“For far too long we have been seduced into walking a path that did not lead us to ourselves. For far too long we have said yes when we wanted to say no. And for far too long we have said no when we desperately wanted to say yes. . . . When we don’t listen to our intuition, we abandon our souls. And we abandon our souls because we are afraid if we don’t, others will abandon us.”
― Terry Tempest Williams, When Women Were Birds: Fifty-four Variations on Voice
I was looking at the word abandonment because I have been feeling the emotions in me, what it has meant to me. I like words and I am sometimes interested in where they come from, I break them down. This is what I saw: abandonment; ‘A -Band -On -Me.’ Then it made sense. A band on me… a band, as in a restricting, uncomfortable , sometimes suffocating band on me.
Abandonment: one of the biggest wounds in humanity which plays out and permeates our lives. It runs deep, it runs wide, it takes many forms. It is not just about the day our father left the house and never returned. The chances are he probably “left” emotionally and mentally even before he packed his suitcase.
A child feels every moment of abandonment like a punch to the chest. And currently every child is likely to experience it at some point during their childhood. It happens every time a parent is angry or in fear. For some this is infrequent and is not very damaging especially if that parent is normally very loving and recognises the emotional needs of that child, and allows that child to express its anger or grief about what has occurred. But for many of us, there is chronic abandonment: an emotionally unavailable parent or parents (whether physically present or not). These parents often or completely shut us down every time we try to express our own emotions: they can not handle or do not want to feel their own painful or negative emotions so they can not or will not deal with ours. Even though we are often the perfect reflection of their own unhealed emotions.
This emotional abandonment leaves most children in a void of not knowing: not knowing if they are loved, or who they are. John Bradshaw says it as it is:
“Since the earliest period of our life was preverbal, everything depended on emotional interaction. Without someone to reflect our emotions, we had no way of knowing who we were.” ( from Healing the Shame within you)
The messages are: “I can’t love you;” “you are unlovable;” “you are not enough;” “I wish you hadn’t been born;” “it’s your fault I am like this” and so forth. For a young soul, new to the world these messages are felt even before they are spoken in some way. For a young soul, trying to find out who she is it can slow down or even put a halt to that discovery. She just becomes all the false beliefs and messages she is told. She will grow to believe she is worthless, unloved and unlovable and she trusts no-one, mostly with an expectation they may “leave.” This belief affects every decision, every action and every relationship, most importantly and including the one with him/herself. It can lead to a cycle of self punishment that is just normal for him/ her. It is not always obvious to the world around her as so many live in this cycle it is normal and we choose to close our eyes to what is happening in us and around us.
How many of our young people struggle to find meaning in their life? How many are obsessed with celebrity lives, feeling that is the answer to their own emptiness? How many think alcohol is the only way to feel free, to live without abandon? When really it is just a way we use to not feel the pain of abandonment. For years I used food as my main source of self punishment: sometimes to feel in control of life, of my emotions, by starvation and other times.whilst I binged, as a numbing drug: a pushing down of the pain. I unconsciously suppressed my feelings in many other forms during the dance of low self-worth.
And sometimes I still do: I yell at the man I love. Inside little me is screaming, in panic, “He is going to leave me, he can’t really love me.” The difference now, thank God, is that I know its there, and I am peeling back the layers of my anger, fear and grief that abandonment brought me. I am easing the “band-on-me.” Denial will not do this, pretending everything is ok will not release this band. We have to be prepared to FEEL it. Not forever, just long enough to release it. Just enough to set us free. Feeling it will not destroy us. If we consciously just give ourselves permission to feel, when we do, when we let it exist and let it out of our soul, then we start to find out who we truly are: then we discover we are much more than we ever knew and certainly much more than what we have been told.
There is so much fear in this world just from this wound. If we want to change this world we need to be willing to feel the truth. Generations of parents are hurting generations of children from not acknowledging the truth of their patterns or their life, by denying their wounded emotions. This cycle has gone on for thousands of years. It is time to try something different: to break the chain. Let us be brave, let us surrender to our emotions with sincerity, without projection and blame. Just purely to know ourselves and to know Love: real love.