“So, what happens next? How does my abandonment work in my marriage?” What happens next is our defenses kick into high gear. As adults, in our relationships, we can feel enraged, jealous, insecure, uncertain, anxious, and then blame something or someone outside of ourselves for our pain. Of course, people do a nice job of providing the abandoning trigger which becomes the focus. The spotlight is on the action or activity instead of on our feelings and our reactions. “But how does this happen without our knowing?” There’s a clever commercial about data backup for electronic files where a marriage is about to take place. The couple is bewildered, expressing looks of confusion and uncertainty. The back of the get away car says, “Just Lost Everything” instead of just married. Grandma and mom are in the bridal suite smiling away at the glowing bride as each one says to her, “You’re gonna lose everything!” Instead of saying, “You’re going to be happy!” Finally, as the ceremony is about to begin, a man throws open the chapel doors and screams, “You’re gonna lose your FILES!”
As a therapist, I can’t tell you how many parallels I saw between this commercial and people seeking help with marital issues. I’m sure that was the intention from the creators. This commercial could have just as easily been about many of my clients who come in seeking help after feeling severely abandoned in their marriage! Of course, the couple has no idea or connection to the concepts that lead the marriage to this path. How could they? They are enmeshed, in love, and could not imagine this could happen in their relationship. Now, I am not trying to kill the romantic idea of love, but I am attempting to have a healthier discussion about what is real, sustaining love for the long haul that endures and encourages personal growth.
Unfortunately, for the person who believes they get a clean slate when they grow up and fall in love is in for the surprise of their life. Our lifetime issues 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. Either way, the truth of abandonment is that there is NO clean slate for anyone. Not until there is a true appreciation for where you have been and who you have become.
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. How abandonment might be presenting itself in your marriage is through raging, projected anger, frustration, disappointment, jealousy, or insecurity. What happens next is emotional walls go up, because of the triggering 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.
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 a nice job of providing the abandoning trigger with affairs, addictions, and in some cases, actually abandoning the marriage by moving out. Is the abandonment real and happening? Yes, it is absolutely happening! 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 “guilty” party responsible for the trigger is responding to a situation based on their knowledge and emotional issues. They are unhealthy too in their own way. You happen to be in the cross-hairs, because you chose this person to be an intimate partner. This may not seem fair, kind, or loving. We are raised to believe that the goal in life is to avoid pain in life and negative experiences by being a good person and living a good life. This is unrealistic. This is not possible in life. If you are a good person, you cannot avoid life experiences where you are going to be betrayed. This thought process also teaches that it is okay to judge or blame your spouse for betraying or hurting you. This is how you justify emotional cut-off and more abandonment is created for yourself and the “guilty” party. The spouse who has conducted themselves in this abandonment triggering way is also suffering from intimacy issues and does not know how to be feel connected. Thus, this re-creates abandonment for yourself and others in your family.
Affairs, emotional cut-off, addictions, shaming, blaming, controlling, are all triggers for the childhood abandonment to resurface at full force! If you are someone who has been expressing or experiencing these behaviors, then you can probably relate but never understood why or how this dance was happening in your marriage.
To break this cycle for yourself, your spouse and your children, get in touch with your childhood beliefs, feelings, and experiences! Unless the hurt is revealed and known, the pain cannot be healed. The issue cannot be addressed. 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.
For fun and kicks, I have included a link to the commercial here for your enjoyment! http://www.adweek.com/adfreak/love-god-dont-lose-everything-says-carbonite-138391 It really is a wonderful expression of our culture and the state of marriage today!