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Fear of Abandonment

PostPosted: Tue Oct 09, 2012 7:44 am
by highlandcow
Morning all, 

As some of you know, I've been having counselling recently. A lot of things have come to light in the process about the way my mind works, including suffering from fear of abandonment. 

I've mentioned this in another post but it needs to be here really. Basically, in 1995 my parents divorced and my Dad left. I still saw him regularly but my Mum tried everything she could to drive a wedge between us so as me and my brother "would be on her side". Eventually, this got too much and one evening she left me and my brother (at the ages of 9 and 7 respectively) in the house alone and drove off. We were alone, with not a clue of what to do. She returned an hour later and told us that she wanted to commit suicide. The sense of abandonment and responsibility for my 7 year old brother was terrifying. We had no clue, no one to call, she didn't even tell a neighbour or friend so we could  be looked after. We were just left. 

I buried this for years. Then earlier this year, a long term relationship ended in a very sudden way. These feelings have rudely clawed up to the surface again. I now have a new boyfriend but I'm left with whopping great issues and a bad dose of The Fear. If my new boyfriend gives me a compliment, I don't trust him. Why should I trust him, when the person I trusted most left me alone in the house because she wanted to die?

The counselling is helping in as much that it's nice to blather on about myself for an hour but I'm not getting any practical advise. I don't know how to deal with these feelings. 

How can I get through this? 

Re: Fear of Abandonment

PostPosted: Tue Oct 09, 2012 8:37 am
by mattmxl
I'm sure there's probably some medical or psychological term for it that I don't know of, but its along the lines of "place yourself in his shoes". When he compliments you, what personal gain does he stand to achieve (besides possibly making you a little bit happier)? What reason would he have to lie to you about such matters? You have the belief in yourself that what he is saying is not correct because "how can it be"? This is the bit that needs challenging.

By the sounds of it your mother had her issues, but the sheer diversity of humanity dictates that no two are identical. Some share the traits of others, but none are identical. I don't really know how well you know this guy as of yet but if you are constantly paranoid of him doing something that he might prove to be incapable of in the end, well, its a little bit of wasted time really.

If nothing else, you survived the last break-up which was out of the blue. Granted it was "bad times", but you're still upright and breathing. Thus proving that should this guy just up-sticks and disappear, you aren't going to crumble past the point of no return. Fear of abandonment can usually be cured by periods of time alone and of self sufficiency, "I don't need anyone else, I'm not scared if they abscond" etc.

Critical mistake would be to assume he's lying to you though, especially over compliments, which are hugely minor things in the grand scheme of things. He might actually be nice (apparently its possible). Dig up the incident when you were a kid, understand that you were a kid, understand that you're now an adult thus understand you are far better equipped to deal with similar situations and they should hold no fear for you.

highlandcow wrote:If my new boyfriend gives me a compliment, I don't trust him. Why should I trust him, when the person I trusted most left me alone in the house because she wanted to die?

Key point, put simply. He's not your sausage mother!

Re: Fear of Abandonment

PostPosted: Tue Oct 09, 2012 8:39 am
by mattmxl
Well it's nice to see the swear word filter is as functional, overzealous and flippant as can be expected, lol.

Re: Fear of Abandonment

PostPosted: Tue Oct 09, 2012 10:41 pm
by Happyandhopeful
I'm not sure if I can offer any advice here, but could you look at what your mother did in a different way.

I know leaving you both, a 9 & 7 year old on your own was wrong, and telling you that she wanted to commit suicide was wrong. She did however come back, so obviously her love for you both was stronger than her feelings of suicide and abandoning you. If that makes sense.

Unless you can tell us that there were further issues of this happening or you say she was forced to come back and it wasn't her decision to come back after that hour away.

Re: Fear of Abandonment

PostPosted: Fri Nov 09, 2012 9:47 pm
by highlandcow
Hello all

Thought I'd give an update on this. I'm still having counselling, and basically I feel like I'm going round in circles. I can understand where the fear comes from, I just have no idea how to deal with coping with the anxiety.

My boyfriend is lovely, he's sweet and kind, and I have told him about the story with my mum. He was incredibly sympathetic, even though I was convinced that he would be put off. I feel comfortable with him, when we're together, but when we're apart I start to worry about him changing his mind and the possibility that he'll just never get in contact again, or he'll come over and break it off with me. I don't worry about these things when we're together, I find myself wondering what I'm making a fuss about. It's when we're apart that I have problems. I just can't shut off these thoughts.

I'm driving myself crazy. I'm enjoying my relationship, I just want to enjoy without all these fears.

Re: Fear of Abandonment

PostPosted: Mon Nov 12, 2012 10:15 am
by rufio89
hey HLC.

I cant offer much advice but I just wanted to say - it'll take time. If you think about it, you're, what? 26? so this is more than 20 years of issues built up, it's not going to go away overnight. Yes, you've identified the root of the issue but that doesnt make it disappear, it just gives you somewhere to work from. The trouble with counselling is that theyre not qualified to give advice, they're only there to listen, and it sounds like you need someone to offer you some 'tools' with which to work.

Just try to remember that. You will work through your issues, but it will take time. Also remember that yes, these are issues that are worth working through, but they are also far from unique - I wouldnt be surprised to find that half the population has the same ones! (look at how many breakups and fights happen everyday!)

Give it time xx

Re: Fear of Abandonment

PostPosted: Mon Nov 12, 2012 4:10 pm
by Bel Bel
I gree with above you need cbt - cognitive bahaviour therapy. Unlike a counsellor they teach you tto help yourself and you can continue to use the techniques for other issues in your life too

Re: Fear of Abandonment

PostPosted: Mon Nov 12, 2012 8:10 pm
by highlandcow
Thanks ladies, I'll have to look into that.
I didn't know that counsellors can't give advice, I was getting quite frustrated that after we figured out what was wrong she wouldn't "help"'s difficult. But good to know I'm not alone.

Re: Fear of Abandonment

PostPosted: Mon Nov 12, 2012 10:25 pm
by snail
A counsellor's job is to help you work through things and find your own way, to clarify what you feel and understand yourself, rather than to tell you what's the best thing to do. The point is that you find that out for yourself. Otherwise you would simply become dependent on the counsellor to tell you things, so what would you do in the future when a new problem arises? You don't go to counselling for advice - you can get that anywhere (like here!). Yes, it can be very frustrating not getting any practical advice, because we're so used to that happening when we communicate problems to others, but over time that feeling passes, and you learn to savour experiencing understanding and empathy without having anyone suggest solutions, but to create them yourself. That's one reason counselling is not at all a quick fix.

One thing that has struck me though, is that it is a little worrying that you seem to have been encouraged to think of yourself as someone who has 'problems'. While I'm sure the incident with your mother affected you and made you more sensitive to these sorts of fears, overall to me you come across as normal and in fact more well-adjusted than most people. You suffered the break up of a long term relationship totally out of the blue, and you got over it very well and started a new relationship. Having recently been through that horrible experience, it was inevitable that you'll feel quite insecure this time round, at least for a while. And this new relationship is still very new. I think the fears you express are natural. I wouldn't worry so much about 'doing' anything with the anxiety for the moment - just try and live with it and see what happens. Trying to 'fix' problems or make them go away isn't helpful, if they are deep-rooted - they tend to just express themselves somewhere else.

Re: Fear of Abandonment

PostPosted: Tue Nov 13, 2012 9:48 am
by rufio89
I agree with Snail.

Re: Fear of Abandonment

PostPosted: Tue Nov 13, 2012 6:47 pm
by highlandcow
Thanks Snail, that was really helpful to read. :)