“You have not been abandoned. You are never alone, except by your own choice.” ~Jonathan Lockwood Huie
Loss is never an easy experience. However, it is a part of life, so we need to accept it and find ways to cope with it in order to keep moving forward.
Whether someone dies or chooses to end a relationship, loss hurts and can leave us feeling abandoned and potentially leave deep wounds and scars.
I recently read something that suggested abandonment is a type of trauma, and it can cause symptoms similar to PTSD when the abandonment issues from our past are triggered in the present. When those emotions are triggered, we go into fight-or-flight mode.
I experienced a great deal of loss early in my life, and it created issues around abandonment, trust, and insecurity. Although most of the loss was through the passing of loved ones, I also experienced abandonment as a child and young adult from people close to me, who were alive and well and a significant part of my life.
It began when I was only seven and my mom discovered she had a brain tumor. She passed away when I was ten. My dad was never honest with me about how seriously ill she was and the fact that most likely she was going to die. I was always told that mommy was going to be okay.
Even though I know now that he was trying to protect me, it was the start of many repeating patterns in my life. Patterns of loss, abandonment, and deception.
Was anyone ever going to be honest with me? Was anyone ever going to genuinely love me and stick around?
I lost many other family members between the ages of ten and twenty-four, culminating with my dad. Our relationship had become strained over the years after my mom passed, mainly because his new wife, who he’d brought into our lives shortly after my mom’s death, seemed to have little compassion for a young girl who had lost her mother.
She and her daughter became the new priorities in my dad’s life. I felt abandoned at a young age by the one man who I believed would be there for me after losing my mom.
As I progressed into my teenage years and early twenties, I was looking for love and security anywhere I could find it. When I did find it, I tried to hold on way too tightly, so tightly that I often lost what I had.
After my teenage years, I continued looking for love, for security, and for someone who would be open and honest with me; someone I could trust 100 percent. I wanted someone who would put me first. I was looking for someone who would finally prove to me that I was lovable and worth fighting and sticking around for.
Over and over again, I looked outside of myself instead of learning how to find the love and security I so desperately wanted within myself.
I have been in various relationships since the age of sixteen, starting with a seven-year relationship that felt like another huge loss when it ended. Not only did I lose him, but also his family, which had become a surrogate for my own. There were a few short-term relationships after that, then I got married at twenty-seven after dating someone for two years. We separated five years ago, officially divorced three years ago, and after that I went into another relationship.
All the loss and deception I experienced early on in life has created various fears, fears I now know I’ve created. A fear of being alone (which is why I’ve gone from relationship to relationship), a fear of not being enough, a fear that someone is going to leave me again in some way, a fear that people are not going to be honest with me.
We all have our own experiences in life and our own stories. The important thing is what we do with them. Do we take them and learn from them, or do we take any gut-wrenching experiences we’ve been through and play the victim, wanting others to feel sorry for us?
I will admit, I did play the victim for many years and I wanted anyone and everyone to feel sorry for me. Many people told me that I was a strong person despite everything I had been through, but it took me many years to see that for myself. At one point when I was younger, I did see it, but then it got buried for quite a long time; however, I am now slowly finding it once again.
I’ve been taking a deeper look at my life and the things I’ve been through, specifically when it comes to love and relationships.
I’ve come to realize that I have attracted the same type of man many times. I believe this is based on the initial abandonment by my father who couldn’t seem to be emotionally available for a young girl who had lost her mother, and instead dove right into something new in order to not have to truly face it himself.
When I look at some of the most serious relationships I’ve had in my life to date, I see they were all with men who were emotionally unavailable. Men who lacked empathy and compassion and who didn’t know how to be there when I was truly struggling. Much like my father.
I realize that I’ve had this belief that if I could convince just one emotionally unavailable man to change, truly care, and be there for me—to heal the wounds of this little girl—then somehow it would make up for the hurt I experienced as a young child who felt alone and hurt and deceived for so many years.
I thought that if I could just change one man this would take away all the pain I had in my life for all these years. The pain that was like a knife in my heart that someone just kept twisting and turning, leaving an open wound that could never heal.
There were times when I did things that didn’t feel right to me, just so the man I was with would love me and stay. I was not being authentic to myself, just so I wouldn’t be abandoned and alone.
I was not learning the lessons I needed to learn, so what do you think the universe kept providing? Men who were emotionally unavailable or deceptive. Men who I could not fully trust, men who had no empathy, men who left me feeling unsafe and insecure, men who I changed who I was for.
Finally, my eyes are starting to open. I see now that until I heal these wounds within me, on my own, I won’t find satisfaction in any relationship. I need to discover my path to healing, to being whole and complete, in order to have the relationship I truly want.
So that is exactly what I am currently working on. Healing those childhood scars, learning to love myself, realizing that I am enough and that I deserve so much more than I’ve experienced up until now.
I know that I deserve honesty and respect, care and compassion, and a man who makes me a priority in his life. I just turned fifty last year, and although part of me wishes I could have figured things out a long time ago, I believe everything happens when it is meant to, and I am okay with that.
We all learn the lessons we need to learn at different paces. It may be a long road or it may be a short one. It may be easy or it may be hard.
One thing I can assure you of based on my own personal experience: the universe will continue to provide the opportunity to learn the lessons you need to learn, until you finally come to that moment of clarity. A moment where it all becomes crystal clear like a lake on a still, quiet day. A day when you have an awakening and can finally begin to move forward.
And then, you will move on to your next lesson, because in life there will always be something to learn. If we aren’t learning, we aren’t growing.
So, if you’ve been struggling with something that seems to be repeating itself in your life, take a look at what you’ve been through and see if you can find a cycle or a pattern there. Think back to where this pattern first began, most likely in your childhood.
Try to step outside the emotions of your current situation and see the deeper work you need to do to truly heal so you can create change in your life. That might mean healing from early abandonment, like me, so you stop choosing people who will reject you. Or it may mean recognizing your worth as a person so you stop sabotaging yourself. Whatever your pattern, there’s one constant: you. The first step is to acknowledge that, self-awareness is truly key!
Then dig down and find your strength; it’s in there! Make a decision that you are going to learn your lessons, break that pattern, and find true happiness in your life. We all deserve that!
About Noelle Gavitt
Noelle is a mom, nature lover, and lifelong learner. She’s also a certified professional life coach supporting amazing midlife women in learning to put themselves first again and fill up their own tanks. She wants midlife women to know they can find joy and happiness in this next chapter of their life, despite anything that has happened in their past. Her website is www.themindfulmidlife.com. Join her Facebook group and get her FREE Guide to Putting Yourself First Again.