the result of divorce or infidelity
When I was 20,
my father told me he was leaving my mother.
He had the bad judgment to announce this fact to me just before we walked down the aisle on my wedding day.
(He belongs on the self-absorbed page.)
Not long after, my father divorced my mother, he married another woman
& moved away.
This dissolution of my original biological family happened very quickly.
I was busy with my own life & career & thought there'd still be time to have a relationship with my father, if only a changed one, in the years ahead.
We always think there'll be time to sort things out, but sometimes there isn't.
I saw my father only 1 more time. It was on a day when he'd had so much
to drink that I worried for his safety in driving. Later he wrote to tell me of his deep dissatisfaction with our relationship & that I clearly wasn't accepting him & his new wife. I'd tried in every way possible to tell him
& show him just the opposite.
I wanted him in my life under any circumstances.
I heard from him just 1 more time, after my son was born. Somehow, he'd
heard he had a grandson & he sent a gift. He told me in the note not to try contacting him, but at 26, I was certain this
new correspondence meant a fresh start.
My letter to him came back marked, "Addressee unknown." And that was the end of the
For years I didn't think about him
& then I thought about him all the time. I had such a deep heaviness because he deserted me.
I wanted to walk with him in the woods, arm in arm & feel his strength & wisdom as I got old. I wanted my children to know him, to laugh & cry with
him. I missed him so deeply.
As my spiritual life grew, I was able to begin to see how I'd compensated for my loss
of a father as
protector by wanting my husband to play that role, or other friends or work colleagues.
Still, I didn't know what to do with the emptiness. Just as I'd think I had it handled, the tears would again well up in my eyes & I'd feel that deep searing pain in my heart.
Our deepest pain doesn't go away, but it can be healed. We know intellectually the
circumstances or fears that kept others from responding to us in the way we needed. It's more difficult to see our own fears that hold past pain in front of our eyes, preventing us from a truly new beginning.
Simon told me that he'd been raised in an orphanage & when he finally hit the street at 18, he
got in with the wrong crowd.
He wanted to make some easy money quickly to feel that he was important & land at the top of the heap because he was smart.
One bad debt led to an even deeper debt & he found himself living a series of complicated
lies to avoid jail or worse.
This was 20 years ago & yet today he finds himself
in a similar situation, never being able to shake the poverty that follows him & remaining unable to be clear &
honest with himself about his needs & genuine intentions.
Every healing modality in the pages of today's magazines recognizes the need to do something
positive with the feelings that belittle us & slide us away from genuine belief in ourselves.
While we know that loving ourselves in different, more spiritually intimate ways is the path to healing, we still find it difficult to forgive others & ourselves.
The many new age philosophies & techniques give us hope for a while & then we find ourselves back in the same morass.
My experience, both personally & professionally as an intuitive healer & spiritual mentor, is that love takes many shapes in our lives to help us live authentically.
Love as Wisdom is necessary
for us to be able to apply it in new ways to finally find resolution to old blocks. Like climbing a rope, we must keep putting
one hand over the other, which means finding new ways to treat our pain with loving-kindness so that we may slowly learn to live in the center of a new, more
But we must also wrap our feet around the rope as we climb upward, in order to keep from sliding
backwards. This grip with our foot represents the means we have to apply
wisdom as a salve to old heartaches.
I call this wisdom process finding the blessing in the challenge.
We never think to look for the jewel in the dung heap. Instead we take the remains of old painful experiences &
continue to return to them with each new violation.
began to use internal dialoguing, spirit-to-spirit,
to try to heal my pain & to help my clients.
With my father, I chose a time when I was alone in the house. I lit a candle & sat down with the lights dimmed. I put his picture in the chair across from me. I let the full scale
of emotions well up & spill out of my mouth.
I didn't try to curtail my what's really making you angry? or grief. I didn't tell myself my feelings weren't true or that I shouldn't feel this way. I did feel
this way & I needed to grieve this deep loss.
I let him know how angry I was, how much he had hurt me & that his leaving the Earth without ever needing to find me to set things right had left me feeling irrevocably scarred.
Then I put my hand over my heart, which gradually allowed me to move inside to a quieter & truer
Slowly I felt calmer & could find a small feeling of loving for myself
from my true spirit self. From this new center, I asked my father to tell me what was in his heart.
His real self, his spirit said, I think you're beautiful & I was always so proud of you, I just never said so. I thought you knew it. I saw no one, not you, your brother, or your mother over the edge of my own pain.
Can you forgive me? Like a terrible blister bursting, I sobbed, "Yes, Yes, oh Yes!"
I'd found the blessing of self-acceptance thru his words, honoring me, letting me know that he'd loved me after all.
I've been deeply touched by the way people handle pain & loss as well as unsteadiness, fear & resistance.
We judge others actions, being unwilling to consider that our perception is what keeps us in pain, no matter the circumstances of the situation. There's no such thing as right & wrong in our memories. We all feel we're right & justified in our actions & attitudes.
Still the pain continues because we've not found the blessing that may not feel good, but does well by connecting us
to a more loving & forgiving place in our own heart. Our soul space lets us see a part of our authentic
nature that's been growing all along, even under the pain & confusion of all the years we've suffered.
Stan was a powerful example of old pain, but also an example of the inability & the fear that prevents us from finding the jewel in the old experience.
He was an extremely successful internist who lived with his wife on a magnificent farm. His wife raised
prize Golden Retrievers to show.
But he was dirt miserable. He felt his marriage was a joke; he worked insane hours because he felt some satisfaction in his work & he was afraid to find what he loved.
He knew that cutting back on the work meant less money in the short term. He wanted
the opulent lifestyle & he also hated his impotence in
being unable to take the steps necessary to find why he couldn't feel love & heal it.
He commented one afternoon how a patient's young wife, in appreciation for his saving her husband's life, had kissed him on the cheek.
He got very quiet & his voice almost disappeared from the other end of the phone as he continued,
I wanted so much to feel that love, I just couldn't. He was diagnosed with a pituitary tumor.
Our journey is to find an inner steadiness so that we can apply our new wisdom, the blessings from the challenges, to bringing love into our families, our friendships & our careers.
This steadier authentic part is our Divine Presence. We usually don't stop to reflect on this understanding, that we have something quite as grand as Divine Presence with us, in us, guiding us, as our essential self.
Yet, with time & practice we begin to inquire into the nature of God & the way our life came
into being & where we go when we leave this life. We have a deep & lasting need to find The Creator in some way.
Without a Creator-presence in our lives, something that we trust that holds the reigns of our life & those we love, we easily run away with our own importance.
We're meant to ask the questions that we feel we need to understand to feel secure & in control. But life shows us that we can manage to be happy even
without the control we think we need.
Finally thru the maze of life's sharp turns from joy into grief, from loss into happiness, we need to find what we can believe in that's ours to manage & ours to develop.
As we finally come to see that we can control the state of our happiness by our ways of looking at circumstances, we're shocked.
We assume happiness comes from outside of us & that well always be at the mercy of other
people & the randomness of actions.
I've cried as I've sat with a person whose vibrant life slowly ebbed away & I've celebrated with
a person's first important step toward self-acceptance.
But for all the memorable, life-shifting times with friends & clients, I'm continually reminded
that the ordinary day-to-day hurts are what mount up inside. Unresolved emotional pain grows into a mountain, blocking our energy.
Unresolved emotional pain is uncomfortable & a serious liability as it creates serious physical trauma. Taking the time to clean up those old sufferings does a great deal to
help us find renewed energy & self-acceptance. Empowerment
is, a spiritual choice to be happy.
To heal the traumas that bedevil you, take a quiet evening & gift yourself the ceremony
of a lifetime, Finding the Blessing in the Challenge.
You may do this experience a number of times or just one time may be enough. Be prepared to find
forgiveness, replenishment & renewal.
Here are some things you can do to prepare:
Create a setting where you'll be alone & not disturbed.
Use candles, music or incense to help create the sacred feeling that you want.
Put a picture or the belongings of the person you wish to dialogue with in front of
you. It makes no difference if the person is alive or passed on.
When your mind asks you, "How can you know if the person is really saying healing things
to you?" tell your mind to move thru this ceremony as if it were true.
Thru our intention we easily call the energy of others spirits to us. You'll be talking to the person you need to share healing with. The experience itself will convince you if you give it a chance.
a parent or a loved one that you depend upon as a child doesn't have to abandon
you physically to cause damage, they can abandon you emotionally as well....
about the consequences
The Lessons Children Learn by Jennifer Harley Chalmers, Ph.D.
When a parent has an affair, what lessons are being taught to the children? What rules of life are being learned?
Julie was a happy-go-lucky 8 year old. She was at the top of her 3rd grade class, loved playing with her friends, riding her bike & drawing. Her parents loved her & she loved them.
One day after school mom introduced Julie to 2 girls who were close to Julie's age. Mom said that she was taking care of them for a friend named Josh. Julie enjoyed
playing w/the girls & looked forward to them coming again.
In fact, they'd come over quite often w/their dad. But it was only when Julie's dad was out of town.
Sometimes Josh stayed late, long after Julie had gone to sleep.
One day dad came home from his trip. As he was hugging Julie he asked, "How's my princess? What did you do while I was
Julie started telling him about the new puppy that "Uncle Josh" brought to the house. Dad knew that mom had been helping
someone with child care, but when he heard it was "Uncle Josh" he became a little suspicious.
"How often do you see Uncle Josh?" he asked. With a smile Julie said, "Oh, he comes
over every day to help mom when you're gone." Mom looked at Julie with a stern face. But Julie didn't understand why she was becoming upset.
dad started asking her mom questions & their voices became louder & louder. Julie was sent to her room.
Julie listened outside, her door she heard her mom say, "Josh is just a friend. Aren't I allowed to have friends? Why do you have to be
you trust me?" Julie finally heard her mom say that she'd never see Josh again
if that was what her dad really wanted.
After a couple days, mom & dad started talking to each other & mom & dad seemed happy again. They all returned to their routine of life & Julie started
to forget about that horrible night.
the next time dad went on a trip; mom didn't keep her promise.
told Julie that the babysitter would be taking care of her that night. But mom wouldn't tell Julie where she was going.
As mom left the house she saw Josh help mom into his car. "Why is mom seeing Josh when she promised never to see him again?” Julie asked
When dad returned, mom lied to him. When he asked her if she'd seen Josh while he was gone she said, "No." But dad pursued
the subject & continued to ask her what she did.
Finally she said, "I can't take this invasion of privacy" & that her life was "none of his business." She got up,
started to pack her suitcase & gave Julie a kiss with the promise to see
She left that night leaving Julie
feeling abandoned by her mother.
didn't understand what had happened. She thought it was her fault, maybe she'd done something to make mom leave & cause this terrible punishment. She cried inconsolably. Dad tried to soothe Julie but nothing helped. She cried herself to sleep.
next morning Julie went to school but didn't say a word. Her teacher asked what was wrong, but Julie wouldn't respond. Her
eyes just filled with tears.
Julie saw her mom she cried & pleaded for her to come home. Julie promised to clean her room every day & wash &
dry the dishes. But nothing worked. Mom didn't come home.
After a month mom changed her mind. Julie was so excited when she heard the good news. But her happiness turned to despair when she was told that her mom had forced her dad to move away so she
could come home.
Julie had come to trust & depend on her dad in the last month & appreciated him more than she ever had in the past. Now she was about to lose
a parent she loved & trusted all over again.
These experiences were only the beginning for Julie. In the months to come mom & dad would unknowingly
teach Julie more lessons about life.
Children learn from their parents. Parents are the most influential guides in
a child's life. Many will see their mannerisms & phrases being used by their child. Parents are more than models for mannerisms
& phrases, they're models for crucial aspects of life:
- A work ethic
- Intimate relationships
- Domestic skills
- Problem-solving skills
Lessons about life are being taught when a
parent has an affair, lessons that they usually don't want their child to learn.
The first lesson a child
learns is, " How to deal with emotional pain."
Children whose parents are experiencing marital conflict feel many emotions:
& Many other excruciating feelings....
When a child's losing the security base of a strong marriage they're bombarded w/pain. How's a child supposed to soothe their pain & the feeling of helplessness?
How does a child gain control in an uncontrollable situation? Out of the need to defend against these uncomfortable feelings comes a new rule about life.
"If a problem arises it's better to deny that there's a problem than to face it & feel the pain."
Julie came to believe this rule. She'd think,
"This is how married people lived. Nothing
was wrong about this situation. There really isn't a problem here. Just look the other way."
A child can defend themselves from the bombardment of emotional pain thru the defenses of denial & justification.
But this new rule didn't help teach Julie how to solve crucial problems that would face her later
in life. Instead of facing & solving those problems, she'd deny their very existence & look the other way as it would grow &
eventually overwhelm her.
Julie was also being taught a 2nd lesson,
"How to lie."
In order to maintain a secret 2nd life, wayward spouses need to keep up the deceit. After Julie started living with her mom, she was asked
not to talk to dad about Josh. She was further instructed to tell dad that she hadn't seen him.
Mom explained that it's better that dad just doesn't know "because we don't want to
make him upset." Julie remembered how upset dad was when he found out about Josh. She didn't want him to get angry with mom.
So with this newly learned habit of lying for mom, came a 2nd rule about life, "Lying is allowed if it spares another from pain or spares yourself from punishment."
Another rule from this lesson on deceit is that, "Lying is allowed when it protects your privacy. Everyone has a right to privacy in their life, even if it involves hurting people
behind their back."
Julie was told over & over that it wasnt dad's business to know what mom does. This
was meant to justify the fact that mom was lying to dad. Although Julie's mom was a very honest & open person before the affair, mom became quite an expert at deceit & privacy.
Julie was watching her model every step of the way.
A 3rd crucial lesson is, "How to be thoughtless, doing what you please - regardless of how it
affects other people." Julie would learn how to take advantage of her
friends & family when there was something in it for her.
She'd learn how to disregard others' suffering because she had a right to enjoy life to the fullest.
All wayward spouses hurt the people they care about the most.
