“But I can’t be single! I can’t be alone! OMG, I just can’t!”
Such were my thoughts at a time when I was struggling immensely with codependency and stuck in a codependent relationship. It was exactly these types of thoughts that kept me in a toxic relationship for far too long.
Fear of abandonment.
Now, you may have heard about the fear of abandonment at some point in your life. Or maybe you’ve no idea what it means. Generally, abandonment issues occur when you fear being left by others or rejected by them. You fear being “abandoned”, and ultimately, alone. It’s a very real fear and it can cause a host of problems in relationships and life. Those with codependency issues oftentimes struggle with such a fear.
Where does the fear of abandonment come from?
It’s not one specific thing. There are various reasons why the fear of abandonment can rise, such as:
• Growing up on a home where alcoholism or addiction was present.
• Parents divorcing when you were a child.
• Experiencing trauma or neglect as a child.
• Experiencing abuse when you were a child.
• Having narcissistic parent(s)
• Suffering loss of a loved one as a child
• Verbal or physical abuse by an ex
Who struggles with the fear of abandonment?
Men and women can struggle with this fear in the same way. Some think that women may be more prone, but there’s no evidence of such. Now, there’s not a universal “test” to determine if you have this fear, but there are some common characteristics that will show up if you’re struggling with it.
Today, let’s look at some of the more common ones.
Signs of the fear of abandonment
This list is not exhaustive by any means, but it should give you a general idea as to whether you are struggling with this fear or not.
1. You’ve been told your clingy.
There you are meeting someone new and before you know it, you’re totally engulfed in him or her. You attach deeply and quickly, thinking of marrying the person within a week. You may have also been told that you are clingy, and this may have caused others to not want to be with you.
2. You’re controlling and/or manipulative
If you tend to have to know where your partner is at all the time, and question them about who they are with, what they are doing, etc., you may have abandonment issues. This incessant worrying and questioning is a form of control and is a sign of jealousy and mistrust.
3. You sabotage relationships
So, there you are in your relationship with things going well, and all of a sudden there is DRAMA. You’re have a good day and then you unconsciously start a fight. Things BLOW UP and before you know it, you and your partner are EXHAUSTED from going back and forth in the conflict. What you may have done is sabotage the relationship out of abandonment issues. You pick fights, and point out issues in order to create drama.
4. You live worried and in paranoia
Do you fear that your partner is cheating on you all the time? Even when there is no logical reason for thinking so? Do you constantly check his or her phone? Always seeking signs of infidelity? Has such behavior driven others away?
5. It’s tough for you to commit
Do you have a tough time making a commitment to one person? Do you lose interest after the honeymoon period is over? Do you make a break when it starts to get serious or the person wants you to take it to a deeper level?
Getting free from the fear of abandonment
If you are struggling with the fear of abandonment, know that you’re not alone. Others have been and are in your shoes, and there is good news: You can begin a journey to cope with this fear and make positive changes. You can learn how to break free from this fear by first of all, recognizing it.
As you learn more about abandonment issues, you’re more apt to be able to spot when this fear is operating in your life, and then do something about it. Oftentimes, it takes the help of a trained therapist to work on this fear. We’re talking about human attachments, patterns, and the dynamics of relationships.
It’s not always easy to get to the roots of abandonment issues on your own, so if you have access to a therapist, make a commitment to attend therapy for a series of sessions. Know that it won’t take one or two sessions, but it may take a handful or more. It may take a year or years of therapy to work through issues. There’s no right or wrong here. Give yourself permission to start digging through those layers to get to the roots so you can cut them there.
When you can learn where these abandonment issues first occurred, you’ll be better apt to gain insight on why it’s showing up in your life now, and healing it.
Fear of abandonment resource
A wonderful book on the topic is: • Love Me, Don’t Leave Me: Overcoming Fear of Abandonment & Building Lasting, Loving Relationships, by Michelle Skeen, PsyD.
Listen, even if your fear of being abandoned is so intense you may have lost hope, I want to give you hope. You can begin to uncover and then heal those wounds. You’re not “irreparable”. You’re not broken, sweetheart. You’ve simply got some “inner work” to do…and that work will help you heal and love at a deeper level. You are worthy. You are never alone. No, not really. So you don’t have to live in fear of that!