Today I’d like to touch upon a topic I see in everyone: the abandonment wound. Although it has a negative ring to it, the abandonment wound is a fundamental element to the human experience.
The second a baby is born and officially a “separate” unit the abandonment wound appears. The experience of being disjointed from the world the infant believed to be one with and entering unknown territory, leaves an imprint of abandonment. Birth is an event which installs the powerful sensation of abandonment into our emotional system. After a few years the mental perception builds on top of the emotional wounding, in which the enclosed “self” appears.
Although many are overly focused on the trauma babies experience when being born, the scar of abandonment is one of the essential cornerstones for the experience of being separate. Separateness in turn, is critical for all to be fully invested in individuality and the perception of only being an isolated island, detached from the rest.
Being a “detached from the rest” entity is not an accurate story though, oneness is. This is why a forceful method (the abandonment wound) is needed to convince and maintain the illusion of a scattered world made up of countless independent pieces, rather than our true nature of being one and the same. So in short, the inherent abandonment wound serves as a function denying our real endless nature in order to truly push the narrative of being a short lived human. This is great news because it allows countless unique experiences and viewpoints (each individual) while discovering other aspects of the one (the “outside” world). Why? Well, why not?
On the flipside the abandonment wound doesn’t exactly bring forth pleasant feelings and thoughts. From the inherited abandonment conditioning, a sense of rejection and shame can develop. Let’s call them the wound’s close dedicated allies. If you inspect rejection and shame closely, they bring forth a contraction in the human system, emotionally, mentally and even physically (the body language of a person who feels shame will be more closed). The contraction strengthens or supports the sense of “separateness” from other/others. So behind every perception of rejection or shame, there’s the abandonment wound.
How does the abandonment wound express itself?
The wound can influence life to different degrees ranging from very subtly to overpowering or crippling. Examples of when the wound has spiraled is when it’s completely hijacked the identity. This is when every event in life is seen through the lens of rejection and/or shame. Even seemingly positive happenings are interpreted as coincidences, second best or not deserved. But the emotional cut doesn’t have to overshadow life. I’d say most cope with the damage of abandonment by attempting to create a substitute (imaginary) reunion due to feeling “deserted”. The impression of being solely a free agent can create unconscious strategies to patch up the emotional fracture. What you’ll notice with these coping strategies is that they are momentary and require constant refueling. I’ll only mention a few, focusing on popular and encouraged ones by society.
Overachieving. Overachieving (or at least attempting to) in the external world is a way of overcompensating what’s seemingly lacking within. There’s an intense drive for wholeness but regardless of accomplishments and status, the road has no end.
The validation/approval chase. This is when an individual becomes addicted to approval by others steaming from a deep rooted sensation of not belonging. Reassurance from others becomes a necessity to feel inclusion (opposite of exclusion/abandoned).
Addiction. Alcohol, drugs, social media are all easy ways to numb pain altogether. It’s like placing a small bandaid over a gushing wound.
Shopping culture. Purchasing stuff tends to bring a brief sigh of relief from what can be traced all the way back to abandonment. The “high” after shopping is a fabricated sensation of completion (due to feeling incomplete/abandoned) which fades away rather quickly.
People pleasing. People pleasing may look good superficially, but is the expression of fear of abandonment or rejection. How is people pleasing encouraged? Read “People pleasing-appreciated dysfunction“.
Intimate relationships. Romantic relationships in this context is probably the most supported and glorified way to wrap up abandonment damage with a nice bow. Most have probably heard the term “other half”. The terminology itself suggests people being incomplete, further irritating the sore abandonment wound. What we’re bombarded with is that the solution for the collective emotional injury is (drum roll) to latch on to another person diagnosed with the same condition!
The abandonment wound can show its face in those who seemingly cannot be alone, holding on to anyone because it somehow feels more “whole” than standing alone. I’d say the wound is slightly more apparent in people who mechanically relationship jump . That is, there is no time in between partnerships for processing and healing. The person skips the part which can bring forth abandonment sensations, to avoid the reenactment of the original trauma. But let’s not forget the other end of the stick, those who fear reminders of abandonment to the point of never going near or close to anyone.
Many actually have the realization of the wound and the potential distortions or hidden strategies which may arise from it. There will be a knowing that anything to do with abandonment is internal in nature and can’t be fixed by anything or anyone. Although this is a clear sign of being on the right track, other misunderstandings can appear. A huge misconception is that the abandonment wound is personal and unique for the individual and not the collective. Furthermore, besides being personal, some unfortunately believe it’s a flaw or even punishment. From the standpoint of believing it’s a personal matter, oftentimes there will be attempts to pin the wounds to a specific event or another person ( pointing the finger at the parents is highly trending). Attached with the “cause” of the scar is typically a bunch of explanations, reasons, stories etc, backing up the theory that it’s a personal concern.
But what if the abandonment wound is not related to anything?
From my perspective the wound is necessary for the human experience to seem solid and separate. Simply put: the abandonment wound is part of the earthling game and not personal.
(This is not to downplay encountered situations which seemingly reinforce the wound. I’m also aware that some struggle with the wound more than others and why that is, I don’t know.)
What tends to happen when there’s a belief that abandonment issues are personal (again, it’s non-discriminatory); is it sets off the hunt for a solution (another strategy) to get rid of it. This is yet another goose chase, in my view, because there is no escape. The only “cure” is disidentification. How do we disidentify? When the abandonment wound is cut right open, acknowledge it, locate it in the body, greet it with a big “Hey, are you here again? What’s up?”. Stay with it, allow it, invite it. Remember, the abandonment wound and its allies is like everything else, temporary.
Everyone is the one. The abandonment wound provides the convincing smoke screen magically giving the appearance of division. Looking at it objectively, it’s quite brilliant, bringing forth a unique (temporary) experience of the impossible. However, getting too lost in the perception of being a secluded agent can create misery. I hope by acknowledging that the abandonment wound isn’t personal and serves a well intended purpose takes the edge off and eases the (seemingly) individual experience.