Wayward spouses rationalize that they had to look out for themselves, which is why they developed
the relationship outside of their marriage in the first place.
Their actions seem to benefit themselves in the short term, but it has disastrous effects on members
of their family.
Marital discord is hard enough on children. It undermines the basic security needed for them to learn & grow. But to add infidelity to a troubled marriage turns a problem into
Parents who have an affair are teaching their children very important rules that are likely to be followed for the rest of their lives.
It ultimately not only undermines their marital relationships but it also seriously hurts their own chances for success in most other areas of life.
Parents have a responsibility to teach their children the importance of:
But even after the mistake of an affair, it's possible to make a conscious choice to
change the disastrous consequences. I've counseled many parents who could see what they were teaching their children
by having an affair.
It motivated them to end the affair & explain to their children how wrong they'd
Although it was extremely difficult & very humbling, they weren't only able to save their marriage, but also able to correct the lessons they'd taught their children.
Abandonment: When Your Spouse Shuts You Out By Dr. Dave Currie, w/Glen Hoos
It's a complaint I hear regularly from people looking for help for their
- "I feel distant from my spouse."
- "I try to get my husband
to open up, but instead he just shuts down."
- "My wife just doesn't seem
interested in me anymore. I feel like we're a million miles apart."
- "I don't know if I love him anymore."
What we're talking about here is emotional abandonment. Instead of physically
leaving the relationship, your spouse simply checks out emotionally. They stop investing in the marriage, leaving their mate feeling detached & unwanted. To the outside world the situation can still
look rosy, but in reality the relationship is dying a slow, quiet death.
How does a marriage reach this point? Sometimes it's a slow slide into complacency & other times it's a little more sudden.
Realize that if it's a sudden abandonment, there likely is some precipitating event or incident between
the 2 of you that needs to be resolved.
On the other hand, if the deterioration has been more gradual, there are probably a lot of little things that have gone
unresolved & are taking their toll on the relationship.
Here are some of the specific, primary causes of emotional distance between mates:
Emotional abandonment is unforgiveness taken to its extreme conclusion. When we feel that our spouse has hurt us & we refuse to forgive them, we look for ways to protect ourselves from being hurt again in the future.
Closing off our heart from the other person is an easy way to do this, but it has deadly consequences. Unforgiveness always leads to
Overcoming unforgiveness requires a willingness to humble ourselves & seek forgiveness when we've hurt our spouse &
it also requires that we be willing to graciously extend forgiveness when
our spouse has hurt us.
This forgiveness step is based on a desire to re-unite.
When I'm careless in how I treat my spouse, it gets old really quickly. Whether
it's discourteousness, unkindness, or something worse, it creates hurt that may start out small, but can grow into deep wounds as it festers over time.
To avoid this, each partner needs to look at their own behavior regularly & consider whether they're
treating their spouse well.
A mate, above all people,
needs to be treated with gentleness & respect. Remember, your spouse is God's gift to you & they deserve to be
treated as something precious.
Lack of Effort
Sometimes the problem is a little less obvious than unforgiveness or harsh treatment. It's easy, especially for men, to just assume that the relationship is going along just fine & so
we don't put in as much effort as we once did.
We start to take our spouse for granted, leading them to think that they're not important in our lives. When the marriage slips from being one of the top priorities in the heart of one or both spouses, the other
person feels abandoned. This causes them to feel unwanted & then to withdraw into their own world.
Many of us simply try to pack too much into a day. Ruled by the urgent, we fail to make time for the truly important things like:
- talking about issues
- developing a friendship w/our
We stay constantly busy, erasing quality "couple times" from our schedules. A marriage relationship can't thrive if our contact w/one another is limited to a quick bite of supper or a brief chat before bed. A good marriage
requires weekly face-to-face time - both talk & fun.
Fear of Talking Thru Issues
Emotional detachment doesn't just happen out of the blue; there's always something behind it. If one or both of the spouses has an inability or
fear of talking thru the issues in their relationship, then this
kind of disconnect will be the likely result.
know there's something wrong, but they're hesitant to bring it up because they fear their spouse's reaction. Or perhaps they feel like they've been thru
this before & it hasn't helped, so why bother?
In these cases,
there needs to be a clear second look at what it means to resolve conflict in a marriage - how to have a "good fight," as it were, that really bring things to resolution. Without these skills &
a real courage to step up & deal with problems, the emotional detachment will just continue to grow.
- Living in Denial
A lot of times, when things have started to
go a bit sideways in the relationship, we don't want to admit that it's happening. Often the person truly needing to make some significant changes is most content to deny the existence of any real issues.
We kind of live in denial, as if it's not really happening, or it's not that bad, or
things will get better in time. But living in denial doesn't fix things; it only causes the marriage to deteriorate
to the point where the couple just doesn't feel close anymore.
Working Thru Emotional Distance
The first step to dealing with emotional abandonment is to identify the root cause & to begin to deal with it. Don't settle for living in isolation. Ask God for more in your marriage & then trust Him as you faithfully try to make changes. Here are some suggestions for re-establishing a loving connection with your spouse:
- Agree to Talk
At some point you have
to agree to talk about the problems that exist between you. If you're going to resolve issues, there needs to be a mutual commitment to listen to the other person's concerns & to work towards improving the situation. Don't corner your spouse w/an unexpected lecture, but set a time &
agree to start to work thru your issues.
- Be Prepared
Before you have the talk, take the time separately to think thru the unresolved issues that you'll be discussing. What are your concerns in the relationship?
In what areas do you feel you need to improve? What are your expectations of your spouse? To put your thoughts down on paper may be best, but either way, be prepared to be open & honest with each other about the real issues between you. Be sure to take the
time to really listen to what your spouse is saying. Give each other uninterrupted time
to share your view on things.
Don't allow things to get out of
hand. Be committed to talk thru things sensibly. Take breaks to cool it if necessary but agree to continue. Ask each other the
tough questions & talk thru the difficult issues that have been eating away at your relationship. Regardless of which
partner initiated the wrong, you both need to work at resolving the problem.
- Begin to Meet Unmet
Often a person
pulls back from the relationship because, in their mind, their needs aren't being met. A healthy marriage demands that both partners actively work to
discern the needs of their spouse & work to meet those needs.
Seek to understand your spouse's needs & ask yourself how you can start to better express love by meeting these needs. Make your spouse & sorting things out your new priority.
- Deal With Your Own
If I'm feeling abandoned by my spouse, I need to ask myself a tough question: What have I done to drive my spouse away? Now it may not be only
Nevertheless, you have to find out what you're responsible for & take ownership for your actions. Really listen to your spouse. Of course, there are things that your mate needs to deal with & they may be withdrawing from you for selfish reasons, but that can't stop you from taking the steps that you know you need to take. Both parties must be prepared to make apologies & extend forgiveness as part of your recovery from the emotional detachment.
- Intentionally Re-engage
you're to re-establish your emotional connection, it won't happen by accident & it won't happen overnight. You need to agree to make your relationship a
priority & spend some quality time together. Plan a few dates & put each other in your schedules. It's time to re-enter
one another's lives again.
- Act Kindly
This may not be a revolutionary
new idea, but it can have that kind of an effect on your marriage. You must act kindly toward your spouse. Small gestures of warmth, acts of kindness & efforts to rekindle the romance between you will go a
long way toward renewing your bond with one another.
Do this from the heart with real committment to make the necessary changes.
- Love Unconditionally
has to break out of the negative cycle of eye for an eye, poor treatment for poor treatment. You need to step out of the insult-for-insult cycle & respond differently. You can't control your spouse's behavior, but you can control your own.
Regardless of how your spouse responds, you must
choose to treat them with love. This isn't easy to do when your partner isn't reciprocating, but it's
what you vowed to do when you promised to love each other "for better or for worse." And nothing breaks down emotional barriers like unconditional love.
- Allow God to Work
I'm going to challenge you to ask God to change you. God wants your best & He'll always be ready to take full responsibility for any life that's totally surrendered to Him. That also includes re-engaging with your spouse & getting attached in love again. God wants that & He will guide you in that, if you'll allow Him to.
all got issues to work thru in our relationships. Whether your problems stem from bitterness, unforgiveness,
dishonesty, lack of kindness, unfaithfulness, or something else, God offers you His power to enable you to live in a way that honors Him. There's no doubt in my mind that God wants your marriage to work & that you desire to have warmth & a close connection with your spouse. That's His design. Let's go after it.
~ Dr. Dave Currie is the National Director of FamilyLife Canada. He and his wife Donalyn live in Abbotsford,
BC, and are regular speakers at FamilyLife Marriage Conferences. Dave is also the host of Marriage Uncensored,
a television program airing on NOW TV.
abandoned by a father....
can forgiveness be the answer to your pain?
Forgiveness Can Soothe Abandoned Son's
August 10, 1998
I was born to unmarried parents.
father left my mom & I shortly thereafter.
My mom married 8 years later & my step-father adopted me, legally
changing my name to his.
I've never seen my father nor has he ever attempted any communication w/me. It seems
obvious that he wishes to forget he's my father. I want to meet him, even if it's only once.
His refusal to have anything to do with me hangs over me like a dark cloud. I'm not seeking any money
from him, but I'd like to know if he has any legal responsibilities toward me. If I meet him &
he does have legal responsibilities toward me, then I'd have the option to pursue him or abandon him
after our meeting.
Perhaps then the clouds would start to dissipate. Can you help me find my father?
Father abandonment is never an easy thing for
a child to overcome. Rather than merely a temporary set back, we're now coming to understand just how long lasting the pain can be of being rejected by one's own father.
Even when the child has never known the father. Luckily, this child seems to have a mom & a step-dad
who care about him.
that doesn't seem to be enough. So he lives continually yearning for his father's return, hoping that by meeting his dad someday he can take a certain measure of control over the situation; hoping that after meeting his dad he can finally reject him, rather than the other way around. How sad. This letter makes me want to cry.
But I'm a psychologist. I'm supposed to be dispassionate about these things. I was asked
for advice. So here it is.
Concerning your question as to any legal responsibilities your father may have toward you, the answer is probably none.
You state that your step-dad legally adopted you when you were 8 years old. For a legal adoption
to occur, the biological parents' (in this case your
biological father's) parental rights must first be terminated. W/the
termination of those parental rights also comes the termination of any legal parental responsibilities toward the child.
Consequently, when your step-father adopted you, your biological father's responsibilities toward you ended.
Before you begin searching for your father, I suggest you read a book by former Chicago Bears' linebacker
& NFL Hall of Famer Michael Singletary. The book is called Daddy's Home At Last (Zondervan Press, 1998).
As he recalls in this book, upon winning the Super Bowl rather than feeling ecstatic, he went home with an empty feeling. He eventually came to realize that what was blocking him from being experiencing happiness, was unresolved anger at his father for having abandoned him when he was a child.
Even more importantly, he discovered that it was only after he was able to forgive his father that he was truly able to enjoy life & fully commit himself to being a father to his own children.
As Mike Singletary discovered, sometimes forgiveness is the only way of letting go of the pain of rejection.
So my best advice to you is this: try to forgive your father. Yes, he was irresponsible. Yes, he should have stuck around. Yes, he should have called. But he didn't. Who knows why. There's not much you can do about it anyway.
Instead of harboring painful feelings of rejection, understand that your father was a fallible human being, just like the rest of us. Learn to forgive him for his humanness & your dark clouds may finally lift.
That is my wish for you.
I have one
more wish. I wish that each & every unmarried man on the prowl for sexual conquests would put a copy of this letter in
his wallet, right there next to the condom. Then the next time he feels like pulling out that condom, he first reads this
Maybe that would make a few of them realize that casual sex can result in an out-of-wedlock
pregnancy. And an out-of-wedlock pregnancy can lead to a situation like yours. Maybe that would mean fewer kids desperately trying to make those dark clouds go away.
fear of abandonment
can support negative coping methods
Quench Your Real Thirst ?
drinking, getting drunk. Can it become a substitute for close, satisfying relationships with others? By Judy
One summer in Colorado, a friend & I met some runaways from New Mexico. They dropped out of high school & wandered around
dancing & holding out a cup for money.
At first glance, you might think they were wasting their whole lives. But after I spent a couple hours with Gabriel, Sean, Matt & Peter,
I realized they were living out something most people long for.
These guys had little money, no shelter, dirty torn clothes & barely enough food to stay alive. My friend & I invited
them to dinner. We sat in a diner & watched the 4 of them devour hamburgers, burritos & shakes & listened to their stories.
I realized they were a community. They looked out for each other.
If one got something, he shared it. One guy only ate half his food because
he wanted to share the rest w/a buddy who wasn't w/us. They talked about watching each others' backs. They were parents to
each other. They really loved each other.
They talked about being afraid, missing their moms, feeling abandoned, being hungry. They were living in a way that I'd never choose, but
they had something that many clean, educated, "acceptable" people don't. They had each other. They had real relationships. They were connected.
Unleash your real emotions, telling the person, whether friend or enemy, what you feel. Don't hold back.
Put your hand over your heart, the center of your chest & quiet down. Find a loving space inside.
Ask the other persons true self, soul self, what they need to say from their heart.
Repeat out loud what you hear or merely write it down in a notebook that you have available.
You can dialogue w/the other person but keep it at a heart level. Stop if you feel yourself climbing back into pain &
begin the entire experience again.
Healing is both an art & a science. It's all about loving ourselves enough that we can find beauty where we've seen only misery & failure in the past. Healing is the experience of our living &
not just getting out of physical or emotional pain.
Healing is the process of becoming whole, with the cracks & imperfections of our lives marking our courage, endurance, originality & grace, rather than only our failure & suffering.
Healing is feeling something precious in your heart that allows you to feel more love for yourself & to act with greater wisdom w/those you love.
Meredith Young-Sowers is a spiritual
teacher, intuitive healer & the director of The Stillpoint Institute & School of Advanced Energy Healing in NH. For
more information, please visit www.wisdombowls.com & www.stillpoint.org, or call 1-800-847-4014.
