Abandonment trauma is something many people struggle with without even realizing it. And it can affect all aspects of your life, especially relationships and how you interact with people. This trauma usually comes from living through bad childhood experiences or abandonment at other points.
That doesn’t mean that only kids struggle with it. Childhood is when it usually develops. But something like this lingers throughout adulthood. The thing is, abandonment trauma manifests in ways that people often misinterpret. For example, it creates a lot of anxiety. So, naturally, people might think they are just overly stressed, or maybe they are even dealing with an anxiety disorder when it’s something else.
Unfortunately, more and more kids are left to fend for themselves for hours. A few decades ago, it used to be that kids were always with a family member. And before everyone moved to the city and started to live more isolated from the community, kids were raised by everyone in the neighborhood. This was even true in the late 1990s. Maybe their parents were at work, but the kids always had someone to hang out with.
But the societal trend shifted and made people believe that being isolated from their neighbors is their best bet. We don’t even see people living with their extended families anymore. So, kids are more alone than ever. That’s not to say that kids were necessarily treated better back then. But at least they weren’t alone. Plus, abandonment trauma is not just determined by how much time they spend alone.
When a kid feels unsafe in their own home or is otherwise rejected by the people they love, that also causes abandonment trauma. So, what are some signs that you are struggling with this kind of trauma? And what can you do about it?
What Causes Abandonment Trauma?
Even though most cases of abandonment trauma are caused by traumatic events experienced during childhood, some other events can also lead to the same effect. Adults can also experience situations that create the same type of trauma. As mentioned previously, one of the most common causes of this trauma is various kinds of mistreatment experienced during childhood. Sometimes, it’s because an adult in the kid’s life is intentionally abusive.
Unfortunately, cases of physical, emotional, and psychological abuse directed toward kids are much more common than they should be. And often, it’s the parents who are mistreating the kids. But it could also be other family members or even authority figures, such as teachers. What’s important to understand is that abuse ranges from full-on beatings, apparent and condemned at a societal level, to things that don’t seem so bad.
Society is too quick to excuse certain abusive behaviors and blame the kids. For example, when a kid is being yelled at, most adults think it’s because they did something to deserve that, even though no one deserves to be yelled at, no matter what they did. But, because they are young, everyone is quick to side with the adult. After all, the adult is the mature one, plus a parent is allowed to raise their kids how they see fit, no? Well, that shouldn’t be the case. Respect should exist in all relationships.
That means a parent should always treat their children with respect and kindness. But that’s not always the case. Sometimes, the abuse doesn’t even happen intentionally. Even parents who don’t want to hurt their kids in any way could end up doing so.
How Environmental Factors Lead to Trauma
Environmental factors, such as poverty, will affect all areas of someone’s life. If a parent has to work three jobs to raise their kids, they won’t have time to be around them. They won’t be able to attend school plays or other such events. They’ll be too busy to make breakfast for their kids and walk them to school.
Even though the parents do their best in such situations, it affects the kids deeply. And it can create traumas that last throughout their life. Besides childhood issues, some other things can create abandonment trauma. Losing someone you love, especially if those people die, is bound to scar you. It’s hard enough to watch people voluntarily walk out of your life.
Even something as small as someone moving to another city can make you feel abandoned. But these are situations that you can get over rather easily. The same can’t be said about having to deal with someone’s passing. That kind of trauma can make you feel like you are the loneliest person on the planet. Even though friends and family usually inflict all traumas discussed so far, these issues are not limited to platonic relationships.
Romantic partners can mess with your head just as much, if not more, than any other person in your life. Being in an abusive relationship or being made to feel like you are not enough are just a few ways a partner can destroy your self-image. When someone doesn’t have their needs met in a relationship, they feel abandoned by the person who was supposed to love them the most.
Not to mention that a breakup or a divorce can have the same effects. Even if the relationship was healthy and the breakup seemed mutually agreed upon, it can still make you feel like you weren’t enough.
3 Ways to Heal Abandonment Trauma
Abandonment trauma can make you feel like you are not worth other people’s time or attention. And it can make you want to stay isolated, in the safety of your home, instead of trying to go out and socialize. Not to mention that this type of trauma can convince you that taking care of yourself is a waste of time.
This is why it’s essential to start routine incorporating self-help techniques. Of course, you can do these alone if you still feel uncomfortable putting yourself out there. But ideally, you would build enough courage to go out and do some things with your friends. Having a spa day with your closest friends is always fun.
Contrary to popular opinion, self-care isn’t just about having bubble baths and doing face masks. Sure, that’s part of it if it appeals to you. But fundamentally, it’s about doing things that boost your self-esteem and make you feel like you deserve better. So, it can be activities such as going to the gym and making a healthy meal. But it can also be about daily affirmations and talking yourself up whenever you feel down.
2. Meditation and Positivity
Most people struggling with abandonment issues either don’t know the cause of their anxiety and low self-esteem or are too afraid to find out. Or maybe they feel like they deserve to suffer. And all of these issues increase from the negative self-talk you are likely to engage in if you are a victim of abandonment trauma. So, one way to cope with what’s happening is to meditate to allow yourself to understand what’s going on in your head.
Plus, it’s a way to become more positive and improve how you look at yourself. Meditation is something you can tailor depending on your needs. It can be an intricate ritual or something you do in a couple of minutes before you go to work. It depends on what works best for you. But the general approach is the same no matter what technique you use.
You just have to be in a quiet place and try to keep the distractions at a minimum. Afterward, you close your eyes, focus on breathing, and listen to your body and mind. This way, you can tell if your body is trying to signal you that it needs something. And you can also quiet your mind and put your thoughts in order so that you can make sense of what’s happening to you. It can also be a way through which you can reframe your thoughts.
You can run through all your negative thoughts and make a mental list in the minutes you take to meditate. Then, you can review each negative thought and see how to turn it into a positive one. For example, if you believe that everyone left because you are unlovable, change that and tell yourself that they left because they were bad people or they had to. And that it has nothing to do with you or how lovable you are.
Even though most people are determined to heal from trauma alone, there’s usually no better method to cope with such an issue than going to therapy. Or, if that’s not something you feel comfortable with, at least reach out to the people still in your life and ask for their support. Having someone to talk to is usually what people need when trying to heal.
And, if that person can guide you through everything and steer you towards the right path, that’s even better. In therapy, you and your therapist can develop the best strategy for coping with the everyday struggles of abandonment trauma. Plus, a professional is there to help and listen to you. There’s no pressure or judgment, and you can take things one step at a time.
Final Thoughts on Some Ways to Heal Abandonment Trauma
Dealing with abandonment trauma is no easy feat. It can make you feel isolated, tossed aside, and unlovable. And it can destroy all semblance of self-esteem you had. Not to mention that there are so many causes, most of which aren’t avoidable. Or, even if they are, they are situations in which the person who hurt you didn’t wish you any harm, but things just took a bad turn.
So, if you are struggling with abandonment trauma, there are a few things you can do to cope. Practicing self-care and meditating are some ideas you can incorporate into your daily routine. Not to mention that you can always rely on getting professional help. Therapy is often necessary for such situations and will surely do you good.