Abandonment issues can contribute to a variety of mental health issues. Abandonment can lead to an intense fear of being hurt, rejected, or abandoned. The fear of abandonment or rejection is often a form of anxiety developed from a specific event.Childhood abuse, loss of a parent, or neglect can negatively impact a child’s sense of safety during a crucial time in their development of a secure or insecure attachment. This can lead to issues in one’s personal life and relationships as they mature into adulthood.
Even children from a healthy home can experience trauma that leads to insecure attachment, like having a parent who travels or has a chronic illness. Abandonment issues can also stem from unhealthy or abusive relationships at a teenager/young adult.
Examples of abandonment issues.
Here are several examples of abandonment issues:
Susie is a twenty-year-old who has never been in a serious relationship or close friendship. Every time she gets close to someone, she puts up walls and emotionally withdraws. Susie was placed in the foster system at age 12 and bounced from place to place. She was always afraid to really get to know someone because she feared rejection or losing the one person she began to feel safe around.
Tom is a fifteen-year-old whose parents recently divorced. Tom thinks that since his parents non-stop fighting and bickering was centered around his well-being, it’s his fault. He is now dealing with feeling like he needs to give in to everyone around him and become a people-pleaser to avoid creating any conflict.
Stephanie is a thirty-year-old who grew up in an emotionally and physically abusive home. Her basic needs were not met. She was never shown physical affection, was physically abused, and food was scarce. She has since suffered with chronic anxiety, has a difficult time showing affection, and finds that she is running herself ragged to provide a better life for her future children.
Sean is a twenty-one-year-old college student who finds himself constantly going for relationships that are toxic. He was raised in a home where his father died at a young age and his mom was constantly looking to fill that void by constantly dating other men, but never taking it too seriously.
Symptoms of abandonment can include:
- Feeling the need to constantly please others
- Trouble trusting other people
- Feeling insecure about how others feel about you
- Have a difficult time with emotional attachment
- Have a difficult time regulating behavior
- Intense anxiety about commitment
- Settling in unhealthy relationships
- Sometimes feeling the need to control a situation or give in to being controlled by others
Six steps for dealing with abandonment issues.
If you are struggling with abandonment issues and lingering pain from the past, or know someone who is, here are six steps to consider:
1. Address the trauma and acknowledge it happened.
A person cannot pursue healing without first realizing and admitting that a trauma occurred. You cannot admit that you need help without first acknowledging that something happened, and it is impacting you in some way, shape, or form. You cannot work on how you pursue relationships without acknowledging your current patterns are unhealthy.
A person with abandonment issues cannot pursue a healthy emotional attachment without the realization that their current one in detached and unhealthy. You cannot work on your coping behaviors without the realization that you are currently trying to cope in the wrong ways.
2. Validate feelings and allow yourself to feel.
It is important to realize that your feelings are valid. It is also crucial that you take your trauma journey as your own. Do not compare it to someone else who had a similar situation.
God has great plans for you, your story, and your future – do not let Satan try to whisper in your ear. Do not let Satan try to tell you that you are too damaged or too broken. Hand Him your heart and let Him do the mending.
Jeremiah 30:17 reminds us, “For I will restore health to you, and your wounds I will heal…” God is in the healing and miracle business. Someone once said, “Maybe you’re not healing because you’re trying to be who you were before the trauma. That person doesn’t exist anymore because there’s a ‘new you’ trying to be born. Breathe life into that person.”
Let God breathe life into the new you. Let what happened to you be used as a stepping stone to a better you. You are growing stronger.
3. Know that you are loveable and can have healthy relationships.
Despite whatever horrible things have happened to you, you can choose relationships that do not involve toxicity. You can choose someone who loves you for who you are. You can choose someone who will support and acknowledge the person you are and where you are headed.
It is important to find that heathy support system – one that can grow with you, soar with you, and lend a hand when the trauma comes rushing back.
4. Start journaling.
As you begin your heart work, take time to journal. Journal where you have been and where you hope to go. Keep progress of your journey and the lessons learned. This is one area you will really see that growing and healing is taking place.
5. Invest in your God-given dreams and don’t shy away from them.
God has great plans for you (Jeremiah 29:11). If someone told you that you were not loveable and would not amount to anything, I am so sorry that you had to experience these soul-crushing words.
But that is not true! Your dreams are still attainable. Healing CAN take place. Your story can continue in a beautiful way.
6. Know that God will never abandon you.
Regardless of what kind of hurt or abandonment you have experienced, it is crucial to know that God will never abandon you. People will let us down. People will say hurtful things. People will laugh at us and mock our dreams.
But God promises to always walk alongside us – through the good and the bad. God promises that hope is always available for us. He promises that healing is possible through Him.
Cling to Him. Cry out to Him. Read and recite Scripture. Join a Bible study and fellowship with believers. C.H. Spurgeon said, “To trust God in the light is nothing, but to trust Him in the dark – that is faith.”
“You didn’t choose abandonment; it happened to you. It feels like everything has been taken away from you. However, what you do have is the choice to heal.” – Unknown
If you know someone who struggling with abandonment issues, assure them you are in it for the long haul. Ask them what you can do to help. They do not need to hear magical words – they just need to know that you are there for them. Sit beside them. Hold their hand. Support them.
If you are married to someone who is struggling with abandonment issues, couples counseling would be a great option to help in your healing journey.
Unhealed emotional wounds do not have to stay open and ailing forever. Professional Christian counseling is available for you today to support you through your journey of hope and healing.
Scriptures on Abandonment
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. – Psalm 34:18, NASB
For my father and my mother have forsaken me, but the Lord will take me in. – Psalm 27:10, ESV
Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you. – Deuteronomy 31:6, ESV
For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 8:38-39, ESV
Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. – Isaiah 41:10, ESV
And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:19, NASB
I sought the Lord and He answered me, and rescued me from all my fears. – Psalm 34:4, NASB
For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for prosperity and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. – Jeremiah 29:11, NASB
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. – Galatians 2:20, ESV
Christian counseling for abandonment issues.
If you’re struggling with abandonment issues and you’re looking for additional support beyond this article, we would be happy to help. Feel free to contact our reception team to schedule an appointment with me or one of the other counselors in the online counselor directory. Help is available.
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