****Trying to leave no stone unturned****
An important point
Dialoguing: Communicating with the body or inner-child helps to reveal the root-cause contributing to illness or internal-conflict. This technique opens lines of communication between the mental, emotional, physical & spiritual body's.
Establishing better reception of messages sent from each of these bodies.
Client's often experience less internal-conflict, which generates a greater sense of well-being & self-trust.
Fear of Abandonment read the entire article by clicking the link above... does this sound like you?
Melody was only 13 when her parents
divorced & her father married the woman with whom he'd had an affair.
Then when Melody was 16, her dad divorced his 2nd wife. Up to that point, she had seen
her dad regularly.
After his 2nd divorce, he cut off all contact w/her. (Abandoned her) By
then, Melody had accepted Christ & her faith pulled her thru those dark times.
At age 28, Melody feared another man she loved dearly might abandon her.
Her husband, Cliff, was diligent & hard working, & he was devoted to their marriage. But he was quiet & often not emotionally available to her. Melody remembered her dad's emotional distance & it frightened her.
She tried not to worry, but she couldn't fight off the anxiety she felt about her husband. Even though he'd given her no reason to doubt him, she was
suspicious of his activities, often quizzing him when he came home.
She couldn't escape the fear that her husband would abandon her just as
Have you ever thought, "I don't know why I feel that way,
but I do?"
When children experience their parents divorce & watch one parent leave the home, deep-seated fears of abandonment
by the remaining parent often surface.
Who'll care, feed, soothe or love me if
I no longer have parents, kids fearfully wonder?
This chronic fear can have a devastating effect on a child's development. The love & care of both parents is essential for the healthy development of a child who'll
likely need extra reassurance after a divorce that they're
still loved by both parents & will be cared for by both, even though one parent may not live w/the
rest of the family anymore.
A child may not immediately express a fear of abandonment after a divorce, but parents can learn to identify behaviors that are a child's way of expressing
his or her fears.
expresses fear of abandonment in different ways, depending on his or her age. "Children from
6 months to 3 years of age may be unable to be consoled they may cry or scream & nothing comforts or distracts them.
Older children may use primitive psychological defense mechanisms, such as clamming up, withdrawing & fantasizing about the parents "getting back together."
fear of abandonment often remains until age 3 1/2 & then
becomes less intense. Parents may not be able to immediately reassure a child that they'll never be abandoned again, but they can listen to their child's fears & provide honest answers that are appropriate for the age of the child.
Be honest with children, they can see thru subterfuge. Simply say, "Daddy's gone
& he's not coming back." You don't have to get into a lot of details or explain further because kids will grasp it in
their own way.
It's also important to reassure kids that the child was in no way the cause of
or responsible for the divorce.
All children harbor
a fear of abandonment. The fear only becomes manifest if a parent actually leaves, such as after a divorce. Unfortunately, some
parents prey upon a child's fear of abandonment following or thru a divorce.
Whether intentional or not, parents
may misuse those fears to control children by making statements such as, "If you misbehave, I'll leave." or
"If you go to live w/ your other parent, I will not love you." (Which by the way is abusive behavior on the parent's part)
impact of the fear of abandonment can be devastating & can last a lifetime. Often people never completely get over such fears & they may even bring them
into adult relationships by transferring a childlike dependence onto his or her spouse, creating dysfunction in
By paying close
attention to their child's verbal
& nonverbal communications, parents & especially noncustodial parents, can help allay their child's fears of abandonment following a divorce.
Below are a few suggestions that parents can use to reassure children that even though
a parent has left the home, that parent hasn't left the child's life.
- When talking to children about
divorce, keep it simple.
- Don't intellectualize what's going on or give a long lecture.
The basic idea is to communicate that you & your spouse love your child.
They must be told that even though you have decided not to live together, you
both still love your child unconditionally.
Christian parents can remind children that just as God never leaves us or changes his love toward us, they'll never abandon their
child or quit loving him/her.
If your child says, "I miss you," say, "I miss you, too," but don't allow the child to leverage that
affection against you. Children may try asserting control by making comments, such as:
· "If I can't see you as much, I don't want to see you at all."
Parents, not children, are the ones who set & enforce appropriate boundaries & ground rules.
Noncustodial parents often try to do or buy things to win a child's
Don't, instead, be in the present & listen to your child. Don't try to compete w/what the other parent has to give.
Attorney Howard Raab discusses the ways a divorce can affect a child even beyond the fear of
abandonment in his article, "The effect of divorce on children" for Divorce Source.com.
Lesia Oesterreich, family life extension specialist in the Human Development & Family Studies Dept. of Iowa
State University, writes about divorce from a childs perspective in her article, "Divorce matters:
A childs view" for the National Network for Child Care.
That's what we all want. We want real life. We don't want to be like the
hamster who runs thru the Habitrail & spins on his wheel all day, alone & never getting anywhere. We want to relate. We want to connect. We want to be part of a community that takes care of each other.
My friend Rebecca recently graduated from Vanderbilt University. As she
faced entering the "real world," she said to me, "I just want to be Amish."
Her comment had nothing to do with the religion & everything to do
with the community. They have neighbors & families. They help each other build barns. They come to the rescue when someone
is in danger.
Life is simple & slow & you can handle whatever is around the
corner because you know you're not alone. Sounds nice, doesn't it? I think we're hungry for relationships that are lasting, full of trust & fun.
Many of us grew up in homes where our dads worked too late at the office
to get another promotion so they could buy the Rolex or Beemer. Moms had college degrees & families wanted the additional
income so moms worked.
Our parents lived under the same roof but that was about it.
Relationships crumbled & divorce rates skyrocketed. Whether it's Party
of Five, Friends, Seinfeld, Mad About You or Cheers reruns, we love to watch people who appear to be connected. We desperately want that ourselves.
We want & need good relationships, but quite frankly, they're painful &
risky. So, what do we do? Who can make me feel good? Who can I run to? Who can help me escape from a world of unconnectedness, if only for a little while?
If you're like many college students, you cuddle up with a keg or caress
a bottle of J.D. The booze makes you feel good & relaxed. It's accessible & always there when you need it. It doesn't care what you look like. It makes you feel funny, attractive & accepted.
This relationship works for a while, but then you wake up. It's a one-night
stand. It's not a relationship. People are hard to bond to but it's easy to bond with the bottle. It eases the discomfort that sometimes happens when bonding with others. It probably comes as no surprise to you that we go looking for love in all the wrong places.
Author & psychologist Dr. Henry Cloud writes,
need love during the first few years of life. If we don't
receive this love, we hunger for it the rest of our lives."
This hunger for love is so powerful that when we
don't find it in relationships w/other people, we look for it in other places, such as in:
- In work
- In sexual activity
- Or in spending money. . .
- Drinking too much
- Working too much
Shelly, a student at the University of Alabama, said, "I can spend every night in the
bars hanging out with my friends when we're drunk, but when I see them the next day on campus, we don't have anything to say
to each other."
Shelly has relationships, but she describes them as superficial at best.
Her real need to be connected to people isn't being met.
Ben, on the other hand, goes out drinking with his friends & the alcohol
loosens them up to talk about what really matters to them. Their friendships seem deeper. But Ben says, "I need to learn how to be real without the crutch of alcohol." Dr. Cloud goes
on to say,
"People are usually addicted to a specific substance, such as: Alcohol - Cocaine - Speed - Work - Gambling - Destructive relationships - Religiosity - Achievement & Materialism."
These substances & activities never satisfy, because they don't deal with the real problem.
We don't really need alcohol, street drugs, or sex. We can live very well without these things. However, we really do need relationships & we can't live very well without it." (emphasis mine)
When I ask students why they drink, most respond, "It's fun."
On the surface, that's an acceptable answer. Beyond the fun have you ever wondered why you drink in the first place? Maybe it's a temporary escape from stress, the uncertainty about the future or pressure in social situations.
When you have good relationships, you don't need to find security in something else, whether it's alcohol, sex or food. When you have good relationships, you're less likely to try to fill the void with something else.
When you have good relationships, some of the deepest needs are being met. Dr. Cloud continues,
one of the most basic & foundational ideas in life & the universe. It's
a basic human need. God created us with a hunger for relationship, for relationship with him & with our fellow people.
At our very core we are relational
beings. Without a solid, bonded relationships, the human soul will become mired in psychological & emotional problems. The soul can't prosper without
being connected to others."
How do we learn to have bonded relationships? That's another article or book. Begin w/being honest with yourself. Could it be that the reason you drink, or eat too much, or too little, or abuse sex, or drive yourself to perfection is because you really need relationships?
If so, there are plenty of good books on building relationships with people (including the ones by Dr. Cloud). But there's one key relationship that offers a genuine foundation for healthy relationships with people. Dr. Cloud talks about our need to be connected in a significant way to both people
French philosopher & physicist Blaise Pascal
says, "that within the heart of every man is a God shaped void that
can't be filled by created things."
Can we have a relationship with the God who created us? Can we be connected to God? I'm not talking about a God who gives you a list of do's & don'ts. Or a big policeman in the sky
ready to bust you at the slightest infraction. I'm talking about a relationship w/God that's based on
love & truth & freedom & inner peace.
Just as drinking or overeating has consequences, so does rebelling against or ignoring God. You may not even notice the consequences but eventually they'll catch up w/you. God says the consequences are eternal
separation from Him.
You're in college now, hopefully having fun, preparing for your future. It's hard to think in terms of eternity...but you never know.
My friend Steve, a 20-year-old guy, may not be alive by the time you read
this. He's dying because he got HIV from infected blood. He has no choice but to deal w/eternity now.
God has made a way for us to know Him here on earth & forever. He did this by sending
Jesus to earth, to walk in our shoes, & live perfectly. But that's not all. We deserved punishment for our sins, but Jesus
willingly sacrificed Himself on the cross on our behalf.
All we have to do to know God is put our trust in the fact that Jesus paid for the junk in our lives that separated us from a perfect God. You can
accept that & place your faith in Him or you can choose to reject him. That's your decision.
When I prayed to God, I told Him that I wanted to know Him & placed my trust in Jesus' death for me. I began
a relationship w/Him. I was now connected to the God of the universe. When our relationship is tight, my life
is different. I don't need to run around trying to find the next thing to satisfy me, whether it's money, drinking, or overachieving.
When I blow Him off, I wander around trying to find that missing ingredient.
I don't know what you're dealing with. I don't know how the symptoms manifest in your life. Maybe it's excessive drinking,
sex or drugs. Or being compulsive about exercise. Or killing yourself to get straight A's so you can feel good about yourself.
These are all substitutes
for our genuine need for connectedness with people & God. We all have that void w/in us that can only be
filled by a relationship with God.
you'd like to start a relationship with God right now. All you've to do is just tell Him.
He knows the
desire of your heart & is much more concerned with that than He is with your words. You might want to say something
"God, I want to know you. I want to be connected to you. I've tried other things to fill my need for you & they haven't worked. Forgive me that I didn't come to you first. Thank you that you love me & want me to know you. I accept that you made this relationship possible thru Jesus' death. I trust you. Amen."
You'll find a relationship with God fulfilling & satisfying.
When you're connected with God you have the foundation to build meaningful, lasting & significant relationships. Quench your real thirst.
Negative thoughts & fears
Perhaps you have a deep & constant fear of being
Allowing such a fear to enter your body & your mind, keeping it playing over
in an endless loop will no doubt attract many experiences of being or feeling abandoned.
As long as you have this fear, you'll continue to experience the "act of being abandoned" in many forms until this pattern is recognized, healed & released by you."
of My Opinion ....
I find that after researching feelings of abandonment or the fear of abandonment, I can instantly identify with those that consider themselves, "abandoned."
I've pondered the percentages of baby boomers who might feel the
same way. The reason being, it appears that as baby boomers, our mothers & fathers were
totally inept in the concept of "giving us unconditional love."
Whether or not it was the fault of their own parenting isn't a factor, because I'm not wasting my energy on blaming them for it. The fact just remains, the parental factor of the baby boomer generation who were inadequately prepared for parenting especially in the matters of emotional well being; often left us, the baby boomer generation,
feeling abandoned by anyone who was supposed to have loved us.
The baby boomer generation now in the throes of a well deserved "recovery period," after being set up for a lifetime of failure within our intimate relationships, are surviving, but still discovering open wounds surrounding our battered souls.
Baby boomers, representing the startling
percentages of divorced families in the US are finding themselves suddenly vulnerable again, as they were once, as children. A conglomerate of once miserable lives emerging into a new population of wounded & scarred individuals searching & struggling to develop or re-establish the identity they longed
to form as teens, but were too disadvantaged to find.
Surviving the false belief systems of our parents, whom we long to embrace, we find ourselves still pushed back away - often pushed back to
maintain a distance of safety from "feelings & emotions," as they still haven't recognized the fact that we can't deny them. We're beginning to realize ourselves that theirs was a world of illusion, living for the sake of appearances,
hardly a realistic concept to hold onto for security's sake.
We're now breaking free of the beliefs that were forced upon us:
were to be seen & not heard."
shouldn't feel that way."
(take that word, "shouldn't" right out of your vocabulary!)
have no reason to cry."
- "If you
don't stop crying, I'll give you something to cry about."
- "If you
tell the truth, you won't be in trouble."
to find that being human, we do have reasons to cry, to feel
& be heard. We have needs that all humans have. We survived our parents demeaning us with their usual taunt, "If you tell the truth, you won't get in trouble," but shortly thereafter our owning up, would lean us over bended knee to extend the
ultimate humiliation of pants down & soundly spanked; teaching us the pain of ultimate betrayal.
The unforgettable lessons learned as children from our parents' actions
were tied into the false beliefs we've carried on as adults. Whereas when we were children, we lived in fairy tales. We memorized limmericks,
fairy tales and nursery rhymes that promised us prince charming, happily ever after & fairy godmothers. Our fantasies consisted of skipping down the yellow brick road of life, to grow up,
get married, have children without a single problem or worry.
