If you read part one of abandonment, you have a bit of an understanding of how abandonment feelings are created in your life. What this looks like in current life, as an adult, is different and varies for each person.Our personal hurts and pains, basically our lifetime struggles, follow us into intimate relationships. Fortunately, for those who feel disturbed by their past, there is a level of acceptance that there is NOT a clean slate when you grow up and fall in love. For those who are less connected to what hurts tend to believe that there is no connection to childhood personal woundings and the people they love in adulthood. Either way, the truth of abandonment is that there is NO clean slate for anyone. A disconnect will occur until there is a true and real appreciation and acceptance for where you have been and who you have become between you and your life choices. This is a long journey that requires honest self-reflection.
How abandonment might be presenting itself in your marriage
- projected anger
- feeling not good enough
- running away
- shutting down
- pain killing activities
- not knowing how to begin a discussion
- feeling unheard
- feeling insecure
Why does my spouse feel distant?
It’s about avoidance. Sometimes creating more conflict is a way to avoid the truthful pain. Sometimes causing arguments is an indirect way of avoiding what hurts. That is all about abandonment. Unfortunately, these tactics work well over a lifetime and provide momentary relief, but never a long lasting solution. Not being able to discuss the elephant in the room, not being able to have an open and honest discussion is part of avoidance. Being too busy, hearing things like “just move on.” Avoidance creates gaps and doesn’t allow for intimacy in the hard times.
What happens next?
Emotional walls go up, because of uncomfortable feelings. Couples may cut-off and distance themselves from one another due to the uncomfortable feelings or avoidance of conflict or pain. Walls are an interesting phenomenon. Again, these “walls” can look different for different people. Someone might have a smile plastered to their face for fear of upsetting a family member. Nonetheless, the plastic smile is painfully visible to others. Walls are about protection. No one gets in and I cannot be seen for my vulnerabilities. This is the only way your young, childlike self knew to manage this issue when this happened before. Your adult self continues the same learned patterns. Again, it is self abandoning as well as abandoning to the other person or people in your life. Because you avoid closeness required to talk and resolve the issue.
Where did I learn to abandon myself?
As children, we learn from our environment. Family members may not say anything about the distance, just feel it, live in it, and go about their day. They may not have even been aware of the distancing. This re-creates some abandoning feelings for mother and father, siblings, and children. Other abandonments are more external, like fighting, overly critical, abuse, walking out the door, or not caring for someone else’s experiences and pain. Allowing conflict to continue without proper knowledge of how to resolve painful and confusing feelings continues onto adulthood. The cycle continues generationally. We are raised to believe that the goal in life is to avoid pain and negative experiences by being a good person and living a good life. This is unrealistic. This is not possible in life. Even good people are unable to avoid negative life experiences. No one loves perfectly or well enough to conquer your fears.
The person who is triggering the abandonment may very well have conducted themselves in a way that allows their partner to feel justification for mistrusting, feeling insecure, etc. People do betray one another. Is the abandonment real and happening? Yes, it is absolutely happening in the marriage!
How do I learn to not be abandoned in my marriage?
What is empowering is to remember that the abandoning feelings belong to the person feeling the abandonment and not the person triggering the feeling. The party responsible for triggering you is too often the focus. There is no way to control someone else. But you can do something more than just avoid. You can learn to be okay, that you are enough, that you are worthy, no matter what abandonment occurs in your life. Other people have unhealthy habits. Sometimes these issues effect you. If you just want them to go away or want to retaliate in some way, then you are going to spend a lot of time in your life swimming upstream and reacting to life. It’s exhausting and takes away from a life that is about your true self. As an adult, you take responsibility for your life. This may not seem fair if you have a childlike version of life. The blame-shame game is a child’s game. It says I am helpless to change myself. Children need and want a parent’s help. When we grow up, that role changes from childlike to adult like. We become our own parent. Empowerment is about being your wise and emotionally connected self.
What do I do next?
Get in touch with your childhood beliefs, feelings, and experiences! Unless the hurt is revealed and known, the pain cannot be healed. You cannot heal what you do not know about yourself. Without the healing, you will continue to recreate the painful experiences in the complex dance you do with the people who share your intimate world. Break this cycle for yourself, your spouse and your children. This is loving yourself by showing you self-care, you believe in yourself, and you trust yourself. No matter what happens.