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Do you think you might be struggling with Abandonment Issues? Fear of abandonment is the overwhelming worry that people close to you will leave. Anyone, even Christians, can develop a fear of abandonment. You didn’t cause the abandonment wound, but it is your choice to heal from it.
Fear of Abandonment may be caused by trauma from childhood or a distressing relationship in adulthood like divorce. But we can heal from this deep pain as we allow God to heal and strengthen us in Him.
Before I continue I want to point out, always consult with your doctor, therapist, or counselor before self-diagnosing and treating your mental health or emotional health concern. I am not any of the titles listed above and only offer my heart, opinion, and life experience.
Fear of abandonment is something I am personally working to overcome and I believe more people struggle with abandonment issues than we realize, it’s just not talked about.
For me, abandonment issues look like this: at the first glimpse of someone I love leaving or appears to be leaving the relationship or friendship, my heart and thoughts go into overdrive.
I’ll press in towards the friendship/relationship and try harder to make someone happy till I’m exhausted and left feeling empty. Then I shut down. Unhealthy.
Fear of abandonment can lead you to put a wall up around yourself to avoid getting hurt. Or you over give in hopes to keep people from leaving. Or you might be sabotaging relationships and not realizing it.
Healthline.com says, The first step in overcoming your fear is to acknowledge why you feel this way.
You may be able to address your fears on your own, with God, in prayer, and reading your Bible or you may need help with a counselor/therapy. And that’s okay!
Healing is just peeling back layers, one layer at a time, with God walking with you.
What are the signs of abandonment issues?
Medical News Today says this, “Fear of abandonment is not a standalone mental health condition, such as depression, but it is a form of anxiety and even a phobia in some senses.
People with abandonment issues may experience problems in relationships because they fear that the other person will leave them. Signs and symptoms of abandonment issues in adults include:
- always wanting to please others (being a “people pleaser”)
- giving too much in relationships
- an inability to trust others
- pushing others away to avoid rejection
- feeling insecure in romantic partnerships and friendships
- a need for continual reassurance that others love them and will stay with them
- the need to control others
- persisting with unhealthy relationships
- the inability to maintain relationships
- moving quickly from one relationship to another
- sabotaging relationships
- lack of emotional intimacy
Individuals who experienced abandonment in childhood may find themselves drawn to people who will treat them poorly and eventually leave them. When this occurs, it reinforces their fears and distrust of others.”
Is Fear Of Abandonment Normal
“Although it is not an official phobia, the fear of abandonment is arguably one of the most common and most damaging fears of all. People with fear of abandonment may tend to display compulsive behaviors and thought patterns that affect their relationships.
Object constancy generally develops before the age of 3. As children grow and mature, the periods of separation lengthen and are often generated by the child as he, say, goes to school or spends the weekend at a friend’s house. A child with good object constancy understands that important relationships are not damaged by time apart.
Object constancy may be interrupted by traumatic events. Death or divorce are common causes, but even situations that seem relatively unimportant to the adults involved may affect developing this critical understanding.
For example, children with parents in the military, those whose parents have little time to spend with them, and those with neglectful parents may also be at risk for interrupted object constancy.” – via VeryWellMinded
How Do You Overcome Abandonment Issues
Healing From Fear of Abandonment
“Abandonment creates a serious emotional crisis. Being left by someone you love is devastating and debilitating. Abandonment leaves an emotional imprint on the soul that says, “You are not worth it.” It crushes your self-esteem. You feel suddenly cut off from a vital relationship that sustained your life. You feel overwhelmed with loneliness, despair, and anxiety. The weight of emotional emptiness feels like it will crush you.” – Everett Christian Counseling
Healing comes with being mindful and intentional about your thoughts as our thoughts oftentimes lead our emotions. Check out my workbook on overcoming negative thoughts.
Read the 7 Ways to Heal Your Fear of Abandonment from Everet Christian Counseling.
- Explore what is the root cause of your fear of abandonment issues. To uncover the source of trauma, start to unearth your personal history. When did this feeling start? Why did you feel abandoned? How did this experience affect you? What was lost? Write this down, pray over it and write out the scripture of God’s truth about you and this situation.
- Pay attention to when fear arises in your current relationships. Do you know how you act when you feel abandoned? Do you become clingy, overly dependent, controlling, possessive, helpless, disengaged, mad, panicky, or withdrawn? What types of circumstances trigger your fear of rejection? Your brother forgets your birthday. Maybe your boss corrects you. Your partner criticizes you. Your best friend doesn’t want to hang out as often as before. Again write it all down, recognize the patterns, and start working on breaking them.