Our parents perpetuating the unreality
of these myths, by imposing their "Leave it to Beaver" lifestyles upon us. Everything was always fine. Everything was
always good. Everything worth anything was about being happy. Everyone was comfortable. Everyone was alive. We were isolated from negativities in life. We weren't ever exposed to the realities of death, the poor, prejudice,
intolerance or hatreds. Everything was always fine, dear.
"What's that? You hate Janie? Why no you don't dear! We don't hate people. We like everyone. We don't ever hate. That is just not nice!"
When our parents began to experience the waves of turmoil over the changing times, the new generation, the Vietnam war & the new acceptance of "doing your own thing," they found themselves unprepared for the hardships.
No one ever prepared them for relationship disturbances. Everyone had always had their roles, it was set in stone. Womens' equality rocked their glass bottom boats.
A woman leaving her children to go to work was unheard of.
An entire generation of young adults reached out for the only escapes they'd seen their parents turn to, often
"the bottle." After all, who didn't remember that the world stopped around 4 o'clock in the afternoon for happy hour? It was permitted,
socially accepted self medication by almost everyone.
Drunks were accepted, although often frowned upon should they become disorderly,
they were always protected. Men beating their wives was permitted, because the wife had stepped over her tightly formed
boundaries, causing the attack herself. And the children of these parents always knew that something was wrong, but could
never put their finger on it, because for appearances sake, parents never fought in front of their children.
Children, being kept isolated from adult social functions, never knew the extent of their parents escapism. When the bottle became an inescapable
"need," often times, the responsibilities parents once held in such high regard & automatically programmed to perform, often fell to the wayside.
In many a home, the daddy's little girl, was suddenly put aside, no longer welcome in her daddy's lap, causing
an overwhelming sadness, emptiness & depression. Open affection, giggling & tickling & the telling of grand secrets was forever banned in their kingdoms, as the baby
boomer generation began to truly feel the grips of their parents' dysfunctional marriages.
I was one
of those little girls, banned from daddy's lap, suddenly,
mysteriously, only to think that an evil curse had been cast over our household. Should my mother bite into a red shiny apple, she might
drift off into a dead sleep, only to be awakened by her prince charming, who had obviously - left the castle.
The open portal of unresolved feelings of shame, guilt & rejection combined with painful hurts & repressed feelings & emotions from our parents' steadfast rules already explained above, (children should be seen & not heard, you have no right to feel like that, you should
be grateful for all that you have, stop crying or I'll give you something to cry about...) began to roil & turn deep within our beings. Our stomachs hurt. We got headaches. We began to isolate ourselves, not wanting to play outside with our friends anymore, especially now that we weren't wanted, or loved, or acknowledged at all by our preoccupied parents. They didn't have the time or inclination to even tell us how we should feel
Then the sixties hit us, when divorce became suddenly acceptable. As if a great tsunami enveloped the shoreline of the Americas, couple after couple, neighbor after neighbor,
wives & husbands across the entire spans of the United States became "divorced," causing the undoing of the American Family
that we once appeared to have.
Fathers moved out to live with another
woman. Mothers who had always stayed home with the children, had to get jobs. Some mothers, too overwhelmed with their inability to function in the workforce, were led to suicide, alcoholism & mental illnesses.
Single families began to struggle, as household incomes were separated into halves.
Children were left alone at home to fend for themselves. Resentments, feelings of abandonment & desperate feelings of worthlessness became thrown into the open portal of childrens' inner beings. We didn't know what happened. No one explained
anything to us. It was just the way it was, we were forced into accepting that our parents weren't together anymore.
We'd always had an inner instinct, intuition of sorts, knowing that our fathers weren't leaving us for another woman, they were simply attempting to fill
their own selfish needs.
Sometimes, if we closed our eyes tight enough at night, we could see our family
the way it used to be. We dreamed of our fairy tale lives, knowing that someday, we'd find our prince charming & live
happily ever after as promised. If we could only make it thru childhood.
tsunami, there was no federal or state aid. Are you kidding?
Congress was too busy trying to swallow Ted Kennedy's excuses for Chappaquidic, to somehow protect his drunken misadventure of saving himself - to leave the woman to drown in her loneliness. Divorce was good for the economy it seemed.
No one came to the rescue of the idealized American family. Suddenly a whole generation of daughters were left fatherless. Sons became angry seeing their mothers crying & despondent, no longer an ally, only an empty shell, robotic & helpless.
Oftentimes, fathers didn't show up for
visits anymore. It became months & months between visits. Our fathers remarried & had new families often forgetting
their first ones. The baby boomers were beginning to realize how easy it was for them to forget us. We were stunned with the incoming waves of abandonment we felt.
Our mothers began to date. Then we were left with the dysfunctional remnants
of teenage babysitters, who were angry, confused & impatient. It wasn't a pretty sight, but as we grew up, we kept filling our portals of all of our feelings & emotions that we had no right to have. We withheld our tears in fear of being given something horrible to cry about. We were now abandoned by both parents.
It was a lonely existence.
The baby boomer generation is one of the largest generations in history.
After wartime in the US, many young families had been expected to marry & replenish the earth. And when the replenishment became teenagers, we had big issues. Really big
unresolved issues that revolved around that huge open portal of hurt & pain within us, now ruled our lives. We acted out. Free love, marijuana & peace flowed throughout the generation. We self medicated thru all of these means. Our developing identities & relationships were forever scarred before they began.
Roe vs. Wade was forced into action. How else could government allow this massive
generation of irresponsibles continue to procreate freely? Social acceptance of all things once held contemptible, caused an irreconcilable mark on once held sacred family values & morality.
Yes, it happened that way. I was there. I was undeniably wrapped up in it. I was an alcoholic teenager who got pregnant. I'd been abandoned by my father. I'd been abandoned by my mother.
I'd been abandoned by love. Humans don't work well without it, but strangely still, I didn't know what to do with any of it.... any of those feelings or emotions, I'd never been allowed to feel anything before. None of had been allowed; how extreme, an entire generation
of emotional cripples... how extreme.
And now as the baby boomer generation comes close to retirement, we've
open that huge portal of unresolved feelings & emotions. Some of us later than others, already experiencing multiple marriages, custody fights, parental alienation, alcoholism, drug addictions, oh the list is so long.... we're just realizing that we have been feeling unloved, abandoned & worthless.
A comparable example would be the young child, riding his bike in Beaver
Cleavers neighborhood, suddenly struck in the street by a semi truck, leaving him or her, disabled, dismembered, emotionally
crippled, but the child goes on. After his injuries heal, the child continues to plod on with life.
Suddenly realizing after an entire childhood of many disabilities, that there are missing limbs, horrible scars
& frightening nightmares of the tragic event. The child is unable to cope with it all. The realization of an unrecognized injury is devastating to say the least.
Of course, this couldn't happen physically, but mentally it can. Our emotional dysfunction has been escalating
throughout our lifetimes, leaving heartache & unbelievable pain without being recognized for what it truly was.
We're all existing in our dysfunctional lives, wondering what the hell
happened to us. We were abandoned by our parents' generation, that's what happened. We were
living in the land of the lost children, just like the boys & Wendy & Peter Pan.
We lived with our false beliefs, distorted thinking & disadvantaged attitudes for so long that we just existed throughout our lives, coping however we could. It has been a painful existence for many
of us. Very painful.
we know what happened. We're feeling like children again.
Learning about truth, emotions, feelings, attitudes, tolerance, diversity, intuition, insights & so much more. There's resistance to change run amuck. Light bulbs are illuminating in the minds of an entire generation.
It's an amazing transformation. It's too long in coming, but it's here now & we're embracing it. Long live the days of
And now that we've begun to ground ourselves, recovering from our
lifetimes of dysfunction, we have children who are either already grown or halfway grown. They've lived thru our enormous
ineptitude as parents. They've survived, but they remain injured. It's our jobs as parents to correct our madness. We must
learn to relay the messages we're learning daily.
It's up to us to re-shape their minds by introducing our pearls of newfound
wisdom. We can't remain silent. We need to set them straight, introduce the seeds of knowledge that can lead them to emotional & physical well being years earlier
than we've been afforded. If we fail in this venture, another generation will be affected. We must take on the challenge with open minds, warm hearts, with acceptance & hugging.
It's time to settle our differences, end our family feuds & conflicts, turn the world into an a peaceful loving place. We must sing of unconditional love. We must lead by the best examples possible. We must honor our changes as we make them.
We're no longer living the fairy tale, we're generating our own positive realities.
Healing Abandonment Wounds
By Dr. Margaret Paul
I have counseled individuals, couples, families & business partners for the past 35 years & authored 8 published
books. Every individual I've worked with has had some abandonment wound to heal & most relationship problems stem from abandonment wounds.
It isn't possible to grow up in our society without some abandonment wounds. The following are some of the ways it can occur:
torn away from mother at birth & put into a nursery.
left to cry in a crib or playpen.
given up for adoption or being left in foster care.
physically &/or sexually abused.
emotionally abused - ignored, yelled at, shamed.
pushed aside at the birth of a new sibling.
a parent or caregiver who is emotionally unavailable.
unseen or misunderstood by parents or other caregivers.
unprotected by a parent or caregiver.
left alone in a hospital during an illness.
a beloved parent or grandparent at a very young age.
teased or left out with siblings or peers.
ridiculed by a teacher.
forgotten - not being picked up from school or other places.
left at a young age to care for oneself, a parent, or other siblings.
When we're deeply wounded at a young age, we can't handle the pain, so we find ways to dissociate from the intense feelings.
Then, later in life, especially when we fall in love, these old wounds can get activated. Our beloved gets angry, withdraws, gives attention to someone else, says mean things, doesn't tell the truth, doesn't stand up for us, comes home late, wanders away in a crowded public place, misunderstands us & so on - & suddenly the pain that has been pushed aside all these years comes roaring to the surface.
We think that we're reacting to the present situation, but what's really happening is that the old, unhealed abandonment wound has been touched off. We might find ourselves suddenly enraged or falling apart with intense tears. Our reaction seems too big for the situation, yet we can't seem to stop the inner pain. We might start to shake
violently as the old terror finally erupts.
want our beloved to take the pain away by stopping his or her behavior. If only he or she wouldn't do the thing that activates
these feelings, we'd be fine. Yet until we actually heal these old, deep wounds, we'll not be fine. We'll always be vulnerable to having these wounds activated.
the abandonment wounds doesn't happen overnight, yet it doesn't have to take years either. Step one is to tune into your feelings with a willingness to take responsibility for your pain.
Once you're aware that deep pain has been activated, seek the help of someone who can hold you & nurture you while you go
into the abandonment pain. If no one is available, hold a doll, bear or pillow & bring in love to the hurting part of you.
Open to your concept of God or Spirit & allow this source
of love & strength to nurture you.
It's often not advisable to seek the help of the person who activated the wound because:
- he or she may still be stuck
in their own wounded place, the place that touched off your wound
- you might become dependent upon your beloved taking care of you & taking the pain away instead of actually healing the pain
Once you're with a safe, nurturing person, or even on the phone with a safe person, hold a doll or bear or even a pillow very tightly & breath into the pain.
Open to learning & allow the Inner Child who is in pain to give you information about the original pain that's still stuck in the body. The body holds
the memories that you repressed at the time & now the body is releasing these memories.
Many images may come up as you open to learning with your Inner Child.
Be sure you have your spiritual guidance with you, holding you, surrounding you with love & comfort as you open to learning about this deep pain.
In order to truly understand your present reaction, you need to understand what happened to you when you were little. Keep breathing deeply & allowing your Inner Child to inform you, even if you're crying.
Tell the person helping you what your Child is telling you about what happened to you when you were little. It may take
awhile, but gradually you'll calm down. At that point, tune into what false beliefs you may have embraced as a child that are affecting you now & what else your Child needs right now to feel loved & safe.
Being there for your wounded child this way will gradually heal the abandonment wounds. Ignoring your feelings, trying to make them go away, or trying to get someone else to take them away will only serve to re-wound you. It's only when you no longer abandon yourself that the old wounds begin to heal.
Eventually, another's behavior that previously triggered your intense reaction will no longer do so. You may feel sad or lonely when a loved one gets angry or withdraws in some way, but as long as you continue to show up for yourself, the intense pain will not be
If the pain seems stuck in the body no matter what you do, then you need to seek out a practitioner who knows how to release old pain out of the body thru acupressure or other bodywork.
Once these old wounds are healing, you'll feel a new sense of personal power. Others' behavior can no longer trigger you into these intensely painful feelings.
However, a word of caution:
we may think it's healed, only to discover another level when we move into a more intimate relationship, or more intimacy with a present partner. The closer the relationship, the deeper the wounds get activated.
That's why the primary relationship is the most powerful arena for healing there is & Inner Bonding - the process outlined here - is a most powerful tool!
This article is © Dr. Margaret Paul and has been re-produced
here with the author's permission
Abandoning Your Marriage
When my mother asked me, "What will you do if marriage isn't what you
thought it was? What will you do once you know who this man is & you don't like him?" I remember thinking briefly, about 2 seconds of time actually, then replying...
"I'll get a divorce!"
I was dead serious. After 8 years of marriage, 2 beautiful daughters & feeling so alone, miserable, sad, lost & unloved, I got that divorce.
Somewhere deep down inside myself, I knew that I was making the biggest
mistake of my life when I married my first husband, but I was so hurt, angry & seeking revenge that I married him anyway. At 18 years old I moved 2000 miles away from everyone I knew to live with a man I
had only known for 6 months.
My idea for what I would do after high school was completely opposite
of what my father thought.
I brought him the paper work one day after school. I was nervous about
facing him. I was actually really afraid. He was drinking, but he always was drinking so I didn't have the luxury of a sober moment, so I gave him the
college applications anyway. I explained that I needed him to fill out the paperwork about the financial side of college. I told him that I didn't have a clue as to
what to fill in there when his humiliating, intimidating, evil laugh bellowed out to fill the air.... I froze. I took one step back then, froze.
back as well. I was watching him, frozen where I stood,
unable to move at all, I watched him very closely. A very small bit of druel seemed to fall from his mouth, as he sucked it back
in with that horrible slurpy sound drunks make sometimes. His empty rocks glass in one hand, the applications in his other,
and his novel tucked up under his armpit, he swaggered a bit while establishing his ground.
empty, used up, old, tired & very miserable. His shirt was half tucked in, half out, his hair always
looked greasy, his body was no longer the pencil thin frame he had always enjoyed, now he was lumpy. That's what he was, lumpy.
