The Impact of Abandonment Fears on Self-Esteem
For those of us who struggle with abandonment fears, we might notice that it negatively affects our self-esteem.
Who am I kidding, really? Might?
It definitely affects our self-esteem.
Deep-seated abandonment fears are quite serious. The seed for these crippling fears is planted when we are just children, usually because of an emotionally absent or physically absent parent. It could be something as seemingly harmless as a work-a-holic father who is too exhausted to do anything but sleep once he comes home. That can plant the seed of abandonment fears. Another example is when a younger sibling is born and suddenly you are no longer your mother’s world. You’ve been replaced, or at least that’s what it feels like.
Once the abandonment fear seed is planted, it doesn’t take too much for it to grow. The slightest slight. A forgotten phone call. Unanswered text. Your sweetie falling asleep during a romantic movie. These seemingly benign things and so much more can trigger the abandonment fears and reinforce the feelings of worthlessness that comes with them.
I was talking with someone recently who told me a story about a misunderstanding with his girlfriend and how she subsequently felt abandoned. She was very upset, and he couldn’t understand why. After all, it was just a misunderstanding. It’s not like he left her alone in the dark wilderness without any sign of hope or comfort.
He and so many people who are lucky enough to have avoided abandonment anxieties don’t understand that was exactly how it feels. No matter how insignificant the “abandonment” might seem, for the person who struggles with deep abandonment fears, it feels like we are left in the dark wilderness without any sign of hope or comfort.
Now, of course, our fears are ultimately our own responsibility. However, if you are in a loving, romantic relationship with someone who struggles with abandonment issues, some extra care and understanding are called for.
Not only do we have to deal with this crippling fear, but we also have to live with the embarrassment of knowing full well we’re “overreacting.” Just think what that does to our self-esteem. In our minds, everything we were taught about ourselves from that initial abandonment from a child is reinforced…
Feelings of worthlessness
Not good enough…or just not enough somehow
Terrified of the day when the abandonment will be for real, not just a little taste like a forgotten phone call
These anxieties are real and quite damaging to one’s self esteem.
If you love someone who struggles with abandonment fears and other types of insecurities and anxieties around relationships, have some patience and understanding. Be kind. Acknowledge their fears, no matter how silly they may seem. Because, let me assure you, they are *very real* to the person experiencing them. Validate those fears and then remind them, gently, that it’s their brain playing tricks on them.
Help them out of their heads.
A dear, dear friend did this for me a few weeks back, and I’m ever so grateful to him for it. What he did worked wonders, so try this with your beloved the next time.
Sit cross-legged in front of each other. Put your palm flat against their breast bone and ask them to feel their heartbeat against your palm. Then tell them to feel it all through their body. Anywhere they can’t feel it, put your hand there until they can. Breathe with them. Have them match their breath to yours and then gradually slow down.
Remind them with words and with your actions that you aren’t going anywhere.
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~ by omgrey on February 8, 2012.
Posted in Romance & Relationships
Tags: author, book, broken heart, fear, grief, healing, heartbroken, honesty, intimacy, love, non-monogamy, o.m. grey, olivia grey, open, open marriage, passion, polyamory, relationship advice, relationships, romance, sex, shattered