someone to make me complete.
When Longingka manages to push everyone away because of being too needy, sticky and testing the love of others he starts feeling really lonely. He moves into pleaser and hunter mode. He hunts for people to connect with in any possible way and does everything possible to please them. It’s ok with the people that are worth his attention but not for the ones that are not.
Once he has a connection Longinka is afraid to lose it so he tries to please even harder but at the same time becomes paranoid: « Oh this is a long time to respond to a message. Maybe he or she doesn’t love me anymore? ». « Why is this activity more important than me? ». « Why do I not deserve what I look for? ». « What did I do wrong (again)? ». Basically Longinka turns Walter’s life into a mess of questions and of activities that don’t bring him anything but are built to try to not lose the person he attracted.
Longinka also hates loneliness, which is why he fears abandonment. When Walter is alone Longinka is in the background murmuring stuff like « It sucks to be alone, right? ». « It isn’t nice to do anything when you are alone right? ». « You aren’t complete by yourself so go find someone to make you complete. »
The good thing with the sub-part model is that – in a meditative state – a conversation can be made between Walter and the sub-part. This conversation when repeated often enough allows for the reintegration of the sub-part into the real Walter.
Where I am now is that basically I stopped the pleaser behavior and focus on caring for the people that deserve it. I’m letting go of all the ones using me for this pleaser side. I also stopped destroying the joy of the good moments with thoughts about them ending. What is still sometimes a challenge is the loneliness part but I feel progress was made because I don’t think it’s me that is worthless anymore but more that I need to relearn doing activities on my own because I completely stopped them for so long.
During that meditation session I mention at the beginning of this post is when the real grieving started. I cried reliving that night and planted the seeds for many realizations:
- It’s not my fault if she died
- I couldn’t have saved her
- It’s not because I’m worthless that she left but because of her own pain
- She loved me without any doubt
- I’m lovable
I didn’t miraculously heal from the mess I kept building in me for 33 years but I started peeling away layer by layer the illusions.
My best friend helped me in this process. She helped me in a direct way supporting me when I was in total freak out mode and she helped me because she is the thing that is too good and that I’m afraid to lose now. It is immensely helpful to be able to live fully the fear and rest in the safety at the same time.
Abandonment, along with neglect and abuse, are causing a child’s personality to develop in a fragmented way. In order to heal we need to realize what happened, follow the threads and clear patiently the illusions that we created around that trauma. Nothing is wrong with anyone, we are all perfect the way we are, we just need to remove patiently the layers of illusion and the perfection will show. Meditation is a powerful technique to achieve that but lovingkindness is equally important. Open up to others and they will help you more than you think.