His skin white & lumpy, he was what was left of a father that I no longer knew. Most of all though, he looked like an
engineer. That's what he was. That's all he could talk about. He didn't ever come down to the normal level the rest of us
lived on. He had become someone else throughout the years, someone that none of us really knew.
words he spoke filled the air, stinging, biting words filled
with animosity, intimidation, and anger.
"Who do you think you are? I won't even look at these stupid applications. Who do you think you are? expecting to go to college." he paused only to steady himself again, then take
a deep breath to continue his tirade with a short mocking laugh, "Women
don't go to college, understand? Women get married, they have a bunch of kids, that's what they're raised to do! Don't ever speak to me about college again!"
by me, throwing the applications into the trash can. Turning
only to order me away from him with his closing thought,
"Why don't you go meet some guy & do just what I said, now!"
As usual, I turned on my heel & ran quickly to my room. Forced to hold back
any tears or gasps of humiliated disbelief, my father didn't allow the showing of emotions or feelings, my mother just complied with his wishes to keep him quiet.
Falling into the comfort of my quilted bed, my first pillow, the only soft place I knew, I sobbed violently. Choking back the loudest
sobs, to keep him from barging into my room, offering to give me something to cry about...I forced myself to stop thinking about every going to college.
the time went on quickly from that point...
Soon I had met the man I was to marry. It was a blind date set up by my
brother. To this day, he's sorry he did it. But my brother was a caddie at the golf course & the teaching pro was a nice
guy to score points with. He introduced us, we both liked onions on our hamburgers, as we ate lunch at the golf course,
we discovered that we both had dogs named, "Jason." This was the basis for our relationship & I decided enough commonality
to get married.
It was a good enough match for me. I
set my sights, just 6 months later we walked down the aisle. 6 months later, that's all... just a few weeks & I'd
done exactly what my father told me to do... I married the first man that crossed my path & I got pregnant. I married
him & moved 2000 miles away to be that good wifey & mother as far away from my father as possible.
Little would I know that the man I married would betray me over & over again.
He didn't love me. He only loved himself. And while I'd seen danger signs, flashing warning lights & knew deep in my gut that it was the
worst mistake I could ever make, I still married him.
Before we got married he had tried to
have sex with my girlfriends, succeeding only once. He was addicted to pot. He was a hot headed italian boy, a golfer. Soon after we met, only weeks, I moved into his apartment with
him. One day I found out that he had been living with a girl for quite a long time before he met me. She had just moved
out to go back to Florida, where he was from. I got pregnant just a few weeks before the wedding.
it would end in divorce from the first day we were married.
I can honestly say that I wasn't without fault; for who was I to tempt fate? I knew full well that my only goal was to accommodate my father's wishes. Ever since that day he had refused to help me get to college I had felt my spirit
was slowly fading. I had begun to drinking heavily.
After the move, the 2000 mile move,
away from everyone that I knew, I cried for days. My mother-in-law lived directly upstairs, over our apartment. And while
Palm Beach was certainly a beautiful tropical paradise to live in, I was miserable. My husband told me that he didn't want to keep the baby. Actually, he was afraid it might be someone else’s. My brand new husband forced me to have an abortion weeks after arriving in Palm Beach.
He became ugly & distant with me. I didn't really like him anymore.
to back out of the abortion. My mother had already forced
me into an abortion at 16 & it ruined my life. I left the clinic on our first visit there. He dragged me back there &
spoke to the doctor, leaving no chance for misinterpretation as to why we were there. The doctor ordered a shot of valium
& a few days before my first Thanksgiving away from home, I was forced to kill my baby.
For the first year of my marriage, I
was in total hate with my husband for what he did to me.
I got a job at Gucci on Worth Avenue!
as a secretary. I didn't really have any skills to speak of, but I learned very quickly. I became a telex operator, did general
office work & loved being at Gucci. I made some friends. That was nice. For the rest of our first year being married,
we spent very little time together. I went out with my friends, drinking, dancing, partying & I just tolerated my husband.
We were moving to Burlington, Vermont for the season. I was pregnant with our first child.
I was crying, and all there was, everywhere I looked - were trees. Huge towering
pine trees, that cast shadows out over the roadway. The moon was full, but there were no sidewalks, no houses, just darkness
and trees. I kept walking, crying, sobbing, and knowing that I had asked for this kind of treatment, but it still hurt. It
was all my fault. I was so angry and hurt. The police passed by and stopped, backing up after seeing a barefoot pregnant
woman crying on the side of the road, they asked me if I needed a ride. I told them what had happened. They knew the
lady that my husband was with. She had a drinking problem. Things like this always happened with her....
me to our hotel. We hadn't even found a house to live in
yet.... that situation really hurt me.
continued like this for years. It was always something
different, but on the same theme. I was lonely. I was always alone with the kids. He would work, come home, eat and go to
sleep. We didn't have a relationship. We had some sex. But it wasn't love making. It was degrading. He hit me again. I kicked
him out of the house. It was New Year's Eve. I thought the divorce would take place then, but it didn't.
But it did
take place. When my girls were about 2 & 4 years old.
It was ugly, I didn't know how to take care of myself, never mind supporting two children. It was a very horrible time in
years later, I'd been married 3 more times. I never got
it right until now. While recovering from all those years of dysfunction, I have come to some realizations. Those of you getting
married, it's for real, it's forever. It's not as easy as, "I'll get a divorce if it doesn't work out."
not like that. I was asked to speak to a woman who was experiencing
some domestic violence. She had maybe four or five children. Her husband had no job, was depressed and she was fed up with
the terrible way he treated her. She was a Mormon woman. I pondered and reflected upon the experiences that I had endured
throughout my lifetime. What would I tell this woman?
I do if I could do it all over again? Suddenly like a lightning
bolt of electricity, I knew the answer. I would have stayed married to my first husband. I would have worked things out with
him. I would have worked things out with myself first, and then with him. I now understood that my problems with myself, were
the most important problems facing me. If I had been able to figure it all out, I would have stayed in that marriage. After
seeing what divorce does to children, over the years, I'd seen my own children suffering from it, I would have stayed married.
have insisted on boundaries. I would have insisted on counseling.
He would have gone along with it. He didn't want to get a divorce. I just gave up because I didn't want to face anything back
then. I just wanted to escape. I didn't know how to work out problems. I just knew, that I had to tell this woman, this Mormon
woman, that she had to stay with her husband, work things out, it was the best thing she could do for herself and her children.
woman listened to me. She thanked me and I went on my way.
She stayed with her husband. Long story short, they worked things out. He straightened up. She ended up with breast cancer
and he supported her thru it. The family endured. The family grew stronger and remained intact. It was a good thing to see
her husband, smiling at me, shaking my hand, with a smile on his face, something I had never seen before. It was the right
thing that I told her. Don't abandon your marriage. Marriage is about working things out. It's about staying together to fix
it all. It's about growing up together. It's about admitting you might have some faults too.
to college to become a nurse. He got a job. They're very
happy now or they appear so. She can hold her head up with respect for herself, she has dignity, she has character, she is
a good mother. I believe she's doing well, even now, as I just saw her a few weeks ago. It's not easy being married, it's
just one day of hard work after another, but it's worth it. If you keep the commitment.
my older kids this story. I openly admitted to them, if
I had it to do all over again, I would have stayed with their father and worked it out with him. I would have done it for
them, for me and for the marriage. I admitted the pain and heartache I had caused them in growing up in a divorced family.
Then my re-marriages that they had to cope with. Their father remarried and that was a problem with the kids as well. I just
told them, when you get married, it's for good, it's forever, so make your choice wisely. It's not even an idea that if it
doesn't work out, you'll get a divorce. Divorce isn't an option.
day my daughter, who lives in Florida called me. She's my
oldest daughter, 28, single, struggling; but such a great girl and she asked me if I remembered this couple that she
used to be friends with. The girl had started using drugs, they had a couple of very young children, the husband was drinking
way too much. Then the girl started having an affair. The whole marriage was a huge mess. It seemed like their only option
was to get a divorce.
told the girl what I had told her about doing things
differently if I had it to do all over again, and that I would have worked it out. She told her that I had been remarried,
had more kids, and about all the horrible experiences that I had gone through. She told the girl about the feelings of
hurt, anger, frustration, and so many others that she and her sister had experienced being separated from their father.
She told the
girl about the abusive step father that I had provided her
with. Her father's wife had kicked her out of their home when she was still in high school, only 16 years
old. It's just been a huge mess. Their family on her father's side are all estranged from each other. She and her own sister
were separated in a huge debacle thru their step mother, and remain estranged to this day.
hold much hope that the girl was even listening to her until
almost a year later when her phone rang late in the evening. It was the same girl we had just been talking about. The girl
relayed to my daughter that she had thought long and hard about their last conversation concerning her marriage. She just
wanted to thank my daughter for her encouragement to stay married. She and her husband had worked everything out between them.
been easy because they both had addiction problems. There
was the affair that the wife had when they were close to splitting up that they had to have some marital counseling over.
They both went to individual counseling. They got involved in a church. Their kids love going there. They got it all together,
and were living happily, gratefully, and their children are doing so well. She wanted to ask my daughter to call me and tell
me that after thinking about what I said, she knew it was true. She had to keep the commitment she had made when she got married.
are really bad, take a time out. Spend some time in some
personal reflection. Where is your head at and where is your heart at? What are you feeling? What can you do to improve your
own attitude? What can you do to show unconditional love?
Now don't get me wrong about domestic violence. I don't believe a woman should ever stay with someone who is abusing them. There is a point that if both husband
and wife agree to go to counseling, agree to work things out, that they may be able to get things straight. I've been trapped
into staying into a marriage rife with domestic violence.... it's not good. But if there is a willingness on both sides to
make things right... get professional help!
stay in a relationship if your children are in danger either.
Things can be worked out over time, even in this type of situation, if everyone is in agreement to get professional help.
What I am saying is....
Before things get
totally out of control, don't be quick to blame. Take the time to look within. Don't be eager to abandon your marriage. It'll
mean more to your children if you can work things out. I know that it seems like the grass will look greener out of the marriage
or with someone else, but truly... fix what you have if it's possible!
have questions about what I'm trying to say here, send me an e-mail!
Unresolved abandonment - the source of our insecurities, addictions, compulsions & distress.
Unresolved abandonment - the insidious virus invading body mind
& soul - the culprit for the anxiety we're forever trying to self-medicate with food, alcohol, shopping, people & a host of other self defeating behaviors.
Unresolved abandonment - the roadblock to reaching our potential
- the invisible wound that drains self esteem from within - the hidden trap that keeps us stuck in patterns of self-sabotage.
Unresolved abandonment - the chronic insecurity that becomes the scourge of human relationship.
Unresolved abandonment - the internal barrier to fully connecting to others. Fear short-circuits our attempts to find love - we struggle to find & keep relationships. We become abandoholics.
Unresolved abandonment - the elusive grief so many seek therapy for & can't seem to overcome - an undifferentiated emptiness often misdiagnosed as depression & inappropriately medicated.
Sometimes its stress & agitation are persistent enough to create chemical imbalances that do, in fact, respond to drug therapy.
Unresolved abandonment - simplistic methods like 'positive thinking' or just going to therapy don't deter it.
Programs like Co-dependency, Alanon & Adult Child have attempted to assuage the erosion of energy &
self worth caused by unresolved abandonment.
But for all of their positive 'affirmations', they haven't been able to address the system of drainage that lies buried within.
Likewise, Alcoholics Anonymous, Alanon & Over-eaters Anonymous, etc. have been extremely effective in dealing
with the addictive & co-addictive problems secondary to abandonment, but are unable to go beyond the symptoms & treat the underlying abandonment wound itself.
Self-help books have tended to have a placebo effect. They offer reasonable enough sounding advice, like "Find happiness from within." But these truisms are easier said than done.
Many abandonees feel inadequate when they try to perform them & aren't able to "Just let go" & "Move forward."
Unresolved abandonment - people continue searching for one more
tape, one more lecture, one more book that will finally free them.
But all of the self-medicating & soothing words in the world will not eradicate the distress, disturbance & dysfunction caused by unresolved abandonment.
For that you
must go beyond insight. You must take action.
Abandonment survivors need more than symptom management & feel-good relief. They need an approach that facilitates not the illusion of change, but real change.
This can only happen when you realize that the magic bullet isn't in any book or program. It's within you. It's you
ability to integrate awareness with action.
Why do we carry
a torch for so long when someone has broken up with us?
NEW SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH EXPLAINS WHY HEARTBREAK HURTS SO MUCH. Someone who leaves you becomes very powerful to your emotional brain. They become powerful simply by being able to inflict so much pain. Being left is perceived by your mammalian
brain as an attack upon your personal being.
It etches an indelible impression in a primitive part of the brain that acts automatically to protect you. It conditions your mammalian brain to react with fear each time you encounter the person whom it perceives as dangerous to your well being. Acting beneath your conscious awareness, it maintains a constant vigil on your abandoner.
You experience this as being temporarily obsessed with the person. Your nerves are set to 'go off' if you should unexpectedly
bump into them later on or see them with a new love.
emotional reactivity is known as 'carrying a torch.' You're
confused into thinking that if the pain can last that long & feel so strong, the person must have been very special.
But this isn't so. You can feel this way over anyone, even someone who had nothing special to offer. It's just your mammalian brain efficiently trying to warn you not to make the same mistake again.
your own, "blue light special!"
Sometimes you feel as though nothing is helping you feel better. You read endless
webpages, books & articles & find yourself identifying so perfectly with what is being stated. You can feel the authors fears, grief, sadness & easily compare it to your own.
