The fear of abandonment is a shared experience that many of us face, yet one we often fail to recognize within ourselves. Humans are inherently social beings; we desire acceptance and love, so having a subconscious fear of those we love abandoning us is actually a very common wound to have.

So what is the abandonment wound?

The abandonment wound refers to emotional or psychological scars resulting from experiences of abandonment or perceived abandonment from an event, particularly during childhood.

Let's break it down into two parts:

X - being the event that deeply impacted you as a child. Some form of abandonment could have actually happened or there was a perceived threat of abandonment.

Y - being the subconscious belief that you now hold deep within you that manifests in your choices, actions, and reactions throughout your life. Think people pleasing, fear of rejection, difficulty forming trusting relationships, keeping loved ones at arms length, feelings of unworthiness, low self-esteem, or patterns of seeking validation from others.

One of the biggest wounds I became aware of was my fear of abandonment and how it manifested itself in my day-to-day life (dating, relationships, work, family dynamics, etc). It took me a lot of time sitting in silence and reflecting on my past. I journaled a lot to dig into myself in order to understand why I did certain things and why certain things elicited intense emotional reactions from me (aka triggered me). This exploration took me down an eye-opening path of self-realization and awareness.

If someone ever mentioned a fear of abandonment to me, I used to think that it could have only developed from some sort of big event occurring with parental figures. It seemed logical that significant parental losses, whether through death or choice (divorce, adoption, walking away, etc), would be the primary causes. So, initially, looking into my past, I struggled to understand how I could have a fear of abandonment when my parents were still present.

However, I discovered that this wound could come from parents, siblings, extended family members, and even friends. It could stem from experiences with death and rejection in any of the aforementioned relationships. In addition to this, the person may not even need to physically leave your life but scare you into thinking they will.

Once I understood this, I uncovered a pivotal realization – my parents and my sister often threatened to leave the family when they were angry or upset. Sometimes they would actually leave the house and disappear for hours or days.

"I'm done with this family"
"I'm leaving"

Such a seemingly small thing, a few words that would stick with me for life. It was something I overlooked because, reflecting on it as an adult, I could understand that they were just stressed and dealing with their own issues. But as a young child this was so incredibly scary. This would become the key to unlocking myself – I would need to acknowledge the emotions and perspectives of my younger self in all of my past experiences.

There I was, little 5 year old Lauren, balling her eyes out. Anxiety through the roof. Scared that everyone was going to leave. Scared that I had done something wrong. That my words or actions made my loved ones want to leave. Scared that I was not good enough for them to stay. Scared that by speaking up or showing my emotions I pushed the people I loved away.

These childhood events led me to internalize a belief that I was unworthy of love and acceptance. Without even being aware of it, I lived my life in a constant state of people pleasing because of this fear of being abandoned and rejected. I learned how to people please so that the people I loved would love me back and stay. I unconsciously became afraid to speak up or say anything that might start any type of conflict. I grasped for people. I had to be liked and loved by everyone. I never spoke my truth or my feelings. I never told anyone I was falling in love until they said it first. I never told anyone when they did something that hurt me. I never told anyone they crossed a boundary. I thought I would be too much of a hassle, and people would walk away, if I didn't just go with the flow.

Here’s the big catch — I lost people doing what I did. I lost connections, partners, and friendships because I subconsciously kept everyone at arms length. I was so afraid of being abandoned that I couldn't let anyone fully in (not for a lack of trying though, I was just completely unaware of this guard I had up). If I kept everyone at arms length, if I kept one foot out the door, if I didn't fall too hard, then I could be the one to walk away first. I would protect myself from the pain and never feel the hurt of abandonment again.

And here comes the kicker By never opening up I subconsciously pushed people away, and therefore accidentally reaffirmed my belief that I am not good enough, and I will always be abandoned. I would push someone away and say to myself, "see, it's proof, people abandon me".

How's that for irony?

I was unaware of my wounding, and therefore, unaware of how my actions were hurting me and placing me in a vicious cycle.

The good thing is, now that I'm consciously aware of what is happening within me, I can recognize when I'm being triggered, and confront the fear of abandonment. I can take a breath, step out of my wounded way of thinking, and make a different choice. I can react and act differently. This is what healing is – becoming aware of yourself so you no longer allow negative subconscious beliefs to dictate your life.

My interpretation of the words of others changed the way I acted and reacted to the people and the environment around me throughout my life. Prior to any healing, awakening, or realizations about myself, I didn't think I was emotionally wounded in any way - it was such a black or white way of thinking. I was so wholly unaware of myself, but now I understand we all have wounding. It's a part of life. It's an integral part of learning, growing, and changing. When you finally accept and acknowledge this your whole world will change.

The wounding we experience, and unconsciously hold onto, doesn’t necessarily stem from big catastrophic events. It's common that our wounding comes from seemingly insignificant interactions that inadvertently have a huge impact on us. Which is why you have to dive deep into yourself when it comes to healing.

So, now it’s your turn, where does your abandonment wound stem from?

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