- Work to break the patterns. A critical part of healing is to help you learn how to break this self-sabotaging cycle. Once you recognize you are no longer powerless and you know your worth, you can begin to exercise the power of choice, set healthy boundaries, and have healthy expectations of others.
- Stop the negative thinking process. Not everyone wants to leave you. Abandonment is not the measure of your value nor your worth. You are not disposable, but treasured and adored by God. Your value is only held in the hands of our Heavenly Father! Focus on rebuilding and restoring your opinion of yourself. A positive self-image will set the course of your life. When you understand your worth, you will feel less threatened by people and more empowered to create the life you want to live. Start to believe you matter and watch how life blooms around you.
- Accept the truth of the abandonment wound. Show yourself grace and love and validate the wounds abandonment created in your life. Accept the legitimacy of your pain. If we truly knew God’s heart, we would know He never dismisses any harm done to us. What you experienced matters to Him! Talk to Him about it honestly.
- Struggling with abandonment issues does not make you inadequate or weak. It means you are human and have been deeply hurt. Be intentional to oppose any shame that surfaces in your heart and mind. Shame is a liar. Shame also keeps you stuck in self-pity and blocks healing. Remember, feelings are not facts.
- During seasons of suffering, we must learn to radically love ourselves the way God loves us. Resist the temptation to be self-recriminating. Choose kindness and be self-nurturing. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you how to care for yourself. Receive God’s radical grace, mercy, and healing love.
- Journal through your thoughts and feelings and apply God’s Word to your life daily. I enjoy scripture writing and prayer journaling as well. Build a strong prayer life and relationship with God.
- Work on maintaining friendships and building your support network. Strong friendships can boost your self-worth and sense of belonging.
“Building a strong self will stir up your anxiety. But each time you abstain from reassurance seeking and controlling behaviors, you strengthen your emotional muscles. Can you hold the line with yourself? When you start to over-depend on your partner, will you self-confront and readjust?
Use your relationship insecurity as an opportunity to learn how to transfer your pain into personal growth. What if this abandonment wound is an invitation for you to reorganize yourself into a resilient person? It is only when we test our capacity that we will discover the strength that resides in us.” – Seattle Christian Counseling
How to help someone with abandonment issues
Here are a few things to try if someone you love is dealing with the fear of abandonment:
Start talking. Encourage your friend to talk about it, but don’t pressure them.
If their abandonment issues make sense to you or not, understand that the fear is real for them.
Assure them that you won’t abandon them.
Encourage growth and healing while being patient with them.
Encouraging Scriptures On Abandonment
Isaiah 49:15-16 Can a woman forget her baby who nurses at her breast? Can she withhold compassion from the child she has borne? Even if mothers were to forget, I could never forget you! Look, I have inscribed your name on my palms; your walls are constantly before me.
Psalm 27:10 Even if my father and mother abandoned me, the Lord would take me in.
Psalm 9:10-11 Your loyal followers trust in you, for you, Lord, do not abandon those who seek your help. Sing praises to the Lord, who rules in Zion. Tell the nations what he has done.
Joshua 1:9 I repeat, be strong and brave! Don’t be afraid and don’t panic, for I, the Lord your God, am with you in all you do.
Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding. Acknowledge him in all your ways, and he will make your paths straight.
1 Peter 5:6-7 And God will exalt you in due time, if you humble yourselves under his mighty hand by casting all your cares on him because he cares for you.
2 Corinthians 4:8-10 We are experiencing trouble on every side, but are not crushed; we are perplexed, but not driven to despair; we are persecuted, but not abandoned; we are knocked down, but not destroyed, always carrying around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our body.
When To Seek Help In Dealing With Fear Of Abandonment
Seek a Christian therapist or trained counselor if you think you need it and even if you don’t think you need it. There is no shame nor harm in talking to someone and getting things off your chest. Getting the words out and to be heard brings healing. You may know everything the counselor may recommend or tell you, but from my own experience, it helps just to be affirmed and heard. Read these 15 Mental Health Tips for Christians.
Without therapy or counseling, severe abandonment issues in both adults and children can make it more challenging for the person to form healthy and secure relationships with others and to live a fulfilling life.
People who have a history of trauma or childhood loss may also wish to speak to a doctor or mental health professional if they have not addressed these experiences before.
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