Okay, I hear you. I know exactly what you're
thinking & feeling. I'm still there with you sometimes. We wait. We read, we study, we try to implement new actions to encourage changes in our thinking.
Yes... I can absolutely acknowledge your feelings of frustration & deeper hurt as you begin to feel that your pain will be endless as well as your suffering.
no one tells us, perhaps out of simple oversight,
is that as you begin to heal, you automatically change your old negative behaviors in such small & subtle ways that it's almost impossible to have them "reach out & touch you" for validation! - that meaning, someone can look you straight in
the eye & say to you, "I can understand how you're feeling. I can understand how painful it is for you. I can feel the frustration you must be feeling. I've been there before & it's very hard, is there anything I can do to help you?"
You'll be driving in your car, suddenly
realize that you're feeling sad over a song on the radio. Without forethought, you've stopped your thinking, recognized what you're feeling, identified the emotion or feeling & you realize clearly without any hesitation, that you're becoming "aware" of what you're feeling.
Excitement begins to roil inside of your being. It's a slowly escalating excitement a cautious excitement, but it's really excitement. Excitement is something we don't usually have the need to feel. You begin to feel as though you're shopping in K-Mart & you hear the announcer say,
"Ladies & gentlemen, there's a blue light special happening right now in the
lawn & garden department. Look for the lady that's realizing or recognized her personal growth!
Excitement is a positive emotion in this sense. It's a continuing realization or recognition of the chain of emotions & feelings being:
You see, it's subtle, very subtle. If you're not practicing concious awareness, you'll miss it. If you're not focusing on what's happening in your present moment, you may miss it. It's a combination of tools that are available for you to practice with that will allow you to finally feel good about something. That's how positive change begins to happen.
This positive change is also called:
Recognizing the positive change is considered encouragement. Celebrating the success & accomplishment is positive reinforcement & positive encouragement for more personal growth... keep it flowing!
It feels so good to realize that something good is happening inside or worn down, beaten,
bruised & battered selves. It's so empowering & freeing.
Feel proud of yourself. Recognize that you're deserving of approval & praise. You're making progress, slow but steady progress. This type of progress is actually what you want!
You don't want that "quick fix" kind of progress that suddenly disappears with any small disappointment! You want the slow, strengthening flow of long lasting positive change, just like you've recognized recently within yourself!
Ponder these feelings & emotions. Think about each one of them. Separate them, join them &
reflect upon their associations with each other. This is what recovery from negative life influences is about. It's slow & steady wins the race! You go, you tortoise, do what you know how to do!!!!
speak of it?
by Kathleen Howe
What will happen to me if I dare to ask these simple & yet very complicated
What about the abandonment of the countless parents through the legal systems of the United States of America who are wrongly accused,
blamed & labeled an unfit parent by abusive, angry spouses in ungy child custody battles?
What about the children who think their parent has abandoned them, when in fact, the parent the court has given custody to, was to blame for the lies, deceit & false representation given to the courts that led to the mental disintegration of the parent left suddenly
What about the abandonment of a court system that states that the childless parent must pay child support to the parent with custody,
when in fact, the money isn't needed?
How can that childless parent pay that adjudged support when in most cases
that parent has been left so mentally damaged, that any attempts at holding a job are fruitless?
What about the child who feels abandoned by the mentally ill parent believing their entire life thereafter that it's a choice by the parent who is otherwise mentally ill, mentally incapacitated
or forced to put distance between them just to survive each moment of each day?
importantly, where is the truth that has been abandoned in any of these situations? It is swept under a very thick carpet, because the injured parent will never
speak of the evil & contempt that caused the parental alienation, separation & cause the child, even after grown to adult age, any more pain, suffering or heartache.
Those of you who feel abandoned by a parent, just continue to remember over & over
again in your head, the abandonment had nothing to do with you. The abandonment wasn't your fault.
Any parent would hate to be separated from their child(ren). It's the evil within man that forces a parent to be separated from their
child(ren). It's the evil within our system that allows it to happen. Believe me. It had nothing to do with you. It all has to do with power & control.
There's so much that goes unsaid in these situations. There are people
who've been forced into situations they never dreamed they'd find themselves in.
There are parents who love their children so much that they feel it would be better to have a distance between them than to stay close. The child experiencing hurt, pain & confusion when parents take custody of children thru a custody fight in court is irrepairable sometimes. And
the excluded parent who stays close by & involved with the child experiences so much heartache & pain that they can't bear it.
I know that it was so difficult to just see my son after relinquishing
custody of him to his father & my ex-best friend. I wouldn't be able to stop crying. I'd be triggered into an anxiety attack. I couldn't talk. It was the most painful thing I've ever endured & time hasn't healed any of it.
He's grown now. He has so many misconceptions & lies about what happened
in his head. I believe he thinks I abandoned him. I never did. I had to move away or his father would
have caused him so much more pain. When my son was of age, 16, he told his father that he wanted to come live with me &
his father told him, "If you go live with your mother, I will never talk to you or see you again." What choice did that give
so close. The pain of abandonment goes 2 ways. Sometimes the parent who leaves a child in
this situation or other situations where the parent feels forced to leave, suffers from:
Socially sometimes they isolate themselves from everyone. It's a very painful & personal situation.
I'm not sure what else I can say to those who feel abandoned by a parent. Keep trying to re-establish a relationship
if you know where that parent is after you're grown. Maybe your parent will be able to overcome the extreme hurt & establish a good relationship with you, maybe not. Be prepared either way, but the most important thing
I'm trying to say is, "It's not your fault." And, there's probably so much more to your story than
you know.... & your parent who's left you is probably devastated as well.
Abandoned by sanity, victimized by ignorance
By MARY JO MELONE,
Times Columnist © St. Petersburg Times, published March 17, 2002
The question is simple. The question is simple. When will we understand that mental illness is a condition, not a crime?
If we understood it, we'd know that Andrea Yates is 1 of 2 million Americans suffering
from schizophrenia. That's nearly 1% of the population.
We'd know that schizophrenia is a brain disorder in which a sufferer endures hallucinations
& hears voices, loses the ability to express thoughts in an orderly way, descends into deep depression & feels disconnected not just from the world, but his own body.
We'd know that the illness can be controlled, but rarely cured.
We'd know that in the despair brought on by this suffering, it's far more likely for a schizophrenic to kill himself than anyone else.
Yates, the Houston woman who killed her 5 children, once took an overdose of her mother's
pills. She later said she "didn't want to die but wanted the misery to go away."
On another occasion, her husband caught her w/a knife poised at her own neck. "I had a feeling I'd hurt somebody," she said, " & I thought it better to end my life & prevent it."
Embedded in those words is the clear implication that she knew it would be wrong to hurt another person, at least in that moment.
But her rationality flickered on & off, like a bulb in a lamp with a loose connection.
According to the National Institute for Mental Health, the risk that a schizophrenic will hurt another person
increases when he or she's in the grips of psychotic symptoms, seeing hallucinations & hearing voices, as Yates was.
The risk also grows when the schizophrenic is off her medication, as Yates was, at a doctor's orders.
Then somebody like Andrea Yates is propelled by uncontrollable forces that overwhelm reason & sense. Right after she was arrested last June 20, she told an investigator that her 5 children had to die so
that she would be punished for being a bad mother.
No sane person would have uttered those words.
The guilty verdict was
the wrong verdict, but couldn't be helped:
Our ignorance gets in the way. We don't understand mental illness, we're afraid of it, & we cling to the idea that a woman
like Yates, who saw Satan everywhere, was nevertheless responsible for herself.
Andrea Yates had been treated for her illness for 3 years before she killed her children.
She was in & out of hospitals. She was on & off anti-psychotic drugs.
Sometimes treatment worked. Sometimes it didn't.
Sometimes she told her husband & her doctors what she was thinking, what she was feeling.
Sometimes she threw up a wall of silence. She wouldn't speak, eat, bathe.
At other times, she was an avid swimmer, she had friends, she was a proud & enthusiastic homeschooler
of her children, she was devoted to her husband. But always she kept secret the terrifying thoughts that had rattled in her head from the birth of her children onward, across the years.
This wasn't duplicity at work. It was a doomed attempt to fake her way to normalcy, in the desperate hope that the voices & the images would just go away on their own & she'd be all right again.
Having found her sane &
guilty, the jury on Friday made the only humane decision possible, to put
her in prison for life.
This is almost certainly too much to expect, so I'll express this as a wish:
We should use this case as a window into the world of the severely
mentally ill & learn from it. We should learn that Yates, though a murderer, is a victim of her disease, not a cunning
doer of evil. Let's look upon her w/mercy. If this tragic woman isn't worthy of it, nobody
Unresolved abandonment the
source of our insecurities, addictions, compulsions & distress.
Unresolved abandonment: the
insidious virus invading body mind & soul, the culprit for the anxiety we're forever trying to self-medicate with:
Unresolved abandonment: the roadblock to reaching our potential, the invisible wound that drains
self esteem from within,
the hidden trap that keeps us stuck in patterns of self-sabotage.
Unresolved abandonment: the chronic
insecurity that becomes the scourge of human relationship.
Unresolved abandonment: the internal barrier to fully connecting to others. Fear short-circuits
our attempts to find love, we struggle to find & keep relationships. We become abandoholics.
Unresolved abandonment: the elusive
grief so many seek therapy for & can't seem to overcome, an undifferentiated emptiness often misdiagnosed
as depression & inappropriately
its stress & agitation are persistent enough to create chemical imbalances that do, in fact,
respond to drug therapy.
Unresolved abandonment: simplistic methods like 'positive thinking' or just going to therapy don't deter it. Programs like Co-dependency, Alanon & Adult Child have attempted to assuage the erosion of energy & self worth caused by unresolved abandonment.
for all of their positive 'affirmations', they haven't been able to address the system of drainage that lies
Alcoholics Anonymous, Alanon & Over-eaters Anonymous, etc. have been extremely effective in dealing w/ the addictive & co-addictive problems secondary to abandonment, but are
unable to go beyond the symptoms & treat the underlying abandonment wound itself.
Self-help books have tended to have a placebo effect. They offer reasonable
enough sounding advice, like "Find happiness from within."
But these truisms are easier said than done. Many abandonees feel
inadequate when they try
to perform them & aren't able to "Just let go" & "Move forward."
: people continue searching for one more tape,
one more lecture, one more book that will finally free them. But all of the self-medicating & soothing words in the world will not eradicate the distress, disturbance & dysfunction caused by unresolved abandonment. For that you must go beyond insight. You must take action.
Abandonment survivors need more than symptom management
& feel-good relief. They need an approach that facilitates not the illusion of change, but real change.
This can only happen when you realize that the magic bullet isn't in any book or program. It's within you. It's
your ability to integrate awareness with action. AKeRU program & BLACK SWAN's Twelve Lessons of Abandonment Recovery are action-oriented
programs which complement each other. Each is designed to help you get to the taproot of abandonment,
access its energy & heal from the inside out. Abandonment Recovery resources are available thru the HELP CENTER.
when we experience unresolved feelings & emotions in our lives, there always lies the possibility of extreme anxiety or nervousness revolving around those powerful overbearing feelings, (in this case: the fear of abandonment) to interrupt the normal flow of your life.
if you're experiencing continual & extreme distress over fear of abandonment in your relationships, you may want to consider seeking
an evaluation from a mental health professional.
Therapy can help the fearful person overcome these difficulties with the "feeling of abandonment."
It's very important for those fearing abandonment to deal with the problem, so that he/she can enjoy a healthy social
(it's important that once you have identified an unresolved emotion or feeling that you begin "to act" upon the resolution of it immediately)
When one of the partners in a relationship is plagued by fear of abandonment, the relationship can't achieve its potential.
That's because the person who's afraid can't give his/her
partner the trust that's critical to a healthy
i.e., if a man is afraid that his wife may leave him, he may bend over backwards to please her. This prevents the 2 of them from learning the crucial
art of "negotiation
& compromise." At the same time the man gradually loses his individuality.
Or, he might try to hold onto his wife too tightly, by monitoring her phone calls, following
her & becoming jealous of her friendships w/others.
She, may feel so threatened by his paranoia, or so upset at his lack of trust, that she does exactly what he fears & leaves him! At times, a person who fears abandonment will go to a perverse extreme of trying to control his spouse's actions & thoughts thru intimidation, threats or violence.
(intimidation, threats & violence should never be a part of any intimate relationship)
You deserve credit for understanding enough about yourself to recognize that you're afraid of "negotiation & compromise." At the same time the man gradually
loses his individuality.
Or, he might try to hold onto his wife too tightly, by monitoring her phone calls, following
her & becoming jealous of her friendships with others.
She, may feel so threatened by his paranoia, or so upset at his lack of trust, that she does exactly what he fears & leaves him! At times, a person who fears abandonment will go to a perverse extreme of trying to control his spouse's actions & thoughts thru intimidation, threats or violence.
It'll take time & effort for you to understand the "root of your fear" & to learn how to move beyond
it. We hope that you have the courage to take the next step of working to eliminate that fear.
When unresolved feelings & emotions escalate allowing extreme fears, unresolved feelings & emotions & anxieties to escalate can be a factor in precipitating a mental disorder.....
Borderline Personality Disorder
(This excerpt from Intelihealth's website shows how the
fear of abandonment can be a major factor in some mental
illnesses. click the link above to read the entire article at intelihealth.com)
"These people, (those with escalated fears developed into a disorder) are
described as having a deep fear of abandonment."
It's more difficult for them to manage the normal ups & downs of a romantic partnership.
Impulsive, self-destructive behavior may be an attempt to ward off rising anxiety related to the fear of being left alone."
if you dream about
Abandonment Dreams To dream that you've been abandoned, suggests that it's time to leave behind past feelings & characteristics that are hindering your own growth.
Let go of
your old attitudes. A more direct & literal interpretation of this dream is that
you have a fear of being
abandoned or even betrayed.
you feel that people are neglecting your feelings?
