What is an abandonment wound?
Abandonment is a universal wound – a primal fear. It is something that each and every one of us experience at some point throughout our lives. Whether this is due to an absent parent, a traumatic breakup or loss of a job.
"Most people carry some sort of an abandonment wound. The story might be different, but the wound is the same".
Emotional abandonment is a subjective emotional state in which people feel undesired, left behind, insecure, or discarded. People experiencing emotional abandonment may feel at a loss, cut off from a crucial source of sustenance that has been withdrawn, either suddenly, or through a process of erosion.
Abandonment fears can impair a person's ability to trust others. They may make it harder for a person to feel worthy or be intimate. These fears could make a person prone to anxiety, depression, codependence, or other issues. Abandonment issues are also linked to borderline personality (BPD) and attachment anxiety.
An abandonment wound creates a lack of security that can stunt a persons ability to build a healthy sense of self. As a result, insecurity in one’s own worth and agency arises.
Insecure attachment to mother and father figures hinders children to properly navigate through the perilous waters of early childhood development. The child will start to feel shame for the pain they are experiencing. The shameful feelings manifest as issues with inadequacy which the child will struggle to combat.
These feelings of low self-worth plague the child leaving them feeling alone and “wrong.” The feelings of shame, guilt, and isolation leave them feeling like an outcast as no one can seemingly relate to his struggle and force them into a very defensive position.
This spills over into adulthood and romantic relationships if nothing is done to resolve the wounds of abandonment, or create a strong and confident image of self-worth.
Overcoming the Wound
Emotional Regulation: The definition of emotional regulation encompasses both positive and negative feelings, along with how we can strengthen them, use them, and control them. In order to regulate emotions I highly recommend a daily practice of meditation and/ or journaling.
Self-Abandonment: Self-abandonment is when you reject, suppress or ignore part of yourself. In other words, you have a need or desire you want to meet, and often you make the decision not to meet it. To develop your capacity to meet your own needs it would be helpful to ask yourself each day: what do I need today?
Self-sabotage: Patterns of self-sabotage set in after we’ve been through an abandonment or loss, whether in childhood or adulthood. Self-sabotage is all about self-abandonment - the tools of abandonment recovery helps reverse.
Boundaries: A boundary is a limit or space between you and the other person; a clear place where you begin and the other person ends. The purpose of setting a healthy boundary is to protect and take good care of you. What boundaries do you need to set?
Healing the Inner Child: The “little you” – tender, emotional. Your inner-child is the innocent part of you – all about feelings and your primal needs. In order to heal the Inner Child it is necessary to create a dialogue with the little you. Check in with her to see how she wants to be nourished and nurtured.
Attachment styles: There are three main “attachment styles” in which people perceive and respond to intimacy in romantic relationships. Typically those with an abandonment wound would fall into the 'anxious' or 'avoidant' categories. Which style are you...?
Anxious people are often preoccupied with their relationships and tend to worry about their partner’s ability to love them back.
Avoidant people equate intimacy with a loss of independence and constantly try to minimize closeness.
Secure people feel comfortable with intimacy and are usually warm and loving.
Codependency: Codependency is characterized by a person belonging to a dysfunctional, one-sided relationship where one person relies on the other for meeting nearly all of their emotional and self-esteem needs. Do you place your happiness in the hands of your partner?
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With love & gratitude,