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Abandonment Issues

Old 03-26-2013, 12:24 PM
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Abandonment Issues

I have been doing a bit of journaling about my past, trying to find the patterns that led me to where I am today. Honestly, by most accounts, I had a good childhood but something was always missing and I didn't know it until I became an adult.

I am trying to proactively look at the issue of abandonment and why it's keeping me in a sick relationship. My dad was a heavy drinker, most likely an alcoholic but his main issue was that he used the kids as his targets of sarcasm, barbs, belittling, etc. and he always cracked jokes at my expense in front of others. Many of you know that, while I was in college, my dad had a few explosive drunk phone calls where he told me (on various occasions) that I ruined his life, that his misery was all my fault, that they should have aborted me since I was conceived out of wedlock, and that I should have never been born. I was 19 at the time and it rocked me to my core, except that I didn't know it at the time.

Fast forward to the past few years. My dad was diagnosed with a spinal tumor wrapped around his spinal cord 3 years ago. They did surgery but it pretty much paralyzed him. He suffered greatly and battled his cigarette addiction and alcohol problems(many of the rehab places didn't allow smoking so he'd go through withdrawal). He had numerous secondary infections but ultimately died in December of 2011 when the tumor began to grow again and pneumonia was killing his lung function. He was 62.

Anyway, they say that death is the ultimate abandonment and I can't seem to grasp that concept. I guess I felt he abandoned me so long ago that I was pretty much unnerved by his death. I was more sorry for his wife who tirelessly worked with nurses and staff and then turned the house into handicap accessible, etc. She worked 24/7 for him all while holding down a long distance high profile consulting job.

So, what created the abandonment issue in the first place in me? Yep, I had to ask. When my sister was 5 and I was 13 she was diagnosed with childhood leukemia and I had to be shipped off to other houses to go live with friends or relatives. I would stay for a week or so and mostly I was invisible around the house, a burden if I got in the way. Back then the phone lines had to be kept open, there were no cellphones or call waiting so I had no contact with my friends except at school. When I told my future mother in law(at the time way back when, LOL) about what my family went through she immediately said, "Well, that must have been so hard for you! To not sleep in your own bed or stay with strange families. How is it that you cope so well today?" Well, that last question was thought provoking to me. Honestly, the whole statement she made was strange. I never thought about how I felt, EVER! It was always about my sister. I don't think anyone ever asked me how I was doing or how I was feeling and I guess I just never gave it much thought. How sad is that?

Anyway, I share this here because I know someone will understand. I sometimes need to know that I'm not alone and that I'm not crazy. I seriously have intimacy issues, communication issues, abandonment issues, etc and I am finally starting to put the pieces of the puzzle together. It's taken me long enough, huh?
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Old 03-26-2013, 01:16 PM
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You were a child. You were in NO WAY responsible for the circumstances that created these issues within you, and you are doing the best you can to work through them with the tools you have. Please don't feel you are "slow" to come to growth. It takes what it takes.

Your posts have shown a steady trajectory of growth and realization. Forward progress, consistently.

We support you, as you learn to feel what YOU feel! And care about what YOU want from your life, and how YOU are treated by those closest to you!

CLMI
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Old 03-26-2013, 01:32 PM
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Liz, I remember you talking about this. It breaks my heart.

There's a psych term for this and I'm blanking on it. I keep thinking "adult children" but that's not right. It's when a child is expected to put her needs aside, keep the peace, not complain, and take care of herself long before it's developmentally appropriate. I'll keep trying to remember... unless someone else wants to jump in for me.

...The Hurried Child? The Rushed Child?
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Old 03-26-2013, 01:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Florence View Post
Liz, I remember you talking about this. It breaks my heart.

There's a psych term for this and I'm blanking on it. I keep thinking "adult children" but that's not right. It's when a child is expected to put her needs aside, keep the peace, not complain, and take care of herself long before it's developmentally appropriate. I'll keep trying to remember... unless someone else wants to jump in for me.

...The Hurried Child? The Rushed Child?
LOL, can't help you with that one!