Dreaming that you're abandoned may stem from a recent loss or a fear of losing
a loved one. The fear of abandonment may manifest itself into your dream &
is part of the healing process of dealing w/losing a loved one.
may also stem from unresolved feelings or problems from childhood.
To abandon others
in your dream, suggests that you're overwhelmed by the problems & decisions in your life.
facing the fear of being
He's afraid that she'll stop dating him. What's the psychology behind
this fear & how can
he fix it?
I like the woman I'm dating so much & I fear she'll
leave me. What's your answer, please?
You didn't give us too many details to work with!
Most people who're in a good courtship aren't preoccupied with a fear that the other
person will leave them.
Fearing abandonment doesn't
mean that there's something seriously wrong with you. If you experienced a loss early in life & haven't yet moved beyond the emotions that resulted from the loss.
i.e., we find that a number of men & women
who lose a parent when they're young are afraid that someone
else they love will die or leave
Adults whose parents divorced when they were children may have similar fears. We can't say
why some people who experienced these unfortunate circumstances enjoy adult relationships without fearing abandonment & why others are preoccupied
Therapy can help the fearful person overcome
Upsetting if even in the more recent past may cause a person to be overly anxious. i.e., if you recently experienced a loss or another traumatic event,
you may be overly concerned about your current courtship.
If this has happened you have probably not fully mourned your recent loss. The grieving process is
universal; people have to move thru the stages of: denial.
In the first hours or days after the loss, you may feel shocked, numb & confused. You may not
remember what people are saying to you. You may feel dazed & as though you're
going thru things like a robot. You may think & act as though the loss hasn't occurred. This is called denial.
anger: As your
shock wears off, reality will slowly break thru. You'll begin to realize that the loss has happened. It's normal to feel abandoned & angry. You may
feel angry at God, religion, doctors & nurses, the one who died, other loved ones, or even
After you get thru some of the anger & denial, it's normal to try to pretend things are like they used to be. If
someone you love has died, you
may play memories over & over in your mind. You may also feel the presence of your loved one, think you see him or her, or think you hear his or her voice.
You may also find yourself talking to your loved one as though he or she were in the room with you. As
you begin to realize that your loved one is gone & you can't bring him or her back, you'll begin to feel the full effect
of your loss. These feelings may be scary because they're so strange & so strong. They may make you feel like you're losing control.
When you begin to realize the full impact of the loss on your life, you may feel depressed & hopeless. You may also
feel guilty. You may find
yourself thinking things like "if only" or "why me." You may cry for no apparent reason. This is the most painful stage of healing, but it
won't last forever. In normal grief, the depression will begin to lift with time.
acceptance before they can move forward emotionally
We suggest that you read a book on the grieving process (or click the word "grieving" to go to the grief page) & perform the exercises. If you continue
to have trouble, you may need to consult with a professional therapist.
It's very important for someone who fears abandonment to deal w/the problem, to enjoy a healthy
social life. When one of the partners in a relationship is plagued by a fear of abandonment, the relationship can't achieve its potential.
That's because a person who is
afraid can't give a
partner the trust so critical in a healthy relationship.
i.e., if a man is afraid that his wife
may leave him, he may bend over backwards to please her. This prevents the 2 of them from learning the crucial art of negotiation
& compromise & at the same time the man gradually loses his individuality.
Or, the man might try to hold
on to his wife too tightly, by monitoring her phone calls, following her & becoming or appearing jealous (but may really be insecure & fearful) of her friendships with others.
She may begin to feel so threatened by his paranoia, or so upset at his lack of trust that she does exactly what he fears & leaves him!
People who fear abandonment may go to a perverse extreme of trying to control the spouse's actions & thoughts with the use of intimidation, threats or violence.
You deserve credit for understanding enough about yourself to recognize that you're afraid of abandonment. Many people who're much older & wiser than you destroy one potential relationship after another without understanding how this fear has prevented them from having a healthy, stable marriage.
It'll take time & effort for you to understand the root of your fear & to learn how to move beyond it. We hope that you have the courage to take the next
step of working to eliminate that fear to obtain a rewarding marriage or relationship.
I realize now that I felt insecure & unsure
because I was afraid of being abandoned by those I loved." could this be you?
Most of us experience feeling abandoned at a time in our lives. At the root of this feeling is the suffering from our past that holds our precious life-force energy in abeyance, making it unavailable to us. We feel fatigued, mildly depressed, confused & afraid to make a
We're stalled in picking up the threads of our life paths. Bringing ourselves fully
into our present lives & living with authentic power comes from taking
back our need to have someone else take care of us, be responsible for us & tend to our wants.
As children, we needed parents to play this role & many times they let us down & perhaps even brutalized us emotionally & physically.
We carry this lack of trust as cellular memories in the tissues of our bodies.
A previous partnership, friendship
or close working relationship can also leave us fractured & afraid to
love again. Eventually
we realize that our perspective & not the actual situation, is what has made us hurt so deeply, though the situation may have been extremely painful.
Two people can have the same experience, after which one feels depleted & undone
for life while the other is able to move on. Our way of evaluating a situation is based largely on how much we trust ourselves & are in communication with our authentic natures,
our spiritual selves.
It's this aspect of ourselves that allows us to experience greater resiliency, self-nurturing & forgiveness of the events
that have hurt us. We forget that we have powerful spiritual resources to draw on.
Our lapse of memory is like having a lottery ticket in our pocket & going hungry because we've forgotten that we
hid the ticket in a safe place. We also possess a genuine sense of inner authority & compassion for ourselves, an understanding of what we need, & the qualities that can heal our pain rather than re-stimulate it.
Relationship With Self
My relationship with the hardest person to have a loving relationship with.
Oh ... the ideal relationship. To have a friend, a partner, a lover, who thinks you're beautiful always & in all ways. Someone to walk w/hand in hand, to talk to for hours. Someone you
can disagree to disagree with without a shouting match. Someone who sees you at your worst & still loves you.
Someone to enjoy a good meal with, a good movie, who shares things that interest you & you share things with him
that interests him. Someone who tells you you're beautiful enough times that you believe it.
Someone who allows you space to be free … to be yourself. Someone to snuggle with & whose arms are made for hugging.
This is the ideal relationship outside of ourselves. But what about the relationship with ourselves? Recently, during an exploration of my feelings of abandonment, I found that it was I who had abandoned me … not someone out there.
My body told me that I had abandoned it ... that it felt unloved.
My baby ego told me it was feeling abandoned because I was letting it go. I reassured
it that even though I didn't need it any more, didn't need it to protect me, that I still would love it.
As children & teenagers, in most cases, it's indoctrinated into our being that we're not worthy. We're told, in most cases by the media & in a lot of cases by our parents, friends & siblings, that
we're too short, too tall, too thin, too fat. Our hair is too curly, too straight. We didn't have just the right form at all.
And form was very important.
I spent many years in a girl's school as a child where it was inappropriate to run up stairs. That was the only way I
knew to get up the stairs, being a jubilant & energetic child. Because I laughed out loud & giggled, I was no lady.
I'm still no lady although I can put on the lady mask & fool anybody … w/the giggling little girl just below the
surface. There's nothing I enjoy quite as much as a giggle or a good belly laugh.
We laugh way too little these days, life has become too serious. Why? Have we bought into the notion that life is serious
& we don't measure up to the ideal of what we should be, so we have to be seriously trying to fit the mold?
And as well as the giggling little girl, we have the fearful one under the surface also. Well I know that's what happened to me. I forgot to have a good relationship with
me. I abandoned myself in the search for the perfect ideal of me. There was little about me that was worthy of having a relationship with.
Playing the game didn't make me happy. Being the good student, the good wife, the good mother, being of service to others, trying to change the way things were in my community.
Oh yes, there was a certain amount of self satisfaction. There was a lot of love & happiness with my children. But there was no ME. I wasn't a good enough mother, a good enough wife, a good enough at anything … always striving to be perfect ... or at least my idea of perfect.
A few years ago I left my marriage. I moved to get away from negative influences in my life. I spent my year by the sea (literally
living 20 feet from the water). I learned that it
was good to be with me. I spent many hours contemplating
on the rocks ... talking to the seals. They're good listeners. It was a haven for a well worn soul. A place to heal. I read, I took a
course with the Beloved Community led by Jimmy Twyman, I wrote in my journal. I healed.
in the spring I knew it was time to move on. To move away from this place. So I sold a lot, gave all the silver, etc. to the
children who are now men & moved.
you ... I took my comfort things … the things that make my space a home w/me. But I moved. And in trying to establish a relationship with a new person
in my life, found the first person I had to establish a relationship with was ME.
still working on this. I've done a lot of healing of old sores & scars, but it's good to know as each one comes up & is healed … I'm
moving ahead. I'm not stuck.
realized I'm the only person I can depend on. I'm the only solution to my problems. No one else can make me happy or whole. No matter what I'm the one that will always be here. Spirit has told me that I'm always in His/Her presence. Just
because I sometimes feel invisible doesn't mean I am. We are one.
things I just typed were easy to type (except I couldn't
just get that coma to go after "no matter what"), they're easy to
say. But I have to tell you that they're not easy to trust in my soul.
do I have a rewarding relationship with myself?
of the old fallacies was that I wasn't worthy. Well I'm here to tell you I AM worthy. I'm worthy of every good thing that comes my way ... & I don't deserve anything that isn't good in my life & it's up to me to
make those choices.
something comes my way ... it's up to me to decide if it's good or bad & sometimes in the moment it might appear to be bad when in actuality it's just an experience from which I can learn.
I feel someone has caused me pain, it's up to me to either stay w/ the pain or choose to move to a place of peace. This isn't easy for me ... because in the instant ... in the moment … I react.
at least, I do recognize now what's happening & can then change direction. The ideal place to be isn't to react. Sure wish I knew how to get there.
something comes my way ... it's up to me to decide if it's good or bad & sometimes in the moment it might appear to be bad when in actuality it's just an experience from which I can learn.
I feel someone has caused me pain, it's up to me to either stay w/ the pain or choose to move to a place of peace. This isn't easy for me ... because in the instant ... in the moment … I react.
at least, I do recognize now what's happening & can then change direction. The ideal place to be isn't to react. Sure wish I knew how to get there.
other thing is I'm very vocal & so when I react, everyone knows. When maybe other people not being so vocal, react quietly
& then change directions. Hmmm. Light bulb moment?
the lesson is not to be so vocal …hmmmm.
there I go again ... trying to fit into the mold created by others that I shouldn't react in such & such a way. To be
true to myself & the relationship to myself for myself & my own well being is to come to a place where I don't react
... lowered blood pressure & healthier heart.
in having a good relationship w/me, is being kind to me. Not telling myself I'm too fat, too tall. Not condemning myself because
I have arthritis & find it hard to walk sometimes.
Accepting my age. Last summer, I spent a couple of months at an old farm house back in the woods. A friend had told me to dance in the rain.
It didn't seem appropriate to do this when folks were around but … when I was alone … the first time I ventured out. I wore a T-shirt & undies afraid a stray bear might come along … gradually I slipped out of the cumbersome clothing & felt the cool rain wash over
my body. Feeling for the first time … my body
… it was beautiful.
time to glorify in the years I've been here & the wisdom I've obtained. Knowing I am beautiful & perfect in the eyes of my creator. And really, who else do I have to please except myself & God?
I don't have to please God ... because He'll never forsake me ... He loves me as I am. We are one. It's good to be at the age where I am free to be ... to go ... to do whatever I want.
age is a good time to glorify ourselves. Any age is a good
time to start a relationship with ourselves. To give up the notion that to take care of oneself is selfish … So What??
age is a good time to start taking time to be with self, even if it starts with just a few minutes of quiet time between the time the children leave for school & you open the
door to leave.
take a deep breath … stop … then open the door. The elevator ride up … close your eyes … go within
for a moment … say hello to self & give yourself the gift of a wonderful day.
I've adopted from Bette Midler a new mantra. I'm
BEAUTIFUL, DAMN IT. And everytime I say it … I swing the hips.
you for allowing me to share these thoughts with you & in that affirming myself. I AM that I AM.
In Peace & Divine Love, Amber
Feeling Abandoned by God?
In the never ending scheme of things, my life experiences once again
bring me to yet another source of abandonment... "feeling abandoned by God."
For those who've put their hardened faith into the Lord, only to continually be scathed in further hardship, tested beyond your limits, branded by the irons of further emotional pain, humiliations, intimidations & loss; I'm with you on how it feels.
When you're at the end of your rope, you're wondering how God could
allow this to happen to you. You lay in bed, bent in fetal position, rocking yourself unknowingly thru the enormous waves
of pain, coursing thru every inch of your body, your heart shattered into a million pieces, your mind racing in a blur of
your most dreaded fears coming true.
Your faith in God is beginning to wane.... you're numb, you're feeling very abandoned by God.... I've been there.
I think that some people feel like this when something horrible
happens to one of their children... some when they experience some other kind of horrible unspeakable loss, or even experience
an injury that is disabling or an illness that is life threatening.... The Lord tries us all on some level, I believe, to test our faith... but perhaps it's all for an even bigger reason. Perhaps
it's the ultimate lesson for us to learn, after all, so we can begin to live our lives as he intended us to live instead of how we, the fallen man, believe we should live our lives.
My husband had left me to be with the only person I could consider
my best friend, since my best friend had recently abandoned me as well.... sounds like the world crashing doesn't
it? But that's what happens when people have marriage problems, no one wants to be around them.
I had sent my two older girls to Florida from Michigan to live with
their father & step mother because the first time my husband had left me, he left me without giving me any money. He left
me to pay all the bills with three children to take care of as well. He left me to go live with some teenage neubie cop, (I think I've mentioned I had been married to a police officer
before.) He had started dating other women. My life was
breaking into a million pieces. I was depressed. My job was falling apart. I had been trying to take Prozac, but it made me
feel too agitated.
I was alone with my young son, we got a new apartment, which was right
next door to the woman who became my new best friend. We got along famously, when all of a sudden my husband wanted to come
back and give our marriage another try. This was so surprising. I was so gullible. I let him move in. Within five weeks time,
I had come home early one day to find them having sex in my bed, my new best friend & my husband. She told me, "I've stolen
your husband, and now I'm going to steal your son."
morning, I was listening to Madonna on the radio, (this is in the 80's) it was her soundtrack cd for the movie, Dick Tracy as I cleaned up the apartment.
Someone knocked at my door &
I danced my way over to the front door to see who it was. As I opened the door, the very kind, friendly face began to appear,
of an elderly gentleman. He asked me if I had a few minutes to talk about God. My heart leapt in one huge giant leap, perhaps
the Lord had felt my pain, perhaps he was sending me the help I had so desperately prayed for!!!
at the old gentleman square in the eye & said, "Do
you like coffee?" as I grabbed his arm to pull him into my apartment.
apparent that he wasn't used to this kind of reception.
I'd been longing to talk to someone about my situation. I had been talking out loud to God for weeks.
You see, I was so naive, I had never heard of social services - welfare...imagine that. I had never know there were agencies that could
help you. I had never heard of domestic violence shelters. I'd never known much about resources for help within any religious
communities or spiritual communities.
I had been
very sheltered & knew nothing about some subjects.
My mother & father had always supported me in a very comfortable lifestyle, as well as my previous husband, after being
taunted about supporting me "in the manner
in which I had been accustomed to" by my mother.
about God for hours. He invited me to his church. I went
the next morning. I began going to church every Sunday. My life was falling apart. My mind was totally boggled.
I was & had been experiencing a very severe depression, as well as other anxiety disorders because of the verbal & emotional abuse I had been experiencing with this husband, the police officer. He had even thrown me out of the house one night,
naked, in front of the children. He had hit me, giving me a black eye, he had abandoned me making sure not to make him commit to child support
because that was the LAST thing he wanted to do, was pay me money after he had been secretly hoarding it in a hidden bank
account for months previous.
I had seen the end result of someone feeling abandoned by God already in my lifetime. My father had quit going
to church in my early teen years because when his parents needed the help of the church, they were denied, when the great flood hit Corning, New York in the 70's. They had lost their lifetime home to that flood. There
were Episcopalians then. Their entire life had been service to that church. They had faithfully tithed, as well as contributing further when possible.
But when they needed help from the church, the church didn't help them for whatever reason. My father had been hurt deeply & had become revengeful whenever someone spoke of the church. He simply quit going to church to spite the Lord.
Then there I was, living next door
to my husband who had chosen to be with my best friend - it was such close quarters, that we shared a wall with each other.... She had sworn to steal my son from me as she had already stolen
I was falling apart. The Lord was hearing me, or so I
thought, by sending this messenger of God to my front door. So I began going to church. It was a Baptist Church. I had
to move out of that apartment because I was close to a breakdown. I certainly couldn't work consistently feeling the way I
did. I moved in with a married couple I knew, and their two children. I had my son with me. My husband wasn't giving me any
money. He refused.
quit his job as a police officer because he refused to
pay child support. Besides that, his new girlfriend, (my ex best friend) had told him his life was worth
more than $13.00 per hour. He went to work for her at her personal pool business, so she could control him, thus manufacture
his lack of income, or was it the minimum wage he earned in those days?
Problems continued for me. I had
to leave that house as well. Things never work out in those situations. So many husbands start making those eyes with the
soon to be divorced woman in the house, & the wife never believes her when she tells her.... it's such a messed up world sometimes.
I ended up getting my own apartment with my son.
We found a Baptist church that we could walk to. (My car had been repossessed.) It was a fundamental
Baptist Church. We lived on the west side of Grand Rapids, Michigan. It was a nice neighborhood. Our landlords lived downstairs,
an elderly couple. We could walk to the grocery store, the church, a few fast food places to eat & the laundry. Soon I
bought a bike & attached a milk crate to the back of it to carry essentials in. My son & I went everywhere by bike.
We sang together as we traveled. If the weather was bad, I had to wash our clothes in the bath tub. But it was okay.
to that fundamental Baptist church for a few weeks, the
preacher asked me to visit him in his office. He wanted to know about me. He was interrogating me actually, but I was too
naive to know what he was doing. He told me of the rules of the church. He told me that I hadn't been properly baptized
if I'd only been sprinkled as a baby in the Episcopal church. He told me that I would have to "submit" myself to baptism by
water, "getting dunked" & that I'd have to attend church several days a week & of course, I would have to tithe 10%
of my income.
What this preacher was actually doing
was interrogating me to find out my weaknesses so he could play on them. Caution to all of you that find yourselves in the same situations.... it's a very subtle way of brain washing that
these preachers begin to work on you.... before you know it... you're worshipping the preacher instead of God. Before you
know it, your preacher will tell you to get your son's haircut & throw you a five dollar bill, just in case you don't
have it.... whether your son needs a haircut or not.
you know it, you're going to church almost 7 days
a week & twice on Sundays.
Before you know it, the preacher
wants to know whose car was at your house last Friday afternoon at exactly 3 o'clock because no one in the congregation
has a car like the one he saw.
you know it, your child is going to the church's very
own private school, "for free."
Before you know it - you're
a "widow," even though you're really divorced & pregnant without a husband.
you disobey the preacher, he calls your ex-husband during
your custody battle & offers to testify for your husband.... I had felt abandoned by God at this point....
I think that preacher felt abandoned by God as well when his congregation caught him forcing
the "widows" of the congregation to have sex with him.....
For 2 years
I'd lived very frugally. I babysat some kids from the
church for income. We weren't allowed to wear pants. We weren't allowed to wear make up. We went to church almost every day.
We only associated with other church members. If I had five dollars in my pocket when I went to church I would put it in the
offering, although I didn't make but about $150.00 a week, I gave faithfully every day of the week that I went to church.
I even watched disabled kids for
a woman in the church who took in disabled foster kids. She needed some respite care, so I took them. They were very difficult to handle & they scared my son to death because
they were teenage boys who would get very physical with me sometimes.
tracting, visiting people, house by house asking them
to come to our church. I loved it. We didn't have a television. We didn't have a phone. We didn't have a car. But when my mother insisted that
I was being totally isolated, I just couldn't see it. When she said I might be going to a "cult" church, I questioned my preacher, who had
me announce to the whole congregation what my mother had said to me.
smiled, because each of them had family members who were
concerned about them as well. The preacher asked the congregation, "Is this a cult?" & everyone in the congregation
smiled as they obediently chanted, "noooooo."
that way was honestly very nice. I loved it. I didn't have many worries. I read the bible, loved the Lord, spent so much time with my son. We loved each other. We had so many friends in the church. I cooked breakfast for the Saturday morning men's prayer
meeting. They loved my cooking, but prayerfully thanked the Lord for the blessings. My son & I sang songs while we walked all
over the place, like, "Victory in Jesus!" I became a waitress & would sing that very song thru out my shift, keeping my
mind in positive & holy things. I ended up being what I thought was, "abandoned by God" & betrayed by the preacher.
I caution all of you out there that are being misguided by some religious
sect that may actually be a "cult." It's dangerous. It's subtle. It feels really good to be living, "in love" with life & the Lord, but there's a difference. Be careful who your "Lord" actually is. I can come back to bite you - you know where!
I ended up being forced to concede in the custody fight over my son
when the preacher joined in with my ex husband (my 1st husband helping my 2nd husband)
to help my ex best friend & recent ex husband to win the fight, so he wouldn't have to pay me child support. Talk about
the ultimate betrayal. (On the other hand, this is what some people would think was my "just rewards" because
of the marital history & situation I was in.)
I'd gotten involved throughout this whole mess with another abusive man... no wonder. (watch out
those who have been in abusive relationships, when you get involved again in the future, it will most likely be
with another abuser! seek counseling before getting into another relationship!) I'd gotten pregnant. I ended up marrying this guy. After I lost my son in the custody battle.
I was brain dead at that point. We only lived with each other a few months & I found myself in the first domestic violence
shelter that I'd been to.
For almost a year I ended up bouncing
all over the state of Michigan because this husband was following me around, trying to get me. He was hanging around with
the low lifers of each town to find out where the domestic violence shelters were. He would find me no matter
ended up on the other side of the state, in the same
town my brother lived in, I went to visit the preacher of a Baptist church there. It looked like I might settle down in that town
because my brother lived there. The preacher told me that I wasn't walking with God because I wasn't trying to work it out
with my husband thru pastoral counseling. .... Geez o pete...
Was I being abandoned by God again, feeling damned if I did & damned if I
didn't protect myself.
work out in the end....
I've had more
experiences with other religions since this horrible situation.... & what I've found out is that I wasn't being abandoned by God....
I was being abandoned by
man. God has always been with me, watching over my children when I couldn't be with them. God has always been by my side as
he is now, although I'm not attending any particular church. God is everywhere... God is in my heart, with every decision
I make in my life. I wish I'd been able to understand that before, man just got in the way....
so don't feel abandoned by God, recognize when man is trying to take his place instead!
you can do this by becoming open to everything around you or becoming aware enough to accept the insights you may have!
a strange thing happens when you do this, (above)...
it takes away from the time you spend in negative energy! (being fearful, anxious, or depressed!)
He ended up being thrown out of the church. One of the
women in the congregation who was also divorced, whom he had also told the congregation was "widowed," so that they felt
the need to take care of her like the bible says to do.... well he forced this woman to have sex with him. He was a married man with 3 sons &
a daughter. He was a laughing stock. He was really just an imposter. But it happened all a little too late to help me. My
relationship with him was just the beginning of his fall. The Lord took care of him in his own way. That's all you can ask for!
At least the west side of Grand Rapids, Michigan is a bit safer without him.
How Do You Abandon Yourself?
How often do
you feel sad, alone & empty inside?
How often do you feel anxious, depressed, hopeless, angry or hurt?
These are the feelings we experience when we've abandoned
ourselves in some way. Discover how you abandon yourself & what to do about it.
There are many ways of abandoning
ourselves. We abandon ourselves when we:
- Don't notice or give comfort to our core - "Self" feelings of loneliness, helplessness over others, sorrow, or grief.
- Don't attend to our fear over real & present danger & take loving action in our own behalf.
- Don't advocate for ourselves in the face
of others' angry, blaming, invasive or disrespectful behavior toward us.
- Allow our wounded self to tell us lies about ourselves & others that cause our fear, anxiety, depression, guilt, shame, hurt, anger, jealousy & envy. We then continue to abandon
ourselves when we judge ourselves for these feelings & the resulting protective behavior rather than move into compassion & an intent to learn.
- Expect others to take care of our feelings & needs rather than take full responsibility for our own feelings & needs, as well as blame others when they don't take care of us in the ways we want.
- Make others' feelings & needs more important than our own & take care of others' feelings & needs while ignoring our own.
- Numb ourselves out with food, alcohol, drugs, TV, overwork & so on, rather than attend to our feelings.
- Emotionally withdraw by staying
in our heads or spacing out from our own inner experience rather than stay in our body & attend to our feelings.
The pain of divorce
When the love we had hoped & expected would last forever fails, our world falls apart.
Unless you've already found
another lover, divorce is a very painful experience. The hardest divorces are when you're being rejected by your partner, you thought the marriage was okay & your parents & friends disapprove of the divorce (Thompson & Spanier, 1983).
Very few divorcees end up having a wonderful, creative growth experience with lots of sex, although that's a common
fantasy. We lose our most important relationship (or had lost it
years before). It can crush us with depression (see chapter 6 for the stages
of divorce). It can flood us with anger.
It can overwhelm us with scary changes & decisions, new responsibilities, economic hardships, questions about "What do I want to do?" & on & on. The "leaver" or rejector is sometimes less stressed than the "leavee" but that isn't always true.
Baumeister & Wotman (1992) say many rejectors are profoundly guilty, in turmoil & feel helpless or embarrassed. The "leavee" isn't guilty but is hurt & shamed by failure & abandonment.
The marital conflicts may have lasted for months or years before the divorce & then emotional distress often lasts for months afterwards.
In fact, although people expect to feel better soon after the divorce, in some cases the worst time is about 1 year after the divorce. During the 1st year
after separating, 73% of the women & 60% of the men
think the divorce might have been a mistake (Hetherington, Cox & Cox, 1985).
Yet, 1/2 of the men & 2/3 of the women
said that overall they were "more content with life" 5 years after a divorce than they'd been before.
Supposedly, time heals all wounds, but the pain of divorce lasts & lasts. 10 years later 40 - 50% of women
& 30 - 40% of men remained very angry at the former spouse & felt rejected & exploited (Wallerstein, 1986).
Females over 40 have an especially hard time. They have less chance of remarrying
(28%), inadequate income (50%) & loneliness or clinical depression (50%).
After 10 years, in only 10% of divorces was life better for both partners,
in 27% of the cases both had a poorer quality of life & 63%
of the time one partner was better off but the other was unchanged or got worse.
In the latter situation, the upbeat spouse is more likely to be the woman (55%),
usually in her 20's or 30's. Some researchers have found that women more often report joy as they experience independence & new competencies (Riessman, 1990).
But for the majority of us, losing love inflicts deep & remarkably lasting wounds.
Divorced women, who get custody of the children, also suffer a 33% decline in their standard of living.
Men are considered "better off" (except
they frequently become responsible for another family). Only about 50% of divorced fathers
pay child support regularly; 25% pay some & 25% pay little or nothing at all.
Non-custodial parents (75% are men) are often depressed & anxious because they feel alienated from their children.
Of the 18 million poor children in this country, over 50% live in a single-parent home caused by divorce. The emotional & financial neglect of children is appalling (see
next section). This harsh reality underscores the necessity
for each parent to be prepared by him/herself to financially care for the children.
Attempting to cope with divorce
Cox (1979) & others have described several pitfalls for recently broken-up or divorced
- (1) Retreat back into a lonely state of self-pity & depression. The pain is so great that serious thoughts of suicide may occur.
If so, immediate professional help is necessary. For many the worst time is several months after the divorce.
It's important to stay socially active & seek out friends.