My sister was outraged recently when we talked about how our parents handled things with me, as she didn't remember why I didn't go on a family vacation. At the end of her treatment, I was exposed to the chicken pox(and did get them) and that could be a severe illness for a cancer patient so my parents took my sister to MA to go whale watching and left me home alone for 4 days. My neighbor checked in on me daily, I had just turned 16 and I could not drive yet so I relied on her to get me oatmeal bath stuff, etc.

I don't even remember being angry with them. I don't even remember having any feelings at all about it. Nothing. I just did the best I could to get through it and that was it. It never occurred to me to be angry or upset or sad. I just didn't feel those feelings and I still struggle with them today.
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Old 03-26-2013, 01:52 PM
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I don't even remember being angry with them. I don't even remember having any feelings at all about it. Nothing. I just did the best I could to get through it and that was it. It never occurred to me to be angry or upset or sad. I just didn't feel those feelings and I still struggle with them today.
This kills me!

Whenever you posted about this last, I mentioned I had some similar experiences with my family. I was raised to shut up and not need things from my parents, to apologize when they wronged me, to cope with major things on my own (rape, abuse) and to swallow whatever crazy they threw at me. The worst was always being left out of vacations, holidays, family discussions, and whatnot, and everyone remembering that I was just "not there." I had a very different childhood from my sisters. I was very good at stuffing down the feelings of inadequacy with my parents, and was used to not feel anything about it -- which was a way of me accepting that I just wasn't worth my family's attention, as wrong as that it. It's confusing and frustrating on a lot of levels.

I'll tell you, I'm not one for woo-woo stuff, but my therapist does a lot of Inner Child work with me and it's been one of the main things that's allowed me to grow through this whole crazy process. It has given me the tools I needed to get through and beyond my own abandonment issues and change the way I relate to my dysfunctional family, find new ways of relating to my kids, even, and ways to support my AH from a healthy distance without enabling or worrying about the definition of our relationship and all that business. The most important aspect of that is finally feeling confident in my own abilities, trusting my own instincts, and being my own best advocate. My support system was a group of dysfunctional people and I needed to find a way to distance myself from their crazy to get to the root of my own crazy.
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Old 03-26-2013, 02:08 PM
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Liz, you say you had a good childhood but I find it heartbreaking. I myself struggle with abandonment issues, as I was adopted and will never know my biological father, but I was blessed with a loving set of adoptive parents. I am glad to see you working through your issues and coming into your own; you are very intelligent, successful in your previous career, and you have raised a lovely son. I hope you can continue to realize your own worth.
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Old 03-26-2013, 03:36 PM
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Liz-

I like the way my training calls it. Instead of labeling it as good or bad they talk about how people have "missing experiences." It mean they missed something in their life. For me I missed freedom of expression, freedom of feelings for example. That helped me though to not feel so bad when I was having a hard time....because I did not have to label anything else.

The other piece that helped me was a book called the Grief Recovery book. It had me outline experiences of loss in my life and it was incredibly helpful. They often run it as a 13 week program in many places.

I think our childhood helps to define who we are, and a lot of our adulthood is about healing from those "missing experiences." I am just grateful I choose to look at it and give myself a chance to heal.
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Old 03-26-2013, 09:14 PM
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Originally Posted by boldaslove View Post
Liz, you say you had a good childhood but I find it heartbreaking. I myself struggle with abandonment issues, as I was adopted and will never know my biological father, but I was blessed with a loving set of adoptive parents. I am glad to see you working through your issues and coming into your own; you are very intelligent, successful in your previous career, and you have raised a lovely son. I hope you can continue to realize your own worth.

Speaking of my son, my AH has recently accused me of training our boy to be more like me and that he will be weak and won't succeed in life. Yet, in the same breath he'll say how bad a parent he is and how he's let us both down. UGH

As to my childhood: I 'thought' I had it good. We took vacations in Maine skiing for a week. My grandparents lived on the bay and we had sailboats. To me, it was familiar, but I didn't realize that it wasn't 'good', it just was what it was. I knew no different. So, despite the material blessings and 'things' I didn't realize what was missing until I was much older and trying as I am today, to work through my crap. Thanks for your kind words, I truly appreciate them.
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Old 03-27-2013, 05:17 AM
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Florence, are you thinking of the "Parentified" child?

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